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Saint Matthew the Apostle.
O ALMIGHTY God, who by thy blessed Son didst call Matthew from the receipt of custom, to be an Apostle and Evangelist; Grant us grace to forsake all covetous desires and inordinate love of riches, and to follow the same thy Son Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
(t)" Humbleth," &c. Humility is one of the passive virtues strongly recommended both in the Old and New Testament.
(u)"This ministry," i. e. of the gospel dispensation: he calls it, in the preceding chapter, 2 Cor. iii. 8, 9 ante 191. "the ministration of the Spirit," "the "ministration of righteousness," in opposition to the Mosaic dispensation, which he calls "the ministration of death," and "the ministration of condemnation."
(x)" As we have received mercy," i. e. perhaps, in return for the great mercy we have received, as a proper acknowledgment for it.
(y)" Faint not." St. Paul's exertions are a decisive proof of his conviction and sincerity. Let a man have full means of conviction, (as St. Paul must have had, from what happened upon his conversion, and from his subsequent power of working miracles), let him go through what St. Paul describes himself as having suffered, 2 Cor. xi. 23. ante 73. and let him have no object but such as St Paul had, not temporal power or honour, but the advancement of goodness and God's glory, and he must be an infidel who
The Epistle. 2 Cor. iv. 1. THEREFORE, seeing we have this ministry (u), as we have received mercy (x), we faint not (y); but 2. have renounced (z) the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But if (a) our Gospel be hid, it 3. is hid to them that are lost in 4. whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not 5. ourselves (b), but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who 6.
doubts his sincerity. Lord Lyttelton considers St. Paul's conduct alone as suf ficient to prove the truth of the Christian religion. See Lord Lyttelton on the conversion of St. Paul; a work well worth reading!
(x)" Renounced," &c. i. e. perhaps, v.2. abstaining from all sin, using no deceit to advance Christianity, and having no object in view but man's happiness and God's glory. It is a strong argument of the sincere conviction of the apostles, that they could have had no object of their own in preaching the gospel. It led to no temporal rewards, and exposed them to great dangers and persecutions.
(a) "If," &c. Sin is elsewhere no- v.3. ticed as the great obstacle to belief. Not that the evidence is not abundantly sufficient, but that sin either obstructs examination, or perverts the judgment. St.John says, John iii. 19. "Light is come into "the world, and men loved darkness " rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth " evil, hateth the light, neither cometh "to the light, lest his deeds should be "reproved." Post, John xv. 21.
(b) "Not ourselves." Without any v.5.
commanded the light (c) to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face (d) of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel. Matt. ix. 9. AND as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew (e), sitting at the receipt (f) of custom: and he saith unto him, "Follow me." And 10. he arose, and followed him. And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house (g), behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his 11. disciples. And when the Pharisees
saw it, they said unto his disciples, "Why eateth your master with 12. "publicans and sinners?" But when Jesus heard that, he said
views of our own. Not seeking glory, or honour, or power, or profit, or any thing for ourselves.
(c) "The light," &c. referring to his command at the creation, “Let "there be light." Gen. i. 3.
(d) "In the face," &c. This is supposed to allude to what is mentioned of Moses, Exod. xxxiv. 29 to 35. When he came down from Mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in his hand, the skin of his face shone, so that Aaron and the children of Israel were afraid to come near him. St. Paul had referred to this in the preceding chapter, 2 Cor. iii. 7. ante 191. and he probably here means, that if the Mosaic dispensation were glorious, and entitled to such a mark of distinction, the gospel dispensation was much more glorious, and brought infinitely more light into the world.
(e)" Matthew," i.e. St. Matthew the Evangelist.
(f)"The receipt of custom." He was what they called a publican, that is a collector of the Roman taxes: an office in great disrepute among the Jews: he calls himself, Matt. x. 3. "Matthew the "publican."
(b) They that be whole," &c. So my object is to assist where my assistance is most wanted: to relieve those who most require relief. I associate with them, not because their practices and principles are acceptable to me, but that I may cor rect those practices and principles.
(i)"Mercy and not sacrifice," from Hos. vi. 6. "Mercy rather than sacri
fice," that love of God which is shewn in acts of benevolence, &c. to man, rather than that which is shewn in ceremonial acts of worship to God: that mercy which will reform sinners, rather than that outward ceremonial attention to God's commands, which would keep us from their company. The substance, rather than the appearance. The im portant part of bringing a sinner to God, rather than the external shew of respect to God. Our Saviour referred to this same passage, when the Pharisees cen sured his disciples for plucking ears of corn on the Sabbath-day to satisfy their hunger. Matt. xii. 7.
your behalf, for the grace of God (k) which is given you by 5. Jesus Christ; that in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6. even as the testimony of Christ 7. was confirmed in you: so that ye come behind in no gift (/); waiting for the coming (m) of our 8. Lord Jesus Christ: who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Gospel. Matt. xxii. 34. WHEN the Pharisees had heard that Jesus had put the Sadducees to silence (n), they were gathered 35. together. Then one of them,
(k) "Grace of God." The gifts of the Spirit, with which they were endowed (as explained in verse 5.)" in all utter"ance and knowledge," &c.
(1)" In no gift." How continually do we meet with passages which have a tendency to shew that Christianity had the testimony of God? In this epistle, 1 Cor. xii. 9, 10. St. Paul enumerates amongst the gifts of the Spirit, that of healing, of working miracles, of divers kind of tongues, of interpreting tongues, &c. Here he tells them that "they "come behind in no gift." Could he have said this if they had not had these gifts? and how would they have treated him and his epistle had the assertion been false? But if they had these gifts, they were the attestation of God that the Christian cause had his sanction, that its pretensions were just.
(m) The coming," i. e. the period so often referred to as the "coming," or "day of the Lord." The time when signal vengeance was to be taken upon the great opposers of Christianity, the unbelieving Jews. See ante 25. note on Rom. xiii. II.
(n) "To silence," by establishing that important truth, "the resurrection of the "dead."
V. 37. (0) "Thou shalt love," &c. The first 39. passage is a quotation from Deut. vi. 5. the second from Levit. xix. 18. See ante 194.
which was a lawyer, asked him a question, teinpting him, and saying, "Master, which is the great 36. "commandment in the law?" Jesus said unto him, "Thou 37. "shalt love (0) the Lord thy God "with all thy heart, and with all "thy soul, and with all thy mind. "This is the first and great com- 38. "mandment. And the second is 39. "like unto it, Thou shalt love thy "neighbour as thyself. On these 40. "two commandments hang (p) "all the law and the prophets." While the Pharisees were gathered 41. together, Jesus asked them, saying, "What think ye of Christ? 42. "whose son (q) is he?" They say unto him, "The son of David."
The lawyer who put the question to our Saviour, "What he should do to inherit "eternal life?" Luke x. 27. treated this as the substance of the law: our Saviour said unto him, "What is written in the "law? how readest thou? And he an"swering said, Thou shalt love the Lord "thy God with all thy heart, and with "all thy soul, and with all thy strength, "and with all thy mind; and thy neigh"bour as thyself." May not this be the very transaction here stated, with this difference, that St. Luke has put the words into the lawyer's mouth? ante 194.
"Hang," &c. It is to one or the v.40. other of these two great points, the love of God or the love of the man, that whatever is contained in the writings of Moses and the Prophets mainly tends. The advancement of one or the other of these great duties is their chief object; and it raises a strong presumption in favour of Chrisianity, that these are its leading views. If there were no external evidence to prove that the religion came from God, its character, in aiming principally, if not altogether, at these objects affords strong internal evidence of its divine original, that it proceeded from God, not from man. Ante 197. note on Gal. v. 22. and ante 179.
"Whose son," i. e. of what line. v. 42.
Saint Michael and all Angels.
O EVERLASTING God, who hast ordained and constituted the services of Angels and men in a won
(r)" In spirit," i. e. when under the influence of inspiration.
(s)" The Lord," &c. This is the first verse of Psalm cx.
(t) This passage is by some writers considered as figurative or allegorical, representing the struggle the primitive Christians had in overcoming the temptations of sin and the allurements of the world; others think it historical, alluding to the downfall of one of the first great opposers of Christianity, Simon Magus, who perished about twenty years before the Book of the Revelations was written; a third supposition is, that it is prophetical, alluding to the strong contests which would occur between the Christians and the Heathen powers, and the ultimate triumphs of Christianity. The latter seems best to correspond with the character of the Book of Revelations. From the part of the Revelations in which it occurs, it seems to refer to the times of Constantine, about A.D. 311, when, after severe persecutions against the Christians, and strong contests for the throne of Rome, Constantine publicly professed Christianity, and became Emperor of Rome. The Christians were repeatedly persecuted by the Roman Emperors, and in those persecutions many thousands of them lost their lives. At length Constantine the Great pub
derful order; Mercifully grant, that as thy holy Angels alway do thee service in heaven; so by thy appointment they may succour and defend us on earth, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For the Epistle. Rev. xii. 7. (t) THERE was war in heaven (u): Michael and his angels(x) fought against the dragon; and the dra gon fought and his angels (y), and prevailed not; neither was 8. their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon (z) 9. was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth (a), and his angels were cast out with
licly professed Christianity, and having, with a large army, chiefly of Christians, defeated Maxentius, who was a stedfast supporter of Paganism, he issued edicts to ease the Christians from all their griev ances, and for admitting them into places of trust and authority. This was such a change in their favour, as might well be the subject of previous prophecy, and fully warranted the lofty strains of the prophe tic song, verse 10. "Now," &c. It is said that Constantine, on his march towards Rome against Maxentius, saw the figure of a cross in the heavens, with an inscrip tion that by that sign he should over come," in hoc signo vinces," and that after his victory he caused it to be inscribed upon his statues, that it was under the influence of the cross that he succeeded.
(u)“ In heaven," i. e. (perhaps) in v.7. those parts where the Christians principally lived; within the Roman empire. (x)
"Michael and his angels" i. e. .. the Christians and their leaders. (y) "The dragon and his angels," " i. e. the opposers of Christianity.
(z) The great dragon," i. e. the devil, the great enemy of Christianity, the great patron of those who opposed
(a)" Cast out into the earth." Is v.9. perhaps nothing but a figurative expres sion to express great degradation; as
10. him. And I heard a loud voice
saying in heaven (b), "Now is "come salvation, and strength, "and the kingdom of our God, " and the power of his Christ: "for the accuser of our brethren "is cast down, which accused "them before our God day and 11. " night. And they overcame "him by the blood of the "Lamb (c), and by the word of "their testimony: and they loved "not their lives unto the death(d). 12. "Therefore rejoice, ye heavens,
"and ye that dwell in them. "Woe to the inhabiters of the "earth and of the sea! for the "devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he "knoweth that he hath but a "short time."
The Gospel. Matt. xviii. 1. Ar the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, "Who(e) "is the greatest in the kingdom "of heaven?" And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, "Verily I say unto you,
one would be greatly degraded who should be removed from the glory and happiness of heaven to live upon the earth.
(b) A prophetic song of triumph for the successes, &c. of the Christians, probably in the times of Constantine. A. D. 311.
(c) "The blood of the lamb," i. e. their firm attachment to Christianity.
(d) "Loved not their lives unto the "death," i, e. disregarded their lives; boldly encountered danger; willingly hazarded or laid down their lives.
(e) "Who," &c. According to Mark ix. 34. and Luke ix. 36. they had been disputing amongst themselves, "which "of them should be the greatest."
(f) "Converted," i. e. " undergo a change of mind," turn your thoughts
"Except ye be converted (f), "and become as little child"ren (g), ye shall not enter (b) "into the kingdom of heaven. "Whosoever therefore shall 4. "humble himself as this little "child, the same is greatest (i) "in the kingdom of heaven. "And whoso shall receive one 5. "such little child in my name (k), "receiveth me. But whoso shall 6. "offend () one of these little
ones which believe in me, it "were better for him that a mill"stone were hanged about his "neck, and that he were drowned "in the depth of the sea. Woe 7. "unto the world because of of"fences! for it must needs be "that offences come; but woe "to that man by whom the of "fence cometh! Wherefore, if 8. "thy hand or thy foot offend (m) "thee, cut them off, and cast "them from thee: it is better "for thee to enter into life halt "or maimed, rather than having "two hands, or two feet, to be "cast into everlasting fire. And 9. "if thine eye offend thee, pluck
from worldly notions of pre-eminence, &c.
(g) "As little children," i. e. in inno- v.3. cence, humility, &c.
(b) "Not enter." So far from being v.3. greatest in it, you shall not even have admittance.
(i) "Is greatest." The road to ad- v.4. vancement and pre-eminence there is by humility, thinking lowly of one's self, &c. The kingdom of heaven is not like the kingdoms of this world; the way to attain a high situation there is to be meek, humble, lowly, &c.
(k)" In my name," i. e. from respect v.5. and deference to me.
(1) Offend," i. e. discourage, drive v.6. from my religion, or despise.
(m) "Offend," i. e. draw thee off from v.8. religion.