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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Matthew 25

 

 

Verse 1

1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.

Ver. 1. Then shall the kingdom of heaven] Our Saviour here continueth his former discourse, and sets it on by a second parable to the same purpose; not so much for the difficulty of the matter, as for our dulness and backwardness to believe and improve it. Moses would have men whet good things upon their children’s minds and memories, by going often over them, as the knife doth over the whetstone. {a} Solomon saith good counsel should be fastened as nails driven home to the head, Ecclesiastes 12:11. Paul holds it profitable to write the same things, though not in the same words, to his Philippians, Matthew 4:1. Peter slacks not to rouse up ( διεγειρειν) those to whom he writes, by remembering them of those points wherein they were ready and well-rooted, 2 Peter 1:12-13. And Austin adviseth preachers so long to press the same truths, till they read in their hearers’ very visage that they resent and relish them.

Unto ten virgins] Virgins without number, Song of Solomon 6:8. Professors at large, good and bad, one with another.

Which took their lamps] The solemnities of marriage were anciently performed and celebrated by night, Luke 12:35; (Plutarch, Problem.), and the bridegroom brought to his lodging by the virgins bearing burning lamps before him.

{a} Deuteronomy 6:7. Repetere sicut in acuendo. Shanan et Shanab sunt cognata.


Verse 2

2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

Ver. 2. Five were foolish] That is, some were wise, and some others foolish, and these last usually the most imprudent, improvident, after witted, oculos habentes in occipitio, having eyes in the back of their head, that foresee not a following mischief, but come in with their fools’ Had I known, with their Si praescivissem, as the lion in the fable ( μωραι quasi μη ορωσαι). The Spaniards say of the Portuguese that they are pocos y focos, few and foolish. But of foolish virgins, that is, of profligate professors, that have no more than an outside, there are not a few, but more than a good many in all places, Song of Solomon 6:8-9.


Verse 3

3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:

Ver. 3. Took their lamps, and took no oil] Empty casks, barren fig trees, pretenders only to the power of godliness; of whom it may be said, as Livy saith of the Athenians, that they waged war against Philip the father of Persius, king of Macedonia (so these against the devil, the world, and the flesh); literis verbisque, quibus solis valent. These carry Uriah’s letters about them destructory to themselves. For if religion be not good, why do they profess it? If it be, why do they not practise it? To such it may fitly be said, as Archidamus to his son, rashly conflicting with the enemy without sufficient strength, Aut viribus adde, aut animis adime, so either add practise, or leave profession: and as Alexander having a soldier of his own name, and this soldier being a coward, he came to him and said, Either leave off the name of Alexander, or be valiant; so let these nominals either lay by their lamps or take oil with them.


Verse 4

4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

Ver. 4. But the wise took oil] That is, true faith in their hearts, which, as oil, is spreading, softening, suppling, soaking. Christ putteth not upon his a washy colour of profession (a blockwood blue), but he dyeth them in grain, with true grace and holiness.


Verse 5

5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

Ver. 5. While the bridegroom tarried] Tarry he doth. 1. To exercise our patience. 2. To eneager our desires. 3. That his elect may be all gathered. 4. That the mystery of iniquity may be fulfilled. 5. That the prophecies may be accomplished, &c.

They all slumbered] The wise ones also slept, but their hearts awakened, Song of Solomon 5:2; they slept but half asleep, they napped and nodded ( ενυαταξαν), they slept with open eyes as the lion doth; the spirit was willing to wake, but the flesh was weak and overweighed it. They slumbered, but it was by candle light, they had their lamps burning by them, which the foolish had not.


Verse 6

6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

Ver. 6. There was a cry made] By the trumpet of the archangel, {a} and the voice of God, say some interpreters; and Jerome reports it for an apostolic tradition that Christ shall come at midnight. But of that hour no man knoweth, saith the Judge himself. Others there are that expound this cry of the preaching of the gospel, according to that voice of the crier, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord," &c., Matthew 3:3; And here- clames ut stentora vincas, Cry aloud, spare not, &c.

{a} Recte ad Archangeli vocem referetur. Aret.


Verse 7

7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

Ver. 7. And trimmed their lamps] The foolish also made a fair flourish, and held themselves, haply, in case good enough for heaven; deceiving their own hearts, or rather deceived by them, while they use fallacious and specious sophisms, James 1:26, to make themselves believe their penny to be good silver, when as it is nothing better than a slip.


Verse 8

8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

Ver. 8. Our lamps are gone out] They were not lighted lamps, but sparks of their own tinderboxes; fantastic fire, an ignis fatuus, foolish fire, a painted flame, which neither heats nor lights. The glowworm seems to have both heat and light, but touch it, and it hath neither. Alchemy gold may seem brighter and better than true gold, but it can neither pass the seventh fire, nor comfort the heart as a cordial: so here. A man may live by a form, but he cannot die by it. They that kindle a fire, but not of God’s sanctuary, and compass themselves about with specious sparks, they may walk here for a while in the light of their fire, and in the sparks that they have kindled. But when all is done, this is all they shall have of God’s hand, they shall lie down to sorrow, Isaiah 50:11.


Verse 9

9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

Ver. 9. Lest there be not enough, &c.] The best have nought to spare, whatever Papists fancy of the church treasury. The righteous is scarcely saved; at death he finds all he could do little enough; though he began early, and bestirred himself to his utmost, hard and scarce gets he to heaven, though he hath instantly served God day and night, Acts 26:7, with a kind of extension and vehemency ( εν εκτενεια).

But go ye rather to them that sell] Salsa est derisio non cohortatio, like that, Isaiah 47:13. As if God should say to Papists, Go to your indulgencers, pardon mongers, annealers; {a} or to carnal gospellers, Go to your parasitical preachers, that have soothed you up in your sins (and ye loved to have it so), or at the best, have shot off a few pop guns only against gross sins, and licked you whole again presently with, I hope better things of you.

{a} To burn in colours upon glass, earthenware, or metal, to enamel by encaustic process. ŒD


Verse 10

10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

Ver. 10. And they that were ready went in, &c.] The bridegroom waits no man’s leisure: love is impatient by delays, leaps over all impediments, those mountains of Bether, or division, Song of Solomon 2:17, that it may have not a union only, but a unity with the beloved.

And the door was shut] Opportunity is headlong, and once lost, irrecoverable. It behoves us, therefore, to be abrupt in the work of repentance, Daniel 4:27, as a work of greatest haste; lest we cry out, as he once, All too late, all too late; or as a great lady of this land did lately upon her death bed, Time, time! a world of wealth for an inch of time. We lack not time so much as waste it. Remember that upon this moment depends eternity. God hath hanged the heaviest weights upon the weakest wires.


Verse 11

11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

Ver. 11. Afterward came also the other virgins] The greater number by odds that stand trifling and baffling with Christ, and their souls futuring their repentance, Epimetheus’ post masters, semper victuri always about to live, in Seneca’s sense. Jehoshaphat in temporals was ever wise too late, 2 Chronicles 18:31; 2 Chronicles 20:36-37, and paid for his after wit; howbeit, in spirituals he was a wise virgin, made sure work for his soul, which was a high point of heavenly prudence.

Lord, Lord, open unto us] The self-soother (with Sisera) is dreaming of a kingdom, when Jael’s nail is nearer to his temples than a crown; unless it be such a crown as Walter Earl of Athol (that Scotch traitor) had, a crown of red-hot iron clapped upon his head; being one of those tortures wherewith he ended at once his wicked days and desires of the kingdom.


Verse 12

12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

Ver. 12. Verily I say unto you, I know you not] i.e. With a knowledge of approbation or delight. Verba notitiae, apud Hebraeos secum trahunt affectum. {See Trapp on "Matthew 7:23"}


Verse 13

13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

Ver. 13. Watch therefore] Lest ye smart for it, when God shall send out summons for sleepers. This is an exhortation answerable to that Matthew 24:42, and the upshot of that, this, and the ensuing parable. {See Trapp on "Matthew 24:42"}


Verse 14

14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

Ver. 14. And delivered unto them his goods] There is scarcely any man but hath some one thing or other in him, that is excellent and extraordinary; some special talent to trade with, some honey to bring to the common hive, have he but a heart to it. Sua cuique dos est. Let every man, according to his own abilities, improve what he hath to the common benefit. Freely he hath received, freely let him give; ability he hath none but from God; who yet, for our encouragement, is pleased to call that ours that is his own work in us.


Verse 15

15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

Ver. 15. According to his several ability] Usurers use not to lend to those that cannot give pledge or security. Howbeit, we have nothing of our own, but according to the measure of our gifts and faith, Ephesians 4:13, the measure of the rule distributed to us, 2 Corinthians 10:13, the measure of grace concredited, Romans 12:6.


Verse 16

16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.

Ver. 16. Went and traded] Grace grows by exercise, and decays by disuse; as that side of the teeth which is least used in chewing is apt to have more rheum to settle upon it. Though both arms grow, yet that which a man useth is the stronger and bigger; so is it in both gifts and graces. In birds, their wings which have been used most are sweetest. Among trees, that which is planted and plashed {a} against a wall, the more it is spread and laid forth in the branches, even to the least twig, the more warmth and vigour it gets from the sunbeams, and the more fruit it beareth. So here.

{a} To bend down and interweave (stems half cut through, branches, and twigs) so as to form them into a hedge or fence ŒD


Verse 17

17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.

Ver. 17. He also gained other two] The Lord, as he hath a fatherly respect to our weakness so as not to overlay us, so he takes well aworth what we are able, and exacts no more than he gives. Despise not therefore the day of small things, since God doth not, Zechariah 4:10. {a} Neither cast away your confidence, because not good to such a degree; but be faithful in weakness, though weak in faith. A palsy hand may receive an alms; he that had but half an eye might look upon the brazen serpent, and be healed.

{a} Honestum est ei qui in primis nequit, in secundis tertiisve consistere. Cic.


Verse 18

18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.

Ver. 18. Digged it in the earth] Through sloth and pride; as many today will do no more service to God than may breed admiration among men. Some preachers (saith one) to win applause, set forth at first with such a strife to seem eloquent and learned, that they quickly spend their store; and then, rather than they would be observed to want, they will give over preaching, or else preach once a quarter, to air their learning, and keep it from going to mould. Such another is the miser, like the Cornish chough, {a} which will steal a piece of money, and hiding it in some hole, will never help herself or others with it afterward.

{a} A bird of the crow family; formerly applied somewhat widely to all the smaller chattering species, but especially to the common Jackdaw. ŒD


Verse 19

19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.

Ver. 19. And reckoneth with them] This is that which we must also come to, 2 Corinthians 5:10. Christ will one day say, Redde rationem, Give an account of thy stewardship. Cicero could say, Let us so frame our course, as that we reckon upon our last reckoning, and make account we must all come to an account. And because often reckonings keep long friends, Villicus rationem cum Domino crebro putet, saith Cato, Let us be often dealing with ourselves, and setting things to rights between God and our own souls; so shall we have the less to do at last cast. Sparing a little pains at first, doubleth it in the end; as he who will not cast up his books, his books will cast up him at length.


Verse 20

20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.

Ver. 20. He that had received five] He was first called to an account, and if four, or but one of his five talents had lain dead and unoccupied he had been doomed for his ill husbandry. See that ye receive not any grace of God in vain; neither envy those that have much; a proportion is expected, Non tantum otiosi, sed cunctatores plectentur. Thou idle, and therefore evil servant, Matthew 25:26.


Verse 21

21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Ver. 21. Thou hast been faithful over a few things] So the Lord calleth the greatest measure of grace here attainable, in comparison of heaven’s holiness and happiness, Ne donis vel bonis nostris efferamur. What is a spark to the sun, a drop to the ocean?

Enter thou into the joy of tby Lord] A joy too big to enter into us, we must enter into it. A joy more meet for the Lord than the servant. Yet such a Lord do we serve, as will honour his servants with such a joy. Among men it is otherwise, Luke 17:7; Genesis 15:2-3, 1 Kings 11:28; 1 Kings 11:40.


Verse 22

22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.

Ver. 22. Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents] It is with Christians as with planets. The moon goes her course in a month, the sun in a year, the rest not but in many years, yet at length they finish. Let us be doing as we can, and our reward is sure with God. Covet rather graces than gifts; as to pray more fervently, though less notionally or eloquently. Stammering Moses must pray, rather than well spoken Aaron. The Corinthians came behind in no gift, 1 Corinthians 1:7, yet were Babes and carnal, 1 Corinthians 3:2-3.


Verse 23

23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Ver. 23. Well done, good and faithful servant] Though this second had the same good acceptance as the former, yet it follows not that they were both alike rewarded; but had a different degree, as of grace, so of glory.


Verse 24

24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:

Ver. 24. Lord, I knew that thou wert, &c.] Invalidum omne natura querelum. A sorry senseless excuse it is that this man makes for himself; and such as is both false and frivolous. It shows an utter emptiness of the oil of God’s grace, when men’s lips, like doors on rusty hinges, move not without murmuring and discontentedness.


Verse 25

25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.

Ver. 25. I was afraid, and went and hid, &c.] So God must bear the blame of his unfaithfulness. "The foolishness of man perverteth his way," and (then to mend the matter) his heart fretteth against the Lord, or at least he digests his choler, as horses do, by chomping on the bridle bit, Proverbs 19:3.


Verse 26

26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:

Ver. 26. Thou wicked and slothful servant] God puts no difference between Nequaquam et nequam, an idle and an evil servant. Had idleness been a calling, this servant had been both a good husband and a good fellow too. But what saith the heathen? Nec illi falsi sunt, qui diversissimas res expectant, ignaviae voluptatem, et praemia virtutis. (Sallust. in Jug.)


Verse 27

27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

Ver. 27. Received the same with usury] Our Saviour doth no more patronize usury here than he doth injustice, Luke 16:1; theft, 1 Thessalonians 5:2; dancing, Matthew 11:17; Olympic games, 1 Corinthians 9:24.


Verse 28

28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.

Ver. 28. Take therefore the talent from him] God will take his own, and be gone from an unworthy people or person, Hosea 2:9. The idol shepherd’s "arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye utterly darkened," Zechariah 11:17. It is no hard matter to observe a wane and decay of God’s gifts in them that use them not; till at last, Zedekiah like, they may say, "When did the Spirit depart from me?" 1 Kings 22:24. And as many of Ishbosheth’s friends shrank together with Abner, so do men’s abilities fail amain, when once they begin to fail, till at last God lays them aside, as so many broken vessels, and cause them to be forgotten, as dead men out of mind, Psalms 31:21.


Verse 29

29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

Ver. 29. But from him that hath not shall be, &c.] {See Trapp on "Matthew 13:12"} where the like is spoken, but with this difference. There our Saviour speaketh of proud men, such as arrogate to themselves that they have not; here of the idle and evil persons, such as improve and employ not that which they have; the rust of whose worth shall rise up against them, James 5:3.


Verse 30

30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Ver. 30. And cast ye the unprofitable servant] αχρειος, useless. That had his soul for salt only, to keep his body from putrefying, that worthless, sapless, useless man, that is no more missed when gone than the parings of one’s nails, that never did good among his people, Ezekiel 18:18, but lived wickedly, and therefore died wickedly. Away with such a fellow, saith Christ, from off the earth, which he hath burdened, ετωσιον αχθος αρουρης. Hom.


Verse 31

31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

Ver. 31. And all the holy angels with him] He shall not leave one behind him in heaven. Oh! what a brave bright day must that needs be, when so many glorious suns shall shine in the firmament, and among and above them all the Sun of righteousness, in whom our nature is advanced above the brightest cherub.

Upon the throne of his glory] Perhaps upon his angels, who are called thrones, Colossians 1:16, and possibly may bear him aloft by their natural strength, as on their shoulders.


Verse 32

32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

Ver. 32. And before him shall be gathered all] Then shall Adam see all his nephews at once; none shall be excused for absence at this general assizes, none shall appear by a proxy, all shall be compelled to come in and hear their sentence; which may be, as some conceive, a long while adoing. It may be made evident (saith one) from Scripture and reason, that this day of Christ’s kingly office in judging all men shall last haply longer than his private administration now (wherein he is less glorious) in governing the world. Things shall not be suddenly shuffled up at last day, as some imagine. (Mr Shepeard’s Sincere Convert, p. 87.)

And he shall separate them] Before he hears their causes; which is an argument of singular skill in the Judge; it being the course of other judges to proceed, Secundum allegata et probata. accoprding to their deeds. But he shall set men’s sins in order before their eyes, Psalms 50:21, with items of the particulars.


Verse 33

33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Ver. 33. The sheep on the right hand, &c.] A place of dignity and safety. Our Saviour seems here to allude to that of Moses’ dividing the tribes on Gerizim and Ebal. Those six tribes that came from the free women are set to bless the people; as the other five, that came of the bondwomen (whereunto is adjoined Reuben for his incest) are set to say Amen to the curses, Deuteronomy 27:11-13.


Verse 34

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

Ver. 34. Come, ye blessed of my Father] Paterne alloquitur. As who should say, Where have ye been, my darlings, all this while of my long absence? Come, come, now into my bosom, which is now wide open to receive you, as the most welcome guests that ever accosted me, &c. And surely if Jacob’s and Joseph’s meetings were so unspeakably comfortable: if Mary and Elisabeth did so greet and congratulate, oh what shall be the joy of that last day!

Inherit the kingdom prepared] Here (as in the Turk’s court) every man is aut Caesar aut nullus, either Caesar or nothing, as he said, either a king or a captive; as the sultan’s children, if they reign not, they die without mercy, either by the sword or halter.

From the foundation of the world] Their heads were destined long since to the diadem, as Tertullian hath it. King James was crowned in his cradle; Sapores, king of Persia, before he was born (for his father dying, the nobles set the crown on his mother’s belly); but the saints were crowned in God’s eternal counsel, before the world was founded.


Verse 35

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

Ver. 35. For I was an hungred] "For" in this place denoteth not the cause, but the evidence. It is all one as if I should say, This man liveth, for behold he moveth. Where it will easily be yielded, that motion is not the cause of life, but the evidence and effect of it. So here. Merit is a mere fiction, since there can be no proportion between the work and the wages.


Verse 36

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Ver. 36. Naked, and ye clothed me] Darius, before he came to the kingdom, received a garment for a gift of one Syloson. And when he became king he rewarded him with the command of his country Samus. {Aelian, l. 4. c. 5. 1:187} Who now will say that Syloson merited such a boon for so small a courtesy? A gardener, offering a rape root (being the best present the poor man had) to the Duke of Burgundy, was bountifully rewarded by the duke, which his steward observing, thought to make use of his bounty, presenting him with a very fair horse. The duke ( ut perspicaci erat ingenio, saith mine author) being a very wise man, perceived the project, received the horse, and gave him nothing for it. Right so will God deal with our merit mongers, that by building monasteries, &c., think to purchase heaven.

I was sick, and ye visited me] Our King Henry III, the same day that he set sail for France, himself did in person visit the poor and feeble, and dealt large alms; not refusing to kiss the sick and leprous. (Speed. 603.) This was well done, if without opinion of merit; and with the like mind that Dr Taylor, martyr, usually visited the alms houses and hospitals, there to see what the poor and sick lacked, to procure them supplies, and to give them good counsel.

I was in prison, and ye came to me] Many Papists have hence concluded that there are only six works of mercy, Visito, poto, cibo, &c., to visit, feed, drink &c, whereas indeed there are many more. But it is remarkable out of this text, that the last definitive sentence shall pass upon men, according to their forwardness and freeness in showing mercy to the family of faith. And that the sentence of absolution shall contain a manifestation of all their good works, and that with such fervency of affection in Christ, that he will see and remember nothing in them but the good they have done. See my Common-place of Alms.


Verse 37

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

Ver. 37. Then shall the righteous, &c.] Not that there shall be then any such dialogism (say divines) at the last day: but Christ would hereby give us to understand that the saints rising again, and returning to themselves, can never sufficiently set forth such a bounty in Christ, whereby he taketh all they do to their poor necessitous brethren, in as good part as done to his sacred self.


Verse 38

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

Ver. 38. {See Trapp on "Matthew 25:37"}


Verse 39

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

Ver. 39. {See Trapp on "Matthew 25:37"}


Verse 40

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Ver. 40. One of the least of these my brethren] What a comfort is this, that our own Brother shall judge us, who is much more compassionate than any Joseph. What an honour, that Christ calls us his brethren. What an obligation is such a dignity to all possible duty, that we stain not our kindred. Antigonus being invited to a place where a notable harlot was to be present, asked counsel of Menedemus what he should do. He bade him only remember that he was a king’s son. Remember we that we are Christ the King’s brethren, and it may prove a singular preservative. Vellem si non essem Imperator, said Scipio, when a harlot was offered unto him, I would, if I were not general. Take thou the pillage of the field, said Themistocles to his friend: ανελου σεαυτω, συ γαρ ουκ ει θημιστοκλης, for thou art not Themistocles.

Ye have done it unto me] Christ, saith Salvian, is, Mendicorum maximus, the greatest beggar, as one that shareth in all the saints’ necessities; and who would but relieve necessitous Christ? Find some Mephibosheth, in whom we may seal up love to deceased Jonathan. My goodness extendeth not to thee, saith David, but to the saints, Christ’s receivers, Psalms 16:2-3. Mr Fox never denied beggar that asked in Jesus’ name. And being once asked whether he knew a certain poor man who had received succour from him in time of trouble, he answered, I remember him well: I tell you, I forget lords and ladies to remember such.


Verse 41

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

Ver. 41. Then shall he say also, &c.] Then: judgment as it begins here at God’s house, so shall it at the last day. The elect shall be crowned, and then the reprobates doomed and damned.

Depart from me, ye cursed, &c.] A sentence that breathes out nothing but fire and brimstone, stings and horrors, woe, and, alas, torments without end and past imagination. Mercy, Lord, saith the merciless miser. No, saith Christ, Depart, be packing.

Yet bless me before I go.

"Depart, ye cursed."

To some good place then.

To hell fire, not material fire, but worse in many respects.

But let me then come out again.

It is everlasting fire, eternity of extremity. This is the hell of hell; this puts the damned to their ουαι ουαι, as much as if they should say, ουκ αει, ουκ αει, Not ever, Lord, torment us thus. But they have a will to sin ever; and being worthless they cannot satisfy God’s justice in any time; therefore is their fire everlasting.

But let me have some good company in my misery.

"The devil and his angels."

But who appointed me this hard condition?

It was prepared of old. The all-powerful wisdom did, as it were, sit down and devise most tormenting temper for that most formidable fire. And here it is hard to say, whether be more woeful, "Depart from me, ye cursed," or that which followeth, "into everlasting fire;" pain of loss, or pain of sense. Sure it is, that the tears of hell are not sufficient to bewail the loss of heaven; the worm of grief gnaws as painful as the fire burns. If those good souls, Acts 20:37-38, wept because they should see Paul’s face no more, how deplorable is the eternal deprivation of the beatiful vision!


Verse 42

42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

Ver. 42. For I was an hungred, &c.] Ill works are the just causes of damnation, as being perfectly evil. But good works can be no such causes of salvation, because due debts to God, and at the best imperfect.


Verse 43

43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Ver. 43. I was a stranger, &c.] These fools of the people had a price in their hands to get heaven (as Joseph by his bounty bought the land of Egypt), but they had no heart to it, Proverbs 17:16. Richard son to Henry III of England was elected king of Romans, being preferred therein before Alphonsus king of Spain, his competitor. The Spaniard pretended and complained to have been first elected. But being, it seems, a great mathematician, he was drawing lines when he should have drawn out his purse, and so came anticipating his hopes. {a} And is not this many an Englishman’s fault and folly?

{a} Daniel’s Hist. of England, 174.


Verse 44

44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

Ver. 44. Lord, when saw we thee, &c.] They were sand blind, and could not see Christ in poor Christians, { μυωπαζοντες, 2 Peter 1:9} whom they should have looked upon as the only earthly angels, the dearly beloved of Christ’s soul, Jeremiah 12:7; the house of his glory, Isaiah 60:7; an ornament of God, Ezekiel 7:20; a royal diadem in the hand of Jehovah, Isaiah 62:3.


Verse 45

45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

Ver. 45. Inasmuch as ye did it not to one, &c.] Omissions then are damnable sins. Ammonites and Moabites were bastardized and banished the beauty of holiness, the tabernacle of God, to the tenth generation, because they met not God’s Israel with bread and water in the wilderness, Deuteronomy 23:3-4, Not to do justice is injustice; not to show mercy is cruelty. Where then will oppressors appear, that grind the faces of the poor, that quaff their tears, and make music of their shrieks? "Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl," &c., James 5:1-3. If not relieving of the poor damns men, what shall robbing do, but double damnation?


Verse 46

46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Ver. 46. And these shall go away, &c.] The sentence began with the godly, the execution with the wicked: both that the godly may see their desire upon their enemies, Psalms 58:10; Psalms 79:10; and also, that in the others’ misery they may behold, by the difference, their own felicity; and thereby be moved to lift up many a humble, joyful, and thankful heart to God.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Matthew 25:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/matthew-25.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, December 14th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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