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Matthew Henry says very truly, "This will not justify the bold intrusion of ignorant and unqualified men into the work of the ministry; extraordinary gifts of knowledge and utterance are not now to be expected, but requisite abilities must be obtained in an ordinary way; and without a competent measure of these, none are to be admitted to that service."
Follow me.-These disciples had already become acquainted with Jesus; but now they are called to devote themselves entirely to give attendance on his sacred person, and to perform the work which he should assign to them.-"Even those who have been called to follow Christ have need to be called to follow on, and to follow nearer; especially when they are designed for the work of the ministry." They must follow him in the way of faith, and in the exercise of patience, humility, self-denial, and all other graces of the Spirit.
I will make you fishers of men."It is Christ that qualifies men for this work, calls them to it, authorises them in it, and gives them success in it." The call and teaching of the Spirit within the heart, as well as an outward call and designation by the church, are needful to make a good and faithful minister of Christ.
Fishers of men.-How beautifully characteristic are these words of the real nature and effect of the ministerial office! See 2 Cor. xii. 14-19. "We must be Christ's disciples," says a pious commentator, "before we are his ministers; his fol
lowers before we are his ambassadors. We must learn Christ before we preach him; otherwise we may fish for a livelihood, for honour and applause, but not for souls; if we be not first enclosed ourselves in the net of the Gospel, we can have but small hopes of bringing in others." But when Christ's ministers faithfully preach the Gospel, in sincerity, humility, and love, they have many encouraging reasons to hope that their labour "will not be in vain in the Lord." Still, however, the blessing and success must be derived from Christ himself. "Our labour," says Bishop Hall, "is only in the cast, Christ's power wholly in the draught. Some fish cleave to the rocks, others play upon the sands, and more wallow in the mud; and we shall labour all our days and catch nothing, if Christ doth not bring our fish to the net, and enclose them in it, as well as assist us in the throwing of it."
Let us pray that it may please God to give his grace and benediction to Christian ministers, that both by their life and doctrine they may set forth his glory, and set forward the salvation of all men.
They left their nets-left their ship and their father, and followed him.Observe here the power of the Lord Jesus, and the efficacy of his word.Consider the obedience of his disciples, as an act of faith, resembling that of their father Abraham; Heb. xi. 8.-And remember also, that "those who would follow Christ aright, must leave all to follow him. Every Christian must leave all in
affection, must sit loose to all, must 'hate father and mother' (Luke xiv. 26), i.e. must love them less than Christ, must be ready to part with his interest in them rather than with his interest in Jesus Christ. But those who are devoted to the work of the ministry are, in a special manner, concerned to disentangle themselves from all the affairs of this life, that they may give themselves wholly to that work which requires the whole man." "Nothing but an indispensable necessity in providing for a family can excuse a minister's entangling himself with worldly business."
A church ought not to encourage a worldly spirit in its ministers, either by holding out offers of wealth and honour to those who seek such things; or by withholding necessary support from those who really seek men's souls.-It is awful to see some ministers seeking the patronage of the great, suing for appointments, and hunting for preferment, instead of acting as fishers of men; and it is sad to see others compelled, by dire necessity, to neglect, more or less, their proper and favourite employment, in order to earn a livelihood!
They brought unto him all sick people-and he healed them.-The multitude of persons cured, and the great variety of complaints from which they were relieved, are among many other striking attestations to the reality and extent of our Lord's miraculous power; and to the divinity of him who wrought such wonders, by his own authority, and as an act of his own omnipotence.
Meditate upon the last two verses of this chapter, as containing, at once, proofs of divine power-instances of divine mercy and compassion-patterns and spiritual motives to our own benevolent care of the sick and the afflicted, in the benefits conferred upon men by the Redeemer and Saviour of their souls.
Thou whose almighty word
And took their flight;
Let there be light. Spirit of truth and love, Life-giving, holy dove,
Speed forth thy flight;
Grace, love, and might,
CHAP. V. 1-12.
Christ beginneth his sermon in the mount: declaring who are blessed. AND seeing the multitudes, "he
went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him :
2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit; for their's is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek: for 'they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: 'for they shall obtain mercy.
8 'Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for their's is the kingdom of heaven.
11 'Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of "evil against you 'falsely, for my sake.
12 "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad for great is your reward in heaven: for 'so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
a Mark iii. 13, 20.- Luke vi. 20. See Pзa. li. 17. Prov. xvi. 19, & xxix. 23. Is. lvii. 15, & lxvi. 2.-c Is. lxi. 2, 3. Luke vi. 21. John xvi. 20. 2 Cor. i. 7. Rev. xxi. 4.-d Ps. xxxvii. 11-e See Rom. iv. 13.-f Is. lv. 1, & lxv. 13.-g Ps. xli. 1; ch. vi. 14. Mark xi 25. 2 Tim. i. 16. Heb. vi. 10. Jam. ii. 13.-h Ps. xv. 2, & xxiv. 4. Heb. xii. 14. i1 Cor. xiii. 12. 1 John iii. 2, 3.-k 2 Cor. iv. 17. 2 Tim. ii, 12. 1 Pet. iii 14.1 Pet. iv. 14. ↑ Gr. lying.-n Luke vi. Rom. v. 3. Jam. i. 2. 1 Pet. iv. 13. 2 Chr. xxxvi. 16; ch. xxiii. 34, 37.
/ Luke vi. 22. 23. Acts v. 41. o Neh. ix. 26. Acts vii. 52. 1 Thes. ii. 15.
We have now arrived at a very important portion of the sacred record, our Saviour's Sermon on the Mount; a discourse delivered by the great Prophet of the church, concerning whom it was said by the voice from heaven, "This is my beloved Son, hear ye him;"-a discourse addressed not to any particular class of his disciples, but (as is plain from ch. vii. 28, 29) to all the multitudes who followed him, and, through them, to all men who should come within reach of his instructions. May our understandings and our hearts be opened to receive instruction dropping like dew from those sacred lips into which grace was poured without measure! May we hereby become more wise unto salvation; and be enabled to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!
In reading this heavenly discourse, I propose to adopt a method somewhat different from that which we
have hitherto pursued. We find here little room for critical inquiry, or verbal explanation; so that few difficulties are likely to arise in the way of interpretation; and I hope to be able to anticipate any questions of this nature which may arise in your minds, without our usual method of expository discussion. I shall thus have a better opportunity of fixing
your undivided attention on those practical truths which are so remarkably prominent throughout these chapters.
READER.-Our Saviour begins his discourse by expounding to us the principles of happiness; mercifully declaring to us in what dispositions and habits our real blessedness, for time and for eternity,
Blessed are the poor in spirit.True happiness must be built upon the foundation of unfeigned humility and lowliness of mind. The poor in spirit are those who have a real, deep, and practical sense of their own innate corruption, the guilt of their actual transgressions, and their state of helplessness and spiritual destitution; and who are hence led to renounce all confidence in self.-Now it is true that this state of mind and feeling, if alone, does not make a man happy; but that, if it terminate in itself, is, to say the least, imperfect. Why, then, are the poor in spirit happy? Our Saviour answers,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. -These humble men are prepared to receive the Gospel of the grace of God, to submit to divine teaching, -to follow the leadings of the Holy Spirit, to become members even now of that kingdom of God which is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, and hereafter to awake up and behold the face of God in righteousness, and to dwell with Him for ever. And the Most High graciously vouchsafes to bestow upon
For they shall be comforted.—The Gospel, proclaiming the value of Christ's blood,-the infinite compassion of God, and the suitableness and efficacy of the scheme of redemption, shall speak peace to their souls. A balm has been provided for their wound. They will find the promises of pardon, and peace, and eternal life; they will receive that word of consolation, which shall lead them to exclaim, "This is all my salvation and all my desire." Isa. lxi. 1-3; Mat. xi. 28-30; John xiv. 26, 27; Rev. xxi. 4.
Blessed are the meek.-The meek are they who easily and quietly submit to the will of God and the dispensations of his providence, even when contrary to their natural inclination; and who are gentle, kind, and forbearing in their disposition and conduct towards men. Meekness is a submissive, patient, peaceful, quiet temper; opposed to a proud, impatient, quarrelsome, or revengeful disposition. And the men
who possess this temper-who "humble themselves under the mighty hand of God," and are "gentle towards all men," are happy;
For they shall inherit the earth;-they shall have the most real enjoyment of the gifts of providence during this present life; and it is their privilege to regard their peace, tranquillity, and sense of the divine favour and blessing here below, as an earnest and foretaste of a better inheritance, "incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away." (Prov. xxii. 24, 25; xv. 1; xxv. 8-15; 1 Tim. iv. 8; vi. 3-6.)
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness;—that is to say, they who have a deep and ardent desire to be accounted righteous, and to be made holy; to be accepted of God as his children, and to be conformed to his image in their mind and disposition, and enabled to fulfil his will in their life and conduct. The believer in Christ Jesus, sensible of his want of these inestimable blessings, and knowing that they are promised to those who seek for them, is earnest and importunate in his desires and endeavours, with prayer, for the attainment of the good which is thus held out for his acceptance.
For they shall be filled. These desires, kindled by God's Spirit, shall be satisfied. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread, and your
labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." (Isa. lv. 1, 2)." As for me," says the Psalmist, "I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness,"yes, finally, fully, everlastingly satisfied and happy. Ps. xvii. 15.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. The merciful are those who, being penetrated with a sense of God's great and unmerited goodness, compassion, and lovingkindness toward themselves, cherish a temper of pity and compassion, of free, generous love, and active benevolence, towards their brethren.
In showing mercy and doing good, we imitate, at our humble distance, one of the most glorious of God's moral attributes. "Merciful as God is merciful." How exalted is this privilege! They shall obtain mercy." How great is this reward! God, in his providence, will cause such persons to find favour with men, so far as it may be for their good; and, what is more, He will grant them that which even the most benevolent man will need-mercy in the day of judgment, according to his promise. If they have given proof of their love to God, the fruit of faith, God will finally fulfil his promises, so freely made to all who shall then be "found in Christ, not having their own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." (Phil. iii. 9).