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3. The maxim which Christ has laid down, for the direction of his apostles in dispensing their miraculous powers, affords an excellent rule for directing men in the liberal communication of the other bounties of Dive ine Providence. Those who have acquired knowledge, or arrived at wealth, or any other means of doing good, by much industry and labour, are by no means exempted from an obligation to impart them to others freely; but that obligation binds those most strongly, who have acquired these things without any cost or labour of their own; who are made rich or discerning by the hand of nature, or the generosity of their friends: for them to refuse to impart to others what they have attained so easily, or to do it grudgingly, and with reluctance, must be peculiarly inexcusable.
They treat not others with the same liberality with which they have been treated themselves; they exercise not that benevolence towards their fellow-creatures, which God has exercised towards them; they discover a narrow, selfish spirit, wholly unworthy of that honourable situation in which Providence has placed them.
Lastly, Let those who, in the present day, reject the gospel of Christ without inquiry, and without examining its divine credentials, remember the danger to which they expose themselves. It is no small degree of guilt which they incur hereby; it is no light evil with which they will be punished.
Matthew X. 16----27.
10. Bebold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
Christ was now sending out his apostles upon a short journey, to preach the gospel in Judæa; he therefore gives them instructions what they were to do, and how they were to behave. This he had already done in the preceding verses of the chapter which we have already considered: in those which follow, he warns them of the dangers which they were to encounter in the execution of their office; and endeavours to animate them to bear these evils with fortitude. position of which he here speaks, did not take place during their present short journey, but made its appearance after Christ's death. These addresses and warnings, therefore, were most probably delivered a short time before that event; according to the manner in which they are noticed in the other evangelists; and not before the first mission of the apostles, as they are here recorded by Matthew.
Sheep, in the midst of wolves, are weak and helpless creatures, in the power of cruel and ferocious animals. Such would be the condition of Christ's disciples, in venturing to preach the gospel amongst obstinate Jews and heathens. In this situation he exhorts them not to abandon all regard to their own security, but to take every prudent method to preserve their lives, and save themselves from injury; after the example of the serpent, which is distinguished for its quickness in discerning danger from the foot of man, and for its speed in fleeing from it. There were other properties of the serpent, however, which he wished them not to imit. ate: he would have them keep at a distance from all fraud, treachery and malignity, qualities which are supposed to reside in this creature, and which some men inay dignify with the name of wisdom: the prudence in avoiding danger, which he recommended, must be accompanied with simplicity and innocence in the use of the means which were employed for this purpose.
17. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils; and they will scourge you in their synagogues.
Those of whom I warn you to beware are not wild beasts, the wolf or the tiger; but creatures more savage than they; your fellow-inen and countrymen, whose happiness you are studying to promote: for this act of benevolence you will be dragged before the public tribunal, and arraigned and punished as the greatest malefactors. By councils is here meant the sanhedrim, the highest court of justice amongst the Jews on ordinary occasions; and by synagogues, not the buildings erected for public worship; for these were not employed in administering justice; but convocations assembled on extraordinary occasions, consisting of the sanhedrim, and other principal persons among the Jews. Before such an extraordinary assembly, it appears, Acts v. 40. that the apostles were beaten with rods. 18. And
And ye will be brought before governors and kings, for my sake; for a testimony against them, “ for a testimony to them,” and the Gentiles.
The truth of this prophecy appeared, when Peter pleaded his cause before Nero, John before Domitian, and others before the kings of the Parthians, Scythians and Indians. Innumerable instances occur of the apostles' being brought before the governors of pro
It might well alarm illiterate men, who had been educated in a mean condition of life, to be told that they were to be brought before those who were deemed so much their superiors, and who were possessed of so much power to hurt them; but it would lessen their aversion to this disagreeable service, when they were informed that it would be the means of bringing those acquainted with the gospel who would not otherwise hear of it; and prove the cause of their conversion or condemnation.
19. But, when they deliver you up, take no thought, rather, “be not anxious, how or what ye shall speak: for it shall
be given you, in that same hour, « mos ment,” what
shall speak. The words of Christ in the original, do not prohibit all kinds of previous thought or meditation, but all anxious and laborious preparation, such as that of orators used to be. Mark says, “ Think not before hand;" and Luke, “ Do not premeditate.” In these words there seems to be an allusion to Exod. iv. 12. where God, to encourage Moses to go to Pharaoh, tells him; “Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.” In the same manner Christ assures his apostles, that if any thing should be wanting to them, to fit them to speak before kings and governors
, it should be supplied, by divine help, at the very time; the spirit of God furnishing their minds with wisdom, and their mouths with eloquence: not that eloquence, indeed, which was affected and pompous; but such as, by its simplicity and gravity, should carry with it the very form of truth. . We see the fulfilment of this promise in the cases of Peter and Stephen, and of many other confessors. All that Christ requires of his disciples is, that they should give their testimony to his doctrine; God would enable them to do it properly.
20. For it is not ye that speak, but the spirit of your Father which speaketh
It is necessary we should be reminded that this declaration is not to be interpreted absolutely, but comparatively. We are not to suppose that Christ meant to say, that every word they should speak, upon these trying occasions, would be dictated' to them by the spirit of God; for that would be unnecessary, and does not correspond with what we find to be fact; but he assures them that they would receive very great assistance: it is not so much you who will speak, as the spirit of God by you. Such a promise as this was well
calculated to prevent them from being filled with consternation at the prospect of such great dangers: for what could give them greater courage than the assurance that the spirit, or, which is the same thing, the power, of God, would enable them to speak?
21. And the brother shall, "will,” deliver
the brother to death; and the father, the child; and the children will rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
Unbelievers among the Jews and Gentiles shall be bitter enemies of Christians, although their nearest relations; and, from a principle of enmity or fear, grounded on their connection with such obnoxious
personis, become informers against them, so as to be the cause of their being put to death.
22. And ye shall be hated of all men, for my name's sake:
That is, Ye shall be hated by the majority of mankind, who, in common language, are called all men.---To be hated for the name of Christ, is to lie so treated because they profess themselves the disciples of Christ: for it was usual for disciples to be called after the name of their master: the apostle Peter explains to us the meaning of this phrase, when he says, 1 Pet. iv. 6. “yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf."-Luke also says of the apostles Peter and John, that they departed from the council, rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
But he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
These last words are usually referred to final salvation, which is supposed to be here promised to those who continue in the profession of the Christian faith to