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it impairs them not to yourselves, and therefore, you are to be ready and free that way; yet, because of some manifest despisers of them, learn this wisdom in that matter, Give not holy things to dogs.
There is an imprudent zeal, and sometimes a mixture of an irreverent commonness, in speaking of holy things indifferently in all companies. Certainly, such company willingly ought to be chosen, as give most liberal and kind entertainment to such discourse. But when not of choice, but by some unavoidable engagement, we fall among others, then our rule ought to be, not to partake of their ungodly ways and communication; but for the communicating in another way, holy things to them, this must be well advised on, whether it be suitable to this rule. We are not indeed to give persons easily up for desperate, as dogs or swine; this were to fall into the former fault of rash judging; but where they are evidently such, the respect of holy things is to be preserved, and not unwisely to be exposed to their derision.
Much need is there of a spirit of wisdom in this, without which there is no instructing by rules, so as to guide us aright in all particular occurrences and societies; therefore we are to beg that anointing that teacheth us all things. 1 John, ii. 27. Speak willingly to God, but still with holy fear in thyself, and it may be entertained with holy fear to others.
Ver. 7. Ask, and it shall be given you seek, and ye shall find: knock, and it shall be opened unto you.] This is for advantage to all. For wisdom to follow the foregoing and following rules, the great purveyor of a Christian, is prayer, and the great qualifications of prayer, are perseverance and fervency. Ask-seek-knock; be earnest and importunate ; give not over. And the great support, the very life of prayer, that which quickens and continues it, and keeps it from giving over, is faith, a firm persuasion of audience and attainment. This is here ascertained by our Saviour; proved by irrefragable argument. All good is promised to be given, and that which is the top of all, the chief to be sought, the Holy Spirit,
is promised to them that ask it, as St. Luke hath it. We say our prayers, and there is an end. And this perfunctorious formality creeps even upon Christians who are unwary and slothful, and hence so little is obtained. Many that pray, know little of this Divine art of prayer, this wrestling with God, this resolving not to let Him go until He bless them, as Jacob did.
Ver. 12. Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.] This is added, and seems connected, but it is another rule apart, and that great rule which all know and few observe,-in equity, in charity, meekness, and all due respect. Self, self undoes all, and sets the world on fire. Though it be a separate precept, yet it may have some aspect to the former respecting prayer, as, if you would have God condescending, and favourable, and bountiful to you, be so to men; and so you shall be, if you change places and suppose yourself in their room, and they in yours. This is the Law and the prophets: that is, all is of this nature. Duty to others, as pressed in the Law and the Prophets, is reducible to this.
Ver. 13. Enter ye in at the strait gate.] This is undeniably a main point; yet, alas! we seem not to think so. How disinclined are we to the way of eternal happiness! The difficulty is so represented as to add an edge to our earnestness, not to abate and weaken our endeavours. This way is strait indeed, but there is still room enough within. John xiv. 2. In my Father's house are many mansions. The ease and delight there, shall abundantly compensate all the trouble in the way. We must resolve then, if we would not perish, that we must take this way, how strait and rugged soever, and strip and put off all that entangles and encumbers,-that swelling pride, those superfluous desires and lusts; yea, to put off and leave behind even self itself. Once in at that gate, we shall find all perfectly compensated. And remember, they are few that enter; few there are that so much as seek it, but far fewer that find it, even of those that make some kind of seeking after it.
Many shall seek to enter, (so it is in the other Evangelist,) and shall not be able; therefore, strive ye. What bustle is there made by sea and land for scraps of this earth, and Heaven alone is so cheap in our eyes, as if it were worth no diligence, scarce even a serious thought! Surely, either Heaven is but a fancy, or the world is mad.
Ver. 15.-Beware of false prophets.] Not to go wrong in our way, we must take heed not to mistake our guides, (especially as so many in all ages give themselves out for such,) that they mislead us not, wrapping error in truth's mantle : yet, there is ever something to a discerning eye, that will readily discover them. As for the grand deceiver, the Devil, the vulgar fable, that in all apparitions whatsoever there is still the shape of a cloven foot, holds true, for there is something in their carriage that, narrowly eyed, will tell what they are. Ye shall know them by their fruits.
Ver. 21.-Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven.] But every man is his own worst deceiver; therefore he ought most to beware of himself. Whether teacher or learner, he is his own false prophet, speaking peace where there is no peace. Therefore, beware of yourselves. Delude not yourselves with a vain trust in an empty profession. Not every one that says Lord, Lord -that makes much noise and sound of the name of Christ, yea, that bears his name to others, that preaches him. Oh! how many shall find themselves to have misreckoned in that day, when they are not owned by Him, but commanded away by that sad word Depart! Look to it, therefore, to the truth of denying yourselves, and your own will, and yielding yourselves up to God:-but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in Heaven, says our Saviour. Oh! take heed of founding your house in the sand. Though ever so stately and fair built, and shewing fine, yet that foundation will be its ruin. There is no safe building but on the rock, that Rock of salvation who here taught this doctrine. Then come storms as they will, there can be no fear. He that buildeth on Him
shall not be ashamed. or lands ye have here, whether any or none,-He himself had none here,-provided you build on Him as the foundation of eternal blessedness. Oh, that men would think of this, and amidst all their ensuring of things still unsure, would mind the making of this sure, which may be made so sure for ever, as not to be moved!
1 Peter ii. 6. No matter what houses
Ver. 28. And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine.] A Divine way of teaching! Even some not converted, are yet struck and astonished with it, but by this eminently, He taught them as one having authority. This not only by a powerful secret influence, on hearts which He touched by his Divine power, And for some but even in the way of His own teaching. measure of this, His ministers ought to seek, and to seek it from Him, if they would find it. There is a force in things spoken from the heart with holy and spiritual affection: even common things thus spoken, are far above the greatest strains and notions, that are only an harangue or speech framed by strength of gifts and study. Oh ! much prayer would put life and authority into what we speak. To be much on the mount with God, would make our faces shine when coming with His message to men.
He dwelt among us, says St. John, and we saw his glory, as the glory of the only begotten Son of God, full of grace and truth. This all his history testifies of him, both his marvellous doctrine foregoing, and his miraculous works that here follow.
Ver. 1. When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.] A thing he noways regarded, yet would not hinder; yea, he continued teaching and working
those things that drew them. His delight was not in their flocking after him, but in instructing and doing them good.
Ver. 2. And behold, there came a leper and worshipped him.] Whether this was intended as the highest kind of civil reverence, as to a prophet, or Divine worship, as to God, it is not easy to aver, because it is hard to determine what kind of persuasion he, and the centurion, and others now coming to him, had; how little, or how much, or if any apprehension of him as the Messiah and Son of God. This being as yet not much noised abroad, yet they might have it by special revelation from God. A high confidence, however, there was of a Divine power being with him for the greatest works. This is clearly expressed; and in whatsoever notion it was, our Saviour takes it very graciously, and grants their suits. We are commonly unsatisfied with all that comes not up to our own height; but our meek Redeemer cherisheth sincerity, and accepts of what he finds, even the very least, and extols it to the highest pitch it was capable of.
Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.] Strong confidence and humility are contempered in this word: confidence in asserting full power in Christ for the work; (the doubt of his will, cannot be challenged as injurious or unbelieving, for he had as yet no warrant absolutely to believe that he would ;) the humility in the way of propounding it, not daring peremptorily to sue for it, but moving it thus, as a thing in his hand to do; the sense of his vile disease and other unworthiness, it is likely, depressing him, and forming his desire in this style only, as representing and reserving the matter with humble submission, as resolved not to quarrel nor complain if he should refuse, but to acknowledge pure compassion and goodness, if obtained: q. d. Lord, it becomes not such a horrid, polluted wretch to say any further than this, I believe, and crave leave to say it out, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
Ver. 3. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him.] And this humble motion is as graciously taken: he hath straightway real experience both of the power that he believed