« PreviousContinue »
them off from all care about the things of this life, that they might attend upon his
person, and wholly give themselves up to that work to which he had * called them.
Blair combats the Archbishop's exposition as “ an odd and dangerous opinion,” and as “opening a great gap, " " as if there were any part of this sermon not binding upon all private Christians as such.”
This useful author has turned the current of most expositors his own way: and I agree with him in asserting that throughout our Lord's discourse u pastors were not instructed in opposition to laymen, nor the Twelve "in opposition to the other disciples : but that the followers of Christ were taught in opposition to * heathens, hypocrites, Scribes, and Phari. sees. However, they were followers of Christ at a particular time, and in peculiar circumstances. From many of these the Seventy were to be selected; and many of these were to receive the Spirit after Christ's ascension, and to become teachers of his religion. Some duties therefore might reasonably be required of them, which are not incumbent on Christians in all ages of the church: and it has been clearly shewn that a precept does not bind always, Y because our Lord enjoined it to his disciples. As to the partic. cular passage interpreted by the Archbishop, it is true that the original word sometimes signifies to
• Serm. xxxvi. v. 1. fol. on Luke xii. 15. p. 255. · Discourses on the Sermon on the mount, by James Blair, 4 vol. Sec vol. 1. p. 96. 100. up. 95. w p. 84.
See the observations on Luke xii. 33. p. 34. a juegojevey.
be . excessively careful: but it is also true that it is used in a b good sense: and it will remain to be well considered whether, Matt. vi. 31, 34. there be not too strict a prohibition, and whether, Matt. vi. 33. there be not too large a promise, for Christians at all times. Reason will sufficiently mark the distinction between temporary and perpetual rules of conduct contained in the Scriptures. And it is much safer to admit such distinctions, than to encourage enthusiastic expectations and practice, and to represent the gospel as advancing doctrines contrary to common sense and to common experience.
But lessons delivered by our Lord in some other of his discourses have likewise been considered as hard sayings.
If the solemn assertion, “I say unto you that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment,” were understood of inadvertent and superfluous words, it would be impossible to converse innocently. But the context shews that they are such as an evil man brings out of the evil treasure of his heart : they are opposed to such prudent and profitable conversation as will justify at the last day ; and men must give an account of them in the sense of being condemned for them. By idle words therefore are meant false or evil words; as d unfruitful works signify such as are destructive. And this mode of using terms which have a softer import, and of expressing less than is meant, is a common figure in all languages.
2 Phil. iy. 6. 61 Cor. vii. 32. 2 Cor. xi. 28. Phil. ii. 20. xii. 36.
d Epb. v. 11. 'Agzós is d'oggòs, ab opere cessans, otiosus ; and may as easily signify what tends to a bad purpose, as èxagios, what lends to mischief. So Heb. xiii. 17. aruditor.es, unprofitable, is dangerous. Matt. xxv. 30. a' xgeros is evil : see c. 26. Soi Eph. v. 4. ta 'xx a'yśworld signifies which are highly unbecoming and sinful. Sopi p. 26. is vacuus and nequam. •Luke xiv. 12–14. Luke. xiv. 7-10 8j. 327, Lond. 1754. h Posthumous Works, i. 24. See Bisbop Law's Considerations, &c. p. 311. ed. 5.
It should be observed that the following words are a parable: “ When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours : lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind : and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee : for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” The passage immediately preceding, and which is remarkably analogous to this, is called a parable : “f When thou art bidden of any man to a marriage feast, sit not down in the highest room,” &c. and the intro. ductory words to the place under consideration, “ Then said he also to him that bade him,” intimate that the parabolical style is continued. It must likewise be remarked that another parable instantly succeeds. Our Lord therefore may be understood as saying, Let your beneficence be free and disinterested: let your conduct resemble preparing a table for the poor, who can make no return; and not for the rich, who can make an ample one.
After having thus settled the meaning of the passage, I found the following remark in Leland's view of the Deistical writers : “h Chubb interprets what our Lord saith in a parabolical way, Luke xiv. 12, 13. concerning inviting the poor, the blind, and the lame, (and which, as may be gathered from the context, by comparing v. 7, &c. was designed to rebuke the vanity of expensive and ostentatious entertainments, whilst the poor and indigent were neglected,) as if it were his intention that all Christians should deny themselves the pleasure of entertaining or being entertained by friends, relations, and those of their own rank, and were to confine themselves wholly to the company, conversation, and friendship of the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind. Though it is very evident, from his own practice, that our Lord was far from discouraging an agree. able intercourse and conversation among friends, and the offices and entertainment of social life.” When our Lord says, “i Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto everlasting life," his meaning is, that the Jews were not to labour so much for their temporal subsistence as for their eternal well being.
As multitudes attended our Lord on his way to Jerusalem, he turned and said to them: “ If kany man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” He had before told his immediate followers, “ He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me."
i John vi. 27. The degree of comparison is sometimes thus expres. sed in the Hebrew language. Jer. vii. 22, 23. Hos. yi. 6. See 1 Cor. i. 17. and Bishop Pearce's note : who quotes John xii. 44. 1 Cor. x. 24. Eph. vi. 12. Col. iii. 2, and many other places. * Luke xiv. 26, 27.
I Matt. x. 37
And he had likewise said to all his disciples, “ If many man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” By " hating our Lord does not mean the passion of the mind so called, but an inferior consideration and regard ; such a forsaking of the nearest relations, and such an esposing of life to the rage of persecution, as resembled the effects of hatred.
All must perceive that this sacrifice of worldly connections, this severe self denial, and daily danger of death, were peculiar to the times when the rancour of the Jews and heathens was so hot against the first preachers of the gospel.
When our Lord said to the °young man, who had kept the law from his youth and asked what he yet wanted, “P One thing thou wantest ; if thou wilt be perfect, go, sell all that thou hast, and distribute to the poor ; and thou shalt have treasure in heaven ; and come, take up the cross, and follow me ;” the words refer to the greatest perfection that could be attained while Christ was on earth, which consisted in attending his person, in preaching the gospel with an entire reliance on Providence for daily subsistence, and in readily laying down life itself for the truth. And when the young man departed sorrowful, because he had civil 9 authority and great possessions, our Lord went on to observe how difficult it was for the rich, or, as he explained himself, for
m Luke ix 23. * Niu de amore dicitur paulo remissiore. Gen xxix. 30, 31. Mal. i. 2,3. Castelli Lex.
Matt. xix. 20. pib. 21. and p. p.
9 Luke xviii. 18.