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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator
Matthew 16

 

 

Verses 1-5

Matthew 16:1-5

O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky.

Signs of the times

The proper observing of these signs. They are heavenly, and therefore must be seen in a heart which is seeking those things which are spiritual.

1. The sign of the day. Another day is gone. The day of the Lord is nearer. Am I better prepared for it?

2. The sign of the cross of his Saviour. Has he crucified every evil affection?

3. The sign of the example of his Saviour.

4. The signs of the times in which he is living, and he considers how they are the harbingers of the last day, and how he must conduct himself accordingly.

5. And the question with the man of God is, what do these signs foreshadow? Do they prove that he has advanced in the Christian course? Then the heavens are red with joyful signs for the morrow.

6. The redness of the evening sky may deceive, as we all know; these signs never can.

7. Whatsoever the signs of the sky foreshadow, we cannot alter; but we may alter that which is threatened by the signs of the spiritual world.

8. The true Christian will observe the signs of the morning as he rises as it were from death unto life again, and he will prepare himself for the coming day. Is it red and lowering with the coming storms of trial and temptation; then he will prepare to meet it.

9. The Christian does not desire any more signs from heaven. The more watchful he is the more he finds that he has already, and the more evident and certain they are. The very last has been given, the Son of man has risen from the dead.

10. Scripture is full of exhortations to Christian watchfulness.

11. The rebuke which our Lord administered to these worldly-minded sign-seekers-“And He left them and departed.” (R. W. Evades, B. D.)

Signs

The things that happen to nations and men are, in the most proper sense of the word, “signs from heaven “ of the Divine government and its counsel.

I. Personal signs for every man’s instruction, teach every man, at his peril, not to despise prophesyings. We read in the diligence, the moral goodness of the boy, the nature and history of the coming man. We say, “It will be fair weather.” These are signs from heaven. In familiar, when the evening glows the morning is fine; where there is affection and piety, we prognosticate “ fine weather.” You are a sign from heaven, if unforgiven, a sign of coming storm.

II. Popular signs are always of number and force sufficient to give us an understanding of the character of the future. The life, the preaching of the Baptist was a sign of approaching change. The character of our Lord was a sign of God’s care of His children. (B. Kent.)

Unfairness in the treatment of religion

It is a humiliating fact that thoughtful men deal with the great facts of religion after a fashion which, in any other department of human inquiry, would he recognized as illogical or absurd.

I. Take an example from recorded history, Men treat Jesus Christ with a scepticism they do not Napoleon Bonaparte.

II. Take science. Christianity is a science as truly as chemistry. Its fundamental facts are determined by thousands of experiments. But how many accept the testimony of scientists and reject that of religionists. True religion has its difficulties, but has science any fewer?

III. As regards the bible. In temporal matters men investigate that which relates to their safety; but when eternal safety is at stake men do not give time to its consideration.

IV. As with God’s Book, so with god’s witnesses. In a court of justice men accept evidence: but fight against it in religion. Men do not reject bank notes because some are forged; but they reject Christianity because of one false professor.

V. In nothing but pure mathematics do men insist upon mathematical certainty. The whole conduct of life is predicated upon a preponderance of probabilites. Upon this principle they plough and plant, buy and build, work and wait. Is it probable that all the generous and noble fruits are based on superstition.

VI. When of two ways of procedure one is known to be absolutely: safe and the other fraught with perils, all men choose the path of safety. It is safe to be a Christian; yet safety is rejected. Let a man be honest, do himself justice, and give Christianity fair play. (P. S. Henson, D. D.)

The demand of unbelief

This demand of the Jews was-

I. Prompted by wrong motives-“and tempting.” This was a two-edged temptation.

1. Suppose He should not give the sign, either by refusal or failure. Then they hoped to destroy His influence and to impress the people that he was a false Messiah.

2. But if He worked a miracle He would have yielded to their low ideas of His Messiahship and of its evidence. The scribes and Pharisees were bitter enemies of each other, yet combined to overthrow Christ: and how large a part of modern religious investigation is due to the enmity and selfishness of human hearts. Discussion is frequently designed not to fix but to unsettle faith. There are men who talk plausibly and with seeming sincerity about these matters, who in their hearts would be pleased at the destruction of Christianity. Again, their are men who use gospel themes as the theatre upon which to display their intellectual power. They demand evidence neither possible or reasonable. This is different from the humble inquirer who, walking in darkness, asks the way of light and life.

II. This demand was presumptious-”From heaven.” They limited Christ as to the method in which He should display His divinity. There are people who determine in their own minds the way in which God shall reveal Himself; the truth must flow through channels they have dug, or they will reject it.

III. This demand was due to their blind unbelief. They refused to recognize the force of the evidence already given them (Matthew 11:5). Men inveigh against the Bible who never read it. They cry out for water and refuse to draw from the abundant wells of salvation around them.

IV. This request led to their desertion by Christ. The spirit manifested by these Jews showed that it was useless to remain longer with them.

1. He denied them further manifestation of His power-“There shall no sign be given.”

2. Christ withdrew Himself from them. This He did

The signs of the times

I. Some of the signs of the times. Every age has its peculiar developments-signs. We live in an age that is replete with these moral indicators, and to sonic of them we call attention.

1. The almost universal diffusion of knowledge is one of the signs of the times.

2. The extent of its new discoveries and inventions.

3. The increasing power and commanding position of the Anglo-Saxon race.

4 The decay and approaching dissolution of heathen governments.

II. What do these signs indicate? These signs clearly indicate the rapid progress of Messiah’s kingdom.

III. What is our duty in view of these signs of the times?

1. Rightly to discern them.

2. To seek an entrance into the kingdom of Christ without delay.

3. Labour and pray for its incoming in greater power and glory. (P. M. Brett, D. D.)

Too many signs of the times surround us on every side to make it either right, or wise, or safe, or happy to pass them by unnoticed.

I. Let us seek to understand distinctly what is intended by a sign. May be miraculous or moral.

II. What particularly were those signs which our lord rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees for not having observed?

III. Inquire whether the order of things in prophecy compared with the aspect of our own times may not afford us some instruction. It is a Christian duty to discern the signs, to watch the moral aspect of the times in which we live. We shall thus learn more of the intentions and character of the Divine Being. (J. P. Dunn.)

Human and Divine ideas of revelation

I. The human. From earliest times men have demanded a “sign from heaven.”

II. The divine idea of a revelation.

1. The atheist says, “If there be a God let Him manifest Himself.” How silently, but majestically, on earth and in sky is God revealing Himself.

2. The Jews demanded of Jesus a sign. Yet He wrought “ wonders and signs” amongst them.

3. God reveals Himself in the words of prophets and evangelists.

III. The contrast in the two ideas of revelation.

1. Man’s revelation must be addressed to his senses, to his imagination, and the marvellous-some fitful, awful display; God reveals Himself alone to what is spiritual, i.e., to what is deepest in man.

2. God’s revelations come to men’s experience. (Dr. Chase.)

The hindrances to His work for the Church

It is necessary to take into account the character of the mind to which it has to address itself as well as the nature of the truth which it has to speak. How rapid and widespread and radical the change during the last half-century! How far is this new spirit checking the progress of truth, and in what way can we deal with it?

I. Some of the intellectual tendencies working against faith. The science of the day. The restless spirit which it begets. Uncertainty respecting the great truths of Christianity is regarded as a justification for neutrality. The influence of this widespread tendency is distinctly hostile to the acceptance of the gospel and the culture of vital godliness. Scepticism is in the air, and there are those who must be in the fashion of the hour. Our congregations are honeycombed with this sentiment. God forbid that we should despair or even look doubtfully to the future! But it behoves us to take care that our work be wisely and well and truly done. The gospel has still a power which will assert itself.

II. Some hints as to the mode in which Christians should meet these difficulties.

1. Not for us to sit down and mourn over evils, as though they were irreparable.

2. A policy of suppression never has succeeded, least of all is it likely to succeed in an age thrilled with all the energy of life, and strong to vehemence in the assertion of its own independence and freedom. It ought not to succeed. Protestants, of all men, can have no satisfaction in the contemplation of what would be a mere make-belief for a living faith. Liberty must have its perfect work, and a true faith will have no fear as to the consequences.

3. The true mode of dealing with the sceptical mind of the time is to dwell on points of agreement rather than of difference. Science has not yet stilled the longing of the heart for God, and it has been unable to meet it. (J. G. Rogers, B. S.)

The signs of the times

The most striking peculiarities of the present age.

I. The great increase of mental exertion. Some periods have been marked by intellectual inaction and even retrogression. Such was that period in which, after the decline of the Platonic philosophy, Aristotle reigned in all the schools and was idolized as “ the secretary of nature who dipt his pen in intellect.” Since that era the greatest advances have been made in every department of science, more especially during the last century, etc.

II. An increased attention to the instruction of the lower classes.

III. The improved state of preaching, and the more abundant supply of the public means of grace. In our own and other countries.

IV. The advancement of the bible as the great and only standard of christian faith and practice.

V. The increasing harmony which prevails among the genuine disciples of Jesus Christ.

VI. The extension of civil and religious liberty. (Robert Hall, A. M.)

The signs of the times

I. The nature of these signs which should be regarded as appointed indications of the future.

II. The signs presented by the present times, with the duties they suggest.

1. A spirit of inquiry.

2. A spirit of active enterprize.

3. Let us beware lest in the excitement of passing events our attention should be diverted from our own spiritual prosperity. (J. West.)

The wicked’s craft to ensnare God’s people described

I. The demand of a sign.

1. Observe the efficients or causes of it-Pharisees and Sadducees.

2. The end for which they did desire it, and that was to tempt Him.

II. Our saviour’s rejection of this demand.

1. The reproof He gives them and their persons.

2. The ground of His reproof of them, and that is a conviction of their readiness to believe more uncertain things upon less credible ground than they would believe Him to be the Messiah sent of God upon most certain and evident grounds. (John Cotton.)

Fair weather-for the sky is red

A Palestinian prognostication, which may or may not be applicable to other countries. The Saviour, in referring to it, does not intend to affix to it a seal of scientific approbation. It was enough for His purpose that the forecast was accepted by the weather-wise in Palestine. Doubtless it would, as a general rule at least, be a true forecast; for it indicated, we presume, that in the contiguous region of the atmosphere into which the sun on setting was descending, or had descended, there was no dense accumulation of clouds threatening a coming storm of rain. If there had been such clouds the sun’s golden radiance would have been drunk up and intercepted, and thus there would have been no redness of the evening sky. (J. Morison, D. D.)

Signs

The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light! To all things that concern their temporal interests how keenly are men alive! They will meditate, observe, infer, and act upon their inferences. The agriculturist notes carefully the approaching alterations in the weather; the politician watches the current of popular feeling and the moods of men; the scientific inquirer devotes all his energies to the observation of facts that will enable him to wrest from nature her secrets; the speculator is constantly on the outlook for the first symptoms of an alteration in prices. Yet how often do these very same men decline to take any interest in the highest of all subjects-the relationship of God to man-on the plea that it is too vague and too uncertain for practical consideration! They demand that this shall be put before them by some outward visible proof which it shall be impossible to dispute before they will acknowledge its claims upon them. They are blind to the signs which are ever around them and within them, and which demand at least as much interest and inquiry as do the signs in the outward world which engross their attention. (V. W. Hutton, M. A.)

The signs of the times

I. The difficulty of satisfying impracticable people.

II. The dangers of a half-educated sagacity.

III. The demand of Christianity to be judged by a wide induction of facts. (Pulpit Germs.)

Changes in theological opinion a sign of the times; not to be feared

Why did my multitudinous trees throw off their leaves last autumn? Was their throwing them off a sign that they were dying? They did not throw off one single leaf until they had a baby leaf wrapped up and lying along the branch. They threw off the garments of last year, and to-day they are putting on the garments of this year. So, with respect to them, change was growth, and preparation for growth. Why does the kernel of wheat die? Should a modern sceptic, after the seed had been in the ground for a few warm days, go through the field seeking for it, raking it up, and finding it rotten in his hand, he would say, “Don’t you perceive that agriculture is all a myth? The thing is dead.” But it must die if it would live. The reason of its decay is that its sustenance may be sucked up into the root and stem, and give new life to them; and when a single kernel seems to die, it is but a pang of birth for a hundred kernels that come into life. Thus there are changes going on in the Church. There are many things in it that must decay, in order that other things may grow. The spirit of Christianity is not changing, but its surroundings will more or less change or be thrown off, in order that it may unfold. Christianity is like a lighthouse over whose glass the keeper has permitted spiders to spin their webs, or on which insects have gathered until the glass is so dim that the light, though it shines brightly on the inside, is scarcely seen on the outside. These obstructions must be scoured off, the rubbish must be taken out of the way, in order that the light may shine out. There are thousands of things in the interpretations of religion that are obscurations. (H. W. Beecher.)

Signs from heaven

I. A hypocritical request.

II. A withering rebuke.

III. An indignant denial. (Expository Outlines.)


Verses 1-12

Verse 6

Matthew 16:6; Matthew 16:12

Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

The leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees

I. The leaven of the Pharisees. The most numerous and popular sect among the Jews. Their corruptions may, for the sake of distinction, be summed up under three heads.

1. They were rigid predestinarians, or believers in what modern language calls philosophical necessity. Take heed.

2. They rejected the written Word of God as the only and sufficient standard of religious truth, and the guide of religious practice; and they observed the tradition of the elders, which often made this written law of node effect. Take heed, and beware of the very same leaven.

3. Their righteousness, though strict in its kind, was merely external; consisting chiefly in a multitude of ceremonious practices. How many are there like them? Beware!

II. The leaven of the Sadducees. Their heresy likewise may be described under three heads.-

1. They denied the fallen and depraved state of mankind; disputed the doctrine of hereditary corruption; and maintained that the will of man is, by nature, and without any special grace of God, as free to good as to evil

2. They not only rejected the traditions of the elders, but explained away much of the Old Testament, and thus rendered its teaching of none effect.

3. They denied the existence of angels and spirits, the resurrection of the dead, and a future state of rewards and punishments. Take heed, and beware! (J. Bunting, D. D.)

Erroneous doctrines are like leaven

in the following respects:-

1. They are, at first, slight and unimportant in appearance.

2. They are insinuated into the soul unawares and silently, and are difficult of detection.

3. They act gradually.

4. They act most certainly.

5. They will pervade all the soul, and bring all the faculties under their control. (A. Barnes.)

The influence of evil doctrine unperceived, yet injurious to our future welfare

Archbishop Whately has made reference to the remarkable fact that the caterpillars of moths and butterflies are often attacked by ichneumon flies, which pierce their skins and deposit their eggs in the caterpillar’s body. No immediate result follows, and no injury seems to have been done until the period when the caterpillar becomes a chrysalis. Instead of a beautiful moth or butterfly emerging from the latter, only the parasitic insects appear. The hidden butterfly has been silently destroyed. The Archbishop’s suggestive comment is-“May not a man have a kind of secret enemy within-destroying his soul without interfering with his well-being during the present stage of his existence, and whose presence may never be detected till the time arrives when the last great change should take place.”

The leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees

I. In this warning, it will be observed, Pharisaic and Sadducaic tendencies are identified. Jesus speaks not of the leavens, but of one common to both sects, as if they were two species of one genus, two branches from one stem. Superficially, the two parties were diverse-the one strict, the other easy, in morals. But here extremes meet. They were all hostile to the Divine kingdom. Thus to be a Christian it is not enough to differ superficially from either Pharisees or Sadducees, but to differ radically from both. A weighty truth not yet understood. To avoid Pharisaic strictness and superstition men run into Sadducaic scepticism, both equally far horn the truth. The spirit of unbelief which ruled in Jewish society Jesus described as leaven, with special reference to its diffusiveness.

II. Jesus next found new matter for annoyance in the stupidity of friends. The disciples misunderstood the warning word. “It is because we have no bread.” Had they possessed more faith and spirituality they would not have put the earthly meaning into the words. How vain it is to discourse concerning Divine things to men whose minds are preoccupied with earthly cares Leaven makes them think of loaves. (A. B. Bruce, D. D.)


Verse 12

Matthew 16:6; Matthew 16:12

Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

The leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees

I. The leaven of the Pharisees. The most numerous and popular sect among the Jews. Their corruptions may, for the sake of distinction, be summed up under three heads.

1. They were rigid predestinarians, or believers in what modern language calls philosophical necessity. Take heed.

2. They rejected the written Word of God as the only and sufficient standard of religious truth, and the guide of religious practice; and they observed the tradition of the elders, which often made this written law of node effect. Take heed, and beware of the very same leaven.

3. Their righteousness, though strict in its kind, was merely external; consisting chiefly in a multitude of ceremonious practices. How many are there like them? Beware!

II. The leaven of the Sadducees. Their heresy likewise may be described under three heads.-

1. They denied the fallen and depraved state of mankind; disputed the doctrine of hereditary corruption; and maintained that the will of man is, by nature, and without any special grace of God, as free to good as to evil

2. They not only rejected the traditions of the elders, but explained away much of the Old Testament, and thus rendered its teaching of none effect.

3. They denied the existence of angels and spirits, the resurrection of the dead, and a future state of rewards and punishments. Take heed, and beware! (J. Bunting, D. D.)

Erroneous doctrines are like leaven

in the following respects:-

1. They are, at first, slight and unimportant in appearance.

2. They are insinuated into the soul unawares and silently, and are difficult of detection.

3. They act gradually.

4. They act most certainly.

5. They will pervade all the soul, and bring all the faculties under their control. (A. Barnes.)

The influence of evil doctrine unperceived, yet injurious to our future welfare

Archbishop Whately has made reference to the remarkable fact that the caterpillars of moths and butterflies are often attacked by ichneumon flies, which pierce their skins and deposit their eggs in the caterpillar’s body. No immediate result follows, and no injury seems to have been done until the period when the caterpillar becomes a chrysalis. Instead of a beautiful moth or butterfly emerging from the latter, only the parasitic insects appear. The hidden butterfly has been silently destroyed. The Archbishop’s suggestive comment is-“May not a man have a kind of secret enemy within-destroying his soul without interfering with his well-being during the present stage of his existence, and whose presence may never be detected till the time arrives when the last great change should take place.”

The leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees

I. In this warning, it will be observed, Pharisaic and Sadducaic tendencies are identified. Jesus speaks not of the leavens, but of one common to both sects, as if they were two species of one genus, two branches from one stem. Superficially, the two parties were diverse-the one strict, the other easy, in morals. But here extremes meet. They were all hostile to the Divine kingdom. Thus to be a Christian it is not enough to differ superficially from either Pharisees or Sadducees, but to differ radically from both. A weighty truth not yet understood. To avoid Pharisaic strictness and superstition men run into Sadducaic scepticism, both equally far horn the truth. The spirit of unbelief which ruled in Jewish society Jesus described as leaven, with special reference to its diffusiveness.

II. Jesus next found new matter for annoyance in the stupidity of friends. The disciples misunderstood the warning word. “It is because we have no bread.” Had they possessed more faith and spirituality they would not have put the earthly meaning into the words. How vain it is to discourse concerning Divine things to men whose minds are preoccupied with earthly cares Leaven makes them think of loaves. (A. B. Bruce, D. D.)


Verse 13

Matthew 16:13; Matthew 16:17

Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am?

Confession and cross-bearing

I. The confession.

1. The substance of the confession.

2. The source of the confession (Matthew 16:17).

3. The power of the confession (Matthew 16:18-19).

4. The limitations of the confession (Matthew 16:20).

II. The covenant of the christian church

1. The dignity of cross-bearing (Matthew 16:21; Matthew 16:23).

2. The necessity of crossbearing (Matthew 16:24-26).

3. The rewards of cross-bearing (Matthew 16:27-28). (Monday Club Sermons.)

The Son of man-the Son of God

I. The question of Jesus Christ-“Whom do men,” etc.

1. The first word we shall emphasize is the word “men.” His mind soars above all national distinctions.

2. The other word we shall emphasize is the word “ Son of man.” He is humanity condensed.

3. We shall next emphasize the two words together-men and “ Son of man.” The Saviour presents Himself on the level of our common humanity, and appeals to our common sense, our common nature, to say who He is.

II. The answer of the world.

III. The answer of the church. (J. C. Jones.)

Christ the universal man

He is not an excrescence of our nature. No poet He, no philosopher He, no man of science He. He was all these in one, He was man, thorough man, growing out of the depths of our nature. The sea on the surface is divided into waves-go down and you will soon come to a region where there are no waves, where there is nothing but water. And humanity on the surface is broken into nationalities and individualities. But go down a little way, and you will soon come to a region where differences give place to resemblances: force your way down and you will soon arrive at the region of human unities, where every man is like every other man. Now Jesus Christ emerges from the profoundest depths of our nature, from the region of unities. No Jew He-no Greek He-no Roman He-but Man. He touches you and me not in our branches but in our roots. Show me an oak and show me an ash tree: it is easy to tell the difference between them in the branches, but not so easy in the roots. Show me a rose and show me a tulip: any one can tell the difference between them in the leaf, but only a very few can tell the difference between them in their seeds. And Jesus Christ is the “Root of Jesse,” “the Seed of Abraham and of David;” and all nations and all men in their roots and seeds are very much alike. (Monday Club Sermons)

The true idea of Christ to be obtained from the New Testament rather than from creeds

Creeds embody the ripest and most advanced thoughts of the ages they represent. It is not against the use of creeds that I speak-we cannot very conveniently do without them-but against their abuse, against setting them up in every jot and tittle as infallible standards for all subsequent ages. If you look at a picture of the sky in our picture galleries, you will find that with rare exceptions it has been rendered too hard and too material. The sky on canvas is a ceiling beyond which the eye cannot wander. But if you go out of the gallery a very different sky will open itself before you-a sky which seems to recede for ever before your vision. The sky of painters is too often a thing to be looked at; the sky of nature is not a thing to be looked at, but a thing to be looked through. In like manner, the truth concerning Christ as rendered in creeds and systems is hard and dry-it is the sky of the picture. The truth concerning Christ as presented in the Gospels is deep, living, infinite-it is the sky of nature. And I greatly rejoice that men try to understand the Christ of the Gospels and not the Christ of the creeds, the Christ of the evangelists and not the Christ of the schools. “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Monday Club Sermons.)

Christ the centre of theology

An American writer says: “We have in our congregation a little deaf and dumb boy. On Sunday he loves to have his mother find for him the words that we are all singing, though the music never thrills his quiet ear, nor touches his heart. He looks at the hymn, glides his little finger over every word to the end; if he finds ‘ Jesus’ there, he is satisfied and absorbed to the close of the singing; but if the word ‘ Jesus’ is not there, he closes the book, and will have nothing more to do with it.” So should we test the religions of the day-if we find Jesus the central thought of any system of theology, it is good, it will do for us; if not, turn away and have nothing to do with it.

Christ mentally conceived

He was conceived over thirty years ago in the nature of man, but in the text for the first time is He conceived in the mind of man; and the conception in the mind was as necessary to our salvation as the conception in the nature. (Monday Club Sermons.)

Opinion sought by a question

Benjamin Franklin made an experiment, one of the most daring ever made by mortal man. Seeing a cluster of thunder-clouds hanging overhead, he let fly into their midst a paper kite, to which was attached a metallic chain. As the kite was flying among the clouds, anxiety weighed heavily on his heart. At last he presumptuously applied his knuckles to the chain and called forth sparks of wild lightning; and had the stream of electricity been a little stronger at the time, the philosopher would have met with instantaneous death. He has left on record, that so surprising was the discovery to him, that in the ecstasy of the moment he expressed his willingness to die there and then. In like manner there were clouds of opinion afloat in society respecting Jesus Christ, indeed the thunder-clouds were gathering fast. “Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am? … Some say that Thou art John the Baptist”-that is one cloud. “Others, Elias”-that is another cloud. “Others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets”-that is a cluster of clouds. Everything seemed mist and haze, vagueness and uncertainty. Jesus Christ prayerfully and anxiously flies a question into the midst of these dark clouds. What will the result be? His heart trembles, therefore He prays. See the question fly-“But whom say ye that I am?” What answer will be called forth? “ Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Monday Club Sermons.)

The Christ of God

I. The question-“Whom say ye that I am?” It is a great mercy that Jesus calls out the faith that is in His disciples. By what various means of questioning does He speak? Sometimes by conscious afflictions; by our very fails. This is the question of questions; not what we think of Churches, disciples, but of Christ.

II. The answer-“Thou art the Christ,” etc. There was little comparative light in the apostles before the Day of Pentecost; the Holy Spirit must teach to saving profit. But they were still His disciples, though their faith was small. It is humbling that, having so much more light than they, we should have less love. All the glory of Christ as the Mediator hangs upon the glory of His Person. If a mere creature, His work is comparatively nothing.

III. The vast encouragement-“Blessed art thou.” The infinite condescension of Jesus. He takes notice and encourages the weakest faith.

1. How blessed the condition of those who have been taught this lesson. “Flesh and blood hath not revealed it.” Nature, education, miracles, never taught it. What a foundation for strong confidence. He, the Son of God.

2. How great the sin of the man who rejects this Son of the living God. (J. H. Evans, M. A.)

Peter’s faith

I. Peter’s faith.

II. The source of Peter’s faith.

III. What Peter’s faith qualified him to be.

IV. The special reward of Peter’s faith. Conclusion: How can we become stones in Christ’s Church? Not naturally. Only by having Peter’s faith. In Jesus as “the Christ.” In Jesus as “the Son of God.” How may we get this faith? God alone can give it-ask Him. (E. Stock.)

Peter’s compression

How hearty and distinct is this utterance! This is the first “ Confession of Faith.” This is the true Apostles’ Creed. These are the prime and essential articles of catholic verity, upon which rest all sound theology and all saving faith. In this short but illustrious statement, says a great theologian, you have the whole truth with respect to the Person and the work of Jesus Christ.

1. It is plainly implied that Jesus Christ possesses human nature, a true body and a reasonable soul. He put the question as the Son of man. He was a real man.

2. The confession of Peter asserts the divinity as well as the humanity of our Lord. He calls Him the “ Son of the living God.” This expression denotes Divine nature. He is set forth as a Divine Person in the Old Testament. He manifested Himself in this character in the days of His flesh, etc. Had He been less than Divine, He could not have been the Saviour.

3. The confession of Peter asserts the truth with regard to the office or work as well as the Person of the Son of God. He declares that He is the Christ, that is, the Messiah, etc. And for what end? It is to save sinners. This is the great work given Him to do. He is the only, the all-sufficient, Saviour of sinners. To Him alone belongs all the glory. Believest thou these things? Is this thy heartfelt creed and confession? (A. Thompson.)

Christ’s appeal to our individual faith

This is a most pertinent question now. Reasons why we should ask it of ourselves.

I. We are in danger, as the disciples were, of being affected by the crude opinions of men about our Lord, and His religion, and His Church.

II. The question is vital, for it asserts the great truth that only a deep, strong faith will ever inspire confidence in others.

III. It shows us how dear to Christ is the personal faith of the soul. (Ellison Capers.)

Right apprehensions of the character of Christ essential to salvation

I. That there are many opinions about Christ.

1. As regards His Person.

2. As regards the nature of the work which He came to accomplish.

3. As regards His religion, His acquirements, and His claims.

II. It is of the utmost importance that we form correct and decided opinions on this subject. Our opportunities of doing so are very great. (Dr. T. Raffles.)

Whom do men say that I am?-

I. That when Christ became a man he could not seem divine according to the pre-conceptions of men, who looked for the exhibition of that which appeals to the sense, and who did not look for inward harmony. Christ did bring with Him the Divine nature, but not the attributes of Jehovah disclosed in their amplitude. He humbled Himself.

II. Every person came to Christ through some elements that were in himself. Some came to Him through the door of sympathy; some from lower motives. What is Christ to you? Is He part of your life? (H. W. Beecher.)

The personal affirmations of Christ

What did Christ teach concerning Himself?

1. He affirmed the divinity of His redemptive mission.

2. His independence of, and separation from, the world.

3. His pre-existence.

4. Some of the affirmations of Christ contain most impressive representations of His character and work-“I am the Bread of Life,” “I am the Light of the World,” “I am the Door,” “I am the True Vine.”

5. Some of the affirmations of our Lord contain wondrous glimpses of His grace and glory.

6. His second coming in great glory. (G. W. McCree.)

Public opinion concerning Jesus Christ

1. Was not Christ superior to what men thought about him? He did not stoop to public opinion, but was anxious to know that men had clear and right conceptions concerning Him; that He did not live and teach in vain. What are men saying in yonder workshop of you?

2. We must try and find out what is the public opinion to-day about Christ, and instruct, correct it, gently. (W. Cuff.)

Christ’s divinity incidentally indicated in the New Testament, not logically proved

It is in these incidental ways that we see Jesus Christ best. Yes, and I will venture to say that it is in these incidental ways we see all men best. We do not understand men best because we see them in their great efforts. Please do not take me to the poet, if you want me to understand him thoroughly, when he has got his pen, ink, and paper ready to write his great poem. I should see him then in a great mood, but I should not see him in an incidental way, and in all the little things that make up the man’s character. I do not want to see Mr. Gladstone when he is braced up to chop down an ash-tree; nor do I want to see him as he has braced himself to make a great speech in the House of Commons. I should want to see him as his wife sees him; and I venture to say that we should understand him better in that than in any other way. Your wife knows you better than anybody else; she sees you in the little things of every-day life, and it is in these incidental ways that the great things and the great truths come up all through the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. You do not value that clock yonder for its striking capacity. I do not know whether it strikes at all; however, it has a very fine musical bell in it that knocks off twelve, when it is twelve, in a quick or slow manner, but you would not value it for that. You value the clock for its capacity to tell you every minute of the time and every hour of the day. And just as you look at the little things on the face, and get the minutes as well as the hour, you value the clock for its correctness. (W. Cuff.)

Varied views of Christ

We find Christ so differently because we seek Him in such very different ways. We cannot have a uniform Christ any more than we can have a uniform experience. In essence, in character, in love, in pity, Jesus Christ will ever be the same to every sinner who comes to Him, but as we come to Him we shall seem to have a very different Christ, because we use our own glasses, and, therefore, see Him from different points of view, and have different convictions about Him. Here is a person who comes to Jesus Christ, who has been educated and brought up in a manner of refinement and beauty, whose home has been the centre of everything that was charming; his mother was gentle, and sweet as an angel, his education from boarding-school days until he settled himself in life was all that could be desired to train the taste, to balance the judgment, and to make the character round, unique, and beautiful. By-and-by he comes to Jesus Christ, and he comes along such a different path to that man over there, for he was born down a back street, where hardly a gleam of sunshine ever burst through his mother’s window, and he hardly ever saw a beautiful flower; certainly his boyish feet never tripped along a green field; he never heard the birds sing in the wood, nor saw the light and charm of nature as others have seen it; rough, rude, uneducated, unable to read one word of the New Testament. By-and-by that man comes to Christ, and he sits in the church at the Lord’s table by the side of that other educated and refined Christian. If they compare notes they will seem to have a very different Christ, because they came along such very different roads up to the cross. I believe, brethren, that that first view of Jesus in the soul’s experience makes a vast deal of difference to his whole thinking and to his whole life about the Saviour whom he first saw. Oh, what passion burns in one man, and what calm, strong, intellectual, and dignified faith wrestles and grapples in the other, as he comes up first to look at Jesus Christ. John Newton saw Him like this:-

“I saw One hanging on a tree

In agonies and blood,

Who fixed His languid eyes on me,

As near His cross I stood;

And never till my latest breath

Shall I forget that look,

It seemed to charge me with His death,

Though not a word He spoke.”

James Allen saw Him like this:-

“Sweet the moments, rich in blessing,

Which before the cross I spend,

Love and health and peace possessing,

From the sinner’s dying friend.

Here it is I find my heaven

While upon His cross I gaze,

Love I much? I’ve more forgiven,

I am a miracle of grace.”

So the poets and hymn-writers came to Him differently, and seemed to take a different view of Him. (W. Cuff.)

The revelation of Christ often misinterpreted

Payson, when he lay on his bed dying, said: “All my life Christ has seemed to me as a star afar off; but little by little He has been advancing and growing larger and larger, till now His beams seem to fill the whole hemisphere, and I am floating in the glory of God, wondering with unutterable wonder how such a mote as I should be glorified in His light;” but he came to that after a long life. (H. W. Beecher.)

The revelation of Christ an inward power, rather than a scientific belief

But how many people there are whose God is no bigger than a confession of faith! How many persons have a God that is like a dried specimen of a flower in a herbarium, which is good for science, and for nothing else? But Christ is a power-a glory-a life; and he that has come to Christ, and accepted Him even in the smallest degree, to him it is given to become, and to know that he is becoming, a son of God. To all of you I say, stand fast in the faith, in the inward sense, of a living Saviour. Love Him and trust Him. (H. W. Beecher)

The revelation of Christ perfected in heaven

And remember that what you see now is full of mixture-that, like ill-blown glass, it is full of crinckles-that it is full of elements that are drawn from the peculiarities of your own nature. Look upon Christ as one that, all after, much as He is to you, is to be revealed in you-that is to say, when you have grown, when you have been cleansed, when you leave this body behind, and when you rise to stand face to face with God, the little that you knew before will be as what a man has seen who has never been out of his garden here compared with what he would see if he were, by some power, translated into a tropical forest. He has seen growths in a northern clime largely developed under glass, but oh, to see the growths that have been developed by the tropical powers of nature! And when we shall see Him as He is-in magnitude-in wonderful disposition-in profound, and sweet, and life-giving influences-then, with an ecstasy of joy, we shall cast our crowns at His feet and say: “Not unto us, not unto us, but unto Thy name be the praise.” (H. W. Beecher)

Perverse views of Christ

Well, now I must gather up the fragments and close; and I will do so by saying that there will be, as there have been, very different answers given as to who the Son of man is. There always were different answers; there always must be; because men look at Christ as they look at other men and other things. We do not all look at the New Testament through the same mental laws; and that makes all the difference in the answer we shall give to the question, “Whom do you say I, the Son of God, am?” You know if you go to the photographer’s shop and ask the artist to be kind enough to let you look through the lens covered by that little black piece of cloth, and if you look at the chair on which you have to sit for your portrait, it is reversed, and the opposite of what you expected it to be. That is how some men look at other men. They always see them reversed-very different to what they are. That is precisely the kind of lens that many bring to the New Testament to look at Christ. (W. Cuff.)

Religious affections produce a conviction of reality

Spiritual things have the influence of reality upon renewed persons. Their eyes are opened to see that the doctrines of the Bible are really true. Not all religious affections are attended with this conviction, because not produced by the spiritual illumination of the mind. Whore the understanding is spiritually enlightened, the affections do not spring from so-called discoveries, from a strong confidence of their good estate, from a strong persuasion that the Christian religion is true as the result of education, or from mere reasons and arguments. Spiritual affections spring from the beauty of Divine things; their beauty is discerned through the illumination of the mind; and this view produces the conviction of their reality.

I. Directly. The judgment is directly convinced of the divinity of the gospel by the clear view of its inherent glory and excellence. Many things in the gospel are hid from the eyes of natural men which are manifest to those who have a spiritual sense and taste, and to whom the beauty and glory of the gospel are revealed. To them alone religion becomes experimental. Were it otherwise, the illiterate and the heathen could not have so thorough a conviction as to embrace the gospel and hazard every earthly thing for its possession. God gives to these some sort of evidence that His covenant is true beyond all mere probability or historical evidence, which the illiterate are capable of, and which produces the “full assurance of faith.” They become witnesses to the truth through being spiritually enlightened. “Infidelity never prevailed so much in any age as in this, wherein these arguments (from ancient traditions, histories and monuments) are handled to the greatest advantage.” To be a witness is to see the truth.

II. Indirectly.

1. This view of Divine glory removes enmities and prejudices of the heart, so that the mind is more open to the force of the reasons which are presented.

2. And, by thus removing hindrances, it positively helps reason. “It makes even the speculative notions more lively.” In this way truly gracious affections are distinguished from others, “for gracious affections are evermore attended with such a conviction of the judgment.”

III. Some conclusions.

1. There is a degree of conviction which arises from the common enlightenings of the Spirit of God. This may lead to belief, but not to the spiritual conviction of truth, and the apprehension of its Divine beauty and glory.

2. There are extraordinary impressions on the imagination, which are delusive, and produce only a counterfeit faith.

3. Those beliefs of truth, which rest merely upon our supposed interest in what the gospel reveals and promises, are also vain. (J. Edwards.)

St. Peter here confesses that our Lord is

I.

II. In this confession there are included these. Truths-

.

This truth was not revealed to Peter-


Verses 13-28

Verse 17

Matthew 16:13; Matthew 16:17

Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am?

Confession and cross-bearing

I. The confession.

1. The substance of the confession.

2. The source of the confession (Matthew 16:17).

3. The power of the confession (Matthew 16:18-19).

4. The limitations of the confession (Matthew 16:20).

II. The covenant of the christian church

1. The dignity of cross-bearing (Matthew 16:21; Matthew 16:23).

2. The necessity of crossbearing (Matthew 16:24-26).

3. The rewards of cross-bearing (Matthew 16:27-28). (Monday Club Sermons.)

The Son of man-the Son of God

I. The question of Jesus Christ-“Whom do men,” etc.

1. The first word we shall emphasize is the word “men.” His mind soars above all national distinctions.

2. The other word we shall emphasize is the word “ Son of man.” He is humanity condensed.

3. We shall next emphasize the two words together-men and “ Son of man.” The Saviour presents Himself on the level of our common humanity, and appeals to our common sense, our common nature, to say who He is.

II. The answer of the world.

III. The answer of the church. (J. C. Jones.)

Christ the universal man

He is not an excrescence of our nature. No poet He, no philosopher He, no man of science He. He was all these in one, He was man, thorough man, growing out of the depths of our nature. The sea on the surface is divided into waves-go down and you will soon come to a region where there are no waves, where there is nothing but water. And humanity on the surface is broken into nationalities and individualities. But go down a little way, and you will soon come to a region where differences give place to resemblances: force your way down and you will soon arrive at the region of human unities, where every man is like every other man. Now Jesus Christ emerges from the profoundest depths of our nature, from the region of unities. No Jew He-no Greek He-no Roman He-but Man. He touches you and me not in our branches but in our roots. Show me an oak and show me an ash tree: it is easy to tell the difference between them in the branches, but not so easy in the roots. Show me a rose and show me a tulip: any one can tell the difference between them in the leaf, but only a very few can tell the difference between them in their seeds. And Jesus Christ is the “Root of Jesse,” “the Seed of Abraham and of David;” and all nations and all men in their roots and seeds are very much alike. (Monday Club Sermons)

The true idea of Christ to be obtained from the New Testament rather than from creeds

Creeds embody the ripest and most advanced thoughts of the ages they represent. It is not against the use of creeds that I speak-we cannot very conveniently do without them-but against their abuse, against setting them up in every jot and tittle as infallible standards for all subsequent ages. If you look at a picture of the sky in our picture galleries, you will find that with rare exceptions it has been rendered too hard and too material. The sky on canvas is a ceiling beyond which the eye cannot wander. But if you go out of the gallery a very different sky will open itself before you-a sky which seems to recede for ever before your vision. The sky of painters is too often a thing to be looked at; the sky of nature is not a thing to be looked at, but a thing to be looked through. In like manner, the truth concerning Christ as rendered in creeds and systems is hard and dry-it is the sky of the picture. The truth concerning Christ as presented in the Gospels is deep, living, infinite-it is the sky of nature. And I greatly rejoice that men try to understand the Christ of the Gospels and not the Christ of the creeds, the Christ of the evangelists and not the Christ of the schools. “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Monday Club Sermons.)

Christ the centre of theology

An American writer says: “We have in our congregation a little deaf and dumb boy. On Sunday he loves to have his mother find for him the words that we are all singing, though the music never thrills his quiet ear, nor touches his heart. He looks at the hymn, glides his little finger over every word to the end; if he finds ‘ Jesus’ there, he is satisfied and absorbed to the close of the singing; but if the word ‘ Jesus’ is not there, he closes the book, and will have nothing more to do with it.” So should we test the religions of the day-if we find Jesus the central thought of any system of theology, it is good, it will do for us; if not, turn away and have nothing to do with it.

Christ mentally conceived

He was conceived over thirty years ago in the nature of man, but in the text for the first time is He conceived in the mind of man; and the conception in the mind was as necessary to our salvation as the conception in the nature. (Monday Club Sermons.)

Opinion sought by a question

Benjamin Franklin made an experiment, one of the most daring ever made by mortal man. Seeing a cluster of thunder-clouds hanging overhead, he let fly into their midst a paper kite, to which was attached a metallic chain. As the kite was flying among the clouds, anxiety weighed heavily on his heart. At last he presumptuously applied his knuckles to the chain and called forth sparks of wild lightning; and had the stream of electricity been a little stronger at the time, the philosopher would have met with instantaneous death. He has left on record, that so surprising was the discovery to him, that in the ecstasy of the moment he expressed his willingness to die there and then. In like manner there were clouds of opinion afloat in society respecting Jesus Christ, indeed the thunder-clouds were gathering fast. “Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am? … Some say that Thou art John the Baptist”-that is one cloud. “Others, Elias”-that is another cloud. “Others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets”-that is a cluster of clouds. Everything seemed mist and haze, vagueness and uncertainty. Jesus Christ prayerfully and anxiously flies a question into the midst of these dark clouds. What will the result be? His heart trembles, therefore He prays. See the question fly-“But whom say ye that I am?” What answer will be called forth? “ Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Monday Club Sermons.)

The Christ of God

I. The question-“Whom say ye that I am?” It is a great mercy that Jesus calls out the faith that is in His disciples. By what various means of questioning does He speak? Sometimes by conscious afflictions; by our very fails. This is the question of questions; not what we think of Churches, disciples, but of Christ.

II. The answer-“Thou art the Christ,” etc. There was little comparative light in the apostles before the Day of Pentecost; the Holy Spirit must teach to saving profit. But they were still His disciples, though their faith was small. It is humbling that, having so much more light than they, we should have less love. All the glory of Christ as the Mediator hangs upon the glory of His Person. If a mere creature, His work is comparatively nothing.

III. The vast encouragement-“Blessed art thou.” The infinite condescension of Jesus. He takes notice and encourages the weakest faith.

1. How blessed the condition of those who have been taught this lesson. “Flesh and blood hath not revealed it.” Nature, education, miracles, never taught it. What a foundation for strong confidence. He, the Son of God.

2. How great the sin of the man who rejects this Son of the living God. (J. H. Evans, M. A.)

Peter’s faith

I. Peter’s faith.

II. The source of Peter’s faith.

III. What Peter’s faith qualified him to be.

IV. The special reward of Peter’s faith. Conclusion: How can we become stones in Christ’s Church? Not naturally. Only by having Peter’s faith. In Jesus as “the Christ.” In Jesus as “the Son of God.” How may we get this faith? God alone can give it-ask Him. (E. Stock.)

Peter’s compression

How hearty and distinct is this utterance! This is the first “ Confession of Faith.” This is the true Apostles’ Creed. These are the prime and essential articles of catholic verity, upon which rest all sound theology and all saving faith. In this short but illustrious statement, says a great theologian, you have the whole truth with respect to the Person and the work of Jesus Christ.

1. It is plainly implied that Jesus Christ possesses human nature, a true body and a reasonable soul. He put the question as the Son of man. He was a real man.

2. The confession of Peter asserts the divinity as well as the humanity of our Lord. He calls Him the “ Son of the living God.” This expression denotes Divine nature. He is set forth as a Divine Person in the Old Testament. He manifested Himself in this character in the days of His flesh, etc. Had He been less than Divine, He could not have been the Saviour.

3. The confession of Peter asserts the truth with regard to the office or work as well as the Person of the Son of God. He declares that He is the Christ, that is, the Messiah, etc. And for what end? It is to save sinners. This is the great work given Him to do. He is the only, the all-sufficient, Saviour of sinners. To Him alone belongs all the glory. Believest thou these things? Is this thy heartfelt creed and confession? (A. Thompson.)

Christ’s appeal to our individual faith

This is a most pertinent question now. Reasons why we should ask it of ourselves.

I. We are in danger, as the disciples were, of being affected by the crude opinions of men about our Lord, and His religion, and His Church.

II. The question is vital, for it asserts the great truth that only a deep, strong faith will ever inspire confidence in others.

III. It shows us how dear to Christ is the personal faith of the soul. (Ellison Capers.)

Right apprehensions of the character of Christ essential to salvation

I. That there are many opinions about Christ.

1. As regards His Person.

2. As regards the nature of the work which He came to accomplish.

3. As regards His religion, His acquirements, and His claims.

II. It is of the utmost importance that we form correct and decided opinions on this subject. Our opportunities of doing so are very great. (Dr. T. Raffles.)

Whom do men say that I am?-

I. That when Christ became a man he could not seem divine according to the pre-conceptions of men, who looked for the exhibition of that which appeals to the sense, and who did not look for inward harmony. Christ did bring with Him the Divine nature, but not the attributes of Jehovah disclosed in their amplitude. He humbled Himself.

II. Every person came to Christ through some elements that were in himself. Some came to Him through the door of sympathy; some from lower motives. What is Christ to you? Is He part of your life? (H. W. Beecher.)

The personal affirmations of Christ

What did Christ teach concerning Himself?

1. He affirmed the divinity of His redemptive mission.

2. His independence of, and separation from, the world.

3. His pre-existence.

4. Some of the affirmations of Christ contain most impressive representations of His character and work-“I am the Bread of Life,” “I am the Light of the World,” “I am the Door,” “I am the True Vine.”

5. Some of the affirmations of our Lord contain wondrous glimpses of His grace and glory.

6. His second coming in great glory. (G. W. McCree.)

Public opinion concerning Jesus Christ

1. Was not Christ superior to what men thought about him? He did not stoop to public opinion, but was anxious to know that men had clear and right conceptions concerning Him; that He did not live and teach in vain. What are men saying in yonder workshop of you?

2. We must try and find out what is the public opinion to-day about Christ, and instruct, correct it, gently. (W. Cuff.)

Christ’s divinity incidentally indicated in the New Testament, not logically proved

It is in these incidental ways that we see Jesus Christ best. Yes, and I will venture to say that it is in these incidental ways we see all men best. We do not understand men best because we see them in their great efforts. Please do not take me to the poet, if you want me to understand him thoroughly, when he has got his pen, ink, and paper ready to write his great poem. I should see him then in a great mood, but I should not see him in an incidental way, and in all the little things that make up the man’s character. I do not want to see Mr. Gladstone when he is braced up to chop down an ash-tree; nor do I want to see him as he has braced himself to make a great speech in the House of Commons. I should want to see him as his wife sees him; and I venture to say that we should understand him better in that than in any other way. Your wife knows you better than anybody else; she sees you in the little things of every-day life, and it is in these incidental ways that the great things and the great truths come up all through the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. You do not value that clock yonder for its striking capacity. I do not know whether it strikes at all; however, it has a very fine musical bell in it that knocks off twelve, when it is twelve, in a quick or slow manner, but you would not value it for that. You value the clock for its capacity to tell you every minute of the time and every hour of the day. And just as you look at the little things on the face, and get the minutes as well as the hour, you value the clock for its correctness. (W. Cuff.)

Varied views of Christ

We find Christ so differently because we seek Him in such very different ways. We cannot have a uniform Christ any more than we can have a uniform experience. In essence, in character, in love, in pity, Jesus Christ will ever be the same to every sinner who comes to Him, but as we come to Him we shall seem to have a very different Christ, because we use our own glasses, and, therefore, see Him from different points of view, and have different convictions about Him. Here is a person who comes to Jesus Christ, who has been educated and brought up in a manner of refinement and beauty, whose home has been the centre of everything that was charming; his mother was gentle, and sweet as an angel, his education from boarding-school days until he settled himself in life was all that could be desired to train the taste, to balance the judgment, and to make the character round, unique, and beautiful. By-and-by he comes to Jesus Christ, and he comes along such a different path to that man over there, for he was born down a back street, where hardly a gleam of sunshine ever burst through his mother’s window, and he hardly ever saw a beautiful flower; certainly his boyish feet never tripped along a green field; he never heard the birds sing in the wood, nor saw the light and charm of nature as others have seen it; rough, rude, uneducated, unable to read one word of the New Testament. By-and-by that man comes to Christ, and he sits in the church at the Lord’s table by the side of that other educated and refined Christian. If they compare notes they will seem to have a very different Christ, because they came along such very different roads up to the cross. I believe, brethren, that that first view of Jesus in the soul’s experience makes a vast deal of difference to his whole thinking and to his whole life about the Saviour whom he first saw. Oh, what passion burns in one man, and what calm, strong, intellectual, and dignified faith wrestles and grapples in the other, as he comes up first to look at Jesus Christ. John Newton saw Him like this:-

“I saw One hanging on a tree

In agonies and blood,

Who fixed His languid eyes on me,

As near His cross I stood;

And never till my latest breath

Shall I forget that look,

It seemed to charge me with His death,

Though not a word He spoke.”

James Allen saw Him like this:-

“Sweet the moments, rich in blessing,

Which before the cross I spend,

Love and health and peace possessing,

From the sinner’s dying friend.

Here it is I find my heaven

While upon His cross I gaze,

Love I much? I’ve more forgiven,

I am a miracle of grace.”

So the poets and hymn-writers came to Him differently, and seemed to take a different view of Him. (W. Cuff.)

The revelation of Christ often misinterpreted

Payson, when he lay on his bed dying, said: “All my life Christ has seemed to me as a star afar off; but little by little He has been advancing and growing larger and larger, till now His beams seem to fill the whole hemisphere, and I am floating in the glory of God, wondering with unutterable wonder how such a mote as I should be glorified in His light;” but he came to that after a long life. (H. W. Beecher.)

The revelation of Christ an inward power, rather than a scientific belief

But how many people there are whose God is no bigger than a confession of faith! How many persons have a God that is like a dried specimen of a flower in a herbarium, which is good for science, and for nothing else? But Christ is a power-a glory-a life; and he that has come to Christ, and accepted Him even in the smallest degree, to him it is given to become, and to know that he is becoming, a son of God. To all of you I say, stand fast in the faith, in the inward sense, of a living Saviour. Love Him and trust Him. (H. W. Beecher)

The revelation of Christ perfected in heaven

And remember that what you see now is full of mixture-that, like ill-blown glass, it is full of crinckles-that it is full of elements that are drawn from the peculiarities of your own nature. Look upon Christ as one that, all after, much as He is to you, is to be revealed in you-that is to say, when you have grown, when you have been cleansed, when you leave this body behind, and when you rise to stand face to face with God, the little that you knew before will be as what a man has seen who has never been out of his garden here compared with what he would see if he were, by some power, translated into a tropical forest. He has seen growths in a northern clime largely developed under glass, but oh, to see the growths that have been developed by the tropical powers of nature! And when we shall see Him as He is-in magnitude-in wonderful disposition-in profound, and sweet, and life-giving influences-then, with an ecstasy of joy, we shall cast our crowns at His feet and say: “Not unto us, not unto us, but unto Thy name be the praise.” (H. W. Beecher)

Perverse views of Christ

Well, now I must gather up the fragments and close; and I will do so by saying that there will be, as there have been, very different answers given as to who the Son of man is. There always were different answers; there always must be; because men look at Christ as they look at other men and other things. We do not all look at the New Testament through the same mental laws; and that makes all the difference in the answer we shall give to the question, “Whom do you say I, the Son of God, am?” You know if you go to the photographer’s shop and ask the artist to be kind enough to let you look through the lens covered by that little black piece of cloth, and if you look at the chair on which you have to sit for your portrait, it is reversed, and the opposite of what you expected it to be. That is how some men look at other men. They always see them reversed-very different to what they are. That is precisely the kind of lens that many bring to the New Testament to look at Christ. (W. Cuff.)

Religious affections produce a conviction of reality

Spiritual things have the influence of reality upon renewed persons. Their eyes are opened to see that the doctrines of the Bible are really true. Not all religious affections are attended with this conviction, because not produced by the spiritual illumination of the mind. Whore the understanding is spiritually enlightened, the affections do not spring from so-called discoveries, from a strong confidence of their good estate, from a strong persuasion that the Christian religion is true as the result of education, or from mere reasons and arguments. Spiritual affections spring from the beauty of Divine things; their beauty is discerned through the illumination of the mind; and this view produces the conviction of their reality.

I. Directly. The judgment is directly convinced of the divinity of the gospel by the clear view of its inherent glory and excellence. Many things in the gospel are hid from the eyes of natural men which are manifest to those who have a spiritual sense and taste, and to whom the beauty and glory of the gospel are revealed. To them alone religion becomes experimental. Were it otherwise, the illiterate and the heathen could not have so thorough a conviction as to embrace the gospel and hazard every earthly thing for its possession. God gives to these some sort of evidence that His covenant is true beyond all mere probability or historical evidence, which the illiterate are capable of, and which produces the “full assurance of faith.” They become witnesses to the truth through being spiritually enlightened. “Infidelity never prevailed so much in any age as in this, wherein these arguments (from ancient traditions, histories and monuments) are handled to the greatest advantage.” To be a witness is to see the truth.

II. Indirectly.

1. This view of Divine glory removes enmities and prejudices of the heart, so that the mind is more open to the force of the reasons which are presented.

2. And, by thus removing hindrances, it positively helps reason. “It makes even the speculative notions more lively.” In this way truly gracious affections are distinguished from others, “for gracious affections are evermore attended with such a conviction of the judgment.”

III. Some conclusions.

1. There is a degree of conviction which arises from the common enlightenings of the Spirit of God. This may lead to belief, but not to the spiritual conviction of truth, and the apprehension of its Divine beauty and glory.

2. There are extraordinary impressions on the imagination, which are delusive, and produce only a counterfeit faith.

3. Those beliefs of truth, which rest merely upon our supposed interest in what the gospel reveals and promises, are also vain. (J. Edwards.)

St. Peter here confesses that our Lord is

I.

II. In this confession there are included these. Truths-

.

This truth was not revealed to Peter-


Verse 18

Matthew 16:18

That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church.

The true Christian Church

I. Let us dwell on Peter’s profession of faith. It is not a learned, complicated, or even detailed exposition. Full of depth. It was a rich source of happiness for Peter-“Blessed art thou.” What is the Church of which the Saviour speaks?

II. The church exercises its power through faith. The power of the Church, as regards its essential features, is expressed in the words, “I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” This power not conferred on Peter exclusively. Our Lord did not connect the exercise of this power with one condition, one external and human position; but with the quality of disciple of the Son of God. When any faithful voice proclaims to you the design of God in regard to your salvation, he has the authority of the voice of God Himself; a Divine sentence is uttered respecting you; if you abhor your sins they will be forgiven; if not they are retained.

III. By faith the church triumphs over its enemies. “The gates of hell,” etc.

1. What is this hell whose power shall not prevail against the Church? Its enemies-external, internal.

2. How shall it resist these enemies? Not by violence, carnal display; by faith. (The late Pastor Verny.)

The Church which Christ builds

I. A building-“My Church.” Not a material building; made up of all true believers.

II. The builder-“I will build,” etc. The true Church is cared for by all the three Persons of the Holy Trinity. Christ uses subordinate agencies in this building.

1. His wisdom. Each in right place.

2. His mercy. He despises no stone.

3. His power. In face of opposition.

4. The children of this world take little or no interest in the building of this Church.

III. The foundation.

1. It was laid at a mighty cost.

2. It is very strong.

IV. Implied trials.

1. Marvel not at the enmity of hell.

2. Be prepared for it.

3. Be patient under it.

4. Be not cast down by it.

V. The security. (Bishop Ryle.)

The foundation and perpetuity of the Church

I. THE foundation on which the church rests.

1. How ancient.

2. How firm.

3. How enduring.

II. The agency by which the church is reared.

1. Christ appoints the means.

2. Christ provides the instruments.

3. Christ communicates the blessing.

III. The perpetuity with which the church shall be honoured and blest.

1. Notwithstanding the ravages of death.

2. Notwithstanding the power and policy of Satan. (G. Brooks.)

The perpetuity and safety of the Church of Christ

1. Presumptive evidence of the safety of the Church. It is dear to God; purchased by Christ.

2. Positive declaration of the safety of the Church.

3. Actual facts and experience.

The Church in Egypt under Joseph.

1. This ministers comfort to believers.

2. If God does prepare affliction for His Church, it is for her good. (J. G. Lorimer.)

Christ’s Church

I. The edifice of which the Redeemer speaks. Not any material building. It rises through successive generations.

II. The relation in which Jesus Christ stands to this edifice.

1. Its foundation.

2. Its Architect.

3. Its Proprietor. It is His Church.

4. He is the guarantee of its stability. (T. Raffles, D. D.)

The ultimate defeat of the enemies of the Church

I. God’s church-My Church.”

1. The foundation-“rock.”

2. The superstructure.

3. The Builder-“I.”

II. The church’s foe. Paganism led the van. Fanaticism. (T. Mortimer, B. D.)

The promise to Peter

I. Peter’s confession of his own faith in contrast to the report of the other disciples as to who the people said Christ was.

II. Peter’s confession, contrasted with the delayed speech of the other disciples.

III. Peter’s confession as contrasted with the less explicit confessions of others that had preceded it.

IV. How the promise to this man of rock was fulfilled. What is there in your character and conduct on which the Lord can build His Church? (John Poster)

The permanence of Christ’s Church

Our Lord Jesus Christ in His Divine character as the Messiah, the Son of the living God, and the foundation of the Christian Church.

I. The Christian church is, for everything that distinguishes it as such, directly dependent upon Christ as God. The Church is distinguished from all other forms of organized society-

1. By its peculiar origin and history. It comes up out of the past as no other form of organized society ever has or can. It takes root in the garden of man’s innocency, immediately after the first sin.

2. By the character of its members. No other organization has ever been found thus constituted.

3. By its system of government and law. Governs from within.

II. The church of Christ, being thus builded upon him, as messiah, the son of the living God, is assured of security and perpetuity.

1. The yawning gates of death, open to receive the Church; the gates into which all human travellers pass. The disciples were dying men; enemies might say that the Church would pass away with the few fanatics who had been deceived by it. Believers have died, but the Church lives.

2. The Church’s security and perpetuity beyond this earthly life. The heavenly Church. (A. J. Kynett, D. D.)

The visibility of the true Church

I. What the church of Christ is.

II. As to the foundation of the church.

1. Negatively. Not Peter.

Some assert that Peter was the foundation in a secondary sense.

2. Positively-that Christ is the only true foundation of the Church.

III. The duration of the church, in some state of visibility throughout all ages.

1. The Church’s opposites” the gates of hell.”

2. Their great undertakings.

IV. Comfort for all true members. Of the church of Christ.

1. Let holy souls be comforted in this-that no weapon formed against Mount Zion shall finally prosper.

2. The Church, after all assaults and conflicts, shall be completely victorious, she shall joyfully survive her enemies, and behold their funerals. (S. Lee, M. A.)

The Church improved by trial

“Satan hath emptied his quiver, but hath not hurt the Church.” By how much the more the enemies rage against her, by so much the more the true professors of piety and faith increase: not unlike the vine, that grows the more fertile by pruning; or as the palm, that rises the more erect after weights and pressures; gad although in time of trouble like some plants that shut up their flowers upon a storm, yet afterward display their lively and lovely colours more oriently to the face of the shining sun. (S. Lee, M. A.)

The Church upon the Rock

I. To what the Saviour refers as to the foundation of His Church.

II. That the foundation of the church is a truth-“Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.”

1. A truth in itself indestructible.

2. A truth never to be invalidated.

3. A living truth.

4. A uniting truth-“My Church.” (G. S. Green, D. D.)

The Church’s security

Christ assures us here of the constancy of the assaults which Satan will make upon the Church and its members. He does not promise the removal of trial and tribulation, assault and temptation, but Divine strength by which to overcome evil.

1. That the truth which Peter has here confessed shall never be lost to the great body of His faithful ones; that the Church shall never, as a whole, fall from the faith, or lose its hold of the truth.

2. That however corrupt many of the members of the Church shall be, it shall never be wholly depraved, or fall utterly from that sanctity which it has through union with Him.

3. That human councils, and man’s devices, and Satan’s assaults upon the Church, shall never prevail; for, since it is of God, it cannot come to naught. (W. Denton, M. A.)

My Church

Christ’s Church is

“I will build, my Church”

Here Christ represents the Church as an edifice, of which He is the Architect and the Builder. The kind of edifice is not specified. And indeed it could not well be, at least exhaustively. It is a house. It is a temple. But it is a city too, gathered around the central temple, and into which, indeed, the temple has expanded. It is Zion. It is Jerusalem. It is the New Jerusalem, the heavenly Jerusalem. It is a place of perfect security. It is a fortress, standing high upon a rock. It is a safe city of refuge. Its “defence is the munition of rocks,” or of what is far better and stronger than rocks. (J. Morison, D. D.)

The Church of Christ

1. The Architect.

2. The Building.

3. The Foundation.

4. The materials.

5. Its permanence. (Anon.)

Castle of Bahias suggesting the “rock” figure:

A little way to the left of the village there stands the majestic ruin of the Castle of Banias, built on the rocky crest of a projecting spur of Hermon, which rises a thousand feet above the village, and it is itself several hundred feet higher. Is it possible to doubt that the eye of the Great Master and His disciples was turned, while He spoke, to that castle upon its rocky base, filling up the whole view eastward, and that he doubled the impression of His sayings, as He so often did, by surrounding them with the framework and casting on them the colouring of a natural picture? (A. Thomson.)

The Church a building

The Church of Christ is not a material building, a temple made with hands, of brick, or wood, or stone, or marble. It is no particular visible church on earth; it is made up of all true believers in Christ, of every name and rank and people and tongue. All visible churches on earth are its servants and handmaidens; they are the scaffolding behind which the grand building is going on the husk under which the living kernel grows. The Temple of Solomon in all its glory was mean and contemptible in comparison with this Church, which is built upon a Rock; small and despicable though it may be in this world, it is precious and honourable in the sight of God. Statesmen, rulers, kings, and all the rowers of hell, may scheme and plan against it; they are only the axes and saws in God’s hands, in the erection of Christ’s spiritual temple, the gathering in of living stones into the one true Church. (Bishop J. C. Ryle.)

The foundation of the Church

I. The church is built on Christ. It is built on Jesus Christ, and not upon any idea or representation of Him.

2. It is built upon the historical Christ.

3. But if it is built on the historical Christ, then it must be built upon the theological Christ-the Christ as represented in the doctrines of the Church.

II. The church is built upon Christ as the God-man.

1. It is built upon the God-man.

2. It is built upon the God-man, and not upon the man-God.

3. It is built upon the God-man, and not upon any theory.

III. The Church is built upon Jesus Christ as the God-man slain.

1. To be the foundation of the Church it was necessary that He should be slain.

2. The idea of the God-man slain seems to be the foundation of all the thoughts of God.

3. And as the “Lamb slain” was the centre of the Divine thoughts before the creation of the world, so will He become the centre of the myriad thoughts of redeemed humanity after the creation shall have been destroyed.

4. Make sure of your foundation. Build a Church

Christianity indestructible

There is a picture frontispiece in Wycliffe’s Bible which, to my mind, is very significant, very prophetic. There is a fire burning and spreading rather rapidly, representing Christianity; and around the spreading fire are congregated a considerable number of significant and most important individuals, all endeavouring to devise methods whereby they can put the fire out. Among the number, I see there one gentleman with horns and a tail, I suppose representing his satanic majesty; and another is the Pope of Rome, with a few red-coated cardinals; Mahomet, I believe, has a representative there too, and there is another representative of infidelity; and they are all devising some means, suggesting some method whereby to extinguish the fire, and after considerable cogitation one of them suggests that they should all make a desperate effort to blow on the fire till they blow it out. The resolution is adopted, and there they are with swollen cheeks and extended lips, blowing upon the fire with all their might, but instead of blowing it out, they are blowing it up, and they blow themselves out of breath before they blow the fire out. It is an unquenchable flame, and no human power can extinguish it. (Richard Roberts.)


Verse 19

Matthew 16:19

And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.

The keys

1. The kingdom of heaven does not mean heaven.

2. The kingdom of heaven does not mean the Church. It indicates power:

I. administrative.

II. Didactic. (D. Fraser, D. D.)

“I will give unto thee the keys”

The Saviour had spoken of an edifice in which Peter was to be a conspicuous foundation-stone. The edifice was a temple. The scene was then varied a little; and the edifice was a city. The scene was varied again; the city is a kingdom. It is the kingdom of heaven. All the representations are significant. They are all appropriate aspects, though varied, of the grand reality. Our Lord promises to Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven. As the kingdom is a city, keys are needed for the gates. The city is a fortified place, a castle, the palatial residence of the Great King. A steward of the house is required, a major-domo, one who may take charge not only of the keys of the gates, but of the keys of the treasure-house too, and of all the storerooms of the establishment. Our Saviour intimates to Peter that he would be constituted such a steward of the house of God. He was to have great power and authority as the prime minister of the King. Acting according to the commands of his Sovereign, he would have authority to open the gates or to shut them; to open the storehouses or to close them. His power would be, relatively to the King, administrative only. And in discharge of the functions of his high office he would at once be instructed from above by the Divine Spirit, and be assisted from around by other high officials-the other apostles. He and they unitedly would constitute the King’s ministry. He would be premier. Hence it was that on the Day of Pentecost he took the lead and opened the gates of the kingdom to the Jews. Hence too, when he was in Joppa, he was instructed by his Lord to open the gates of the kingdom to the Gentiles; and he did it. Hence also, in all the lists of the apostles, Peter is invariably mentioned first. He has, however, no successor in his premiership, just as he had no successor as a Foundation-Stone. The Foundation-Stone lasts for ever. So do all the living stones. They live for ever. And so the ministry of the apostles continues for ever. The laws of the King are communicated to us for ever through the ministry of his apostolic ministers. (J. Morison, D. D.)

The keys of the kingdom

Every Jewish scribe, when fully trained and authorized to teach his brethren, received from his tutors and superiors a key, to symbolize the knowledge of the Divine will which he possessed, and was about to dedicate to the service of his brethren; many of them either carried a key at their girdle, or had it woven into their robe, as an open sign of the profession to which they had been set apart. When, therefore, Christ put “ the keys of the kingdom of heaven “ into the hands of His disciples, they would understand that they were to become scribes in His kingdom; teachers of the truth, expounders of the law they had learned from Him; witnesses and exemplars of the life they had seen Him live. These keys we have authority to use too-keys of righteousness and charity, i.e., keys of kindness and good living, as well as keys of wisdom and knowledge. By our daily conduct, and by the spirit of our whole conduct, no less than by our words, we are saying to our fellows, “This, so far as we understand Him, is how Christ would have men live; you have only to live so, and you will be in His kingdom, under His rule and benediction.” By our good words, and our good works, we are to constitute ourselves door-keepers in the House of the Lord, and to open the doors to all who would enter in. It is, then, no merely personal salvation, no merely future and distant heaven, no merely selfish and ignoble task, for which we look and to which we are summoned. We are looking for the heaven of being now and always in tune with the will of God, and for a salvation which embraces the whole nature of man, and extends to every race and kindred and tribe. (S. Cox, D. D.)

Binding and loosing

In the language of the Jewish schools, to “bind “ and to “ loose,” meant to prohibit and to permit, to determine what was wrong and must not be done, and what was right and ought to be done. Rabbi Sham-mat, for instance, bound all heathen learning, i.e., he forbade his disciples to acquire it-declared what we should call “classical studies” to be wrong; while Rabbi Hillel loosed these studies-declared them to be right, that is, and encouraged his disciples to take them up. In addressing this promise to His first disciples, therefore, Christ meant to say that, humble and unlearned as they were, yet, in virtue of the new spiritual life and insight which He had conferred upon them, they should become “masters of sentences,” and their decisions as to what was right and what wrong, should carry no less authority than they had once attached to the decisions of their rabbis and scribes. This promise also extends to us. We are authorized to make those practical applications of truth to the conditions and needs of the hour, by which the moral life and tone of men will be raised and purified. And we have made use of this power in the following, among other ways:

1. Abolishing slavery.

2. Raising the status of woman.

3. Securing the education of children.

4. Advancing the cause of temperance, thrift, industry.

5. Promoting the growth of freedom, and the fraternity of men and nations.

In these and similar ways, the general teaching of Christ has been applied to the social and moral conditions of men, bringing out new bearings of familiar principles on human conduct and duty. (S. Cox, D. D.)

Church discipline

Once from the pulpit, at an ordination of elders, the late Rev. M. M’Cheyne made the following declaration. “When I first entered upon the work of the ministry among you, I was exceedingly ignorant of the vast importance of church discipline. I thought that my great, and almost only, work was to pray and preach. I saw your souls to be so precious, and the time so short, that I devoted all my time and care and strength to labour in word and doctrine. When cases of discipline were brought before me and the elders, I regarded them with something like abhorrence. It was a duty I shrank from; and I may truly say it nearly drove me from the work of the ministry among you altogether. But it pleased God, who teaches His servants in another way than man teaches, to bless some of the cases of discipline to the manifest and undeniable conversion of the souls of those under our care; and from that hour a new light broke in upon my mind, and I saw that if preaching be an ordinance of Christ, so is church discipline. I now feel very deeply persuaded that both are of God; that two keys are committed to us by Christ-the one the key of doctrine, by means of which we unlock the treasures of the Bible: the other the key of discipline, by which we open or shut the way to the sealing ordinances of the faith. Both are Christ’s gift, and neither is to be resigned without sin.”

The opening and shutting power of the Christian life

Every praying man and every praying woman on the globe that lives in the intelligent knowledge of Christ, and employs the spirit and truth of Christ intelligently, just as much as councils, and synods, and conventions, and churches, has this power of the keys. God gives it to every one that desires to have the living nature of Christ in him. Ah! do you not suppose there have been thousands of men, who have gone down through life arrogating this claim, that never opened the door of heaven to one single soul? And yet there have been hundreds of poor bed-ridden Christians whose key was bright with perpetual using, and who, by faith, and example, and testimony, and clarity of teaching, did bind iniquity in the world, by the golden cords of truth, and did set loose, by the same truth, those that were bound, giving them power of spiritual insight, giving them emancipation, and bringing them into the large light and liberty of the children of God. Emancipators of the soul they were-humble, uncrowned, uncanonical, unordained, God-sanctified souls. They knew Christ, and loved Him, and poured out His spirit upon men. And every man that has that spirit has God’s keys in his hands, and has authority to bind and loose-to bind lies and all iniquity, and to set loose all those that suffer oppression by reason of spiritual despotism. They go forth effulgent messengers of God’s light and the emancipation that goes with it. (H. W. Beecher.)

The responsibility of the key-power

It is no mean prerogative; it is past all estimation, indeed, for honour and for dignity, to have the power to open heaven to any soul. If God were to give you the power to go forth, and, touching the earth, to open its fruitful bosom, so that where-ever you pressed your hand or your foot, out there should pour treasures of grain and treasures of fruit; if God were to give you that power which in ages gone by was attributed to Ceres, when it was supposed that she came to earth and taught men the arts of agriculture-what a power that would be. If God had given you power to touch the hidden treasures of metal; to know where iron lies buried; to know where all the veins of gold and silver are; to open up all the treasures beneath the surface of the earth, men would have supposed that that was a great and sovereign endowment-and it would have been great and sovereign in a lower sphere. But how much more noble is it that God has given men the power to develop, not gold and silver that perish, but riches that never fade, that moth and rust never corrupt, and that thieves do not break through to steal-eternal treasures-the immortal spirits of men. But this is the case. God has given authority to every man that lives in the higher realm of truth, to open the eternal realm to those around about him, as an inspired apostle. For you are a lineal successor of the apostle, every one of you that does the apostle’s work. And God sends every man that goes forth to carry the Spirit of God to his fellow-men. And it is no small prerogative, no small honour, but a most responsible trust, to have committed to you the keys of life and death; to carry in yourself those influences that shall be a savour of life to some, and a savour of death to others-that shall be a buttress and a wall of defence to some, and a stumbling-stone and rock of offence and destruction to others. How solemn it is that God gives men to be parents in this life, to rear up congregations out of their own loins, to sit in the church of the family, and makes fathers and mothers to be apostles, and gives to them keys, saying, “What you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and what you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” It is even so. You cannot free yourself from the obligation. You cannot help it. You are the key-keeper for your children. You are the door-keeper for your own offspring. Take heed, then, how you carry yourselves as parents in your own household-how you administer God’s Word. It depends much upon you whether, at last, your children shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, or whether they shall rise to everlasting shame and contempt. (H. W. Beecher.)

Inspiration carries the keys

When you are inspired you have the keys. In your sublimest moods, when earth fades into a fleck hardly to be seen, and heaven crowds itself in noble fellowship upon your soul, the whole man is lifted up in an ecstasy Divine. In that hour the church holds the keys. You do not hold the keys because of hereditary descent, or ecclesiastical relationship, or mechanical contrivance, or superior patronage-you hold the keys only so long as you realize the inspiration. And no man can take those keys from you; everywhere the inspired man keeps the keys-in merchandise, in statesmanship, in philosophy, in adventure, in religious thinking, in Christian civilization, you cannot keep down the inspired man. (Dr. Parker.)


Verse 21

Matthew 16:21; Matthew 16:23

From that time forth began Jesus to show unto His disciples, how that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer.

Christ foretelling His death

I. Let us observe the state of mind with which Christ looked forward to his approaching sufferings. Jesus was not ignorant of the serious sufferings which were coming upon Him. It is no small part of our happiness that future calamity is partly hidden.

1. A state of unshaken constancy. We must be firm in the way of duty, having counted the cost.

2. The principle by which He was supported-faith. “For we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.”

II. What was His conduct, in these circumstances, towards his disciples?

1. His conduct towards them showed great compassion for their infirmities.

2. His displeasure on account of the earthly mind which the apostles betrayed.

Learn:

1. How insufficient is our own wisdom or strength to preserve us in the ways of godliness.

2. How secure are they who trust entirely in the power and grace of the Lord Jesus. (J. Jowett.)

A recommendation of readiness for suffering

I. Peter’s unwillingness to meet God’s will in a course of suffering, evinced by his rebuke of Christ.

1. There was intimacy-“Then Peter took him.”

2. There was disappointment. Peter was disappointed that his Lord should not have the glory he expected.

3. There was ignorance. Peter ought to have known the Scriptures were full of Christ’s sufferings.

4. There was presumption.

II. Christ’s willingness to fulfil all God’s pleasure, evinced in his rebuke of Peter.

1. The indignation of our Lord.

2. He exposed the carnality of his views.

3. Christ’s love for sinners was persevering. (A. T. Burroughs.)

The suffering Saviour

I. A suffering saviour

1. The suffering was not only great, but peculiar.

2. And all this the text says was necessary. The word “must” is prefixed to all these clauses. We may interpret the word in three ways.

3. It is a very peculiar feature of the Saviour’s suffering that He had the foreknowledge of it in every detail. In this respect He stands alone among the heroes of faith. They had no foresight of the time, place, or circumstances of their sufferings. Our Lord alone lived His life under the shadow of the cross. The majesty of the character which could endure the weight of so terrible a prospect, remain calm, self-forgetting, etc., and even say in the fore-view of death by crucifixion: “I have a baptism,” etc.

II. The repugnance of human nature to pain and death. Human nature shrinks for itself from the touch of pain, and doubly for its loved ones. The words do not imply any want of love or reverence-it was their ver), motive. Love and reverence spoke; but ignorance and presumption spoke too. Human nature shrinks with special sensitiveness, till it is taught of God, from the idea of a suffering Saviour. The revelation of atonement by sacrifice was kept veiled from Peter. A veil is upon the heart still of multitudes-they see not why a Father should not forgive without the intervention of a Mediator, etc.

III. The reply of jesus to the rebuke of his servant. This shows the Saviour feeling this repugnance to suffering as a severe temptation, repelling the suggestion of the self-sparing as a cruel aggravation of His great life trial, and making the acceptance of suffering the very point of difference between the carnal mind and the spiritual. We have to accept Christ’s suffering, and we have to accept our own. (Dean Vaughan.)

St. Peter’s rebuke of Christ

I. How serious was the Apostle’s offence. In reference to religion the seeming generosity of an error is no excuse for it.

II. The causes which led to the Apostle’s error and sin.

1. He had misunderstood some part of what he had heard. St. Peter should have looked at the fact of Christ’s suffering in the light of His previous communications.

2. There was a second part of what Jesus had said which the apostle ignored altogether. He had said that He would rise from the dead on the third day.

3. The third cause of St. Peter’s error was his assuming that his own ideas of what was best must needs be true, or at least were actually true. St. Peter was in reality desiring the worst thing possible; our redemption could not have been accomplished without the cross.

III. Similar mistakes occur with ourselves.

1. In reference to the dispensations belonging to our personal history and fortunes. How often a part is misunderstood and left out. In the gloom of trial we overlook the resurrection.

2. In reference to the government of the world “rod the course of providence generally.

3. In reference to the claims of Divine revelation generally, and especially the claims of Jesus the Christ as the sum and centre of it. Learn:

1. Be resolute in all humbleness when you think of God’s ways.

2. Loyalty to the personal Christ.

3. Accept Christ’s word as He gives it. (W. S. Chapman, M. A.)

The temptation arising from human

love:-How are we to explain the severity of our Lord’s rebuke?

I. When it was this rebuke was given. Our Lord had just entered upon the delicate task of Teacher, the bringing ,,f the minds of His disciples into familiarity with the deeper things in His life and work. In passing from ignorance to knowledge there must he a little contention. This the crucial time-“I must speak of My sufferings.” He enters upon the process. St. Peter spoils it. His rashness would not let him learn. Christian progress meets hindrances from two sources:

II. The kingdom of God is very often hindered by that which it has itself produced. In society to-day there is a softness, a consideration for ease of life, which has grown up under Christianity, and which is its product. In old days life was hard, there was endurance and great effort. Passive duties have their opportunity in these days. We talk of “Peace on earth.” Our idea of peace is quietude. But war is often essential to peace; peace means labour-the sword turned into the ploughshare-that is God’s idea of peace. Religious life may become sentimental. Our Lord’s rebuke of Peter was severe because Peter’s plea was affection throwing itself across the path of duty. Have you never felt how terrible it is to have pleading affection try to hinder some great sacrifice? How much harder that form of opposition than any other. Satan now tries to hinder Christ through the blind love of Peter. Is not the Church of Christ often hindered now by pleadings of love, by those who say: “This be far from thee. Save thyself.” It exhibits a friendly consideration for our happiness; save thy money, health, effects. (R. Thomas.)

The temptations of love to be rejected

If the Pilgrim Fathers had yielded to home sickness and not let that vessel return empty, though she lay so long in the offing, tempting their return, there might have been an America, but it would not have been this America. If Livingstone had listened to the voices of those who thought him mad, Africa to-day would have been still a terra incognita. If prudence had prevailed over zeal seventy years ago, there would have been no foreign missions afoot to-day. But all these men who went to do the pioneer work had mothers and sisters and brothers tugging at their heart-strings, and tempting them not to go. And it is ever so. It is not always as in the case of the Rev. Dr. Norman M’Leod, whom I once heard relate how his son had just gone into the ministry, and had accepted a very poor church in the highlands of Scotland, refusing several splendid offers which would have made him wealthy. “But,” said Dr. M’Leod, “I thank God for the lad; I would rather see him where he is with his £150 a year, than in the palace with £10,000 a year.’ It is very hard to say it; but, oh, it is necessary-be on your guard against the temptations of your friends, of your relatives, of your lovers, whose affection is precious to you. Remember that “ Satan now is wiser than of yore, and tempts by making rich-not making poor.” Remember, specially, our Redeemer’s own words, “He that sayeth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for My sake, the same shall save it.” (R. Thomas.)

Different Effects of Afflictions

Afflictions are unavoidable. To be a man, as a man to live upon earth, to stand in connection with other men, and yet to be out of reach of afflictions, that is absolutely impossible. How differently did our Lord think of them from his weak, still worldly-minded disciple, Peter!

1. The dissipated and thoughtless man looks upon the afflictions that befall him and others as the effects of chance, as inevitable misfortunes.

2. The proud man entertains such an opinion of himself, that he thinks no afflictions ought to befall him.

3. The superstitious man looks on all afflictions as punishments of sin.

4. The moralist regards them as necessary results of the original constitution of things.

5. The Christian sees them as the visitations of a wise and benign providence. (Zollikofer.)

“Peter took Him.”

Peter’s heart indeed was agitated. Strange surgings swelled within him at the mention of the gloomy ideas which had been mooted. The spray of these surgings lashed upon the picture which his imagination had been busily drawing. That picture was still fresh and madid. It was overlaid with brilliant colouring, which exhibited to the good man’s fancy a bewitching minglement of glories, material and spiritual. As the broken surgings dashed upon it, there was anguish in the painter’s spirit. There was anger too. He was displeased. He was chagrined. He said impetuously, and unreflectingly, within himself: What! This will never do. It must not be! (J. Morrison, D. D.)

“Began to rebuke Him”

He began impulsively, vehemently, inconsiderately, as was too often his wont. He began, but the gracious Lord rose up in majesty and interrupted him, not allowing him to proceed far in the improper freedom he was using, and the improper feeling he was nursing. (J. Morrison, D. D.)

“Satan”

Christ looked for the moment through Peter, and saw behind him His old enemy, cunningly making use of the prejudices and impulsive honesty of the undeveloped apostle. It was the old temptation back again, that was now presented through Peter-the temptation to avoid suffering, persecution, bitter hate, scorn and murder; and instead, to erect a secular throne that would in pomp surmount all other thrones upon the earth. The Saviour’s spirit was roused when He met His old foe in such circumstances, looking from behind the battlements of the loving but disconcerted heart of the chief of the apostles. Hence He spoke decidedly and strongly. (J. Morrison, D. D.)

“Satan:”

Good men often do the devil’s work, though they know it not. (R. Baxter.)

I. Peter’s conduct. Characterized by.

1. Arrogant presumption.

2. Ignorance of the end of Christ’s sufferings.

3. Mistimed sympathy.

II. Christ’s rebuke. Prompt, severe, instructive. (W. H. Booth.)

The salt our of earthliness

1. Some make reason the standard.

2. The life and conversation of too many nominal disciples, as well as their errors in belief, show their savour of earthliness. (J. Gaston.)

Noble purposes to be encouraged

When your boy says to you suddenly some day, “Father, I think I shall be a missionary and go abroad, and preach to the heathen,” don’t you put your hand upon the lad’s ambition, and put it down; don’t throw any impediment in his way. Hear him on another occasion, encourage him to think still further of the scheme; and though the announcement of the lad’s idea tear your very heart-strings, because you have said, This son shall comfort me in my old age and feebleness, yet give him time to think about it, and show him the whole case as far as it reveals itself to your own mind, and rather stimulate than discourage him when his mind is set in a philanthropic and noble direction. And so when your husband proposes to give some large sum to this good institution or that, don’t tell him that the half of it will do, because he will probably believe you,-it is so easy to go down, and so difficult to get up. (J. Parker, D. D.)

The failure of high spiritual mood

What a different figure is Peter now from that which he presented a few verses before. “Jesus said to him,” we read in the seventeenth verse, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona.” At that moment Simon was lifted above the sons of men. He was the mountain peak that caught the first glance of the morning. And there he stood, king of men, first of disciples, most honoured of the sons of earth; for through him the Father had revealed the Son. What a figure does he present in the twenty-third verse! “Get thee behind Me, Satan.” The same man, but not the same character. The mountain is crushed, the great mountain become a plain, become a valley; the chief of the sons of men called a devil and ordered off behind. These are the experiences of some of us. We are to-day the most blessed among men, we seem to see almost into heaven. To-morrow we shall go and say some blundering thing, and we shall be found among the lowest and the vulgarest of our kind. One hour we shall speak music, and another hour our voice shall be hoarse, because we are saying offensive things against God and against man. Do not let us condemn one another because of these changes in our experience. The longer I live the more I feel this, how difficult it is to keep up a continuity of the highest spiritual life. (J. Parker, D. D.)


Verse 23

Matthew 16:21; Matthew 16:23

From that time forth began Jesus to show unto His disciples, how that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer.

Christ foretelling His death

I. Let us observe the state of mind with which Christ looked forward to his approaching sufferings. Jesus was not ignorant of the serious sufferings which were coming upon Him. It is no small part of our happiness that future calamity is partly hidden.

1. A state of unshaken constancy. We must be firm in the way of duty, having counted the cost.

2. The principle by which He was supported-faith. “For we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.”

II. What was His conduct, in these circumstances, towards his disciples?

1. His conduct towards them showed great compassion for their infirmities.

2. His displeasure on account of the earthly mind which the apostles betrayed.

Learn:

1. How insufficient is our own wisdom or strength to preserve us in the ways of godliness.

2. How secure are they who trust entirely in the power and grace of the Lord Jesus. (J. Jowett.)

A recommendation of readiness for suffering

I. Peter’s unwillingness to meet God’s will in a course of suffering, evinced by his rebuke of Christ.

1. There was intimacy-“Then Peter took him.”

2. There was disappointment. Peter was disappointed that his Lord should not have the glory he expected.

3. There was ignorance. Peter ought to have known the Scriptures were full of Christ’s sufferings.

4. There was presumption.

II. Christ’s willingness to fulfil all God’s pleasure, evinced in his rebuke of Peter.

1. The indignation of our Lord.

2. He exposed the carnality of his views.

3. Christ’s love for sinners was persevering. (A. T. Burroughs.)

The suffering Saviour

I. A suffering saviour

1. The suffering was not only great, but peculiar.

2. And all this the text says was necessary. The word “must” is prefixed to all these clauses. We may interpret the word in three ways.

3. It is a very peculiar feature of the Saviour’s suffering that He had the foreknowledge of it in every detail. In this respect He stands alone among the heroes of faith. They had no foresight of the time, place, or circumstances of their sufferings. Our Lord alone lived His life under the shadow of the cross. The majesty of the character which could endure the weight of so terrible a prospect, remain calm, self-forgetting, etc., and even say in the fore-view of death by crucifixion: “I have a baptism,” etc.

II. The repugnance of human nature to pain and death. Human nature shrinks for itself from the touch of pain, and doubly for its loved ones. The words do not imply any want of love or reverence-it was their ver), motive. Love and reverence spoke; but ignorance and presumption spoke too. Human nature shrinks with special sensitiveness, till it is taught of God, from the idea of a suffering Saviour. The revelation of atonement by sacrifice was kept veiled from Peter. A veil is upon the heart still of multitudes-they see not why a Father should not forgive without the intervention of a Mediator, etc.

III. The reply of jesus to the rebuke of his servant. This shows the Saviour feeling this repugnance to suffering as a severe temptation, repelling the suggestion of the self-sparing as a cruel aggravation of His great life trial, and making the acceptance of suffering the very point of difference between the carnal mind and the spiritual. We have to accept Christ’s suffering, and we have to accept our own. (Dean Vaughan.)

St. Peter’s rebuke of Christ

I. How serious was the Apostle’s offence. In reference to religion the seeming generosity of an error is no excuse for it.

II. The causes which led to the Apostle’s error and sin.

1. He had misunderstood some part of what he had heard. St. Peter should have looked at the fact of Christ’s suffering in the light of His previous communications.

2. There was a second part of what Jesus had said which the apostle ignored altogether. He had said that He would rise from the dead on the third day.

3. The third cause of St. Peter’s error was his assuming that his own ideas of what was best must needs be true, or at least were actually true. St. Peter was in reality desiring the worst thing possible; our redemption could not have been accomplished without the cross.

III. Similar mistakes occur with ourselves.

1. In reference to the dispensations belonging to our personal history and fortunes. How often a part is misunderstood and left out. In the gloom of trial we overlook the resurrection.

2. In reference to the government of the world “rod the course of providence generally.

3. In reference to the claims of Divine revelation generally, and especially the claims of Jesus the Christ as the sum and centre of it. Learn:

1. Be resolute in all humbleness when you think of God’s ways.

2. Loyalty to the personal Christ.

3. Accept Christ’s word as He gives it. (W. S. Chapman, M. A.)

The temptation arising from human

love:-How are we to explain the severity of our Lord’s rebuke?

I. When it was this rebuke was given. Our Lord had just entered upon the delicate task of Teacher, the bringing ,,f the minds of His disciples into familiarity with the deeper things in His life and work. In passing from ignorance to knowledge there must he a little contention. This the crucial time-“I must speak of My sufferings.” He enters upon the process. St. Peter spoils it. His rashness would not let him learn. Christian progress meets hindrances from two sources:

II. The kingdom of God is very often hindered by that which it has itself produced. In society to-day there is a softness, a consideration for ease of life, which has grown up under Christianity, and which is its product. In old days life was hard, there was endurance and great effort. Passive duties have their opportunity in these days. We talk of “Peace on earth.” Our idea of peace is quietude. But war is often essential to peace; peace means labour-the sword turned into the ploughshare-that is God’s idea of peace. Religious life may become sentimental. Our Lord’s rebuke of Peter was severe because Peter’s plea was affection throwing itself across the path of duty. Have you never felt how terrible it is to have pleading affection try to hinder some great sacrifice? How much harder that form of opposition than any other. Satan now tries to hinder Christ through the blind love of Peter. Is not the Church of Christ often hindered now by pleadings of love, by those who say: “This be far from thee. Save thyself.” It exhibits a friendly consideration for our happiness; save thy money, health, effects. (R. Thomas.)

The temptations of love to be rejected

If the Pilgrim Fathers had yielded to home sickness and not let that vessel return empty, though she lay so long in the offing, tempting their return, there might have been an America, but it would not have been this America. If Livingstone had listened to the voices of those who thought him mad, Africa to-day would have been still a terra incognita. If prudence had prevailed over zeal seventy years ago, there would have been no foreign missions afoot to-day. But all these men who went to do the pioneer work had mothers and sisters and brothers tugging at their heart-strings, and tempting them not to go. And it is ever so. It is not always as in the case of the Rev. Dr. Norman M’Leod, whom I once heard relate how his son had just gone into the ministry, and had accepted a very poor church in the highlands of Scotland, refusing several splendid offers which would have made him wealthy. “But,” said Dr. M’Leod, “I thank God for the lad; I would rather see him where he is with his £150 a year, than in the palace with £10,000 a year.’ It is very hard to say it; but, oh, it is necessary-be on your guard against the temptations of your friends, of your relatives, of your lovers, whose affection is precious to you. Remember that “ Satan now is wiser than of yore, and tempts by making rich-not making poor.” Remember, specially, our Redeemer’s own words, “He that sayeth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for My sake, the same shall save it.” (R. Thomas.)

Different Effects of Afflictions

Afflictions are unavoidable. To be a man, as a man to live upon earth, to stand in connection with other men, and yet to be out of reach of afflictions, that is absolutely impossible. How differently did our Lord think of them from his weak, still worldly-minded disciple, Peter!

1. The dissipated and thoughtless man looks upon the afflictions that befall him and others as the effects of chance, as inevitable misfortunes.

2. The proud man entertains such an opinion of himself, that he thinks no afflictions ought to befall him.

3. The superstitious man looks on all afflictions as punishments of sin.

4. The moralist regards them as necessary results of the original constitution of things.

5. The Christian sees them as the visitations of a wise and benign providence. (Zollikofer.)

“Peter took Him.”

Peter’s heart indeed was agitated. Strange surgings swelled within him at the mention of the gloomy ideas which had been mooted. The spray of these surgings lashed upon the picture which his imagination had been busily drawing. That picture was still fresh and madid. It was overlaid with brilliant colouring, which exhibited to the good man’s fancy a bewitching minglement of glories, material and spiritual. As the broken surgings dashed upon it, there was anguish in the painter’s spirit. There was anger too. He was displeased. He was chagrined. He said impetuously, and unreflectingly, within himself: What! This will never do. It must not be! (J. Morrison, D. D.)

“Began to rebuke Him”

He began impulsively, vehemently, inconsiderately, as was too often his wont. He began, but the gracious Lord rose up in majesty and interrupted him, not allowing him to proceed far in the improper freedom he was using, and the improper feeling he was nursing. (J. Morrison, D. D.)

“Satan”

Christ looked for the moment through Peter, and saw behind him His old enemy, cunningly making use of the prejudices and impulsive honesty of the undeveloped apostle. It was the old temptation back again, that was now presented through Peter-the temptation to avoid suffering, persecution, bitter hate, scorn and murder; and instead, to erect a secular throne that would in pomp surmount all other thrones upon the earth. The Saviour’s spirit was roused when He met His old foe in such circumstances, looking from behind the battlements of the loving but disconcerted heart of the chief of the apostles. Hence He spoke decidedly and strongly. (J. Morrison, D. D.)

“Satan:”

Good men often do the devil’s work, though they know it not. (R. Baxter.)

I. Peter’s conduct. Characterized by.

1. Arrogant presumption.

2. Ignorance of the end of Christ’s sufferings.

3. Mistimed sympathy.

II. Christ’s rebuke. Prompt, severe, instructive. (W. H. Booth.)

The salt our of earthliness

1. Some make reason the standard.

2. The life and conversation of too many nominal disciples, as well as their errors in belief, show their savour of earthliness. (J. Gaston.)

Noble purposes to be encouraged

When your boy says to you suddenly some day, “Father, I think I shall be a missionary and go abroad, and preach to the heathen,” don’t you put your hand upon the lad’s ambition, and put it down; don’t throw any impediment in his way. Hear him on another occasion, encourage him to think still further of the scheme; and though the announcement of the lad’s idea tear your very heart-strings, because you have said, This son shall comfort me in my old age and feebleness, yet give him time to think about it, and show him the whole case as far as it reveals itself to your own mind, and rather stimulate than discourage him when his mind is set in a philanthropic and noble direction. And so when your husband proposes to give some large sum to this good institution or that, don’t tell him that the half of it will do, because he will probably believe you,-it is so easy to go down, and so difficult to get up. (J. Parker, D. D.)

The failure of high spiritual mood

What a different figure is Peter now from that which he presented a few verses before. “Jesus said to him,” we read in the seventeenth verse, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona.” At that moment Simon was lifted above the sons of men. He was the mountain peak that caught the first glance of the morning. And there he stood, king of men, first of disciples, most honoured of the sons of earth; for through him the Father had revealed the Son. What a figure does he present in the twenty-third verse! “Get thee behind Me, Satan.” The same man, but not the same character. The mountain is crushed, the great mountain become a plain, become a valley; the chief of the sons of men called a devil and ordered off behind. These are the experiences of some of us. We are to-day the most blessed among men, we seem to see almost into heaven. To-morrow we shall go and say some blundering thing, and we shall be found among the lowest and the vulgarest of our kind. One hour we shall speak music, and another hour our voice shall be hoarse, because we are saying offensive things against God and against man. Do not let us condemn one another because of these changes in our experience. The longer I live the more I feel this, how difficult it is to keep up a continuity of the highest spiritual life. (J. Parker, D. D.)


Verse 24

Matthew 16:24

If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself.

Self-denial

I. What is the principle of self-denial? It may be said to be in renouncing whatever comes in competition with the love and service of Christ, your turning from things lawful when they become occasions of spiritual injury either to ourselves or others. Self-denial proceeds on high consideration.

1. Love to Christ, which involves obedience to His word.

2. Living not unto ourselves but unto God and for the welfare of others. These two must be combined. It is not self-denial to give our goods to feed the poor; but apart from the principle of love it is not self-denial. Nor is it self-denial for a man to refuse temporal honours for which God has qualified him, and which are given in a providential way. No self-denial in Joseph refusing to be governor over Egypt. Nor is it self-denial to reject a lawful use of God’s creatures, or to deprive himself of that necessary to health.

II. How self-denial is exhibited. It is the offspring of faith in Christ.

1. It shows itself in the lowest forms; first, in denying sin, things which the world allows, but which the Word of God condemns.

2. In denying what may be called righteous self. “Count all loss for Christ.”

3. In things lawful but not expedient on account of their influence on others.

4. In being true to the Word of God.

5. In things agreeable but questionable. (J. W. Reeve, M. A.)

The Cross and the Crown

It is a proof of the truth and Divine origin of our religion that it gives such a distinct notice of the difficulties which its followers will have to encounter. What other religion could afford to speak thus.

1. It is no wonder that Christ laid clown self-denial as requisite in His followers, as He emptied Himself, and we cannot in His whole life detect a point where we can see self.

2. The selfishness of one man is not the selfishness of another; every one knows the individualities of his own character. There is one man whose self lies in his intellect. Another man’s self is pleasure. Another man’s self takes the aspect of religion, he wants to be saved in a way he has marked out,

3. The believer takes up his cross, not another person’s.

4. He is to take it up, not to go out of his way to seek it.

5. This he is to do by cheerful act, not waiting for compulsion. “Dragged crosses are very heavy, but carried crosses are very light.”

6. What is the cross? not some great thing to come-by-and-by. There is some cross to-day, another to-morrow-“daily.” The cross is a trial which has something humiliating in it and which is painfal to the old nature.

7. We must follow Christ, for what is it worth to “deny one’s self,” or to take up a “cross,” if it be not clone with an express intention towards Christ? (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Self-denial

Christianity can never be made popular. It always calls for self-denial and self-sacrifice (Galatians 5:24).

I. There are things easy in religion-those in which the recipients are passive.

1. Redemption has been fully accomplished for us by the Saviour.

2. Christ is offered to all as the Saviour from sin.

3. The acceptance of Christ is made a matter of choice.

II. Things that are hard.

1. The renunciation of the world and worldly delights.

2. Self-denial. We must renounce our own wisdom, will, mind, pleasure, etc.

3. Self-sacrifice. Even life itself when duty demands.

III. But hard things are made easy.

1. When we look at their nature and duration (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

2. “When we rely upon God’s promise and accept His strengthening grace (Deuteronomy 33:25; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10; Philippians 4:13).

3. When we fully accept self-denial and cross-bearing as the rule of our life (Matthew 11:28-30).

4. When we obtain Divine comfort and Christian consolation (2 Corinthians 1:4-5).

IV. Inferences:

1. Let us, in the active duties of religion, “Work out,” etc.

2. Let us seek out the things which require of us self-denial. This will help us in advance to give them up cheerfully and readily.

3. Let us always look to Jesus and consider His example (Hebrews 12:1-3). (L. O. Thompson.)

Self-denial

That it is the duty of all that would be Christ’s disciples to deny themselves.

I. This doctrine in general. The extent of this duty.

1. For the object-a man’s own self; it is a bundle of idols. It seems contrary to reason to deny self, since nature teaches man to love himself; grace doth not disallow it. Therefore

1. As God is the First Cause He would keep up the respect of the world to His majesty by dependence and trust.

2. As God is the chiefest good, so He must have the highest esteem.

3. As God is the highest Lord, it is His peculiar prerogative to give laws to the creature. Self is not to interpose and give laws to us.

4. As God is the last end of our beings and actions, the supreme cause is to be the utmost end (Proverbs 16:4).

2. The subject. See the extent of the duty; it reaches all sorts of men-“If any man,” etc. No calling, sex, age, duty, condition of life, is excluded. All men are to practise it; in all things; always; with all our heart.

3. The signs of self-denial.

2. Inclusive signs of self-denial.

4. The means of self-denial, whereby it may be made more easy.

If you would deny self:-

II. The kinds of self-denial. Self must be denied so far, as ‘tis opposite to God, or put in the place of God. And therefore we may judge of the kinds of self-denial, according to the distinct privileges of the Godhead.

1. As God is the First Cause, upon whom all things depend in their being and operation, and so we are to deny self, that is, self-dependence.

2. God is the chiefest good and therefore to be valued above all beings, interests, and concernments in the world, and so we are to deny self, that is, self-love.

3. God is (and He alone) the highest Lord, and most absolute Sovereign, who swayeth all things by His laws and providence, and so we are to deny self, that is, self-will, by a willing and full obedience to His laws, and by an absolute subjection to the dominion of His providence; the one is holiness, and the other is patience. The one relateth to His governing, the other to His disposing, will.

4. God is the last end, in which all things do at length terminate, and so we are to deny self, that is, self-seeking. (T. Manton, D. D.)

Christian discipleship

I. In religion, Christ is the supreme leader of men.

II. What is implied in following Christ? It is to-

1. Think the thoughts of Christ.

2. To feel the feeling of Christ.

3. To work out the will of Christ.

III. The conditions or perfect discipleship.

1. Voluntariness.

2. Renunciation of the old life of sin and self.

3. Entire submission to Christ in all things.

4. Perseverance. (John Millar.)

The call to follow Christ

I. How does Christ call us?

1. By the voice of conscience.

2. By sickness.

3. By the death of friends.

4. By His Word.

5. By His ordinances, ministers, etc. And thus He is now speaking to us. Be not deaf to these calls.

III. The character required of those who have made up their minds to follow Christ. They must be self-denying, and, if need be, a suffering people (Titus 2:11-12). Here we have an unerring standard to try ourselves by. (J. D. Graves.)

Self-denial not expected by carnal fancy

Carnal fancy imagineth a path strewed with lilies and roses; we are too tender-footed to think of briars and thorns. (T. Manton, D. D.)

The wide meaning of the word “self”

A capacious word, that doth not only involve our persons, but whatever is ours, so far as it standeth in opposition to God, or cometh in competition with Him. A man and all his lusts, a man and all his relations; a man and all his interests; life, and all the appendages of life, is one aggregate thing which in Scripture is called self. In short, whatsoever is of himself, in himself, belonging to himself, as a corrupt, or carnal, man; all that is to be denied. And indeed, every man hath many a self within himself; his lusts are himself; his life is himself; his name is himself; his wealth, liberty, ease, favour, lands, father, mother, and all relations, they are comprised within the term of self (Luke 14:26). (T. Manton, D. D.)

Self-denial not partial

As Saul slew some of the cattle, but spared the fat, and Agag. Many can deny themselves in many things, but they are loth to give up all to God, without bounds and reservations. (T. Manton, D. D.)

Self-denial to be expected on the road to heaven

If a man were told that his way to such a place is encumbered with briars and thorns, and that he must ride through many dirty lanes, and must look for scratching brambles, and many miry places; now when he seeth nothing but a green and pleasant path, he would think he had mistaken and lost his way: so, when you are told your way to heaven is a strait way, and that religion will put you upon self-denial of your pleasure, profit, and carnal desires; and yet you never wrestled with your lusts, nor quitted anything for Christ; and meet with nothing but pleasure, profit, and delight in the profession of religion, you may well think that you are mistaken in the way; and it is a great sign you are yet to seek in the duty, which Christ’s scholars must practise. (T. Manton, D. D.)

Self-denial the A B C of religion

We shall never digest the inconveniences of a spiritual life, till we resolve upon it. We must make over our interests in our lives, and whatever is dear to us, reckon the charges (Luke 14:26). A builder spends cheerfully, as long as his charges are within his allowance, but when that’s exceeded, and he goes beyond what he hath reckoned upon, then every penny is disbursed with grudging. Most resolve upon little or no trouble in religion, and from thence it comes to pass, that when they are crossed, they prove faint-hearted. Therefore, put your life in your hand, and resolve to follow Christ, wheresoever He goeth. (T. Manton, D. D.)

Seek glory in God

Seek honour in God. Do but change vainglory for eternal glory. That’s a lawful seeking of self, when we seek it in God (John 5:44). (T. Manton, D. D.)

Self-denial not temporary

We may hang the head for a day like a bulrush. (T. Manton, D. D.)

Self-denial regulated by service rather than by pleasure

As a traveller, when two ways are proposed to him, one pleasant, the other very craggy and dangerous, he doth not look which way is most pleasant, but which way conduceth to his journey’s end: so a child of God doth not look to what’s most grateful to the flesh, but how he may do most work and service, and glorify God upon earth. (T. Manton, D. D.)

Self-denial must not be constrained by providence

Not as a mariner, in a storm, casts away his goods by force, but as a bride leaves her father’s house (Psalms 45:10). It must be out of a principle of grace, and out of love to Christ. (T. Manton, D. D.)

Self-denial must not be selfish

The devil disguiseth himself into all forms and shapes. As Jacob put on Esau’s clothes, that he might appear rough and hairy, and so get the blessing; so, many seem to deny themselves of the comforts of life, but it is but for their own praise. (T. Manton, D. D.)

Self-denial more possible in Christ than in Christians

They that caress themselves in all the delights of the world, seem to profess another master than Christ. We are of a base condition, but two or three degrees distant from dust and nothing. The sun can go back ten degrees. Christ, the Lord of Glory, might go back ten degrees, but we have not so much to lose. (T. Manton, D. D.)

Self-denial seen most in the best Christians

They that are the best scholars in this school, most abhor self-conceit and self-seeking. As the leaden boughs hang the head, and bend downward, so do the children of God, that have been most fruitful in the Christian course; as the sun, the higher it is, doth cast the least shadows. So for self-seeking. (T. Manton, D. D.)

Self-denial richer for love than for lust

Many a covetous man doth shame many a godly man. Religion is a better thing. Shall lust do more with them, than the love of Christ with thee? (T. Manton, D. D.)

Self-denial consistent in a follower of Christ

When men can remit nothing of their vanity and luxury, they make Christianity to be but a notion, and an empty pretence; they are men and women of pleasure, when Jesus Christ was a man of sorrows. (T. Manton, D. D.)

Self-denial aided by a moderate esteem of worldly things

When an earthern pitcher is broken, a man is not troubled at it, because he hath not set his esteem and heart upon it, being but a trifle. (T. Manton, D. D.)

Seeking God in Himself, not in His creatures, aids self-denial

The men of the world have only a candle, which is soon blown out, an estate that may easily be blasted; but the children of God have the sun, which can stead them without a candle (Hosea 2:11-12). All the wicked man’s happiness is bound up with the vine, and fig-tree, with his estate. Consider, your happiness doth not lie within yourselves, nor in any other creature, but in God alone. God in Himself is much better than God in the creature. Now, carnal men they prize God in the creature, but not God in Himself. And therefore, the first thing we must depend upon, is, that God is an all-sufficient God in Himself; not God in friends, not God in wealth, but God in Himself. We cannot see how it can be well without friends, and wealth, and liberty; therefore our hearts are glued to them. Oh, take heed of this. All these things are but several pipes, to deliver, and convey to us, the influence of the Supreme cause; therefore still prize God in Himself, before God in the creature. (T. Manton, D. D.)

Contentment a great part of self-denial

To desire more, it is but to desire more snares. If I had more, I should have more trouble, more snares, more duty. Greater gates do but open to more care. I should have more to account for, more time, and more opportunity; and alas, I cannot answer for what I have already. If a plant be starved in the valleys, it will never thrive on the mountains. So, if, in a low condition, we are not able to conquer the temptation of it, what shall we do, if we had more, if we cannot be responsible to God for what we have? (T. Manton, D. D.)

Expectations in heaven

A man will better quit that he hath upon earth, when he hath strong expectations of heaven (Romans 8:18). (T. Manton, D. D.)

Self-abnegation in the prosecution of Christ’s work

I. In the way of self-indulgence. This appears when in the promotion of God’s work we choose to do what is easy and pleasant and leave others to do what is not in accordance with our tastes or which requires sacrifice of any kind.

1. The moral unseemliness of it must strike us at once; when we refuse self-indulgence in ordinary pursuits.

2. This self-indulgence shows that we lack a genuine interest in God and in His work.

3. It hinders our own progress and success in the Christian service.

II. Self-dependence is another form of the evil. In the former case too little was made of human agency; in this, too much. We do God’s work without His help.

1. The aggravated ungodliness which this self-dependence involves. In worldly affairs our agency is little compared with God’s agency.

2. It hinders the action within us of the Holy Spirit.

III. Self-seeking is another form of the evil.

1. Look at the shocking incongruity which self-seeking in connection with God’s work involves. Never more out of place than in working for God’s glory.

2. Look at what the self-seeking man suffers who indulges it. The pain of envy as he looks at those working on a higher plane; failure.

3. How much the cause of Christ suffers for his self-seeking; because of it he cannot see what is right and best for the cause.

4. Then the loss which the self-seeker sustains should be considered. He loses influence, honour, praise. It is when we seek the things of others that we find our own. On these grounds self-abnegation should be exercised in God’s work. (David Thomas, B. A.)

God co-operates with the self-sacrificing effort of man

He cooperates with the husbandman, and gives him the precious fruit of harvest time, but not with the husbandman who consults only his own repose and quiet and convenience, and will do nothing toilsome and irksome in obedience to the ordinances of nature- No; God does not reward anywhere, that we can see, sloth, and indolence, and pleasure-loving, and disregard to His own ordinances, with His co-operation and with His success; and He will do it least of all where the work is greatest, and where the service is most glorious. (David Thomas, B. A.)

Self-denial one aspect of religion

This is only one meaning of religion. If I should say of a garden, “It is a place fenced in,” what idea would you have of its clusters of roses, and pyramids of honeysuckles, and beds of odorous flowers, and rows of blossoming shrubs and fruit-bearing trees? If I should say of a cathedral, “It is built of stone, cold stone,” what idea would you have of its wondrous carvings, and its gorgeous openings for door and window, and its evanescing spire? Now, if you regard religion merely as self-denial, you stop at the fence, and see nothing of the beauty of the garden; you think only of the stone, and not of the marvellous beauty into which it is fashioned. (H. W. Beecher.)

Victory through self-denial

If you would acquire skill in the handling of tools you can only get it by earning it. Nobody can acquire it for you. Nor can you acquire it by seeing others handle tools. Though you know how skilled workmen bring results to pass, you cannot bring the same results to pass unless you have yourself had experience in handling tools. I know precisely how an adept musician rolls out magnificent harmonies on the organ; but when I take his seat I cannot roll out those harmonies. If I choose to go through suffering enough, if I am willing to give the necessary time that I might more pleasantly spend in some other way, I may accomplish it, but not otherwise. (H. W. Beecher.)

Utility through restraint

You may take the finest messenger colt that ever lived, and he never will be valuable unless he goes into the trainer’s hands. Pass by the yard. See him with the surcingle tight about him. See him with martingales on, and with his head brought down by them. See him with bit in mouth, and guiding-reins behind. See how fractious he is. He has lost his liberty; but he is on the way to find it. He never would know what he is if it were not for that harness-for a harness is not an instrument for hindering an animal’s strength, but an instrument for developing his strength. And as by breaking you keep a colt whole, and have every part of him unwasted, not lost, so it is being broken in, by having their wildness of nature restrained, that men come to their real selves in skill and power. (H. W. Beecher.)

The future good an argument for self-restraint

Then Christianity did more, it carried up the whole ideal life. It not only gave a higher conception of character, and a higher conception of the qualities that constitute a true character; but it introduced another world lying over against this, and bearing a relation to this, just as childhood bears a relation to manhood, making this a prelude and instrument of the other. As we begin in childhood to deny the body for the sake of attaining a higher nature in manhood, so the whole life on earth is a childhood in which we deny ourselves, not for the sake of lacking pleasure, but for the sake of reaping glory and immortality in the heavenly land. (H. W. Beecher.)

Self-denial really acquisition

Men think, “Oh! to be a Christian I have got to give up everything.” Good heavens! Give up everything? Suppose that Newton, talking with a blubber-eating Nootka Sound Indian, should say, “Come with me to England as my servant, and I will educate you, and make an astronomer of you;” and suppose the Indian should say, “No, I will not; I am not going to give up this delicious blubber and this comfortable wigwam of mine.” But what would he give up compared with that which he would inherit? And at every step in the Christian life we have treasures that are infinitely greater than those which we lose. We lose only such things as we are a great deal better without than with. (H. W. Beecher.)

The self-denial Christ requires

I. The self-denial which christ requires from his followers.

1. Negatively.

(a) It cannot mean, to renounce our senses and our reason;

(b) nor to renounce our desire and hope of salvation, to be perfectly disinterested, resigned, and annihilated, as the mystical writers call it;

(c) nor to renounce our free agency and our acts of obedience;

(d) nor to reject the comforts and conveniences of life, and to afflict and torment ourselves when nothing requires such a sacrifice.

2. Positively.

(a) To deny ourselves is to renounce every evil affection and every evil work, and to put off the corrupted man, in order to follow Christ;

(b) to deny or renounce our own good works, our own righteousness, to renounce them so far as not to be proud of them, not to rely upon them as perfect and meritorious;

(c) to renounce all those things which concern our worldly interests and our present situation, such as ease and quiet, popularity, riches, inheritances, preferments, dignities, which we possess or pursue. There is a way of renouncing or denying these things, in a moral sense, without forsaking them; and that is, to entertain moderate affections for them, to possess them, according to the apostle’s expression, as though we possessed them not; never to prefer them to our known duty in any instance, and to be ready actually to part with them, if God should require it. (J. Jortin.)

The duty and difficulty of self-denial

To row against the tide of one’s inclinations, to stem the rapid current of one’s appetites and affections, to struggle against the violent motions of our will, and to wrestle with the opposition of our contending faculties; this is an employment that is laborious and uneasy, this is a performance that we pay dearly for; and the reward of such a warfare will certainly be proportionable to the hardships and difficulties with which we have encountered.

I. Explain and state rightly the great duty of self-denial, and show wherein the exercise of it does properly consist.

1. It does not consist in utterly refusing, without distinction, all such things as we are inclined to.

2. Neither does the exercise of self-denial at present consist in such a constant and entire withdrawing from worldly enjoyments, as was necessarily practised by the first converts of Christianity.

3. The exercise of self-denial does indispensably consist in a total forbearance of unlawful enjoyments, however fondly we may be inclined or addicted to them.

4. The exercise of self-denial does further consist in weaning ourselves from all such entertainments, as may withhold or divert us from the service of God.

5. Also in avoiding such things as are neither unlawful nor inconvenient for us, if by using them we give just offence to our brethren.

6. Also in being habitually prepared to renounce all things, even our most dear and most lawful enjoyments, whenever God or religion shall require it at our hands.

II. Lay down some powerful motives which may forcibly persuade us to the practice of this duty.

1. The example of our blessed Saviour.

2. The immediate happy consequences of such a performance, and the advantages that will attend it in this present life.

3. The vast reward which is annexed to this performance, and the benefit which will redound to us from it in another world. (Nicholas Brady.)

Following Christ

I. A privilege to be desired and aspired to. In three great duties or qualifications annexed to it.

1. Let him deny himself.

(a) Deny our natural selves, that is, our reason, will, and affections, when they oppose the revealed truths and will of God.

(b) Deny our sinful and sensual selves (Titus 2:12).

(c) Deny our worldly selves, that is, all earthly possessions, relations, and even life itself, at His call and in His cause.

(d) Deny our righteous selves, that is, we must renounce all righteousness of our own, and desire to be found only in Christ’s righteousness.

2. Let him take up his cross.

3. Let him follow Christ, which includes

(a) to follow His doctrine;

(b) to follow His example. (Matthew Hale.)

Honour put on the self-denying

He whom we love, whose honour we most covet, is he who has most denied and subdued himself; who has made the most entire sacrifice of appetites and passions and private interest to God, and virtue and mankind; who has walked in a rugged path, and clung to good and great ends in persecution and pain; who, amidst the solicitations of ambition, ease, and private friendship, and the menaces of tyranny and malice, has listened to the voice of conscience, and found a recompense for blighted hopes and protracted suffering, in conscious uprightness and the favour of God. Who is it that is most lovely in domestic life? It is the martyr to domestic affection, the mother forgetting herself, and ready to toil, suffer, and die for the happiness and virtue of her children. Who is it that we honour in public life? It is the martyr to his country; he who serves her, not when she has honours for his brow and wealth for his coffers, but who clings to her in her danger and falling glories, and thinks life a cheap sacrifice to her safety and freedom. (W. E. Channing.)

What “self” is to be denied

Man has various appetites, passions, desires, resting on present gratification, and on outward objects; some of which we possess in common with inferior animals, such as sensual appetites and anger; and others belong more to the mind, such as love of power, love of honour, love of property, love of amuse-yacht, or a taste for literature and elegant arts; but all referring to our present being, and terminating chiefly on ourselves, or on a few beings who are identified with ourselves. These are to be denied or renounced; by which I mean not exterminated, but renounced as masters, guides, lords, and brought into strict and entire subordination to our moral and intellectual powers. It is a false idea that religion requires the extermination of any principle, desire, appetite, or passion, which our Creator has implanted. Our nature is a whole, a beautiful whole, and no part can be spared. You might as properly and innocently lop off a limb from a body as eradicate any natural desire from the mind. All our appetites are in themselves innocent and useful, ministering to the general weal of the soul. They are like the elements of the natural world, parts of a wise and beneficent system; but, like those elements, are beneficent only when restrained. (W. E. Channing.)

Growth of appetites

Our appetites and desires carry with them a principle of growth or tendency to enlargement. They expand by indulgence and, if not restrained, they fill and exhaust the soul, and hence are to be strictly watched over and denied. Nature has set bounds to the desires of the brute, but not to human desire, which partakes of the illimitableness of the soul to which it belongs. In brutes, for example, the animal appetites impel to a certain round of simple gratifications, beyond which they never pass. But man, having imagination and invention, is able by these noble faculties to whet his sensual desires indefinitely. (W. E. Channing.)

Duty of self-denial

The Divine wisdom nowhere shines forth more clearly than in this precept.

I. Human nature is in a state of depravity and corruption. Man is not upright. His passions and affections are disposed to rebel, instead of remaining subordinate to the higher principle. Consequently, self-denial is necessary, and so far as we practise it we advance in virtue. We are so far humble, e.g., as we deny ourselves in the matter of pride; so far heavenly-minded, as we deny our earthly inclinations; so far charitable, as we deny our tempers of self-love and envy; so far temperate and pure, as we restrain our lower passions and lusts.

II. The design of religion is to heal and restore our corrupt nature. If the disease is to be cured, we must abstain from everything that tends to feed or aggravate it. Even in things lawful, we may have to practise self-denial; as he who wishes to avoid a fall from a precipice, if he be prudent, will not venture too near its edge. The Christian soldier, like all others, must submit to the discipline of war in the time of peace; otherwise, when the hour of actual service arrives, he will be found wanting. He who has accustomed himself to govern his thoughts and words, will easily govern his actions; and he who has learned at proper seasons to abstain, will find no difficulty in being temperate at all times.

III. Another reason for self-denial is, the influence which the body exerts upon the soul. The fall of man seems to have consisted greatly in the subjection of the soul to the power and dominion of the body. It is Christ’s work to reverse this, and subordinate the body to the soul. The body presses down the soul: it is the business of religion, by means of self-denial, to remove this weight.

IV. Take example by the worldly. There is not a votary of wealth, pleasure, power, or fame, who cannot, and does not, when necessary, practise self-denial,-though in so much less worthy a cause. And shall we be out-done by such as these?

V. Think of the rewards annexed to the practice of self-denial.

1. In the present life. Lightness of spirits, cheerfulness of heart, serenity of temper, alacrity of mind, vigour of understanding, freedom from bad desires, etc.

2. Heaven, forever. (Bishop Horne.)

Instances of self-denial apart from religious motives

For the sake of collecting what is never to be used, and addling to his beloved heap, the miser will forego the comforts, the conveniences, and almost the necessaries of existence, and voluntarily submit, all his days, to the penances and austerities of a mendicant. The discipline of a life of fashion is by no means of the mildest kind; and it is common to meet with those who complain of being worn down, and ready to sink under it. At the call of honour, a young man of family and fortune, accustomed to a life of ease and luxury, breaks off all home ties, and submits at once to all the painful duties and hard fare of a camp in an enemy’s country. He travels through dreary swamps and inhospitable forests, guided only by the track of savages. He traverses mountains, he crosses rivers, he marches hundreds of miles, with scarcely bread to eat, or change of raiment to put on. When night comes, he sleeps on the ground, or perhaps sleeps not at all; and at the dawn of day, resumes his labour. At length he is so fortunate as to find his enemy. He braves death, amid all the horrors of the field. He sees his companions fall around him,-he is wounded, and carried into a tent, or laid in a waggon, where he is left to suffer pain and anguish, with the noise of battle sounding in his ears. After some weeks he recovers, and enters afresh upon duty. And does the Captain of thy salvation, O thou who stylest thyself the soldier and servant of Jesus Christ-does He require anything like this at thy hands? Or canst thou deem Him an austere Master, because thou art enjoined to live in sobriety and purity, to subdue a turbulent passion, to watch an hour sometimes unto prayer, or to miss a meal now and then, during the season of repentance and humiliation? Blush for shame, and hide thy face in the dust. (Bishop Horne.)

Religion, in one sense, is a life of self-denial; just as husbandry, in one sense, is a work of death. You go and bury a seed, and that is husbandry; but you bury one, that you may reap a hundredfold. Self-denial does not belong to religion as characteristic of it: it belongs to human life. The lower nature must always be denied, when you are trying to rise to a higher sphere. It is no more necessary to be self-denying to be a Christian, than it is to be an artist, or to be an honest man, or to be a man at all in distinction from a brute. (H. W. Beecher.)

Self-denial in things necessary

A great many persons deny themselves with the most superfluous self-denial. They seek for things of which they can deny themselves. But you need not do that. Let your opportunities for self-denial come to you; but when they do come, do not flinch. God will send you occasions enough for denying yourself. There is wood enough in every man’s forest to build all the crosses he will need to carry. (H. W. Beecher.)

“His cross.”

Every one has his peculiar cross: one has it from his wife, or children, or relations; another from character; a third from rivals; a fourth from misfortunes; a fifth from poverty; a sixth from exile, bonds, and so on. (Lapide.)


Verse 25

Matthew 16:25

For whosoever will save his life.

Losing the soul to save it

One of the moral paradoxes of Scripture-the most decided, the most contradictory, the most reckless (if we may so say) of them all. A complete inversion of language. And it is no isolated expression. It is forced on our attention again and again. We cannot wander far in any direction without encountering this startling signpost, announcing the path of destruction as the only high-road to salvation. The context, moreover, enhances the paradox. We are told that a man’s life (or soul, for it is the same word in the original) is absolutely priceless to him; that no exchange can be an equivalent; that no compensation will requite him for the loss: yet in the same breath we are bidden to despise it, to abandon it, to fling it away like a broken potsherd or a rank weed. The contradiction is direct and positive; and in this contradiction the lesson is to be sought.

I. What is meant by this soul or life of man? It is the living principle; the centre of man’s capacities, passions, energies; the very seat of his personality. A man’s soul is everything to him. Obviously, then, the health or sickness, the saving or the losing, the life or death of this soul, must be a matter of infinite moment, both in time and eternity; for it guides his actions, regulates his affections, influences his feelings. It is to his whole being what the mainspring is to a watch.

II. What are the faculties and duration of the soul? This question cannot be evaded; it must be faced. Its practical consequences are too momentous to admit of delay. If this life which we call “ life “ is only a passing moment of an infinite future, only the seed-time of a heavenly harvest, the infancy of an eternal manhood,-then treat it as such, educate and discipline it as such. You cannot go on drifting through life, till you find yourself at the edge of a cataract. No man going on a journey neglects so to arrange his route that at nightfall he shall halt at some place where food and shelter will be obtained. Darkness will overtake him, perhaps, in any case, for even the grateful interposition and warding of the twilight may not be sufficient; but what sane man would not shrink from finding himself in the darkness in a barren, trackless desert, exposed to the pitiless storm?

III. How is the soul to be saved? By losing it. The meaning of these words in their primary application is simple. To Christ’s disciples and their immediate followers, no comment was necessary. In an age of persecution, the willingness to lose the lower life for the salvation of the higher would be only too often tested in a literal sense. And the corresponding application now need create no difficulty. Whoever purchases ease by dishonesty, or comfort by neglect of duty, or popularity by concession of principle-preferring self where truth, honour, love, purity, or reverence demands self-negation, self-abandonment-that man loses his soul, loses his life, by saving it.

IV. But though the man who saves his soul is sure to lose it, the converse does not necessarily follow. Here an important proviso comes in-“for My sake.” There are many ways of losing the soul; but only one way of losing it so as to save. The profligate libertine squanders his means, and neglects his health, and flings himself away; but he does it selfishly, and to him the promise does not apply.

V. Loss for Christ’s sake is gain. This does not merely apply to sacrifices made consciously and directly in the cause of Christianity. If Christ be (as we believe) the very and eternal Word of God; the very expression of the Father’s truth, righteousness, purity, love; then the sacrifice of self to any one of these things is a saving of the soul by losing it; then the martyr to truth, to holiness, to purity, to love, may claim his portion along with the martyr to religion, for he has thrown himself away, has lost his soul for Christ’s sake.

VI. The same contrast and the same alternative may exist within the sphere of religion itself. It is possible to be anxious about saving the soul, to be extremely religious in a certain sense, but yet to risk the losing of it in the very desire of saving it. The soul must brace itself by vigorous exercise-spend and be spent. The true method of salvation is a great venture of self, a forgetfulness of self, a going out of self. Lose your soul in energy; spend yourself in alleviating some misery, instructing some ignorance, or reforming some vice. Fling your soul away, that, after many days, you may recover it again, purified, strengthened, renewed, living once more. (Bishop J. B. Light foot.)

Temporal gain eternal loss

It hath cost many a man his life, when his house has been on fire, to attempt through covetousness to save some of his stuff; venturing among the flames to preserve this, he has perished himself. Many more have lost their souls, by attempting to carry some of their own stuff-their own self-righteousness-with them to heaven. O sirs! come out, come out; leave what is your own in the fire; flee to Christ naked! (Gurnall.)

Life lost in the effort to save it

It is reported, in connection with a railway accident that happened a few years ago, that the only person who lost his life was a gentleman who jumped out of the train with a view to save it; all the other passengers who kept their seats were preserved.

Temporal loss eternal gain

God can infinitely more than counterbalance all temporal losses by the larger and richer outpouring of His Spirit on the soul. He may demand our worldly wealth; but if He increase our spiritual riches, are we not therein great gainers? Can He not, by the consolations of His Spirit, raise us far above all temporal distresses; and, by opening up a prospect beyond the grave, make us to glory in all tribulations (Romans 5:3-5). It was thus that St. Paul took, as he strongly phrases it, pleasure in infirmities, and persecutions, and distresses, for Christ’s sake. It was thus that, in ancient days, they took cheerfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing that they had in heaven a better and an enduring substance. Even so may we expect it to be with us in this world. If our afflictions abound, even so shall also our consolations abound by Christ. And the consciousness, the comfortable reflection, that with a single eye we have sought God’s glory, will make every pain a pleasure, every loss a gain. (R. B. Nichol.)

Losses and gains connected with religion.

I. The things of this life men may obtain by rejecting the religion of Christ. They may obtain a considerable portion of earthly riches; the sensual gratifications of life; the distinctions of worldly honour and praise.

II. In what respect these advantages shall be lost to them. They shall often be interrupted in their enjoyment of them. Sometimes they are overtaken with overwhelming calamities. They must all necessarily be forfeited at death. They produce the most appalling consequences in the eternal world.

III. What we may be called to sacrifice in becoming the disciples of jests. Christ called His disciples to lose all will and choice with respect to this world’s good. We may be called to lose the approbation of friends; to endure the frowns of the world; lose life itself.

IV. In what respects we shall find again the things we sacrifice. In the midst of these sacrifices-we have what is better than life; we are attaining a greater assimilation to the life of Christ; all our sacrifices terminate at death; we shall be superabundantly rewarded at the last day. (J. Burns, D. D.)


Verse 26

Matthew 16:26

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

The great exchange

1. The text assumes a certain inherent dignity in the human soul itself.

2. The folly of those competing rivalries, on account of which men seem willing that this inestimably precious soul should be lost. (D. Moore. M. A.)

The value of the soul

1. In its origin.

2. In its operations.

3. In its redemption. (J. Sherman.)

Lost

What volumes of meaning there are in that one word lost. A ship lost-a traveller lost-a brother lost-a parent lost-and, notwithstanding every effort to save, all as nothing to a lost soul. (C. T. Pizey, B. A.)

An appeal to the young

I. The nature of the soul.

1. The soul is the seat of thought.

2. The soul is the subject of moral government.

3. The soul is the heir of immortality.

II. The worth of the soul.

1. Refer to the great atonement as the most magnificent proof of the soul’s worth.

2. To the triumphant joy awakened in heaven by the conversion of one sinner from the error of his ways.

3. To the certain anticipations of misery or bliss which await each soul as it passes into eternity. (J. Morison, D. D.)

The foolish bargain

The man who, for the sake of worldly happiness, shall lose his soul, makes a foolish bargain.

I. Explain and prove this. In order to judge of a bargain we must take into account the thing bought, and the price paid for it. Worldly happiness is considerable, but it must come to an end.

II. The worth of the soul. It is the most excellent part of man. It will never die. The value of a thing is often best known when it is lost. How greatly you are concerned in this. (E. Cooper.)

The worth of the soul

In order to elucidate the meaning of the text-

I. Institute a comparison between the things which are here set in competition with each other.

1. By "the world," we are to understand pleasure, riches, and honour. This, if considered in itself, is vile. It is earthly in its nature. It is unsatisfying in its use. It is transitory in its continuance. “If it be considered as it has” been estimated by the best judges, it is worthless (Hebrews 2:8-9; Ecclesiastes 1:14; Philippians 3:8; John 6:15; John 17:16).

2. The “soul,” on the contrary, if considered in itself, is noble. It is exalted in its origin (Hebrews 12:9). Capacious in its powers. Eternal in its duration. Doomed to everlasting happiness or misery. As estimated by the best judges, it is invaluable (Acts 20:24). The gift of God’s Son to die for it-of infinite value in His sight. Such being the disparity between the value of the world and that of the soul, we are prepared to-

II. See the result of the comparison. We suppose, for argument sake, that a man may possess the whole world. We suppose also that, after having possessed it for awhile, he loses his own soul. What, in the issue, “would he be profited”?

1. Enquire concerning this in general. Would carnal enjoyments compensate for the loss of heaven? Would transient pleasures counterbalance an eternity of glory? Would he have anything to mitigate his pain (Luke 16:24)?

2. Enquire more particularly. These questions are strong appeals to our hearts and consciences. They bid defiance to all the arts of sophistry. Let the “lover of pleasure” etc., etc., ask, “What shall it profit me,” etc.? Conclusion: Which have I more regarded hitherto, the world, or my own soul? Which do I intend in future to prefer, etc.? (C. Simeon.)

Caring more for the body than for the soul

“Two things a master commits to his servant’s care,” saith one: “the child and the child’s clothes.” It will be a poor excuse for the servant to say, at his master’s return, “Sir, here are all the child’s clothes, neat and clean, but the child is lost!” Much so with the account that many will give to God of their souls and bodies at the great day. “Lord, here is my body; I was very grateful for it; I neglected nothing that belonged to its content and welfare; but as for my soul, that is lost and cast away for ever. I took little care and thought about it. (Flavel.)

The value and loss of the soul

1. Every man has a soul of his own.

2. It is possible for the soul to be lost; and there is danger of it.

3. If the soul is lost, it is the sinner’s own losing; and his blood is on his own head.

4. One soul is worth more than all the world.

5. The winning of the world is often the losing of the soul.

6. The loss of the soul cannot be made up by the gain of the whole world.

7. If the soul be once lost, it is lost for ever; and the loss can never be repaired or retrieved. (Matthew Henry.)

What is a man profited?

1. The good in the gain is imaginary and fantastical; the evil in the loss is real and substantial.

2. The good in the gain is convertible into evil; the evil in the loss is never to be improved into good.

3. The good in the gain is narrow and particular; the evil in the loss is large and universal.

4. The good in the gain is mixed and sophisticated; the evil in the loss is pure and unmingled.

5. The good in the gain is full of intermissions; the evil in the loss is continual.

6. The good in the gain is short and transitory; the evil in the loss is eternal. (Dr. J. Scott.)

Profit and loss

I. The soul’s worth:

II. The soul’s loss, is loss of

III. Enforce the question:

Value of souls

A converted Jew, pleading for the cause of the society through whose instrumentality he had been brought to a knowledge of Christianity, was opposed by a learned gentleman, who spoke very lightly of the objects of the society and its efforts, and said “he did not suppose they would convert more than a hundred altogether.” “Be it so,” replied the Jew; you are a skilful calculator; take your pen now, and calculate the worth of one hundred immortal souls!”

Inestimable value of the soul

Are there not things more precious than gold and bank stocks? When the Central America was foundering at sea, bags and purses of gold were strewn about the deck as worthless-as merest rubbish. “Life, life,” was the prayer. To some of the wretched survivors, “Water, water; bread, bread; “ it was worth its weight in gold, if it could have been bought. And oh! above all-far above all, the salvation of your soul is precious. Is it not yet lost? Is it saved? (Christian Treasury.)

Insurance of the soul

A little boy on his father’s knee said, “Pa, is your soul insured? Why do you ask, my son? I heard Uncle George say that you had your house insured, and your life insured; but he did not believe you had thought about your soul, and he was afraid you would lose it. Won’t you get it insured right away?” It was all too true; and the question led the father to seek the Divine guarantee of his soul’s well-being.

Care for the soul

It is recorded concerning one of the martyrs, that when he was going to the stake, a nobleman besought him, in a compassionate manner, to take care of his soul. “So I will,” he replied; “for I give my body to be burned, rather than have my soul defiled. (Archbishop Sacker.)

The value of the soul

I. We possess immortal souls of incalculable value. The incomparable worth of the soul appears from

II. Our souls are in imminent danger of being lost.

1. The loss of the soul is certainly possible.

2. The loss of the soul is highly probable.

3. The loss of the soul is deplorable.

4. The loss of the soul is utterly irreparable.

III. Nothing can compensate for the loss of the soul.

1. The case supposed-“If he gain the whole world.”

2. The inquiry instituted-“What is a man profited?”

3. The exchange proposed-“What shall a man give?” (Sketches.)

The incomparable worth of the soul will also appear

from the following considerations:-

I. From its essence and capacities. The body is composed of dust, like the bodies of other animals, but the soul was infused by the breath of God. It is capable of the heavenly exercises of love, pity, and mercy. The extent of its capacities is amazing. It is capable of exerting itself like an angel in the employments of the heavenly world. Vast capacities has the soul for happiness and misery. The happiness which appertains to the soul is far the most noble in its kind. If to contemplate the sun and moon produces a delight full of dignity, what does the contemplation of Him who spoke these orbs into being? The soul alone is capable of enjoying God. What is the world to this?

II. From the amazing respect that has been paid to it. God has discovered His high regard for the soul by the pains He has taken to give a written revelation to the world. Angels also discover their high regard for the soul by leaving the realms of glory to consume their time upon this distant planet by daily ministrations to its salvation.

II. What completes the value of the soul is its immortality and perhaps eternal progression.

How may we best know the worth of the soul? By considering-

I. What is meant by the soul.

1. “Soul,” or ψυχὴ, the word here used, is put for life, by a metonymy of the efficient for the effect, because our life depends upon the soul. Thus: “Take no thought for your life”- ψυχὴ (Matthew 6:25).

2. The word “soul” is put for the whole man frequently in Scripture. Thus, the number of persons “that came with Jacob into Egypt” is reckoned by so many “souls” (Genesis 46:26).

3. This word “soul” is taken most properly and strictly for the form, constituent, and better part of man; that breath that is breathed into him from God, when man becomes a living soul (Genesis 2:7). In this acceptation we proceed to inquire-

II. What this “soul” is.

(a) The soul is a distinct substance from the body. This will appear if we consider

(b) The soul is a spiritual substance.

1. Were it only that the soul is so often called “ a spirit “ by God Himself in His Word, it were a very considerable argument to prove that it is a spirit (Ecclesiastes 12:7; Zechariah 12:1; Acts 7:59).

2. That the soul is a spiritual substance, is evident in that it is not produced out of matter (Genesis 2:7; Ecclesiastes 12:7).

3. A third argument to prove that the soul is a spirit, is, because in it man bears the image of God-“God is a Spirit” (John 4:24).

4. The actions or operations of the soul are such as cannot proceed from any bodily being.

5. The soul is a spirit, in that it is in the body, and one body cannot be in another. The soul takes up no place, as bodies do; it is tota in tote.

6. In what the soul’s excellency does appear.

I. The first thing that speaks the soul’s prerogative is its original. It is accounted no small privilege to be nobly born.

II. Then again in the end it is designed for.

1. The soul of man is made for to bring glory to God.

2. The soul of man is made capable of enjoying God.

The endeavours that are used for to gain souls.

I. God’s endeavours.

1. His parting with His Son, and Christ with His heart blood and life, for them.

2. I might add unto God’s giving of His Son for our souls, His giving of His Spirit to the soul.

3. God’s valuing of our soul appears in the care and pains which He takes for our souls daily.

(a) In that He hath instituted means whereby He might come to obtain our souls, nay, to strengthen and comfort them, and have communion with them.

(b) He bears with us, and exercises a great deal of patience towards us, if so He might at length gain our souls; and says, “when shall it once be?”

(c) His bearing with the whole world of wicked men, notwithstanding their blasphemies and open defiances of Him, is only out of love to some few souls who serve and fear Him.

(d) All the providences of God in which He worketh hitherto, are intended by Him for the good of our souls, and done by God out of respect unto them.

II. Endeavours used by Satan for our souls.

(e) The duration of our souls. Application:

1. If the soul be so precious, we have heard enough to make us abhor sin for ever.

2. This does recommend and endear our blessed Saviour to us.

3. This commends holiness in all its parts to us.

4. Have a care that ye do not lose these souls that are so valuable. Consider that-

The soul’s inestimable value

A problem that deserves the study of the longest life. The best medium through which to view this all important question is the following verse. In this light I view this great question, and what do I see?

I. That we have in our possession a jewel called the soul, astonishing in its properties, and inestimable in its value. The soul is-

II. The possibility of that soul being lost, the loss will be inexpressibly great.

1. What is the loss of a lost soul? The loss of grace in time. Glory in eternity.

III. The characters who, if they die as they are, will suffer and endure this fearful loss. “Is it I?” If you are living in open sin, etc., it is you. Have you repented, believed in Christ, etc.? Look at this matter in the light of the judgment day, and read Matthew 25:1-46.

IV. The indesirable, inexpressible, inconceivable folly of the man that barters away his soul-get what he will in exchange, riches, honours, pleasures, etc.

V. The wisdom of that man who is determined to have his soul saved-cost what it will.

VI. that next to the salvation of our own souls, it is our highest duty and best interest to promote the salvation of others. (W. Dawson)
.

The world an impossible enjoyment

He that hath all the world (if we can suppose such a man), cannot have a dish of fresh summer fruits in the midst of winter, not so much as a green fig: and very much of its possessions is so hid, so fugacious, and of so uncertain purchase, that it is like the riches of the sea to the lord of the shore; all the fish and wealth within all its hollownesses are his, but he is never the better for what he cannot get; all the shell-fishes that produce pearl, produce them not for him; and the bowels of the earth shall hide her treasures in undiscovered retirements: so that it will signify as much to this great purchaser to be entitled to an inheritance in the upper region of the air; he is so far from possessing all its riches, that he does not so much as know of them, nor understand the philosophy of her minerals. (Jeremy Taylor)

The world-gainer more a delight to others than to himself

Nay, those things which he esteems his ornament, and the singularity of his possessions, are they not of more use to others than to himself? For suppose his garments splendid and shining, like the robe of a cherub, or the clothing of the fields, all that he that wears them enjoys, is, that they keep him warm, and clean, and modest; and all this is done by clean and less pompous vestments; and the beauty of them, which distinguishes him from others, is made to please the eyes of the beholders; and he is like a fair bird, or the meretricious painting of a wanton woman, made wholly to be looked on, that is, to be enjoyed by every one but himself: and the fairest face and most sparkling eye cannot perceive or enjoy their own beauties but by reflection. It is I that am pleased with beholding his gaiety; and the gay man, in his greatest bravery, is only pleased because I am pleased with the sight; so borrowing his little and imaginary complacency from the delight that I have, not from any inherency of his own possession. (Jeremy Taylor.)

The world enjoyed by men who do not sell their souls for it

The poorest artizan of Rome walking in Caesar’s gardens, had the same pleasures which they ministered to their lord: and although, it may be, he was put to gather fruits to eat from another place, yet his other senses were delighted equally with Caesar’s: the birds made him as good music, the flowers gave him as sweet smells; he there sucked as good air, and delighted in the beauty and order of the place, for the same reason and upon the same perception as the prince himself; save only that Caesar paid, for all that pleasure, vast sums of money, the blood and treasure of a province, which the poor man had for nothing. (Jeremy Taylor.)

The gain of the whole world no benefit

Cannot a man quench his thirst as well out of an urn or chalice, as out of a whole river? It is an ambitious thirst, and a pride of draught, that had rather lay his mouth to the Euphrates than to a petty goblet; but if he had rather, it adds not so much to his content as to his danger and his vanity. (Jeremy Taylor.)

Enjoyment of the world limited by lack of capacity

If any man should give to a lion a fair meadow full of hay, or a thousand quince trees; or should give to the goodly bull, the master and the fairest of the whole herd, a thousand fair stags; if a man should present to a child a ship laden with Persian carpets, and the ingredients of the rich scarlet: all these, being disproportionate either to the appetite or to the understanding, could add nothing of content, and might declare the freeness of the presenter, but they upbraid the incapacity of the receiver. And so it does if God should give the whole world to any man. He knows not what to do with it; he can use no more but according to the capacities of a man; he can use nothing but meat, and drink, and clothes; and infinite riches, that can give him changes of raiment every day, and a full table, do but give him a clean trencher every bit he eats; it signifies no more but wantonness and variety, to the same, not to any new purposes. He to whom the world can be given to any purpose greater than a private estate can minister, must have new capacities created in him: he needs the understanding of an angel, to take the accounts of his estate; he had need have a stomach like fire or the grave, for else he can eat no more than one of his healthful subjects; and unless he hath an eye like the sun, and a motion like that of a thought, and a bulk as big as one of the orbs of heaven, the pleasures of his eye can be no greater than to behold the beauty of a little prospect from a hill, or to look upon the heap of gold packed up in a little room, or to dote upon a cabinet of jewels, better than which there is no man, that sees at all, but sees every day. (Jeremy Taylor.)

Knowledge has a greater enjoyment of the world than mere possession

But then, although they only have power to relish any pleasure rightly, who rightly understand the nature; and degrees and essences, and ends of things; yet they that do so, understand also the vanity and the unsatisfyingness of the things of this world, so that the relish, which could not be great but in a great understanding, appears contemptible because its vanity appears at the same time; the understanding sees all, and sees through it. (Jeremy Taylor.)

The gain of the world outweighed by a sharp pain

The greatest vanity of this world is remarkable in this, that all its joys summed up together are not big enough to counterpoise the evil of one sharp disease, or to allay a sorrow. (Jeremy Taylor.)

The world a poor reward for the pain of getting it

But in the supposition it is, “If a man could gain the whole world,” which supposes labour and sorrow, trouble and expense, venture and hazard, and so much time expired in its acquist and purchase, that, besides the possession is not secured to us for the term of life, so our lives are almost expired before we become estated in our purchases. And indeed, it is a sad thing to see an ambitious or a covetous person make his life unpleasant, troublesome, and vexatious, to grasp a power bigger than himself, to fight for it with infinite hazards of his life, so that it is a thousand to one but he perishes in the attempt, and gets nothing at all but an untimely grave, a reproachful memory, and an early damnation. (Jeremy Taylor.)

The mad exchange

And this I observe to be intimated in the word, lose. For he that gives gold for cloth, or precious stones for bread, serves his needs of nature, and loses nothing by it; and the merchant that found a pearl of great price, and sold all that he had to make the purchase of it, made a good venture; he was no loser: but here the case is otherwise; when a man gains the whole world, and his soul goes in the exchange, he hath not done like a merchant, but like a child or a prodigal; he hath given himself away, he hath lost all that can distinguish him from a slave or a miserable person,he loses his soul in the exchange. For the soul of a man all the world cannot be a just price; a man may lose it, or throw it away, but he can never make a good exchange when he parts with this jewel; and therefore our blessed Saviour rarely well expresses it by ζημιοῦν, which is fully opposed to κέρδος, “gain; “ it is such an ill market a man makes, as if he should proclaim his riches and goods vendible for a garland of thistles decked and trimmed up with the stinking poppy. (Jeremy Taylor.)

The soul exchanged for a paltry convenience

But we must come far lower yet. Thousands there are that damn themselves; and yet their purchase, at long-running, and after a base and weary life spent, is but five hundred pounds a-year: nay, it may be, they only cozen an easy person out of a good estate, and pay for it at an easy rate, which they obtain by lying, by drinking, by flattery, by force; and the gain is nothing but a thousand pounds in the whole, or, it may be, nothing but a convenience. (Jeremy Taylor.)

The soul now ignorant of its capability

If the elephant knew his strength, or the horse the vigorousness of his own spirit, they would be as rebellious against their rulers as unreasonable men against government; nay, the angels themselves, because their light reflected home to their orbs, and they understood all the secrets of their own perfection, they grew vertiginous, and fell from the battlements of heaven. But the excellency of a human soul shall then be truly understood, when the reflection will make no distraction of our faculties, nor enkindle any irregular fires; when we may understand ourselves without danger. (Jeremy Taylor.)

The loss of the soul an insupportable calamity

But yet from these considerations it would follow, that to lose a soul, which is designed to be an immense sea of pleasures, even in its natural capacities, is to lose all that whereby a man can possibly be, or be supposed, happy. And so much the rather is this understood to be an insupportable calamity, because losing a soul in this sense is not a mere privation of those felicities, of which a soul is naturally designed to be a partaker, but it is an investing it with contrary objects and cross effects, and dolorous perceptions: for the will, if it misses its desires, is afflicted; and the understanding, when it ceases to be ennobled with excellent things, is made ignorant as a swine, dull as the foot of a rock; and the affections are in the destitution of their perfective actions made tumultuous, vexed and discomposed to the height of rage and violence. (Jeremy Taylor.)

A foolish choice

The old rabbins, those poets of religion, report of Moses, that when the courtiers of Pharaoh were sporting with the child Moses, in the chamber of Pharaoh’s daughter, they presented to his choice an ingot of gold in one hand and a coal of fire in the other, and that the child snatched at the coal, thrust it into his mouth, and so singed and parched his tongue, that he stammered ever after. And certainly it is infinitely more childish in us, for the glittering of the small glow-worms and the charcoal of worldly possessions, to swallow the flames of hell greedily in our choice: such a bit will produce a worse stammering than Moses had: for so the accursed and lost souls have their ugly and horrid dialect, they roar and blaspheme, blaspheme and roar, for ever. (Jeremy Taylor.)

A wicked barter

You wonder at the folly of that rude and naked savage who would barter a coronet of gold for small worthless trinkets, and buy the wonders of a mirror, the tinkling of a bell, or the string of coloured beads, with a handful of pearls, fit ornaments of a crown. Yet what is that compared with the folly of him who, in exchange for the toys of earth, gives his soul? (Dr. Guthrie)

The folly of hazarding eternal life for temporal enjoyment

I. How inconsiderable the purchase.

1. If we had it all, yet the great uncertainty of holding it, or any part of it.

2. The impossibility of using and enjoying it all.

3. If we had it, and could use it all, the improbability of being contented with it.

II. How great a price is paid for it.

1. The loss is great.

2. Irreparable.

3. The severe reflection men will make upon themselves for their folly. (J. Tillotson, D. D.)

The world gainer destitute of the joy of hope

God hath so contrived things that, ordinarily, the pleasures of human life do consist more in hope than enjoyment: so that if a man had gained all the world, one of the chief pleasures of life would be gone, because there would be nothing more left for him to hope for in this world. (J. Tillotson, D. D.)

Prosperity an aggravation of subsequent misery

If the happiness were true and real, it were an imprudent method. As if a man should choose to enjoy a great estate for a few days, and to be extremely poor the remaining part of his life. If there were any necessity of making so unequal a bargain, surely, a man would reserve the best condition to the last; for precedent sufferings and trouble do mightily recommend the pleasures that are to ensue, and render them more tasteful than they would otherwise have been; whereas the greatest heightening of misery, the saddest aggravation of an unhappy condition, is to fall into it from the height of a prosperous fortune. It is comfortable for a man to come out of the cold to a warm fire; but if a man in a great heat shall leap into the cold water, it will strike him to the heart. Such is the fond choice of every sinner, to pass immediately out of a state of the greatest sensual pleasure, into the most quick and sensible torments. (J. Tillotson, D. D.)

The after reflection of a lost soul

With what indignation will he look upon himself, and censure his own folly! Like a man who, in a drunken fit, hath passed away his estate for a trifling consideration: the next morning, when he is sober and come to himself, and finds himself a beggar, how does he rate himself for being such a beast and a fool, as to do that in a blind and rash heat which he will have cause to repent as long as he hath a day to live. (J. Tillotson, D. D.)

Is life worth living?

“What shall a man give in exchange, for his life?” This question has been largely on the lips of the world of late.

I. Life in its origin and destiny, is a deep mystery. Its only solution, as its only worth, is found in faith and religion. Life is growth under a force and principle guided by intelligence. To be, to act, and to suffer or enjoy, is to live.

II. Its unfolding may take place around either of two centres-self or god. Life offers us, in this direction, either bondage or freedom. It is determined by choice. He who decides to live to himself, becomes the slave of sin, passion, and lust. He who chooses God, attains to freedom, etc.

III. Whether life will secure worth will depend upon what we believe.

1. In natural science.

2. In mental philosophy.

3. In morals.

4. In religion.

IV. Belief and knowledge will have their effect upon character and conduct, and will manifest themselves. In what we become ourselves, and in what we help others to become.

V. Reasons. Why we should make the most of life and fill it with worth.

1. God gave it and upholds it.

2. God has redeemed it in order to give it worth.

3. God has a plan for each life, which, if followed, will lead from grace to glory, and from the utilities of time to the rewards and inheritance of eternity. Unless we do so, most assuredly, in the light of our text, life will not be worth the living, and indeed it were far better never to have been born. (L. O. Thompson)

The loss of the soul irreparable

If the soul perish, it is, once more, an irreparable loss-a loss that cannot be retrieved. A man may lose health, and yet, by the blessing of Providence upon medical aid, he may become more healthy than before; a man may lose property-his all in the world, and yet, by industry and the smile of Providence, he may become richer than before; a man may lose friends-God may raise up others in their room; but, Oh, if the soul is lost, it is lost not for a day a month, or a year, but for eternity; and it is that word “eternity” which gives emphasis to bliss or woe, to ease or pain, to hell or heaven. (R. Newton. D. D.)

The loss of the soul eternal

There is no proportion between the one and the other. There is some proportion between a particle of matter and the globe-there is some proportion between a drop of water and the ocean; but there can be none between the little drop of time and the shoreless, fathomless ocean of eternity. The man, then, that gains the whole world for time and loses his soul for eternity, can gain no profit. (R. Newton. D. D.)


Verse 27-28

Matthew 16:27-28

For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father.

The coming of the Son of Man

1. The judgment of the world has been committed to the Son as Mediator, as an appropriate honour to One who had humbled Himself for the redemption of the world.

2. Christ is qualified to be Judge, as the Son of God, of the same essence as the Father; the perfections of the Godhead will appear glorious in Him.

3. The saints in judgment will be manifested as the doers of the will of God upon earth.

4. The work of the Judge will be, not to justify, or to make righteous, but to prove the saints by their works, that they are righteous already.

5. Men will be judged by their works, to show that God in the work of man’s salvation supports the cause of infinite holiness.

6. Judgment will not be according to the works visible to men, but to all done in secret.

7. Judgment according to works will condemn the ungodly, and make them dumb before God. (D. Charles.)

I. The son of man As the promised, manifested, ascended One.

II. His reappearance on earth Predicted, possible, necessary.

III. His superhuman glory. His herald, person, retinue is glorious.

IV. His important work. To raise the dead, change the living, judge all, reward each, resign the reins of government into His Father’s hand. (A. Macfarlane.)

I. That the Lord Jesus Christ shall return to this earth as a man in the glory of God with His angels.

II. That all Christ’s believing people shall appear with Him.

III. The Lord at His coming in His glory shall reward every man according to his works. (H. McNeile.)

An awful premonition

Compared with the doom which will be inflicted upon the ungodly at the coming of Christ, the death of nature is nothing.

I. The sinner’s death is but a faint presage of the sinner’s doom at the coming of the Son of Man in his glory.

1. We can make but little comparison between the two in the point of time. Physical dying is but the work of a moment; the doom of the wicked when Christ comes will never die.

2. In point of loss there is no comparison.

3. Neither does death hear any comparison with the last judgment in point of terror.

4. The pains of death are not comparable to the pains of the judgment at the second advent.

II. In the state of separate spirits they have not fully tasted of death, nor will they do so until Christ comes. Till after the second advent their bodies do not suffer; they know that this present state will end, after judgment no end; they have not been put to the shame of a public sentence. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Waiting for Christ’s coming

I saw a picture the other day in a shop window, with which I was greatly pleased; it represented a room in which was a window looking out upon the sea; a lady with a grave, anxious face sat by the window, and two little children were playing on the carpet. On the table lay a letter, which seemed just to have been opened, and against the wall was hanging the portrait of a gentleman. There was very little writing underneath the picture, and very little was wanted; for I could understand the story which the picture was intended to tell, as plainly as if the painter had told me himself. The father of these little children was evidently absent from them beyond the sea. There was his portrait, but he was far away. But he had sent them s letter containing the joyful news that he was coming home again! And so there was the mother sitting at that window, day after day, and looking across the wide waters, in the hope of at last seeing the white sails of the ship which should bring the long-expected one home. Now this picture, I think, may remind us of what the Lord Jesus used to tell His disciples about His “coming again.” (Ready for work.)

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Matthew 16:4". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/matthew-16.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, June 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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