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Christ healeth the dropsy on the sabbath: teacheth humility: to feast the poor: under the parable of the great supper, sheweth how worldly-minded men, who contemn the word of God, shall be shut out of heaven. Those who will be his disciples, to bear their cross, must make their accounts afore-hand, lest with shame they revolt from him afterward, and become altogether unprofitable, like salt that hath lost its savour.
Anno Domini 31.
Luke 14:1. One of the chief Pharisees— A member of the great council, or sanhedrim, who had a country-seat in Perea. The higher courts among the Jews allowed some recess to their members. This person's invitation to our Lordwas insidious; for we are told that they watched him.
Luke 14:2. There was a certain man before him— He was either set before him by way of a snare, or had conveyed himself thither in hopes of a cure, which is the most probable; for it appears from Luk 14:4 that he was not one of the family, because Christ dismissed or let him go.
Luke 14:4. And he took him,— The original επιλαβομενος, signifies either his taking hold of him, or laying his hand upon him. Doubtless our Lord could have accomplished this cure as well by a secret volition, and so might have cut off all manner of cavilling; but he chose rather to produce it by an action in which there was the very least degree of bodily labour that could be, because thus he had an opportunity of reproving the reigning superstition of the times.
Luke 14:7. Chief rooms;— Chief places:— πρωτοκλισιας, chief seats, and so where the word room occurs: from this circumstance, and from what is said Luk 14:12 it appears that this was a great entertainment, to which many were invited. Very probably therefore the meeting was concerted, and the company chosen, with a view to ensnare Jesus,—as we observed on Luke 14:1. So that his being invited was a matter, not of accident, but of design.
Luke 14:10. Go, and sit down in the lowest room;— It is most probable that Christ himself, as illustrious a person as he was, had done thus, and sat down among them in the lowest place at the table.
Luke 14:12. When thou makest a dinner, &c.— "By no means confine thy hospitality to thy rich relations, acquaintance and neighbours, or to them chiefly, lest the whole of thy reward be an invitation from them to a like entertainment;" for that the text here, as in some other instances, impliesthe addition of the particle only, appears from this, that our Lord cannot be supposed to exclude entirely from the entertainments of the rich, all those who are not objects of charity; or to forbid every sort of expence, which has not the poor for its immediate object. His going to entertainments frequently, as well as his suffering himself to be anointed with precious ointments, shews plainly that the obligations we are under of being charitable to the poor, does not hinder us from doing honour to those whom we esteem, though it should be attended with some expence. It is very apparent that the word rich refers not merely to neighbours, but also to the kindred, and other persons who are mentioned with them. For if these were in low circumstances, their being related to them was an argument why they should be regarded, rather than neglected. It is probable, that our Lord observed in the Pharisees a habit of making magnificent feasts, and of treating the great as well as their equals out of pride, ambition, and ostentation; which might render this advice peculiarly proper, especially if he who now gave the entertainment was, as many of his brethren certainly were, very deficient in works of charity.
Luke 14:13. The maimed,— 'Αναπηρους, the disabled; the word takes in both the lame and the blind; and may also include those whom the infirmities of age have rendered helpless. See a fine parallel passage in Pliny's Epistles, lib. 9: epist.
Luke 14:14. At the resurrection of the just.— These words afford a strong and awakening intimation, that none who neglect works of charity, if they have ability to do them, shall have their final lot among the righteous; which is evident from the many hundred scriptures, indispensably requiring mercy as well as justice.
Luke 14:15. Blessed is he that shall eat bread, &c.— The phrase to eat bread, signifies making a meal, and this not only at a common table, but sometimes at a feast. See 2 Samuel 9:7; 2Sa 9:10; 2 Samuel 12:17; 2 Samuel 12:20. Proverbs 9:5. The Jews were accustomed to think of the felicity of good men in the life to come under the notion of a sumptuous entertainment; and therefore our Lord frequently accommodates himself to their habit of thinking. See Matthew 8:11. Wherefore,when Jesus mentioned the resurrection of the just, one of the guests, ravished with the delightful prospect, cried out, "Blessed is he, who,being admitted into heaven,shall enjoy the conversation of the inhabitants of that glorious place; for these spiritual repasts must regale and invigorate his mind beyond expression!" Perhaps in this exclamation, the Pharisee meant both to congratulate the felicity of his countrymen, who looked upon themselves as the children or the kingdom; and to condole the lot of the heathen, who, as he imagined, were all to be excluded from heaven. Considered in this light, the subsequent parable appears with the greatest propriety and beauty, as the best reply to such an error, and the fittest method to correct and explode it.
Luke 14:16-20. Then said he unto him, &c.— "What you say is very true; my kingdom is full of blessings, though many despise and reject them; as may be represented in the followingparable: A certain man made a great feast, which, as usual in those countries and times, was at supper, and invited many guests. So Christ, now in the end of the world, has made plentiful provisions of gospel-grace for spiritual refreshment and perfect happiness, that sinners may be holy here, and blessed for ever; and he freely invites all that hear the gospel, beginning with the Jewish nation, to accept those rich provisions for their present relief and comfort, and for their eternal salvation. And when the feast was fully prepared, and but few of the guests were come in, the master sent his servant again to them who had been invited, to let them know that all things were now ready for their entertainment, and to bid them come without any further delay. So Christ, having called the Jews by his personal ministry, and by the preaching of his servants, whom he sent to the cities of Judea, with little success, he commissionedtheapostlesandevangelistsafterhisresurrection,torenewhisgracious invitation, and to assure them that now all things were thoroughly prepared, that the great work of atonement was actually finished, that the Spirit was poured out from on high to bear witness and give efficacy to it, and that he was still willing to receive every one who should come by faith to him. And this is the language of the gospel, where ever it is preached. And yet the invited guests, as it were by common consent, put off their coming upon various pretences: one alleged that he had bought a piece of ground, and must needs go to see how the bargain was like to prove; and therefore begged to be excused: another pleaded that he had just bought five yoke of oxen, and must go to try whether they were fit for his business; and therefore desired that he might be excused: and another insisted, that he was lately married, and therefore peremptorily declared he could not come. So the Jews in general, and the scribes and Pharisees in particular, and many others that fit under the gospel, reject its gracious invitations on frivolous and carnal pretences; some preferring their worldly gains and advantages, and others their sensual ease and pleasure, to Christ and the blessings of eternal life; and all the impenitent are for shifting off a present attention to his calls, which carries in it a real denial, though they are ashamed to avow it in plain terms." See the notes on Matthew 22:1; Matthew 22:46.
Luke 14:18. With one consent— The phrase, Απο μιας is all that is in the original. It seems the most natural to supply the ellipsis by the word νομης —consent, as our translators have done.
See commentary on Luk 14:16
Luke 14:23. Compel them— Press them. "Use the most earnest intreaties with those who shew any unwillingness." The word αναγχασον, rendered compel, does not imply that any external violence was to be used with these persons; a single servant was sent out to them, who surely was not capable of forcing so great a multitude to come in, as was necessary to fill his lord's house. The proper meaning of the expression is, "Use the most powerful persuasion with them;" and so it fitly denotes the great efficacy of the apostle's preaching to the idolatrous Gentiles, whereby vast numbers of them were prevailed with through divine grace to embrace the gospel. See Pro 7:21 in the LXX. for the same word, only used in a bad sense; and Luke 24:29. Indeed, force has no manner of influence to enlighten men's consciences; so that though one should pretend to believe, and should actually practise a worship contrary to his opinion, it could never please God, being mere hypocrisy; wherefore St. Austin and others, who suppose that this passage of the parable justifies the use of external violence in matters of religion, are grossly mistaken. The author of the Observations, describing the hospitality maintained in the Arab villages, tells us, from La Roque, that as soon as the cheikh,—who is as the lord of the village,—is informed that strangers are coming, he goes to meet them, and, having saluted them, marches at their head to the place set apart for their reception, if they are disposed to dine or lodge in the village: but La Roque gives us to understand, that frequently those travellers only just stop to take a bit and then go on; in which case they are generally inclined to stay out of the village, under some tree. Upon this the cheikh goes or sends his people to the village to bring them a collation; which, as there is not time to dress meat for them, consists of eggs, butter, curds, honey, olives and other fruit. After they have eaten, they thankfully take leave of the cheikh, who commonly eats with them; and then pursue their journey. This may serve to explain the passage before us. Those in the highways were strangers passing on without any intention of stopping; and these under the hedges, where travellers frequently sat down, were such as had declared themselves averse to stay, and only just sat down to take a little refreshment. The sheltering themselves under trees and hedges, does not import, as someeminentcommentatorshaveimagined,theirbeingthepoorestandmost helpless of travellers, which does not at all agree with the pressing them to come in, for such must be supposed ready enough to come;—but it points out their being strangers, by no means inclined to receive such a favour, as it would so retard them, as to break in upon their measures. See Observat. p. 220.
Luke 14:24. I say unto you, that none, &c.— See the interpretation of the parable, Matthew 22:0 to which nothing need be added, except the explication of a circumstance mentioned here, which is not in the parable as it was then delivered, namely, the two distinct calls; first, to those in the streets and lanes of the city, and then to those in the highways and hedges; the former are supposed to be the Gentile proselytes, to whom the gospel was preached after it was rejected by the Jews; the latter are the idolatrous Gentiles, who had the gospel offered to them last of all. The circumstance too, in the present verse, is wanting in the repetition of the parable, Matthew 22:0. The thing signified by it is, that because the Jews rejected Jesus and his apostles, they were given over by God to a hardened and reprobate mind: only the reader must remember, that not the condition of individuals, but the general state of the nation is here described; in which view the parabolical representation is perfectly just, notwithstanding many individual Jews believed in Jesus, and obtained eternal
Luke 14:26. And hate not his father, &c.— Strictly speaking, to hate our nearest relations, and our own lives, would be unnatural wickedness, and equally contrary to the dictates of humanity, and the genius of the gospel. But it is well known, that one thing is said to be loved and another hated in scripture, when the former is much preferred; and especially when out of regard to it, the latter is neglected or forsaken. Compare Genesis 29:31.Deuteronomy 21:15-17; Deuteronomy 21:15-17. Malachi 1:3.Romans 9:13; Romans 9:13.Matthew 6:24; Matthew 6:24. Father and mother, and other relations were particularly mentioned by our Lord, because, as affairs then stood, the profession of the gospel was apt to set a man at variance with his nearest relations.
Luke 14:28. To build a tower,— We learn from eastern writers, that besides fortified towns and cities, they used to have towers for the people of open towns to fly to in time of danger, as well as magnificent towers for pleasure in their gardens. Our Lord probably refers to a tower of this latter kind; for one can hardly think, with some commentators, that he is speaking of the slight and unexpensive buildings in a vineyard, which indeed are sometimes so slight, as to consist only of four poles, with a floor on the top of them, to which they ascend by a ladder; but rather of those elegant turrets erected in gardens, where the eastern people of fortune spend a considerable part of their time.
Luke 14:31-32. Or, what king, &c.— According to Sir Isaac Newton's Chronology, these words were spoken at our Lord's last passover, and might possibly refer to Herod's leading his army through Judea against Aretas king of Arabia. The phrase representing the feebler person as begging a peace, supplies us with a proper emblem of the humility and resignation with which peace is to be sought from an offended God, who is possessed of a strength, not as in the case literally supposed here, but infinitely superior to ours.
Luke 14:33. So likewise,— "Whoever engages to be my disciple without counting the cost, and resolving to part with all that he hath, will certainly be disheartened by the unexpected difficulties which he shall meet with; and, abandoning my service, will expose himself to utter shame and loss." It would be very foolish to urge the letter of this precept strictly, and maintain that a man cannot be Christ's disciple, unless he throws all his goods into the sea, divorces his wife, and bids farewel to his children and relations. None more truly renounces all that he hath in the gospel sense, than the man who preserves himself ready every moment to do so, and follows his business free and disentangled. Such a person through grace will cheerfully part with life, and every thing dear in life, when called thereto. It was in this sense that the apostles understood their Master; for though they are said to have forsaken all and followed him, they still retained the property of their goods, as is evident from the mention of St. John's house, into which he took our Lord's mother after the crucifixion; and from St. Peter and the other disciples following their old trade of fishing, with their own boat and nets, after their Master's resurrection. Besides, we find St. Peter paying the tribute in Capernaum, as an inhabitant of the town; and it was in his house that our Lord resided, when he was at Capernaum. Nevertheless, though the apostles thus retained the dominion and use of their property, they had truly forsaken all, in the highest sense of their Master's precept, being ready, at his call, to leave their families, occupations, and possessions, as often and as long as he thought fit to employ them in the work of the gospel. Upon the whole then it appears, that the renunciation and self-denial which Christ requires, does not consist in actually partingwith all before he calls us to do so; but in being so disposed to part with all, that, when he calls, we may do it. See on Matthew 19:29.
Inferences drawn from Luk 14:23 on the absurdity and iniquity of persecution for religion.—In explaining this verse, it has been shewn, that no possible countenance is or can be given by it to persecution, on the score of religion, or for conscience' sake. Indeed nothing is more absurd and iniquitous; as will appear from the following considerations.
1. Persecution for conscience' sake, that is, inflicting penalties upon men merely for their religious principles or worship, is plainly founded on a supposition that one man has a right to judge for another in matters of religion; which is manifestly absurd, and has been fully proved to be so by many excellent writers.
2. Persecution is most evidently inconsistent with that fundamental principle of morality, That we should do to others, as we would reasonably wish they should do to us.—A rule, which carries its own demonstration with it, and was intended to take off that bias of self-love, which would divert us from the straight line of equity, and render us partial judges between our neighbours and ourselves. I would ask the advocate of wholesome severities, How he would relish his own arguments, if turned upon himself? What if he were to go abroad into the world,—among Roman Catholics, if he be a Protestant? among Mahometans, if he be a Christian? Supposing he was to behave like an honest man, a good neighbour, a peaceful subject, avoiding every injury, and taking all opportunities to serve and oblige those about him,—would he think that merely because he refused to follow his neighbours to their altars, or their mosques, he ought to be seized and imprisoned, his goods confiscated,—his person condemned to tortures or death? Undoubtedly, he would complain of this as a very great hardship, and soon see the absurdity and injustice of such a treatment, when it fell upon himself, and when such measure as he would mete to others, was measured to him again.
3. Persecution is absurd, as being by no means calculated to answer the end which its patrons profess to intend by it; namely, the glory of God, and the salvation of men: now, if it do any good to men at all, it must be by making them truly religious: but religion is not a mere name, or a ceremony: true religion imports an entire change of heart; and it must be founded in the inward conviction of the mind, or it is impossible it should be, what yet it must be, a reasonable service. Let it only be considered, what violence and persecution can do towards producing such an inward conviction: a man might as reasonably expect to bind an immaterial spirit with a cord, or to beat down a wall by an argument, as to convince the understanding by threats or tortures. Persecution is much more likely to make men hypocrites, than sincere converts. They may, perhaps, if they have not a firm and heroic courage, change their profession, while they retain their sentiments; and, supposing them before to have been unwarily in the wrong, they may learn to add falsehood and villainy to error. How glorious a prize! especially when one considers at what an expence it is gained. But,
4. Persecution tends to produce much mischief and confusion in the world: it is mischievous to those on whom it falls; and in its consequences so mischievous to others, that one would wonder any wise princes should ever have admitted it into their dominions, or that they should not have immediately banished it thence: for, even where it succeeds so far, as to produce a change in men's forms of worship, it generally makes them no more than hypocritical professors of what they do not believe, which must undoubtedly debauch their minds; so that, having been villains in one respect, it is very probable that they will be so in another; and, having brought deceit and falsehood into their religion, that they will easily bring it into their conversation and commerce. This will be the effect of persecution, where it is yielded to; and where it is opposed (as it must often be by upright and conscientious men, who have the greater claim upon the protection and favour of governments), the mischievous consequences of its fury will be more flagrant and shocking. Nay, perhaps, where there is no true religion, a native sense of honour in a generous mind may stimulate it to endure some hardships for the cause of truth: "Obstinacy," as one well observes, "may rise, as the understanding is oppressed, and continue its opposition for a while, merely to avenge the cause of its injured liberty."
Nay, 5 the cause of truth itself must, humanly speaking, be not only obstructed, but destroyed, should persecuting principles universally prevail. For even upon the supposition, that in some countries it might tend to promote and establish the purity of the gospel, yet it must surely be a great impediment to its progress. What wise heathen or Mahometan prince would ever admit Christian preachers into his dominions, if he knew it was a principle of their religion, that as soon as the majority of the people were converted by arguments, the rest, and himself with them, if he continued obstinate, must be proselyted, or extirpated by fire and sword?
If it be, as the advocates for persecution have generally supposed, a dictate of the law of nature, to propagate the true religion by the sword; then certainly a Mahometan or an idolater, with the same notions, supposing himself to have truth on his side, must think himself obliged in conscience to arm his powers for the extirpation of Christianity: and thus a holy war must cover the face of the whole earth, in which nothing but a miracle could render Christianity successful, against so vast a disproportion in numbers. Now it seems hard to believe that to be a truth, which would naturally lead to the extirpation of truth in the world; or that a divine religion should carry in its bowels the principles of its own destruction.
But, 6. This point is clearly determined by the lip of truth itself; and persecution is so far from being encouraged by the gospel, that it is most directly contrary to many of its precepts, and indeed to the whole genius of it. It is condemned by the example of Christ, who went about doing good; who came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them; who waved the exercise of his miraculous power against his enemies, even when they most unjustly and cruelly assaulted him; and never exerted it to the corporal punishment even of those who had most justly deserved it: and his doctrine also, as well as his example, has taught us, to be harmless as doves; to love our enemies; to do good to them that hate us, and to pray for them that despitefully use us and persecute us. Such are the principal arguments against persecution for religious matters; from the consideration whereof the following short reflections naturally arise.
Let us bless God, that we are free from the guilt of persecuting others, and from the misery of being persecuted ourselves. Had we been born in Spain or Portugal, education and example might have corrupted our judgments so much, that without further inquiry we might have taken it up as a first principle, that heretics are to be punished with death. And on this foundation we might have practised or applauded the greatest inhumanities, perhaps towards the best of men. We might have been presenting to God, even murder for a burnt-offering; and trusting in that for the expiation of our offences, which is in itself one of the greatest enormities that human nature can commit: let us also thankfully acknowledge it as an instance of the divine goodness, that we are not suffering by persecution; that we are not plundered or banished, imprisoned or tortured for conscience' sake, and thus brought under a formidable temptation to make shipwreck both of that and of faith. Let us envy none that liberty of conscience which they enjoy upon such equitable principles. While we rejoice in a toleration ourselves, it were inexcusable to be dissatisfied that many who most widely differ from us share in the same common benefit. Let us not indulge even a secret wish, that there were a sword in our hand to slay, or a chain to bind them; but if fair argument and love will not fix conviction in their minds, in favour of what we apprehend to be right, let us leave them to worship God in their own way, without peremptorily insisting that they do it in ours. In short, let us act upon the great principles of virtue and benevolence, which, blessed be God, are not confined nor peculiar to any distinguishing forms of religious profession among us; always remembering, that the servant who knoweth his master's will, and prepareth not himself to act accordingly, will be beaten with many stripes: that the freest profession of the purest religion upon earth, will signify nothing, if it be no more than a profession; and that all zeal for liberty, which can consist with being the slave of sin at the same time, is only a natural haughtiness of spirit, which will aggravate a man's guilt, rather than extenuate it.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, Christ refused not the invitations even of those who, he knew, were his enemies; and, though he was well aware of their malicious intentions, he behaved to them with all kindness and courtesy.
1. He dined with a chief Pharisee on the sabbath-day; and there being present a pitiable object who was swollen with a dropsy, they watched whether he would heal him; intending, if he did, to accuse him as a sabbath-breaker.
2. Christ, who knew their thoughts, interrogates them on the subject, Whether it was lawful to heal on the sabbath-day? But they observed a sullen silence, unwilling to preclude the accusation which they meditated, by admitting it to be lawful, and yet not knowing how to maintain the unlawfulness of so good a deed.
3. He took the man aside, and healed him, reducing in a moment his distended body, and sending him away perfectly cured. And in his own justification, and to their conviction and confusion, urges their own practice, to prove the lawfulness of such a work of charity. If they admitted that an ox or an ass fallen into a pit, should be lifted out on the sabbath day, lest it should perish there, how much more forcible was the argument for the cure of a diseased person whose life was in danger? And how evident did it appear, that their zeal for the sabbath was mere hypocrisy, designed only to cover their malignity against him?
4. They could not answer him again to these things, their own conduct spoke their condemnation. Note; At Christ's bar every mouth shall be stopped.
2nd, Though our Lord was courteous, he was far above the flattery of compliment. When he saw occasion for rebuke, he would not, even in the company of persons most distinguished, refrain from faithful admonition.
1. He rebukes the guests for that affectation of pre-eminence which he observed among them, each coveting the most honourable seat at the table. Such pride would expose them to contempt, while humility was the way to honour: for they who should assumingly thrust themselves into the seat of precedence which did not belong to them, might expect to be degraded, when a more honourable personage coming in, the master of the house would say, Give this man place; and this could not fail of covering with confusion the conceited intruder, who must go down lower, and expose himself to the contempt of the company. Much more to their honour would it be, humbly to take the lowest place, as ready to give the preference to others; for then the master, attentive to place his guests according to their rank, would respectively desire them to come up higher, and their modesty and humility would gain the regard and esteem of all that sat at table. And as this is the case among men, so is it also before God; whosoever exalteth himself, in a proud conceit of his own excellence above all other men, shall be abased, treated with contempt and abhorrence by him who trieth the heart, and knows the true characters of men; and he that humbleth himself, under the deepest sense of his vileness and unworthiness, shall be exalted to the favour of God on earth, and, if faithful, to the enjoyment of his glory in heaven. Note; (1.) Pride is a sin alike odious in the sight of God and man. (2.) Modest diffidence gives a brighter lustre to real worth.
2. He rebukes the master of the house for his inviting the rich and neglecting the poor. It bespeaks the pride, selfishness, and luxury of the heart, to make profuse entertainments, and invite only the wealthy, at whose tables we expect to be entertained in return. Such feasting is evil; it is an abuse of the creatures of God, and robbery of the poor: not that we are forbid welcoming our friends, or returning their visits: it is the profusion which would render us incapable of relieving the indigent, the vain affectation of show, the ambition of keeping grand company, and the expectation of a recompence in kind, which our Lord condemns. He bids us, on the contrary, with charitable hospitality feed the poor; not sturdy beggars, for that is no charity, but an encouragement to idleness; but the maimed, the lame, the blind; these cannot indeed return the favour; but we shall be no losers; God will remember and reward these labours of love at the resurrection of the just.
3rdly, Affected by the discourse of Christ, which breathed such humility and charity, one of the guests broke forth as in a transport, looking forward to the days of the Messiah, when they expected that all plenty, piety, and happiness would universally abound, and said, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. Christ immediately replied to this observation by a parable, drawn from the feast before them, and containing intimations which they would be very backward to receive; insinuating to them, that however great or happy the Messiah's kingdom might be, the Jews in general would reject it, and the despised Gentiles chiefly partake of the privileges of the gospel.
1. A certain man made a great supper, and bade many. Christ is the master of the feast; all the riches of gospel-grace are provided by him for the entertainment of miserable sinners; and his invitation is free and gracious. He bids his servants say, whosoever will, let him come, for all things are now ready; the present moment is the accepted time; there must be no delay; and if we feel our want of pardon, peace, grace and glory, we shall make none, but press eagerly to be fed with these heavenly provisions.
2. The guests gave the servants a cold reception, and pretended other engagements. The Jewish people in general rejected the gospel, and turned a deaf ear to the apostles and evangelists; and too many in every age resemble them, and find some frivolous excuse for their conduct. One had purchased a farm, and he must needs go and see it; another had bought five yoke of oxen, and he wanted to try them; and a third is just married, and therefore pleads, I cannot come. But the truth is, I will not; his wife would have found a welcome too; that need not have hindered him. Note; (1.) Any thing will serve for a hindrance to those who want an excuse; and the devil will take care that they shall not be at a loss, who have no inclination to duty. (2.) Hearts full of worldly cares, and set on amassing wealth, must needs be deaf to the gospel calls. (3.) The folly of the men of the world is as great as their sin: for what trifles do they barter heaven! (4.) Inordinate affection to lawful comforts, even to our dearest relatives, may prove a dangerous stumbling-block in our way to glory.
3. The servants, returning with grief to their master, reported the repulse that they had met with; and just indignation kindled in the master's bosom at the ingratitude and contempt shewn to his gracious invitation. Note; Abused mercy turns to fiercest wrath; rejection of the calls of grace must needs issue in ruin.
4. Though they who were invited refused to come, the feast shall not be lost. The master bids his servants go into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind; since the scribes and Pharisees, with all the rich and noble among the Jews, rejected his salvation, the gospel was to be preached to the lowest of the people, many of whom were brought to the obedience of faith. And when the servants, having executed their commission, reported that yet there was room, their Lord sends them into the highways and hedges, even to the Gentile world, to call the vilest sinners, and urge them to come in, assuring them of a hearty welcome. Note; (1.) The unbelief of the impenitent will not prevent the promise of God from taking effect. Christ will have a church and people in the world, though the wise, mighty, and noble reject him. (2.) The gospel has usually most success among those whom the proud, the wise, and self-righteous, despise,—even the ignorant, the poor, the publicans, and open sinners; nor must the servants think it any disparagement to themselves or their Master, that of such is chiefly the kingdom of heaven. (3.) The compulsion which Christ's ministers must use, is the force of argument and persuasion, not violence or the civil power, which can only make men hypocrites. (4.) None are excluded from Christ, who do not exclude themselves; there is room, and we are welcome: if we refuse to come, our ruin lieth at our own door.
5. He seals up the despisers of the gospel under wrath and reprobacy I say unto you, that none of those men who were bidden shall taste of my supper. The unbelieving Jews, to whom the gospel was first preached, and all who hear and reject the counsel of God against their own souls, are justly abandoned to the delusions which they have chosen, and left to perish in their sins.
4thly, Multitudes followed Christ, probably in hopes to share in that temporal kingdom which they expected the Messiah would set up. To undeceive them he lets them know,
1. The terms of discipleship. They will not find that ease, affluence, and honour, with which they flattered themselves, but the very reverse; they must be ready to forsake their nearest and dearest relations, when Christ's service calls for them; must be content to leave all behind, and to be banished from their best friends: if the commands of parents come in competition with our duty to him, we must not hesitate whom we shall obey: nay, our own lives must not be dear to us, when his glory requires us to lay them down. The love of him must constrain us stronger than death; every cross which he is pleased to lay upon us, should we cheerfully take up; content to be nailed to it, if he so willed. And if without such entire surrender of ourselves to him, we cannot be his disciples; much less may we think that we belong to him, if we are afraid to disoblige a friend or a relation for his sake, if we cannot bear a name of infamy or a badge of reproach. Such as shrink from these lesser trials, and are ashamed to make profession of him, will certainly never go with him to prison, or to death.
2. He exhorts his followers seriously and deliberately to weigh the difficulties and dangers, before they embark in his cause; lest, after making a profession, they should expose themselves to contempt, and bring heavier ruin upon their souls, by drawing back unto perdition; and this he illustrates by two comparisons. (1.) By a man sitting down to build a tower, who makes an estimate of the charge before he begins the fabric; lest otherwise, rashly embarking in a work for which his abilities are not sufficient, the unfinished ruins should expose him to contempt. We have this tower to salvation to build on Jesus, the sure foundation; it will cost us much labour, prayer, self-denial, reproach, loss, perhaps of life itself, ere it be finished. Before, therefore, we commence professed disciples, we should well weigh the consequences, whether we have really power from on high, divine faith, and a vital principle of grace, to carry us through. Many have begun, and failed, and thereby exposed themselves to just contempt; for even the wicked world to whom they return, will ridicule and despise those who draw back from their holy profession. (2.) By one king going to war against another. Before he takes the field, he will weigh the danger, and consider whether he is a match for his antagonist; and if he find his strength utterly unequal, it is wisest before matters are driven to extremities, to send ambassadors, and seek peace. Such is our case: a Christian is a soldier, who must expect and prepare to endure hardness. The powers of earth, corruption, and hell, under Satan, their king, are the twenty thousand with whom we have to conflict. Clothed, therefore, in the panoply of God, and supported with his might in the inner man, we should go forth; and the sword, once drawn, we must never sheath it till death. But if deterred by difficulties, persecutions and sufferings, we seek an ignominious peace with the world which lieth in wickedness, under the government of that wicked one; and, instead of forsaking all, stagger in the hour of trial; the case is desperate, we shall be enslaved by sin, and cannot be Christ's disciples.
3. He warns them against apostacy, whether ministers or people. Salt is good; my gospel, and they who dispense it, are the salt of the earth; but if the salt hath lost its savour, and those who profess to spread the lively truths of God, adulterate the word, and grow degenerate in their tempers and manners, wherewith shall it be seasoned? The case appears desperate, where such rooted departure from the truth in practice and principle prevails; it is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; such persons are not only useless, but noxious, and therefore men cast it out; all good men abandon such faithless professors; and they should be cast out of the church, as they will infallibly be separated eternally from the communion of the faithful in heaven. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear; and let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Luke 14". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent