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wlien his disciples heard this, they were struck into exceeding great . and inexpressible amazement, saying one to another, Who then can be saved? But Jesus, looking stedfastly upon them, saith unto them, With men it is impossible, but not with God, fçr with God all things are possible*.
Then Peter replied, and began to say unto him, Behold we have left all and followed thee. What reward therefore shall we have ? And Jesus answering said to them, Verily I say unto you, That you who have followed me in my humiliation, shall, in the great renovationt of all things, be suitably distinguished : when the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of his glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel ; concurring with me in the sentence which shall then be passed on the Jewish nation.' And there is no man who hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for the sake of the kingdom of God, that is, for my name's sake and the gospel's, but he shall receive manifold more, yea, an hundred-fold, now in the present time, more than all the comfort he could have found in houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands; with all the persecutions he shall endure : and in the world to come he shall inherit everlasting life. But many who are first in advantages, shall be last in the great day of accounts, and the last shall be first.
REFLECTIONS. Who can behold, without weeping eyes and a bleeding heart, this lovely youth perishing in sin. What could have appeared more promising than this solicitous concern about eternal life in a young man, rich in the possessions and high in the honours of the present world ! To see him running with such eagerness to the feet of a Redeemer, kneeling down with such humility before him, calling upon him by so honourable a title, and professing so sincere a desire of instruction, could not but lead us to conclude, Surely this man was not far from the kingdom of God; por do we wonder that Jesus beholding him loved him. Who would not have looked on such an object with complacency! Who would not have expected that this pleasant plant should have brought forth grapes ; but bchold, it brought forth wild grapes ! So have we seen, in the compass perhaps of our small observation and experience, many a fair blossom fall withering to the ground. So have the hopes of ministers and parents, and other religious friends, been disappointed with respect to many young persons, adorned with a variety of amiable qualifications, yet lacking one thing, and parting with Christ when put to the trial, after all the regard they have shewn to his name, and all the pleasing expectations they have given of a willingness to serve him. O my young reader,
; * LUKE, “ the things which are impossible with men ”.
+ By a small transposition here, the sense of the author's translation of this passage is more conspicuous. --Those who, with our translators, connect this with the former clause, understand it of the new state of things which Christ has introduced in the church on earth. ED.
whoever thou art, I earnestly pray that thou mayest not be added to that number!
This unhappy youth imagined himself in the certain way of salvation because he was free from the stains of fraud and injustice, of adultery and theft, of perjury and murder, or any other gross and infamous sin. But behold, how awful a method Christ takes to open to him that insincerity of heart which he seems himself not to have known. Observe how strange a command he gives him, to sell all, and distribute to the poor. We cannot say that the very same is directly required of us ; yet, by this order that was given to him, we are obliged to part with our all when it cannot be preserved with a good conscience ; and by the general rules of Christianity, and by its fundamental precepts, we are in duty bound conscientiously to use, not only a little part of our substance, but even the whole of it for God, as stewards who are another day to give up a strict account for all. And if we like not Christ and glory on these terms, our end will be no better than his. Of him we read, that after all his morality, and all his zeal, he went away from Christ (though sorrowful) because he had great possessions. Oh dear-bought wealth, which was the price of his soul !
Let us look upon him, and receive instruction ; let us learn to be upon our guard against this vain world, that specious harlot who hath cost down many wounded; yea, many strong men have been slain by her. How universally are riches desired, how eagerly are they pursued, by persons in all stations and of all professions of life ! Yet what do they generally prove but shining mischief and gilded ruin! If we believe the incarnate wisdom of God, they make our salvation exceedingly hazardous. Yet who does not wish for them? Who does not think that he has wisdom and grace enough to stand the danger ? But God knows otherwise, and therefore he keeps or makes, so many of his children poor.-Let them be contented with their safer state ; and let those who are rich be importunate with God for those influences of his grace which can effect those things that are impossible with men.
On the whole, let us not think much of any thing which Christ demands, knowing that whatever we may lose, or whatever we may resign, we shall gain far more by his favour. The testimony of a good conscience before him, a life of friendship with God, the consolations of his Spirit, and the hopes of his glory, will yield, even for the present, an hundred fold more satisfaction than the possession of the greatest riches, or the enjoyment of the most tender and beloved relatives. How much more abundantly then will all be repaid in the heavenly state! And, if we cannot trust the promise of our Lord for it, we are no more real Christians than if we were publicly to worship Mammon or Plutus, with all the idolatrous rites of the ancient heathens.
Christ, by the parable of the labourers in the vineyard, warns the Jews
against envying the Gentiles those eyual privileges to which they should be called, MATT. xx. 1-16.
To illustrate the last observation, « that many who are first shall l I be last, and the last first,” Jesus shake this parable. For the
kingdom of heaven is like a man that was the master of a fam
ily, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for · his vineyard. And having agreed with the labourers for a 3 penny a day*, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out
again about the third hour (or nine in the morning ) he saw others 4 standing unemployed in the market. And he said to them, Go ye
also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is reasonable I will give you. 5 And they went away to their work. Again, going out about the
sixth and ninth hour (or at twelve and three ) he did the same. 6 And about the eleventh hour or five in the evening) going out
again, he found others standing unemployed : and he says to 7 them, Why do ye stand here the whole day unemployed ? They
say unto him, Because no one has hired us. He says to them, Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is reasonable you shall
receive. 8 Now when evening was come, the lord of the vineyard says to - his steward, Call the labourers and pay them their wages, begin9 ning from the last, and going on to the first. And when they
came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received 10 a penny. And when the first came they reckoned that they should
have received more ; but they also received every one a penny. 11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the master 12 of the house, and said, Truly these last have laboured but one hour,
and thou hast made them equal to us who have borne the burden 13 and heat of the day. But he answered and said to one of them,
Friend, I do not injure thee. Didst not thou agree with me for 14 a penny ? Take what is thine and be gone ; I will give unto this 15 last man even as to thee. And indeed, is it not lawful for me to 16 do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil because I am
good ? Thus you see, in some instances, the last shall be first, and the first lastt : for many are called, but few chosen.
* The Roman penny (701-2) was the usual price of a day's labour among the Jews, as well as the Romans.
+ A remark which, though of far more extensive application, was peculiarly applicable to the Jewish nation, who murmured at the calling of the Gentiles to equal privileges with themselves.
# Though the messages of the gospel are sent to vast multitudes, a small remnant only will einbrace them ( Rom. xi. 5.) while the rest will be justly disowned by God for so obstinate and envious a temper.
REFLECTIONS. May we by divine grace appear in the happy number of those who are not only called but chosen too ! If we are first in privileges and opportunities, let us be careful that our improvement be proportionable ; otherwise we shall be last, and see ourselves another day exceeded, and perhaps condemned, by those who stood in rank below us. We are called to a course of holy labour, even to work in our Lord's vineyard, or in every station, whether public or private, to do our utmost to promote the glory of God and the happiness of mans kind. Let us not, with so many calls and so many advantages, stand all the day idle ; but let us be active and patient, and cheerfully wil. ling to bear all the burthen and heat of the day in so good a cause ; knowing that ere long the evening will come, and that he who employs us saith, Behold I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. Let such as have long nego lected the great business of life be encouraged with this thought, that some were called at the eleventh hour : bat let none presume on their having such a call, nor strain the parable so far as to imagine that an equal reward awaits all, without any regard to their characters or improvements; which is most contrary to the reason of things, to the word of God, and to the great intent of that day which is to render to every man according to his deeds.
The Gentiles are indeed now called to equal privileges with the Jews, to which this circumstance of the parable refers: and we all see how odious a temper it was in that favourite nation to be offended with the gospel on that account, which should rather have recommended it to their more joyful acceptance. Let us be careful to avoid every degree of envy, whoever may be put on a level with us, or preferred to us. Let us acknowledge the sovereign right of God to do what he will with his own, and let not our eye be evil, because he is good. To prevent this, let us labour after that unfeigned love to the brethren, which never will allow us to repine at their advancement to the greatest privileges, but will engage us to behold the favours that are shewn them with delight and satisfaction, and to rejoice in their honour and happiness as our own. So shall we exchange the basest and most uneasy passion of human nature for that which is of all others the noblest and the most delightful.
Our Lord, on the sickness and death of his friend Lazarus, determines to go to Bethany, against the persuasion of his disciples. JOHN xi. 1- 16.
INTOW while Jesus was on the other side Jordan, there was
one Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and Martha her *2 sister, who was sick. (It was that Mary who afterwards anointed
the Lord with precious ointment, and wiped his feet with her 3 hair*, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) The sisters therefore,
knowing where Jesus was, sent to him, and said, Behold, he whom 4 thou lovest is dangerously ill. But when Jesus heard it, he said,
This sickness is not to death, but for the glory of God, that the Son 5 of God may be glorified by it.—Now Jesus loved Martha, and her
sister, and their brother Lazarus. They were his particular friends. 6 When therefore he had heard that he was sick, intending what
would be most for their advantage, he o abode two days in the place 7 where he was. Then after that, he says to his disciples, Let us 8 go again to Judea. The disciples say to him, Rabbi, but just
now the Jews sought to stone thee, and dost thou intend to go 9 thither again ? Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the
day? If any man walk in the day, he does not stumble, because 10 he sees the light of this world. But if any man walk in the night,
he stumbles, because there is no light in himt. In like manner
I am desirous to do the will of my Father while the day of life lasts. 11 These things he said to silence their objections : and after this,
knowing what had passed at Bethany, he says to them, Our friend
Lazarus is fallen asleep, but I am going that I may awaken him. 12 His disciples therefore said, Lord, if he sleeps he will recover. O 13 Jesus spake concerning his death; but they thought that he had spok14 en of taking resti n sleep. Jesus therefore said to them plainly, Laz15 arus is dead. And I am glad on your account that I was not there, 16 that you may believe. But let us go to him. Then Thomas, who · was called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, Let us also go
that we may die with him, rather than desert such a friend in a time of danger.
REFLECTIONS. . How happy was this family of Lazarus in which Christ was so frequent a guest ! how happy Lazarus and his sisters, who were so pecul. iarly beloved by him! Yet sickness and death invaded that family ; and this excellent man, as it should seem, in flourishing circumstances (ver. 19) and perhaps too in early youth, was snatched away, on a sudden, by what appeared a very untimely stroke. The friends of Christ must be sick, and die, as well as others; and no man knoweth either love or hatred, by all that is before them under the sun. Let us therefore judge nothing before the time. This sickness, and death of Lazarus was for the glory of God : and may all our personal and domestic sufferings be so ! To this, O Lord, may our life be consecrated, and to this may our death be subservient! We shall not then feel our dying pangs in half their bitterness, when our hearts are inflamed with a zeal for thy glory, and when we see that even those pangs are. promoting it.
* Some have supposed, without any probable reason, that this refers to the story related by Luke, ch. vii. 37. $ 60. and that the person was Mary Magdalene ; whereas she was of a town in Galilee, at a distance, of whom there is no proof that she was of a bad character. Besides, the great sinner mentioned by Luke is not named. Doubtless this sister of Lazarus is the person of whom John relates the action referred to, ch. xii. 3, &c. S 145.
† Rather, IN IT, that is, in the world. W.