« PreviousContinue »
the things which are not seen, and are eternal.
When Nicodemus, for example, being one of the Pharisees, took the part of Jesus, saying, (John vii. 51,) “ Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth? They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee?"
Now here the Pharisees were to Nicodemus in the place of the right hand or right eye, which he was to cast from him. They were a stumblingblock in his way. To do what duty required, and separate himself from the party to which he belonged, was no easy trial. Nothing could make him consent to this, except a conviction that it was desirable to enter into the kingdom of God, with a despised and persecuted party, rather than with the approbation of rulers and friends to be cast into hell.
When the early Christians saw fit to make common cause and common purse, and those who were possessors of lands or houses sold them for the support of others, the estate of Ananias and Sapphira was their snare. It was an offence to them : and “they kept back part of the price, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.”3 To give up the whole of the possession, would evidently have been to them like the parting with a hand, or a foot, or an eye. It was a self-denial to which they could not consent. But it would have been better for them to enter into the kingdom of God maimed of their earthly possessions, than having
their whole fortune to be cast into hell fire, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
It was needful, therefore, for our Lord to urge these strong enforcements. He knew the trials to which his disciples must be exposed; not his present disciples alone, but others in every future age. He knew that nothing except the most overpowering motives could engage them to resist temptation, and remain stedfast in the faith. Therefore, he leaves them motives which might well have this effect, and supply strength to the weakness of nature.
" What shall it profit a man, if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ?”
The whole is concluded with a remark, which shows it to be part of the will of God, that his people should be proved by trials of this kind.
49. For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.
As much as to say, Do not wonder at the mortification which I have been predicting and requiring. Every one must expect to undergo mortification, and consent to self-denial. *
Under the law it was commanded, being rendered necessary by the climate of Judea, (Lev. ii. 13.)
Every oblation of thy meat-offering shalt thou season with salt: neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat-offering. With all thy sacrifices thou
• The explanation here given of these two verses will be found in Bp. Hurd, Sermon XI. It appears to me the best solution of a passage of acknowledged difficulty.
shalt offer salt.” To the typical sacrifice, therefore, salt was indispensable, that it might be pure and uncorrupt. And to the spiritual sacrifice, the sacrifice of the Christian heart, trials are the seasoning which make it acceptable. Every disciple of Christ shall be salted, i. e., preserved from corruption, be cleansed and purified, with fire : with fiery trials; with the furnace of affliction. This is the preparation, the seasoning, which shall be to it what salt is to the literal sacrifice, that which renders it pleasing and conformable to the will of God.
Then follows a remark, arising from the idea which had been just introduced, the mention of salt as belonging to the sacrifice.
50. Salt is good : but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.
Salt is a metaphor, expressing what preserves the moral nature, as well as the animal nature, from corruption. That which preserves the Christian nature, the renewed heart, that which fits it for the fire of temptation, is faith. But if that faith have lost its active and its searching power, wherewith shall the heart be seasoned ? how shall it be preserved in a suitable state for acceptance with God?
Have, therefore, salt in yourselves. Have with you that preparation of the heart which comes from Christian faith ; and give the proof of it, by being at peace one with another. “For by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples :"-by this shall faith in me be estimated and proved :-" that ye have love one towards another.”
CHILDREN RECEIVED AND BLESSED.
MARK X. 1-16.
Matt. xix. 1-16.
1. And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judea by the further side of Jordan: and the people resort unto him again ; and, as he was wont, he taught them again.
2. And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lauful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.
3. And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?
4. And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.
5. And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote
This precept. 6. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
7. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
8. And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
9. What therefore God hath joined together, lel not man put asunder.
10. And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.
11. And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put awey his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.'
12. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be murried to another, she committeth adultery.
This is one of the cases which explains our Lord's own account of himself: “ Think not that I am come to destroy the law and the prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfil.” The original will of God was that the woman should be a helpmate for the man, and the man for the woman : and that the marriage tie, united under God's sanction, should be dissolved only by the hand of God in death. And this law was as much made for man, as man for this law. It is the law of domestic peace, comfort, and harmony.
But an “enemy sowed tares” among the good seed. Sin bad opposed the will of God. And Moses, for the hardness of men's hearts, had permitted a relaxation of the original law, and allowed in certain cases a bill of divorcement. The custom of the Jews had multiplied the causes, and shamefully increased the practice.
Jesus had now come to fulfil the law, to restore all things, to acquaint us with what God approves, and by the power of his grace to make men approve the same, and bring their thoughts and actions into agreement with it. And “his commandments are not grievous.” Experience proves that they are
“the ways of pleasantness and peace.”
Except in case of adultery. See the parallel passages, Matt. v. 32; xix. 9.