« PreviousContinue »
30 ses and the prophets ; let them hearken to them. And he said,
Nay, father Abraham, but if one go to them from the dead, they 31 will repent. But he said to him, If they hearken not to Moses
and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one should arise from the dead.
REFLECTIONS. Most evidently may we learn from this parable, that it is impossible to know either love or hatred by any thing that is before us under the
Who that had seen the pomp and plenty of this rich sinner, and compared it with the indigence and misery of Lazarus, would have imagined that the latter had been the child, and the former the enemy of God? But let us judge nothing before the time. Our Lord Jesus Christ shews us the period of all the prosperity of the wicked, and of the calamities with which good men may be exercised.--And what availed the luxuries of life, or the magnificence of burial, to a wretch tormented in flames? Surely the fierceness of those flaties would be proportionable to the luxury in which he had formerly lived, and the sense of his torment be heightened by the delicacy he had once indulged. May God awaken those unhappy persons, whatever their rank in the present life may be, who place their happiness and glory in being clothed in purple and fine liner, and faring sumptuously every day! May they lift up their enchanted, deluded eyes, and sec that pointed sword of divine vengeance which is suspended over them by so weak a thread; and may they take this warning from one greater than Moses and the prophets, from one that came from the dead to enforce it, that they pass not into that place of torment !
Let poor afflicted saints take comfort in what has now been read, though they may be despised and slighted by men. The time will shortly come, when those angels who now descend in an invisible form to minister to them, will appear as their guard to conroy them to the regions of glory. Abraham's bosom will
be opened to them, and the dainties of heaven be set before multitudes, who perhaps, while on this side the grave, hardly knew how to procure even the necessaries of life.—May we never view those seats of glory, as this wretched sensualist did, at an unapproachable distance ! Let us think seriously of his deplorable circumstances, when he asked a drop of water from the tip of Lazarus’s finger, and yet was denied. Dreadful representation ! yet made by Christ himself, who surely knew how to describe the case with the utmost propriety. Behold, O our souls, this son of Abraham, in that flaming prison, in all the restless agonies of torment and despair ; and we may judge what dependence to place on a descent from pious ancestors, or a participation of external privileges.
We inquire not curiously into the motives which engaged him to request that so extraordinary a warning might be sent to his brethren; whether it might proceed from a remainder of natural affection, from a fear of meeting them in the same misery, or froin a mixture of both. It is enough to observe how and upon what principles it was denied, if they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead. Let none vainly excuse thene selves from believing the evidence of he revelation God has given, on a pretence that if they saw signs and wonders they would believe. The heart of man may be hardened against the most sensible and immediate miracle ; but if that evidence were irresistible, it would ill become us to dictate to God when and to whom it should be given. Let us examine and acquiesce in such as he has seen fit to afford ; and pass through our various scenes of life as those that have eternity in view, and are persuaded we must each of us, in a few years, at furthest, be with Lazarus in Abraham's bosom, or with the rich man in that tormenting flame.
Christ repeats his exhortations to an inoffensive conduct and a forgiving
temper; and warns his disciples not to arrogate any merit to themselves, LUKE xvii. lll.
1 WHEN he said to the disciples, It is impossible but offences
should come ; nevertheless, wo be to him by whom they 2 come. It were better for him that a huge mill-stone should be
hanged about his neck, and he should be thrown into the sea, than 3 that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to your
selves* : and if thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him ; 4 and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee
seven times in a day, and seven times in a day return to thee,
saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive himn. 5 Then the apostles said unto the Lord, increase our faith. And 6 the Lord said, If you had faith as a grain of mustard-seed, you
might say to this sycamore-tree, Be thou rooted up, and planted in -7 the sea, and it should obey you. But who of you, that has a ser
vant ploughing, or feeding his flock, will say unto hini, as soon as 8 he comes in from the field, Come in and sit down at the table? Or
will he not rather say to him, Make ready my supper, and gird up
thy garments, and wait upon me while I am eating and drinking; 9 and afterwards thou shalt eat and drink. Does he thank that ser
vant because he hath done whạt was commanded him? I appre10 hend not. So likewise ye, when you have done all that was com
manded you, say, Surely we are unprofitable servants, for we 11 have done what we were obliged to do. And as he went to Jeru
salem, he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
REFLECTIONS. Let us renew our guard against every thing in our conduct which might give offence to the meanest and weakest; and against every thing which might by a bad example mislead others, or furnish the
* This contains a strong and important intimation how much sin and scandal is occasioned by a severe, quarrelsome temper in the disciples of Christ;
it not only stirs up the corruptions of those with whom they contend, but leads others to think meanly of a profession which has so little efficacy to soften and sweeten the tempers of those who maintam it. Vol. I,
enemies of religion with mattcr of reproach and accusation against it. Let us imbibe the forgiving spirit of the gospel, and, bearing in mind the numberless instances in which God has forgiven us, though we have sinned against him not only seven times, but seventy times seve en ; let us arm ourselves, in some degree, with the same mind, and endeavour to forbear and forgive one another, even as God for Christ's.. suke has freely forgiven us.
In a sense of the weakness of our faith, let us pray to Christ to increase it; and then those duties will be discharged with ease and delight which appeared most difficult in a distant prospect. Yet when faith and patience have had their most perfect work, when our Master's will has been borne with the most entire submission, and done with the most zealous dispatch, let us not pretend to place any merit in our own actions or sufferings; but let us think of ourselves as the şervants of God, yea, as unprofitable servants, whose goodness extendeth not to our great Master : and to the riches of his grace let us ascribe it, that our feeble powers are strengthened to the performance of our duty ; and that our worthless services are accepted, and the numberless deficiencies of them mercifully excused.
Christ rebukes the intemperate zeal of James and John against those Sa
maritans who refused him entertainment ; and heals ten lepers. LUKE ix. 51–56. xvii. 1219
ND it came to pass that, as the days were almost fulfilled, in
which he should be received up to heaven, he resolutely set his face to go up to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers before his face, who in their progress entered into a village of the Samaritans to prepare entertainment for him. But they would not receive him, because his face was directed towards Jerusalem. And when his disciples, James and John, saw it, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we speak for fire to come down from heaven to destroy them, as Elijah did? But he, larning short upon them, rebuked them and said, Ye know not what kind of spirit ye are of: For the Son of man came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went on to another village.
And as they entered into a certain village, there met hím ten men who were lepers. And standing afar off, they lifted up their voice and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy upon us. And seeing them [with compassion) he said unto them, Go, shew yourselves to the priests ; intimating that the cure should be performed by the way. And it came to pass that, as they were going, they were cleansed. And one of them, perceiving he was healed, returned, glorifying God with a loud voice. And he fell down on his face at his feet, giving thanks unto him. And he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answered and said, Were there not ten cleansed ? but where are the other nine? How is it that none are found who have returned to give glory to God but this stranger? And he said to him, Arise, go thy way; thy faith has saved thee.
REFLECTIONS. Who would not have imagined that the blessed Jesus should have been most cordially welcome wherever he came, when there was grace in all his words, and benevolence in all his actions ? Yet these Samari. tans would not receive him because he was a Jew. And thus do unhappy prejudices, taken up on imaginary grounds, against men and things in the general, sometimes injure the best of men, and prove much more hurtful to the persons themselves by whom they are entertained.
The rash disciples would have called for fire from hedven ; and let us observe how Christ treated the proposal. He treated it like him. self; like the kind compassionate Friend of human nature : and also like one who well knew what was in man, and how little human terrors and severities can do towards producing a real conversion. Yet fire from heaven might have carried along with it some rational ground of conviction, which penal laws and sanguinary executions can never produce. What then would Christ have said to these disciples, if they had themselves proposed to smite with the sword, or to cast fire-brands into the houses of these inhospitable men ? Little do they know their own spirit ; little do they understand either the true genius or the true interest of the gospel, who have recourse to such violent methods as these to extirpate heresy and to propagate truth*. Let us bless God that neither the guilt nor the misery of such a conduct is ours. Let us learn to search our own hearts, that we may form a thorough acquaintance with ourselves; which will greatly promote both the comfort and the usefulness of life. Especially let us attend to our aims and intentions, and be greatly jealous over our own hearts, lest we indulge our irregular passions under religious pretences, and set up the standards of malice and pride in the name of the Lord.
From the story of the ten lepers let us learn importunately to seek the influences of Christ, to purge us from that far more odious and fatal disease which sin has spread over our whole nature; and, after the example of the Samaritan, let us own the mercy we have received. Have we not reason to fear that, of the multitudes who are in. debted to the divine goodness, there is not one in ten who has a becoming sense of it? Let us labour to impress our hearts deeply with such a sense,
Let us remember what it is that God expects of us; and let us further consider that, as the exercise of gratitude towards such a Benefactor is most reasonable, so also in proportion it is most delightful to the soul; it is indeed (as one well expresses it) like the incense of the Jewish priest, which, while it did an honour to God, did likewise regale with its own fragrancy the person by whom it was offered.
Our Lord cautions the Jews against expecting a pompous kingdom of
the Messiah, and warns them of the approaching national destruction for rejecting him. LUKE xvii. 20, &c.
20 THUS Jesus went on his journey to Jerusalem. And being
asked by the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come ; he answered them and said, The kingdom of God com
eth not with that external pomp and observation of men which you 21 expect. Neither shall they say, Behold it is here, or behold it is
there. For behold the kingdom of God is already among* you. 22 And he said to his disciples, The time will come when you
shall wish to see one of these days of the Son of man, and shall not 23 see it. And they shall say to you, Behold he is here, or, behold 24 he is there ; but do not you go out, nor follow them. For as the
lightning which lightens from one part under heaven, shines in a
moment to the other part under heaven; so also shall the Son of 25 man be in his day. Nevertheless, he must first suffer many 26 things, and be rejected by this generation. And as it was in the
days of Noah, so also shall it be in the days of the Son of man. 27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, and their daughters
were given in marriage ; and with security persisted in the business,
and luxuries of life, till the very day in which Noah entered into 28 the ark; and the deluge came and destroyed them all. Likewise
also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat and drink, they 29 bought and sold, they planted and built : But on the day when
Lot went out of Sodom, fire and brimstone was rained down from 30 heaven, and destroyed them all. Even so shall it be in the day
when the Son of man is revealed, when he will display his power 31 in the destruction of this sinful people. In that day, if any one
shall be on the house-top, and his best dress and furniture be in the house, let him not come down into the house to take it away ; but let him fleet the readiest way : And he that is at work in the
field, stripped of his garment, let him likewise not return back, to 32 take ii. Remember Lot's wife, and take heed lest, like her, you
perish in that sudden vengeance, if you allow yourselves to linger. 33 For he that shall seek to preserve his life shall lose it ; but he 34 that shall be thought to lose his life, shall preserve it. I tell you,
in that night, that calamitous time, the Providence of God shall be strangely seen, in delivering some of my disciples, when others in the very same circumstances shall perish : there shall, for instance,
be two persons in the same bed ; the one shall be taken by the ene35 my, and the other dismissed. Two women shall be grinding to
* It is certain our Lord could not properly say the kingdom of God was in the Pharisees to whom he spoke.
+ Viz. by the steps which were on the outside. This passage shews, beyond all controversy, that this discourse refer's not to the final judgnient, from which there can be no escape ; but to the destruction of Jerusalem, from which, it is well known, that many Christians were preserved by this caution.