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Him.' The Lord had twice already given His judgment upon the point, and there was no need to ask Him. Though He had pronounced upon the point already, with admirable patience and temper He repeats His decision to these persistent and intrusive interviewers. He reminds them of what is written in that Scripture of which they professed to be interpreters, but which they disregarded as though they had never read it. In the beginning of the world God made Adam and Eve; one man for one woman; and foretold, what is of force continually, that man and wife should be indissolubly one. Upon this the Lord grounds that decision, briefly and energetically expressed, which the Church (always echoing the words of Christ) has embodied in her Form of Solemnization of Matrimony, and which warns men from venturing to come into collision with God. His adversaries however return to the charge. The Lord, it appears, had asked them what Moses had commanded on the subject. They speak of him as commanding divorce; whereas the
Ps. cxix. 110. "Thus some good pastors, intent on feeding the flock of God, find themselves opposed by pragmatical persons, and their sheep disturbed with contentious and malicious questions. Every age has its Pharisees."-Quesnel.
2 St. Matt. v. 31, 32; St. Luke xvi. 18.
3 "Have ye not read?" seems to have been a regular formula of reference to Scripture. Compare St. Matt. xii. 3, 5; xxi. 16, 42; xxii. 31.
4 Alford notes here that our Lord refers to the Mosaic account of the creation as to historical fact, and by citing from both the first and second chapters of Genesis gives no countenance to those who have imagined that they proceed from two several sources.
The word in the original of this sixth verse signifies yoked together. In the previous verse the expression is most forcible, joined as by glue. See Gen. ii. 21-24; Eph. v. 28-32, and the Prayer in the Form of Solemnization of Matrimony beginning, “O
God, who by Thy mighty power," &c.
From St Mark's account (x. 3) who however gives us generally the substance of the conversation, regardless of the exact order which we have in St. Matthew. It may be however that after the account as we have it in St. Mark, the Pharisees, who in answer to our Lord's question had already cited Moses, return to this as a last resource. By thus blending the two accounts (reading St. Mark x. 3-9 after St. Matt. xix. 3, and taking up the history again at St. Matt. xix. 7) we are able readily to harmonize them.
7 "It is dangerous sometimes to tolerate the least evil, though prudence may require it; because toleration raises itself insensibly to permission, and permission soon sets up for command. A bill or writing of divorcement is appointed, on purpose to render the practice of it more difficult, and men make use of this to justify the action, and to give it the authority of a law."-Quesnel.
fact was that, to allow time for reflection and to prevent violence, he had done no more than command that this be not done in a summary and clandestine way, without documents which an injured wife might be able to produce, and witnesses who might prevent her being further wronged. When they had retired into the house where He lodged, the Disciples ask the Lord again, but in a very different spirit from the Pharisees, of the same matter. He reminds them of what in His Sermon on the Mount He had already laid down. One thing only can justify divorce, that is, adultery. A man who dismisses his wife for any cause short of this and takes another woman, commits adultery. He too commits adultery who marries, so to speak, a woman divorced for any cause. The woman too who should act in like manner is guilty of the same sin.2 The Disciples sharing to some extent the prejudices of their countrymen, seem at that time to have regarded marriage as intolerable without this opportunity of divorce.3 The Lord contents Himself now with telling them it is not given to all men to receive this saying, "It is not good to marry." Men are restrained from marriage "by nature, or by violence, or by choice."4 They who "have denied themselves the liberty of marriage, in order to devote themselves the more entirely to the service of God," may find the saying true.
1 St. Mark x. 10.
2 St. Mark x. 12.
3 "It seems the disciples themselves were loath to give up the liberty of divorce . . . and therefore, like sullen children, if they may not have what they would, they will throw away what they have; if they may not be allowed to put away their wives when they please, they will have no wives at all... Corrupt nature is impatient of restraint, and would fain break Christ's bonds in sunder, and have a liberty for its own lusts. It is a foolish, peevish thing for men to abandon the comforts of
this life, because of the crosses that are commonly woven in with them; as if we must needs go out of the world, because we have not everything to our mind in the world; or must enter into no useful calling or condition, because it is made our duty to abide in it. No, whatever our condition is, we must bring our minds to it; be thankful for its comforts, submissive to its crosses; and, as God has done, set the one over against the other, and make the best of that which is."-Henry.
A Plain Commentary.
CHILDREN BROUGHT TO CHRIST.
St. Mark x. 13-16.
And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them and blessed them.
"Then," a fitting sequel to His late discourse, "were there brought unto Him little children," even infants, "that He should put His hands on them, and pray."2 They were brought by parents or friends or nurses, to receive that blessing of which laying on of hands was held to be a sign. They knew His gentle, loving, tender disposition, of which, to embolden them for this, He must have given them many an unrecorded proof.3 These simple souls knew that virtue went forth from His touch. They believed that His blessing would in some way do them good. Not so the Disciples, who ought by this time to have known better. They would not have their Master interrupted in what they deemed a more important work. Not always those who profess to know the mind of Christ interpret Him best. So some nowadays charge us with superstition, and we know not what, in bringing our little ones to Christ in His Holy Baptism. These are they who would have been found joining the then inconsiderate Disciples in rebuking those humble
1 St. Luke xviii. 15.
2 St. Matt. xix. 13.
"It is looked upon as the indication of a kind and tender disposition to take notice of little children; and this was remarkable in our Lord Jesus; which is an encouragement
souls whom the Lord commended. They are wise above what is written. "It is well for us that the Lord has more love and tenderness in Him than the best of His Disciples have." Now the Scripture was fulfilled, that ancient prophecy concerning Him, "He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom." Three things we learn, from hence, our Saviour did. "He commanded the children to be brought unto Him. He blamed those that would have kept them from Him. He exhorteth all men to follow their innocency."2 So when our little ones are laid by Godfathers and Godmothers, Sponsors who speak or respond in the name of infants not yet able to speak for themselves, in the arms of His appointed Minister at the Font,—it is as though we thus placed them in the arms of Christ Himself. It is not lost labour. The seed then sown in those infant hearts may long lie dormant, yet hereafter spring up and bear fruit unto life eternal. And these who thus brought their little ones to the Lord Jesus, would often, we may not doubt, as they were growing up and became able to understand it, tell them the story, and stir up the gift of God that was in them. "Christ," we see, "is ready to entertain those that, when they cannot come themselves, are brought to Him."1 The Lord here teaches not only that the kingdom of God, the Church of Christ, admits (as indeed the Church of the Jews did) little children to its privileges, but also that we must receive this as little children, simple confiding souls, if we would enter hereafter into that higher state of which it is a type, and for which it is a preparation.3
knew their Master's mind in this matter, whereas He had lately cautioned them not to despise one of these little ones."--Henry.
2 See the commentary on this 'gospel" in the brief exhortation in The Ministration of Public Baptism of Infants. In v. 16 the word is in the present tense, "blesses; " which, as Bp. Wordsworth remarks, "gives more life to the picture."
"He lets slip no opportunity of recommending and inspiring humility, as being the very gate of Heaven."Quesnel. Compare St. Matt. xviii. 1-5.
"Methinks it hath something observable in it, that when He had done this, 'He departed thence;' as if He reckoned He had done enough there, when he had thus asserted the rights, of the lambs of His flock."-Henry on St. Matt. xix. 15.
THE YOUNG RULER.
St. Matthew xix. 16-22.
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack 1 yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
It was a young man,1 and a Ruler,2 perhaps of the Synagogue in that place, who asked this question of the Lord. Eagerly, for he ran; respectfully, for he knelt. He looked upon eternal life as a recompense due to some particular act; and he required our Lord, as a Rabbi or Teacher of peculiar wisdom, to point out some such action, which being performed, he might claim the recompense; a due meed for service rendered. The Lord first points out the inadequate idea of Him which this young man entertained. This question amounts to a claim that He is God. If He is no more than man, He has no claim to be called good. If He is good, He must be admitted to be more than man.5 The Lord however proceeds to propose to this young man a thing he
1 V. 20 below.
2 St. Luke xviii. 18.
3 St. Mark x. 17.
Compare the lawyer's question, St. Luke x. 25, though this was asked in a different spirit.
5 "The dilemma, as regards the Socinians, has been well put :-either,
"There is none good, but God: Christ is good therefore Christ is God;' or 'There is none good but God: Christ is not God: therefore Christ is not good.'"-Alford.
"Why do you call me good, when you will not allow me to be God? He does not disclaim that He is good,