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LECTURE LXXII. LEAVE OF THE PHARISEES. MATT. xvi. 1 12. 1. The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would show them a sign from heaven. 2. He answered and said unto them, Wlien it is evening r , ye say, It will be fair weather : for the sky is red. 3. And in the morning, It will befoul weather to day : for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky ; but can ye not discern the signs of the times ? 4. A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign ; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed. \ Matt. v. G. z2
340 MATT. XVI. 112. There had been no want of signs, that they " might see and believe." 1 What was needed, was an eye
to see and an ear to hear. There had been sufficient signs of the times already, if they could discern them. There were such signs as had been pointed out to John's disciples. 2 " The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached unto them/' If they were as wise in spiritual things as they were in temporal : if they could discern what was passing before their eyes as clearly as they discerned the face of the sky, they would perceive that these signs fulfilled the words of prophecy, and proved that Jesus was the Christ. But what claim had they to a special sign trom heaven, when they came not for the purpose of discovering truth, or learning the will of God, but came tempting him? Therefore he repeats what he had before said: there shall be no sign given unto thisgeneratlon,except the sign of the prophet Jonas. z Whentheir malice had wrought its full purpose ; when they had crucified and slain the Son of man, and nothing more remained that " the Scriptures might be fulfilled," then he would issue forth from his tomb of stone as Jonah had issued from his living grave, arid show what was foretold in that singular passage of their history. If they believed not the testimony of his life and ministry, they might find their unbelief condemned when he rose from the dead. So he left them, and departed. A sad presage of their helpless state, when he left them, who alone could have recovered them. 1 See John vi. 30. 2 Ch. xi. 5. 3 See xii. 39.
MATT. XVI. 112. 341 It was a fit occasion to warn his disciples against such characters as these.
5. And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. 6. Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed, and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. 7. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread* 8. Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? 9. Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the Jive thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 5 10. either the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 6 11. How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees ? 12. Tlien understood they how that he bade them not be* ware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. Whether the bread shall be useful or unwholesome, depends on the quality of the leaven which is mixed up with it. So the character of man depends upon the principles which govern him. And false principles corrupt the heart, as completely as bad leaven spoils the meal into which it enters. Therefore was there reason to beware of the doctrine of the 4 The apostles did not penetrate beyond the literal interpretation, and the word leaven reminded them of their want of bread. A similar error is related in John iv. 32. Jesus had said, " I have
meat to eat, which ye know not of." " Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him aught to eat." 5 Ch. xiv. 17, &c. 6 Ch. xv. 3438.
MATT. XVI. 112. Pharisees. For their religion was without that which alone gives value to religion. It wanted honesty, sincerity, reality. It had themselves in view and not God. All their works they did " to be seen of men." They assumed the appearance of fasting, that men might reckon them devout : " For a pretence they made long prayers:" they " gave alms" that they might be praised for their good deeds. 7 So that we read elsewhere, " Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." 8 What was not hypocrisy, was formality ; outward decency, not inward purity. They had just before complained, that the disciples of Jesus " ate with unwashen hands." 9 They accused him, that he profaned the Sabbath ; or that he sat down to meat with publicans and sinners. 1 They murmured against those things as crimes ; but it did not affect their conscience to neglect " the weightier matters of the law," justice and charity. It was no justice to " condemn the guiltless," it was no charity to be indignant " because a man was made whole on the Sabbath day, or because the ungodly and the sinner had the means of learning the ways of righteousness. And yet their own prophet had taught them, " What doth the Lord require of thee, O man, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God ?" 2 As to the Sadducees : unlike in other respects, they joined with the Pharisees in this, that they opposed Jesus, and were now of the party who came
1 Ch. xxiii. 5 ; vi. 16, &c. 8 Luke xii. 1. 9 Ch. xv. 20. ' Ch. xii. 1, &c. Mark ii. 16, &c. * Micah vi. 8.
MATT. XVI. 112. 343 tempting him. There could be no real religion in a class of men who " denied that there was any resurrection." 3 What they practised, therefore, must have been in compliance with national custom, no effect of the conviction of the heart. ow the leaven of hypocrisy, formality, unbelief, is a leaven which must corrupt whatever is infected by it. The hypocrite, in fact, seeks for no return from God. His only concern is the good opinion of men. As our Lord said concerning such, " They have their reward." 4 Then, if hypocrisy proceeds from a corrupt heart, formality does not amend one. Services in which the heart has no share, which are merely stated ceremonies, cannot influence the heart, and therefore can have none of the effect which it is the purpose of religious services to produce. Unbelief, like that of the Sadducees, eats like a canker into the heart, and destroys all religious feeling. " Without faith it is impossible to please God: for he that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." 5 Yet these are evils which are not peculiar to the Jews, or confined to one age or country. Who can
say, I am pure from the sin of hypocrisy ? I have never cared for the praise of man, more than the praise of God ? Who can say that his prayers have never been " vain repetitions ?" Who has always " asked in faith," nothing doubting : not tossed to and fro like a wave of the sea, between belief and 3 Ch. xxii. 23. 4 Ch. vi. 2. 5 Heb. xi. 6.
344 MATT. XVI. 1330. unbelief? Who has not reason to pray that the imperfection of his best services may be pardoned, and the iniquity of his holy things forgiven ?
LECTURE LXXIII. TETER'8 CO FESSIO OF JESUS AS THE SO OF GOD. MATT. xvi. 1320. 13. When Jesus came into the coasts of C&sarea Philippi, he asked his disciples paying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man, am ? 1 4. And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist : some, Ellas ; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 15. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am ? 16. And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for Jlesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
Many mistaken notions, we see, prevailed concerning our Lord : and Peter might have been deceived by them, as well as others. But he had been preserved from such errors ; and had been enabled to see that Jesus bore all the characters of the true Messiah. When others who beheld his miracles, instead of being convinced by them, uttered blasphemies, and ascribed them to Beelzebub, Peter was not thus perverted, knowing well, that as the fruit was 5
MATT. XVI. 1320. 345 good, the tree must be good that bore it : "a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit," neither could "the evil one " perform works of mercy. When others were offended at the doctrines which they heard, and murmured, " This is a hard saying, who can hear it ?" Peter openly confessed and declared, " Thou hast the words of eternal life." ' This was the right heart, the proper disposition ; not cavilling, and contending, but " receiving the word with meekness." And we are here assured that such a disposition is derived from the Spirit of God. Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. ow we are not told that God revealed the truth to Peter, as he afterwards did to the apostle Paul, by a special vision or declaration, or in any other way than he had manifested it to the rest of the people who had seen Christ's miracles and heard his word. But Peter had received the truth with readiness of heart and will, when others had disputed and denied it. And this willing and faithful heart is the gift of the Spirit. " The natural man receiveth not the things
of the Spirit of God : for they are foolishness unto him ; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." 2 Those who " receive " Christ, and " believe in his name," are " born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." 3 Therefore when Peter made that clear confession, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God, it was manifest that this was God's doing : that the Spirit had 1 John vi. 68. 2 1 Cor. ii. 14. 3 John i. 13.
346 MATT. XVI. 1320. wrought this conviction ; had taken away the " evil heart of unbelief," and given the tender heart of humility and faith. Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee. Flesh and blood could not have taught thee this lesson ; for no man can implant faith in another: flesh and blood would have taught thee a different lesson ; would have led thee to doubt and dispute, or would have made thee shrink from this avowal. My father which is in heaven has taught thee to submit and believe ; and, therefore, blessed art thou. Thy faith shall save thee. The fact is clear, both from Scripture and from experience, that no man can rightly believe Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the living God, but through the influence of the Spirit. What, therefore, is our part ? What, but pray to Him from whom the Spirit proceeds, that he may give and preserve to us the same heart and faith which he gave to his apostle, and which entitled him to be called blessed. And never let us suppose that we can pray for this faith in vain. It would be impious to think this. For it would be judging worse of God, than of an
earthly parent. Our Lord has himself taught us so ; " Shall ye, being evil, give good gifts to your children, and shall not your heavenly Father give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him ?" 4 On the con trary, as there is no desire that ought to be so strongly felt, so is there no prayer which will be answered more graciously than this, that a deeper sense may be granted of what we owe to Christ Jesus : that " the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of 4 Lukexi. 13.
MATT. XVI. 1320. 347 glory, may give the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the' knowledge of him : the eyes of our understanding being enlightened, that we may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to them that believe." 5 The avowal of Peter is rewarded by a gracious assurance to himself, and to those of like faith with him, in every age. 18. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church ; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. As much as to say, Thou art Peter, " which is by interpretation a stone." But the truth which has been revealed to thee, and which thou hast so plainly declared, is more than a stone ; it is a rock, on which I will build my church : my church shall be founded on the confession that I am the Christ, the Son of the living God. 6 Against the church built on this faith, the gates of hell shall not prevail. Death, and
Satan the author of death, shall lose their power 5 Eph. i. 17. 6 It has always been a disputed question, which is to be considered as the rock : the individual Peter, or the confession which he made ? Augustin, whilst expounding after the first interpretation, does not reject the other, I adopt the latter, chiefly led by Chrysostom, whose words are : CTTI ravry ry Trerpa ?7KoSo//,oi(r <o /xov Tf)v KK\rj<nav. TOUT' ecm, ry Trio-ret, TYJS o/xoAo^cas. The sentence suffers greatly in a translation, because the difference between TreT/aos, a stone, and 7TTpa, a rock, cannot be preserved.
348 MATT. XVI. 1320. over those who belong to it : for " whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die." 7 Still more ; in the establishing this church thou shalt thyself have a special share. 19. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven : and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven : and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Thus signally was the faith of Peter rewarded. Of the church, built upon the foundation of the truth which he had confessed, he should be himself a pillar : as, indeed, soon after he became. On the day of Pentecost, when " there were added to the church three thousand souls," he exercised the authority now given him. 8 On that occasion, he used (as it were) the keys of the kingdom of heaven : 9 he declared how God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son ; so that " he that hath the
Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son, hath not life." 1 Whoever shows in what way the gate may be opened, and to whom, may be said to have possession of the keys. And further, whatsoever he bound on earth, should be bound in heaven ; and whatsoever he loosed on earth, should be loosed in heaven. He loosed from the chain by which Satan had held them captive, those who "repented " at his word, 7 The phrase, TnAai aSov, bears this sense in the Septuagint. As Isa. xxxviii. 10. I shall go to the gates of the grave. 8 See Acts ii. 38 41. 9 Clavem imbuit, hanselled the key, as Ambrose says. In Isa. xxii. 22, the same metaphor is used. Bloomfield. 1 John v. 11.
MATT. XVI. 13 20. 349 and " were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins :" 2 whilst they who believed not, continued bound : remained in their sins ; and " the wrath of God abode on them." 3 Thus remarkably was Peter honoured in return for his good confession. To that, and not to the individual man, was the honour shown: to that which may equally belong to every one that hears the sound of the Gospel, the clear understanding and acknowledgment of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God. Others cannot have the distinction which was Peter's own, the being the pillar of the rising church. But of every sincere believer it may be said, that flesh and blood hath not revealed the truth to him, but the Father which is in heaven. For " no man can say that Jesus is the Christ, but by the
Holy Ghost." * And '" whosoever belie veth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God." 5 20. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ. 2 Acts ii. 39. 3 John iii. 36. 4 1 Cor. xii. 3. 5 1 John v. 1.
350 MATT.XVI. 2128.
LECTURE LXXIV. PETER REBUKED. ECESSITY OF SELF-DE IAL. MATT. xvi. 2128. 21. From that time forth began Jesus io shew unto his disciples, lioiv that lie must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 22. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord; this shall not be unto thee. 23. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan : thou art an offence unto me : for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. We may observe, that our Lord uses the same words here to his beloved disciple Peter, which he employed towards Satan himself in his temptation in the wilderness : Get thee behind me, Satan : and thus intimates in what light even the nearest friends are to be viewed, when they stand between us and duty. The things which Peter would have recommended,
were, in the opinion of man, more suitable to the character of the Messiah. To the taste and feelings of man, too, they must needs be more agreeable than what it was ordained that Christ should suffer. But this was the judgment of the flesh, not of the Spirit. And the great business of religion is to bring our own judgment and inclination and preference to conform to the will and wisdom of God. This is the
MATT. XVI. 21 28. 851 proof of the Spirit of God dwelling in us. " They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh:" 1 they savour the things that be of men. "But they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit:" they savour the things of God. 24. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross> and follow me. 25. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it : and ivhosoever 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 ? 27. For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels ; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. 28. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom? A very important declaration is here made, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and
take up his cross, and follow me. And it is necessary to inquire, how far this warning is applicable to Christians generally. For, without doubt, the apostles and early disciples were called to deny themselves, that is, to give up and renounce all earthly things, in a manner which can only belong to times of persecution. Yet does the phrase, in different degrees, apply to all persons and all times. The Christian faith is essentially a religion of self-denial. 1 Rom. viii. 5. 2 By this phrase, the coming of the Son of man, the destruction of Jerusalem is often expressed, which John, if not others of the apostles, then standing here, lived to witness.
352 MATT. XVI. 212$. 1. It is so, first, because every Christian renounces all self-righteousness, all confidence in himself, or in anything he has done or can do, and looks upon his salvation as the work of his Redeemer. He purposes to be, and in the main he is, obedient, and just, and holy. But he considers his obedience, his integrity, his holiness, not as grounds, but as evidences of pardon and acceptance. And this is self-denial : self-denial, to some minds, of most difficult attainment. Probably it was so to St. Paul, who says, " What things were gain to me," 3 what I once valued and relied on, " those I counted loss for Christ." " I was alive, without the law, once : but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." 4 2. Secondly, every Christian is called to selfdenial, in renouncing his own will, and submitting
it to the will of his heavenly Father. If man had remained innocent, if Satan had not prevailed, God and man, like the Father and the Son, would have had but one will. But being now perverted and corrupted by sin, our wills incline towards the evil which they ought to hate, and turn away from the good which they ought to choose : and at last, are only brought with difficulty to acquiesce in what God sees best, provides for us, or allots to us. Selflove, self-indulgence, self-preference, prevail. We pursue our own inclination, not God's honour : we neither love what delights him, nor hate what displeases him. The gospel is intended to bring us back to a state of agreement with God ; and to lead us to inquire, 3 Phil. iii. 7. 4 Rom. vii. 9.
MATT. XVI. 2128. 353 not what may gratify our own feelings and wishes, but what God will admit and approve. A preference we must have, as reasonable creatures : but that preference must give way to the commands and decrees of God. Our blessed Lord expressed a preference when he said, " Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me." But he left us the example of the truest self-denial, when he added, " nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done." 3. A third branch of a Christian's self-denial is, that renouncing all ungodliness and worldly lusts, renouncing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, he strives to " perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord." That this is no easy sacrifice, is too plain : plain from the self-indulgent habits which too many allow themselves ; plain from the endeavours which have been made in all ages, to reconcile faith in
Christ with the indulgence of some favourite and besetting sin : which led St. Paul to say, after condemning such iniquities as if he foresaw the arts of evil teachers, and the readiness of the heart to be corrupted " Let no man deceive you with vain words : for on account of these things the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience." 5 It is true, indeed, that all this self-denial is its own reward that a practical reliance upon Christ is the only sure repose which the soul can enjoy ; that a submission of our own will to the will of God, is the oil which smooths all the troubled waves of life ; that " the carnal mind " is at enmity with itself as well as " enmity against God,' and that to 5 Eph. v. 6. AA
354 MATT. XVI. 21-28. " be spiritually minded is life and peace." But it would be contrary to all truth and all experience, to pretend that such a life can be entered upon, or such a state of heart attained, without constant and resolute self-denial. Our Lord well knew this : and therefore, when he uttered the warning, he adds a consideration which ought to overcome all the resistance of natural corruption. What shall it profit a man, if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Because no reasonable person would consent to deny himself, and take up his cross, without a sufficient motive ; he therefore adds a motive which may well be deemed sufficient. What shall it profit a man, though he may gain present ease, and present enjoyment, though he may escape vexation and trial, what shall it profit him if he be cast
away at last, and make shipwreck of his soul ? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels, and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Here then is the reason why all should exercise themselves, to renounce the besetting sins of their age, their station, their disposition. Even if that self-denial be tribulation in this world, it will be incalculable profit in the end. It will repay the poor man for mortifying his discontent, his envy, and for acquiescing in the lot which the wisdom of God assigns him. It will repay the rich man for mortifying his worldly desires, " the lust of the eye, and the pride of life." It will repay the young for mortifying their carnal appetites, their vanity, their dangerous pleasures. It will repay those more advanced in years for mortifying their peevishness, their selfishness, their unchristian tempers. It will repay the sensual for " crucifying the flesh with the affections and lusts ;" it will repay the covetous for learning to be charitable. It will repay all for renouncing their self-dependence, and committing themselves to the " only name under heaven, whereby they can be saved." For whosoever takes up his cross, and follows Christ here, in the way of humble and obedient faith, shall follow him to glory hereafter, when he cometh in his kingdom.
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