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Parables of Counting the Cost.
LUKE XIV. 28-30.
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it. Lest haply after he death laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish."
VERSES 31, 32. “Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.”
We have often had occasion to notice in this volume, that many of the injunctions and precepts of our Lord, as well as his parables, sprung out of the occasion, and had reference to present objects and circumstances. The parables now before us, are an instance of the truth of this remark, and a proof of the readiness with which he conceived his beautiful inages,
After Jesus had spoken the parable of the Supper we are informed, “there went great multitudes with him," ver. 25, who had probably been attracted by his preaching, and the report of his wonderful works, and who, therefore, manifested some disposition to become his disciples. He said unto them, “if any man come to ine, and hate not his father, and inother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple,” ver. 26; “and whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple,” ver. 27. These were the terms of discipleship in the primitive age ; but they have been grossly misuuderstood, by a perversion of the idioms which are found in the passage. Jesus did not intend that a man should actually hate his father, mother, wife, children, brethren, sisters, and himself also- this would have been impossible, for the apostle says, “no man ever yet hated his own flesh,” Eph. v. 29. To hate in this instance signifies merely to love in a less degree ; and hence in a similar passage we read, “ he that loveth faụher or mother more than me, and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matt. x. 37. When it is said, Rom. ix. 13 “ Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated," the meaning evidently is, I have loved Jacob more than Esau ; and that this is no arbitrary interpretation of the word hate, but one agrecable to the Hebrew idiom, is evident from Gen. xxix. 30, 31, where we read, " he loved also Rachel more than Leah ; and when the Lord saw that Leah was halıd,”' &c. Here it is evident hatred signifies a less degree of love. See also Deut. xxi. 15–17. Something resembling what Jesus here teaches, is said by Philo concerning the duty of the Jewish high priest; that he was to estrange himself from all his relations, and not, out of love to his parents, his children, or brethren, to omit any part of his duty, or act in any thing contrary to it.? Cru cifixion was one of the most infamous, as well as cruel punishments iuflicted by the Romans andJews, Hence the cross came to be used metapborically for all ki: ds of evils; to bear the cross therefore, and come after Christ, is to expose ourselves with fort litude to the greatest evils in his cause.? 1 See Bp. Pearce on Lúke xiv. 26. +43:36} 2 Kenrick Expos, on the passage. ' *, 11,'}? 33,41015! abilaul
After having laid down these conditions of discipleship, Jesus proceeds to illustrate the necessity, that those who intended to become his followers, should estimate the pains, privations and dangers to which it would expose them, that they might enter into his kingdom fully aware of these evils, lest they should grow faint and weary, and be at last persuaded tu abandon him. For this purpose he spoke the two parables, now before uis. The man who professed Christ, with a full apprehension of the opposition it would call down upon him, was like a person, who intending to build a tower, sat down first and counted the cost, whether he had sufficient to finish it ; while those who professed him, without a calculation of these circumstances, was like the man who went heediessly on, and after he had laid the foundation, was not able to finish the tower, and whom others mocked, say. ing, this man began to build, and was not able to finish.' So, to apply the other parable, the man who professed Christ withont weighing all the consequences, was like the king who'went to war with another king, sitting not down first and consulting whether he was able with ten thousand men to meet him that came against him twenty thousand, who, while the other was yet a great way off, sent an ambassage, and desired conditions
No one can fail to notice the frankness and honesty of Jesus, in pointing out to those who proposed to become his disciples, the privativns, difficulties and dangers with which they must inevitably meet. In this particilar he always dealt fairly and openly with mankind. '. He did not promise then worldly ease, riches or honors, but, on the other hand, pain, poverty, disgrace and death. He plainly forewarned them that their lives must be a secondary consideration in his service, and that, under all these disadvantages; their love to the cause of truth must be greater than their love to any thing else on earth. And even, when he saw people, 'great multitudes,' following him, with the intent to become his disciples, he checked them, and pointed out the sacrifices they would be compelled to make; and by the help of two interesting parables, the application of which they saw full well, he showed them, if they professed his name without a full apprehension of the consequences, they would finally abandon him, and become the sport and derision of mankind. Every thing here convinces us that Jesus was not an imposter-that he was not disposed to deceive mankind that he never excited false hopes and illusive expectations. How many pretended reformers and false prophets have deceived their followers with hopes of gain they never realized, and of happiness they never experiencerl. But on the other hand, the Saviour told his followers they should not lose their reward for their devotion to the canse of truth. The consolation of truth upon their hearts, and the approbation of their consciences, were a recompense which the world could neither give nor take away. In that unbelieving age, these internal joys were the only rewards they would possess, amid the rage and persecution of their enemies; but, in a short time, their enemies were to be overthrown, and then they should be delivered from persecution, and enjoy peace.
The attentive observer will not fail to remark moreover, that Jesus would not reconimend to his followers, what he had neglected himself. Did he tell them to forsake all earthly considerations for the cause of truth ? He had done the saine. Did he tell them to bear their cross and follow him? He was willing to bear the cross. He surrendered his life, an offering for the benefit of mankind. Did he tell them to make all necessary calculations on the difficulties and dangers to be met? He had done the same. He knew the power of the enemy, the cost and sacrifices necessary to vanquish him, and with a full understanding of all means of opposition to him, he entered on the work of saving mankind. Before he began he sat down and counted the cost.'. He never will send the adversary proposals of peace. He will accomplish the work he came to do. This work as every Christian will acknowledge, is the salvation of mankind. He came to seek and to save that which was lost; and if all mankind were lost, he came to save them all. It is the will of God that all men shall be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth, 1 Tim. ii. 4; and this will Jesns came to perform. “Lo I come to do thy will, O God.” Heb. x. 7. Did Jesus here commence a work which he will not perform ? Has he laid the foundation ? and yet will he not be able to finish it? If so, he is obnoxious to his own reproofs, and therefore doubly worthy of the derision of mankind. But he will perform the work he came to do. “ The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.” Isaiah liii. 10, 11.