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36 And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.
37 Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching : verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
be altogether on the wing towards a par- have referred for illustrations to the farticipation in divine benefits, that so, when fetched and inapposite examples of the death comes, leaving upon earth the mor- Roman Saturnalia, the Cretan Hermæa, tal body, and putting off its nature, we and the Babylonian Saccas, when the may be properly girt for ihe hearenly march, servants sat at table, and were waited agos tnv ovpaviav Topelay wow eufwvol.” The upon by their masters. But the true disciples are here compared to servants illustration lay much nearer at hand. It waiting for the coming of their Lord, was customary in ancient times for the that is, of Christ, to judgment, which host to do honour to distinguished guests, is a further proof that our Lord is by performing some services, on ordinary addressing his disciples generally, as well occasions done by servants ; after which as those immediately about him. They he might sit down in his own place : and are commanded therefore to be girt, that we see that, not only when our Lord was is, in perfect readiness for service. And entertained at Martha's own house, your lights burning. Here the allusion is she, the hostess, served ; but that when to the marriage ceremony. Their Lord he dined at the house of Simon the leper, having gone to conduct his bride home, six days before the passover, whose resithe servants here spoken of are those dence was at Bethany, and a neighbour left in the house, to be ready to open to to Martha, it is said that “Martha serthe nuptial train, upon the first signal, ved,” doubtless in honour of the guest. and to mingle their lights and acclama- So our Lord tacitly reproves Simon the tions with those of the attendants. See Pharisee with having given himn no water the notes on Matt. xxv. 1-13, where the to wash his feet, which had been a mark same state of preparation for the coming of respect shown to him by others who of Christ is illustrated and enforced with had intended to receive him with honour a variety of circumstances and in a more and affection. The import of the promise, extended parable ; of which, however, therefore, is, that their Lord would not the moral is in substance the same. The treat them in that heavenly state as even whole teaches us to live in readiness for favoured servants; but as chosen guests, death and for judgment; and to acquire to whom he would show marks of peculiar and cultivate those habits which will pre- love and honour. Christ will, in fact, serve pare us to enter at once upon the higher his faithful servants for ever; as he minisand nobler services of our blessed Mas- ters grace, so will he delight to minister ter in another state of being.
the honours, the blessedness, and the reVerse 37. That he shall gird himself.- wards of his kingdom; and that with a conThis is one of the most extraordinary descension which shall stoop to the meanest promises of the New Testament. The and most unnoticed by the world, who blessedness of Christ's servants is repre- have served him in any line of duty with sented, not merely by their serving Christ zealous affection. He will select the most in the heavenly state, but his serving laborious, persevering, and watchful serthem! Grotius Whitby, and others, vants for singular honour.
38 And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.
39 ' And this know, that if the good man of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.
40 Be ye therefore ready also : for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
41 Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all ?
42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season ?
43 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
i Matt. xxiv. 43.
Verse 38. And if he shall come in the through the lessons enjoined upon the second watch.—The second watch was disciples; but sometimes the words nine o'clock in the evening; and, a watch spoken have more special reference to being three hours long, the third was the disciples, than to any other. This twelve. That the marriage processions should be remembered, in order the better were so long delayed as midnight, is not to interpret many parts of the discourses probable; but the great duty of watch- of our Lord which were so delivered. fulness was impressed by Christ upon his The sermon on the mount thus derives disciples from the uncertain time of his considerable illustration. It shows also coming. Even should his coming be de- the reason of Peter's question, Speakest layed, should the time of our death, the thou this parable, respecting watching, time of any threatened national calamity, unto us exclusively, or even unto all ? the time of the final advent, be postponed This question our Lord does not answer, beyond our calculations, the solemn les- but immediately proceeds with another son is, BE VIGILANT. In other words, parable, evidently and wholly applicable we are always to remember, that our to them and to all ministers; from which Lord will come and call us to account; we may conclude that the former was and that this accountability of ours is a addressed to all, but though generally most solemn and momentous reality. expressed, still with special reference to
Verse 39. If the good man of the house. those in the sacred office. -See the note on Matt. xxiv. 43, 44. Verse 42. That faithful and wise
Verse 41. Unto us, or even to all.–Our steward.—See the notes on Matt. xxiv. 45 Lord, according to his frequent custom, - 51. He who is called in Matthew by was addressing his disciples in the pre- the general name servant is here desigsence of the multitude.
On some occa. nated as ockovouos, a steward, a housesions, he speaks directly to the people, steward, who in large families had not on others, to the disciples alune; but only considerable authority, but distrioften to the latter, whilst the others stand buted the allotted portions of food to the by. In the last case, the discourse is so servants, the grain, &c., which they cook. constructed as to teach the multitude, ed for themselves.
44 Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.
45 But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken:
46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will * cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
47 And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
49 | I am come to send fire on the earth ; and what will I, if it be already kindled ?
* Or, cut him off.
Verse 47. And the servant which knew offence is less, the punishment is milder; his Lord's will, 8.c.—The object of this so that from this proof of the calm judipassage is to impress, in the strongest cial character of Christ's administration manner, upon all, the practical application before us, we may be fully guarded against of the instructions they had received, by all carelessness and presumption. 2. To assuring them that, though the govern- lay down this important axiom of God's ment be merciful, it is also just : they moral government, which we ought never were now among fully instructed servants, to forget, and with which every new priand are thus warned, And that servant who vilege and blessing conferred upon us knew the will of his master, and prepared ought to impress us the more deeply, not himself, held not himself ready for that from him to whom much is given, much every kind of service, and was actually shall be required. disobedient to the commands laid upon
Verses 49, 50. I am come to send fire upor him, shall be beaten with many stripes. earth, 8c.-Most commentators take this But he that knew not. This is not to be to refer to the persecutions and dissen. taken absolutely, but comparatively; he sions of which the propagation of Christ's that knew not so fully his Lord's will, religion would prove the innocent cause. who had not received instructions so ex
For this, however, there appears no betplicit. We must suppose some general ter reasons than that such dissensions are knowledge, or there would be no pretence
mentioned a few verses lower down; and for inflicting stripes at all. 1. The inten- that fire, which is used as an emblem of tion was to teach, that, in inflicting many many other things, is also used as an stripes, God does not act arbitrarily, but emblem of dissension and violence. So with deliberative justice, since where the doubt, also, this interpretation has been
50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with ; and how am l'straitened till it be accomplished !
aided by the common interpretation of and influence, when any corruption in the next verse; which, however, appears religion or society at large was to be to be equally erroneous.
spared or encouraged. To send this holy It is a fatal objection to the notion, that fire abroad upon earth was the very object by fire, in this place, Christ means perse- of our Lord's mission; and from the fulcutions and divisions, that the kindling of ness of his benevolence he expresses his it is made the object of his most earnest earnest wish that it were already kindled, wish. I am come to send fire on the earth; and all its blessings fully bestowed on and what will I, el non avnpon, but that it But he adds, I have a baptism to were already kindled; fore often ex- be baptized with ; I must be baptized with presses a wish, as, “If thou hadst blood, before I can baptize with fire; ” known,” for,“O that thou hadst known !” and how am I straitened, confined, reThe phrase may be turned several ways; strained, from the giving of the most ex but, in all, an eager anticipation or a cellent gifts I came to impart, "from strong desire must be understood, or no baptizing with the Holy Ghost and fire,” consistent sense
can be given to the to which I am appointed, from the full words: Now surely no reason can be revelation of truth to my disciples and to given why our Lord should strongly wish the world, until that baptism is accom'for the instant kindling of that fire of plished! A metaphorical signification of persecution and dissension which should
ouve xouai is preferred by many, because "divide a house against itself, and set three it best agrees with the sense they would against two, and two against three.” Such put upon the text, which is an undefinable, dissensions indeed he predicted would be distressful longing for the accomplishthe result of his ministry, but could, in ment of his death, as though he were no degree, long for them, as though im- almost impatient to get through an inevi. patient for their arrival; the precise emo- table appointment, and know the worst of tion which the text indicates. The fire the case. This scarcely consists with the therefore must be understood of the FIRE perfect patience ascribed to our Lord; OF HIS WORD, a figure of speech not nor could the avowal of it apparently strange to the Jews, because found seve- teach any important lesson.
Whereas, ral times in the Old Testament, and by nothing is more natural than that our our Lord most aptly applied to his own Lord should feel himself restrained and gospel in its full and perfect revelation, confined, in giving his instructions, by the which took place at the day of Pentecost, necessity arising out of his unaccomplishand was accompanied by the descent of ed death, that much of truth should be the Spirit “in cloven tongues as of fire,” veiled in parable, and much postponed ; emblematical of the intense power, the and nothing more consistent with his chapurifying, testing, and consuming quali- racter than that he, “the Sun of Rightties of Christianity ; its power being dis- eousness,” now under a cloud, should covered in all these respects, in purging long to break forth upon his disciples and men from vice, in bringing every thing to the nations “with healing in his wings,” the test of an infallible standard, and re- whilst yet he was restrained. And the vealing its good or its evil, and in its lesson, too, is highly important. We are mightily destructive tendency as to all taught that Christianity, as a revelation, things contrary to itself. The last has, was not perfected until after he had sent in all ages, been confessed by the at- his fire upon the earth, the baptism of the tempts made ever since its introduction Holy Spirit upon his apostles; and that to escape from or to extinguish its light must connect THE APOSTLES' DOC
Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth ? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
52 For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.
53 The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
54 | And he said also to the people, " When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is.
55 And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass.
56 Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth ; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?
Trine with his own, as contained in the indeed come to send fire upon earth, the EVANGELISTS, in order to have THE illuminating purifying influences of hea. WHOLE EFFICIENT GOSPEL. Socinians and venly truth ; but suppose ye that I am others are fond of confining their atten- come only to send blessings, that peace tion chiefly to the Gospels, and neglect only will be the result? I tell you, Vay; ing the Epistles : the reason is, that when but, through the perverseness of men, the whole gospel was revealed, and the and in opposition to my intention, and in light of Pentecost thrown upon the pre- despite of my authority and doctrine, ravious discourses of our Lord, those doc- ther division. This appears to be the trines are unequivocally found there, true connexion. See the note on Matt. which before the death of Christ, and the X. 34. key afforded by that to his own words, Verse 55. There will be heat.-The could only be generally and figuratively heat which is produced by the blowing of expressed. Here our Lord explains the the south wind in Judea is very oppreswhole case : the fire could not be fully sive. kindled upon earth until he had gone Verse 56. Face of the sky and earth.— through the baptism of his sufferings; in The Jews paid great attention to the other words, he must accomplish a sacri- indications of weather; and their wise men ficial death, in order to give light and life abounded with rules for prognosticating to the world, and by the full knowledge it from the different aspects of the sky of that character and peculiarity of his and the earth, that is, from the appearance death alone could his doctrine be fully of the atmosphere, and whether affecting understood.
the face of the sky, or that of the earth. Verse 51. Suppose ye that I am come to Their skill in this respect arose from their send peace on earth ?—Here an entirely attention to the subject; and if they had different subject is introduced ; though exercised the same attention to the eviit takes its rise from the former. I am dences of Christ's mission, they would