Page images

Matt. xvi. 20.

Matt. xvi. 20. Then charged he
Luke ix. 21. he straightly charged


shall be granted, and that under a sanction made in heaven. Hence in that instant, when he should use his keys, that is, when he was now ready to open the gate of the Gospel to the Gentiles, (Acts x.) he was taught from heaven that the consorting of the Jew with the Gentile, which before had been bound, was now loosed; and the eating of any creature convenient for food, was now loosed, which before had been bound; and he in like manner looses both these.

Those words of our Saviour, (John xx. 23.) “ Whose sins ye remit, they are remitted to them,” for the most part are forced to the same sense with these before us, when they carry quite another sense. Here the business is of doctrine only, not of persons; there of persons, not of doctrine. Here of things lawful or unlawful in religion, to be determined by the apostles; there of persons obstinate, or not obstinate, to be punished by them, or not to be punished.

As to doctrine, the apostles were doubly instructed. 1. So long sitting at the feet of their Master, they had imbibed the evangelical doctrine.

2. The Holy Spirit directing them, they were to determine concerning the legal doctrine and practice, being completely instructed and enabled in both, by the Holy Spirit descending upon them. As to the persons, they were endowed with a peculiar gift, so that, the same Spirit directing them if they would retain, and punish the sins of any, a power was delivered into their hands of delivering to Satan, of punishing with diseases, plagues, yea, death itself: which Peter did to Ananias and Sapphira; Paul to Elymas, Hymeneus, and Philetus, &c.

Schoetgen (c) adds many instances to those collected by Lightfoot, that to loose and to bind signified to pronounce what was lawful and unlawful; clean and unclean ; condemned or permitted in the Mosaical dispensation. From all which he infers, that among the Jews this power of binding and loosing was given to Rabbis, or Teachers, who were skilled in the law, and appointed to instruct the people, and that our Lord not only claimed to himself the same power which had hitherto been possessed by the Jewish teachers, but bestowed it upon his own disciples, and invested them in his new dispensation with the same authority as that which had been hitherto exerted only by the Jewish teachers. .

The power of binding or loosing, of declaring what is lawful and what is unlawful, is evidently the highest power of governing ; and of imposing laws for the guidance and direction of the spiritual society of the Church. It was the belief of the primitive Church, that this power was confided to the apostles; and, as far as the circumstances of the various Churches may require, was continued to their episcopal successors. The power of binding and loosing is generally called the power of the keys; and consists of authority to admit into the Church, and to exclude from it; and it implies, as the words of our Lord decidedly assert, the power to condemn for sin, and to absolve from sin (d).

[ocr errors]

(c) Our Lord only asserts in very general terms, that the apostles had power to decide what was approved or disapproved of God; but the Jews taught (Jalhut Simeoni, part i. fol. 225. 1.) whoever is excommunicated one day on earth, (although he be then absolved,) is not pardoned in heaven until after seven days : he who is thus condemned on earth for seven days, is absolved in heaven at the end of thirty.--Schoetgen, Hor. Heb. vol. i. p. 145-6. (d) See also this subject fully discussed in Potter's Church Government, chap, v. p. 330-361; Scott's Christian Life, folio edit. part ii. chap. vii. p. 492. VOL. I.


[ocr errors]

his disciples,

Matt. xvi. 20. and commanded them,

Luke ix. 21. that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Matt. xvi. 20. Christ..

MARK viii. part of ver. 27, 28. and ver. 29, 30. 27 -he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? 28 And they-John the Baptist—and others, One of the prophets.

29 And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am ? And Peter an-
swereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ.
30 And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.

LUKE ix. part of ver. 18, 19. ver. 20. and part of ver. 21.
18 – he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am ?
19 They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias-

20 He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am ? Peter answering said, The Christ of God.

21 And-them- to tell no man that thing.


Mark viii. 31.

Christ astonishes the Disciples by declaring the Necessity of his

Death, and Řesurrection.
MATT. xvi. 21, to the end. MARK viii. 31, to the end.

LUKE ix. 22–28. MARK ix. 1.
from that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his Matt, xvi. 21.
disciples, how that he,
the Son of man,

Mark viii. 31. must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things, Matt. xvi. 21. and be rejected of the elders, and of the Chief Mark viii. 31. Priests, and Scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day 20.

Matt, xvi. 21. .


Having now, by the force of his miracles, elicited from his disciples the declaration, that he was the Messiah ; and having confirmed the truth of that declaration by the authority which he committed to the apostles, our Lord proceeded immediately to reveal more explicitly the real and spiritual nature of his kingdom. At this moment every erroneous opinion that the Apostles, with all the Jewish nation, entertained respecting the nature of the Messiah's kingdom, must have received the fullest confirmation, and have given birth to the highest expectations. Peter was promised the keys of the kingdom of heaven, with authority to bind and to loose, to give laws, to pronounce what was clean and unclean. The temporal power and majesty of their Master, they supposed, were now to be developed, and with it their own honour and aggrandizement. They had seen his miracles; they had confessed their faith ; they believed in Him as the

Markviii. 32. And he spake that saying openly.

Galilee. Matt. xvi. 22. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him,

saying, * Be it far from thee, Lord : this shall not • Gr. Pity thybe unto thee.

long expected Messiah ; they anticipated the establishment of his kingdom, and their own immediate elevation to wealth and dignity. (Sect. 15.).

It was under these circumstances (compare Matt. xvi. 20, with v. 21.) that our Lord began to check the rising hopes of his followers, by disclosing to them the object of his incarnation ; that He, the Son of Man, who had so abundantly demonstrated his divine power, must go to Jerusalem, there suffer many things, to be rejected by the chief priests and scribes, and, 'finally, be killed, and raised again the third day. Peter, who on all occasions was the principal speaker, and the most zealous of all the apostles, could neither reconcile this assertion with all that he had so lately seen and heard, nor could repress his surprise and indignation at even the suggestion of such conduct. Our Lord, who knew the thoughts of his heart, and who read there the lurking desire of ambition and power, reproved him before the twelve for his erroneous notions, and for his shrinking from the anticipation of humiliation and misfortune. He then, in allusion to his own sufferings, addressed the apostles and the multitude, in the words of the latter part of the section. He assures his disciples of the absolute necessity of their taking up the cross, and of sacrificing even their lives for his sake and the Gospel's. He blends with these exhortations the assurance that He was the predicted Son of Man; and that though he called upon them now to suffer with him, He would come again in the glory of his father, the glory of the Shechinah, with his holy angels, as Daniel had foretold; and in his spiritual kingdom he would reward them for their courage and devotion. It is not improbable that our Lord perceived some expression of surprise, or incredulity, upon the countenances of his disciples ; for He immediately cautions them against unbelief, He repeats his declaration, that He will again come in his own glory, and in the glory of his father, and that even the present generation should witness it; for there were some who were present, who should not die till they had seen the Son of Man come in his kingdom. By the term “glory," in these passages doba, the Jews understood the bright flame, and cloud, the glory of the Shechinah, in which the Angel Jehovah was accustomed to appear to the ancient fathers (a).

There is a beautiful passage in Habakkuk, in which the prophet describes the appearance of the Shechinah which led the Israelites out of Egypt, into the wilderness of Paran. " God came from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. His glory covered the heavens. His brightness was as the light." In these expressions the prophet seems to anticipate the description of the Evangelists. Bishop Horsley remarks, that the description of Habakkuk in this passage is that of the Shechinah; and he supposes that the expression (Habak. ii. 11.)

(a) See on the identity of the glory in which our Lord appeared, with the glory of the Shechinah; Schoetgen, Horæ Hebraicæ, vol. i. p. 324; and particularly p. 542, on Rom. ix. 4, on the words kai ý dóla-Hac voce intelligitur Schechina sive majestas divina quæ alias a Græcis oóta vocabatur. See also Dan Heinsius Exercitationes Sacræ, p. 220; and particularly p. 198, in Johan, where this is proved at great length. Witsius de Glorificatione in Monte, Melet. Leidens. sect. 30.

Mark viii. 33.

Galilee. But when he had turned about, and looked on Mark viil. 33.

his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee
behind me, Satan:
thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest Matt. xvi. 23.
not the things that be of God,
but the things that be of men.

And when he had called the people unto him, Mark viii, 34.

with his disciples also, he said unto them v Matt.x. 38. all, If any man will come after me, let him deny Luke ix. 23.

himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but Luke ix. 24. whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the Mark viii. 35.

Gospel's, the same shall save it. u Matt.xvi.26. "For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the Luke ix. 25.

whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain Mark viii. 36. the whole world, and lose his own soul ?

Or what shall a man give in exchange for his Mark viii, 37. soul?

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of Matt. xvi. 27. Ps. lxii. 12. his Father with his angels : * and then he shall

reward every man according to his works.

Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me Mark viii. 38. and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation ; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in his own glory, and

Luke ix. 26. in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels. Mark viii. 38. and of the holy angels.

Luke ix. 26. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, Mark ix. I. That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death “, till they have seen


[ocr errors]

" at the sight of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear,” refers to the darting forth of the rays of light from the body of the flame of the Shechinah, which might resemble that of the streamings of the Aurora Borealis. Whether the Shechinah in which the Angel Jehovah, the Lord Jesus, shall come to judgment, shall be of this description, or whether it shall be as the self-revolving flame which was stationed at the gate of Paradise, or the bright cloud which on the day of the transfiguration overshadowed the disciples and their Lord, we cannot now decide. But of this we may be assured, that we shall all behold this great and wonderful, and divine personage. Like his disciples, we must become his associates, or we shall be banished from that presence as unworthy of its sublime contemplation.

21 Bishop Porteus remarks, that this passage is commonly supposed to refer to the signal manifestation of Christ's power in the destruction of Jerusalem.

Matt. xvi. 28. the Son of man coming in his kingdom;

Galilee. the kingdom of God come with power. MATT. xvi. part of ver. 21. 23. and ver. 24, 25, 26, and part of ver. 28. 21 -of the elders and Chief Priests and Scribes, and be killed

23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan—but those that be of men.

24 y Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let y Ch. x. 38. him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it : and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?

28 Verily I say unto you, 2 There be some standing here, which shall not z Luke ix. 27. taste of death, till they seem

MARK viii. part of ver. 31, 32, 33, 34, and 35. 31 -he began to teach them that-must suffer many things and after three days rise again.

32 - And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him.

But, he continues, we know of no one of Christ's disciples that survived this event but St. John; and our Saviour speaks of more than one. In the 27th verse we read, the Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father, to reward every man according to his works, which undoubtedly relates to Christ's final advent. When, therefore, it immediately follows in the next verse, “there be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom ;" is it not most natural, is it not almost necessary, to understand these similar expressions as relating to the same great event? Now as Christ could not here mean to say, that some of his disciples should live till the day of judgment, He only meant to intimate that a few of them, before his death, should be favoured with a representation of the glorious appearance of Christ and his saints, as they should be seen in the air, on that awful day. And this promise was fulfilled a few days after, when he was transfigured before them on the mountain.

The whole transaction is described in the same terms, as St. John in the Revelation applies to the Son of Man in his state of glory in heaven, (Rev. i. 13-16.) St. Luke calls his appearance, after being transfigured, “bis glory.” St. John uses the same expression, “ We beheld his glory, as of the only begotten of the Father:" and St. Peter, the other witness, refers to it in a similar manner, 2 Pet. i. 16, 17, 18. Bishop Porteus's Lectures, p. 56.

Whitby reasons at some length against this interpretation of the account of the transfiguration. He would refer it rather to the day of judgment. On considering, however, the parallel passages, as they are placed together in this arrangement, I cannot think his conclusions correct. The manner in which our Lord appeared at his transfiguration, undoubtedly appears to have been the same as that in which he will again descend from heaven. In this sense, his being glorified at the transfiguration may be considered the type of his future glory; and Christ may be said to have come at that time in the glory of his future kingdom.

« PreviousContinue »