« AnteriorContinuar »
beatitudes, a small rising, from which our blessed Saviour delivered his Sermon in the 5th, 6th and 7th chapters of Matt. Not far from this little hill is the city Saphet, supposed to be the ancient Bethulia. It stands upon a very eminent and conspicu ous mountain, and is seen far and near. May we not suppose that Christ alludes to this city, in these words of his, “ A city set on a hill cannot be hid.”
“Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house." Those who make theinselves acquainted with the truth, and hesitate to profess it before men, are chargeable with the same folly with the man who should light a candle, and then hide it under a bushel. The very object of lighting a candle is to give light-the object of hiding it would be to conceal that light; and it is therefore preposterously absurd that those who light a candle should put it under a bushel. Truth is moral light. Those who ignite the torch of the mind with its holy flame, should not endeavor to hide the light thereof; but let it shine before inen, that others may see it and glorify God. Jesus would not that any should be ashamed of him. " Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels.” The apostle exhorts his Hebrew brethren to hold fast the profession of their faith without wavering.' Truth is not a thing of which man may be ashamed; and hence the exhortation is highly proper, “Let your light shine before 'men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father wbich is in heaven.” At the death of Christ, “when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified Gud.” He professed that Jesus was a righteous person. So by manifesting our faith before mankind, we shall bring them to believe in Christ, and thus will they glorify our Father in heaven, as the centurion did.
This parable furnishes a severe reproof to those of the present day, who have not courage to avow the convictions of their own minds.
What they are persuaded is truth, they keep hidden. Professed ministers of the gospel are sometimes guilty of this unchristian práctice. The love of the world, and the fear of man, sway them with a stronger influence than a desire to do their duty. They “light a candle, and put it under a bushel.”
Parable of the offending Hand or Foot.
MATT. V. 29, 30: XVIII. 8, 9-MARK IX. 43—48.
“And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for the to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worin dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire,. Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” -Mark ix. 43—48.
As this parable is one which has been often misapplied, and, as it has been generally used in defence of the doctrine of endless torment, and moreover, as it is now thought to be one of the principal
supports of that sentiment, we propose to examine it at some length, and make the notes as particular as possible.
1. We shall show what is intended by cutting off a hand, or a foot, or plucking out an eye.
2. What is intended by entering into “life" (ver. 43) or “the kingdom of God” (ver. 47.)
3. The true sense of the word "hell," and of the phrase "hell fire."
4. Consider the words, “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Vers. 44, 46, 48.
5. Illustrate the proposition, that it was better to part with the offending member, than to be cast into “hell fire."
1. What is intended by cutting off a hand, or a foot, or plucking out an eye. The evident sense of the figure is, let nothing prevent you from embracing my gospel, and entering into life. By observing Matt. v. 28, it will be perceived that Jesus had been speaking of a sin, into which men were led by the instrumentality of the eye. He then immediately adds, “ If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee.” Forego all gratifications inconsistent with virtue, and the moral laws of my kingdom ; for it is better so to do, than by giving yourselves up to sin, to be totally destroyed. ArchBishop Newcome says on these words, “if thy hand offend thee, &c. “This is a strong eastern manner of expressing that seductions to sin, and particularly stumbling blocks in the way of openly professing the gospel at that season, should be avoided at all events; and that the causes of guilt and apostacy should be removed, whatever favor
ite gratifications were foregone, whatever tempoaral evils were endured." Mr. Ballou has taken
1 Newcome's Observations, Charlestown, 1810, pp. 32, 33.
a little different view of this subject. “The evident meaning of the Saviour," says he, "seems to be this: if one of your nearest connexions in the world, even if one as dear to you as a hand, should oppose your yielding obedience to the gospel, part with this dear connexion råther than part with divine truth. And though you thereby feel as one who has lost a hand, yet what you gain is more than what you lose. In this connexion Jesus mentions the cutting off of a foot, and the plucking out of an eye, for the same cause as the cutting off of the hand; and it is very evident that this recommendation was given on account of the opposition that was constantly in exercise against the cause of truth, and which he knew would increase unto grievous persecution. The views taken by both these writers may be considered just. No tempta. tions, no friends, nothing on earth, should have hindered men from entering the kingdom of Christ; every thing must have been foregone when put into competition with this; since, in that age, the greatest calamities ever known fell on the enemies of the Son of God.
2. What is intended by entering into “life," or the .66
kingdorn of God." Tnat these two phrases are synonimous will be evident by comparing vers. 43 and 47. To enter "life" in the scriptures, is to enter into the belief and enjoyment of the truth. Hence the Saviour saith, “This is LIFE ETERNAL, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." John xvii. 3. Here the knowledge of God is called "eternal life.” Again, in John, v. 24, we read, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and
1 See Lecture Sermons, p. 217,
shall not come into condemnation, but is passed (i. e. is already passed) from death unto life.” John says, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren: he that loveth not his brother abideth in death." 1 John iii. 14. These passages certainly make the subject plain ; and shew that conting to the knowledge and enjoyment of the truth is “entering into life.” Now this is precisely what is meant by entering into the kingdom of God." The kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven, both signifying the same thing, are put for the spiritual kingdom of Christ, which he came to set up among men. John the Baptist commenced his ministry by saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matt. iii. 2. When Jesus began to preach, he announced the approach of his moral kingdom in the same manner. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matt. iv. 17. In the instruction, which Jesus gave his apostles, when he sent them out, he says, "as ye go, preach, saying, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matt. x. 7. His kingdom was not afar off, it was at hand; it was not in another state of existence, it was here on the earth; it was the moral reign of Christ among men. Jesus said to the Pharisees, "the kingdom of God is come unto you.” Matt. xii. 28. On another occasion he said, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation, neither shall they say, lo here! or lo there! for behold the kingdom of God is within you,” or among you. Luke xvii. 19, 20, To enter into the kingdom of God, was to embrace, profess and obey the gospel. Whosoever did this was un
1 See Dr. Campbell's Version of all the passages where these phrases occur, and bis Preliminary Dissertation on the same subject. See also Adam Clarke on Matt. Äi. 2.