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ly with his disciples about his sufferings, that they should at the same time be disputing among themselves about precedency and pre-eminency, which of them should be the greatest, the first in place, and the highest in dignity and honour; but from this instance we may learn, That the holiest and best of men are too prone to ambition, ready to catch at the bait of honour, to affect a precedency before, and superiority over others. Here the apostles themselves were touched with the itch of ambition; to cure this, our Saviour sets before them a little child, as the proper emblem of humility; showing that they ought to be as free from pride and ambition as a young child, which affects nothing of precedency. Such as are of the highest eminency in the church, ought to be singularly adorned with the grace of humility, looking upon themselves as lying under the greatest obligation to be most eminently useful and serviceable to the church's good.
49 And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbade him, because he followeth not with us. 50 And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.
undertook the matter without direction from Christ. We ought not to censure and condemn those, who do that which is good in itself, though they fail in the manner of their doing it.
51 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.
The time now drew on, wherein our Saviour was to be received up into heaven, and accordingly he sets his face to go to Jerusalem, that he might there suffer, and from thence ascend. Now here we have observable, 1. That although Jerusalem was the nest of his enemies, the stage upon which his bloody sufferings were to be acted, the fatal place of his death, yet nothing terrified with danger, he sets his face for Jerusalem, that is, come what will, be will go with an invincible courage and resolution. Learn thence, That although Christ had a perfect and exact knowledge of all the bitter sufferings he was to undergo, for and in the least dishearten him in, or discourage on the behalf of his members, yet did it not him from, that great and glorious undertaking. Observe, 2. That though Christ was first to suffer before he did ascend, and to be lifted up upon the cross, before mention of his death here, but of his as received up into heaven, yet is there no were swallowed up in his victory over death; cension only; as if all thoughts of death teaching us, by his example, to overlook our sufferings and death, as not worthy to be named or mentioned with that glory which we are received into after death.
evangelist does not say the time was come when he should suffer, but when he should
be received up.
Observe here, 1. St. John's relation of a matter of fact to our Saviour; namely, his forbidding one to cast out devils in Christ's name, that did not follow Christ as they did; for though only the disciples which followed Christ had a commission to work miracles, yet were there others, no enemies to Christ, who, in imitation of his disciples, did attempt to do the like; and God was pleased, for the honour of his Son, in whose name they cast out devils, to give them sometimes success. Observe, 2. The action 52 And sent messengers before of the disciples towards this person: We his face; and they went, and enterforbade him, because he followed noted into a village of the Samaritans, with us. Where is observable, their rash- to make ready for him. 53 And ness in forbidding him of their own heads, they did not receive him, because before they had consulted Christ about it; his face was as though he would and their envy and emulation, in that they were grieved and discontented that good go to Jerusalem. was done, because they did not do it. It is as hard a matter to look upon the gifts of others without envy, as it is to look upon our own without pride. Observe, 3. Our Saviour's reply: Forbid him not. Because our Saviour knew, that this action of casting out devils in his name would some ways redound to his glory, although he
Our Saviour was now going from Galilee to Jerusalem, and being to pass through a village of Samaria, he sent messengers before him to prepare entertainment for him. The Son of God, who was heir of all things, sends to, and sues for a lodging in, a Samaritan cottage. O blessed Savi our, how can we be abased enough for thee,
who thus neglected thyself for us! It was thy pleasure to appear, not in the figure of a prince, but in the form of a servant, yet the people in the Samaritan village would not receive him! Strange! to hear the Son of God sue for a lodging, and be denied; but the reason was, the difference of religion which was between the Jews and Samaritans: the Jews worshipped at the temple in Jerusalem, the Samaritans at a temple of their own, built upon mount Gerizim. Upon the building of this new temple there arose so great a feud between the Jews and Samaritans, and in process of time such an implacable hatred, that they would not show a common civility to one another. A Samaritan's bread to a Jew, was no better than swine's flesh; they would rather thirst than drink a draught of Samaritan water. Hence we learn, That no enmity is so desperate as that which arises from matters of religion.
54 And when his disciples, James and John, saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
Here observe, 1. The crime which these men were guilty of: no affront must be accounted little, no indignity light, that is offered to the Son of God. But these Sa
maritans did not revile Christ, nor any of his retinue, that we read of; they did not violently assault him, they did not follow him with stones in their hands, or blasphemies in their mouths, but the wrong and injury was only negative : They received him not. They denied him a night's lodging, and this not out of any dislike of his person, but from an antipathy against his nation. Observe, 2. The carriage of the disciples upon this occasion: it was thus far commendable, that from the endeared love which they bore to their Master, they did highly resent the churlish denial of an act of kindness towards him. A gracious heart is holily impatient at the sight of an indignity offered to Christ; but their fault was, that they were too far transported with passion and revenge, even to desire the death and destruction of the uncivil Samaritans: Wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them? They do not say, Master, will it please thee, who art Lord of the creature, to command fire to come down? Nor did they say, If it be
thy pleasure command us to call down fire; but, Wilt thou that we command fire? This savours too much of pride, cruelty, and revenge; so dangerous is a misguided zeal.
55 But he turned and rebuked
them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. 56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
Here we have our Saviour's censure of the rash and hot motion of his disciples, which proceeded first from ignorance of themselves, Ye know not of what spirit ye are of; ye are not now under the rough and sour dispensation of the law, but under the calm and gentle institution of the gospel, which designs universal love, peace, and good-will, to all mankind. Hence learn, First, That a cruel and revengeful spirit is directly contrary to the design and temper of christianity. Secondly, That no God, can warrant and justify such a spirit difference in religion, no pretence of zeal to and temper. Again, This rashness in the disciples proceeded from their ignorance of Christ their Lord and Master, as well as of themselves: The Son of man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them; that is, the proper intent and design of my though the accidental event of it may be coming was to save, and not destroy, otherwise, through the malice and perverseness of men. Learn, That it was the design of Christ and his holy religion to discountenance all fierceness, rage, and cruelty, in men, one towards another, and to love and unity. Christ is so far from alinspire them universally with a spirit of lowing us to persecute them that hate us, that he forbids us to hate them that perse
57 And it came to pass, that as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
Observe here, 1. A person resolving to follow Christ, a good resolution, if made deliberately and wisely, not for sinister ends, or secular advantages, which it is to be feared was the case here, by our Saviour's
answer; for, says he, Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. As if Christ had said, "My
condition in the world is very poor, I have no house of residence that I call my the birds of the air have their fixed nests, and the beasts of the earth have their dens and holes, but I have no fixed habitation; therefore if you think to follow me for the sake of worldly advantage, you will find yourself greatly disappointed." Learn hence, That such men will find themselves miserably mistaken, and greatly disappointed, who expect to gain any thing by following of Christ, but their souls' salvation. It was a common opinion among the Jews, that the disciples of the Messiah should get wealth and honour by following him. "Tis likely what this person said proceeded from this opinion; accordingly Christ discourages him from such expectation, by laying before him his mean, poor, and low condition, in which he was to be fol. lowed by his disciples; as if Christ had said, "If you expect temporal advantages by following of me, you will be much mistaken, for I have nothing I can call my own."
59 And he said unto another, Follow me, But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead; but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
We are not to suppose by this prohibition, that Christ disallows or disapproves of any civil office from one person to another, much less of a child to a parent, either living or dying; but he lets us know, 1. That no office of love and service to man must be preferred before our duty to God, to whom we owe our first and chief obedience. 2. That lawful and decent offices become sinful, when they hinder greater duties. 3. That such as are called by Christ to preach the gospel, must mind that alone, and leave inferior duties to inferior persons; as if Christ had said, "Others will serve well enough to bury the dead, but thou that art called to minister unto God, must do that unto which thou art called." Under the law the priests might not come near a dead corpse; nor meddle with the interment of
their own parents, unto which our Saviour here probably alludes.
61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee: but let me first go bid them farewell which are at home at my house. 62 And Jesus said unto him, No man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
Here we have another person that promiseth to follow Christ, but desireth leave first to settle the affairs of his family, and take leave of his friends. Our Saviour tells him, If he would be one of his ministers, he must be like a ploughman, who looks forward, and not backward, or he will never make his furrows right, they will either be too deep or too narrow, he must mind his plough and nothing else. Thus must they that are called to the work of the ministry, mind it wholly, attend to that alone; their whole time, their whole strength, must be devoted to it: the things of the world are things behind them, they must not look back upon them Nothing can justify a minister concerning himself with the incumbrances of worldly business, but only perfect necessity for the support of himself and his family. Again, ploughingwork is hard work, a strong and steady must keep on, and make no balks of the hand is required for it; he that ploughs hardest ground he meets with: verily no difficulties must discourage either ministers or people in the way of their duty.
AFTER these things the Lord ap
pointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his
face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.
The Captain general of our salvation, Christ Jesus, having called, commissioned, and sent forth his twelve apostles, as great commanders to subdue his native kingdom of Israel to himself, at the sixth chapter of this Gospel; in this chapter he sendeth after them a band of seventy auxiliary forces, to aid and assist them: After these things the Lord appointed other seventy disciples, and sent them two and two before his face. Where note, 1. The person commissioning and sending them forth: Christ himself. Thence learn, That none ought to take upon them the office of
preaching, or other ministerial functions in the church, till thereunto called by Christ himself. The twelve apostles, and seventy disciples, had an immediate mission from Christ himself: all his ministers are now called mediately, and receive their authority from Christ by the hands of the governors of his church. Note, 2. The manner of their sending: two and two in a company, partly to make their message of more authority, partly to testify their mutual consent in the doctrine they taught, and partly to comfort and encourage, to help and strengthen, to assist and support, each other. In imitation of this example, the Jesuits sent forth their emissaries by pairs: Jesuite semper sunt bini, &c. Learn hence, That the ministers of the gospel do stand in great need of the mutual help and comfort, of the united assistance and encouragement, of each other, in the weighty duties of their calling and function. Our Saviour in the next verse compares his ministers to harvest labourers, who are to help and assist one another, the strong endeavouring to strengthen the hands of the weak. But, Lord! what tears are sufficient to bewail the want of love and unity, yea, the prevalency of that envy and malignity, which is found too often among the ministers of the gospel; so that instead of going forth two by two, happy is he that is alone in a place. Well might Melancthon bless God, when he lay a dying, that he was going to a place where he should be freed from the implacable hatred of divines; this is, and ought to be, for a lamentation.
2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye there fore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
Note here, 1. That God's church is an harvest-field. 2. That the ministers of God are labourers in his harvest, under God the Lord of the harvest. 3. That to God alone it doth belong to send forth labourers into his harvest, and none must thrust themselves in, till God sends them forth Pray ye the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers. 4. That the number of faithful labourers is comparatively small and few: the scribes and Pharisees in the Jewish harvest-field are many; yet, says Christ, The labourers are few. 5. That it is the church's duty to pray,
and that earnestly and incessantly, to God the Lord of the harvest, to increase the number of faithful labourers; and to send forth more labourers into his harvest.
3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. 4 Carry neither purse nor scrip, nor shoes and salute no man by the way.
Our Saviour, 1. Arms his disciples against the difficulties, dangers, and discouragements which they might meet with in the course of their ministry, by telling them, that he sent them forth as lambs among wolves; thereby intimating, that the enemies of the gospel have as great an inclination, from their malicious nature, to devour and destroy the ministers of Christ, as wolves have from their natural temper to devour lambs: Behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. 2. Our Saviour directs them in this their first expedition to preach the gospel, to commit themselves to the gracious care and good providence of God, both for provision and protection: Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor staff, says St Matthew; as if he had said, Trust God with the care of your lives, rely upon his providence both for protection and provision: yet must we take notice, that this was only a temporary command, given to the disciples for this particular journey, which they were quickly to despatch; for in the general, Christ allows his ministers as well as others, to exercise a prudent and provident care for themselves and their families. And as it is the ministers' duty to trust God in the use of prudential means for their maintenance, so it is the people's duty to take care for their minister's comfortable subsistence. The workman is worthy of his meat, says our Saviour; that is, of all necessary supplies: he is worthy of a comfortable subsistence, and, where it may be had, of an honourable mainte
5 And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. 6 And if the Son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it if not, it shall turn to you again.
Here our blessed Saviour directs his disciples how to manage themselves in the executing of their office: Into whatsoever
house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house; they must wish peace to the sons of peace, yea, to the enemies of peace also; and as their peace shall rest upon the one, so shall it return from the other. Peace be to this house, is a fit salutation for them to use, who were the disciples and ambassadors of the Prince of peace; and very agreeable to the gospel they were to preach, which was a gospel of peace: and it was a prayer as well as a salutation; the disciples were to speak it not from the lip only, but from
the heart also. Peace is the music which
both men and angels are delighted with, and the christian religion is the greatest promoter and preserver of it, that commands us to pray for peace, to follow after peace, part with our coat and cloak, that is, with our civil rights, for peace; and, if it be possible, to live peaceably with all men. Observe, 2. As the injunction given by our Saviour to his disciples to deliver a message of peace, first say, Peace be to this house; so the prediction of what should befall them in the delivery of this their message. Their salutation, though it be peace, yet will not find a welcome and entertainment with all persons, but only with the sons of peace: If the sons of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it. Observe, 3. An encouragement not to be afraid of delivering their message though it wanted success: If your peace rest not, it shall return to you again. Learn, 1. That as there was at the first preaching of the gospel, so there is, and always will be, some that are sons of peace, and others that are enemies unto peace. 2. That this peace will rest on none but those that are fit to receive it. 3. That though it doth not rest, yet it shall not be lost, but return again to those that publish it. Ministers can but say, Peace be to this house, they cannot make it rest there; we can offer terms of peace to a lost world, but cannot compel men to accept them; and if they finally refuse them, we shall be a sweet savour unto God, as well in them that perish, as in them that are saved.
7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. 8 And into what soever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: 9 And heal the sick
that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. 10 But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, 11 Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: off against you: notwithstanding, be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city.
Here our Saviour gives his disciples sundry directions, how to manage themselves in this expedition for preaching the gospel. He enjoins them, 1. To observe the rules of decency in going from place to place; having entered an house to continue there, not changing their lodging, and going from house to house, thereby avoiding all show of lightness and inconstancy, and testifying all gravity and stayedness in their behaviour; this being a special mean to win authority to their persons and ministry. 2. He gives them a power to work miracles for the confirming of the doctrine which they preached: Heal the sick that are therein. This was necessary, partly to procure reverence to their persons, being poor and unlearned men; and partly to gain credit and authority to their doctrine: for the doctrine of faith in the Messias, as now come and exhibited in the flesh, being a strange and new doctrine to the Jews, the truth and certainty of it was to be extraordinarily ratified and confirmed by working miracles; one sort of which was healing of diseases in an extraordinary manner. Observe, 3. How Christ encou rages his disciples against the want of success: he bids them denounce the judgments of God against such contemners of their doctrine, by shaking off the dust of their feet; which action was emblematical, and signified that God in like manner would shake off them, and esteem them no better than the vilest dust. Learn hence, That those which despise the message that the ministers of the gospel bring, shall hereafter find the dust of their feet, and the ashes of
their graves, to give a judicial testimony against them in the day of Christ. Wherever the word is preached, it is for a testimony, either a testimony for, or against a