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rence to the two preceding verses; in whiers our Lord had declared, that amidst the various miseries that would be occasioned by the wickedness and barbarity of those who rejected and resisted the Christian religion, dissensions would arise even among those most nearly connected with each other, and the true Christian would sometimes find his bitterest enemies even in the bosom of his own family. A father would perhaps persecute his own son, and a mother her daughter, on account of her religious opinions, and would by argument and by influence endeavour to persuade, or by authority and power to compel them to abjure their faith. In cases such as these our Lord here intimates, that when the choice is between renouncing our nearest relations and renouncing our religion, we must not hesitate a moment what part we are to take; we must, to obey God rather than man, we must give up all, and follow Christ. "He that loveth father and mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son and daughter more than me, is not worthy of me*." That is, evidently, when the nearest and * Acts v. 29. Mark x. 28.
dearest relations come in competition with our belief in Christ, and obedience to his commands, our affection for them and deference to their opinions must give place to love for our Redeemer and attachment to our Maker.
In the parallel place of St. Luke this precept is expressed in still stronger terms. "If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple*."
The mind of the reader is at the first view apt to revolt at the seeming harshness of this declaration; but it is evidently nothing more than a bolder and more figurative way (according to a well-known Hebrew idiom) of conveying the very same sentiment that St. Matthew clothes in gentler language. It means nothing more than that we ought to entertain a more ardent affection for our heavenly Father than for our earthly parents; and that his commands must be preferred to theirs whenever they happen to interfere. And
* Luke xiv.. 26.
in the same manner several other apparently severe injunctions in the Gospel are to be explained and mitigated by others of the same import, but more perspicuously and more mildly expressed.
But we are not only enjoined to love Christ and his religion more than our nearest relations, where they happen to interfere, but even more than our own life. "He that taketh not his cross and followeth after me, is not worthy of me*." This plainly alludes to the custom of persons who were going to be crucified bearing their own cross; and the literal and primary meaning is, that we should be ready j if called upon, to undergo even that painful and ignominious death, rather than renounce our faith. This indeed is a most severe trial; but it is a trial which it is not only our duty but our interest to undergo, if reduced to the necessity either of forfeiting our life, or renouncing our allegiance to Christ. For we are told here by our Lord himself, that "he who findeth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for his sake shall find it-j-." . That is, whoever to save his life apostatizes * Matth. x. 38. f [W& DO
from his faith, shall be punished with the loss of that life which alone deserves the name, life everlasting. But he who sacrifices his life to his religion in this world, shall be rewarded with eternal life in the world to come.
THE next chapter which seems more pe-s culiarly to deserve our attention, and to require some explanation and illustration, is the 12th chapter of St. Matthew.
It begins thus. "At that time Jesus went on the sabbath-day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath-day. But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; how he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shew-bread, which it was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have