BY

THE REV. WILLIAM BRUCE

FOURTH EDITION



PREFACE

       THIS Word has been written with the intention of supplying the members of the New church with a commentary on the largest and most comprehensive of the Gospels, suitable for private and family reading. It is therefore almost purely explanatory and practical in its character, all questions that have no direct tendency to edification being as far as possible avoided.

The author is indebted for some of his materials to the unpublished sermons of the late Rev. S. Noble.       For the use of these manuscripts of his revered friend and colleague, his thanks are due to the Society of which Mr. Noble was so long the distinguished minister. To these manuscripts he owes, besides one or two smaller items, the explanation of almost the whole of chapters v. and vi., the greater part of chapter viii., verses 14-16 of chapter xxiv., and the parable of the talents, in chapter xxv.

That the Work, such as it is, may, by the Divine blessing, contribute to the spiritual improvement of those for whose use it is designed, is the Author's earnest prayer.

London, December 1866.

        INTRODUCTION.

The Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is the most directly, if not also the most deeply, interesting and instructive portion of the Divine Word. It records the greatest of all earthly events - the manifestation of God in the flesh. It unfolds the mystery of redemption, and shows us the way in which we must be saved. It brings to light the immortality of the soul, and the nature of the future life. It shows us our nearness to and connection with the eternal world, and the influences which act upon us both from the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. It exhibits before us humanity in its widest possible contrasts, in its greatest moral beauty in the person of the Saviour, and in its greatest moral deformity in the persons of those He came to seek and to save. It supplies us with the purest lessons of spiritual wisdom and the highest example of practical goodness in the teaching and life of our blessed Lord; in whose sufferings and death we have the most perfect pattern of patient endurance and forgiving love, and in whose resurrection and ascension we have the highest hope of spiritual life and eternal glory.

The word of the Old Testament is not silent on these all-important subjects. Predictions of the Lord's coming are numerous, and some of them are unmistakably plain and singularly graphic. Still, like every future event, His advent was seen as through a glass darkly. So were all the subjects of the kingdom he came on earth to establish. It is only when the light of the New Testament is shed back upon the predictions and doctrines of the Old, that they stand out in their proper distinctness and that their high import is clearly and fully understood.

The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, thus combined, contain the knowledge of that great salvation which the Lord, in his infinite mercy has wrought out for, and now freely offers to all his people. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and a life according to His commandments are the sum and substance of the Christian religion, the essential means and conditions of salvation; and these are set before us in the very letter with so much plainness that he may run that readeth.

But within the literal there is a spiritual sense, which exalts all the truths of the Word, and intensifies all the means of salvation. God has stored up in his Word, as He has in His Works, inexhaustible treasures of wisdom and knowledge and has only, when the time has come, to open the seals of his Sacred Volume, which is written within and on the back side, and to unroll it before the nations, that they may "come and see" the wonders which have lain hid in its recesses, from the time of its revelation, till men were prepared, by a higher development of their faculties, to perceive and acknowledge them.

During the past ages of the church the Word has been understood in its literal sense only. The existence of a spiritual sense has always indeed been acknowledged in the church, although little success has attended the numerous attempts that have been made to unfold it. It was important that a belief in the existence of an inner sense in the Scriptures should be preserved, though the time for its manifestation was not yet come. The literal sense was adapted to the genius and adequate to the wants of the church of the Lord's first advent; the spiritual sense is revealed for the use of the church of his second advent. His first coming was in feebleness and obscurity; his second coming is with power and great glory. As it is from the literal sense of the Word that we acquire a knowledge of the Lord's coming in the flesh, it is from the spiritual sense that we acquire a knowledge of his coming in the spirit. The time of the Lord's second coming - a coming not in person but in power - having now arrived, the spiritual sense of the Word, which reveals it, is now made known, and may be understood, because the event and the revelation are the correlatives of each other.

The use of this inner sense of the Holy Word consists chiefly in its unfolding two great subjects - the glorification of the Lord's humanity, and the regeneration of man. These two works are related to each other as cause and effect. The Lord's glorification is the origin and pattern of man's regeneration. It is because the Lord was glorified that man can be regenerated. By glorification the Lord became a Saviour; by regeneration we become saved. Glorification and regeneration are the same in their nature; they differ only in degree. By glorification the Lord made his humanity Divine by regeneration He makes man spiritual. These two works, which are the beginning and the end of the Incarnation, are the leading subjects of the inner sense of the Holy Word. The inmost or celestial sense treats of the Lord's glorification, the internal or spiritual sense treats of man's regeneration. As the subject of regeneration has the nearest, because an immediate personal interest for us, and comes more within the scope of our apprehension, it will chiefly engage our attention, and will most conduce to our edification.

There is one other subject treated of in the inner sense: of the Word-the church or religious dispensation, whose states both of advancement and retrogression form the subject of "the internal historical" or "Proximate" sense, which is nearest to the sense of the letter.

In explaining the Word it may be useful at times to consider it as it refers to the Lord, or to man, or to the church, leaving the reader to trace out its other applications, which he may readily do, since there is a correspondence between them.

One word of caution for those who are not acquainted with the spiritual interpretation of the ord. It may be supposed that the spiritual sense supersedes the literal sense. This is by no means the. case. There are some parts of the Word that are not to be literally understood. With the exception of these, the literal sense is at least as much believed in and reverenced by us as if no spiritual sense existed. All doctrine is to be drawn from the literal sense of the Word; and all spiritual truth rests upon it as its necessary foundation.

It is only necessary to add, that as the Holy Lord, in which the fulness of wisdom dwells, is sufficient for the supply of all our spiritual wants, we have only to go to it earnestly and in a teachable spirit, looking to Him who is the Light itself for illumination, to derive from its sacred pages whatever is most suitable to our spiritual states, and most conducive to our eternal welfare.



1



COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW p. 2        CHAPTER 1.

THE Old Testament begins with "the generations of the heavens and the earth," and the New Testament begins with "the generation" of him by whom the heavens and the earth were created. In the Incarnation the Creator took upon himself by birth that nature which had originally derived its birth from him. He by whom man was made, was himself made man. God assumed man's nature to effect what man was designed but had failed to accomplish. As the world came from God, it was designed to return to him again, and to return through man, for whose sake it was created, and in whose spiritual and eternal happiness alone the purpose of its creation would be realized. God could have no other end in view in creating the world - the universe itself - than to form from the human race, a heaven of immortal beings, to whom, he might impart a measure of his own infinite blessedness, and in whose ever-increasing numbers and perfection he might behold a not unworthy image of his own immensity and glory. The fall of man threatened the frustration of this beneficent end. The catastrophe could only be averted and the breach repaired by God becoming man, and in the humanity he assumed, restoring what man had lost in himself In the Lord's humanity at the ascension creation returned to him from whom it originally came. The link, in the chain of connection between the Creator and his creature was more than supplied by man's Restorer. By his Divine Humanity God has connected his creation in this and all other worlds with himself; and by a new and living way, which he has consecrated through the veil, that is to say, his flesh, man has for ever access to him, and he to man.

The Incarnation was thus the beginning of a new creation. Jesus is therefore called the Beginning of the creation of God; the Firstborn of every creature. He is the beginning of that new and spiritual creation which is to consist of those who become "new creatures," he is the first-begotten and the head of that new generation which is to consist of those who are "born again" of him. The Lord has become the second Adam, the Father of a new and endless race of regenerate beings. In him what was God's imperfect image has become man's perfect Exemplar.

It is, in fact, this spiritual creation which the Genesis of the Word describes - a creation which made primeval man a spiritual image and likeness of his Maker. This image of the Divine properly constitutes humanity, for we are truly human only so far as we are images of God as to his moral perfections. It was this image that was lost by the fall, and which the Creator came to restore by the Incarnation, - that transcendently glorious event which forms the theme of the Gospel of peace, the beginning of which announces the birth of the Saviour, - the glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

1-17. The book of the generation of Jesus Christ comprehends in it much more than all enumeration of his natural progenitors; and its purpose is much higher than to establish the historical fact that he was the son of David, the son of Abraham. It is not our purpose to enter into a consideration of its literal sense, nor to attempt to clear up its historical difficulties. These will be found treated, in many instances with care and ability, in commentaries devoted to the elucidation of the literal sense, of which we may particularize The Critical English Testament. We have no doubt of the truth and consistency of the sacred writers, and are convinced that a defective knowledge of the times and circumstances in which the genealogies of Matthew and Luke were produced, is the sole cause of their apparent discrepancies and inconsistencies. Some of these we shall have occasion to allude to in treating of their spiritual signification.

The Lord's genealogy has far higher claims on our attention than as a record of his natural descent. It is an inspired revelation for conveying to us divine and holy truths relating to the great mystery of the Lord's incarnation and glorification, and, in a secondary sense, to our own regeneration. In heaven, where the natural sense of the Word does not exist, but where the Word is written in purely spiritual language, and is understood in a purely spiritual sense, every name in this table must be substituted by a purely spiritual truth, conveying to the minds of angels a distinct and luminous idea. In the natural world, where our views of divine and spiritual things are necessarily much more general, and therefore much more obscure, we must rest satisfied with a few leading ideas on such subjects as the present, where a long array of names is presented before us.

In the spiritual sense of Scripture natural signify spiritual births, and natural mean spiritual generations. Between the natural and the Spiritual there is an exact analogy. There is a common perception of this. We all ascribe conception and birth to the mind as well as to the body. Affections and thoughts are as truly the offspring of the will and understanding as sons and daughters are of human pairs; and there are successive generations of the one as well as of the other. These are the births and generations to which the internal sense of the Word relates. The Lord's genealogy treats of the successive conception and birth in him of divine affections and thoughts or, what is the same, of divine goods and truths. It was by the successive birth of the Divine in the human that the human became at length divine. This glorification of the Lord may be illustrated by the regeneration of man, in which it may be seen as in its image. The regeneration of man begins at his birth, and continues to the end of life, and indeed, goes on to eternity. The Lord's glorification commenced at his birth, and was only completed at his resurrection and ascension. Let us endeavour to trace the greater in the less.

The earlier period of human life is employed by the Lord in effecting in the mind a spiritual work preparatory to regeneration, and without which actual regeneration in adult age would be impossible as a virtuous and intelligent manhood would be without the educational stages of infancy, childhood, and youth. This work consists in implanting the germs of principles and forming the rudiments of states that are to constitute the new life in the regenerate soul. These are spiritually meant in the Word by the remnant which is saved, and through which there is salvation (Isa. x. 20; i. 9). As a remnant of holy persons must be left in every expiring church to form the nucleus of a new one (Rom. ix. 27; xi. 5); so must a remnant of holy principles be preserved in the mind of every child of fallen man, to form the initiament of the new or regenerate state which is the church or kingdom of the Lord in him. "Remains are truths and goods stored up by the Lord in man's interiors; by which he is prepared and initiated to receive the influx of good and truth from the Lord, and thus to become regenerated." That man may acquire these remains, he is "from first infancy to first boyhood introduced by the Lord into heaven, and indeed amongst the celestial angels, by whom he is kept in a state of innocence. When the age of boyhood commences, he by degrees puts off the state of innocence, but still is kept in a state of mutual charity towards his like, a state which continues in some instances to youth: he is then amongst spiritual angels. But as he has not yet acquired truths, the good things of innocence and charity which he had received in those two states have not yet been qualified, for truth gives quality to good, and good gives essence to truth, on which account he is from this age imbued with truths by instruction, and especially by his own thoughts and consequent confirmations." He is then amongst angels of the ultimate heaven. Thus "good things of a threefold kind are signified by remains, the good things of infancy, the good things of ignorance, and the good things of intelligence. The good things of infancy are insinuated into man from his first nativity to the age in which he begins to be instructed and to know something; the good things of ignorance are what are insinuated when be begins to be instructed and to know something; the good things of intelligence are what are insinuated when he is capable of reflecting on what is good and true. The good of infancy is insinuated from infancy to the tenth year; the good of ignorance from the tenth to the twentieth year; from this year man begins to become rational, and to have the faculty of reflecting on good and truth, and to procure for himself the good of intelligence."

As the human being descends through all the heavens, he thereby acquires the faculty of "ascending up where he was before," to become an inhabitant of that particular heaven for which he prepares himself by actual regeneration. He thereby also acquires the germs of those principals and the rudiments of those states which constitute the kingdom of the Lord in the human soul. While amongst the celestial angels he acquires the germ of the celestial principle, which is love to the Lord; while amongst the spiritual angels he acquires the germ of the spiritual principle, which is love to the neighbor; and while amongst the angels of the ultimate heaven he acquires the germ of the natural principle, which is use, as an intelligent manifestation of love and charity.

The germination of the seeds thus sown in the mind forms the commencement of regeneration, their growth its progress, and their fructification its completion. As seeds may lie for a long period in the bosom of the earth without their vitality being destroyed; so may the seeds of heavenly principles remain long undeveloped in the mind, yet preserved by divine goodness for future use. And as seeds sown in the earth begin to germinate whenever they come under the influence of the vernal sun, so do the seeds of the kingdom, whenever they come under the influence of the Sun of Righteousness, which is the case when man, like the earth in spring, turns himself to the source of his life and the author of his salvation, to receive into his heart the rays of divine love and light. Divine mercy and grace have left nothing undone which may provide for this blessed consummation. They have from the first moment of the soul's existence been engaged in making all things ready, that man may, when he arrives at adult age, enter into the heavenly marriage.

As in all things it behoved Jesus to be made like unto his brethren - as the end for which the Lord was manifested in the flesh, required that he should be glorified by the same process as that by which man is regenerated - he had, from infancy, to pass through all the states of preparation common to his rational creatures. He had to be initiated into all human states and to make all human acquisitions; and only differed from others in having acquired and made them in greater fulness and perfection. "He increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man." Even in this we see the "goods of a threefold kind" acquired, as remains, by him as by others. The remains which he acquired were, however, pure goods and truths from the Word, and were in themselves divine, - divine-celestial, divine-spiritual, and divine-natural.

To describe this representatively, the Lord's progenitors are divided into three groups of fourteen generations each. All the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations. The generations from Abraham are celestial remains, those from David are spiritual remains and those from the carrying away into Babylon are natural remains. These are divided into three groups of fourteen generations each, to signify that the remains which they represented are most holy; for seven is a number which signifies what is holy, and fourteen, which is twice seven, signifies what is most holy. The Evangelist says all the generations of each of the three groups are fourteen generations; yet it is well known that several persons are omitted from this list, and in it David is numbered twice. Some commentators are of opinion that the compression of the Lord's progenitors into three times fourteen generations is only a contrivance of Matthew's for the sake of assisting the memory.

What then becomes of his inspiration, and of the divinity of the book? Is it not rather in evidence - and a very striking one - that the mere literal form of the Scriptures is determined by a higher law than literal accuracy, and that the literal sense is sometimes made to yield to it, for the purpose of embodying and expressing a spiritual truth? Although it is not literally true that all the generations in each series were fourteen, it is spiritually true that all the remains, of every class, stored in the mind of Jesus, were most holy and most perfect; and three times fourteen were required to express this important truth.

It is to be observed that in the first series of this genealogy the actual and the formal numbers are the same, from Abraham to David being actually fourteen generations; in the other two series they are different. This no doubt points to a corresponding fact in regard to the regenerate. Only in celestial things, and in the celestial man, is there an exact correspondence between the essential and the formal, or between the internal and the external. This was true even of the Lord himself before he was fully glorified, and especially during that period and in that state to which the genealogy of Matthew relates. He acquired not only real, but also apparent truths; but these, as such, could not be appropriated as remains, and were therefore passed by, as some persons were omitted in the genealogy. What was holy was extracted from the entire series, as the three times fourteen were taken out of the whole of the Lord's progenitors. The genuine truths contained in the apparent truths were, however preserved, and were brought forth in the process of glorification, as persons, omitted by Matthew re-appear in the genealogy of Luke.

It was on account of the divine work of acquiring remains that Jesus did not enter on his public ministry till he was thirty years of age. For "by thirty is signified a full state of remains; and since man cannot be regenerated, that is, admitted into spiritual combats by which regeneration is effected, until he has received remains to the full, it was ordained that the Levite should not perform work in the sanctuary until he had completed thirty years. From these considerations it is also evident why the Lord did not manifest himself until he was thirty years of age, for he was then in the fulness of remains; but the remains which the Lord had he procured to himself, and they were divine, by which he united the human essence to the divine, and made it divine."

Such is the momentous truth contained in the Lord's genealogy. That it was intended to teach some higher truth than that which is assigned to it in the letter, may appear from the fact that it does not really prove Jesus to be the descendant of those whose names are given as his progenitors, since the genealogy is not traced in the line of Mary, whose son, according to the flesh, he was, but in the line of Joseph, whose son he was not. But there is a spiritual reason for his genealogy being traced in the line of the husband of Mary. Genealogies were traced in the male line because the male represents the intellect and the truth which belongs to it, while the female represents the will and the good which it contains. And all spiritual distinctions, and therefore all spiritual generations, owe their existence to the intellect and to truth. Good in itself is one and the same; truths are many and various. Discriminations and distinctions, degrees and series, thus individualities and generations, in one Word, are multiplications, are effected by truth. It is the intellectual principle of the church that produces them. Joseph, the husband of Mary, represented that principle; and therefore, though he was not actually the father of Jesus, the genealogy of the Lord is traced through his line, to express spiritually what was true of the principle he represented.

There is one particular expression which occurs in this genealogy that is deserving of attention, as hearing on the present subject. It is not said of the persons of the genealogy that they were born, but that they were begotten. Their birth of course is understood; but the language of inspiration is in itself significative, and the literal expression is often important, as forming the basis of the spiritual sense. Now the implanting of remains in the mind is rather a begetting than a birth, rather an insemination than a growth and fructification. Strictly speaking and spiritually understood, birth is the bringing of the principles previously received in the mind into the outward life. It is only then that they truly exist; for no spiritual principle has actual and permanent existence till it is "born into the world" in the actions of a holy life. The remains that are laid up in the mind are therefore goods and truths "begotten" and "conceived," to be afterwards "brought forth" by actual regeneration.

It may not be irrelevant or uninteresting to notice here, and briefly consider in its relation to that of Matthew, the genealogy of the Lord as given by Luke. These differ on three main points. Matthew traces the Lord's genealogy downward, while Luke traces it upward; Matthew traces it down only from Abraham to Jesus, while Luke traces it up from Jesus to Adam, and even to God: the genealogies differ from each other.

As to the first point. The glorification of the Lord, like the regeneration of man, had both a downward and an upward progression. From infancy to manhood the progression with everyone is downward. As we have seen, there is first the celestial state, then the spiritual, and lastly the natural - that is, celestial remains are implanted and the rudiment of the celestial state is formed first, and the others follow in succession. But when, in manhood, actual regeneration commences, the progression is upward, from natural to spiritual, from spiritual to celestial. By actual regeneration the previously existing rudimentary states are developed in the inverse order to that in which they were formed. This twofold order is described in the two genealogies. The genealogy of Matthew describes the downward progression from the higher to the lower: that of Luke describes the upward progression from the lower to the higher, and even to the highest. This last is especially applicable to the Lord, to whose glorification the genealogies eminently refer.

As to the second point. Matthew begin his descending series of the Lord's progenitors with Abraham; but Luke ends his ascending series with Adam, and finally with God. There is a profound truth in this. Remains, so far at least as they come to human consciousness, are implanted in the natural mind, though in its inmost part - "in the interiors of the interior natural principle." The implanting and laying up of remains in the natural or ultimate degree of the mind is treated of in the genealogy of Matthew.

There are reasons for this. One reason is, that the natural mind is the seat of hereditary evil, by which it is entirely possessed; and unless the remains of goodness and truth were stored up in fulness here, reformation would be impossible. Another reason is, that the natural mind is the ultimate and the common basis of the two higher degrees, the spiritual and the celestial; and it is only as the lowest degree of the mind is regenerated that the higher degrees can be opened and perfected. In order that it may be such an ultimate and basis, the natural mind itself consists of three degrees; and this is according to the law of order, that all successive degrees exist simultaneously in the lowest degree. As the natural mind consists of three degrees, so do the remains of goodness and truth, of which it is receptive. Every good and truth that comes from God to man descends through all the heavens, and consequently through all the corresponding degrees of the human mind; and in the natural mind all the successive degrees of good and truth exist simultaneously, as in the Word all the higher degrees of revealed truth are contained in and rest on its literal sense.

Now the natural mind, or degree of the mind, was represented by that dispensation of the church which commenced with Abraham. For, viewing all the dispensations of the church which have existed in this world as different manifestation of the one universal church, the most ancient was celestial, the ancient was spiritual, and the Israelitish was natural; and this dispensation commenced with the call of Abraham. But in the genealogy this dispensation is itself divided into three periods, which we have called celestial, spiritual, and natural, because the natural mind, being the ultimate and common basis of the higher degrees, consists itself of three degrees.

In the early period of life, during which remains are being stored up in the natural mind, the higher degrees of the spiritual mind are yet unopened and undeveloped. And as these higher degrees correspond to the ancient and most ancient dispensations of the church, the genealogy of Matthew, which describes the storing up of remains in the natural mind, begins with Abraham. But as in the upward and inward progress of actual regeneration, not only the natural but the spiritual and celestial degrees of the mind are opened and perfected, the genealogy of Luke, which describes this upward progression, goes up not only to Abraham, but to Noah and to Adam, and finally to God, as the origin of all. In relation to the Lord, this is most significant; for the Lord's humanity was made not only spiritual and celestial, but divine. He came from God, and went to God. He ascended up where he was before, far above all heavens, into the light that no man can approach unto. In a word, the Lord took man's nature upon him by birth of a human mother, and made that humanity divine.

The third point relating to the genealogies is, that they differ from each other. We have already alluded to the fact that some names are omitted in Matthew which are given in Luke. That which we here speak of is a difference of another kind. From David to Joseph, the two evangelists trace the Lord's genealogy in two different lines; and one calls Joseph the son of Jacob, while the other calls him the son of Heli. This difference is accounted for in this way: - By the Mosaic law, when a husband died without issue, his nearest kinsman was required to marry his widow, to raise up seed to his brother. If, for instance, the mother of Joseph was in this way twice married, the first husband would be his legal father, and the second his actual father; and the name of the legal father might be given in one genealogy, and the name of the actual father in the other. This difference might therefore alter the entire line from David downwards.

Even this part of the Mosaic law was fulfilled, or ultimated, in the case of the Lord himself. He had a legal and an actual father. His legal father was Joseph, and his actual father was God. His genealogy is also traced in the line of his legal father, which is entirely consistent with the Jewish practice, and was no doubt required for the sake of the literal sense of the word, as the basis of a spiritual meaning.

The spiritual sense is that which chiefly concerns us; and the different lines in which the genealogies of the Lord are partly traced, when understood spiritually, as descriptive of regeneration and glorification, teach us that the downward differs from the upward progression. In the progress of the new life the regenerate man returns not by the way he went. This, at least, is the case in the more external part of his spiritual progress. His first obedience is from truth, his second is from good; his first is from doctrine, his second is from love. There is in the regenerate life an inversion of state; but while the second state, like the second progression, is the inverse of the first, its character is different. The circle of regeneration returns into itself; but it returns neither by precisely the same line, nor to precisely the same point. True as this is of man, it was still more true of the Lord. Although he was glorified as man is regenerated, his glorification infinitely transcended the highest degree of regeneration to which any and every finite being can attain. Between his states of humiliation and his states of glorification there was also a much greater difference than between the corresponding states of man; and in states of humiliation we include every state which is preparatory, for every such state is comparatively one of servitude or pupillage, and looks to a higher as its end. The lord, as a son, learned obedience by the things which he suffered. Made of woman under the law, in his first states he obeyed the law as one under subjection to it; but in his second and ascending states he acted by the law, and not from it, except from it as the law of eternal righteousness and order, which, as the Word, he in himself was, and which he became as to the humanity he assumed and glorified, for the redemption and salvation of the human race. This greatest of all events, the manifestation of God in the flesh, by birth of a human mother, comes now to be considered.

18, 19. Now the birth of Jesus was on this wise &c. If when Moses approached the burning bush he was admonished by the Lord out of the midst of it to put off his shoes from off his feet, for the place whereon he stood was holy ground, so does the voice of God call on us to remove every carnal feeling and unworthy thought when we approach the subject of the miraculous conception; for here, indeed, we stand on holiest ground. We may well go aside, and must indeed go aside, out of the ordinary course of nature, to see this great sight, the antitype of the burning bush, - how Divine Love, in its ardour for the salvation of man, could be manifested in frail human nature without consuming it, and out of the midst of that lowly tabernacle could proclaim redemption to a captive race. This great event should be contemplated with the profoundest reverence. By none other could redemption be effected, but by One who was the offspring of a divine Father and of a human mother. So the evangelist is careful to record the divine paternity of the child Jesus. And not only was the incarnation of Jehovah necessary for redemption, but faith in Jesus as Jehovah is necessary for salvation. The Lord works his salvation in us through our faith in him as the divine-human Saviour.

By leadings of Divine Providence Mary had been espoused to Joseph. Whatever may have been the immediate purpose of this providential arrangement, there were no doubt spiritual reasons both for the betrothal of Mary to Joseph and for Joseph being legally recognized as the father of Jesus, as well as for the Lord's descent being traced through his line, which all admit it is in one of the genealogies at least.

Mary, the "highly favoured among women," represented the church. Joseph shared with her in this representation. Considered as husband and wife, Mary represented the church as to good, and Joseph the church as to truth. They were not, however, married but espoused. And espousals or betrothings represent the conjunction of good and truth in the internal man, whilst marriage represents their conjunction in the external man also. But there was something peculiar in the connection of Mary and Joseph in relation to Jesus. They stood not in the ordinary connection of husband and wife, so far as respected him. It was before they came together that Mary was found with child of the Holy Ghost. The relation of Joseph to Mary, in reference to the child Jesus, was like that of the dispensation to the church. By the church we mean the spiritual principles that constitute vital religion in the soul and by the dispensation we mean the ecclesiastical form which these principles assume externally in the world. The church is one; dispensations are various. The one indivisible church has been embodied in several dispensations, differing widely from each other. There have existed in this world the Adamic, the Noetic, the Israelitish, and the Christian dispensations. Each of these was the outward visible form of the one invisible church, and was so far a church as the church was within it. While dispensations pass away, the church remains. Were the church to expire with the dispensation, there would be an end of religion, and universal ruin would ensue. Divine mercy provides that some remnant of the church shall be saved; and from this a new beginning is made. This remnant of the vital element of religion is the church - the "woman" to whom the promise was originally given, that her seed should bruise the serpent's head. This living principle, preserved in and descending through all the ages, was represented by the Virgin, the second Eve, whose seed was to bruise the serpent's head. In relation to this vital principle, which constitutes the church, and of which the Virgin Mary was the symbol, Joseph represented the outward dispensation with which it was connected. Hitherto the church had been representative; now it was to be actual. Hitherto the church had only been a virgin, a bride; now she was to become also a wife. Mary, as the bride of Joseph, represented that condition of the church. No true and completed marriage could exist between the Lord and the Church, nor between good and truth in the human mind, until the Lord had effected the marriage of divine good and truth in his humanity, and thence the union of the Divine and the human in his own person. Since the time of the Incarnation the church is both the Bride and Wife of the Lamb. In Joseph's espousals with Mary, and his guardianship of her and of her infant son, we see a beautiful type of the connection of the old dispensation with the new church, while her doctrine is yet in its infancy. We therefore hear little of Joseph after the early life of Jesus. He passes away from the scene unnoticed. And as if to show that the old dispensation had completed its appointed use in succouring the young church with her "man-child" and that the time had come when the church should be placed under another and higher guardianship, the Lord on the cross assigned Mary to the care of the beloved Apostle John, "and from that hour that disciple took her to his own house." John was not, indeed, to be unto Mary as a husband, but as a son. For when Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple standing by whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, "Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother." Beautiful is this display of tenderness, in the hour of his agony, by the Lord towards his mother, Mary! But while it affords a great example, it has a high and holy significance. John represented the good of charity - that grace by which the Christian church is to be characterized. When the Lord consigned Mary to the care of John, he instructed all succeeding ages, through a symbolical act, that where the good of charity is, there is his living church. And although Mary was consigned to the care of John as a mother to her son, John thus representing the Lord rather than Joseph, yet he supplied the place of both, since he afforded Mary that home and protection which she had enjoyed as the wife of Joseph and as the mother of Jesus. We need not say how lovingly and tenderly the beloved disciple must have fulfilled the sacred charge he had received from his dying Saviour, and how beautiful a type his household must have presented of the church, when she has found her dwelling-place in love to the Lord, as manifested in charity to man.

This is the internal historical sense. We now come to the strictly spiritual meaning. We have already spoken of the conception as a divine and holy event, having for its object the redemption of the world. We now speak of it as it is realized in the experience of those to whom the Lord comes as a Saviour. Jesus, as the supreme good and truth, is still conceived in the heart of every regenerate one; and this is the beginning of the new life. And the same law presides over the less as over the greater. Every living spiritual principle that is begotten in the soul has a divine Father and a human mother: it has its soul from God as a Father, and its body from the church as a mother. The soul of life, which is love, comes from God; the body of truth, by which that soul is clothed, is derived from the church. And this body, which the church provides as a covering for the heaven-derived soul, is at first, like the Lord's maternal humanity, frail and imperfect, and subject to trial, suffering, and death. The Saviour begotten and born in us still goes through the trials and temptations of the personal Christ, and must die in us, and in us rise again, before regeneration is completed. And that in the Lord which was tempted and which suffered is that which is tempted and which suffers in us. Truth was that in the Lord which was tempted; not truth in its divine state, but truth finited by reception in finite minds, as in Jesus divinity was clothed with finite and imperfect humanity. This was the SON OF MAN, the name always given to the Lord in the gospels when his temptations and sufferings are spoken of. Good in him was above all temptation: and this was the Holy Thing, the SON OF GOD, or that in him which he inherited from the Father. So with us. The truth which we derive from the church as our spiritual mother, as we at first comprehend it, is external and imperfect, and therefore open to assault, and even subject to death, and must die to make way for the rising into life of that which has been conceived in us by our Father in heaven. In this individual and practical sense, the woman - the virgin - is love in the heart, and her seed - her son - is faith; and it is faith derived from love that crushes in us the dominion of evil, which is the head of the serpent.

19. But the living principle begotten in the heart is not at first acknowledged by the understanding, nor is it intellectually accepted till after doubt and temptation. These are the trials of Joseph. Mary's conception was Joseph's temptation. When he became aware that his betrothed was with child, he resolved to put her away, and the only favour he intended to show to his supposed unfaithful bride was to do it privily. How wonderful are the ways of the Most High! She who carried in her womb the future Messiah, the Holy Thing, the Saviour of the world, is exposed to the suspicion, even by her betrothed husband, of being an adulteress, and is in danger of being sent forth into the world with the brand upon her forehead of the deepest infamy that can fall to the lot of woman! But such are the ways of God's dealing with his children whom he loves he rebukes and chastens. His truth begotten in them exposes them to chastisement. It brings into manifestation their deep hereditary corruptions, from which suspicion springs, and conflict is the only means by which they can be overcome.

20. But he who permits the trial opens a door of escape. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. Human wisdom may suggest that this message might have been sent, and this assurance given, before the dark suspicion had clouded the mind of the just and seemingly injured Joseph, and saved him all the perplexity and mental agony he endured. But here we have another instance of God's way of dealing with his creatures. He sees not as man sees, and therefore acts not always as man would act. He knows the times and the seasons when suffering should be permitted and when relief should come. He suffers us to be tempted, because he knows the necessity and use of temptation; but he suffers us not to be tempted above that we are able to bear, and with the trial he provides a way of escape. The door - not of hope, but of assurance - was opened to Joseph, and will be opened in the heaviest trials to every "just man."

The assurance came to him in sleep - was embodied in a dream; and that dream was inspired by an angel, who appeared to him in it, and conveyed to him a message of peace from the God of consolation. That which comes in a dream is spiritually that which enters the mind not in the clear light of direct perception, but in the dim twilight of indirect apprehension an obscure state. The angel salutes him as a son of David. David represented the Lord as to divine truth, and a son of David is one who is born of the Lord's truth - that is, one who is born of the good of truth, by doing what truth teaches him to do. And this did Joseph. The angel tells him to fear not to take unto him Mary his wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. This is just what the understanding, from its natural side, when the world acts upon it, rebels against; but when the Lord enters the mind by an internal way, through heaven, and acts upon it, then, from its spiritual side, it sees and acknowledges that which the Spirit of God produces in the heart.

21. The angel further instructs Joseph that Mary, who had thus conceived, shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save, his people from their sins. Conception is the reception of a principle in the mind, and birth is the bringing forth of that principle into the life. When brought forth into the life it first exists actually. When Mary brought forth her first-born son, Joseph was to name him. The function of the understanding is to know and acknowledge, and also to give a quality to that which belongs to the will - and all this is implied in giving a name. Adam gave names to all creatures, spiritually to teach us that man in his primeval state knew, as man in a regenerate state knows, the quality of all his own affections. The church gives the Lord his name when she sees and acknowledges him in his true character, and embodies the truth as it is in Jesus, not only in true doctrine, but in a holy life. Yet the name, as well as the instructions on whom be was to bestow it, came from heaven. That name was JESUS - the highest, the holiest, the most beloved name that angels can pronounce or men can utter. And the reason for calling the child by this name, as it was proclaimed in heaven, is worthy of being echoed upon earth - "for he shall save his people from their sins." The name expresses the purpose and the work on the part of God, and the deliverance to be experienced on the part of man. Sin is the curse, the root of all disorder and misery both in this world and in the next. What deliverance can compare with this? Deliverance from sin, not merely from the guilt or the punishment of sin, but from sin itself, is that which is promised. And, indeed, what else could be promised? How is it possible that guilt and suffering can be severed from sin? The supposed possibility arises from the notion that sin is from ourselves, and its punishment is from God, and that if God will but remit the punishment, the sinner will be safe. But God is not the author of punishment. The punishment of sin is in the sin itself, and flows from it as an effect from its cause, as bitter waters from a bitter fountain. There is no salvation, therefore, but salvation from sin. If the remission of punishment had been all that was required, there would have been no need for the Lord to have come into the world, for he is infinite in mercy, and desires the happiness of all his creatures, even of those who are in hell. Nor is there any obstacle arising from his attribute of justice. The theological scheme of God finding out a way of reconciling his mercy and his justice, by laying the guilt and the punishment of sin on Jesus as a substitute for sinners, is merely an ingenious device of school logic for solving a difficulty of man's own creating. The divine attributes, of mercy and justice can never be at variance. And if they were, they never could be reconciled by any such artificial means as that which human wisdom has proposed. How can God satisfy his justice by that which is in itself unjust? But supposing the demands of justice were set aside, infinite mercy could not save sinners from misery without saving them from sin. This salvation was the purpose of God's coming into the world, and the incarnation was the only means by which he could effect it.

The angel limits this salvation to the people of the Lord. In one sense, all people are included in this promise, in accordance with the words of the angels to the shepherds, who proclaimed tidings of great joy which should be to all people. But the Lord's people, in a restricted, or in the internal sense, are the spiritual, as distinguished from the celestial, who are meant by nations. And the Lord came to save the spiritual, or those who had fallen from the celestial state, in which man was created. We become the Lord's saved people when we receive him as the Truth and Good of spiritual life; or, he is Jesus, our Saviour, and we are his people, saved from our sins, when we receive his love in his truth. For Jesus is the Lord's name as Love itself, as Christ is his name as the Truth itself; and his people are those who receive his love by his truth. Truth itself does not save, but the reception of the Lord's love in his truth saves. In brief, those who are in the knowledge of his truth are his people, and when these receive his love they are saved from their sins.

22, 23. We are told that all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. This famous prophecy received its accomplishment in the Lord's being born of a virgin mother. There is nothing said in the prophecy of the virgin being overshadowed by the power of the Highest, but the divine agency is implied in the fact of a virgin conceiving and giving birth to a son. The fact itself is all-important. Without it there could have been no redemption. A mere man could not have redeemed the world. And it is to be considered that Jesus, even as to his humanity, was, by conception, entirely different from any other man. He was not different, as some suppose, by being without hereditary evil, but by inheriting a divine principle from the Divinity, by whom the humanity was begotten. It was by virtue of the humanity being, as to the internal man derived from God, and being divine, that God could be actually and personally manifested in the person of Jesus Christ, and be truly and savingly therein Emmanuel, God with us.

By assuming our nature God came near to us, and so became our Redeemer and Saviour. This nearness is not of space, for in this respect God's presence is ever the same. By incarnation came savingly near to us as fallen human beings, near to our thoughts and affections. This is not identical with the Lord's sensible presence, as in the days of his flesh. His nearness to us was increased, instead of being diminished, by his resurrection and ascension. For by his glorification the Lord became more, instead of less, human; and the human his humanity became, the more perfectly his humanity became, the more intimately present was he, and is he, with his creatures. In his divine humanity he is, intimately and savingly, God with us. Jesus was not actually named Emmanuel, but in Scripture names were given to express the character of those who bore them; and therefore, when prophecy says that Jesus was to be called Emmanuel, it means that he was to be Emmanuel, or God with us. It is a matter of no consequence to us that Jesus was not called by this name, but it is a matter of the greatest consequence to us, and to all men, that he was what the name expresses. The peculiar importance and blessedness of the incarnation consists in it making Jehovah GOD WITH US - not simply God on our side, as some interpret the name, but God present with us in his divine humanity. The name may be understood to express both these meanings.

Literally fulfilled as this prophecy was in the birth of the Lord, it is capable of being spiritually accomplished in every one of us. The virgin is the emblem of the pure affection, in the minds of the faithful, through which the Lord's divine truth can descend and be manifested as their Emmanuel. Love in the heart is that by which the truth is conceived and brought forth. But what in our individual experience are the promise and the fulfilment? Knowledge is promise, life is fulfilment; the states formed in us in early life are prophetic of states to be accomplished in us by regeneration. Hope is promise; possession is fulfilment. In us, indeed, the promise may fail. Many who give early promise of a virtuous and religious manhood never fulfil it. Failure is the result of our own faithlessness. The Lord cannot fail. If we trust in him, and work together with him, he will bring it to pass

24. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, &c. Sleep is a natural state, waking is a spiritual state; sleep is a state of the external man, waking is a state of the internal man. The reason of this signification of sleep is, that when the external man is active, the internal, which is the real man, is as if asleep. When eagerly engaged in the business or pleasures of the world, sensuous affections and thoughts are awake, but the spiritual are asleep. These alternations of state are necessary and useful. Even in our state of spiritual sleep the angel of the Lord is with us, telling us what we should do and we fulfil his commands if, when we are raised from sleep, we do as the instructing angel bids us.

The expression, to rise from sleep, is significative; for to pass from all external to an internal, or from a natural to a spiritual state, is to experience an actual elevation of the thoughts and affections above the things of time and sense, and thus to become awake to the concerns of eternity and the requirements of the spiritual life. Being raised from sleep, Joseph did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him; dismissing his suspicions, he took unto him Mary his wife. In states of temptation, such as Joseph had experienced, truth is as if separate from good; but when the temptation is ended, truth, which has been tempted, and tempted to suspect and reject good, takes that good to itself as its true partner in the heavenly marriage, but enters, not into full conjunction with it till the first-born comes into the world. It is important to consider what, in relation to the Lord, is meant by the first-born. In Jesus as the first-born was realized all that had been represented by the first-born in the representative church of the Israelites. A peculiar sanctity and importance attached to the firstborn, both of man and animals, and even to the first-fruits of the earth. Every first-born son was to be holy unto the Lord, every beast that opened the womb was to be sacrificed to him, and the first-fruits were to be presented to him. All these represented the Lord as the, first-born. But this cannot be merely in reference to Jesus as the son of Mary for he is called the first, as well as the only, begotten of God: "I will make him my first-born (or begotten), higher than the kings of the earth;" and he is "the first-begotten from the dead." We have already indicated that Jesus was the first-born of every creature, as being the first of every creature spiritually born, and the first-fruits of the resurrection from the death which the fall had brought upon the human race. It is similar with him as the first-born son of Mary and of God. In the supreme sense the first-born among the Israelites represented the Lord as to divine love, or essential goodness; the Lord was therefore the first-born in the divine sense when his humanity was fully glorified, and made divine goodness itself. In respect to man, his first-born in the regeneration is the principle of goodness, which, indeed, is first both in the order of time and of rank. "With infants the Lord first infuses the good of innocence, by virtue of which man is man. Innocence is the first-born quality in man; the Lord was the first-born as innocence itself. The innocence of infancy, which is the first, is also the last; for by regeneration man returns into the innocence of his infancy, perfected by knowledge and experience, by which the innocence of ignorance becomes the innocence of wisdom. The good of innocence is therefore twice born; and this was the case with the Lord as well as with man. He was the firstborn of Mary by nativity, and the first-born of God by glorification; in him innocence was the first and the last.

25. The historical fact respecting Joseph and Mary, that he knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born son, contains the spiritual truth, that complete union of the will and understanding is effected, not by the conception, but by the birth of the living principle. They are united in their fruits. Charity and faith are united in good works. Their union is indeed necessary to produce them; but only in good works, and especially in that work meant by the first born is their union complete and permanent.

The infant Saviour born into the world, Joseph called his name Jesus. Luke, in relating this circumstance, adds, "which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb."

The record of in act previously commanded or announced is intended to express effect, and in this all previous ends and efforts are comprehended. Hence, in the naming of the holy child, God and the church in heaven and the church on earth were acting in unison; as the purpose of the Lord's becoming what the name Jesus implied, the Saviour, was to bring all things in heaven and earth into harmonious action with himself.

The Lord's advent into the world, which we have now considered, is one of the loftiest and holiest themes that can engage the attention of man. The birth into the world of one who is to repair the ruin brought upon mankind by the fall, must be regarded as an event of unspeakable importance and transcendent glory. The promise of the Most High, repeated by the prophets in a thousand forms, heightened by the brightest imagery and most glowing descriptions, and the hopes of the faithful cherished through a thousand generations, are at last to be realized. The seed of the woman, who is to bruise the head of the serpent, is now born into the world.

The peculiar condition of the infant Saviour is marvellous in itself, and wonderfully adapted to the purpose for which the Lord is manifested. Man had fallen, and his sins had separated between him and his God. The separation of man from the Supreme Good and Truth had produced darkness, disorder and misery in the world. In the Saviour, begotten of a Divine Father and born of a human mother, the divine and human natures, so long and so completely estranged, are again brought together, and in him they are to be reconciled and united into one, by the divine becoming human and the human divine. The union of the divine and the human in the person of the Lord is the grand central truth of Christianity. The reconciliation of man to God is the purpose of the incarnation, and the aim of Christianity. The reconciliation of the human to the divine is first to be effected in the person of Christ, and this constitutes the great work of At-one-ment. This work of atonement, first accomplished in the person of the Saviour, is the means by which we receive the atonement, and become reconciled to God; for the reconciliation, effected once for all in the person of the Lord himself, may now be effected in us. But this great work of reconciliation or atonement is yet before the infant Saviour. In the first-born son of Mary the union of the divine and human exists only potentially, or in its germ. They are now, indeed, one person, but they have not yet become one essence. Jesus is even now God and man, but he has yet to become God-man. He is divine and human, but he has to become divine-human. He is the first-born of Mary, but he has yet to become the first-born of God. In one word, his humanity, now natural and finite, has to be glorified, and made divine and infinite. The painful process by which this glorification is to be effected is yet to come. The infant, so feeble, is to become a man of war; so peaceful, is to become a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. The wilderness, and Gethsemane, and the cross are still before him. He is to be tempted in all points as we are, yet, unlike us in our temptations, he is to be without sin; he is to pour out his soul unto death, that he may overcome him that has the power of death, and make death the gate of life, not only to himself, but to all who will follow him in the regeneration. Born in human weakness of a frail human mother, he is yet to be declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead. Such is the child born, such is his great work, and such its glorious end. To reconcile us unto himself is the beneficent purpose of his incarnation, the end of his labours, his sufferings, his triumphs. He was born into the world that he might be born in us; he was tempted that he might succour us in our temptations - he died that we might become dead indeed unto sin; he rose that we might rise from the dead, become new creatures, and walk with him in newness of life; and he ascended into heaven that he might elevate us into the mansions he has prepared for us, that where he is, there we may be also. Well may we hail his Coming in the words of the angels' song, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."



2



COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW p. 3               CHAPTER II

1. Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The birth of the Lord in Bethlehem was accidental, yet providential; it took place where it was neither intended nor expected, but where prophecy had fixed it. "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." (Micah v. 2) But the Lord's birth took place in Bethlehem, not merely to fulfil a divine prediction, but to teach a spiritual truth. In Scripture, place signifies state; for the reason that in the spiritual world place is determined by state; so that heaven is a place of happiness because it is the abode of those who are in a state of happiness. To present this truth representatively upon earth, Canaan was chosen as a type of heaven, and every spot in the holy land became the symbol of some particular state or principle that enters into the general state.

This signification of Bethlehem appears from the first circumstance recorded in connection with it. As Jacob journeyed from Bethel to Mamre, to go to his father Isaac, he passed through Ephratah, where Rachel gave birth to Benjamin. This journey signified progression from a less to a more perfect state, Ephratah representing an intermediate state, through which it is necessary to pass from one to the other. In particular, it signified the progression of the external man, who is Jacob, towards union with the internal man, who is Isaac; and Benjamin, who was born in the way, represented the principle which serves as a uniting medium between them. Bethlehem and Benjamin have, therefore, the same general signification. The representative character of Benjamin was exemplified at a later period in his being the medium through whom Joseph and his brethren were reconciled to each other, or rather, through whom the loving and forgiving Joseph reconciled and united his unmerciful brethren to himself. Bethlehem was also the birth-place of David, of whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, and who was a type of the Lord in his regal character, as the Ruler who was to bring all things into harmonious subordination to himself. David therefore uttered the prediction, "I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob. Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood" (Ps. cxxxii. 4-7). The signification, of Bethlehem is further indicated by its situation. It was in the land of Judah, but on the border where it was connected with the land of Benjamin; and as Judah and Benjamin, when they formed the kingdom of Judah, represented the internal and external of the celestial church, and of the celestial man, Bethlehem signified the uniting medium between them. As a uniting medium, Bethlehem represented, in an exalted sense, the written Word, as the medium for uniting God and man. And the Word being the store-house of the bread of heaven, which feeds the soul.

Everything, therefore, conspired to make Bethlehem the appropriate birth-place of the Saviour, with whom all that was historical was also representative. Jesus was born in Bethlehem to represent that he was the Word made flesh, the Mediator between God and man, the true Bread that came down from heaven, to give life unto the world. The human nature which the Divine assumed and glorified in the world is the very form of God, the medium through which he reconciles his rebellious children to himself, the fountain from which he imparts to them of his love, which is life.

Understood in reference to the Lord, there is a deep significance in the name of his birth-place being changed from Ephratah to Bethlehem, and in the name of Rachel's son, born there, being changed from Benoni to Benjamin. Bethlehem (the house of bread) is spiritually distinguished from Ephratah (fruitful) in this, that bread is more expressive of the divine good ,as it is in the Lord's humanity, adequate to the wants and accommodated to the reception of fallen man. The change of name in the case of Benjamin, as a type of the Lord, is not less significant. The name Benoni (Son of my sorrow), given him by his mother, is expressive of the state of humiliation to the Lord as the son of Mary, for it was in respect to the maternal humanity that he was the man of sorrows; while the name Benjamin (son of my right hand), given him by his father, is expressive of the Lord's state of exaltation, which belongs to him as the Son of God, or to the divine humanity, which exaltation is expressed in the gospel by the Son sitting at the right hand of the Father.

While Bethlehem represented the Lord's humanity as the great medium of communion and conjunction between God and man, it signified in a more particular sense that which served as a medium for uniting the divine and the human in the person of the Lord himself. The Lord inherited by birth the principle and power by which that union was effected. In this respect he differed from all other men.

"All men whatsoever are born natural, with the ability to become spiritual or celestial, but the Lord alone was born spiritual-celestial. From his birth he had a propensity to good and a desire for truth, every other man being naturally inclined to evil and falsity." The reason of this is obvious; every man derives his ruling love from his father, and this in fallen humanity is nothing but evil. But the Lord had not a human but a divine Father; and therefore he had those inclinations in favour of good and truth of which all others are naturally destitute. The Lord alone was thus the true Bethlehemite.

While the Lord was born in the town of Bethlehem, he was born in the days of Herod the king. He who was born King of the Jews was born in the days of one who disputed his claim to that title, and endeavoured by the most diabolical means to prevent his making his way to the throne. How fitting an agent was this cruel and unscrupulous king of the power of hell, whose dominion was threatened by the coming of the Lord! How natural a symbol of the powers of the church and the world, that had made a covenant with death, and with hell were at agreement! (Isa. xxviii. 15.)

The days of the wicked Herod represented the states of the Jews at the time the Lord was born. The Lord had come to restore the government of truth and righteousness in the earth, and it is evident how much the world stood in need of his interference. He had come as a Lamb in the midst of wolves, as innocence in the midst of the foulest corruption, and it is not surprising that his infancy was one of danger and his life one of persecution.

In those days there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem. The visit of these Orientals is a very interesting feature in the history of our Lord's birth into the world. It shows that a knowledge of ancient prophecy respecting the coming of the Messiah had been preserved in regions distant from the land of Israel. We need not suppose that these wise ones among the nations had derived all their knowledge of the Lord's coming from the Jews, or the Jewish Scriptures. It may, in part, have descended to them from a more, ancient and widely diffused revelation, from which portions of our present Word have been derived, some of the principles and facts of which were embodied in the mythologies of the nations of antiquity, and traces of which are still found in almost every corner of the earth. In the time of that ancient Word, a clearer knowledge of divine truth and of spiritual things prevailed. Men knew the true nature of inspiration, and saw in revelation spiritual truth clothed in natural images as their corresponding and expressive forms. It was some remnant of this knowledge that enabled the wise men to recognize in the newborn star a sign of the birth of the promised Saviour. They knew a star to be a symbol of the knowledge of truth, and eminently of him who is the truth itself. The star, we may infer, was a spiritual object, and their spiritual sight was opened to behold it. It was a star that shone out in the heaven of angels, not in the heaven of men. None on earth, so far as appears from the gospel, beheld it but the magi, whose spiritual discernment enabled them to interpret its meaning.

The wise men among the Gentiles, and the shepherds among the Jews, were the only ones who received any outward intimation of the Saviour's birth, and were the only ones who came to salute the Lord at his coming. The wise men represented those out of the church who possess spiritual intelligence, the shepherds, those within the church who are principled in spiritual charity. The means by which they were directed to the infant Saviour correspond to their different characters and circumstances. The shepherds were directed by the audible voice of the angels, the wise men by the silent language of the star; the one by hearing the other by sight. Both announcements came to them by night, for the day of the church had closed, and the whole world lay in darkness. There is another difference. The angels directed the shepherds to Bethlehem; the star, if it guided the magi at all, led them to Jerusalem. Those within the church receive direct information respecting the Lord, and can go directly to him; those who are without must first be led into the church, to be initiated into its doctrines, before they can come to the Lord and worship him, not in spirit only, but in truth. The wise men had come from the East, which has a high signification. The East, in the highest sense, is an emblem of the Lord, and of love to him; but, as here, of the Lord in his rising, when religious light first dawns in the heart. And to come from the East to Jerusalem is spiritually to advance from the first general perception of divine truth to its distinct and certain knowledge, thence to proceed to the practical attainment of the greatest and highest of all truths - that the Lord is our Saviour.

Were it not that some higher signification is involved in this circumstance, we can hardly suppose but that the star would have led the magi at first, as it did at last, to Bethlehem. According to all human appearance another advantage would have resulted from their being led directly to the Lord's birth-place. The jealousy and wrath of Herod would not have been excited, and the innocents of Bethlehem would have been spared. But here again we must acknowledge the hand of an over-ruling providence; and here again we may see revelation proving its own spirituality.

2. Come to Jerusalem, the magi inquired, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? They did not ask if the Saviour was born; of this they were convinced; they only inquired where he was to be found. This is the first time that the Lord is spoken of in the gospels as a king. The Lord, we have seen, is a king as Divine Truth, which is his regal principle; for by this he rules in his kingdom. But the question of the magi Where? is an Important one even to us. What with them was a question of place, with us is a question of state. This is the moral meaning of where in Scripture; When God called to Adam, and said, Where art thou? it was to demand of fallen man where, morally, his disobedience had placed him. More hopeful is the question respecting him who was born to restore the kingdom of righteousness. It is a question that every one has to ask for himself. As the kingdom of God is within us, so is its king, who must be born within us, that the throne of his dominion may be established in our hearts. If our desire to know where the Lord is born be, that we may come and worship him, we may learn where he is to be found. But there are discouraging effects which this inquiry produce; and its object cannot be attained without tribulation. This knowledge we obtain by the doctrines of the Word, as the magi did through the priests in Jerusalem

3. When Herod heard of the coming of the magi, and of their object, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. In this we see the beginning of the hostility of the Jewish nation to the Lord. The jealousy of Herod was excited, and his wrath was provoked by the remote probability, perhaps the bare possibility, of a rival claimant to his throne. Whether we regard Herod as a sample or a symbol of the people he reigned over, his feelings, like his conduct, are highly significant. They exhibit, we cannot say an awakened conscience, but a sense of guilt, and that indescribable fear which often arises from a too certain but yet hidden cause. But we do not need to look back to the events of eighteen centuries ago to study this problem. We have the ground of this fear in our own hearts, and can trace it in our own experience. In the little world within there is, if we are converted, not only a Bethlehem, but a Jerusalem, and not only the magi and the shepherds, but a Herod and a compliant hierarchy. In our own selfhood there are all the evils and falsities that have ever been exhibited by the worst of men; and if they have not come out in our conduct, they slumber in our hearts, though we may be little aware of their existence till they are aroused by something opposed to their ends and inimical to their rule. But it is for our good that they are excited and in this fact we may see the wisdom of Providence in guiding the wise men to Jerusalem, which troubled Herod and all Connected with him. Indeed, we see in this, as in many other instances in the Word, that the mere presence of good arouses evil, as in the world and in the church, so in the human heart. It is expedient that it should. How else could evil be cast out? It is not enough that we receive good; the good must overcome and disinherit the evil, for without this, good itself would be disinherited, or, what is still worse, corrupted. In this trouble of Herod and all Jerusalem, we have therefore a representation of the trouble our own corrupt selfhood experiences when the day star that ushers in the sun of righteousness has risen in our hearts, and we desire to see the fulness of its glory. The disturbance and excitement both of the evils of the will and of the falses of the understanding is here meant; for evil in the will is meant by Herod, and falses in the understanding by Jerusalem, the people of the city being understood.

4. Herod complied with the wish of the wise men. He gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, and demanded of them where Christ should be born. God makes the wrath of man to praise him. Evil men for selfish ends can perform good uses; of which Herod is an example.

The natural man for natural ends employs sacred agencies and means to compass his evil ends. The chief priests and scribes of the people are the interpreters of the Word, and abstractly the interpretation itself, by which its doctrines are known, especially those relating to the Lord, which the righteous use to promote his glory, and the wicked to advance their own. The wise men call Jesus the King of the Jews, but Herod calls him Christ. This name, "Anointed," is expressive of the Lord as the Truth anointed with the "holy oil" of the Divine love; but when used by the evil, as by Herod, it expresses in their minds the Lord's truth separate from his love, and thus opposed to it.

5. In answer to Herod's demand where Christ should be born, the priests say unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea. We have already seen the meaning of Bethlehem in reference to the Lord himself, who was born there; but it is symbolical of the Lord's birth-place as respects the regenerate. Whether we speak of the birth within us of Jesus, as the object of faith, or the birth of the faith of which Jesus is the object, it amounts to the same; for the Lord dwells in us by faith; nay, in the very truths which we believe, for these are from himself. Bethlehem within us is faith derived from charity, or, what is the same, truth derived from good. The faith which is not of charity, the truth which is not of good, is not yet actual and living. Faith is new born when it first begins to live from charity. This is Bethlehem, where Jesus is born within us as the Saviour of our souls. The Lord has a still more interior habitation within us, to which the star, if it has risen in our hearts, will finally conduct us.

6. The priests cited the prophet, by whom the Lord's birth had been foretold. And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shalt come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. The explanation of this verse has been anticipated, and need not be repeated. But there is a difference between the prediction as it occurs in the prophet and as given by the evangelist, which, as one of several similar divarications, it may not be without interest or instruction to notice. It may be presumed that the difference in such cases is that which exists between a truth in its first reception, and in its complete development. In the present case, in the prophet Bethlehem is said to be little among the thousands of Judah; here it is said to be not the least among its princes. Commentators have remarked that there is no real discrepancy in these two statements, since a place may be little and yet not the least. But it is a poor compliment to an inspired book to be able to say that two different statements are not contradictory: we should be able to see that the difference is instructive, and this, we think, may be seen to be the case in the present instance.
(1.) In the prophet the place of the Lord's birth is called Bethlehem-Ephratah; in the gospel it is called Bethlehem in the land of Juda. Bethlehem and Ephratah are two different names of the same place; they therefore signify the same principle: but Ephratah, as already remarked, signifies the principle in an earlier and less perfect state. In the gospel Ephratah is left out; and instead of Bethlehem-Ephratah we have Bethlehem in Juda. Bethlehem, instead of being joined to a less, is joined to a more perfect name, and therefore describes a more perfect and elevated state. (2.) In the prophet, Bethlehem is said to be one among the thousands of Judah; in the gospel it is said to be one among the princes (or rulers) of Juda. Rulers present the idea of superior principles that govern; thousands, that of inferior principles that are governed. Here again we have a more exalted idea in the gospel than in the prophet. (3.) In the prophet, Bethlehem is called little; in the gospel it is said to be not the least. Little expresses the positive idea of what is small; not the least expresses the comparative idea of what is greater than some others. Altogether, then, the gospel version of the passage seems to exalt the sense of that given in the prophet, as if to express the fact that Jesus had magnified the prophets as well as the law. The prophet adds, that as governor the Lord should rule his people Israel. To rule means also, here as elsewhere, to feed. The Lord's government, of the faithful at least, who are his people Israel, is not only over them but in them. His love and truth rule in their affections and thoughts, which they also feed. He rules as a shepherd, who at once pastures and protects his flock.

7. When Herod had ascertained where Christ should be born, he privily called the wise men, and inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. Place and time both signify state; but place signifies state in relation to good, and time, state in relation to truth. The inquiry of Herod, whose secret object - meant by his privily calling the wise men - was the destruction of the infant Saviour, implies that the ungodly desire the extinction both of the Lord's goodness and truth. Although as regards the Lord himself this is beyond their power, though not beyond their desires, they seek to destroy these principles in themselves and others. And the better to effect this, they endeavour to trace the knowledge of divine things to its beginning, as Herod wished to know when the star first appeared.

8. When the king sent the magi to Bethlehem, he said, Go, and search diligently for the young child, and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and Worship him also. He desired to learn from them where in Bethlehem the infant king was to be found. Particulars which illustrate general truths are communicable only to the good: they are hid from the worldly wise and prudent, who, if they possessed them, would use them to destroy everything good and true, root and branch. By Divine Providence, that which Herod above all things desired to know was hid from him. The magi were led to the spot where the Saviour was, without any of that diligent search which Herod had so earnestly enjoined.

9. When they heard the king they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. The re-appearance of the star at the moment when its encouragement and direction were needed shows that it was not a natural but a supernatural object, sent to conduct them to the very spot where the infant Saviour was.

This star in the heavens symbolizes knowledge respecting the Lord. Its second appearance in an instructive circumstance, considered in relation to its first. The first knowledge is general, the second is particular. Particular, illustrates general knowledge, and guides to the object which we desire and are in search of. The star, when it first appeared, indicated the birth of the Saviour; at its second appearing it conducted them to where the young child was. When the day star first arises in our hearts, its presence is a kind of general dictate; but when it appears to us after instruction, it is an open vision and manifest revelation.

10. No wonder that the magi when they saw the star, rejoiced with exceeding great joy. The internal perception of truth - especially the greatest of all truths that, which relates to the Lord as their Saviour - is a source of the highest and purest joy to the hearts of those who have earnestly desired life, and are eager to pursue the path which leads to it.

11. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother. In speaking (v. 5) of Bethlehem as spiritually meaning the faith of charity, we mentioned that the Lord had a still more interior habitation than that in the regenerate mind. That more interior habitation is charity itself, which is within faith as its soul or vital principle. The faith which is from charity being signified by Bethlehem, the charity which is in faith is signified by the house. Faith is as a city, and charity is as a house within it. The Lord dwells with us in our faith, but our charity is his habitation. It is over here where the star of heavenly knowledge stands, and tells us to enter. Nor is this part of the narrative without an instructive lesson to us. We too must come into the house. The journey of the wise men is a history of our spiritual progress, and the last step not less significant than the rest. We must not only advance from knowledge to faith, but from faith to charity; and we must enter into and be in charity itself, before we can be in the actual presence of the Lord, and worship him as our King and Saviour. Let us see in what his true worship consists.

When the wise men had entered into the house, and saw the young child, they fell down and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts: gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. Before we explain, let us pause to contemplate those pious heathens, from whose conduct we may learn wisdom.

Out of the church, which possessed the oracles of God, and with nothing but the dim light of tradition to guide them, they had yet a sufficient knowledge of, and a strong enough faith in, the promise of the Lord's coming, to give them a perfect reliance on its accomplishment, and to enable them to look forward to it as an event in which they had a deep and personal interest. Their knowledge of the correspondence between natural and spiritual things enabled them at once to recognize in the celestial messenger an announcement of the event for which they were eagerly looking. When the joyful tidings came, with what readiness did they set out in their long and arduous journey, carrying with them the most costly gifts as an offering to the infant King ! And when they found him, not in a splendid palace, surrounded with regal pomp, but in an obscure dwelling, cradled in his mother's arms, they had no misgivings or repugnances, but prostrated themselves in profound homage before him, and presented him their precious gifts, the symbols of a far more precious adoration. How much may we learn from their example! Do they not teach us to love the Lord for his own sake, independent of external considerations? May their conduct not justly lead us to inquire how far our devotion to the Saviour is influenced by the popularity of his cause, the pomp of his service, the dignity and wealth that his name confers? Nations now own his sway, and kings bow down before him. How deserving of honour how worthy of imitation, those who worshipped him when he had neither name nor power! True, our eye is not attracted by a star, nor our ear by a choir of angels; but we have the constant testimony of still more eminent witnesses in the written Word of God, and only require to look and listen, to find ourselves in the presence of messengers proclaiming the same glad tidings, and inviting us to render the same homage to our King and Saviour.

But let us attend to the purely spiritual wisdom which the, incidents teach us. We spiritually fall down before Jesus when we abase our self-hood: we worship him when we exalt his love and truth in our hearts: we open our treasures when we open our hearts in which we have received and in which we have treasured up the riches of the Divine mercy and grace; and we present unto our Saviour gifts when, in humble and grateful acknowledgment, we return to him, as their Donor, the blessings which in his bounty he has bestowed upon us. The gifts offered by the magi were gold, frankincense, and myrrh the offerings of love, faith, and obedience. These are the spiritual treasures which the truly wise in all lands seek after and prize, and which they offer to the Lord in worship - not only in the worship of their lips or in the service of the temple, but in the love of their hearts, and the service of their lives. The man who employs the talents which Divine Providence has bestowed upon him, to promote the glory of God in the happiness of men, offers gifts more precious in the Divine estimation than the incense of oral praise.

12. The wise men no doubt intended to return and give Herod information respecting the young child; but being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. God frequently revealed his will to men in dreams: no doubt for one reason, that in sleep they were more passively recipient of heavenly monitions Hence dreams signify revelations given in an obscure state. The magi were warned not to return to Herod, This would have represented the immersing of what is holy in what is profane, which would have been the destruction of innocence, as it would have enabled Herod to destroy Jesus, The magi therefore departed into their own country another way. This returning by another way is mentioned in another part of the Word. The prophet sent to denounce the altar which had been idolatrously erected by Jeroboam. in Bethel, was commanded not to return by the same way that he came (1 Ki. xiii. 9). This teaches us an interesting and important lesson relating to the regenerate life.

In Scripture a way is the symbol of truth and faith; for truth leads, to good and faith to charity. Now, there is a truth that leads to good and a truth that is derived from good - a faith which leads to charity and a faith which is derived from charity; but the one is essentially different from the other. We have first of all to learn the truth; and the truth teaches us what good is, and how to attain it. This truth, therefore, looks and leads to good as something out of and above itself! But when we have acquired the good which truth had taught us to esteem and strive after, the good enters into the truth, and acts out its beneficent and useful purposes by means of it. Truth is first the pioneer, and then the minister of goodness; so is faith of charity. The way by which we return is another way than that by which we go up. We go up by the way of instruction, and sorrow, and conflict; we return by the way of intelligence, and joy, and triumph. We have seen the king in his beauty; we have worshipped at his footstool, we have presented our gifts; and we depart to our own country by a new way which the Lord himself has commanded.

13. The warning of the wise men in a dream not to return to Herod, was not the only means Divine Providence employed to prevent the evil which the wicked king meditated. When they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph, in a dream saying, A rise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt. The flight into Egypt is one of the many memorable incidents in the Lord's life which have fixed themselves in the imagination as well as in the heart of Christendom, amid the ideal of which Christian poetry and art have done their utmost to embody in images of tenderness and forms of beauty. It is, moreover, an incident which possesses internal evidence of some higher purpose than that which it bears on its front. For why this flight into Egypt to save the holy child from the wrath of an earthly potentate? He who in manhood could have procured for his protection more than twelve legions of angels, which is nothing less than omnipotence, could have been surrounded with such a sphere of protection that the power neither of earth nor of hell could injure him. The flight into Egypt has a spiritual meaning, and one of great interest and importance. The historical event, so prominently set before us in the Old Testament, of Israel going down into Egypt and sojourning there affords the key-note to the meaning of the Lord's flight into that land of Israel's nurture as well as of his deliverance. Israel's deliverance from Egypt is generally admitted to have been typical of the Christian's deliverance from the bondage of sin but seldom is his journey thither thought of as having any reference to Christian experience. Yet the one is as significant is the other. According to that great system of correspondence which mapped out the ancient world, so far as it found a place in sacred history, of which Canaan was the centre and the surrounding countries the circumference, Egypt represented, as it cultivated, science, - not only natural, but spiritual science, - understanding by it the knowledge which comes from without, especially such as is suited to the faculties of a child, or to the mind in the early states of the religious life. Our Lord was carried down to Egypt when a child, to represent his initiation into external knowledge, not merely the knowledge of external things. As the Lord came into the world to save man by first perfecting man's nature in himself, he assumed human nature as it is in other men, that he might pass through all human experience. Like every other man, he was born in ignorance, and had to acquire knowledge in the ordinary way.

It may seem that if the Lord was God manifest in the flesh, he could have no need of human instruction, but must have had all knowledge and wisdom directly imparted to him by the Divinity that dwelt within. We know from the gospel history that this was not the case. The fact, as it was, is consistent with the nature, and was necessary for the purpose, of the Incarnation. The divine was in the human, in the person of Christ, as the soul is in the body in the person of man. The soul does not inspire the body - or rather the external man which includes the body - with knowledge, but only gives him the faculty of acquiring it. Nor does the soul manifest its powers in and through the body, till the body, or rather the external man, is prepared, by growth "in wisdom and in stature," to become a suitable instrument for its use. Reason and liberty are faculties of the soul; but without knowledge, rationality would not be able to judge nor liberty to choose. Knowledge is the body of which reason is the soul; and reason can no more act without knowledge than the soul can act without the body - a natural body in the natural world, a spiritual body in the spiritual. As in all respects the Lord was truly man, so was he in all that may be called learning.

He was therefore carried down into Egypt, that his outward history might represent the progress of his inward life. The conduct of this sacred journey was confided to the faithful Joseph, who was again instructed, in a dream, to arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt. Arising spiritually, is elevation of mind - rising above the things of time and sense; and fleeing is the eager pursuit of the object that is set before us. In this instance it is also fleeing from danger, which the Omniscient saw and his wisdom provided against. The child and his mother are the Lord and the church, whose security is to be provided for. But, in the particular sense the young child is the Lord as essential innocence, and Mary his mother, who is also his nurse, is the affection by which that innocence is nourished, and from which science or knowledge is acquired. When they were sent down to Egypt, they were to remain there till the angel brought Joseph word. For as this instruction in the scientifics of the Church was of divine appointment, so it was to be continued till the Divine Wisdom saw its completion. In fine, this ruling by the angel of all the particulars connected with the journey was designed to instruct us that the process itself, from beginning to end, was wholly under the Divine direction and guidance. A reason is given for the flight, for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. To bruise the serpent's head, he required to have the wisdom of the serpent as well as the harmlessness of the dove, and the strength of the lion as well as the innocence of the lamb. As, then, the Lord when a child was carried down into Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod, so he was initiated into the science of heavenly things as a defence against all his diabolical enemies. Innocence is not a sufficient protection against ingenious wickedness; cunning must be met by wisdom, and wisdom must begin from knowledge.

14. Joseph, in obedience to the heavenly vision, arose, and took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt. This was done by night, to represent both the spiritual night of the church and the mental darkness from which Jesus commenced the journey of his momentous life, that he might advance by degrees from the innocence of ignorance to the innocence of wisdom.

15. And was there until the death of Herod. The death is here mentioned by anticipation. The death of Herod represents, not simply the end of the representation which that king sustained, but the death or removal of the particular evil of which Herod was the type. The prophecy which was fulfilled by the Lord's return from Egypt is also mentioned by anticipation; but as it is not repeated, we may here consider it. Like several other prophetic declarations relating to the Lord, this had had a previous fulfilment. It was fulfilled in the deliverance of Israel. "When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt" (Hos. xi. 1). But Israel and his deliverance were typical, and therefore prophetical; for types are the shadows of coming events. In the supreme or inmost sense of the Holy Word, all historical persons and events were representative of the Lord and of his glorification. Both in his going down into Egypt and in his coming up, Israel represented the Lord and his redeeming work. As the Israelites came up out of Egypt enriched with all its spoils, Jesus enriched his mind with all the wealth of knowledge; and as the Israelites gave their gold and silver to furnish and adorn the tabernacle, the Lord sanctified all knowledge of goodness and truth, by using it to enrich and adorn the temple of his humanity, as the habitation of his eternal Divinity.

16. But while the young child was in Egypt, concealed and secure from the wrath of Herod, a scene was enacted by that remorseless tyrant which has for ever coupled his name with one of the most atrocious deeds that darken the page of history. This was the massacre at Bethlehem. But this inhuman act, though historical, is also representative. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men was exceeding wrath. The evil are never so gratified as when they can make wisdom or goodness subservient to their own diabolical ends, and are never so wrath as when they elude their grasp, and disappoint them of their prey. Wrath in Scripture is expressive of the greatest contrariety of state, and, in relation to the wicked, of the deepest malignity against those whom they believe to mock them. So of Herod. He sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and all the coasts thereof. Infants are the emblems of innocence; but those mentioned here were infant boys, and represented spiritual truths in which there was innocence. The slaughter of the innocents by Herod was a sign that when the Lord came into the world there was not any spiritual truth remaining. Bethlehem, we have seen, signified the Word, and to slay all the children in it and in its coasts, is to destroy all the truths of the Word both internal and external, so far as the knowledge and power of the evil extend; but that knowledge can only be acquired by them from others who are in a state of good, is intimated by its being said, according to the time which he had diligently inquired, of the wise men. The children slain being from two years old and under, means, in the language of inspiration, all the truths of the Word which were in any conjunction with good, of which union the number two is a symbol. Thus in the Jewish church every pure truth was destroyed, and nothing remained to it but the dead, because perverted, letter.

17, 18. The evangelist declares this slaughter to have been a fulfilment of what was written in Jeremiah (xxxi. 15). This reference of the event to that particular passage is very instructive. It shows that even the historical parts of the Old Testament are prophetical, or what is the same thing, typical. The passage in the prophet relates to the carrying away of the children of Judah and Benjamin into Babylon; and Rachel, the mother of Benjamin, is represented as bewailing her sons, when carried away captive. Ramah, too, was a city of Benjamin, being one of those originally given to the Benjamites (Josh. xviii. 25) when the land was divided among the tribes. It was to this place also that Jeremiah was "taken, being bound in chains among all that were carried away captive of Jerusalem and Judah into Babylon" (Jer. xl. 1). It is exceedingly appropriate and affecting historically, to make Rachel weep for the fate of her unhappy descendants and to make the voice of her lamentation come from Ramah. But if the narrative is beautiful historically, much more so is it spiritually. Of the two wives of Jacob, Rachel represented the spiritual, and Leah the natural affection of truth; and Ramah a city of Benjamin represented spiritual truth from a celestial origin. The captivity of Babylon, with the destruction of the temple, and of Jerusalem (2 Kings xxv. 9, 10), typified the consummation of the Jewish church, which took place at the time our Lord came into the world. It is on this account that Matthew applies circumstances connected with the captivity to an event connected with the Lord's incarnation. Well, therefore, might Rachel weep; for the spiritual affection of truth was indeed bereaved of her children: for the offspring of that affection are the truths of innocence, which the infants slain in Bethlehem represented. In whatever mind any remains of such an affection survived, there would be lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning.

But amidst that destruction a seed was preserved, from which there should spring a higher and more enduring race. He whose death was intended, escaped the hand of the destroyer. Several instances occur in the Word of one escaping from what was intended as a complete slaughter, as in Judges ix , 2 Kings xi. In all such instances, and especially in the case of our Lord, a consolatory truth is contained. In all human destruction the Divine Providence conceals and preserves a remnant for salvation. The infant Saviour was preserved as the seed and the beginning of all perfection. In him was the comforting exhortation and promise addressed to Rachel to be realized: "Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears; for they shall come again from the land of the enemy."

19, 20. The king did not long survive the massacre of the infants, But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel; for they are dead which sought the young child's life. Herod's death represented the end of the particular state, or of the predominance of the particular principle which he represented. Not that it was altogether extinguished; for, as we shall see, the same evil rises up in another form. But the particular state, with the activity of the principle he represented, was ended; and with it therefore came a change of state in Jesus himself, implied by his going up to the land of Israel.

This land, as distinguished from the Land of Egypt, was a type of the church itself, instruction in its truths being represented by the Lord's going up and residing there. The reason for this removal was, because they are dead which sought the young child's life. Herod's desire to destroy the infant Messiah must have been instigated by, as it represented, an effort of the lowest hell, which is diametrically opposed to innocences, and by which the Lord was infested and tempted in his childhood; and as, even then, no temptation could prevail against him, but ended in the defeat of the tempting power, this was indicated by the death of Herod; and the Lord's progress in glorification, as a result of this conquest, was represented by Joseph again arising, and going with him into the land of Israel

22. When Joseph went up out of Egypt into the land of Israel, it was his intention to proceed at once to Judea. But here a second Herod awaited and deterred him. When he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither. He was relieved by divine aid from a state of doubt and perplexity. Being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee. In this turning aside into Galilee, which, naturally considered, owes its origin to a natural cause, there is an important spiritual sense. At this period the "land of Israel" was divided into three regions- Judea, Samaria, and Galilee - which represented the celestial, the spiritual, and the natural principles of the church. It is easy to see in this a similarity to the temple. The temple consisted of the inmost, or holy of holies, the middle, or holy place, and the court. The inmost of the temple was analogous to Judea, the middle to Samaria, and the court to Galilee. There is a still further similarity. The court of the temple was divided into two, called the inner and outer court, the outer being also called the court of the Gentiles. So was Galilee divided into two, called Upper and Lower Galilee, Upper Galilee being called Galilee of the Gentiles. These divisions are not without a meaning in reference to New Testament history. We find, for instance, that the Lord was born in Bethlehem of Judea, and that, in returning from Egypt, he passed through Samaria to Nazareth, in Lower Galilee, where he abode till the time of his baptism after which he came and dwelt in Capernaum, in Upper Galilee (iv. 13); his change of place thus representing change of state, from the inmost of the celestial to the outermost of the natural. He abode during his public ministry in Upper or Gentile Galilee, also to represent that he was about to raise up his church among the gentiles. But the land of Israel, and the temple also, represented heaven as well as the church, and the regenerate mind as the epitome of both. The whole heaven consists of three lesser heavens, the highest, or celestial, the middle, or spiritual, and the lowest, or natural; as the lowest heaven is the ultimate of the two others, it consists of angels of two distinct characters, called celestial-natural and spiritual-natural. While the universal heaven is distinguished into three heavens, it is also distinguished into two kingdoms. The celestial angels of the highest heaven, with the celestial-natural in the lowest heaven, form the celestial kingdom; and the spiritual angels of the middle heaven, with the spiritual-natural angels of the lowest heaven, form the spiritual kingdom. This two-fold distinction of heaven did not exist actually until the time of the incarnation. The distinction of heaven into two kingdoms had been typified by the division of the kingdom of Israel, commenced with Saul, into the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah, in the reign of Rehoboam; and this division of the kingdom of Israel into two kingdoms originated the division of the land of Canaan, as we find it spoken of in the New Testament. Both these changes, therefore, were providential. The kingdom, originally one, was rent into two; and the land, originally one, was divided into three; and even the lowest of these into two, to make them in this, as in all other respects, the patterns of things in the heavens. The reason why the Saviour, on his return from Egypt, was carried, not into Judea, but "into the parts of Galilee," will now be evident. Even he, in the progress of his glorification, had to pass through a lower state before be could enter into a higher, and lastly into the highest. The Lord did everything according to order. Though he advanced in every kind of human progress more rapidly than any other man, yet he advanced in the same order as another man - so inconceivable was his love, so great his condescension! Willing, for our sakes, to be instructed in the goods and truths of the church, as revealed in the Word, he despised not to begin at the lowest. Well may we learn from his example to be willing to take the lowest place, that we may ascend through every orderly stage to the highest of whichever degree we can attain to.

23. We have a further evidence of there being a divine purpose in directing Joseph to Galilee, in his being providentially led to the City of Nazareth. He came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, he shall be called a Nazarene. That this prophecy refers to the Nazariteship, is, indeed disallowed by most and by very eminent critics. There are reasons, however, which seem, to sanction, if not to require, that the city Nazareth should have been intended by the evangelist, or the Spirit under which he wrote, to be identified with the institution of the Nazariteship. He tells us that Jesus dwelt there that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene. Now, there is no such prediction in the prophets, nor does the name of the city, nor consequently the term expressive of citizenship, occur at all in the Old Testament. It has, indeed, been conjectured, that as the name of the city can be traced to a root signifying "the despised one," the evangelist had only the intention of alluding generally to the prophecies relating to his humiliation, as "he was despised and rejected of men." But it seems more reasonable to suppose that the reference is to the parts of the Old Testament which relate to the Nazariteship. These are not, indeed, in the prophets, properly so called; but we know that the name of prophet is not limited to those who wrote the prophetical books. Nor are the passages themselves prophetical, much less have they the specific shape which the prophecy assumes in the gospel. But, as we have had occasion to remark, the historical parts of the Word are prophetical, because representative. It is hardly necessary to allude to the objection that the Lord never assumed any of the characters of a Jewish Nazarite. He did not assume the hairy garment of the prophet, nor the robe of the king nor the ephod of the priest; and yet he was the One who filled all these offices; but he filled them spiritually. Might not he be also the spiritual, who is the true Nazarite, though he assumed nothing of the outward form, which was only typical of the character? The passages to which the inspired evangelist seems to allude are those which relate to Samson and Samuel. When the angel appeared to the wife of Manoah he said to her, "Thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb" (Judg. xiii. 5).

Hannah does not, indeed, vow to call her son a Nazarite; but her vow involves his Nazariteship: "I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head" (I Sam. i. 11). The term Nazarite means separation; and all the days the Nazarite separated himself to the Lord he was to abstain from all the produce of the vine, from the kernel even to the husk; he was to come at no dead body, and not to defile himself even for his father or mother, and should let the locks of the hair of his Lead grow, (Num. vi.) But even supposing that the Lord was to be called a Nazarene, not because he was to be a Nazarite, but because be was to be called after the city of that name, he was yet a Nazarite, and, indeed, the Nazarite of whom all others were types. Therefore, on this ground alone, we may consider what the Nazariteship represented. We cannot suppose that his dwelling there was merely to fulfil a prophecy, or that the prophecy and its fulfilment were for no other purpose than to prove him to be the Messiah. More consistent, surely is it with the dignity and spirituality of the subject to consider these circumstances as designed to teach us something of the history of the Lord's inner life, as the perfect pattern of our own. Something of this may be learnt from his going to Nazareth, that he might be called a Nazarene. Although this city may have had no historical connection with the Nazariteship, the Lord's dwelling there, and being called by its name, would seem as if intended to be equivalent to his being a Nazarite. The Lord was a Nazarite from his mother's womb: he was holy, undefiled, and separate from sinners; he was lent, given, devoted to the Lord. In him was spiritually fulfilled all that was naturally practised by the Nazarite. The Nazarite represented a celestial man, and the Lord as the celestial Man. The celestial man is one who acts from love; and the principle from which the Lord acted in his work of redemption was the love of the human race. It was because the vine was symbolical of the spiritual principle, that the Nazarite was so strictly prohibited from partaking of its fruit. But the Nazarite represented the celestial man while he is undergoing temptation and practising self-denial. He represented the Lord, therefore, in his days of temptation and humiliation. And in this sense, how true and expressive is the prophecy, "He shall be called a Nazarene!" But it was during this time, and by these means, that his redeeming power was manifested in his conflicts with the powers of darkness. "In his love and in his pity he redeemed them." Yet it was Love by means of Wisdom, or Good by means of Truth, that conquered. And not only so; it was love by means of truth of the lowest order, or in its ultimate form, that overcame. It was not merely the Word, but the Word made flesh, that had the power of redeeming from the dominion of hell. Truth of the lowest degree, such as that contained in the letter of the Word - humanity in its ultimate form, such as that which the Lord assumed, were represented by the hair of Samson in which his great power lay. And that even infinite love and truth could have no power against hell and evil, without that ultimate which it assumed in the world, we are taught representatively in the fact of Samson becoming powerless against his enemies when his locks were shaven. Yet there was a period when the Nazarite was allowed to shave his head, and lay aside all the other ceremonials to the observance of which he was bound by his vow. And this was when the term of his vow was ended, and his Nazariteship ceased. Then be cut off his hair, and burned it in the fire which was under the peace offering, and returned to the ordinary condition of life. And so did our Lord, when he had conquered human redemption, put off the humanity he took from the mother, and put on a humanity from the Father, and returned where be was before. He was a Nazarite from his mother's womb; but when he was born of God, by the resurrection, from the dead, then his Nazariteship ceased. Yet he did not become as he was before. Although he put off the humanity from the mother, he did not cease to be human, even in the ultimate degree; for although he put off materiality, he glorified his humanity even to that degree which materiality had occupied. Therefore was the Nazarite's hair, when cut off, not vilely cast away, but burned in the fire of the altar, so that while its grossness was consumed, its virtues, or the virtues acquired by it, were preserved, and consecrated to God, and entered by the refining fire of love into the offering that was the sign of the restoration of peace between man and his God.

While this exalted meaning of the Lord's being a Nazarite is to be understood, it is not necessary to exclude from it the idea of his humiliation. His Nazariteship was a time of humiliation as well as of power. For the Lord's state was in this respect like ours, that his weakness was his strength. The more the human was humbled under a sense of its own nothingness, the more the divine was exalted in it and was its power. Therefore our Lord declared, "Of myself I can do nothing: the Father that dwelleth within me he doeth the works." Could any greater humiliation be expressed, even by a mere man? But he not only expressed himself like a man, but his acknowledgement expressed an immeasurably profounder humiliation than any mere man ever felt. He was in very deed, in his own sight, "a worm and no man." His humility was humility itself; ours, comparatively, is but the shadow and the name. In this, as in all other things, he was our Exemplar. His humiliation was as much lower than ours as his exaltation is higher. He was the true Nazarene as well as the true Nazarite. We speak now of a Nazarene as he was estimated in the days of our Lord, when the best things had acquired the worst character. Then, even the Lord himself, the pattern of all excellence, was despised. The long years during which the Saviour lived in retirement, unknown to the world, and of which no record exists, with the single exception of that which tells us be went up when twelve years old, and sat in the midst of the doctors in Jerusalem, these were the years of his Nazariteship separated from the world unto God, We are not, indeed, to suppose that these years were lost, or were spent in activity having no immediate bearing on the great work be came to perform. When we know that his work was essentially of so spiritual and sublime a nature as to be beyond the sight of human eye - that his life was essentially an inward life, and his works essentially inward works - temptations and victories, changes of state that angels could but dimly perceive - we may well conceive that Nazareth was the scene of some of those stupendous operations that were but faintly shadowed by those of the Nazarite whom the Lord raised up as a deliverer of Israel.



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COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW p. 4               CHAPTER III.

The preaching of John the Baptist is an epoch in the history of Christianity, if it may not be regarded as its actual commencement. Thirty years had now passed since the shepherds were directed and the wise men were guided to the town of Bethlehem, where the infant Saviour lay. Now a voice is heard in the wilderness, calling men to repentance, as the means of preparing the way of the Lord, who is about to come forth as the Great Teacher and Exemplar of the Law, and to finish the work which the Father had given him, or his own divine Love had prompted him, to do.

1. In those days. There is no connection of time between the incident with which the previous chapter ends and that with which this begins. But times are, spiritually, states; and the states indicated by the days in which John appeared are those of the Jewish church, afterwards described by the place where John preached.

John the Baptist filled a most important office, personally and representatively, as the Forerunner of the Lord. The last of the prophets concludes his prophecy by saying, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shalt turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." John was this Elijah, and he prepared the people for the appearing of the Lord among them, by administering to them the baptism of repentance. Unless this had been done, the Lord's presence would actually have smitten the whole Jewish people, nay the whole human race, with a curse. Not that the people were made personally pure by baptism, though repentance had doubt its affect. Baptism acted representatively. The Jewish was a representative church, and was connected with heaven by the correspondence, not of their lives, but of their worship. It was to supply that link of connection, which had been broken, that the Baptist came to baptize them with water unto repentance. By this means the Lord could come amongst men without destroying them. This we shall see more clearly by considering the representative character of John and the signification of baptism. The Lord came into the world as the Word. He was the Word made flesh, or the Eternal Wisdom clothed in human nature. John was a representative of the written Word. He came to prepare the way of Jesus, to represent that the revealed Word is the means by which men are prepared for receiving the Lord as the Eternal Word itself of whom the written Word is a revelation. John is called the Baptist, because baptism was a rite symbolical of spiritual purification, which, like repentance prepares men for the Lord's coming into their hearts The days in which John came are the states of the church at the time of the Lord's advent, and the character of these is representatively described by the wilderness of Judea. The church was in a wilderness state. This image conveys no indistinct idea to the mind of the condition in which the Jewish church then was. But what is it that produces and constitutes this state, so often spoken of under this figure in Scripture? The church is a wilderness when there is a defect or a want of goodness and truth, of charity and faith. The Union of charity and faith is the origin of all beauty and fruitfulness. When that union is imperfect, spiritual life languishes; when it is dissolved, life ceases: and with life everything of the church and heaven decays or expires. The wilderness in which John appeared, being that of Judea, implies that barrenness and desolation had invaded the very centre of the church, and was wasting its inner life. In this waste wilderness the voice of the divine messenger was heard preaching to the children of men. And in every general or individual state of desolation the voice of the Eternal Truth may be heard; for God never leaves himself without a witness. And even when the church, or the man of the Church, has induced upon himself a, state analogous to that of the Jewish church when the prophets had ceased, Divine Providence permits a crisis to come when a Voice proclaims anew, the day of salvation. This preaching of the Baptist is still going on. The mind of every unregenerate man is a wilderness, and in every one the Word comes preaching; for in every mind Divine mercy provides a remnant of the hearing ear and the understanding heart, on which the teachings of the divine Word may fall, and awaken an interest in eternal things.

2. Supposing an interest awakened in the realities of eternal life, let us listen to the theme on which this infallible preacher addresses us, and the duty to which he calls us. Christianity, as first preached to the, world, and as the revealed Word still preaches it to the unconverted, is expressed in the single word - Repent. Repentance is the beginning of religion in the heart of man, and thence the beginning of the church in the world. Repentance is the gate through which the soul passes from death unto life, the path which leads from the broad into the narrow way, the step which carries us over the boundary line between hell and heaven. Repentance, in fact, is an actual conversion of the mind, of all its faculties and powers, its ends and activities, from a downward to all upward course. Prone by nature, to the world and self, man is raised by repentance to God and heaven. Repentance requires both devotion to the end and perseverance in the use of means. The very essence of repentance is TO SHUN EVIL AS SIN AGAINST GOD. Without a sense of sin there can be no repentance. The world may restrain, but it cannot convert; it may cause remorse, but it cannot inspire repentance. The bonds which the world imposes are upon the members, those which religion imposes are upon the conscience.

While the preacher calls men to repentance, he gives them a reason why they should repent: for the kingdom, of heaven is at hand. We need hardly inquire what is meant by this kingdom, and by its near approach. The Lord's kingdom is the government of his love and truth in the hearts and minds of men. This constitutes the kingdom of heaven for heaven is a state - a state of heavenly-mindedness. The kingdom of heaven was brought near, by the coming of the Lord. It was brought near to men in his own person, and was about to be declared in his teaching and exhibited in his beneficent works. The judgment, too, was approaching, by which the power of hell would be diminished and that of heaven increased, and the perverted and obstructive dispensation of the Jews be succeeded by the pure and progressive Christian church; and when, above all, the work of redemption being completed, and the Lord's humanity glorified, there would be a new power and influence operating on the human mind, enduing it with power from on high to receive and act upon the teaching of Christ and his ministers. All this, and much more, is comprehended in the kingdom of heaven, into which men were called to enter through repentance.

3. In calling men to repentance, the Baptist (for these words formed part of his address, as appears from John I. 23) cites his authority. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. The prophecy in which this occurs is one of the sublimest of the predictions of the Lord's advent. "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of Jehovah. O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, Jehovah will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him" (Isa. xl. 9). As John takes his credentials from this prophecy, his hearers are referred back to it for the character of the personage whose way he came to prepare. That personage was Jehovah. In the person of Jesus, Judah and Jerusalem were called upon to behold their God. In citing the passage, John substitutes the name Lord for Jehovah. As this is the constant practice in the New Testament, Jesus as Lord is Jehovah incarnate. And if he is divine, he can be none else; for besides Jehovah there is no God and no Saviour. Such is the Being whose forerunner John the Baptist was. Well might he fall back upon ancient prophecy for the authority by which he assumed so high an office. And when John's representative character is considered, his reference to the prophet is peculiarly appropriate. For as the revealed Word is the voice that is alone adequate to proclaim the coming of the Lord, and to prepare his way, so is it the source whence all true knowledge of the Lord can be derived. Therefore John does not speak of the Messiah in his own words, but first introduces him to the attention of his hearers in the words of the grandest yet plainest prophecy that was ever uttered respecting him, and one that reveals him in his true character of Jehovah our Redeemer. The voice calls upon us to prepare the way of the Lord, and to make his paths straight. Where two things are spoken of that have a similarity of meaning, one relates to the will and the other to the understanding. These are the faculties in the human mind into which the Lord enters, and in which he is received. His way into the will is prepared by our ceasing from evil and doing good, and his way into the understanding is made straight by our rejecting error and believing truth.

4. We now have a description of John himself, and one that bears testimony to his representative character. The same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins, and his meat was locusts and wild honey. That which John wore was the garment of a prophet, for a "hairy garment" was a badge of the prophetic office. Both the hairy garment and the leathern girdle are specifically mentioned (2 Ki. i. 8) as having been worn by the prophet Elijah, in whose spirit and power John the Baptist came. And he so came because Elijah represented the Word. The literal sense of the Word, which is the clothing of its spiritual sense, was specifically represented by the garment in which these prophets appeared, the leathern girdle about their loins signifying the bond of connection between the spiritual sense and the literal sense. The literal and the spiritual senses of the Word, like the natural and the spiritual worlds, and the human body and soul, have nothing in common; the one is natural and the other is spiritual; and yet they exist in the closest connection. What is it that forms the bond of connection and union betwixt them? This is an interesting question; and the true answer to it supplies a profound theological as well as philosophical truth. The literal and the spiritual senses of the word, like the natural and the spiritual worlds, and the body and soul, are united by CORRESPONDENCE. And correspondence is the mutual relation which exists between a spiritual cause and its natural effect. Correspondence is the "girdle" that unites the natural and the spiritual senses of the Word. The genuine truths of the literal sense of the Word are included in the meaning of John's girdle; for from these truths doctrine is derived and the apparent truths of the Word are explained. The spiritual sense is revealed to none but those who are in genuine truths. John's garment was of camel's hair, because the camel on the land, like the whale in the sea, is the symbol of that general kind of truth which is expressed in the letter of the Word. It was in reference to this symbolical character of the camel that our Lord said, "a camel cannot go through the eye of a needle," meaning that the mere literalist cannot discern spiritual truth. There is another interesting part in this description of the Lord's forerunner. His meat was locusts and wild honey. Without being a necessary, this was a natural result of his living in the wilderness; and, spiritually understood, has a meaning in harmony with it. For as the wilderness represented the desert state of the church, the locusts and wild honey which it afforded John for food represented the spiritual food which the church then supplied to her children. The locust was among the lowest kind of winged creatures that were permitted to be eaten by the "holy people" (Lev. xi. 22), and therefore signifies what serves as food for the intellect. Honey, from its sweetness, signifies what is spiritually delightful. "Thy words are sweeter than honey to my mouth." Wild honey signifies what is delightful to the natural mind. John's meat, therefore, represented that in the church at that time the soul's food was the lowest possible by which spiritual life could be sustained. When John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, he was, like the prophets of old, a sign unto the children of Judah. His abode, his raiment, his meat, all spoke, in the symbolic language with which the Jews were acquainted, of the state of the church among them; and in the language of correspondence these will speak to all ages of the state of those who are in a gross and benighted condition of mind. And as this was a state from which John came to rouse the carnal Jews, so is it a state from which the Word of God is ever striving to awaken the sinner.

5. John's preaching was so effective that there went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan. We cannot suppose that this is to be understood in the strictly literal sense. It cannot be supposed that the whole population of these places went out and were baptized. Like many other seemingly hyperbolical expressions in Scripture, this has been written for the internal sense. Jerusalem signifies the spiritual principle of the internal in the church and in man, Judea the celestial, Jordan the natural. The record teaches us that all in whom there is anything of spiritual truth, good, and obedience go out unto John, or obey the voice of the divine Word, which calls them to repentance, and go out from their unconverted state to one of new life and light - go to the divine Word for instruction, to learn what and where that kingdom is which is at hand, that they may be prepared to enter it.

6. The multitudes who went out to John, after being instructed by him respecting the Messiah and his kingdom, sealed their faith in him by receiving the sign of baptism. They were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. It is hardly necessary to say anything respecting the origin of baptism as an initiatory rite. Washings existed in the Israelitish church; and these, like many others of their ceremonies, would seem to have descended from the ancient, which was a representative church. Hence lustration came to form a ceremonial in all the nations, contemporary with the Jews, descended from those who formed the Noetic dispensation. It appears that the Jews, from whatever source they derived the opinion, understood that the advent of the Messiah would be ushered in by baptism. They demanded of John, "Why baptizest thou, if thou be not the Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?" This we learn from the Forerunner of the Lord's second advent: that all the ceremonials of the Israelitish church were collected into the two sacraments of the Christian church - all washings into the sacrament of baptism, and all feasts into that of the Holy Supper.

The baptism of John had two distinct uses. It is declared in Malachi (iv. 5, 6) that Elijah's coming was to prevent the Lord's smiting the earth with a curse. Had the Lord come among the Jews without signing and sealing them with the ordinance of baptism, through which they were connected with heaven and surrounded with an angelic sphere of protection, his presence would have consumed them. The church, signified by the earth, would have perished prematurely, and no remains would have been left from which to form the beginning of a new dispensation.

Baptism had a second use: it represented purification. Water is the symbol of truth, and baptism is the sign of washing the heart from wickedness. John's baptism being performed in Jordan added to the significance of the rite. Through Jordan the children of Israel passed into Canaan and as Canaan was a type of the church and heaven, baptism in Jordan was a sign that our passage into the church and heaven lies through purification. He who is baptized with this living baptism has put off the old man and put on the new - he is passed from death unto life, has been buried with Christ and risen with him.

7. Besides the numbers who were drawn to the baptism of John by feelings of true penitence, there were others who sought baptism from unworthy motives. When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers. Persons belonging to these sects might have come and been accepted; but these had come without manifesting the spirit which would have rendered their acceptance of baptism profitable to themselves. Of these two sects, so frequently mentioned in the New Testament, it may be useful in this place, where they are first mentioned, to say a few words. The Pharisees and the Sadducees may be regarded as the ritualists and the rationalists of the Jewish church. The Pharisees not only accepted the Scriptures, but the traditions of the elders, as their authority in matters of religion, which they made to consist chiefly in multiplied ceremonial observances. The Sadducees, on the other hand, rejected all tradition, and adhered rigidly to the written law, which they so interpreted as to deny the immortality of the soul and the existence of angels and spirits. The Pharisees formed the pious, the Sadducees the philosophical section of the church. Taking their character and their systems as the basis of their spiritual representation, we cannot fail to see in the Pharisees and Sadducees the symbols of the will and understanding of the natural man, not merely unconverted, but perverted by self-righteousness and intellectual pride. John called them vipers, not from similitude, but from correspondence. The whole serpent tribe are emblematical of the Sensuous part of man's nature. Originally this was very good - but when it had accomplished man's fall, it became degraded; the serpent walked on its belly, and dust became its meat. Sensuous wisdom, which should have been a protection to innocence, having become its destroyer, it is only now, when the seed of the woman has bruised the serpent's head, that it can, through his work and by his power, be deprived of its dominion in the heart of man. How complete that dominion had become, the Pharisees and Sadducees too fully exemplified. What was their state is that of every unconverted man as to his Sensuous or carnal mind. This is that old serpent called the devil and Satan; and from these are produced a generation of vipers, in the endless reasonings in favour of self and the world.

John demands of his Pharisaical and Sadducean hearers, Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? This is a question of the utmost consequence, and should be asked of himself by every one who wishes to flee from the wrath to come. In the first place, what was this coming wrath from which these men were induced to flee? Perhaps they understood him, as many Christians understand him, to mean the wrath of God. Divine wrath is indeed mentioned in the Scriptures; but this is the language of appearances; the reality is, that there is no wrath in God. Yet there is a wrath that overtakes the sinner, and as surely as if God could himself be angry. Wrath is in all evil loves as burning is in fire; and every one who loves and lives in sin carries in his own bosom the fire of his future torment. This is the wrath to come. Who hath warned you to flee from this coming wrath? - God or yourself, the Word or the world, sorrow for sin or fear of punishment? What is the thought that induces you, the motive that impels you? Is it the voice of God speaking through your conscience, or the voice of the world speaking through your interests? These are practical inquiries involved in the demand of John.

8. He who proposed the inquiry gives the test by which to know whether we can give the true answer. Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance. If we are really desirous to flee from the wrath to come, the way lies through repentance. The purpose in the heart must show itself by amendment in the life. If our purpose is of God, he will infallibly lead us to work it out by acts of self-denial. These are the works meet for repentance. "Cease to do evil" is the first great work of the repentant sinner. There can be no true holiness without it. To do acts of piety and goodness, without hating and shunning evil, is to cover and gild corruption. Merely to desist from evil may seem to be but negative virtue; yet the negative is the only foundation of the positive. Eight out of the ten commandments are prohibitory. Thou shalt not steal, nor bear false witness, nor commit adultery, are the forms in which Divine wisdom teaches us honesty, sincerity, and purity. And this is the way in which we are to bring forth fruits meet for repentance.

9. But while the Word demands practical, we are all inclined to trust in hereditary and nominal religion. The Jews presumed upon being the descendants of the faithful - children of the promise. Divine Truth raises its voice against this vain confidence. Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father. While they were the children of Abraham according to the flesh, they were far from being his children according to the spirit. When, afterwards, the Jews boasted that Abraham was their father, Jesus answered them, "If ye were Abraham's children, ye, would do the works of Abraham." He then told them, too, that their father was the devil, whose deeds they continued to do. It is this hereditary relationship to Abraham which John warns them against as a ground of confidence, as answering all claims of religious obligation upon them. And as the same evil exists now under a different name, what is this plea in our time and on our part? Do not we Christians trust to the name of Christ, when we have not his spirit and do not his works! What virtue or profit can there be in this nominal religion, when God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham? We need not trouble ourselves with the question of natural possibility; the spiritual lesson is that which concerns us.

Stones are types of truths. The apostle speaks of the members of the church as living stones: these are the true members of the body of Christ, who is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel. But the stones out of which God can raise up children to Abraham - that is such children as the Jews - are not living, but dead stones - truths without life, because without love and goodness. Nominal members of the church can be raised up from the knowledges of truth; real members only from the love and practice of the truth. The stones from which God could raise up children to Abraham are also the statutes and ceremonial laws of the Jewish church, as a representative and shadowy dispensation. The law of the ten commandments was written upon tables of stone, to represent that in the Jewish church the law of Divine order and righteousness could only be impressed upon the outward man. Therefore, when the new covenant which the Lord should make with his church is treated of, he says, "This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts" (Jer. xxxi. 33). And so Paul: "Ye are the epistle of Christ, written with the Spirit of the living God, not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart"
(2 Cor. iii. 3).

10. As nothing spiritual and useful could grow out of that dead root, which was never intended to be more than temporary, now also, said John, the axe is laid unto the root of the trees. Judaism was to be cut up by its roots, and all presumptuous hopes founded upon it to be overturned. Such was the sentence of divine truth upon the Jewish church, and upon all who clung to it in its then showy but fruitless condition. But there is a lesson here for us. Our motives are the roots from which our actions spring. Christianity lays the axe at the root of the tree; for it is not only a law to regulate our actions, but a principle to guide our motives; and whatever grows out of the ends of our life, that does not bear the fruits of holy living, must be cut down. Our selfhood constitutes the first root of our life. What sort of tree would man become if that root were not extirpated? But the evil root is not removed, and a new one implanted in its stead, unless man regards the evils which constitute the root as destructive to his soul, and on that account is desirous of removing them. As, however, they belong to his selfhood, and are consequently delightful to him, he cannot effect their removal but with a degree of unwillingness and of struggle against them, and thus of combat. The truth, which is the instrument of combat, is meant by the axe, and the combat itself by hewing down the tree. But the tree after being hewn down is to be cast into the fire.

These two acts have reference to the understanding and the will. To cut down the tree has reference to the removal of evil from the understanding; to cast it into the fire, to the removal of evil from the will. The axe and the fire, too, are symbolical - the axe of truth, the fire of love. As the removal of evil is not effected but by temptation, the hewing down of the tree refers to intellectual labour or combat against evil, and the casting it into the fire to conflict in the will. The imagery is expressive and instructive. The evil principle is cut down in the understanding, but is consumed in the will. Faith prostrates the evil principle, love burns it up. Fire as a symbol of love and zeal, and burning, of the severest trials and the completest vastation, often occur in the Word. The Lord's conflict with the powers of darkness, in his zeal for the salvation of the human race, was to be, "with burning and fuel of fire" (Isa. ix. 5); and even as a Regenerator, he was to be "like a refiner's fire" (Mal. iii. 2). - He "came also to send fire on the earth" (Luke xii. 44); and to "baptize with fire" (Luke iii. 16). In all which there is reference to conquest and removal through the fiery trials of temptation, in which holy overcomes unholy love.

11. John proceeds to speak of the true means and agencies by which this work is carried on and completed, and of the last as greater than the first. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. John's baptism represented reformation; the Lord's baptism represented regeneration. The first is the removal of evil; the second is the implantation of good. John's baptism precedes and prepares the way for that of Jesus.

Man must learn from the written Word what evil is, and abstain from it; and so far as he does so, he receives new life from the Lord. John's baptism comes from without; the Lord's comes from within. John's baptism removes outward impurities; the Lord's inspires new inward life. Thus does the Lord baptize with the spirit of his truth and with the fire of his love all who faithfully follow the teachings of his Word, by ceasing to do evil. The second baptism is a greater work than the first, and a mightier power is required to effect it. So much mightier is he who comes after him, that John declares himself not worthy to bear his shoes. The lowest good of love is worthier than the highest good of repentance. But on this point we shall see something more in the next verse.

We cannot leave these words of John without a remark on the important testimony thus borne to the rank of Jesus, between whom and himself he admits of no comparison. If among those born of women a greater had not arisen than John the Baptist, who could that one be whose sandals John was not worthy to bear? His rank may be described in John's own words: "He that cometh from heaven is above all" (John iii. 3). And not only above all, but before all. Not only was he before John (John i. 15), but before Abraham (John viii. 58). He who was all this could be no other than the Highest and the First.

12. The Lord's baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire is to be followed by a thorough outward cleansing, His fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor. This purification is to be distinguished from that represented by John's baptism. For as there is a truth which leads to goodness, and a truth which is derived from goodness, so there is a purification that precedes and one that follows regeneration. The first is a purification of the actions, from motives of obedience, the second is a purification of the actions, from motives of love. The first was represented by John's baptism, the second by the Lord's washing his disciples' feet, when he spoke to them as being already inwardly clean. This second purification is that by which the Lord "thoroughly purges his floor," making a full and final separation of good and evil. The floor is the outer memory, the common receptacle of acquired objects of thought and affection. The Lord's truth is the means by which separation is effected. The garner into which the wheat is gathered is the inner memory, the storehouse of ends and principles, which form our life, and remain with us for ever. The chaff is burnt up in the fire of an unquenchable zeal for singleness and purity. The wicked, who never judge themselves in this life, are judged in the next and being themselves like chaff, are cast into the fire of burning lusts, in their own evil hearts, that nothing can quench.

13. Among those who came to John, to receive his baptism, was no less a personage than the Saviour himself. Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan to John, to be baptized of him. Jesus, it would appear, had resided in Galilee till now. Thirty years of a life the most momentous to the world, though not in the world's sense, that had ever been lived by man on earth, had been passed in private, if not in seclusion. But now he publicly appears as the Saviour of the world, the great Teacher and Exemplar of the law. Before entering on a life consecrated to the highest use, Jesus came to Jordan to be baptized of John. The Lord as the Incarnate Word comes to him who represented the written Word, to receive at his hands this initiatory and representative rite. He came from Galilee to Jordan, to symbolize that progression of state from good to the truth which gives it quality and power - power to subdue. The primary idea involved in John's baptism was purification, especially that of the external man. The means by which this purification is effected are the truths of the Word, which are meant by the waters of Jordan. But these truths purify the mind in two ways - by repentance and temptation. Repentance is necessary for the removal of actual evil, temptation for the removal of hereditary evil also. As every human being is defiled both with hereditary evil and by actual evil, which is sin, everyone requires to be purified both by repentance and temptation. In this respect there was an essential difference between the Lord and every mere man. He had no sin, and therefore needed no repentance.

14. Well then might John forbid him to come to his baptism; for to Jesus it could be no baptism unto repentance, which John had proclaimed it to be. But although the Lord had no sin, and therefore needed no repentance, he had evil derived from his fallen mother, and required to undergo temptation. And to represent this means of purification, Jesus was willing to receive, at the hands of his own messenger, the rite which symbolized it. But John not only forbade Jesus, but said, I have need to be baptized of thee. There is one particular in this relation that it may be difficult to understand. If John represented the written Word, why did he say to Jesus, "I have need to be baptized of thee." Is the word of God impure and does it need purification? In itself it is pure and holy, but as it had become in the Jewish church, and as it is in the mind of everyone not yet fully regenerate, it is more or less impure, by reason of their impure perversions of its meaning, and the sanctions of evil which they thence draw apparently from it. The Jews had thus perverted and defiled the Word; and it is more or less defiled in the mind of every child of Adam. These defilements needed to be removed; and no one could in the first instance remove them but he who was himself the Word. There was an analogy between the incarnate and the written Word. The Lord took human nature upon him, not fair as it came from the hand of God, but marred as it had been by the hand of man. And just so marred as was the nature of man, so marred was the Word of God. Corruption among the members of the church brings with it a corresponding corruption of the revealed truths of the Word, as the Pharisees made the commandments of God of none effect by their traditions. It was through these perversions that the truths of the written Word became instruments in the hand of Satan for tempting the Incarnate Word to do wrong. The Lord and the powers of darkness contended over the truths of the Word, as Michael and Satan are said to have done over the body of Moses. Evil spirits assaulted the Lord through the appearances of truth in the letter of the Word, which are capable or perversion, and the Lord overcame them by its genuine truths, which they could neither pervert nor resist. These conflicts were the Lord's temptations, represented by his baptism. With every temptation when ended, the Lord put off some of the infirmities of his humanity, and put on, or put forth, some of the perfections of his divinity, till at last he became the Word in ultimates, as from eternity he had been in first principles.

15. When John forbade Jesus to be baptized, the Lord answered, "Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." In fulfilling the least of the requirements of righteousness the Lord showed that be would fulfil them all. He came to fulfil the whole law of righteousness, and thereby to become righteousness. This is a great and important truth. He not only fulfilled the law of the commandments, but the law in its widest sense, which is the whole Word. He, by fulfilling, magnified the law and made it honourable. Through his fulfilling the law we can in our measure fulfil it also through his becoming Righteousness we can become righteous. By fulfilling the whole law, or the Word, he became, as to his humanity, the Word. The fulfilling the Word means, not only that be obeyed its laws, but that be so transcribed the whole Word, internally and externally, into his own life, that he became the living form of all the eternal principles which it contains. All this is included in the Lord's words to John, "Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness." And as the law which he desired to fulfil by submitting to baptism was but a law of ceremonial righteousness, we learn from the Lord's condescending to it, that he fulfilled the ceremonial as well as the moral law, and that all its ceremonials had relation to him in his work of glorification and salvation.

16, 17. The immediate results of the Lord's baptism foreshadow the glory he would attain when be arose out of the trials which his baptism represented. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, &c. Going down into and coming up out of the waters of baptism were recognized in the apostolic church as significative acts. Paul speaks of the Colossians as being "buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who bath raised him from the dead." Baptism was then regarded as the symbol of burial and resurrection - not of the body, but of the soul - the putting off the old man and putting on the new.

Jesus coming up out of the water represented his resurrection, or, what is the same, his glorification. It also represented the result of every single temptation, his coming up straightway representing his emergence from the trial, and entering into a new and higher state of glory. The opening of the heavens is one of the blessed results of emerging from the flood, which has not overflowed the soul. In the spiritual sense the opening of the heavens of the internal man is here meant. For the object of the baptism of temptation is to remove evil from the external man and every purification of the external man has the effect of so far opening the internal man. Just as the world is overcome is heaven brought near to us. To us as followers of the Soul, of Man heaven is opened as often as we overcome in temptation.

And through the open or rent heaven he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him. The Spirit of God is God himself as a Spirit acting upon the human mind. The Scriptures speak indeed of the Spirit proceeding from God; yet even this is but all accommodation to our feeble intellects, as developed in a world of space: for be who is omnipresent, how can he proceed through space? it must be evident to every mind raised but a little above the sphere of the bodily senses, that both the shape and motion of the Spirit are figurative or representative. It appeared as a dove, because a dove is an emblem of pure and holy affections and thoughts, and in reference to God, of divine affections and thoughts, which are those of divine love and wisdom. And more especially do those gentle animal forms shadow forth the gentleness and purity of regenerate souls - symbols therefore of the descending love and truth of the Divine upon the human nature of the Saviour, by which also it became divine. The Spirit of divine love and wisdom is therefore the winged messenger sent from on high, with a message of peace to the soul that overcomes in temptation.

Besides the descent of the dove, there came also down from the opened heaven a voice, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. To those who think of divine as they think of human subjects, of spiritual as of natural things, this will present the simple natural thought of two Beings, one on earth and one in heaven - a Father declaring his love for his Son. The voice to the ear, like the dove to the eye, was the adaptation of the Divine, which is above all sense, to sensuous apprehension. Our Lord himself declared, after this, that no man had heard the voice of the Father at any time, nor seen his shape. This, then, could not be the Father's own voice, as the dove could not have been the Spirit's own shape. Both were representative - representative of realities, but of realities far above the mundane and sensuous appearances. The two were intended to teach us, representatively, that the Lord, coming out of the depths of his temptations, brought down to him, as the Man who was made perfect through suffering, a new measure of divine truth and divine love. We do not, in this view of the subject, by any means ignore the doctrine of the Sonship of Christ. But we believe that his Sonship can only be predicated of his humanity; for the humanity it was that was born of the Virgin, and this is declared to be the only begotten Son of God. The human nature of Christ could alone receive the Spirit of God. But by receiving that Spirit without measure, the humanity came to have infinite fulness; and that which has infinite fulness must be divine. The human was made divine by acts of glorification. And it was when the human was fully glorified that Jesus was truly the Son of God; for by glorification he was born of God, as by regeneration we are: and then Jesus was the Son of the Father's love. And if he who dwells in love dwelleth in God, infinitely more must Jesus dwell in love; for he is the infinite wisdom of infinite love, the infinite form of the infinite essence - he in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily - he who has the Father as his very soul and life, and sends the Spirit as the emanating life of his love and light of his wisdom - one God in one glorious Person for ever.



4



COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW p. 5        CHAPTER IV.

We have had occasion in our remarks on the previous chapter to point out the difference between the baptism of Jesus and that of every mere man, and to explain that in our Lord's case baptism involved the idea, not of repentance, but of temptation. Accordingly, no sooner does the Lord receive baptism than he engages in those conflicts which the rite represented. Then was Jesus led up (or away) of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil. There is one particular in this which may strike the mind as singular, the Lord's being led into temptation by the Spirit - that Spirit which had descended like a dove upon him. Yet in this very fact is the law of progress exemplified. There is, however, nothing more surprising in this than in Israel being led up by Moses into the wilderness to be tempted There is indeed an apparent inconsistency between the fact and the Scripture declaration, that "God tempts no man, but that every man is tempted when he is drawn aside of his own lusts and enticed." But the truth is, that although temptation does not come from the Spirit of God, it comes of receiving it. The Spirit does not tempt, but it leads into that state in which temptation is experienced. Temptation is an inward spiritual conflict between good and evil, truth and falsity. There can therefore be no inward conflict except in minds in which these opposites are present and active. The natural or unconverted man, who has no spiritual good and truth, and has no concern about eternal life, knows nothing of spiritual temptation; there is nothing in him to tempt. He follows unresistingly the impulse of his natural affections, and pursues his temporal aims undisturbed by eternal considerations. It is when the Spirit of the Lord descend; upon him, and enters into his heart, that his false peace is first disturbed. A new life, which is spiritual and eternal, has commenced in his soul; and the old life, which is natural and temporal, rises up against, and enters into conflict with it. The Lord has come, but it is not to send peace, but a sword. The Spirit has lighted and abode upon him; but it leads, nay, drives him into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. The conflict, once begun, continues, though not without intervals of repose, till the natural and temporal submit to and serve the spiritual and the eternal. Then victory is followed and rewarded with peace, peace which the Prince of peace bestows, which the world could not give, and which it cannot take away. We seek to explain this subject in relation to the Lord, by human experience, because Jesus was in all points tempted as we are.

We are not to suppose that this was the Lord's first reception of the Spirit, or that this was his first temptation. No doubt this was an epoch in the Lord's life and experience, the beginning of a new state, of a new stage in the progress of his glorification. His glorification had hitherto been chiefly that of his internal man, according to the law in regard to human progress, that the internal is first regenerated, and the external afterwards. As the Lord's work had hitherto been chiefly internal, his life had as yet been chiefly private; and his experience is unrecorded in the gospels, because, being that of the inner man, it does not belong to the outward historical sense of the Word. His glorification was now about to be brought more fully into the external, or, so to speak, into the body. Therefore the Lord received external baptism, and entered into the temptations which it symbolized, and came out into public life, and did outward and miraculous works, and taught lessons of truth in parables to the multitudes - the record of all which forms the outward or literal sense of the gospels. The work of glorification in the Lord, like the complete regeneration of man, consists not only of continuous, but of distinct degrees. Like man, the Lord passed through three distinct states, which we call natural, spiritual, and celestial. These may be considered to be represented, if not marked by the Lord's baptism, his transfiguration, and his resurrection; and his progression in them perhaps representatively described by the three journeys he made, during his ministry, to Jerusalem. His temptations in the wilderness were also three in number. These temptations of our Lord were not so much three acts, as three kinds, of temptation. Indeed, we are not to regard the historical relation as strictly literal. It contains the history of all his temptations. Excepting his agony in the garden and his sufferings on the cross, these are the only temptations of the Lord mentioned in the gospels. And yet his whole life was one of conflict and victory. His temptations could not be adequately described as they actually occurred, because, unlike his teachings and his works, they did not, except in a few instances, come under human observation. Although, on this account, they are not recorded in the New Testament, they are described in the Old. As the spiritual sense of the Word is the history of man's regeneration, the celestial sense is the history of the Lord's glorification. Everywhere, therefore, the Lord's temptations are the subjects, where war and conflict are mentioned in divine Revelation. In many parts they shine through the letter, and in the Book of Psalms they are often openly revealed. And when David is regarded as a type of the Lord, then in "David and all his afflictions" may be traced the Lord and all his temptations. The Lord's temptations were various as well as numerous, yet they may all be classed under the three kinds that form the subject of this chapter. A clear idea of these will enable us to have some faint conception of the nature of our Lord's trials, and also of his triumphs. To the remarks we have offered on the general subject, as introduced in the first verse, it may only be necessary to add, that the wilderness is a general representative of temptation for the state which lays its open to the assaults of the enemy is one in which the mind has in it waste places, which regeneration makes to bud and blossom like the rose.

2. The particulars of the Lord's temptations come now to be described. When he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. Forty is a common term used to express the duration of temptation, whether short or long, and expresses the continuance and succession of states rather than of times. For even temptation has its alternations and successions of state within itself It has its successions of state, indicated by its forty days, and its alternations of state, indicated by its days and nights. There are no states without progressions and distinctions. Without them no state could come to an end, or leave its impressions behind. The worst states through which man can pass are not of uniform darkness: there is variety - and variety even in suffering is a relief and a lesson. There is alternation; and if there is day and night, however long the night and short the day, in the winter of our trial, hope is never utterly lost in despair.

During the forty days and nights of our Lord's continuance in the wilderness, he fasted. A fast of such duration was not a circumstance peculiar to him, though all such fastings had no doubt reference to his. Fastings were either voluntary or involuntary, and signified either the abstaining from evil or the deprivation of good. Voluntary fasts generally were signs of self-denial. Involuntary fasts were generally signs of the deprivation of the good which is the spiritual food of the soul. The soul has its food as well as the body. The Lord's soul had its food as well as his body; for he declared, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." Temptation was just the time when fasting from this meat would be forced upon him. For temptation is a state when delight in the law, and power to do the will of God, seem to be taken away. The tempter tries to bring its over to love and do our will instead of the divine will; -- first to love it, then to do it. First, the evil influence acts secretly upon the love, and this produces the soul's fasting. This is the state which is here described. The history leads us to believe that Jesus during these forty days not only ate nothing, but had no desire to eat; for it was not till the forty days were ended that he hungered. His appetite was taken away. We know that distress of mind takes away the natural appetite. And, correspondent]y, distress of soul takes away the spiritual appetite. The lamentation of the afflicted soul is therefore, "I have eaten ashes for bread, and drunken tears in great measure." I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth" (Dan. x. 3). And as human experience was, in every particular, inconceivably increased in intensity in our Lord's case, what must have been the fasting of him whose very meat was to do his Father's will! But every state has its termination. When the Lord had fasted for, forty days, he was afterward an hungered. The object of the tempter is to take away the appetite for good, that he may create in appetite for evil. And this is the first part of the conflict. Actively to desire evil is the first step to doing it. If the inspired desire is resisted, the first object of tempting spirits is defeated; for if the inclination is neither approved by the understanding nor cherished by the will, but on the contrary condemned and restrained, the soul will gradually recover itself, and the good desire will return, and the soul will hunger after righteousness.

3, 4. But the tempter, who acts secretly upon the desire and the motive, does not give up the contest when he has failed to bend them in favour of evil. From acting secretly on the love he proceeds to act openly on the life. The soul's hunger - its relish for good, its desire to do the will of God - has returned, and the temptation now consists in the adversary pressing the famished soul to satisfy its hunger with that which is not bread. When the tempter came to him he said, "If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread". The stones which the devil asked Jesus to change into bread were the stones of the wilderness, and represented, as we have seen, the truths of the Jewish church. As bread signifies good, to have made these stones into bread would have represented the changing of such truth into good; for truth is changed into good by doing it; and such as the truth is, such is the good which it produces. But even supposing that the truths which were revealed to the Jewish church had been preserved in their purity, the good produced from them would have been at the best but Jewish good - the righteousness of the law, the virtue of the letter-and could only have satisfied the Jewish appetite for the good of Judaism. This natural good was rather a substitute for goodness than goodness itself - a temporary means of preserving the remains of the last and lowest degree of spiritual life, till the spiritual truths of a spiritual church could be revealed for its real sustenance. For the Lord to have satisfied his hunger with such bread would have been to feed his senses and leave his soul unsatisfied. It would not have been doing the will of him that sent him, and finishing his work, but doing the will of him whose object it was to defeat that work, yet to defeat it under the guise of promoting it. The Lord was himself the bread that came down from heaven, to give life unto the world. Jesus fed a multitude of people in the wilderness, not by turning its stones into bread, but by multiplying the loaves and fishes. But even this divinely-created bread was not the only nourishment be gave them; for be had already satisfied their souls with his words, with good things out of the treasures of his wisdom: he had fed their inner man with spiritual good, and now fed their outer man with its corresponding natural good- showing his own twofold means of satisfying their wants, that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. In referring to the place in the Old Testament, where the saying which our Lord repeats against his adversary occurs, we find this truth involved in the meaning, Moses says, "The Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live" (Deut. viii. 2, 3). The Lord Jesus was typified by the manna, he being the true bread; he, therefore, is eminently the Word of God by which man lives. This first temptation of the Lord, as the second Adam, was of the same nature as that of the first Adam - it was a temptation by the serpent to eat of the tree of knowledge instead of the tree of life. In his temptation the first Adam fell, introducing sin into the world; in his corresponding temptation the second Adam overcame providing in his triumph for man's restoration.

5. We have already remarked that the Lord's temptations describe three classes, and not merely three acts, of temptation, and that they advance progressively from lower to higher, as those of man do, from natural to spiritual, from spiritual to celestial. The temptation to turn stones into bread describes the first class of temptations, those which belong to the natural class, or which appeal to the natural affections and perceptions. The next temptation is one of another and deeper kind, being spiritual in its character, but connected with that which precedes it, as one of a series. If, when tempted to appease its hunger by turning stones into bread, the soul maintains its integrity, in full conviction of the truth that man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, it will next be tempted to place its confidence in the truths of the Word, to the exclusion of its goods. Or, to express it in its relation to man: when Satan cannot overturn a man's faith, he tempts him to trust in faith alone. For this purpose he takes him up into the holy city, and sets him on a pinnacle of the temple. A city signifies doctrine and holy is predicated of truth. The holy city is therefore the doctrine of truth, but such is it is in the church. The temple, too, has reference to truth, or to the understanding as its receptacle. When it is called the house of God, it relates to the will; when named the temple, it relates to the understanding. To take the Lord up into the holy city, was to draw and abstract his mind from other things, and fix it on the doctrines Of truth in the church; and to set him on a, pinnacle (literally, a wing) of the temple, was to seek to inspire him with the pride of intellect, or elation of mind. We are not, of course, to suppose that such a temptation was capable of actually producing these effects in the mind of the Saviour, in the same sense and degree as it would in the mind of an ordinary man. We have to describe and conceive of these states as they are in frail humanity, without which it would be impossible to describe them at all; but we must never forget that at best they can give but an exceedingly imperfect idea of the Lord's states; and to conceive of them as identical with those of mere man, would be to profane a subject in itself most holy. The Lord, although tempted in all points as we are, never allowed the least of sin to enter into his holy mind: but we never are tempted without betraying our frailty; and even when we overcome, which we do by the power of him who overcame before us, we are but as brands plucked from the fire.

6. Whatever we may conceive to have been the Lord's state, as signified by his being set on the pinnacle of the temple, that did but form the prelude of his trial. The temptation itself consisted in his being tempted to cast himself down, in the confidence that he would be borne up. If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, he shall give his angels charge concerning thee; and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. It is a singular fact that some, at least, when raised to giddy height, are seized with an impulse to cast themselves down. If natural effects are the, results of spiritual causes, there must be some analogy to this natural impulse, if natural it may be called, in the spiritual life. In the spiritual world we know this is the case. Spirits, when raised above the level of their proper life, are seized with an impulse to cast themselves down, and actually do so. Had the Lord been raised above the level of his proper life - had Satan been able to exalt him into a state above that to which his glorification had raised him, the Lord could not have maintained his elevation, but must have cast himself down. But Satan has no power to raise men, but only to make them proud of their elevation. And "pride cometh before a fall." It was this pride that Satan sought to excite in the mind of Jesus, as a, means of his downfall: for Satan only seeks to raise up, that he may cast down. To understand what is meant by the Lord casting himself down, it may be useful to turn our attention to some of the particulars in the Word that bear upon it. One of the statutes of the Mosaic law declared, "When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence" (Deut. xxii. 8). This civil law contains a spiritual truth. The house is a symbol of the mind, the highest or inmost of which is meant by the roof The spiritual calamity which this law was intended to guard against is that of a man falling from a higher into a lower, or from a Superior to an inferior state of spiritual life - which is to fall from a state of good to a state of truth, or from a state of charity to a state of faith; and he who does so violates or profanes what is holy, which is to bring blood upon his house. It was because of this important principle being involved in the Mosaic law that our Lord, treating of perilous times that were coming on the church, when men were exhorted to flee from Judea into the mountains, exhorted them that were on the house-top not to come down to take anything out of the house - that is, those who are in a state of good or love are not to come down into a state of truth or faith, for by doing so they come from a superior to an inferior state, and so pervert divine order, and destroy both good and truth in themselves. The great law of life is progression, and the order of progression is from truth to good, from faith to love. The divine command is, "Go forward - go up higher." This is the law of divine order, because it is the order of human improvement, and therefore of human happiness. But the efforts of the tempter, or of the whole powers of darkness, are to reverse this law. Not progression, but retrogression-not higher, but lower - not nobler, but baser, is the order which hell recognizes and acts upon, and endeavours with all its power and cunning to promote. Evil and hell are what they are, because they are in every respect the opposites of good and heaven. The tendency of hell is to go down lower and lower, that of heaven is to go up higher and higher. When, therefore, the devil tempted Jesus to cast himself down from the pinnacle of the temple, he desired him to cast himself down from the holy elevation on which he stood: and only fulfilled what had been written in the prophetic psalm, "They only consult to cast him down from his excellency" (lxii. 4). The devil endeavoured to strengthen his cause by appealing to Scripture. Evil spirits do not tempt men to do evil as evil, but to do it either as good or as an act which has the sanction of what the tempted recognize as authority before they can use the truth in their evil cause, they must pervert it. It had indeed, been written (Ps. xci. 11), "He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a, stone." But this promise was given to those who walk in the right way. The angels bear up and protect those who desire their support and protection, and those who live in harmony with, not those who violate, the laws of order within which support and protection lie. Hence the importance of understanding, that we may obey, the Scripture, and that we may resist temptation, which often comes to us under the guise of liberty sanctioned by divine authority. The truth makes us free from sin, not from the law which condemns it; free to do good, but not to do evil. In regard to the passage quoted from the Psalms, though prophetic of the Lord, it is to be understood of him in a spiritual sense. He needed not the support of angels, for angels, like men, are dependent on him. But angels, when mentioned in the Word, signify something of his own divinity; for all that makes them angels they derive from him. Angels, therefore, signify divine truths, and their hands are the power of truths. These truths were the Lord's supports, and these prevented him from stumbling over the falsities that prevailed in the church, which were the stones, against even one of which he was to be preserved from dashing his foot. No mere man walks in this world without stumbling. The Lord alone walked in it, through all its perils and temptations, and stumbled not.

7. Jesus answered the tempter by saying, It is written again, Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God. Men are said in Scripture to tempt God when they doubt or dare his power; and they no doubt tempt him when they presume on divine support in doing wrong. We may thus be tempted by the devil to tempt God. Our Lord overcame the tempter by appealing to the law against tempting God. There is another sense in which our Lord's use of this law of the Word is to be taken. The devil tempted Jesus to cast himself down, to prove that he was the Son of God. He was thus himself tempting the Lord God in the person of Jesus Christ, who was God incarnate. And our Lord's answer includes this idea. Indeed, as the tempter acknowledged Jesus to be the Son of God, he must have known that he whom he tempted was the very Being who was not to be tempted. There is another truth contained in this circumstance. The Lord said, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God," to instruct us that the Divine itself is above all temptation. As the Son of God, the Lord himself was beyond temptation. The Lord is called the Son of God and the Son of man. And whenever he speaks of temptations and sufferings, he calls himself the Son of man, because the Lord was tempted as to his divine truth; but he never, in speaking of his temptation and sufferings, calls himself the Son of God, because this name is expressive of his divine good. And that Divine good is incapable of being tempted, the Lord meant when he answered the tempter by the words of Moses, "It is written again, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."

8. The last temptation is still more dreadful and daring than the preceding. The intensity of temptation increases as it proceeds. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain. A mountain is the symbol of love, and exceeding height is the symbol of what is exceedingly intense, because exceedingly interior.

This is a symbolical mode of saying that this class of temptations is grounded in the love which forms the inmost of man's life. The inmost love of man's life, in his natural state, is the love of self; and the next, which is like unto it, is the love of the world. Our Lord inherited from his human mother the seeds of this as of every other love; and it formed in him, as in other men, the ground of temptation. Strange indeed it may seem, that he, who was the meekest, and the humblest, and the most disinterested among men, should have had in his humanity the seeds of such evils as the love of dominion and of gain; but we need not be astonished at what in itself is so natural, nor even at the result, which is so reasonable. Our Lord's merit consisted in his displaying such exalted goodness, while yet, like other men, he was born with the seeds of evil. Merit arises from or consists in being good where there are inclinations and temptations to be evil. The Lord was perfected through suffering. And he suffered because he had in his nature that which was the ground of suffering he had the hereditary love which formed the ground of this temptation, and he experienced it in its greatest possible intensity: "He was taken up into an exceeding high mountain." From the top of the lofty mountain the devil showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them. This particular is an evidence of the symbolical nature of this relation. Sundry explanations have been offered, but no satisfactory one has been given. Besides, if Jesus was truly the Son of God, he did not require to be carried by Satan to the top of an exceeding high mountain, to have the sight presented to him. He knew more than the devil could show him; and Satan himself must have known that too well to be guilty of such an absurdity. Such conduct must have done much more to defeat his scheme than to advance it. But though it cannot have been true literally, it is instructively true spiritually. The exceeding high mountain and the kingdoms of the world were in the mind of the Saviour himself. The whole world was there, with its passions and its interests, but slumbering in the depths of his human consciousness, till called into activity by an influx from the kingdom of darkness. And when, under the strong pressure of its influence, self-love is excited in the will, all the kingdoms of the world are seen by the understanding: for the fire of love in the will becomes a flame of light in the understanding. In this way it was that the devil took Jesus up into an exceeding high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world. But this did not constitute the temptation. Indeed, there is nothing evil in the love of self and the love of the world themselves. They are necessary elements in the constitution of human nature; for while man lives in the world be must take his part in the affairs of the world, its government and acquisitions; and he could not engage in them unless he had a love for them, for without love there can be no action. Our temptation in the world is, not to love and use the things of the world, but to fall down and worship the devil, that we may possess them. So long as we acknowledge the world to be God's world, and use it as his, we sin not; nay, we would sin in not using it. It is not its use, but its abuse, that forms the subject of temptation; and all abuse comes from evil, which, abstractly, is the devil. Evil claims the world and everything else as its own, and wishes to be worshipped as its owner. Our temptation, therefore, is to worship self instead of God, and possess and use the world for the sake of ourselves and our own glory. He whom we serve is the object of our worship. And we serve whoever or whatever is the object of our ruling love. If we supremely love self or the world, self or the world is the object of our worship. The devil is ever striving to excite this love in our hearts. The love of self and the world are not, in our fallen state, disposed, as they were intended, to find their happiness in serving God; they desire to usurp his authority and claim his possessions as their own. This is the ground of our temptations. Whether shall we serve and obey God or self? this is the question. To decide this great practical question of life or death is, in fact, the use of temptation, and the Divine purpose in permitting it. The devil is ever suggesting to us. All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me; while God through his Word is ever answering this seductive appeal, by saying, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Jesus overcame the temptation with this divine truth, which proved an antidote to the poison which the old serpent was attempting to infuse into his mind. The Word is the armoury front which we must draw the weapons of our warfare in our conflicts with the world and self. And he who does this faithfully shall never be moved. The Lord, who permits us to be tried, never allows us to be tempted above what we are able to bear; and with every trial he provides a way of escape: and that way will be found in the truths of the Word and obedience to them.

We find that the tempter is called both the Devil and Satan. These two names are expressive of two kinds of evil spirits. As heaven consists of the good and the true, hell consists of the evil and the false. The evil are called the Devil, and the false are called Satan. The tempter is called by both these names, to indicate that the Lord was tempted by both these classes of evil spirits, and consequently from both the evils which distinguish them.

It is of the utmost importance that we should have some clear view on the subject of the Lord's temptation; and should avoid the mistake which our imperfect knowledge of their nature and purpose is likely to cause. A knowledge of the purpose for which the Lord assumed human nature lies, of course, at the foundation of all right views respecting the nature and use of his temptations. The opinion entertained by many, that Jesus assumed man's nature to suffer in it, as man's substitute, the punishment due to man's transgressions, reduces the Lord's temptations to a judicial infliction. And in order that he might bear it in man's stead, it is supposed that he himself must have been free from the common ground of temptation and suffering, which is evil. It is therefore assumed that, though born of a fallen women, he himself was unfallen, having, by the miraculous conception, received a manhood pure as that of Adam. To say that the Lord assumed human nature in its fallen state will seem to those who hold the opinion that he was born pure, as virtually calling the Lord a sinner. Some suppose that if Jesus had inherited moral imperfection, he could not have made atonement for other men's sins, but only for his own. The nature of the Lord's work in the flesh required that he should assume human nature in its fallen state, having in it the seeds of all human infirmity. It was to do the very work that man has to do that the Lord assumed man's nature. And the purpose of the Lord's doing that work in himself was, that he might afterwards do it in us, according to the nature of the work he first effected in himself. In reference to the present subject it is therefore said that he was tempted in all points as we are; and it is further declared, that he was made perfect through suffering, And in regard to the purpose, in relation to us, for which the Lord endured temptation, it is said to have been, that he might succour those that are tempted. Both these truths were declared by the Lord himself when he said, "For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified by the truth." The Lord's temptations were among the means by which this sanctification or glorification of his humanity was was effected, and by which he became the Author of sanctification and regeneration to men. Had not the Lord assumed an imperfect humanity, having in it the seeds of evil, he could not have been tempted as other men are, nor could he have been perfected through the suffering of temptation. The opinion that these seeds of evil made the Lord a sinner is a mistake. Every man inherits evil; but no man is a sinner till he has committed sin; for sin is the transgression of the law. The grand distinction between Jesus and every other man consisted, not in the difference of their state by birth, but in the difference of their state by life. Jesus, like other men was born with hereditary evil; but, unlike every other man, he was entirely free from actual sin. He is indeed called, by birth, a holy thing but this is applied to him as the Son of God, and not as the son of Mary or the son of Man. It is remarkable that his sinlessness is spoken of in the Scriptures, not in reference to his birth but his life - in fact, in reference to his trials and temptations. "He was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin." Had such a remark been introduced in connection with his birth, there might have been some ground for the opinion that be was born absolutely free from moral infirmity. Had it been said, for instance, that he was born of a woman, yet without sin, the objection would have had some force; but when we find his sinlessness associated with temptation, in which all other men to some extent fail, we may conclude that practical, and not hereditary freedom from evil is meant. This constituted the great value, as well as the great merit of our Lord's sinlessness. He was tempted, but he never yielded in temptation. He met the whole power of evil, both on earth and in hell on the battle ground of a frail humanity, but, notwithstanding its frailty, he conquered in every temptation, and crowned his work with complete victory. Thus did the Lord subjugate the powers of darkness and glorify his humanity. As he conquered, so has he now the keys of hell and of death. And now does he say, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne" (Rev. iii. 21).

11. When the Lord's temptations were ended, Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him. We find here another hint of the existence of an inner sense in the Scriptures. The Lord did not require the assistance of angels who, however exalted above the condition of men, are but finite beings, and could afford no aid to him, who, being from above, was above all. But there is deep truth in this, although it is not to be literally understood. The condition of mankind at the time of our Lord's coming was so deeply evil that hell was near, and heaven was far from them. The Lord came to reverse this order. He came to drive back the powers of darkness, and restore man's connection with heaven. He overcame hell by admitting temptations into himself. When he overcame these temptations, then was hell removed, and heaven came near. This was a general result of the Lord's conquests. But it is said that the angels came and ministered unto him. The angels ministered unto him, as men in their devotions and virtues serve him, not by giving him anything he did not already possess, but by satisfying, by their ministrations, his desire for their happiness This desire is his hunger; and our doing his will is our ministering unto it. There is another and more practical lesson which we learn from this relation. The Lord was our Example. What is recorded of him is to be realized by us. This record describes the result of our overcoming in temptation. When we resist the devil he flees from us, and when the devil leaveth us angels come and minister unto us. Here are hope and consolation for those that are toiling in the upward path of regeneration. Tempted Christians, who feel themselves beset on every side by evil spirits and evil influences, which shut out the light and love of heaven, may gain strength and take courage, knowing that if they continue to hold bravely on in the day of trial, their perseverance will be rewarded with deliverance from the oppression of the enemy, when angels will come near as ministering spirits, sent to minister unto them who have shown themselves worthy of being heirs of salvation.

12. The circumstance which is next related, apparently in continuance of the series of historical events, is yet separated from the Lord's temptation by a considerable interval of time. Yet the two seem to be connected in character; and this, no doubt, is the reason that these events, although they have no historical connection, are here brought together. Who would suppose that an event that did not take place till about three years after the Lord's temptation in the, wilderness, should be introduced in the form. Now, when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee? Yet may we not find a reason for this in the similarity of our Lord's being in the wilderness, as it were the prisoner of Satan, and John's being cast into prison by one who may justly be regarded as an emissary of the kingdom of darkness? This bringing together of these distant events will be seen to be all the more appropriate and significant when we reflect, that a similar treatment of the Incarnate Word by the powers of darkness, and of him who represented the written Word by the powers of the world, are related in signification to each other. As it was the aim of the tempter to overcome the power and frustrate the object of the Incarnate Word, so was it the purpose of the corrupt church, of which Herod was the type to deprive the written Word of influence and authority. As this was done in Judea, where the church had her chief seat and her ruling power, Jesus departed into Galilee. This was to represent that the Word having been perverted and rejected by the Jews, the Lord, as the Incarnate Word, betook himself to the Gentiles, to raise up among them a new spiritual church, in place of that which had ceased to exist among the Jews.

13-15. But although the Lord departed into the country whence he had come to Jordan unto John to be baptized, he did not return to the city where he had previously dwelt. On his return from Egypt, Joseph, to avoid Judea, where Archelaus reigned, "turned aside into the parts of Galilee, and came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene;" but now, when, on Herod's imprisonment of John, he returns to Galilee, he leaves Nazareth, and comes and dwells in Capernaum, that another prophecy may be fulfilled: The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death, light is sprung up. The cities or villages in which the Lord dwelt being made the subjects of prophecy, indicates a higher meaning than appears on the surface of these divinely-inspired Writings. Besides their minuteness in very inconsiderable things, there is another particular that may impress us with a conviction of their spirituality. Galilee is spoken of as being beyond Jordan. Galilee was not on the east of Jordan, out of the land of Canaan, although "beyond Jordan" generally has this meaning. Understood with some degree of latitude, the words may mean that the Lord's work was to extend to the Gentiles on both sides of the Jordan, as we find from this chapter that it did. For the fame of Jesus' teaching and healing went throughout all Syria, which was on the other side Jordan; and among the great multitudes that followed him some were "from beyond Jordan" (v. 25). May we not suppose, however, that Zabulon and Nephthalim were described as situate beyond Jordan, to express the distinctly gentile character of those to whom the Lord now turned out of the land being equivalent to out of the church? Whether this be the case or not, there can be no doubt that we are here to understand the Lord's turning to the Gentiles. Two particulars enable us to ascertain the spiritual meaning of Capernaum. It was upon the sea coast. The sea signifies the external of heaven and the church, in which are the simple who have thought naturally, and but little spiritually, about sacred things. It was also in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim. In reference to the people among whom the Lord had now come, besides being called Gentiles, the description indicates that they were in an external state, being on the "coast" and on the "borders." The land of Zabulon and the land of Nephthalim also Galilee of the Gentiles, as nations, signify that a church was to be established among the Gentiles, who are in the good of life, and receive truths, and thus are in the conjunction of good and truth, and in combat against evils and falsities. That the establishment of the church and the reformation of such Gentiles are understood, is also evident from the series of expressions, as that the land was beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, and also that the people which sat in darkness saw great light, and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light had sprung up. Such being the signification of the country or land where Capernaum was, we have only to reflect on the signification of a city, to arrive at a knowledge of the place which this one holds in reference to the present subject "In the universal sense, cities signify the doctrinals of the church; but in the singular sense they signify the interiors of (the natural mind of) man where doctrinals are, or rather where truths are, conjoined with good. For the truths and goods pertaining to man form as it were a city; hence a man in whom is the church is called the city of God. The signification of a city is like that of a house. In the universal sense a house signifies good; but in the singular sense it signifies a man, and specifically his mind as to good and truth there conjoined; and a house, with its apartments, circumjacent buildings, and courts, is a city in the least form." Capernaum then, represented the doctrinals of Christianity as adapted to the state of the well-disposed Gentiles, and the natural mind in which they are received. For the Lord dwells in that region of the human mind where his truth and good are received, and indeed, where they are conjoined. The connection of Capernaum with the church which the Lord was about to raise up from among the Gentiles is indicated by the circumstances connected with the very next mention of that city by Matthew. For when the Lord, after his sermon on the mount, "entered into Capernaum there came unto him a centurion beseeching him to heal his servant, and whose humility drew forth from him the remark that he had not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

The state of the Gentiles at the time of our Lord's coming was widely different from that into which the Jews had so deeply plunged themselves. All, both Jews and Gentiles, were included under sin, but as the Gentiles, unlike the Jews, sinned, not against the clear light of Revelation, but against the dim light of tradition, their spiritual condition was much less deplorable. They sat in darkness, and in the region and shadow of death; but their darkness was the error of ignorance, and their death was the evil of natural concupiscence. They were in the region of death in regard to the unregenerate state of the will; and as evil in the will, by intercepting the light of truth flowing in from heaven, casts its dark shadow on the understanding, they were intellectually in the shadow of death. And not only were they in this region and shadow of death, but they "sat" therein, an expression which always implies a degree of confirmation in the particular state of life to which it relates. Yet the evils and errors of those who are out of the church, and even of the ignorant and simple-minded within it, are not of so deeply malignant a character as those of the well-instructed, who have entered deeply into the mysteries of faith. They, therefore, who sit in this darkness are capable of seeing great light, when it is revealed to them, and to them who sit in the region and shadow of this death light springs up when it shows them the way of life; for they are more disposed than the wise and prudent to receive the light of truth, and to be led by it into a true faith, and into genuine charity.

But this subject deserves to be considered in reference to the Lord himself; for Capernaum, as his new place of abode, must have the same relation to his public life as Nazareth had to his private life. "In the supreme sense, Zabulon and Nephthalim (as the sons and tribes of Israel) signified the union of the Divinity itself with the Lord's divine humanity, by means of temptation admitted into himself, and victories therein obtained by his own inherent power." For this union in the Lord is analogous to the conjunction of good and truth in man. When we consider the difference between the Lord's two states and modes of life, before and after his baptism, and the different significations of Nazareth and Capernaum, we must see the appropriateness of his leaving that "where he was brought up" for one which henceforth became "his own city." In the Lord's private and public life we cannot fail to see a correspondence with the two successive states of man's regeneration. The internal is first to be regenerated, and afterwards the external. Nazareth, signifying separation, represented that state and period of the Lord's life when his internal was regenerated - his state as a celestial man separate from the world. Capernaum represented that state and period of his life during which his external man was regenerated. To this Capernaum, being "on the sea coast" and "on the borders" of the land of Zabulon and Nephthalim answered. But there are other instructive circumstances besides these. Between the Lord's abode in these two places lay his baptism and his temptation in the wilderness. The baptism of John represented the purification of the external; and temptation, which was included in the signification of that rite, and into which our Lord entered immediately after his baptism, is the means by which evil in the external man is subdued and by which the internal and external are united. And here we see the suitableness of the Lord, after his temptations in the wilderness, coming into the land of Zabulon and Nephthalim, which, we have seen, signify the conjunction of good and truth by means of temptation, and, in reference to the Lord, the union of his divinity and humanity through temptations from the powers of darkness and victories over them. While therefore, Nazareth was the place where he was "brought up," Capernaum was, in a divine as well as in a natural sense, "his own city," for he became what Capernaum represented. It is not to be understood that the Lord's temptations were ended before he entered into Capernaum. On the contrary, he suffered much from the Capernians themselves, among whom he had done many of his greatest works. But we are to remember that even among the Gentiles there were, as there still are, the evil as well as the good, and consequently the unbelieving as well as the believing. And it was against Capernaum as consisting of and representing these, that our Lord afterwards uttered such severe censures and denunciations.

17. The state on which the Lord had now entered, being one in which the Word came forth from its interior recess in the internal of the Lord's humanity into a more outward development and manifestation, he began to take up the thread of John the Baptist's discourse, and preach the same doctrine to mankind. From that time, Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent; for the kingdom heaven is at hand. This is indeed an epoch in our Lord's history. It forms the commencement of his ministry - the first of the sublime teachings which make up the incomparable code of interior and spiritual wisdom that stamps the Gospel as the power of God unto salvation. The time from which Jesus began to preach was that in which "he learnt experience from the things which he suffered.'' He had been tempted, and had passed through the fiery ordeal refined and tempered. And now he was prepared to give the world the fruits of his practical wisdom. Time is the emblem of state; and the state which results from successful temptation is, as we have seen, a state of conjunction - in the Lord's case, the union of goodness and truth, and a proportional union of his divine and human natures. Preaching is appropriate to the state on which the Lord had now entered; for it is the function of the internal to think and feel, of the external to speak and act. It is worthy of remark that the theme of the beginning of the Lord's preaching is precisely the same as that of John the Baptist's. It is said by some that repentance is not the gospel. No doubt the gospel includes much besides the doctrine of repentance, but there can be no gospel without repentance. Repentance, we repeat, as it was the first duty preached, is the first to be performed. It is the gate of introduction to that kingdom of heaven which was declared to be near at hand. It is not "believe," but "repent and believe," that forms the enlarged teaching of the gospel.

"Repent" was the first word uttered by the Divine Preacher, and stands as the Portal of the True Christian Temple of religion. Whoever would enter in, must pass through the gate of Repentance. Although there is no literal difference, there is a spiritual distinction between preaching and saying; mentioned together, they imply that the Lord addresses himself to the will and to the understanding; and repentance respects both, for we have to repent of our evils and also our errors.

18. But when the Lord appeared before the world as the Preacher of the gospel, he was pleased to employ other instruments to carry on the great work. Walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. The calling of the apostles is an interesting and instructive circumstance. The selection of the men who were to be, so to speak, the companions of the Saviour in his life, and labourers with him in his beneficent work, is a matter of deep interest. But when we know that the apostles, as a body and as individuals, sustained a representative character, the choice becomes instructive as well as interesting. The apostles were the first-fruits of the church, and represented it. There is an evident resemblance of the twelve apostles to the twelve patriarchs and tribes of Israel which is rendered evident by the names of both being inscribed, one on the foundations, the other on the gates of the Holy Jerusalem. The twelve apostles like the twelve patriarchs, represented all or every class who constitute the church on earth and in heaven, of which the sealing of the twelve tribes in the Revelation (ch. vii.) may convince us. As the apostles represent all the members of the church, abstractly, they represent all the principles of the church, or all the graces and virtues that constitute the church or heaven in the regenerate mind. Understood in this sense, each apostle represents a particular grace. And the order in which they were chosen, like that in which the sons of Israel were born, represented the order in which the corresponding graces are received into the mind in the progress of the spiritual life. The New Testament does not give the history of the calling of all the twelve apostles, as the Old Testament does that of the birth of the twelve sons of Israel, but so far as the history goes, the parallel is complete. The first four apostles are, similar to the first four patriarchs. The call of the one and the birth of the other are correspondent. Like Simon Peter, Reuben signifies faith in the understanding; like Andrew, Simeon signifies faith in the heart; like James, Levi signifies charity; and John, like Judah, signifies love. It was when Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee that he saw the brethren, and called them. The scene which this part of the gospel presents is touching and beautiful in its simplicity. Jesus, choosing out men for his work of evangelizing the world, walks along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and calls unto him some of the fishermen engaged in their humble calling, that they may become fishers of men. The sea, we have seen, signifies the external of heaven and the church; and those who dwell by the sea are such as are of an external but simple character. The Sea of Galilee represented the heathen world as to its intellectual character and condition, and those who were fishers in it were, by analogy, suited to become fishers of men. But the sea has another and kindred signification. As "the gathering together of waters," which are emblematical of truths, the sea signifies the literal sense of the Word, which is the ultimate receptacle of all divine truth; and the fish in the sea signify the living, literal truths which it contains. Fishers in this sense are such as study the Divine Word, to draw from it the truths that sustain the religious life both of themselves and others. This is a qualification required in those who become fishers of men. And, indeed, the catching of men is effected by the acquisition and communication of the truths of the Holy Word; so that none but those who search the Word can evangelize the world. It was because both these meanings were included in the Sea of Galilee that the Lord walked on its shores, to choose from among its fishermen those who were required to go forth to teach and to preach in his name. As he walked he saw two brothers. And there was a reason for those he then chose being brothers. Truth and good are brothers, or, what is the same thing, faith and obedience are brothers, for truth in the understanding is faith, and truth in the will is obedience. In choosing Peter first, our Lord teaches us that faith is the first grace that finds a place in the minds of the regenerate. Repentance, we have said, is the gate of introduction into the church - but repentance is rather an act and a state than a grace - it is a general turning of the mind away from sin, which prepares it for the reception of the graces of religion, or of the principles which form it. Repent and believe. Repentance, like John the Baptist, precedes and prepares the way of the Lord - faith like Peter, comes after him and follows up his work. Hence our Lord said, "Follow me." Faith is not mere intellectual belief, but is the faith of truth grounded in good. He who was first chosen is therefore called Simon Peter, though the surname had not then been given, because these two names indicate faith as an intellectual state resting on the will; and Andrew expresses its fulness by being manifested in the life. When the Lord called these brethren, they were casting a net into the sea. They were in the very act which represented the exercise of the function they were called to assume, and using the instrument that corresponded with the means they were so successfully to employ, in drawing truths from the Word and men into the church. A net, like a hook, signifies doctrine, because it is an application of science to obtain results that men's unaided powers could not effect. Doctrine is necessary both to draw truths from the Word and men into the church; for without it we can neither rightly understand nor apply truths. Therefore "fishers," which Peter and Andrew are said to have been, are "those who search out and teach, first natural truths, and afterwards spiritual truths, in a rational manner."

19. When Jesus saw Peter and Andrew, he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. In the time of our Lord's sojourn on earth, men who received the Lord as the Messiah were frequently required literally to follow him. Spiritually, all require to follow him by walking in the truth and imitating his holy example. And this the disciple must do if, from being a learner and teacher of natural truth, he would become a learner and teacher of spiritual truth. This progression is meant by becoming a fisher of Men. Fish signify natural truths, and men rational truths. To be fishers of men the disciples must be able to teach spiritual truths after a rational manner. And this can only be done by following the Lord as the Divine Truth itself, and as that Divine Truth manifested in human nature; for the Lord became man, that he might become the fisher of men, both immediately and by means of others.

Faith in the understanding however clear and bright, will not alone suffice for our salvation. Peter has indeed the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and can open it to our view; but he must be accompanied by his brother Andrew before we can fully enter into it. For as Peter signifies faith in the understanding, so Andrew his brother signifies faith in the will, as a willing devotedness of oneself to the practice of what faith teaches.

It is to such characters as these, or to those who are earnest in connecting faith and obedience, that the Lord peculiarly addresses himself, saying, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." This injunction is of the utmost weight and importance. We follow the Lord when we become his disciples, more especially when we follow his example; but the deep import of this command can only be seen when it is understood that the Lord alludes to the process through which he passed in glorifying his humanity and uniting it to his divinity, of which transcendent process the regeneration of man, or the process by which man acquires a spiritual quality and attains conjunction with the Lord, is an image and imperfect copy.

20. It is surprising, and shows the influence which the Lord exercised over well-disposed minds, that when he called the two brothers, they straightway left their nets, and followed him. It is to be understood, that while the Lord was raising up a church among the Gentiles, the first fruits of his ministry were Jews who were in a Gentile state, for such were necessary to be instruments of reaching others through the Scriptures. The doctrines and truths of the Word were the net by which they were to draw men into the church. But in order that they might receive and use the "gospel net," they must leave their Jewish net behind. And such only as were willing to do this could become apostles of the new dispensation. New wine cannot be put into old bottles. New truths cannot be put into old doctrinals. The doctrinals of the Jewish church related in a great measure to ceremonials, which were to be abolished. As bottles they had served their use, and new bottles were to be provided for new wine. The old nets were not more required than old bottles. These two disciples, leaving their nets, followed the Lord; followed him in the regeneration in performing works of love, and in teaching truths of wisdom. Happy are they who have advanced to the state represented by Simon and Andrew when they obeyed the Lord's call - for they have entered into a state of conjunction with the Lord, and secured, if they faint not, a place in his kingdom.

21. But excellent as this state is, it is not the highest that the Lord has prepared for them that serve him. For we find that Jesus went on further. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother. By going on is meant a progression or advancement in the state treated of. This, with respect to the Lord himself, is a progression towards more intimate union with the Essential Divine called the Father; and with respect to man, it is progression towards more interior conjunction with the Lord, or a deeper and more interior reception of him in the mind - the opening of a principle in the mind in which he can more intimately dwell. According we find that a very distinct state is alluded to; for it proceeds to say that he saw other two brethren. The reason of this particular distinction is because Peter and Andrew, considered together, represent here the first state of the regenerate life, in which the understanding dictates and the will obeys: but the calling of James and John represented a state in which the will itself is renewed, and, no longer requiring to be led by the understanding, asserts its pre-eminence, and needs only to consult the understanding to draw thence the means of executing the good purposes which it now intends. James, accordingly, is the type of the heavenly principle of charity, or of love towards the neighbour; and John is that spontaneous determination of love into action by virtue of which a benevolent purpose is no sooner conceived in the heart than the hands and all the outward faculties are put into requisition for its performance. How elevated a state that is in which love and charity immediately influence the will, and good is done from spontaneous affection! and how superior it is to the doing of good from motives of obedience only, and from intellectual conviction, must be evident to all. Still more superior is it to that state in which men do good from the promptings of good natural dispositions, without any spiritual charity in the heart or any spiritual truth in the understanding. Natural good is indeed a medium for receiving spiritual good, but cannot be a substitute for it. This good seems to be denoted by Zebedee, the father of James and John. When good from the Lord is received, this natural good as a principle of action is no longer wanted, nor indeed, admissible; and therefore James and John, when they received the Lord's call, left their father and followed him. That Zebedee represented the will-principle in general as to the good natural affections which are received by birth, would appear from another important occasion on which James and John are named as his sons. When the mother of these two disciples came to ask of the Lord that they might sit, the one on his right hand and the other on his left in his kingdom, she is called the mother of Zebedee's children, no doubt to mark the natural origin of the request, in which there was something of self-exaltation which required to be crucified - for the Lord said to the sons, "Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" but which had so much good in it as, to be able and willing to endure the trial - for they said, "We are able."

22. And they immediately left the ship and their father and followed him. The Lord required of his disciples that they should leave father and mother, and wife and children, and all that they had, and follow him. This, which was literally done in the days of his flesh, is to be done spiritually now. For these natural relations were the types of the natural principles which constitute our selfhood. It is in reference to these that the Divine Teacher also says, that "a man's foes shall be they of his own household;" and from whom he is therefore required to separate himself. The two brethren leaving the ship and their father to follow Jesus, was thus a natural act, representing the spiritual duty of giving up all things. Both of the natural understanding and the natural will, that we may become the Lord's disciples. And this is done "immediately," when it is done without hesitancy or reservation; for as the spiritual sense has no relation to time, but only to state, "immediately" means certainly, as the result of strong affection and unwavering faith.

23. The Lord, though he had chosen labourers to work in his vineyard, did not on that account cease to work in it himself. Jesus went, about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. Galilee, we have seen, represented, in relation to man, the natural mind. And when the Lord, after choosing these four disciples, went about all Galilee, we are instructed that when the Lord, as the Divine Truth, is received in faith and love in the inner man, his Divine presence and power descend into the external, carrying light and joy and healing into every faculty and principle therein. The Lord's labours there are particularly described. He was employed in teaching preaching and healing - teaching truth to the intellect, preaching good to the will, and healing the disorders of evil and falsity in the life. He taught in their synagogues, for a synagogue signifies the church as to doctrine; he preached the gospel of the kingdom, for the gospel signifies the truths and goods of the Word, revealed at the coming of the Lord and governing in the heart; he healed all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people, for sickness and disease signify the practical disorders of the life, arising from evil lusts and false persuasions being brought into act; and their existence among the "people" signifies that the disorders had an intellectual origin: for evil may either pass from the understanding into the will, or from the will into the understanding; and those which originate in the intellect are less malignant and deadly than those which originate in the will. Sins of error are less destructive than sins of intention. And this more especially is the character of evil among the Gentiles, or those in the church who are in a Gentile state; and those are meant especially by the Galileans, who dwelt in the land, which represented the church, and were yet in a Gentile state.

24. And his fame went throughout all Syria. Syria, or Aram, was out of the holy land, on the other side of Jordan. But it was in this country that the Hebrew church commenced and some remains of the knowledges of which still existed in the time of Abraham, who was of Padan-aram, and even in the time of Balaam, who knew Jehovah, and made a perverse use of the knowledge he possessed, by using divination against the children of Israel. The remains of the Hebrew, or second ancient church, continued in Syria a long time; but it at last became idolatrous. Syria has therefore two opposite significations. Considered as the seat of the Hebrew church, it signifies the knowledges of good and truth; but considered as idolatrous, it signifies the opposite, or these principles perverted. When, therefore, the Lord's fame went into all Syria, it went among a people who were not pure Gentiles, but who had affinity with the church. And the result showed that the Syrians were ready to receive the gospel, and to acknowledge the Lord is the Messiah; for they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic and those that had the palsy. Sickness is a universal term, including under it general and particular evils of every kind. Evils generally are those of the will and the understanding, which are here meant by diseases and torments. Particular evils are those of the will, the understanding, and the life, and these are meant by the three afflictions that follow. Devils are evils of the will; lunatics are falses of the understanding; and palsies are evils of the life.

These include, indeed, almost all the maladies that are mentioned in the New Testament as those with which the multitudes were afflicted that came to Jesus for a cure. His power was equal to the greatest demand that was made upon it. The present relation gives us the impression, if not the assurance, that the maladies were not only diverse, but numerous; they came from all parts of Syria, and were additional to those who came from Galilee. Yet he healed them all. And he is still the same merciful and infallible Physician. He heals the spiritual disorders and diseases of all who come to him, and who trust in his power to save.

25. Besides the numerous sick and afflicted that were healed, there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan. These great multitudes represented the numerous thoughts and affections of the mind that the Lord, by healing and regenerating the soul, draws into connection with himself, and conforms to the laws of his own Divine life, which is specially meant by following him. The regions from which these multitudes came indicate the kind of thoughts and affections they represent. Those from Galilee and Decapolis signify the inner and outer, or celestial and spiritual-natural; for Decapolis was out of the land: lying between Canaan and Syria; Jerusalem and Judea signify the spiritual and celestial; and those beyond Jordan signify the sensual and corporeal. Thus these multitudes include all classes of persons and principles, spiritually considered, that receive love and light from the Lord, and that follow him in the regeneration. Taken in connection with the calling of the four disciples, and making them fishers of men, and their following him as their Lord, this great multitude from all parts represented affections and thoughts of all kinds, brought under the influence of the Divine Love and wisdom of Jesus, the Saviour, now received as the Supreme Object of faith and love into the understanding and will. These are the great multitudes to whom, with the disciples, the Lord addressed his Sermon on the mount. The sublimity and universality of the truths he then delivered deserved an audience drawn together from all parts, both within and beyond the land of Canaan. And so with us individually; all our best thoughts and affections should be turned to the Lord, every faculty and power should be devoted to him, when he discourses to us of those high and holy principles that he came on earth to reveal, and which he is ever teaching through his Word, and continually operating by his Spirit to implant in the hearts of men.




5



COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW p. 6        CHAPTER V

This forms the commencement of that sublime series of saving wisdom, the whole of which has ever been the theme of general admiration, as known by the name of the "sermon on the mount." This appears to have been the first regular and continued discourse that fell from the lips of the living Word of God - of Jehovah, as incarnate for human salvation. For until he had been baptized by John, at which time the glorification of his Humanity was so far advanced as to admit of an immediate communication between his divine Essence and his external man - represented by the opening of the heavens, the descent of the Spirit as a dove, and the voice of divine acknowledgment then heard - he did not enter upon any public ministry at all. He then underwent the temptation in the wilderness, after which he returned to Galilee, "and from that time," as we are informed in the previous chapter, "Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." This is precisely the same as John the Baptist had proclaimed before, the burden of whose preaching is described in the very, same words. "Jesus," however, it is said, "went about all Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and disease among the people." But the first specimen that is given of his teaching, beyond the general announcement that the kingdom, of heaven was at hand, is that which is here recorded. And how admirably in accord with the character of the Divine Speaker, and with the errand of love on which he has descended into the domains of fallen humanity, are these heavenly sentences! It is to pronounce blessings that he opens his lips; and the first word which issues from them is the encouraging word "Blessed." And how truly, how sweetly encouraging is this blessing! In the sequel he abundantly declares how high is the tone of morals and true excellence which his religion requires; but, instead of beginning with this, or putting it in a form implying reproof and condemnation, he encourages his disciples to engage with cheerfulness in the duties which he shows to be those of true religion, by pouring out blessings upon the humble, the afflicted, and the well-disposed. He begins with evincing that the human race are the objects of his tender affection; that all that is good in them he desires to foster and increase; that their miseries are regarded by him with the softest pity; and that the delight of his heart is to remove evil and sorrow, to impart good, and eternally to bless.

1. As he thus so characteristically begins his divine teaching by manifesting his love - by evincing that it is from the purest Divine Love that all his instructions and requirements, all his words and actions, all his communication and dealing with the human race proceed - so this was represented by the circumstances and situation in, and from which, he delivered this discourse. Seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: and he opened his mouth, and taught them. His seeing the multitudes not only signifies that he beheld them with the eyes of his natural body, but also, according to the spiritual import of the phrase, that he perceived the state or condition of the wandering objects of the children of men - how, as is said in another place, they are "scattered abroad as sheep not having a shepherd" - his discernment of all their wants and needs, and his providence over them, keeping them under his care, and providing, in the best manner that their situation would permit, for their real and eternal good. Divine sight is especially foresight and providence. The Lord's being said, then, to see the multitude, is expressive of his exercise of this providence over the human race according to their state. For all the actions of the Lord Jesus Christ were representative, no less than his words were expressive, of divine and spiritual things - of some activity of his divine love and wisdom, either as existing within himself, or as going forth upon the human objects of his care and compassion. On account of this representative character of all his actions it was, that, when about to deliver the instructions of love composing this discourse, he went up into a mountain. This, indeed, in a natural point of view, gave him the advantage of the better seeing and being seen by the multitude that he was to address, and conveyed his words more audibly to their organs of hearing: but the action was nevertheless correspondent to the state or principle in himself from which he addressed these encouragements and instructions to the people. We have seen that, as the style of the commencement of his discourse most plainly evinces, he uttered it from the impulse of his divine love, and of this a mountain is a correspondent emblem. Frequent mention is made in the Holy Word, especially in its prophetic parts, of mountains and hills, because, in a good sense, a mountain is representative of celestial love, or love to the Lord, and a hill, of spiritual love, or the love of our neighbour. For it is from love that all spiritual elevation proceeds; and the more exalted and ardent the nature of the love in which man is principled, the more truly elevated is his internal state - the nearer to heaven and to the Lord. Thus, when the prophet declares that in the last days the mountain of the Lord's house should he established in the top of the mountains, and be exalted above the hills, it is evidently the principle of love, as revealed in the new church, and its supremacy over every lower celestial and spiritual affection, that are signified; and when the Lord is said to go up into a mountain, preparatory to his addressing the people, the signification is, that he entered into the depths and heights of his own unfathomable love, and that from that divine and infinite love flowed his divine words - all the truths which he communicates for the edification and regeneration of the human race.

When he was set, it is added, his disciples came unto him. It was the custom with teachers in the Jewish representative church to deliver their instructions in a sitting posture, and not that of standing, which most nations have regarded as the most convenient for that purpose. The reason of the former choice was because sitting is significant of permanence and confirmation. Thus, to deliver instructions sitting, implied that the doctrines delivered were the dictates of permanent and immutable truth. How truly was this applicable to the instructions of the Lord Jesus Christ! With strict propriety and weight of meaning is it therefore recorded that he seated himself, and that in a mountain, when he delivered this divine discourse. The doctrines he then delivered were the dictates of eternal and immutable divine truth-eternal and immutable because grounded in the purposes of infinite beneficence and love.

2. Thus it was that he opened his mouth, and taught - revealed the doctrines and communicated the life-giving instructions of that infinite wisdom which is constantly directed to the promotion of the true welfare of man, the salvation of the human race.

3. When the Lord was thus set upon the mountain, with the disciples around and the multitude before him, he began his divine discourse by saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Before we proceed to consider the beatitudes, we may offer a few remarks on the connection that exists between them. There can be no doubt that, like all things stated in the Divine Word, there is a regular order and series in these beatitudes, and that, though each appears in the letter to stand by itself, and not to be in any wise dependent on those which follow and precede it, they nevertheless are all connected by divine principles of arrangement, whence each has relation to the others in the series, and each occupies its proper place in it, so that it could not with the same propriety stand anywhere else. What the principle of the arrangement is, however, is not so plain here as in many of the discourses, narratives, and precepts of the Holy Word; and as I have never met with anything in which this matter is illustrated, what I shall offer upon it shall be proposed with great diffidence. I cannot discern that the several blessings fall throughout into classes either of two or of three each, as is usually the case with series of subjects in the Word of God. They are commonly reckoned eight in number, because the two last, both relating to enduring persecution, are usually regarded as composing but one. In form, however, the two last are distinct, making nine in the whole: thus, the distinguishing word "Blessed" is nine times repeated. Hence they cannot be divided throughout into classes of two each. They might be divided into classes of three each, but, as appears to me, not without violence - not without separating parts that are most closely connected, and uniting others which are obviously more distinct. I incline, therefore, to conclude that the first four are connected together, forming two specific classes of two each, but each two having also a plain reference to the other two, so as to compose altogether a general class of two great portions, each again consisting of two members. Thus, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, and Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted, are plainly united, the one having respect to the good and the other to the truth of the same order or state, and composing thus that heavenly marriage, the existence of which we have often occasion to notice in the Divine Word. The one clause has reference to those who regard themselves as destitute of good, and the other to those who regard themselves as destitute of truth. But the two next clauses are connected together in the same way, and also answer respectively to the two first. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth - Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled, are clauses which relate to those who are in the desire for goodness and truth; and there appears a relation between the meek, in the first of these clauses, and the poor in spirit in the first clause of the preceding class: whilst there is a relation no less plain in the beatitude promised to each, the inheriting of the earth clearly answering to the possessing of the kingdom of heaven. So the hungering and thirsting after righteousness, in the second clause of this second class, is closely allied to the mourning mentioned in the second clause of the preceding class; and the being filled answers to the being comforted.

Thus, while each of the two classes contains a clause relating more to truth, and a clause relating more to good, the two classes have the same relation taken together. The poor in spirit and they that mourn, both have relation to the principle of truth, if viewed in connection with the meek, and with those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, which have relation, so viewed, to the principle of good; but to good more as looked to and desired than yet actually attained.

The three next clauses are closely related with each other, and so little connected with the preceding and following that they appear to me to form one general class together, and by themselves. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. All these terms - the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers - seem to belong properly to the states of the will or love, and thus to those who are in the enjoyment, respectively, of three degrees of good from the Lord, and thence are principled in pure divine truth, or gifted with its perceptions.

The two last clauses, relating, to those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, and for the Lord's sake, evidently belong to each other, and form a class by themselves They relate to those who, by temptations, both as to good and as to truth, attain to states of good and of truth through purification from evils. Thus they relate to the means by which are effected the conjunction of the internal and the external man, and the conjunction of man himself with the Lord.

I know not whether, by this slight sketch, I have been able to convey any clear idea of the mode in which, as it appears to me, the clauses of these beatitudes are to be classified. I think, however, it will be seen that the two first clauses, relating to the poor in spirit and to them that mourn, form a pair; the second two, relating to the meek and them that hunger and thirst after righteousness, another pair, and these two pairs a compound pair together; that the three next, touching the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers, form a class by themselves; and the two last, respecting the persecuted and reviled, a class likewise. Thus the whole may be viewed as falling into three general portions: the first consisting of two compound, or of four single, members; the second of three single members, and the last of two.

However, whether this attempt at classifying the clauses be seen to be just or not, there is another principle which prevails in the Holy Word, where a general series of subjects is delivered, which cannot fail to be perceived to be applicable here. That is, that the first mentioned in order is a universal principle, which reigns through all the others, and determines their specific quality. That principle here, then, is the being poor in spirit. Evidently, to explain the phrase in one word, this denotes the principle of humility, which is the only ground in which heavenly graces can truly grow. We are therefore taught, by its being here mentioned first, that in order to the enjoyment of any of the beatitudes which follow, humility must first be established, and made a universally reigning principle in the heart and mind.

But what is this humility? If humility is the opposite of pride and arrogance. Unfortunately, in our language we cannot express the quality of being poor in spirit by any one term which does not, according to the genius of the language, convey the notion of what is abject and mean, and which therefore implies rather selfishness than self-abnegation. Yet this cannot be the character of those whom the Lord pronounces to be blest for being poor in spirit, when, in the sequel of this very discourse, he condemns all selfish views in the most decided manner, when he expressly commands his disciples to "do good and lend, hoping for nothing again." It is true that he says to those who do act in this disinterested manner that their reward shall be great in heaven; but this does not mean an external recompense or repayment independent of the state of good, and thence of happiness in the person's own mind, but the blessedness which is inherent in that good itself, and which becomes greater and greater in proportion to the degree in which a person is capable of doing good for its own sake, or from the pure love of goodness, irrespective of any reward or any recompence whatever.

But they who are the most capable of acting with real disinterestedness, without regard to recompense, either in the shape of a return of the same kind, or of credit, reputation, and applause in its stead, will most heartily acknowledge that they possess nothing which they have not received; that there is but one source of all real goodness, and of all real greatness; and consequently, that whatever of these may be exhibited in the conduct of a created being, only has a residence in him by gift and communication from his Creator. To separate man from God would be equally to separate him from all good, and then he could neither cherish any feelings nor do any actions but such as are altogether evil. And the only way in which man can be in the reception of pure goodness, truth, or any heavenly attribute from the Lord, is by being habitually in the acknowledgement that whatever he has of that kind is from this divine Source - thus, that nothing of it is from himself, unconnected with his Maker. And in proportion to the depth and fullness of the feeling and conviction which man has, that nothing good or true is from himself alone, will be his capacity of receiving ennobling gifts from his Creator and Redeemer. Therefore it is that the Lord pronounces the first of his beatitudes in favour of those that are poor in spirit, and affirms that theirs is the kingdom of heaven. For to be poor in spirit is to be in the heartfelt acknowledgment of our spiritual poverty and destitution in, and of, ourselves; specifically, to see and feel that nothing of true knowledge, understanding, and wisdom is of ourselves, or is self-derive. In proportion as there is this heartfelt acknowledgment, there is the capacity of receiving the corresponding gifts from the Lord, and of enjoying and exercising them by derivation from him. These, consequently, are imparted in abundance to such a mind; in other words, there is the kingdom of heaven - the reign of Divine Truth, with all the graces which it brings. And if by reason of temptations from beneath, or from the activity of the evils of man's nature striving to engross his affections, the kingdom of heaven is not at all times felt by such a person to be his in possession, it nevertheless is, even in his darkest states, his in property, or in right, and by the best of all rights, that of gift and endowment from its Divine Originator and indefeasible Proprietor.

4. One with the promise made to the poor in spirit is that to those who mourn. For if one of these terms refers more specifically to the acknowledgment and perception, on the part of man, that he has no knowledge, understanding, or wisdom of himself, the other refers to the corresponding acknowledgment that he has no good, no charity, no heavenly love of his own; that, viewed as he is in and of himself, and separate from his connection with the Lord, he is destitute of the graces of the heavenly kingdom in regard to the furniture of his will, as well as in regard to that of his understanding. Therefore, again, man being thus emptied of self, there is room for the Lord to enter, and to fill him with his good. Wherefore, also, it is said of those who mourn, that they shall be comforted - that all their wants shall be supplied - that the destitution of which they are sensible in themselves shall be removed - and that, being well aware that they can pretend to nothing good of their own, or originating in themselves, they shall be supplied with good in all abundance, and according to the utmost of their capacity of reception, from the Lord.

It is, however, a fact, that man is not only negatively destitute of all truth and of all good in and of himself but also, that positively, in and of himself, he is nothing but evil - that, by what is called the fall of man, and the accumulation of evil which has thence gone on through innumerable generations, man brings into the world with him an immense mass of tendencies to every direful and abominable enormity, so that his selfhood is entirely made up of such evil tendencies; and that every one has, to a greater or less extent, allowed these tendencies to come into act, and so has alienated himself farther from the pure reign of the Lord and of goodness. Here is abundant ground, when a man becomes sensible that such is really his state, for mournful sensations literally; and grief on account of the privation, absence, or perversion of good, is the proper spiritual signification of mourning when mentioned in the Holy Word. No one, however, can truly mourn over the evils which he perceives in himself but from something good interiorly received from the Lord. Whenever, therefore, there is real sorrow for sin, - not merely alarm on account of its expected punishment, - there, to a certainty, a principle of good, of mercy, or of grace, is present from the Lord, operating to effect a cure. That cure, is effected when the good thus present with man from the Lord has accomplished the removal of the evil opposed to it - when it has become paramount in the soul; and not only so, but when it fills the whole heart, mind, and life, so that, being consciously loved, it is attended with a corresponding sense of delight and happiness. And this is what is strictly signified by the assurance, that he that mourneth is blessed, because he shall be comforted.

5. As the two first beatitudes relate to those who, from a principle of good in the internal, see the disorders of the external, in which they discern there is nothing but evil and falsity, so the two next beatitudes which answer to them, relate to those in whom goodness and truth are implanted in the external also, evil and falsity being removed. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. The earth is used in Scripture to signify the church, and, in relation to man individually, his external man: here it denotes the external man in state of regeneration and order. The meek denote those who are principled in charity, and who, from charity in the internal man, are mild and forbearing in the affections of the external man, towards those who oppose or ill-treat them, instead of acting, as the unregenerate man does in such cases, with resentment, passion, and violence. Thus it is said of Moses, in reference to the causeless sedition against him of Miriam and Aaron - "Now the man Moses was very meek above all the men which were on the face of the earth," (Num. xii 3). And the Lord takes the character himself when he says in that pathetic address to the weary and heavy laden, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly of heart." They, then, who are meek are they who, from a principle of charity, are able so to direct the feelings and conduct of the external man as that no emotions of anger and bitterness shalt arise or break out on any occasion whatever - who, partaking of the long-suffering attribute of the Divine Master, are able in their patience to possess their souls. This is a state, not merely of acknowledgement of evil, and of grief on account of it, but of good, which succeeds upon its removal in consequence of such acknowledgment. And the happy ones who thus cultivate this race of meekness shall assuredly inherit the earth. This does not mean, what many have dreamed, that the saints shalt become the sole possessors of what are called the good things of the world, and that a temporal kingdom over the realms of the earth shall be conferred upon them: what it means is, that the external man which by natural birth is the seat of all evils, shall be reformed and regenerated, and all its evils be removed and so controlled by the prevalence and dominion of heavenly principles, as to be in complete subjection and quiescence.

I have observed that the meek are they who are principled in charity, and thence regulate the emotions of the external man according to the principles of charity. But it is to be remembered that charity in its essence is truth, being the affection of living according to what truth teaches. Moses also, who was said to be the meekest of men, represents the law divine, or truth divine, in its internal ground. So that strictly, the term meek describes the quality of internal truth, which is not contentious, but pacific. In this view the clause will answer very exactly to that respecting those who are poor in spirit, they being specifically such as acknowledge that nothing of knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom is from themselves, thus, that of themselves, they are destitute of truth. This acknowledgement of destitution is in due time followed by the communication of truth; or the poor in spirit, to whom belongs the kingdom of heaven, or who have the internal man opened, in due time become the meek who shalt inherit the earth - those who, being in internal truth and the good of it, come into the possession of all the graces of the regenerate external Man.

6. The next beatitude, Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled, relates to the blessedness of being in the affection of goodness and truth; which affection is sure to be gratified, according to the degree of its intensity, by the communication of all the good and of all the truth which there is a capacity for receiving. Hunger, when applied to the Lord, is the earnestness of his desire to communicate good to mankind thus, for their salvation. So hunger, when applied to man in the sense of having an appetite for food, denotes his desire to be endowed with goodness, which is the proper food of the will, and in like manner thirst, thus applied, is his desire to appropriate truth, which is the proper food of the understanding. Righteousness is evidently goodness. Thus to hunger and thirst after righteousness is to desire and look to good with all the powers of the will and the understanding.

This is a desire which in a manner fulfils itself, since truly to desire to become better is actually to become so: only we must take care not to mistake a barren wish, the result of a mere intellectual conviction of the superiority of the state regarded, for that real desire of affection which alone is true spiritual hunger and thirst. Thus desiring, we shall know what it is to be happy. The happiness promised to such states will begin its development even in this life, by inspiring an inward peace and contentment: and it will expand hereafter into the utmost fulness of delight and joy.

We have observed of the first four beatitudes that they seem to constitute two double clauses, answering in each of their members respectively to each other; agreeably to that species of heavenly marriage, or union of goodness and truth, so often observable in the structure of the Divine Word. But besides the arrangement of the clauses into pairs, and into double pairs, which are so often found in the more poetical parts of the Word of God, triple clauses also not unfrequently occur, expressive of the three degrees of divine order existing in everything that proceeds from the Lord, by reason that such a trine or trinity exists in his own nature - and thence by derivations in the nature of man, his image, and thus also in heaven and in the church, and in anything whatever that is full and complete; whence, the number three itself, also, in the divine style of writing, signifies what is full and complete. In agreement with this order the three next beatitudes appear to be arranged; all which seem to relate more especially to states of good, and thus to denote three classes of persons who are distinguished by their attainments in heavenly good and love; and also to the three degrees of those excellencies as opened in the mind which is regenerated throughout its faculties. "Blessed are the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers" All these terms - merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers - certainly refer primarily to states of good; and most admirable and exalted must be the states which are properly described by such heavenly characteristics, - and they are used in reference to what our doctrines call the celestial man, through all the powers of his mind.

As the preceding beatitudes evidently describe an upward progress, it might be supposed that the ascending order would be still observed; but there are several points, not necessary to be mentioned, which indicate that this is not the order in which these three beatitudes are to be taken. We will now attempt to ascertain what is denoted by these three beatitudes respectively.

7. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Mercy, as we commonly use the word, is the affection of the mind which is exercised towards those who have been guilty towards us of some injury or offence, and whom we forgive and do good to notwithstanding. But the original term, though containing this meaning is of still more extensive import, as it includes all that we mean by compassion and pity - that is, all benevolence exercised towards those who are unhappy or distressed. If we remit to a person who has injured us the punishment he has deserved, we call it having mercy on him; if we sympathize with and relieve, where the case admits of relief, a person in distress, we call it having compassion on him. Both are included in the Scripture idea of mercy: indeed, the highest degree of tender benevolence, exercised especially towards those who are in affliction or distress, is what is called mercy in Scripture. Thus, as man of himself, is a helpless creature, exposed to great miseries and, if left to himself, to eternal ruin; therefore the Lord's love, as exercised towards him, is properly mercy, hence we find his love so continually spoken of, especially in the Old Testament, under the name of mercy, and his mercy is what is so continually supplicated in the inspired petitions of the Psalms. And they who are most sensible of their lost and wretched condition by nature and birth, and of the utter impossibility of their attaining real happiness, or any permanent good, except it be imparted to them as a free gift by the Lord, the most truly receive all the communications of his love and bounty as being of pure mercy. His love, as received by them, and exercised towards them, is felt and acknowledged to be mercy. The inmost feeling of their hearts is expressed in that divine saying of Jeremiah (Lam. iii. 22), "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed because his compassions fail not." They know well, that if his love, the communications of his mercy, were to be withheld from them a single moment, in that moment the evil of their selfhood would break forth and sink them into ruin. And the more profoundly man feels this, the more fully are those gifts conferred upon him; because, though the Lord never withholds them, it is only thus that room is made for their more fully flowing into him. He thus becomes most fully the recipient and the subject of the Lord's all-embracing love. Thus they, who receive the Lord's love in the greatest degree, and thence are most especially the objects of his love, are they who ascribe all to his mercy. This then, is eminently the characteristic of the celestial man - of the man who is most intimately principled in love to the Lord.

Now, it is an unquestionable fact, that they who thus are most replenished with the Lord's love in their own souls will necessarily overflow most with love and compassion towards others. Such then are "the merciful" spoken of in this beatitude. They are those who feel compassion from an internal, a celestial ground, for the miseries and infirmities of others. They will be merciful towards those who have injured or offended them, ever ready to forgive and to do them good. Yet their charity in this respect will be guided by prudence, and while they look upon the misconduct, even of their bitterest enemies, with pity, and cherish no inclination to do them injury in return, they yet will not so act as to encourage them in their wickedness, or to give them the means of perpetrating it to a greater extent. They will cherish feelings of benevolence towards all, and of mercy and compassion even towards the greatest sinners; but they will exercise charity in externals to every one according to his state, - thus, in one way towards a wicked man, and in another towards a good, knowing that the Lord's love towards mankind, to be exercised at all, necessarily takes the form of mercy; and feeling this experimentally in themselves, they will desire to act, in their finite degree, and according to their feeble ability, in a similar way towards their fellow creatures. They will view them, in some degree, as the Lord views them: they will feel compassion on beholding them wander from the paths of real good and happiness, and will thence desire above all things to contribute in some degree to reclaim men from their blindness and evil ways, and to promote in them the reception of the Lord's love and mercy. Thus, in every respect, they will cherish towards all the feelings of compassion and tenderness - of external compassion for those who are in outward calamities, of internal for those who are in spiritual destitution; and they will desire to do good in both respects, as far as their ability extends. Thus receiving the Lord's love, though in comparative obscurity, while in the world, and cultivating the merciful spirit which it inspires, they shall enjoy it openly and fully after death, and shall experience for ever the inestimable blessing of having obtained mercy.

8. The blessedness of the pure in heart, though also belonging to those who are of a celestial character, yet appears to partake of an intellectual quality, and to relate rather to the understanding of those who are grounded in celestial good, while the being merciful describes the quality of their will itself. The intellectual part, however, of those who are in the celestial state, or whose ruling love is love to the Lord, is completely one with their will, so that they never can think of anything from a mere intellectual view of it, but always in connection with their love and affection: hence their very thoughts are in a manner nothing but affections, being derivations, in a conscious form, of the love which occupies their inmost will. Thus to be pure in heart denotes to have a will purified, or cleansed, by the operation of Divine Truth, because it is the character of the celestial man, when he hears any truth, not to deposit it in his memory as a matter for occasional thought or speculation, but to appropriate it immediately in the life, thus making it the means of the still further purification of the will. The heart is always mentioned in Scripture as an emblem of the will; and to be pure in heart is to have a will purified from the defilements of evil, through the continual practice of appropriating divine truths, the only effectual purifiers, in the life, and thus, by their means, continually removing all impurity and evil more and more.

That there is here a reference to the intellectual state of those who are grounded in celestial good, is obvious from the blessing promised to this state, which is, that they who thus are pure in heart shall see God. This clearly relates to the intuitive perception of Divine Truth, which they enjoy who are principled in celestial good - whose state of good is grounded in the will itself, and not in the intellectual part only. To see is always spoken in the Word of the perceptions of the understanding, and the Lord is called God more especially in regard to that essential of his nature called Divine Truth: to see God, then, spiritually means, not only to behold a manifestation of the Lord in person (though this also is a privilege which such as are here treated of frequently enjoy), but also to see or apprehend the Lord's Divine Truth by an interior sort of sight or perception. And none really have such perception but they who are pure in heart - who apply all the truth they learn to the purification of the will and its affections, thus allowing it effectually to cleanse them from evils, by immediately incorporating it in the life and practice.

9. In the two former of these beatitudes we have a description of the state and blessedness of the celestial man, both as to his will and as to his understanding, or rather his perceptive facility, as making a perfect one with his will. It will easily be seen that the third beatitude in order - Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God - relates to the life and practice of such heavenly-minded characters. What conduct can be conceived more expressive of the outward operation of an inward principle of pure and exalted love - more appropriate to such a ground in the heart - than that of making peace! Love, it is obvious, is the great pacificator and where its operation is extended and received there will be peace. There no doubt is also a reference to the Hebrew form of speaking in which to seek the peace of any person or place, means, as we often see in the Old Testament, to promote their welfare in general. In this view the original term would be rendered in English, "peace doers," a meaning which it bears equally with that of peacemakers: and a peace doer, or a doer of peace, would be one, all whose actions tend to good and usefulness - to promote the prosperity of all with whom he has to deal; whose actions universally tend to good: I have no doubt that both the sense of doers of peace, and that of makers of peace, are here intended; and in both of them we have a full and most characteristic representation of the life of a man who is influenced it; all he does by celestial love. All that such a man does tends to peace. If all mankind were influenced by the same heavenly love, there would be nothing but peace throughout the earth. None would do an act which tended to the injury of another; and where, by any means, such an act was done, all would hasten to repair it, and to heal the breach which had been made. To do and to make peace, their, is undoubtedly the characteristic in act of him whose life in the will is constituted by love to the Lord and mutual love; who is merciful by the reception of the Lord's mercy; and who, by continually applying divine truths to the life, is pure in heart.

But no doubt a more interior meaning still is couched in the term peacemakers. The term relates, in the purely spiritual sense, to those who remove the contrariety which exists, by natural birth, between the natural man and the spiritual, and thus, also, between man himself and God. By inheritance and birth, as the apostle has informed us, the natural man lusteth continually against the spiritual; and the opposition can only be removed by the subjugation and regeneration of the natural man, by which it first submits, and then receives, in its degree, an affection for the same things as are loved by the internal or spiritual man; and then whatever the spiritual man dictates, the natural man executes with promptitude and delight. This making of peace, then - by which, at the same time, peace is made, or conjunction is effected, between man and the Lord - is what is meant in the purely spiritual sense, when those celestial characters who are here spoken of are called peacemakers; and the result of this internal pacification is, the performance, by the external man from the internal, of such works of good and peace as have been spoken of before. It is also to be observed, that the estimation in which love in act is held by the Lord, is indicated here, as in various other places, by this, circumstance - that the highest blessing mentioned is ascribed to these peacemakers. It is said, that "they shall be called the children of God;" and by the children of God are meant they who are born of him by regeneration; and regeneration is not complete with any, till what the internal man wills the external does, and feels in the doing of it that delight which only results when the action is free and spontaneous.

In these three beatitudes, then, we see, in a coherent series, a picture of the most exalted state that can be attained by a finite being. Its purity and holiness may perhaps, at first, have a discouraging aspect, as if it were such as no man could hope to attain. Yet, certainly, this is not the case. It is a description of a state which is open to every sincere and humble follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. The way of attaining it is that which is pointed out in the second of these three beatitudes - the becoming pure in heart by immediate application of divine truths to the life. Faithfully employing the truths which it is our privilege to know, there is no state of heavenly blessedness which we may not hope to realize; and no degree of angelic excellence which, by the mercy of the Lord, may not eventually be ours.

But while the first seven beatitudes, taken separately, form a series complete in itself; considered as part of a continuous discourse, they form only a branch of a more comprehensive whole. Regarding the Sermon on the mount under one view, the first seven beatitudes describe the formation of the graces of religion in the heart and mind, while its subsequent part, relating to the law and its duties, describes the manifestation of those graces in the virtues of a religious life. Thus the first part relates to the regeneration of the internal man, and the second to the regeneration of the external man. Now the regeneration of the external, and its union with the internal, but by means of temptation; for the external man cannot be effected is contrary to the internal, and cannot be reduced to obedience, and brought into harmony with it, without repeated and severe conflicts. This is the reason that, between the first seven beatitudes and the exposition and enforcement of the law, the Lord introduces the subject and speaks of the blessedness, of persecution, which we now come to consider.

10. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake. Persecution signifies temptation. Temptation is inward spiritual persecution. This is a kind of persecution to which the Christian disciple is liable in all ages, which exists independently of outward trials, and which he will have to endure when all outward persecution has for ever ceased. Were not this the case, the Lord's words would have no practical meaning for most Christians of the present time, and for all Christians of the coming age. This inward persecution is that which is truly endured for righteousness' sake and for the Lord's sake. It is descriptive of temptation in which the conflict is for the principle of righteousness or goodness, and for the Lord's love in the heart, as the very life and joy of the soul. Temptation is intense in the degree that it is interior. The higher the prize the severer the contest. The more precious the good which the heart loves, the deeper the anguish when its loss is threatened. But all such trials tend to make goodness more precious, and its possession more secure, to make it enter more deeply into the affections of the heart, by removing the opposite evil. The more our self-love is subdued, the more the love of God is exalted; and with its exaltation there is in increase of all true joy and happiness. It is almost unnecessary to say that this blessing is not promised to us for being tempted, but for overcoming in temptation. This is implied; for temptation is but a means to an end, and only when the end is attained is the reward experienced. Here again, the reward is the kingdom of heaven. The beatitudes end as they begin. The kingdom of heaven is the first and the last of our spiritual blessings. First heaven is opened in us, and then it is perfected.

11. But the Lord proceeds to say, Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. It is only necessary to remark on this, that the extent of the temptation is here described, its nature being indicated in the previous words of our Lord. And the temptation here covers the whole man. For to revile is expressive of opposition to good in the will; to persecute is expressive of opposition to truth in the understanding; and to say all manner of evil falsely is expressive of opposition to good in the life. The persecutor also says this falsely "for the Lord's sake." Those who are persecuted are the disciples, who represent all the Christian graces and virtues, or all the principles of good and truth. And these are persecuted when the principles they represent are opposed in us by evil and malignant spirits; and evil spirits hate and oppose and desire to destroy good and truth in us because the Lord is in them; for the Lord dwells in us by the graces and virtues which we receive and do from him, and the divine sphere of the Lord, as the supreme good and truth, produces the deadliest hatred in the spirits of the kingdom of evil.

12. The Lord not only promises, but he exhorts. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad - that is, when ye are persecuted. We find the same sentiment expressed by the apostles to whom these words had been "Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience" (James i. 2). Paul, too, utters the same truth. "We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope" (Rom. v. 3). To joy in tribulation and temptation is no doubt a sign of a high state of Christian perfection. Adversity in any of its forms, internal or external, is one of the sharpest trials of our faith - a stone of offence on which many stumble, and on which some fall and are broken. But what is the state of mind which enables us to rejoice in it? Many of the early martyrs displayed this state in a remarkable degree. Yet it is perhaps more difficult to rejoice in inward temptation than in outward trial. The mind may be calm when the body is tortured. In temptation it is the mind that suffers; the body meanwhile may be free from pain. This kind of affliction is therefore not joyous, but grievous at the time. Its fruits are joyful. When the storm has passed away, and the sun shines out in the heavens, cleared of the impurities with which they had been surcharged, new life and vigour animate the soul. This inward joy is the great reward in heaven promised to the tempted soul; for the heaven in which the reward is experienced is the heaven of the inner man, where into the delights of heaven descend and are felt as joy that passeth all understanding. The disciples are exhorted to "rejoice" and "be glad;" for joy is all affection of the will, and gladness is in affection of the understanding. And they are to rejoice and be glad, because the prophets had been so persecuted before them. Understood spiritually in reference to one person, this previous persecution of the prophets relates to previous temptations of a lower order and more external kind. A prophet has relation to truth, as a righteous man has to good. And temptation as to truth is spiritual temptation and temptation as to good is celestial temptation. The first prepares the way for the second; and he who has overcome in the less has the prospect of overcoming in the greater.

13. The four verses which immediately follow the conclusion of the beatitudes form together one connected subject. "Ye are the salt of the earth but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Salt signifies the desire that is inherent in all genuine truth for conjunction with good, and in all genuine good for conjunction with truth. They who are addressed are the professing members of the church, who are salt by virtue of their possessing the knowledge of divine truth. But if the truth, is received in their minds, is unattended by any desire for conjunction with goodness, it is compared to salt which has lost its savour, and which is fit for nothing but to be thrown away; indicating, that such unfruitful members are cast by the Lord out of his church.

The disciples personally were the means of spiritually seasoning and preserving the world in their day. All true disciples perform this service to the world in their generation. In dark and corrupt times the righteous few are the means of preserving the connection of the race with heaven, and so of preserving the mass from utter corruption. In the spiritual sense the Lord's words to his disciples have, of course, a higher meaning. The disciples represent the truths and goods of the church, and the church itself is represented by the earth and the world. In its particular application the earth and the world represent the natural mind, the spiritual principles in which are represented by the disciples. Viewing the subject in this particular application, let us see what the language of correspondence teaches us. Salt, as symbolical of affection, was extensively used in the ceremonial worship of the Jews. It was also ordained that salt should be offered with every meat offering, and that the salt of the covenant of their God should not be lacking (Lev. ii. 13). The Lord, who showed how Christians were spiritually to fulfil the ceremonial law, pointed out its application when be said, "Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another." The way to live in peace with each other is to have affection for each other. In his words to his disciples on the mount there is an instructive signification. The natural mind, meant by the earth, is the seat of spiritual corruption. This is its hereditary state, and without some corrective, the corrupt disposition would adopt principles and induce habits conformable to itself. The correction is truth in which there is affection - salt in which there is saltness. "But if the salt have lost his savour, wherewithal shall it be salted?" If truth have lost its affection, or its goodness, wherewith shall the mind be seasoned and preserved in health and activity? What is truth, or thought, or act, or word, or even life itself, without affection? Affection is the true salt of life. Without it the relish of life would be gone. Truly, if the salt have lost its savour, it is thenceforth fit for nothing, but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men. If affection, which is the essence of religion, is gone, truth, which is the form of religion, is fit only to be cast out and to be trodden under foot; and indeed it is so, if not in this world, at least in the next. For men reject truth for which they have no affection, and trample it under their feet. The feet correspond to the natural and sensual part of man's mind; and that which is trampled under foot is that which, instead of being a power to influence the natural mind, is rejected from it as vile, and contemned, and cursed. There is a striking version of this same saying of our Lord's in Luke xiv. 34, where the savourless salt is said to be fit neither for the land nor for the dunghill. The state here treated is the extinction of spiritual affection which has once been cherished in the heart. This constitutes profanation. As salt which has lost its savour is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but to be cast out, so profaners are neither fit for heaven nor hell but are cast out into a region separate from all others, where they exist as things, but do not live as human beings.

14. The Lord next says to the disciples, and of them, Ye are the light of the world. Light is always used in Scripture to signify truth; of which it is so plain an emblem, that every one intuitively sees the correspondence. Light makes natural objects manifest and causes them to appear in their true forms and colours; and truth does the same in regard to the objects of thought and affection. They, then, who possess a correct knowledge of divine truth, and whose minds are so formed by it, that they always think and speak in conformity with its dictates, are thereby qualified to lead the opinions and guide the practices of those who have not derived the same gift immediately from the fountain-head. Therefore the Lord says of his true disciples, "Ye are the light of the world!" What an exalted privilege does such a title describe and imply! But there can be no privilege without a corresponding duty; and assuredly it can be no mean duty which they have to perform who are to act as the lights of the world!

There certainly ought to be something about them distinguishing them from the mere people of the world. It is not in following in the common track of worldly men, nor yet by going before them in their own way, outdoing the common herd in the practices delighted in by the external man, that anyone can become what Divine Wisdom calls a light of the world. It is not by conforming in all things to the ways of the world that a person acquainted with divine truth can follow his vocation to be a light of the world. What is necessary, beyond a mere knowledge of truth, to make him such, the Divine Instructor proceeds to show.

A city (he says) that is set on an hill cannot he hid. This is a very obvious natural fact; but how it illustrates the case of those who, possessing the knowledge of divine truth, are to act as lights to the world, cannot be seen, except in a very general and indistinct manner, till the correspondence of the natural image is known, and the spiritual sense thus deciphered. A city is constantly mentioned in Scripture to denote, the doctrine of divine truth, or the church, or the mind of a member of the church, as framed according to doctrine. A hill is always used as a symbol of love or charity, or, in an opposite sense, of worldly or selfish attachment. It here obviously bears its good signification. A city set on a hill, then, is the doctrine of truth grounded in love and charity; and when it is said that a city so situated cannot be hid, the meaning is, that the church, or the member of the church with whom the doctrine of truth is grounded in love and charity, cannot but exercise an illuminating and beneficial influence on those around. Where truth is inspired by love, it must be active and useful; and benefits to the church, to society, and to the world at large, cannot but ensue according to the extent of the sphere in which such a church, or such a member of the church, has the means and opportunity of exercising an influence. Most assuredly, a city that is set upon a hill cannot be hid: neither will they be hid among mere people of the world whose faith or knowledge of truth is united with love, and thus with zeal and the desire to be useful. And as a city on a hill is visible at a less or greater distance according to the height of the hill on which it stands. So will the light of him who possesses the knowledge of divine truth the farther extend its influence according to the magnitude or degree Of tile affection with which it is united.

15. The divine Admonisher next illustrates, by a comparison of an opposite nature, what is necessary in order that a church, or its members, should be the light of the world. Neither, says he, do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light to all that are in the house. The general meaning of this illustration is as obvious is it is striking. A candle certainly is always lighted for the express purpose of giving light to those in the room where it is; and it would indeed be the height of folly, on having lighted one, to put it under it bushel measure, so as to render it quite as useless as if it had not been lighted at all. Just as useless to the person himself, as well as to all others, is the light of truth, when it has been kindled in the mind, if it is kept there as mere matter of thought and speculation, without producing any effects upon producing the conduct and life of the person himself, or any that can conduce to the advantage and edification of others. A bushel, or any other hollow measure of capacity, has reference to the receptive faculty in man; and all measures or vessels generally signify the same as what they contain, as when a cup is mentioned to signify wine. But a measure, to bold anything, must be placed with the open side upwards, when it is representative of that in the mind which receives the truths and graces of the Lord's kingdom, and thence of those truths and graces themselves: whilst a measure, to have a candle put under it, must be turned upside down; and then it represents not that which receives the truths and graces of the Lord's kingdom, but that which rejects and excludes them; and then, if any nevertheless find admission it is by entering from beneath, thus in inverted order, and only to be suffocated, perverted, and destroyed. In such a mind the light of truth, when it has entered, is immediately immersed in the selfhood, and rendered incapable of illuminating the mind, directing the actions, or effecting any saving and beneficial purpose. To have such efficacy it must be placed in its proper situation, raised aloft upon a candlestick so as to diffuse its rays unobstructed around The candlesticks, or rather lamp- stands, of the ancients were not the small articles which we use for the purpose, made to stand upon a table: they were lofty pillars and branches, of ornamental construction, standing on the floor, so that the lamp placed on the top shed its light on all sides, with the least possible interception; and a lamp so placed corresponds to truth in the mind in a state of elevation, by virtue of being conjoined with the affection for goodness - the desire of applying it to its proper use. So situated, as the Lord observes, "It giveth light to all that are in the house," throwing its rays both on things and persons, and showing what and who they are - corresponding to the effect of divine truth in showing the nature and quality of all the furniture of the human mind (of which a house is the symbol), and enabling the man to arrange everything in due order, and to make the proper use of all.

16. The Lord closes the subject with it most forcible admonitory application of the images just employed. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. What then? are we to do good works purposely to be seen of men - to obtain the good word of those who witness them? What is here meant is, not that we are to do good works purposely to be seen of men, making that our object and aim; but that we are to do them in obedience to the will of God. We are to allow the light that is in us to produce its proper operation, by manifesting itself in a life and conduct of corresponding order and purity. Such a life, indeed, though not cultivated with the view of' gaining favour from men, cannot but be seen by them, and procure respect for the principles by which they see we are actuated; thus disposing them, seeing that we act from sincerity and not from ostentation, to give the glory to him to whom we shall most heartily give it ourselves - our Father who is in heaven - and encouraging them to go and do likewise. The main object of the sincere Christian must ever be to allow the light of truth in his own mind to become instrumental in effecting in him, and by him, the will of the Lord its Author, accomplishing his own regeneration, and bringing his life and conduct into heavenly order, making him an instrument of use to his fellow- creatures, and thus causing everything within him to give glory to his Father who is in heaven.

17. Having pressed upon his hearers the uselessness of unpractised knowledge, and the necessity of showing their faith in their works, the Lord now proceeds to declare the stability and show the spirituality of the law which imposes upon them the perpetual obligation of obedience. Think not that I am come to destroy the law and the prophets.

No religious apophthegm more weighty, and at the same time obviously just, was ever enunciated, than that which holds a conspicuous place among the doctrinal tenets of the New Church, and which affirms, "That all religion has relation to life, and that the life of religion is to do good," Religion is justly defined to be the bond of connection between man and his Maker: and what can possibly connect man with his Maker, in any real and reciprocal manner, but conformity on the part of man to his Maker's will, producing, in a finite manner, similarity of character? What is God but the Source of all good - Goodness itself, that has given origin to all things with a view to their enjoyment of the blessings suited to their nature, and to man especially, that he might be the subject of blessings of the highest order, having a capacity to reflect on his condition and his privileges, to know his God, and to be made a partaker, in his finite measure, of the perfections, and thus of the felicity, of his Creator? The Author of all good, then, himself, what call God look to, in his rational offspring, but that they should apply themselves to receive of the good that is imparted from him? But the passive reception of good from God, that is, of spiritual and moral good, is a thing impossible. Man must react to and from the good that flows into him from the Lord, or it cannot become in any respect his own - be imputed to him, or even dwell in him at all.

No revelation ever was or could be given by God of which this was not the grand burden. The Old Testament, consequently, throughout is full of precepts and admonitions, plainly testifying that, in the estimation of its Divine Author, "all religion has relation to life, and the life of religion is to do good." When the Jewish Church, and the revelation given under it, had become wholly perverted, and He came to found the Christian Church, to accomplish the work of man's redemption, and to give a further revelation of his will and wisdom, he did not intend to abrogate the revelation he had given before, but only to clear away the Jewish corruptions of it, and to develop more of its true nature, meaning, and design, than had ever been known in the Jewish Church at all: these things compose the substance of the declarations which the Lord commences with the words, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law and the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil."

18. And yet notwithstanding the Lord's statement, there have not been wanting among professing Christians those who have maintained a doctrine exactly opposite to what is here so explicitly delivered; and have even availed themselves of these words to confirm a sentiment directly contrary to that which the words themselves so plainly affirm, - that justification and salvation are by faith alone, and do not depend upon either charity or good works. "I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." by that very circumstance, they reply, Jesus Christ came to fulfil the law, and did fulfil it in his own person, which no one had ever been able to do before: and this fulfilment of it by him is imputed to all believers as if it had been done by them: and though no actual fulfilment of it is required of any one of them, and thus, as to such actual fulfilment by them, it is completely abrogated, yet it is not to be considered as destroyed for all that; God accounting it as fulfilled by every one of them, because he imputes to them the fulfilment of it by his Son. Thus again is the Word of God made of none effect by man's tradition or invention. And they confirm this as the true meaning of the passage by extending it to the next verse, in which the Divine Speaker says, For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Here, because it is said that "one jot or one tittle shall not pass front the law, till all be fulfilled," they argue, that when all was fulfilled, as was done by the Lord Jesus Christ, the whole did pass away, and was of no force against believers afterwards. So far is this from being the meaning of the Lord's words, his declaration, that nothing shall pass from the law, till all be fulfilled, is a solemn pledge of the perpetual duration and conservation of the law in every jot and tittle. The true import of these divine sayings, and that which alone is consistent with the context, is, that the moral law, delivered in the Old Testament, such as that of the Ten Commandments, and similar precepts regarding life and practice, are not abolished, but opened and enforced by the gospel of Jesus Christ. As to the spiritual sense, the law and the prophet are men for the sake of indicating that union of goodness and truth so constantly attended to in the language of the Word of God. The law is a term which has relation to good, and prophets is a term which has relation to truth; for by the law is spiritually as has more relation to the duties of life, denoted all such divine truth and by the prophets all such divine truth as has more relation to points of doctrine. Now, it must be abundantly clear that the Lord, who is the Truth itself, never could come to destroy or abrogate his own Divine Truth, either as defining the duties of life or laying down points of doctrine. What is once true, on either subject, is eternally so, and can never be done away with. Destroyed by its Author it never can be: but it may be opened; and, by new aid imparted from him, in consequence of accommodating himself to his creatures by assuming the Humanity, it may be introduced more deeply into the heart and mind of man, rendering both his inward and outward life more conformable to its heavenly dictates. In these respects, it is fulfilled in regard to man: and it is most true that the Lord fulfilled every tittle of it in his own person: and as he thus glorified his Humanity, it is thus that he enabled man to fulfil it likewise. "Heaven and earth" is a phrase that includes the whole universe; but by them is spiritually meant the Lord's church in heaven and on earth. These never can absolutely cease; and therefore to say that till heaven and earth pass, not one jot or one tittle of the law shall fail, is the same as to say, that the Divine Law or Word can never fail; or, in other words, that the Divine Truth is eternal - and that it really is so, is obvious of itself

19. The perpetual obligation of the law of God, and the necessity of obeying it from an internal principle, as well as in mere outward form, is further enforced in the words: Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least (or one of the least of these) commandments and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. This does not mean that a person may habitually break some of the Divine commandments, and teach others to do the same, and yet go to heaven, though he will occupy one of the lowest places: it means that all who are in heaven will think little or meanly of such a person, so that he cannot enter into their society at all - that the low station he will occupy will not be within heaven, but out of it. The angels are not beings who will despise one another, so that the most exalted angel will never think meanly of the lowest. They who are called least, that is, who are of the quality expressed by that term, are such as are least and lowest in every characteristic of human nature - who occupy the meanest of stations among all. who belong to the class of rational and immortal creatures - who retain least of the traces of true humanity, and are not in heaven, but in hell. But observe the Divine tenderness: it is not said, as some say, that whosoever has once broken one of the least of the commandments has incurred irrevocable condemnation, but whosoever shall break one commandment, and shall teach men so, evidently meaning, who treats the commandments as of no authority or obligation, and teaches others to do the same, arguing ridiculing out of regard for divine things. The same is obvious from the use and proper signification of the word rendered "break," which does not mean to transgress, or to infringe a commandment by a casual or passing act, which may afterwards, if not repeated, be repented of for the future; but it means the same as the word before translated "destroy," which is the same word in a compound form. It means to dissolve, to abolish is to obligation from the authority of a thing. In the two acts mentioned by the Lord in this declaration of his, there is reference to the two faculties of man, the will and the understanding. Purpose from the will is meant by breaking the, commandment, and confirmation from the understanding is meant by teaching men so. Every such person, whether the sins he commits be little or great, is one of those who are called least in the kingdom of heaven.

The converse follows of itself: Whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. It will thus be seen that he who is of a character truly good is adapted for elevation to heavenly greatness, this solely depending on man's state as to goodness: whence, in the spiritual sense of Scripture, great means good. Whoever keeps one of the least of the Lord's commandments from a truly reverential regard to the will of their Author, is in the perpetual effort to do all the commandments, and to do so more and more perfectly. And in heaven, where these intentions are seen, and are what alone are regarded, such a person is called great, or is accounted good, notwithstanding the imperfections which may still adhere to him, and which he is himself in the continual endeavour to surmount. Therefore the being called great, like the being called least, is not made to depend upon conformity to the greatest of the commandments, but to the least, or those which it requires least effort, least resistance to the natural inclinations to comply with: because it is seen that he who keeps even these from a sincere regard to God in his heart, is in the life of goodness received from him, and would on no account offend him by sinning against the greater.

20. The Lord sums up his whole doctrine on the subject of the law by the solemn declaration: For I say unto you; That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. The scribes and Pharisees, indeed, were strict in requiring, and punctilious in attending to, the external observances of the divine law, even in little matters; but they often contrived to evade its obligations in things of greater importance.       As the Lord says of' them, they paid tithe of mint, and anise, and cummin but omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, and the love of God; on which the Divine Reprover says, "These things ye ought to have done, and not leave the others undone." They generally however, evaded these weighty obligations under some specious pretence of conformity to another commandment, as when they refused to assist their friends in distress by making a fictitious, donation of their property to God, calling it corban, because it was not lawful to apply things really devoted to God, or made a sacred gift of, to any purpose whatever. Usually, however, they kept the commandment in the external form, but positively maintained that, provided this was done, the state of mind in doing it was of no consequence. Thus, David Kimchi, one of the most learned and judicious of the rabbins and commentators on Scripture, positively says, that the meaning of these words, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me," is not, what every one sees is their real import, that the Lord can pay no regard to outward prayers while evil is intentionally cherished in the heart, but that, if evil is only cherished in the heart, and does not come into outward actions, the Lord will pay no regard to it; for it is only actions that are condemned, not thoughts. The righteousness, then, which is to exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, is that which extends to the heart and thoughts, as well as to the outward actions. This is the righteousness which the Lord regards, who looks far more at the heart and thoughts than at the words and actions. How plain is it, then, to see that the Lord did not come to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfil them, and to enable us to fulfil them also; that there is no abrogation of the Divine law by the gospel, and no contrariety, but the most perfect harmony, between them. Under the gospel we are not to abide in the mere letter of the law, but must enter into its spirit, knowing that, as the apostle observes, the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in them who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit; and that the power thus to walk is given to those who look to, and exercise true faith in, Jesus Christ.

21. Having laid down these general principles respecting the law, the Divine Speaker proceeds to illustrate them by contrasting the genuine import of the commandments of the ancient law, and its Divine infillings as now opened by himself, with the lax and superficial, and in fact make-believe manner in which it was interpreted by the Jewish teachers and observed by the people. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill. A very singular sort of mis-translation occurs here, and in the repetition of the same phrase in subsequent parts of the chapter, in saying, Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time. All the learned agree that this ought to be, as it is given in the margin, "Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time." And, indeed, common sense shows this must be the meaning intended: for it is one of the ten commandments which is referred to - and these were not delivered by the Israelites of old, but to them by Jehovah. Another defective translation occurs in the repeated use of the phrase, in danger of, as if the ensuing punishment were not certain to follow; whereas the original implies that the person has become subject to the penalty alluded to. Whosoever shall kill, shall be not only in danger of the judgment, but liable or subject to it: and so in other places.

The Lord now proceeds to show the difference between the mere letter and the spirit of' the Divine law. The Jews had received the Divine command, "Thou shalt not kill," and had understood it prohibited only the act of murder. The Lord teaches his disciples that this law was in reality designed to prohibit not only the criminal act, but every disposition which tends to produce it. To represent, as the scribes and Pharisees did, all sorts of malignant and revengeful feelings as lawful, while they were restrained solely by the fear of punishment from proceeding into the most atrocious of outward acts, is to break or destroy the authority of the Divine requirements in a very awful way indeed. The Lord therefore proceeds to show that states of mind partaking of what is opposite to love, which is the fulfilling of the law, such as hatred and malice, and actions thence proceeding though not including the commission of murder in the external form, may nevertheless bring upon the person, as to his spirit, and as to his external state hereafter, consequences as awful as can result from the outward commission of murder itself. He further shows that there are three degrees of such states, the slightest of which involves eternal condemnation equally with external murder. In other words, that there are three degrees of spiritual murder, involving all the eternal consequences from the mildest to the most grievous, that can follow the commission. of natural murder, whether the external crime be committed or not. - (1.) The first of these is causeless anger. He that is angry with his brother without a cause shall be liable to the judgment. It is plain that this must be with regard to the sinner's state hereafter; for none but the Divine Judge can know whether anger includes the principle of murder or not. But by the eye of infinite Wisdom it is seen that such anger as is here alluded to is a crime of the same nature, and if left unchecked would terminate in the same end, and therefore brings the person into the same state, and cannot but draw upon him the same eternal punishment. But the words must be looked at a little more interiorly, in order that their purport may be truly seen. All evils are either milder or more malignant in proportion as they include, in a greater or less degree, the confirmed and intentional rejection of the opposite good. Thus all offences against others are milder or more malignant in proportion as they include less or more of a deliberate rejection of charity, and disregard for the Divine law, which enjoins charity, and forbids all violation of it. The term brother is always used in the Divine Word when understood as to its spiritual sense, to denote charity, because charity, or mutual love, is the principle of brotherly union. To be angry with a brother means, therefore, to be in a state contrary to charity, either absolutely so, or only in appearance. Therefore the state of condemnation here treated of is mercifully limited by the being angry with a brother without a cause, anger without a cause being a sure mark of a state contrary to charity. It is true that opposition to charity must always be without a cause; but there may be cause for being angry with persons who are nevertheless our brethren, either more nearly or more remotely, and who are to be regarded with charity. There are few persons in this world who are such perfect forms of charity as never to say or do anything calculated to give offence or provocation to others; and there are equally few so highly graduated in charity as never to feel offended or provoked at inconsiderate conduct or language in others, much less at what is said or done with a view to offend or provoke them. Self-preservation is an indelible instinct in every being that has conscious life: hence every animated being instinctively repels aggression, and, when suddenly assaulted, feels resentment or anger. Such resentment or anger, which passes away with the occasion that momentarily excited it, is not incompatible with charity; it only becomes so when it is cherished afterwards, and is suffered to degenerate into revenge. There is also a, feeling of anger which is without malignity, being directed rather against evil, than against the person who commits it. This is more properly zeal than anger, for the love of good, and even the love of the evil-doer, lies at the foundation of the emotion. This feeling is attributed to the Lord himself. Jesus looked round on the Jews with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts (Mark iii. 5). So when grief is the origin of anger, it is the warmth of love and not the fire of hatred, and therefore incurs no condemnation. When, on the contrary, the heart feels and cherishes the anger of uncharitableness, the state which is induced upon the mind exposes the soul to the same judgment or condemnation that the Divine Truth has decreed against murder. (2) The second degree of opposition to charity is expressed by one saying to his brother, Raca. This was a name of reproach and contempt, equivalent to calling a person a worthless fellow. Here again, it is evident that it is not according to the literal sense that the words are to be understood. For though it may easily be true that one man may call another a worthless fellow in a spirit of hatred, that would bring him under condemnation here treated of, yet it is evident that such condemnation cannot be the result of the mere utterance of the word. But we are to remember that the brother thus reviled is the principle of charity: thus, spiritually understood, to say, Raca, means to hold charity in bitter contempt; to consider a regard to charity as a thing too ridiculous for attention, as conduct only fit for a weak or silly person. Thus, a rejection of charity, and total opposition to it, from a deeper ground than was signified by the first example, is here implied. On this account it is said, that he who acts thus shall be in danger of the council. This is an allusion to the supreme court of judicature among the Jews, which for great crimes awarded the punishment of stoning to death. This is referred to, to indicate the loss of all spiritual life incurred by those who spiritually say to a brother, Raca. It expresses the present and eternal state of those who confirm themselves intellectually in opposition to charity, and thence act against it without any concern or remorse. (3.) The Lord adds, But whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. The term fool is constantly applied in Scripture, not to the weak- minded, but to the most obstinately and desperately wicked. To call a brother a fool, then, means to be in such direct opposition or contrariety to everything of charity and goodness as to regard good as evil, and to act against it with the utmost malignity and determination of purpose. It implies opposition against it from the deepest ground of the will; not merely contempt for it, but the utmost aversion and hatred against it. Therefore, also, the punishment of it is declared to be hell fire, or the fire of Gehenna, which means the most direful raging and tormenting lusts of evil, with the distracting anguish that ever attends their presence. We see, then, of what immense importance it is that we should ever be careful to guard against the admission into our bosoms of any feelings contrary to those of charity, especially how all-important it is that we should never allow the tendencies of that kind which exist in us by nature to obtain indulgence and confirmation. On the contrary, we should resist everything in our hearts and conduct that is opposite to charity, and assiduously cultivate the heavenly grace of charity itself, till love to the Lord and mutual love become the animating principle of our lives. Thus, not only shall we escape the judgment, and the council, and hell fire, but become prepared for the society of those happy beings who never experience any opposite emotion, and who dwell around the throne of divine love in the interchange of kind offices and affections for ever.

23, 24. Having shown the direful nature of all lusts of evil that partake of enmity or hatred, or anything that opposes or makes no account of the principle of charity, the Divine Instructor now admonishes his disciples of the need of looking into their own hearts, to see if anything inconsistent with the most genuine charity lies lurking there; of the indispensable necessity of making such investigation, in order that any of our exercises of external worship may be acceptable to the Lord; and of the importance, therefore, of practising self-examination, especially connecting it with the most solemn acts of our devotion. "Therefore," he says, - seeing, that is, that the indulgence of bad feelings in the heart, and the allowing them to appear in what are usually regarded as deeds of little importance, have eternal consequences as fatal as the actual commission of the greatest external crimes, - on this account, if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. To bring our gift to the altar is to offer to the Lord the homage of prayer and praise, which ought to proceed from affections of love to him and charity towards our neighbour: all die good and blessing of which, in any form, we may be partakers is, in all sincere worship, ascribed to the Lord as his gift. There to remember that our brother hath ought against us, is on such occasions to be made sensible that we cannot worship the Lord in an acceptable manner, or from such love and charity as alone can give to worship a quality that he can approve, through the cherishing of some affection inconsistent with charity in our bosom. A brother, as already observed, is always named in the Word as a type of that charity which ought to reign in the breasts of all mankind, and especially in the hearts of the members of the Lord's church, towards each other. In reality, all mankind are brethren, being all the children of the Almighty Father, and all creatures of the same nature, designed for the same eternal end; but most especially are all they brethren who have been born again of their heavenly Father, through the reception of his divine truth and the formation thereby of a principle of spiritual life in their souls. A brother, therefore, in the true sense of the name, is one who feels as a brother - who cherishes the affection which brethren, both natural and spiritual, ought to feel and show for each other. Abstract, then, in idea, the affection itself from the person in whom it exists, and you see that a brother is a proper term in the Holy Word to express the grace of charity itself, which only can be given from the Lord, since it is quite obvious that He who formed mankind to exist, both in families and in large communities, in the relation of brotherhood, is, together with the relation, the Author of the affection which is its distinguishing characteristic. To remember, then, at the altar, that our brother hath ought against us, is to be made conscious, when before the Lord, and reviewing our state by the light of heaven, that something contrary to charity both possesses our minds and influences our practice. We cannot be in a state to offer acceptable worship to the Lord so long as we cherish any malignant feeling towards any one, however much he may have injured us. We cannot indeed be in a state capable of presenting with acceptance our offering at the Lord's altar, or coming before him in worship, till we have removed the offending principle from our minds, and can feel a consciousness that we entertain no affection or emotion incompatible with charity in regard to anything that exists. The course, then, of this state of the mind, in regard to the principle of charity, is what is directed by the Lord when he says, "Leave there thy gift before the altar and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." It is remarkable that the Lord does not direct the gift to be taken away again. He is addressing a sincere, though erring disciple, who comes to worship him from some degree of good received from him, but which, the mind being in other respects not sufficiently purified from evils, is defiled by their presence, and cannot be in such good as the Lord can be acceptably worshipped from, till the evils that render it not genuine are put away. Thus no one is ever to think, because, as we hear people sometimes say, he is not yet good enough for any particular service, that he may as well disregard it altogether. He still must bring his gift before the altar - must engage in acts of divine worship - and must perform the preliminaries necessary to prepare him for doing it with saving benefit to his soul. He must meditate, for instance, on the Divine will and Word; he must explore his own state in the light which will thence open his mind; he must allow the beams of divine truth to discover him to himself; and leaving his gift before the altar, - that is, still having his mind directed, with devotional feelings, to the Lord, and looking to him for help, - he must go his way, and be reconciled to his brother - he must set earnestly upon the work of removing from his affections every principle, feeling, or sentiment which is inconsistent with genuine charity, he will find the brother eager to be reconciled, for the brother is the principle of charity itself.

25. The next duty which our Lord enforces on his disciples forms a counterpart to that which we have just considered, although this does not clearly appear from the literal sense. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him. The adversary here is expressed in the original by a word which properly and strictly means the opposite party in a question of right, or in a suit at law. It is evidently supposed in the present case that the claim is a just one, and that, if brought into court, the judgment would be against us. We are advised, therefore, not to let it come to this, but to settle with the claimant in time, either by satisfying the whole demand at once, or coming to such an agreement or compromise with him as he will accept; otherwise, the decision of the judge will be given against us. We have said that this passage is the counterpart of the preceding one. As we are to be reconciled to our brother by removing the cause of offence, we are to agree with our adversary by settling his equitable demand. The brother, spiritually, is the principle of charity, the legal antagonist is the principle of truth. Divine truth - the precepts of which compose the Divine law - demands attention and obedience to all its requirements; and so long as we neglect to pay regard to them, it stands to us in the relation of an adversary at law. We must agree with this adversary quickly, while time yet remains; we must be well-minded towards him, acknowledging his claim to be just, and satisfying it to the best of our ability. And who can dispute the justice of the demand, or the perfect reasonableness of all that it includes? Who can imagine that the divine truth of the Lord can require anything of man which the Lord does not at the same time enable him to perform? The Divine law does not utter requirements of truth alone, but of truth in union with goodness and love; and when truth, if alone, would irreversibly condemn, love steps in, and offers pardon and peace on faith and repentance. Accordingly we find, that even while divine truth stands to us in the character of a legal adversary, in consequence of our not paying due regard to its requirements, it still is presented under the aspect of a peaceable one, who is willing to come to an agreement with us, accepting what, on acknowledging the justice of its demands, we may be enabled to do towards discharging them, without rigorously exacting the penalties that might otherwise be levied. We are exhorted to agree with our adversary while we are in the way with him. Naturally, this means while the suit is pending, and has not gone beyond the preliminary steps. But spiritually, to be in the way with our adversary means to be in a state capable of' receiving instruction from divine truth, which is meant by the way, of listening to its claims and admonitions, and applying ourselves to attend to them, and so profit by them.

Divine goodness has provided that every debtor to the law may come to an agreement with his legal adversary while he is in the way with him. This may be done, because divine truth is ever so tempered by its union with divine love as to remit all its claims for the past as soon as their justice is heartily acknowledged, repentance is sincerely felt and made operative in amendment, and such a change is effected as will regard its requirements for the future. Unless this state of agreement with divine truth, regarded as our legal adversary, is in some good measure attained, it will change the character of a legal opponent into a much more formidable one. The Lord not only says; Agree with thine adversary quickly, but he adds, lest at any time the adversary deliver thee, to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. This means, that unless divine truth be reconciled to us, or rather we to it, as our adversary, we shall hereafter meet it as our judge - that is, as the word here implies, as passing on us sentence of condemnation. Then, in the further character of the officer, to whom it belongs to carry the sentence into execution, it will transfer us to some one of the dungeons of the prison-house below.

26. And verily, the Divine Truth incarnate adds; Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing - which is only a figurative way of saying that we shall remain in the infernal prison for ever. If we pay no share of our debt of obedience here, while in the way of probation, how can we do so when our evils are confirmed by continued impenitence, and the life of them is become the unalterable life of our souls - the very principle of our existence? To say, then, that we should by no means come out thence till we have paid the uttermost farthing, when we are in a state and place where we can procure nothing to pay with, is the same as to say that we must abide in it for ever. How solemn an appeal is this to us to use all diligence to agree with the truth while we have the opportunity which life constantly affords, and escape the consequences of disregarding or resisting its just demands.

27. From the law against killing, the Divine Teacher proceeds to speak of the law against another evil that may well be associated with it. Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery. Although among Christian nations this evil is not punished as a criminal offence, it is yet one of the worst crimes, as well as one of the deepest sins of which a Christian can be guilty. Unlike other evils, it can rarely be committed without involving another in its guilt, as well as in the ruin which it brings.

It is the enemy and destroyer at once of domestic and social, of moral and religious virtue and happiness. Justly, therefore, did the prohibition against it find a place in the decalogue, as the most holy portion of the law revealed by Jehovah amidst the thunders of Sinai. Marriage is a divine institution, and was designed to be, not a natural and temporary, but a spiritual and eternal union. He, therefore, who commits adultery violates that which is holy, and cuts himself off from all communication with heaven.

28. The Jew regarded this commandment, as he did most others, only as a rule for the regulation of his outward conduct; but the Christian is to esteem it as a law for the government of his inward life. Therefore the Lord says to his disciples; But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. If hatred is murder, lust is adultery. Civil laws or outward considerations may prevent the desire from becoming an act; but if it is secretly cherished , the evil has already been committed in the heart. And as God looks upon the heart, and judges men by their intentions as well as by their acts, sins intended are as condemnatory as sins committed. Christianity, which goes to the root of ever evil, requires men to judge themselves by the desires by which they are inflamed, as much as by the actions they commit. Whatever is wilfully and deliberately cherished is an act of the mind, and would become an act of the body also, if outward circumstances were favourable. There is, however, a wide difference between the evil that is cherished and the evil that is only excited. Every heart has its concupiscence; but every heart does not approve or cherish it. Instead of encouraging the lust, the mind may condemn and strive against it, in which case the evil will not become sin, even although there may be the opportunity and enticement to commit it.

As, in the spiritual sense, to kill is to destroy the principles of spiritual life in ourselves or others, to commit adultery is to pervert and profane them. The principles which constitute spiritual life in the soul are goodness and truth, or love and faith. These are the partners of the spiritual and heavenly marriage, of which truth is the husband, and good is the wife; and from whose union are produced all the virtue and blessedness of human and angelic beings. The opposite of this heavenly marriage is the union of falsity and evil, from which spring all the sin and misery that prevail in the world and in the kingdom of darkness. But spiritual adultery consists, not simply in the union of evil and falsity, but in the union of truth and evil, or of falsity and goodness, which is as the union of heaven and hell. Th first is the profanation of truth, the second is the profanation of goodness. The natural evil corresponds to and results from the spiritual; and they are ever united as cause and effect. He therefore, who looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath, in his heart, committed both the spiritual and the natural sin.

29, 30. The Lord follows up his remarks on this subject by saying, And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out; if thy right hand offend thee, cut it of. The eye is the symbol, as it is more especially the organ, of the intellect, as the hand is of the will. And as thought is an act of the intellect, and desire is an act of the will, these are included in the signification of the eye and the hand. It is the offending thought and desire, therefore, that are to be removed. The eye that looks upon, and the desire that lusts after, prohibited objects and pleasures, are the causes of offence; and these must be rejected, that we may be guiltless of the offence, by its being no longer in the intention. If these, as the causes of offence, are not rejected, we are guilty of the sin, although we may never commit the act. - But the offending members that are removed are the right eye and the right hand. Of the members of the body, those on the right side correspond to faculties and powers of the will, and those on the left side, to faculties and powers of the understanding. The right eye and hand offend us, or rather cause us to offend, when impure thoughts and desires are grounded in the will - are not simply the offspring of the natural weakness and corruption of the flesh, but proceed from evil, known to be such, and wilfully cherished in the heart.

The Lord tells us what we are to do with the offending member. We are to pluck out the eye, and cut off the hand, and cast them from us. If impure thoughts arise in our minds, we are to check and reject them, so that they may form no part of our intellectual life; and if impure desires are excited in our hearts, we are to condemn and resist them, so that they may form no part of our voluntary life. The two distinct acts of cutting them off and casting them from us are expressive of two distinct operations of the mind, which are necessary to effect the full rejection of evil. The separation of evil cannot be complete unless it be the joint operation of the understanding and will. Evil may be said to be plucked out and cut off when the understanding first sees and opposes it as evil; but it is not cast out from the mind until the will or love is also against it, and thus unites with the understanding to effect its full rejection.

The Lord concludes his exhortation to pluck out the eye and cut of the hand that offend by saying, For it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. According to the literal sense it would seem as if the excision of these members was to leave, the body mutilated, which, indeed, is plainly stated in another place, where the Lord says, "It is better for you to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands and two feet to be cast into hell." It does not, however, follow that those who enter into life halt or maimed remain for ever so. The body of which all this is said is not the natural but the spiritual body, the external man, where all evils reside. It is the eye, and the hand, and the foot of this body that offend or scandalize us, that obstruct and prevent the operations of the internal man, and which therefore have to be maimed by self-denial, that we may enter into the life of love and faith, and finally into heaven. Self-denial consists in resisting evil in its active states, either in acts of the mind or of the body; and therefore we are required to pluck out the eye and cut off the hand, and so, by losing one of our members, save the whole body from being cast into hell, or becoming a confirmed form of evil. But in the spiritual life there is a process of renewal as well as of excision. Self-denial plucks out and cuts off, active goodness restores and renews. He who lays down his life by crucifying the lusts of the flesh, takes it up again by walking in the newness of the Spirit. The old members are removed by ceasing to do evil, the new are acquired by learning to do well. Halt and maimed are conditions of the spiritual body when goodness and truth, or charity and faith, are unequal and divided. As these twain graces become one, the body acquires its true symmetry and beauty, becoming the perfect organ and instrument of the new life into which the cross-bearing Christian has entered.

31, 32. The Lord extends his remarks on the law against adultery, as understood by the Jews, to the law of divorce. Under the Mosaic law men were permitted to put away their wives, which they sometimes did for very trivial causes. This law, be it remembered, did not originate the practice, which was in its very nature hateful to the Divine mind (Mal. ii. 16). Why, then, did not the law prohibit it? Our Lord gives the answer "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives, but from the beginning it was not so" (ch.xix. 8). It is important to distinguish, in the Scriptures, between laws of command and laws of permission. God, by his very nature, can command nothing but what is good but it is consistent with a wise and beneficent providence to permit a less evil to prevent a greater. Permission, therefore, forms a necessary part of the laws of God's moral government. A prohibition of divorce among the Jews would have been unavailing, or would have produced a greater evil than it prevented. What the law could not prevent, and therefore did not forbid, it moderated, by subjecting divorce to prudent and stringent regulations. This was the state of the case when our Lord explained and enforced the Christian law of divorce, which was to supersede that of Moses. It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: but I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. In this law the Lord lays down the important principle, that adultery is the one only legitimate cause of divorce. There may be other just causes of separation, but there is no other legitimate cause for the absolute dissolution of the marriage tie. True, there is no real marriage without a union of heart and soul; but to make the want of such a union a ground of divorce, would be to introduce into the church and society disorders that would inevitably work their ruin. It is of the utmost consequence, therefore, that the Lord's teaching on this point should be a fundamental principle in all ecclesiastical and civil law.

The purely spiritual sense of this law relates not to persons, but to principles in one person - the principles of goodness and truth, or love and faith, the union of which constitutes the spiritual and heavenly marriage. The spiritual law which is the origin of the law of marriage consists in this, that every truth has its own good, and every good has its own truth. A good and a truth may be pure, and yet unsuited to each other - in which case their tendency is to separate. This is the case even in heaven, where the blest are distinguished into societies according to the differences or distinctions of goodness and truth; but these distinctions are not discords, but harmonies. Divorce, which is complete opposition and separation, cannot take place between pure good and truth, but between pure truth and adulterated good, or between pure good and falsified truth, which is as the separation which exists between heaven and hell. If separation were to take place for any other cause, good, deprived of the instruction and protection which it should find in truth, might unite itself with some false principle, and so be profaned.

33. Another subject is brought before us by the divine Teacher. Again, ye have heard that it hath been said to them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shall perform unto the Lord thine oaths: but I say unto you, Swear not at all. It has been thought by some that the giving testimony upon oath is here prohibited. There is however, nothing profane, and therefore nothing sinful, in judicial swearing. It would appear, from the forms of oath which the Lord adduces, that his object was to prohibit those which the Jews had added to the law, and not to affirmation upon oath in questions at law.

Spiritually to swear is to confirm Divine truth. Jehovah sware by himself, to teach us that as he only is the author of the truth, so he only is the witness of the truth. This is a character which Jehovah incarnate likewise sustains. "Jesus is the faithful and true witness," and as such is the author and finisher of our faith. He who reveals the truth by his Word convinces us of the truth by his Spirit. We cannot convince ourselves from ourselves. We are indeed condemned for unbelief, because if the Lord does not convince us, it is because we reject his Spirit, which is always ready to give us the spirit of belief. While we reject his Spirit, we may yet labour to confirm what we regard as the truth. Some vain or selfish motive may prompt us to confirm the truth; but such confirmation is superficial, and does not enter into the inner life of our spirit.

34. The first thing by which men are commanded not to swear is heaven:-Swear not at all: neither by heaven; for it is God's throne. To swear by heaven is equivalent to swearing by the Lord himself, because heaven is and can be heaven only because of the presence in it of the Lord. The Lord himself is indeed above heaven, in the centre of the Divine glory, which constitutes the sun of heaven, and which is the first emanation of his divine love; but, nevertheless, if he were not present in heaven, heaven would have no existence. The angels have nothing of their own that can constitute heaven: they are angels - human beings in a state of the most exalted finite glory and happiness - purely because they are recipients of the Lord's divine love and wisdom, by the proceeding emanation of which he is present with them, and is actually in them; and this it is which constitutes heaven. The Lord's divine love and wisdom, as existing in himself, are the divine good; and the same principles emanating from him, and abiding in the angels, or in heaven, are called the divine truth. The divine truth is the Lord in heaven: and this is one with the sun of heaven, being the divine proceeding thence of spiritual heat and light adapted to the capacity of the angels for receiving it. Thus in heaven the Lord is all, and the angels respectively are nothing; of which they have an inmost conviction and sense, though it is given them to feel the gifts of the Lord's love and wisdom in them as if they were their own, whilst they know most assuredly, and acknowledge most heartily, that nothing of them is truly their own, but all of the Lord, as present with and in them. Thus they perfectly know, and are delighted to have it so, and to acknowledge, that the Lord is the all in all of heaven. Most evidently it follows from all this that to swear by heaven is to swear by the Lord himself, and must, as to the literal act, be unlawful in the same manner and in the same circumstances. In the purely spiritual sense, to swear by heaven is to confirm any sentiment by the Lord's divine truth in heaven. This can only be done from the Lord, and not from man himself. For, as before explained, none but they whose internal man is opened can see genuine truths in the Word, and confirm them by the truth of any sentiment which may be presented to their minds; and such persons know and acknowledge, as we have seen the angels of heaven do, that all they thus perceive, and are enabled to confirm, is from the Lord, and thus that the confirmation itself is from him, and not from themselves, or from man. In this sense, therefore, of prohibiting man from confirming truths, or any notions which he regards as truths, from himself (and if they are not truths they can only be confirmed from himself), every such person dreads to offend against the Lord's command, "Swear not by heaven; for it is God's throne." Heaven is called God's throne because by that expression is spiritually signified the divine truth which proceeds from the Lord, and which is what fills heaven, with all the angels, and makes the angels to be angels, and heaven to be heaven.

35. In the same manner, to swear by the earth means by the church, and thus by the divine truth which proceeds from it, and in its essence is the Lord himself - as it dwells in and constitutes the church. For if heaven is not heaven by virtue of anything belonging to the angels, which is truly their own, but solely from the presence and residence of the Lord with them and in them, most certainly the church on earth is not the Lord's church by virtue of anything belonging to the professing members as their own, but altogether from the presence and residence of the Lord by his divine truth or divine proceeding with and among them. To swear, then, by the earth, in the purely spiritual sense, is to swear by the church - that is, to confirm truths received as truths divine by the divine truths as known and understood in the church. This, again, to be truly done, can only be done from the Lord, and not from man, as explained already. The earth, or church, is said to be God's footstool, as being below heaven, which is called his throne; and the divine truth by which it is constituted appears in the form of the Holy Word in its literal or natural sense, upon which rests divine truth such as it exists in heaven in its purely spiritual sense. The foot, also, from which a footstool takes its name, always signifies, in the Holy Word, the natural principle of man, upon which all interior things rest, and by which they are sustained. For although the church, while in a state of order, is enlightened to understand the letter of the Word, so as to distinguish the genuine truths which it presents from the mere appearances of truth, and to draw from it pure doctrine, and although its members may in some measure apprehend its spiritual senses, which are what are perceived, and are alone perceived by the angels, - still the ideas of spiritual things capable of being perceived by man while in the world are not purely spiritual ideas, as are those of the angels, but are spiritual ideas conceived in a natural manner, according to the unavoidable condition of the spirit of man while an inhabitant of the natural world. Thus the church on earth, however pure and elevated the dispensation under which it exists, can never be in any other state than that which is spiritually denominated God's footstool, - can never acquire the character which belongs to heaven itself, which constitutes God's throne. If, however, while here, we truly belong to the church, in the sense in which it is God's footstool - however humble a part of the footstool we may constitute, - when we go hence we shall have a place in his throne - shall constitute some portion or atom of that glorious seat, and have the Lord himself, in his pure divine truth, perceived by us, not as now in a natural manner, but in a purely spiritual one, eternally present with us, in us, and over us.

It is further enjoined that we swear not by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king.

To swear by Jerusalem is to confirm divine truth, or what ought to be such, by the doctrine of truth existing in the church, and drawn from the Holy Word. It may easily be concluded that when mention is first made of the earth, to signify the church, and then of Jerusalem, called the city of the Great King, and considered, therefore, as the capital city of the earth, then Jerusalem must denote the doctrine of the church, according to which everything belonging to the church is regulated and determined. Here, then, again truths can only be really confirmed by the doctrine of the church from the Lord: and therefore man is prohibited so to confirm them from himself, by the command not to swear by Jerusalem. As heaven, the abode of angels, is denominated God's throne, and the earth, or the church, his footstool, so Jerusalem, as the doctrine of the church, is called the city of the Great King. The Lord is called a King, and the Great King, because he is the governor of all things, by his divine truth proceeding from his divine good; and Jerusalem, as denoting the doctrine of the church, is called the city of the Great King, because, as just remarked, it is by its doctrines that all things of the church are regulated or governed, as the Lord himself is the universal Governor by his divine truth. The doctrine of the church cannot be separated from the Lord as the Divine Truth itself: and as to swear by Jerusalem involves swearing by the Great King, whose royal city it is, so to confirm anything by the doctrine of the church is the same, in effect, as confirming it by the Lord's divine truth, which cannot possibly be done by man from himself - to attempt which is therefore prohibited by the command, Swear not by Jerusalem.

36. The last oath specifically prohibited is, swearing by one's own head. The head is often mentioned to signify intelligence; and also what is chief and primary. Thus, for a man to swear by his own head, is to confirm anything by the truth which he accounts is the chief point of intelligence, and which he makes the truth of his faith. But man has no intelligence and believes no truth of faith from himself, but only from the Lord: consequently, no truth can thus be confirmed by man from himself, but only from the Lord. The folly of thinking to confirm any truth from self-intelligence is expressed by the observation, that man cannot make one hair of his own head either white or black. The hair signifies the truth of the external or natural man such as is possessed by those who hold a true faith, not because they see it to be true by light in their own minds, but because the doctrine of the church so teaches. Because they believe it, not because they see it, but only because they have been taught it, they are commanded not to swear by it, or confirm by it from themselves anything as true, because they cannot make one hair white or black; for to make one hair white signifies to say and to see that truth is truth from themselves; and to make a hair black is to say and to see, from themselves, that falsity is falsity. As this can only be done from the Lord, man is forbidden to swear by his head, because this signifies to confirm truth from himself, or from self-derived intelligence. It will thus be seen that the prohibition against swearing extends to all things, from the greatest and highest to the least and lowest - from heaven to the very hairs of our heads. And as all these are under the immediate care of the Most High - who numbers the stars of heaven and the very hairs of our heads - the command not to swear by any of them, is a command not to confirm or uphold, by our own wisdom, the authority of the divine wisdom, and not to obtrude ourselves, or our own wisdom, into the domain of the eternal government, where the wisdom of God is all.

37. Having prohibited swearing, the Lord concludes by saying, But let your communication be Yea, yea; nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. This is a description of the state of the highest celestial angels, whose perception of truth is so clear that there is no room to doubt about it whatever. It is like seeing an object before our eyes in the clearest daylight, respecting which no one enters into any reasonings as to whether such an object is before him, or attempts to convince others of it by any asseverations, since he knows that they see it as well as himself. All reasoning, or any sort of mode of confirming any truth, arises from there being some degree of obscurity respecting it in our own minds, or in the minds of others whom we wish to convince of it; and all obscurity of the understanding in regard to truths originates in a defect of the will in regard to good. If we loved good with our whole heart, and always followed it; if we hated evil in every form, and constantly shunned it, we would possess such light in our minds that we should recognize every truth to be truth as soon as we heard it, and should have no need to be convinced of it, or to be confirmed in it, by any reasons, or by any corroborating considerations whatever. Thus the cause of every degree of obscurity in regard to truths is the existence of evil in the will: consequently, every help we have need of to assist us in our understanding of truth, and to obtain a thorough conviction respecting it, is needed, and is exercised from that cause. No legitimate means that can be employed whether reasoning or asseveration, are themselves evil: on the contrary, everything that tends to assist us in the understanding of truth is good, and is granted by the Lord's mercy; but that which makes any such assistance necessary is the darkening influence of evil, so that, thus considered, it is most true that whatsoever is more than the simple affirmation, which is the result of so clear a perception as requires no argument to assist it, cometh of evil. No mathematical truth, however clearly demonstrated, is so clear as its axioms; and were the human mind in genuine order, all spiritual truths would be in it as axioms perceived by intuition, and only capable of being made less clear, and not more so, by any mode of reasoning and demonstration.

38, 39. The law of retaliation is that to which our Lord next directs the attention of his hearers. Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil. The law of retaliation delivered to the children of Israel was derived from the universal law of order - "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them." This being "the law and the prophets," it is the law of heaven, and thence of the church. But in descending into the Israelitish Church, it assumed a form in accordance with the character of the people. Yet the lex taliones is substantially the law of Christian nations. Punishment must be awarded to crime, and with some relation to its nature and extent. The spirit of our Lord's teaching in respect to this law is nevertheless observed when crime is punished solely with a view to the protection of society, and to the amendment, as far as possible, of the offender. But in all the laws of the Word of God there is a spiritual element and an eternal object. The laws of retaliation were not intended only for evil men in the natural world, but for evil spirits in the spiritual world. The law of heaven, "Do to others as ye would that others should do to you," becomes in hell, "As ye do to others, it shall be done to you." In heaven all are actuated by benevolence, in hell by malevolence. And as every principle carries within it its own reward, happiness is the result of the one and misery of the other. Every evil has along with it a corresponding punishment. That punishment is not a divine retribution it is not inflicted to satisfy any divine attribute; but is a permission for the purpose of restraint and correction - we do not say of amendment, because this can have no existence in the regions of darkness. The law of retaliation acts in the spiritual world precisely as it acted among the Israelites in the natural world, The punishment is demanded and inflicted by the blood avenger - the Lord, as the universal Judge, like his prototype, only doing what the judge of Israel did, regulating and moderating the punishment, that it exceed not the limits assigned by the law of retaliation. There also the retribution of evil takes place according to the law of contraries, as opposite to the reward of good in heaven. Good willed or done by any one in heaven opens the heart to receive an influx of good, with its delight, from every side, so that the delight of all is imparted to each. Evil done by any one in hell draws upon him the wrath of the whole society, just as among the Israelites the claimant for vengeance was tracked by the congregation, who only waited for the avenger to throw the first stone, to rush simultaneously upon the offender.

And it is in relation to the spiritual life of man, and not to his outward natural life that he lives in the world, that the Lord delivers these precepts, when understood in their spiritual meaning, which is the only meaning in which they are to be strictly observed. An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, signifies that it is a law of divine origin, that so far as any one takes away, or desires to take away, from another the understanding of truth, or the sense of truth, so far they shall be taken away from him; and this is an effect which is seen to follow the effort or intention. The eye signifies the understanding of truth, and a tooth what may be called the sense of truth; for tooth signifies what is true or false as it appertains to the sensual man, or as it is perceived by the ultimate region of the human mind, called its sensual principle. That the evil, or the doer of evil, is not to be resisted, signifies that the good, upon whom such spiritual assault is made, are not to fight in return, and recompense evil with evil. Angels, we may be sure, do not fight with the evil, still less do they recompense evil for evil; but they permit evil spirits to hurt them if they can, because it is impossible for them to do it, on account of the protection which surrounds the angels from the Lord, which is such that no evil from hell can hurt them. So when the Lord proceeds to say, in illustration of the precept not to resist evil, whosoever shall smite thee on the right check, turn to him the other also, it is because the cheek signifies the perception and understanding of interior truth (as the tooth does of exterior truth), the right cheek signifying the affection, and thence perception of it; to smite the right cheek is to endeavour to injure such affection and perception; and the command to turn the other implies that the attempt is to be permitted, because it is impossible, as just remarked, that the evil can do real injury to the perception and understanding of interior truth in those who, being grounded in such perception and understanding from genuine good, are encompassed with the sphere of the Lord's divine protection. In the original, the word used properly signifies the cheek - bone, or the upper jaw, of which the cheek is the covering, consisting of the muscles by which it acts. The jaws form the opening of the mouth; and the mouth and all the parts connected with it, as the threat, the lips, the cheeks and jaws, and the teeth, signify such things as relate to the perception and understanding of truth, because these principles in the mind correspond, or answer by correspondence, to these organs of the body, on which account they are named to express those mental faculties in the literal sense of the word, which is entirely written by such correspondences. So when the Lord says farther, And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also, the meaning is, that if any endeavour to take away the internal truth of which we are in possession, he may be allowed to take the external truth likewise; for the coat, or inner garment, signifies interior truth, and the cloak, or outer garment, signifies exterior truth. We are informed that the angels do this with the evil,- for the evil cannot take away anything of truth and goodness from those who are really principled in them, as the angels are, but they can take away from those who, in resentment of the attempt, burn with enmity hatred, and revenge, because those evils avert from him who cherishes them the Divine protection of the Lord. So, again, when the Lord further says, And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain, the spiritual and only true signification is, that he who wishes to draw away from truth to falsity is not to be resisted, because he cannot do it - a mile being the measure of a road or way, which signifies that which leads to truth, or from it. When the Lord says, finally, Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away, the meaning is, that whatever we possess or know of goodness and truth is to be communicated to all who wish for it; and this whether he desires it in sincerity or only to pervert it, and deprive others of the truth by such perversion. This, however, they are not able to do; and all who derive instruction of us, whether for a good or a bad end or object, of which we can seldom judge with certainty, are to receive it. Even also when the object at the time may be a bad one, we cannot tell what benefit the inquirer may derive from the information imparted: it may possibly be the means eventually of his reformation.

It is quite evident that all these injunctions may be carried out spiritually without our losing anything of good or truth, or any mental or spiritual endowment, by doing so. We may freely let a man take our spiritual coat and cloak without losing them ourselves; and we may give to him who would ask or borrow of us without being in any respect the poorer. We ought ever to be willing to do good in all ways, even to the evil; and most assuredly the greatest good that can be done to the evil is to communicate to them that instruction, imparted with compassionate kindness, which may be instrumental to their reformation.

43. The previous sections of this Divine discourse begin with quotations either from the ten commandments or from other precepts of the Mosaic Law; but this passage continues with a citation from the law, a precept which nowhere occurs in the sacred writings. The Divine Speaker says, Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. The first clause is certainly a Divine command. It is found in Lev. xix. 18, where it is written, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself;" and in conjunction with the command to love the Lord with all the heart and soul, it is repeatedly quoted by the Lord Jesus Christ, who declares that "on these two commandments hang all the, law and the prophets." But nowhere is to be found in any part of the Old Testament - of the law and the prophets - any more than in the New, any precept which says, "Thou shalt hate thine enemy." In the margin of our Bibles we are referred to Deut. xxiii. 6, where the children of Israel are enjoined not to seek the peace nor the prosperity of the Ammonites and Moabites all their days for ever. But this is a special case; and the very fact that it was an exception proves the rule that they were to love, or at least not to hate their enemies. But even this does not enjoin hatred. It does not come within the spirit of the Christian precept to love their enemies: it only excludes these enemies from, the benefit of the active seeking of their peace and prosperity by Israel.

Another passage referred to, in illustration of the Lord's statement, is the 10th verse of the 41st Psalm, "O Lord, be merciful unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them." This is indeed a prayer of David in relation to his enemies. But this is no precept commanding hatred. It is in the spirit of other Old Testament utterances, but it expresses the mind of man and not of God; nor is anything to be found, even in the Scriptures addressed to the Israelitish people, that can be construed into a Divine command to hate their enemies. When, therefore, the Lord says, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy," it is plain that he must mean, as to the latter clause, that it has been said by the Jewish doctors - the scribes and Pharisees - who, it is well known, have always repeated this as a doctrine of the law of Moses, though, in reality, the law of Moses never says any such thing. It is true they were commanded to drive out or exterminate the previous inhabitants of Canaan; but in this they were to act as the executors of Divine judgments, called down by the extreme wickedness of those nations, which, it is expressly stated, had grown to such a height that the land itself could bear them no longer, but absolutely, in the strong symbolic language of the Word of God, vomited out its inhabitants. The Israelites were to hold no communion with such a people, because this could not be held without contamination and as communication could not be avoided if they lived together with them they were, as just remarked, commanded to exterminate and drive them out, as executors of the Divine judgments on their wickedness; but this is very different from being commanded personally to hate them, and to execute the awful commission assigned them in a spirit of malignity It is true that the Jews were not content to live separate from the nations, but cherished hatred towards them; yet this was due to their own character, and not to ally recommendation of, or authority for, such a principle from the Word, which comprises many precepts whose tendency is directly the contrary. Thus, not only was the commandment given (Lev. xix. 18), "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," which the Jews consider includes none but their own nation; but in verse 34 of the same chapter it is added, The stranger (that is, the foreigner) that sojourneth with you shall be as one home-born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. So in Deut. x. 18, "God loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt." Evidently, then, the Mosaic Law teaches no such principle as hatred of enemies, but directly the contrary. Yet it is certain this was a grand precept of the Jewish doctors, and heartily received by the whole nation.

44. In correction, then, of this feature of the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, the Divine Author of the Christian religion says to his disciples, But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which, despitefully use you, and persecute you. It may be asked, Why should a Divine teacher, who know that his church would not be formed of Jews, few of whom were capable of receiving pure Christianity, address so much of his instructions to the correction of Jewish errors and principles of conduct? The answer is, because those Jewish errors and principles - if not the very same doctrinal errors, corresponding sins, and the very same principles of affection, life, and practice - are deeply rooted in the heart and mind of the natural man, and constitute his principles of thought and action in all ages. Therefore the Lord says, "But I say unto you, Love your enemies."

The command, "Love your enemies," certainly appears as a hard saying to the natural man. How we can actually love those who, we know, hate us, and would, if they had the power, destroy us, is certainly a problem of which mere nature cannot suggest the solution. It is true that duty does not require us to love them, as to that principle and state in them from which they are our enemies, and would, if they could, injure or destroy us; for no one is an enemy to another, and wishes to injure or destroy him, but from, some principle of evil - some overweening impulse of self-love or the love of the world, which are the basis of all evil, and evil in no one is to be the object of our love, but always of our aversion. But duty requires us to remember that there is no one who is altogether evil. If all have evil inherent in them from self, and present with them from will, all likewise have good present with them from the Lord and from heaven. All are human beings our fellow-creatures, possess the human endowments of rationality and liberty, and thus retain somewhat, however disfigured, of the image and likeness of God. The desire and the will of the Lord is, that the good which is present in every one front him should be brought forward and increased, and appropriated by the person, and acted from as his own, and exalted to the supremacy in his affections; and that the evil which is in him from himself and from hell should be subdued and removed before it. And what is the will of the Lord respecting any or every individual of the human race must be also the will, or must be made the will, of every one who would truly be the Lord's disciple or his servant, his friend or his son. How then can we act - even in the lowest of these capacities - as the Lord's servant or disciple, if, in regard to any one of whom we know that such is the will of the Lord - that is, any one of the human race, any fellow creature we allow the petty consideration, that the evil which is in him, and which he shares with ourselves and with every one, happens to be specially directed against us, and induces him, mistaking us, to act as our enemy - if, I say, we allow this feeling, this merely selfish consideration, to prevent us from complying with the will of the Lord, and from acting as his children or disciples, by constituting ourselves enemies of that individual in return, and hating him because he has fallen into the error, and is injuring himself by appropriating the evil of hating and wishing to do injury to us? The grand thing we have to attend to, and never to forget, is, to distinguish between a man's evils and his person, because he is a human being - by creation our brother - capable of becoming an angel, equally with ourselves the offspring of our Creator, and the object of his paternal tenderness; while we regret and lament his evil conduct or principles, we should on no account do anything to confirm him in them, but should gladly do everything in our power to promote their removal. In fact, the true definition of what is meant by loving our enemies is to feel and act towards them under the influence of charity. However truly a person may be an enemy to us, we are never to suffer feelings of enmity against him in return to establish themselves in our hearts; and though we may do whatever is necessary to defeat his endeavours to do us injury, we must never admit the wish to do him injury in return. Everything is comprised in the direction, that we are ever to regard him with the feelings of true charity, and to act towards him with such feelings alone.

That it is in this manner that we are to love our enemies is evident from the additions with which the Divine Speaker accompanies that precept. After saying, "Love your enemies," he continues his precepts on the subject by saying further, Bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you. These are all marks and manifestations of charity. The end which all charity has in view is to promote the good of those towards whom it is cherished, and to do them good in whatever way we are able, so as to contribute really to their benefit. One way of doing such good is to bless them that curse us. To bless implies desiring blessing from the Lord; and it includes, where there is opportunity of doing so with effect, the imparting such advice and instruction as may tend to bring them into a state admissive of the Divine blessing. To do good to them that hate us is evidently to return good for evil, and thus to convince them how little reason they have to hate us, and to bring them to feel the evil of doing so. To pray for them that despitefully use us and persecute us cannot, in the spiritual sense, mean anything very different from what the letter expresses. When so ill treated by an enemy as to have no means of doing anything directly good to him, we can only elevate our souls in devout desire for his true welfare to the Lord, and intercede at the throne of mercy on his behalf; and, little as human reason may be able to discern the probable use of such a course, we may be sure that it would not be enjoined by Infinite Goodness and Wisdom, did not that Wisdom see how it may be beneficial, and were not that Goodness disposed to make it so. Doubtless, in many cases, no human intercession on behalf of others can be of any avail; but if the Word of God is to be believed, there certainly are cases as numerous, whatever philosophy may argue to the contrary, in which it may. And as it is impossible for us to know what cases may belong to this class, and what to the other, it is doubtless our duty in all, from special emotions of charity, to comply with the Lord's command, and to pray for them that despitefully use us and persecute us. The Lord himself prayed for his enemies on the cross. His prayer could neither be formal nor unavailing; and if we are true disciples we shall follow his example, believing sincerely in the blessedness of the result.

45. But the Divine Speaker does not confine himself to simply commanding us to love our enemies: he adds to the command the strongest motives, reasons, and inducements to the love of enemies: That ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. The not regarding of injuries, so as to seek to requite them; the not hating, but the loving of our enemies, so as to regard them with entire charity, and to desire nothing but their good, is, beyond everything else, that which makes man, in his finite measure, like God, insomuch that God regards such a man as his son, and gives him this title. The reason of this is, because such genuine, disinterested charity - charity thus free from all contamination by the love of self - is the very Divine principle as received by and dwelling in man; and though man can never have anything divine in him as his own, so as to be himself a god, yet in the form of such charity it is imparted to him, as if it were his own and though it cannot make him a god, it unites him, in his finite manner, with God, and effects a real conjunction of life for him with the Lord himself. With it he receives power to be, and is accounted as, a son of God. He has an intimate conjunction with the Lord Jesus Christ as to his Divine humanity, and in the humanity with the essential divinity - the inmost divine essence and nature.

For the Lord, in his unfailing bounty, maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. Not only does he do this literally, communicating all needful benefits to all, but spiritually likewise, by communicating to all the means of salvation, together with ability to make saving use of them. The rising of his sun is the communication of the influences of his love, conveying all spiritual good; the rain that he sends is the influence of his truth, making the mind receptive of the knowledge conveyed through his Word; and both are the gifts of his Holy Spirit, which are constantly present with every one, and when received and appropriated, replenish the soul with spiritual life, and prepare the man for the blessed enjoyment of life everlasting.

Other reasons are offered by the Divine Speaker and Benefactor, to convince man how readily he should comply with the Divine desires on his behalf, by acquiring that charity which can love its enemies, and thus become an inheritor of all heavenly excellences and joy.

46. And, first, he shows that religious men have no advantage over the men of the world unless they show a better example of unworldly love. For if ye love them that love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? As natural men hate, so do they love. As they hate those that hate them, they love those who love them. In thus loving others they only love themselves. They love others so far and so long as others minister to their self-love or self-interest. Christian love is entirely different from this. A Christian loves his neighbour for his neighbour's sake. And this he does whether his neighbour loves him or not in return. His principles prompt him to desire the welfare and happiness of others, and to do what he can to promote them. Not self-love, but the love of God, is the principle from which he loves and acts. And as God loves all, and dispenses his bounty to all, he who loves God must love as God loves. There is another duty inculcated - that of saluting others besides our brethren.

47. And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? The distinction is that which exists between loving and doing, and, spiritually, is one that so often occurs to mark the distinction and the union of the will and the understanding in all our intercourse with our fellow-creatures that heavenly marriage of the good and the true from which all spiritual virtue springs. Unless the Christian acts from these heavenly principles, what reward has he? The publicans have selfish gratification, and sometimes worldly advantage, as the reward of loving and saluting those who love and salute them. The reward to which the Christian looks is inward satisfaction and advantage; but it is the satisfaction of doing good, and the advantage of increasing his own capacity for usefulness and happiness.

48. As the Lord pointed to the Father in heaven as the pattern for men in their love for and conduct to each other, he concludes by exhorting his disciples to imitate him even in his perfection. Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. This must seem to many an impracticable lesson. The Lord cannot, of course, mean to teach us that we can be perfect in the degree that God is perfect; but he certainly intended to teach us that there is a perfection to which the Christian can attain which is an image of the Divine perfection. What is it that, apart from his infinity, constitutes the perfection of God's nature? It is the perfect union in him of love and wisdom. The same union constitutes human perfection; the only difference being, that while the perfection of God is infinite, that of man is finite. Love from God in man's will, and wisdom from God in man's understanding, make man an image of God; and man is a perfect image so far as these principles are united in his mind and in his life. According to this idea of perfection, the humblest member of the Lord's body can be as perfect in degree as the most exalted. For he who has little of love and of wisdom may have that little in as perfect a state of union as the greatest. The union of love and wisdom, or of good and truth, of charity and faith, of will and understanding, of doctrine and life - this is perfection; and to this perfection all can attain.

What a beautiful conclusion do these verses form to the series of Divine lessons which this portion of the Lord's sermon conveys! How excellent and amiable does the religion of Jesus Christ appear, according to its nature, as here described and insisted on by himself! How far surpassing anything ever imagined is here presented, as the character of the true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, when, as necessary to distinguish him from men of the world, and to evince that he is a true disciple of his Divine Master, we are told that he must love even his enemies, and return blessings and prayers for curses and injuries and when, after a picture of our heavenly Father as the Author of good to all, we are instructed that, in this respect, we are to take him for our pattern, and strive after a perfection imitative of his! In practice how few of us appear to think that such precepts are given in earnest, as intended to be obeyed, and that unless we are at heart in the sincere effort to obey them, and to govern our affections and habits of life in conformity with their directions, we have no claim to be accounted as Christians, or to assume the name, and expect the consequent blessing, of him as the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.



6



COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW p. 7        CHAPTER VI.

This chapter, while it forms part of the series of the Lord's discourse, forms at the same time a series which is distinct by itself; and which again consists of distinct parts, forming again other distinct series. Thus, the first eighteen verses obviously constitute one series of subjects, consisting again of three parts, intimately connected together: the first treating of the duty of almsgiving the second of that of prayer, and the third of fasting.

1. The first verse is a general introduction, not only to the subject of almsgiving but also to those of prayer and fasting. In our version the Lord is made to say, Take heed that ye do not your alms before men; but in the margin, righteousness is given instead of alms. The reason of this is, that in a great number of manuscripts, including those that are most ancient, and in some of the most ancient versions, the word properly meaning righteousness, or justice, is here found. This would appear to be the correct reading. For righteousness being a general term, denoting any kind of religious duty whatever, includes the three different duties, of which almsgiving is one, and which, therefore, comes appropriately in the next verse. The general precept, then, Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them; otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven, implies, that no kind of religious duty whatever is to be done for the sake of the applause of men or on account of any external consideration whatever; and that when so done, it ceases to be truly an act of religion, and brings no blessing upon the hypocritical performer.

2. Having taught that in the performance of religious duty in general, regard is not to be had to men, otherwise no reward attends them from our heavenly Father, the Divine Instructor draws from the general precept an inference relating to the specific duty of almsgiving. Therefore, when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Almsgiving, as one of the most obvious good deeds which spring from a principle of charity, is here mentioned to denote all good in general, - every sort of performance which has, or ought to have, charity or love as its origin, - all good which man can will or do. That almsgiving is one of the forms of such good, there can be no doubt; although, in a corrupt and artificial state of society, there is need of prudence and caution in its exercise, - lest by this means the unworthy should be supported in idleness and profligacy, and, by importunity and hypocritical pretences, should monopolize the bounty which is only well bestowed upon those whom misfortune, and not vice, has reduced to a situation to require it. But almsgiving alone is not what is here intended in the spiritual sense, but, as remarked, all good whatever that man can will and do. Nothing of the kind is to be done for the sake of outward appearance. Do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. To sound a trumpet is a figurative form of speech, denoting, when applied to divine things, revelation by truths grounded in celestial love: here, therefore, where it is applied to a subject of an opposite nature, it denotes publication and boasting, grounded in self-love, and the love to obtain the glory of men, and to desire reputation by such means among those who only behold the outward appearance, but cannot look into the heart. Thus it is to do good only for the sake of appearance, without any regard for good in itself. The synagogues and the streets, where the trumpet is blown, signify, in the good sense, doctrines and truths; and therefore point to the nature of the act as being one of intellect, and not of the heart, the result of study and contrivance with a view to self-glory. It implies also the practice of selfish benevolence under the cloak of religion. Verily, they have their reward. But what is this but the bubble reputation, which death at least must burst, leaving the miserable performer to shame and everlasting disgrace,

3. This, therefore, being not the mode of doing good which is acceptable to the Lord, or truly beneficial to the performer, the Lord says to his disciples, Therefore, when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth. This is doubtless a proverbial phrase, implying great secrecy but when employed by the Lord it becomes significant likewise. All the organs, on the right side of the body have, as we have seen (ch. v. 29, 30), relation, in the symbolic language of Scripture, to the principles of goodness; and those on the left to that of truth. These, with a good man, act in union; but not with a wicked man, or with one who does good only for the sake of appearance. The hand always signifies power or ability. To act, then, with the right hand denotes to act from a principle of truth grounded in goodness. But the left hand here denotes the power of truth separate from goodness: and to consult this, would be to act from the understanding alone, without regard to any concurrence on the part of the will - thus, to do what truth dictates, but without any motive of goodness in the doing of it; in which case self-love or evil must be the moving principle, and the good outwardly done would be for the sake of appearance and character. Not to let the left hand know what the right hand doeth is to do good from a principle of goodness itself, without any respect to any consideration not grounded in genuine goodness.

4. Good must be thus done that our alms may be in secret - that is, that our good deeds may proceed from the inmost recesses of the soul, and be kept separate from all external considerations. And for such good, Thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. By which is meant, that the delight and blessedness inherent in all genuine good, or in all good which is lived, will be communicated to us by the Lord, the only Source of all real good and of all true felicity. And when this is promised from the Lord as our Father, we are instructed that this reward will come from his fatherly love, the fountain of the purest bliss. How desirable to come into the possession of such a principle of goodness, and to be influenced by it alone in whatever we do! If we do good according to our abilities and opportunities, our heavenly Father himself will give us a reward - the reward which all pure love of good carries in its bosom, the delight and blessedness of heaven, not the heaven only which is without, but of that which is within us; for good itself is heaven, and in this our Father dwells.

5. From the subject of almsgiving the Lord passes on to that of prayer. This is a subject in which all are most deeply interested. Prayer is discourse with God. Love is the fire that burns perpetually upon the altar, and devoutness of spirit is unceasing worship. There are times and seasons, however, when the devout man pours out his soul to God in oral prayer. Nor can true piety exist without the exercise of outward devotion, any more than true holiness can exist without the practice of good works. Prayer is therefore introduced among the active virtues which the Lord enjoins in his sermon on the mount. As in the duty of almsgiving, so in the performance of devotion the Lord instructs us both negatively and positively. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are. We must not, as the word hypocrite implies, with our lips use words, or assume any outward appearance, of devotion or holiness, while our heart believes or thinks in opposition to the form of goodness assumed before the world. The Lord, it is plain, does not speak of the infirmities which may attend the performance of our acts of worship, such as accidental and unintentional wanderings of thought or distraction of mind, but of that studied simulation of a piety to which the heart is an utter stranger, and which it even abhors. The Lord explains what he means by the command to be not as the hypocrites, by proceeding to explain what such a hypocrite is: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. The Lord does not in this discourage public worship. He himself worshipped in the synagogue. Social worship is not implied here. Synagogues were made in imitation of the temple. And the Lord represents the Pharisee and the publican going up into the temple to pray, and each as praying alone. The point of our Lord's exhortation, to avoid the example of the Pharisees, is in their praying in public places, to be seen of men. And nothing, surely, can be a more profane mockery than seeking human praise by the very act of offering homage to God. All our Lord's description of the practice of the hypocrite is, in the spiritual sense, expressive of activity of the intellect, and, in this case, without the co-operative influence of the will. Standing is expressive of a state of the thought; the synagogue signifies doctrine; a street signifies truth or its opposite; and the corner of a street the ultimate where truth closes, and on which it rests. We thus pray when from the understanding alone we go through the forms which truth prescribes as the means of acquiring good, for the purpose of acquiring the reputation of goodness. We do it to be seen of men, that is, to deceive their understandings, which is meant by the sight, to make that seem good which in itself is evil. Of all such worshippers the Lord says, Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. Their present reward is to obtain a character for piety, and secure respect and credit with others. Their reward is of this life, and here it ends. Their reward in the other life is "shame and everlasting contempt."

6. Pharisaic worship is to be shunned by every true disciple of the Lord. He is to seek the favour of the Lord alone. No view to any merely external advantage is to be made the end of his devotions. He is to worship primarily from the internal man, and by internal worship give a spiritual and internal nature even to its outward expressions. Therefore the Lord says, But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. By the direction to enter into the closet is not meant that all worship is to be performed in solitude. The closet is here put to signify the interior recesses of the mind. We are to worship the Lord from the internal man, and thus from states of inward faith and love, and not from the external man and his natural desires. Therefore we are also commanded to shut the door, which means to exclude all the influences that arise from the body and the world - to shut out completely every suggestion and desire that arises from below, and to seek the blessing of our Father, that is, of the Lord as pure Divine Love, who is only to be approached in such states of interior affection and spiritual desire, and who has his residence in secret, in the inmost recesses of the purified soul. The blessings of which we shall be made partakers will, while here, be stored up in the interiors of the mind; but when we depart hence, we shall enter into their manifest enjoyment and full fruition. Our Father, who seeth in secret, and who notes every desire and aspiration truly directed to him, will, we may be assured, reward us openly. But even in this world we shall not be entirely without our open reward. Heavenly graces will be drawn down from the Lord in the internal man into the external by every act of true worship, and we shall be made partakers more and more fully of our heavenly Father's love.

7, 8. Having entered into our closet, and shut the door, we must attend to the matter of the prayer we offer up to our Father in heaven. On this important point our Lord says, But when ye pray use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. As the word rendered "vain repetitions" occurs in no other passage in the New Testament, and, according to Tholuck, only once in any classical author, its precise meaning is not easily determined. The context, however, sufficiently shows its meaning. It evidently includes the idea of "much speaking," for which the heathen "think they shall be heard;" and it probably includes also the idea of asking many particular things; since one reason for our not being like the heathen in our prayers is, that your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. In both these particulars our Lord's own prayer, which he delivered to his disciples as an example, is instructive. Few things are asked in few words. Even in its simple literal sense it craves but one blessing for the body; all the others are for the soul. The Lord's prayer is no doubt to be our pattern, though its use does not exclude that of other suitable forms. In itself it includes all - all that we can think or ask; but this in its spiritual sense. It certainly most emphatically teaches us that we should not approach the Divine Being with long, unmeaning, or worldly-minded prayers. But these exhortations have some deeper meaning than that which the letter expresses. It will be observed that the Lord first warns us against the practices of the hypocrites, and then against that of the heathen. The hypocrites are those who do not pray, but only pretend to pray; the heathen pray, but are mistaken in the nature and objects of prayer. The hypocrites represent those who are in truth without good; and the heathen represent those who are in good without truth. This good is what is called spurious good. It is not false and deceitful like that of the hypocrites, but it is natural, and therefore impure and misdirected. Truth is that which purifies good and makes it spiritual. And by the good we here speak of we are to understand the good of well-disposed persons, who yet have not the truth which is necessary to direct their good dispositions to their proper objects, by the use of proper means. Such persons are liable to think they shall be heard for much speaking, and who use vain repetition, and think more of the body in their prayers than of the soul. Be not ye therefore like unto them. Our prayers are not only to be sincere, but intelligent and spiritual asking always to be supplied according to the Divine will and wisdom, and not according to our own, except so far as our own are in harmony with those of our heavenly Father. The divine prayer which he himself taught us we now come to consider.

9. After this manner therefore pray ye: OUR FATHER. What an inexpressible charm is included in this affecting and tender commencement, especially when it is borne in mind that it is the Lord himself who authorizes and prescribes the form of approaching him, and commands us to think of and address him as Our Father! What an evidence is there, and an example, in this instance alone, of the grace and truth which came by Jesus Christ - of the nearer and perceptibly kinder relation which the Infinite and Most Holy Creator assumed towards his creatures when he himself assumed humanity for their redemption! In the Old Testament there are a few instances of the Lord being spoken of as the Father of his people; but it is in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ alone, in his Divine Humanity, that the Eternal Creator can be truly known as the Father of those who call upon him. The natural idea conveyed in the title of Father is, that he is the Author of our existence. This is the most general idea which is presented when we are instructed to call upon the Divine Being as Our Father. Yet every one of any feeling perceives that there is something involved in the epithet more than this, and associates with the title the notion of paternal tenderness and care. This arises from an obscure perception which all have of the spiritual sense of the term Father, - of the spiritual reality which answers by exact correspondence to the natural relationship of a Father. The Lord is called Our Father in reference to that primary constituent of his essence, the Divine Love. Divine Love is the universal parent. It was to satisfy the yearnings of divine love, and the intense desire inherent in it to impart itself to others, and to bless them from the infinite fountain of beatitude in itself, that all creation was produced. For all the natural creation is produced for the sake of man, or that man might have the means of existence. And man was produced that heaven might exist, to be peopled with human beings, exalted to all the perfection and blessedness of which a created nature is capable, and enjoying these blessings by conjunction with the Lord and the fruition of his love. That the Divine Love is what is specifically meant when he is called our Father is thus sufficiently obvious from rational considerations and it is affirmed, almost in express terms, in the Holy Word. The psalmist says, "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him;" where the word rendered "pitieth" is one which denotes the deepest tenderness and mercy, which are the feelings of the softest love. We are thus to look at him, to our inexpressible comfort, as actuated by these emotions towards us, when we are encouraged to address him in prayer as our Father.

But we are instructed to address the Object of our worship not only as our Father, but as our Father who art in the heavens. As with respect to the Lord, the inmost Divine Essence, which is the same as the Divine Love, is called the Father - the Divine Existence or manifestation which is the same as the Divine Truth, is what is called the Son; so the whole Divinity, only as existing in and manifested by the Divine Humanity of Jesus Christ, is "our Father," and only by communications of spiritual graces thence can we be sons of God; as it is written, "To as many as received him, to them gave HE power to become the sons of God, even to as many as believed in his name." This is expressly indicated when He whom we are to address is defined to be "our Father who art in the heavens." For the Father in the heavens is specifically the Divine Truth, the sphere of which fills all the heavens, and is the source of all the perfection and blessedness that the heavenly inhabitants enjoy. And it is only the Divine Humanity of the Lord which is thus in the heavens which there is known, experienced, and worshipped, and which fills the inhabitants with their angelic endowments, for the Essential Divine Principle, which Jesus Christ calls his Father, is utterly inapprehensible to angelic as well as to human minds.

But who is it that we are to address as our Father? What is the NAME by which he has been manifested to us, and in what person has he revealed himself to us, and evinced that he is actuated by a Father's tenderness? It is only when clothed with humanity that we can truly know him in this character; it was when he actually assumed humanity that he first instructed us to address him as our Father. When he is spoken of or addressed by this title in the Old Testament, it is done prophetically, and in the anticipation of his drawing near to man, by taking on him human nature and becoming a redeemer. It is true, indeed, that he was the Father of his creatures from eternity, and it is because he was so that they were called into existence. Yet he could not be fully known in all the nearness and tenderness of this relationship till he had put on the humanity for the purpose. "No man (says the Lord) knoweth the Father save the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him." So when Philip desired to see the Father, Jesus referred him to himself, and said, "Have I been so long time with thee, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou, then, Show us the Father!" Although, then, the divine principle specifically called the Son is not the same as that called the Father, yet when the union between the divinity and humanity was fully effected, that Union was so complete that they formed but one person, and the whole fulness of the Godhead dwelt in the person of Jesus Christ. It is therefore a great error to suppose that he whom we are commanded to address in the Lord's prayer as our Father is any other than the Lord Jesus Christ. He, after his glorification, is the Father as well as the Son. Hence he speaks of himself (when he speaks without a parable) as the Father. So, when the prophet announces his expected birth, saying, "Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given," he not only affirms that "the government shall be upon his shoulder," and gives him the titles, "Wonderful, Counsellor, and the Mighty God," but he declares him also to be, "the everlasting Father." So when the same prophet addresses him as the Father it is when the Lord Jesus Christ is meant, because he is addressed at the same time as the Redeemer: "Thou, O Lord, art our Father, our Redeemer; thy name is from everlasting." The NAME of the Father, which the Lord teaches his people to pray may be hallowed, is the humanity in which Jehovah appeared in the world, and in which he now dwells. The humanity is called the Divine name, because it was in it that God was manifested, or came forth to view, that in the supreme sense Jesus is meant by the NAME of Jehovah, is evident from his own words. "Jesus said, Father, glorify thy name: there came a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." In this form our Lord prayed for the glorification of his humanity, because this is truly the name of God, meaning by a name that by which God is known to angels and men. The Lord prayed that the Father's name might be glorified, and he requires us to pray that it may be hallowed. God glorified his name when he glorified his humanity; and we hallow his name when we acknowledge the sanctity and divinity of his humanity. And this acknowledgment is to be made for the sake of worship. It is the glory of the Christian religion that it enables us to worship a visible God. The Essential Divinity itself - that divine principle which Jesus Christ calls his Father - is utterly unapproachable by angelic as well as human minds. The humanity is the name by which the otherwise incomprehensible Divinity is known and worshipped. The end of divine worship is, that we may be like the Object of our worship. For no other purpose does God require us to worship him. Our homage can add nothing to his glory it is only useful as it sheds his glory upon us. How reasonable, on this ground, is the worship of the Lord Jesus Christ! Not only is he a visible and comprehensible Object, but he is the Pattern, as he is the Fountain, of all perfection - a perfection that has been manifested in a life such as that by which we are to serve him, and by which we are to worship him; for we worship him when we live to his glory, as truly as when we bow in the profoundest humiliation before him. As all the good and blessing with which the human soul can be recreated solely proceeds from the Divine Humanity of the Lord, and can only be given to those who are in the sincere acknowledgement of its divinity, therefore the devout veneration of the Lord's humanity must be the centre of all true and acceptable worship. It is the peculiar sentiment of the angels of the highest heavens, and to the inmost faculties of the regenerate human mind. Of every prayer that we can offer, this sentiment must form the soul, and, whether expressed in words or not, must have existence and life within, to give acceptableness and efficacy to all our petitions. Therefore the Lord's prayer opens its petitions with the expression of this sentiment, in the words Hallowed be thy name. And who can think of the mercy of the Lord in assuming human nature even to the uttermost, or as to the lowest principles in which it exists in man in the world, for the sake of accomplishing in it a work or redemption, and of making it the medium of communicating to us the qualities of the heart and mind, as to truth and goodness, in which is salvation, which is truly the giving to its the power to become the sons of God; - who can think of such blessings, of which the Lord Jesus Christ in his Divine Humanity is the Author, without most sincerely venerating and hallowing his blessed name!

10. The sentiment of devotion which follows next in order is the petition which, also, if rightly appreciated, should express the ardent desire of every feeling heart: Thy kingdom come. Every one sees that the kingdom of the Lord must denote, or at least include, his divine government. And if his government truly reigned in the hearts of all, it is no less evident that the most desirable blessings would prevail among mankind. For, looking to the natural sense of the phrase alone, is obvious to every one, the coming of his kingdom must mean the establishment of that kingdom on earth. And if it were fully established, so that no corrupt passions might rebel in the breast of any one, - much less any individuals, or whole masses of men, set themselves in opposition to the merciful government of the Lord, - what blessings must that gracious government diffuse throughout the earth! How ardently, then, viewed only in this general way, should all desire, and how sincerely should they pray, that this blessed kingdom may come. But a kingdom implies a king. And who is the king of this kingdom? The incontrovertible testimony of Scripture is, that the kingdom belongeth to the Lord Jesus Christ, who is "King of kings and Lord of lords." His kingdom upon earth, in its peculiar sense, as spoken of in the New Testament, commenced with his assumption of humanity, and his beginning openly to manifest himself therein by his mighty works of divine love and his words of divine wisdom which his intimate union with the Divine Essence enabled him to do and to utter. The kingdom of God having commenced with the manifestation of God in the flesh, it is truly the kingdom of him who thus showed himself to mankind. His kingdom is not of this world, though intended also to be established in the hearts of men in this world. For, as is announced respecting him by the Prophet, "His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed."

But with respect to the petition, Thy kingdom come, as well as all other specific terms and phrases used in the Word of God, there must be a spiritual sense intended, besides that natural one which results from the common sense of the words in natural language. What then is the proper spiritual idea that belongs to the word kingdom? In what respect is the Lord spiritually denominated a king? All his Divine titles refer to some distinct attribute or essential principle in his nature; so, consequently, must the title of king. But bow is it that a king on earth exercises his authority over his subjects? or how is every kingdom maintained in order as such? Every kingdom is a society of men bound together by the circumstance of their living under the same laws. Under every kind of government, the kingly, that is the sovereign power, is administered by means of laws; in fact, the essential sovereignty resides in the law. We have only to apply this to the Divine government to see in what respect the Lord is called a king, and what is meant in the spiritual sense by his kingdom. How does he exercise his government but by his divine laws? and what are these laws but the laws of his divine order? And what are these but the dictates of his divine truth?

These laws are the immutable appointments of infinite wisdom grounded in infinite love. Love being his essence, he cannot will anything but the purest good: and wisdom being, in his essence, in perfect union with love, he cannot aim at the accomplishment of his purposes by any but the best and wisest means. And his love and wisdom being infinite, he sees from eternity to eternity what the best and the wisest means are. The consequence is, that his laws are as eternal and immutable as his own love and wisdom, or as himself to be laws of his divine truth they cannot be otherwise; for truth itself can admit of no variation. As the Author, then, of the laws of eternal truth, and as administering the government of heaven and of his church, of the human race, and of the universe, according to them, the Lord is called a King; and his government, - the order and course of such administration, and the beings who are the subjects of it, are denominated his kingdom. In praying, then, Thy kingdom come, we particularly pray that the government of the Lord's divine truth, grounded as it is in divine goodness, may be established both in our own hearts and in the hearts of mankind at large. And as the aspiration, "Hallowed be thy Name," is pre-eminently the sentiment of the celestial angels, and of the celestial degree of man's mind, so the petition, Thy kingdom come, is pre-eminently the sentiment of the, spiritual angels, or of the spiritual degree of the mind. These spiritual angels are themselves called "kings while the celestial are called "priests." The heaven in which the spiritual dwell is specifically the kingdom for whose coming we are taught to pray. To become the subjects of this kingdom every thought must be brought into obedience to the divine truth of the Lord, and he himself, by the laws of his order, which are the truths of his Word, must reign with unresisted authority throughout our souls. Not only so: his laws must be loved, and thence willingly obeyed. When obedience is thus yielded with affection, it is accompanied with delight. How devoutly, then, and with what earnestness of desire ought we to offer the petition, Thy kingdom come, making it the habitual wish of our souls!

The next petition of the Divine prayer, Thy will be done, may appear much the same in import as the one we have just considered. Wherever the Lord's kingdom is established, there undoubtedly his will is done; wherever his will is done, there assuredly he reigns as King, and his government is established. Yet there must be a decided distinction between the purport of one petition and the other. In a divine composition there can be no real tautology.

That absence of sameness, amid the most admirable harmony, which is apparent in the works of the Creator, must be equally characteristic of his words. What has been already said about the sense of the petition, "Thy kingdom come," will show that there is nothing approaching to a "vain repetition" in the addition of the clause, Thy will be done. The Divine Truth, which is the principle of the Lord's government, in the true reception of which consists the establishment of his kingdom, is evidently the proper attribute of the Divine understanding whereas the will of the Lord must relate to Divine understanding, the other great essential of the Divine mind: comparatively as the mind of man who was created according to the image and likeness of God, consists of the two universal faculties of will and understanding the infinite understanding of the Lord is Divine Truth or Divine Wisdom, so his infinite will is Divine Goodness or Love. To pray that the Lord's Divine will may be done, is to pray that the benevolent, the gracious, the merciful desires, the unbounded love of our heavenly Father may take effect in moulding the hearts of men according to its own nature, and in producing the fruits of goodness in their lives. The will of God can be nothing but pure love and mercy; and it prevails in us when we are animated by no other affections than those of love to him and charity towards our neighbour; and it properly is done by us when all our conduct is regulated in conformity with these blessed principles - when we do what they declare, and nothing but what they sanction.

But this petition is marked by the circumstance that it particularly desires that the Divine will may be done on earth as well as in heaven: Thy will be done, as in heaven so upon the earth. This is the order according to which the words follow each other in the original, and according to which what is superior comes first, and what is inferior follows after. That the Divine will is done in heaven no one can doubt that it ought to be done on earth, and that this ought to be our ardent desire, is no less obvious. But heaven also denotes not only the heaven without, but also the heaven within - the internal man - and consequently the earth denotes the external man; and it is the external man which requires to be brought into obedience, and conformed to the Lord's will, being by natural inheritance in a, state of contrariety and rebellion. When the Lord's will is thus done on earth as it is in heaven, the regeneration of man is complete; and without it he is not qualified for any of the mansions of heaven. This petition seems, then, to contain the peculiar sentiment of those in the heavenly kingdom who occupy the lowest of the three general mansions assigned to the blest, and through which the Lord and heaven in general, flow into the world and into men on earth. The angels of this heaven are particularly in the principle of obedience. Their especial life is in doing the Lord's will; and through them the conformity of the external man in those who are regenerated, to the same holy determination is more especially carried on. In order that we may experience the Lord's saving operation, and be prepared for a place in his heavenly kingdom, our prayer must most devoutly be, Thy will be done, as in heaven so upon the earth. There is a principle of our internal man of which this is the proper sentiment. We must allow it to be opened, and must thence look continually to our Father in the heavens for the conformity of our external man to the spirit of the petition. We must, to this end, join determination to goodness in life and act with our aspirations towards heaven, never ceasing till the blessed fruit is experienced, and, doing the Lord's will on earth, we are prepared for that heaven where it is done spontaneously and unceasingly for ever.

11. The petition of the divine prayer which we are now to consider is one that expresses our constant dependence on the bounty of our heavenly Father. Give us this day our daily bread. This forms the middle petition of the Lord's prayer: above it, all relates to the Lord and his kingdom below it, all relates to ourselves and the world. In the first three petitions we address our Father in heaven; we pray that his name may be hallowed, that his kingdom may come, and his will be done on earth as in heaven. In the last three petitions we pray for forgiveness, for protection against or support in temptation, and for deliverance from evil. In the first three petitions we look, as it were, above us to the Lord and heaven; in the last we look below us to the world and hell. The present petition - Give us this day our daily bread - occupies the middle place, as it appears to be of an intermediate character.

Now the reason of this change of strain, so to speak, in the varying petitions of the prayer - of its passing from the contemplation of the highest good and blessedness, by a regular gradation, to the lowest evil and misery, is because it is so framed as to be adapted to the whole nature, faculties, and composition of man, from first to last. It is the production of Him who knoweth how "fearfully avid wonderfully we are made," and in whose "book all our members are written." It therefore expresses the sentiments both of that part of our spiritual and mental constitution by virtue of which, if duly opened, we become inhabitants of the heavenly kingdom, and also by the abuse of which, when unreformed, we find our sad home in the realms of darkness. We have mentioned that the petitions of the first class contain in an especial manner the devotional sentiments of the various orders of angelic beings, and also of the corresponding provinces and powers of the mind of man, which are those that belong to what is called in theology the internal man. In the heavenly kingdom the Lord is all in all; and so also in everything belonging to the internal man. Therefore, in the class of petitions which we have already considered, there is such a direction of thought and affection to the Lord as prevents the appearance of any other idea. So in the last class of petitions we have the devotional sentiments, not certainly of the inhabitants of the infernal kingdom -for there no such sentiments can exist - but we have in those petitions the devotional feelings of the various faculties and provinces of the external man, as regenerated or regenerating, or the feelings of the man himself when contemplating this part of his nature, and the liabilities which he derives from it. For it is that part of man's nature, or mental frame, which is denominated, in the language of theology, the external man, which alone is subject to evils, is defiled with them, or is susceptible of them. Without it, a finite intelligent being, or accountable creature, could not have been produced; and having it, the necessity of obtaining the removal of its evils, and protection against the ruin to which it, and the man who makes it his all, is exposed, prevents us in our supplications at the throne of grace from abiding wholly in the contemplation of the Lord and, his perfections, and obliges us to have respect also to our own deficiencies, infirmities, and dangers.

Distinct, however, from these last great constituents of the frame of human beings - the external and internal man - is the rational faculty or principle; or rather, it is an intermediate which partakes of both. This is the highest seat of man's conscious perception while he lives in the world, and it is given him, that by means of it, as a rational free agent, he may be capable of appropriating the things that belong to the internal man, and thus have his internal man opened and prepared for heaven, which takes place in proportion as the external man is taught obedience, and is made what the Scripture calls regenerate, by the removal of its evils. The rational faculty of man then, ought to be in the perpetual desire to receive and appropriate good from the Lord, with every help requisite for these objects. Here then, our constant prayer must be, Give us this day our daily bread: which clause we are now particularly to consider.

The exact literal sense of this passage has been a subject of great controversy among the learned, the word here translated daily being formed by the evangelists themselves, and existing in no other work than the gospels, and in them only in this place, and in the corresponding passage in Luke. It is only, therefore, from the etymology of the term, and from the sense required by the context, that any conclusion can be formed as to its meaning. In the Latin Vulgate it is rendered super-substantial; but this is rather a spiritual than a literal sense. Others, with our translators, have rendered it daily, not that there is any direct reference to days in the original, but because no modern language can accurately express what the original term implies. The original term, according to what appears to be its most probable etymology, denotes that which is suited to, or required for, our substance or being; thus, when joined to bread, the phrase signifies, the bread which is for our substance, being, or subsistence. This is our necessary bread; and the idea of our necessary bread is not badly, though not literally conveyed by the phrase - our daily bread.

It is plain, that in praying for our daily bread, the word bread must have, even in the literal sense, a wider signification than one article of food. It is used figuratively to denote food in general, and indeed all that is necessary to the maintenance of life. Yet after all, this is not what is truly meant by the divine words. The whole purport of the divine exhortations which follow is to withdraw us from a regard to natural things, which are promised to be given freely where superior blessings are duly regarded. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." Doubtless we ought to look to the Lord as the Author of all our natural comforts, to acknowledge with gratitude his mercy in bestowing them, and to look to him for their continuance. But what he wishes us to desire with earnestness, and to ask of him as an indispensable means of obtaining, is the good, and the spiritual gifts in general which are requisite to our spiritual support - to the life and nourishment of our souls. This is the spiritual sense which the word "bread" contains throughout the whole of the Word of God. Its proper spiritual sense is good, or goodness. For as bread is that which nourishes the body, so real good from the Lord is the proper nourishment of the soul. And when, as here, bread in the natural sense signifies all food in general, and not only so, but everything necessary for the support of bodily life, it denotes in the spiritual sense not good simply, but truth also, and these in all the varieties, and under every form, suited to our spiritual state. Hence we say, "Give us this day our daily bread:" for by days are signified, in the spiritual sense, states through which we pass, or in which we are. And when the idea of succession of days is involved in the natural expression - for we are to pray every day - the idea of eternity, of cession of states without end, is also included. What then we are earnestly to desire when we say to our heavenly Father, Give us this day our daily bread, is that he would bestow upon us every spiritual good and gift necessary, as our varying states require, to the support of our spiritual life, and to our well-being in and to eternity. Among other things, the regulation of our thoughts, the supplying us with profitable subjects of thought and affection, is particularly involved in the petition; for these constitute in a particular manner the food of the mind. The Lord continually gives the angels what to think; and thus do they receive from him their daily bread. When we offer up this form of words we should desire to partake of the same privilege. But in using this petition, what do we not pray for, when the Lord himself is the bread of life, the true bread that came down from heaven, to give life unto the world? He that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. Daily should we look up to him as the source and the substance of all good for our needful supply. And knowing that he still comes down from heaven as the bread of life, that we may eat and not die, causing his love and truth to descend upon our hearts, as the manna descended upon the wilderness around the camp of Israel, let us gather it, and gather it daily, that we may go on by the strength of this angel's food in our journey to the promised land.

12. The petition which now demands our consideration is that in which we are directed to pray, Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. This, in more respects than one, may be regarded as one of the most remarkable of the whole series of sacred supplications. That every human being stands in need of forgiveness at the hands of his Divine Judge; or that no one call stand up and claim the rewards of eternal life as matter of right, pleading the unforfeited title of undeviating obedience and holiness; but that all must receive a favourable decision of their final lot as matter of grace and mercy, there can be few so blinded by self-love and self-conceit as not to be disposed most humbly to acknowledge. "There is no man that sinneth not - In many things we all offend - All have sinned and come short of the glory of God," are declarations of the, Old and New Testaments, to the truth of which every one must feelingly assent. And none can be humbled with the consciousness that he is thus a debtor - a sinner -without most earnestly desiring that his deficiencies and offences may not be brought against him, but may be covered over with the mantle of forgiveness. Without forgiveness for what we have done amiss, accorded from pure mercy, dark indeed were the prospect which we should have to look upon in eternity. Accordingly, in some form or other, supplications for forgiveness form a principal part in the devotional exercises, or religious worship, of every people, and of every individual that cherishes any feeling of religion whatever. "Forgive us our debts" is the humble supplication of all. But to this simple sentiment, however briefly or verbosely expressed, all petitions of merely human composition for the forgiveness of sins would, it may be presumed, be confined. Few persons, conscious of being sinners, would think of asking forgiveness on the ground that they had forgiven others. Forgiveness, absolute and in all respects unconditional, is what we should regard as most agreeable, and at the same time most suitable to our condition. In framing the petition for ourselves, our natural inclination would not lead us, and regard for our own interest would not suffer us, to say, "Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors," Yet this is the form in which we are directed to prefer our entreaty in this divinely communicated prayer. Here, then, is a feature in the prayer, given for use by the Lord Jesus Christ himself, which is truly remarkable, and of most weighty consideration. A form of forgiveness which, if invented by ourselves, would be presumptuous is by him enjoined as of indispensable necessity. Using it after his direction, all idea of presumption in it disappears. And how momentous is the instruction which remains in its stead. Forgiveness of our debts, upon condition of our forgiving our debtors, is still of free grace and mercy on the part of the Lord; for our disposition to forgive others is itself the fruit of divine grace. Conditional forgiveness is grace for grace. But though forgiveness of our sins is pure mercy on the Lord's part, even where a condition is annexed to it, how truly salutary is it calculated to be to us, that we should be reminded of the condition in a way the most likely to produce its proper effect on our minds. The condition annexed to forgiveness must, in the very nature of things be an indispensable one; for how can it be possible that we can obtain forgiveness of our sins past, while we continue to make them sins present? To pray for forgiveness of our sins, without cherishing the full purpose of desisting from them and seriously endeavouring to do so, is mere mockery and vain babbling. The cherishing feelings of revenge against those who have injured us, is one of those sins which, while we continue to entertain and practise them, cannot be forgiven. But, plain as this is in itself, our self-love would here be very apt to blind us, and prevent us from making the discovery: it is, therefore, of mercy that the Lord makes the discovery, and reminds us of it continually, by connecting the acknowledgment of it with the very words of his prayer itself.

But what is the reason that our forgiveness of those who are deficient in the discharge of their duty to us, or who trespass against us, is made the condition on which alone we are encouraged to hope for forgiveness ourselves? And what is the proper meaning of the forgiveness of sins? The forgiveness of others is made, in the literal sense of the petition, the ground of our obtaining forgiveness, because no one can truly forgive those who injure him, so as to regard them with perfect complacency and kindness of heart, except in proportion as the love of self and the love of the world, which are the roots of all evil, have ceased to exercise a preponderating influence over him, and thus in proportion as evils in general are removed from his affections, and consequently from his practice. The Lord instructs us, in the beatitudes, that the merciful obtain mercy; and on the same principle we are here taught that the forgiving obtain forgiveness. This shows us what the nature of forgiveness truly is. It does not consist in the pronouncing of a pardon by the Lord. If this were sufficient to enable the sinner to enjoy the blessing intended, every child of man would receive it. Jesus Christ, who is mercy in its very essence, could refuse it to none. But how can sins be forgiven, so as to free us from their deplorable consequences, unless they are at the same time removed - removed from their seat in the affections, desisted from in the habit of our lives? The removal of evils is what we ought to think of when we pray for their forgiveness. As we, by Divine aid, desist from and remove them in desire and practice, they are truly remitted to us by the Lord, who then removes them also from our affections and thoughts. The desire for the Divine aid for this purpose is expressed when we say, "Forgive us our debts:" the acknowledgment of the necessity of our own fighting against and desisting from them is implied when we add, "as we also forgive our debtors." If this be our prayer and our practice, we shall assuredly obtain from the Lord the blessing of complete forgiveness.

13. The next petition of the Lord's prayer, Lead us not into temptation, is not free from difficulty. Many have found in it what appears to contradict their apprehensions of the Divine nature and the economy of the Lord's dispensations in regard to men, while leading them through the wilderness of this world to their home in heaven. In the first place, the words seem to imply that when man falls into temptation the Lord is the author of it; when yet genuine doctrine informs us that God tempts no man, but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lusts and enticed. Another apparent difficulty is, that, as no man that is saved can avoid undergoing temptation, and as even the Saviour himself, when engaged in the work of glorifying his humanity, was "in all points tempted as we are," it seems extraordinary that this prayer would seem to deprecate the idea of being exposed to temptations in any shape. A general and satisfactory answer will probably be given to both these difficulties when the remarkable peculiarity we have already noticed is kept in view - namely, that its various petitions have a specific reference to the various constituent principles of the human mind. Now, it is only through the medium of the lower principles of the natural man that we can be assailed with temptations strictly and properly so called. They originate from evil spirits, who delight in falsities grounded in evil lusts, and they are carried on, on their part, by the injection of false suggestions into the thoughts. But the part of the human mind which is liable to be thus influenced is that which, if separated from the higher principles, and made the chief seat of man's affections and thoughts, gives him a quality of the same gross and evil nature, and sinks him after death to the state of those who thus delight to destroy the soul. It is, in fact, the part of man that thinks according to the apprehension of the external senses which is the inlet by which temptations approach him; and the apprehensions of this, which may be properly called the sensual part of the mind, in regard to divine and spiritual subjects, are of themselves naturally imperfect and obscure. Hence, those whose minds are not elevated above the sphere of the senses, when they acknowledge and worship God, have but gross and defective notions respecting him. They regard him, indeed, as a Being of infinite power; but not having so clear an idea of his unmixed goodness, they suppose him to be the author of everything they experience - of evil and misery, as well as of good and happiness. And this idea, though not agreeable to the genuine truth, is yet useful to such persons, as leading them to think of the necessity of rendering such an all-powerful Being propitious, by attending to his commandments. Accordingly, the idea of God as thus the Author of all things, though not the true idea, yet being one of the natural apprehensions of the human mind, and, when entertained in simplicity, adapted to produce beneficial effects, is what may be called an apparent truth, though not a genuine truth. According to such apparent truths, or according to the natural apprehensions of mankind, when their minds are not elevated above the sphere of the ideas suggested by the senses, many things are expressed in the literal sense of the word. Thus, in regard to this very subject of evil apparently coming from the Lord as well as good, we find the Lord himself saying, "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things," (Isaiah xlv. 7.) Here the Lord speaks in the letter according to the apprehensions of the simple, the genuine truth being, not that darkness and evil come from the Lord, but that they cannot take place without his permission, which is conceded, not for the promotion of evil, but for its abatement and removal, and thus for the promotion of good. In severe trials it is scarcely possible to abstain from thinking according to the appearance: and the afflicted person is oppressed with the apprehension that the Lord takes part against him, and thus that the temptation is actually induced by him. Still, this is not the real truth; and this, in states of any degree of illustration, the mind perceives. Accordingly, in all ages, from the earliest times of Christianity as is evinced by the writings of those called the fathers of the church, the true sense of this clause has been explained to be, "Suffer us not to be overcome by temptation."

It has sometimes appeared to us, from the mode of expression in the original, that the force of the words which we translate, "lead us not into," is nearly equivalent to that of "rescue us from." For in the original, the term denoting not is in juxtaposition with that signifying lead, and precedes it, though the genius of our language does not permit us to put the words in the same order, and to say "Not lead us into temptation." Now it is remarked by critics, that in the idiom both of the Old and New Testaments the particle not often coalesces with the word that follows, so as to form one idea, and as it were one word, being the contrary of that which the other word would convey by itself: only this happens more frequently with nouns than with verbs. Thus the translators in the common version have very properly given the words of the Lord to Martha in this form: "He that liveth and believeth in me shall never die." In the original it is, "He shall not die for ever," being equivalent in sense to "never." If, then, we consider, in this part of the Lord's prayer, not as coalescing with lead, the sense of not lead into must be, rescue from. But this is offered with diffidence as a, suggestion it never, so far as we are aware, having occurred to any one else. All agree that the true sense of the passage is to this effect, though they have not deduced it, in the same manner, from the very words. And if this be the true sense of the passage, whether literally expressed or not - if the idea intended by it, when viewed in the light of genuine truth, and above the veil of appearances, is, "Rescue us from temptation," the other objection also disappears, which is, that since temptations are both unavoidable and necessary to salvation, it seems strange that we should be directed to pray not to be, exposed to them. Here again, several of the literal commentators have seen that the words cannot, in their real design, be intended to deprecate all approach of temptation, but only to entreat that we may not be immersed in it, or swallowed up by it. And this, they say, is involved in the term into - that according to the peculiar force of this expression, as here used, to enter into temptation is to be overcome and carried away by it. Thus to pray, as Augustine of old expresses the sense of the petition, "Suffer us not to be led into temptation," is quite different from what it would be if we were to say, "Suffer us not to be assailed by temptation;" yet it is through supposing these two phrases to be exactly synonymous that all the difficulty has arisen. The Lord does not direct us to pray not to be exposed to the assaults of temptation, because this would be the same thing as to pray not to be made regenerate, since without temptation regeneration cannot be accomplished; but we are most earnestly to pray not to be suffered to be led into temptation, because if we do come into it, in the Scripture sense of the phrase, we become a one with the tempting agency, by adopting the false and evil suggestion thence presented, and so confirming them that they cannot be removed. Such, assuredly, is the genuine idea intended to be produced by this mode of expression, thought, doubtless, when suffering temptation, the mind is sufficiently ready to desire to have it removed, or to be spared the trial altogether. The only proper sense in which the prayer is authorized by the dictates of genuine truth is, "Suffer us not to be overcome in temptation," or, "Rescue us from it by giving us the victory."

We come now to the last petition of this divinely dictated prayer, But deliver us from evil. As the divine form of words delivered by the Lord, as a guide for the devotion of Christians, begins with the contemplation, attended with the veneration, of the supreme good, so does it, after passing through the whole series of intermediate sentiments in the most orderly progression, terminate with the contemplation, attended with the shuddering aversion, of the, principle of evil.

As in its contemplation of the supreme good it elevates the, mind to the Lord, even the Lord Jesus Christ, as being that supreme good, and excites our love for him by presenting him as the tender Father of our race, and the beneficent Author of all good to man; so, in adverting to the principle of evil, it regards it as one with the devil and with hell, and presents it as the more an object of dread and horror by identifying it with an existing being, or rather an innumerable assemblage of beings, the very principle of whose life consists in the love of destroying and doing hurt. As this prayer, in the commencement, desires that the Lord's name may be hallowed, which is the sentiment, in its most direct form, of the pure love of the Lord, so does it close with desiring to be delivered from the opposite of this principle - from evil in its deepest ground, which is the mere love of self. For it is only as self-love is removed, or ceases to exercise its baneful influence on the heart, that the love of the Lord, which is the love of pure goodness, can come into exercise and into actual existence.

Such, in a few words, is the purport of this concluding petition of the Lord's prayer, as placed in contrast or in parallelism with its first. We say, in contrast or parallelism; for the things prayed against in the latter clauses of the prayer are the exact opposites, respectively, of those prayed for in the clauses which precede; but the sentiments which breathe in these latter petitions themselves, and which deprecate the evil things adverted to, are the exact counterparts or parallels of those which rise towards the Lord, in direct aspirations for good in the former. Thus, as we have just seen, the evil prayed against in the last petition is the exact opposite of the good which is desired in the first aspiration; and thus the request, "Deliver us from evil," is the proper counterpart of the aspiration, "Hallowed be thy name." So the petition, "Lead us not into temptation," which expresses the desire to be rescued from the influence of false principles grounded in evil, is the exact counterpart of the aspiration "Thy kingdom come," which denotes the desire for the establishment of the empire of truth grounded in goodness; just as falsity grounded in evil and truth grounded in goodness are the perfect opposites of each other. So, again, the petition, "Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors," is the proper counterpart of the aspiration, "Thy will be done, as in heaven, so upon the earth;" since debts and defalcations in regard to the performance of the Lord's will, or trespasses against it, are the exact opposites to the doing of it; and the sentiment which desires the forgiveness or remission of these debts is the exact counterpart of that which desires that the Lord's will be done, or that good from him may prevail, in the external man as well as in the internal. The intermediate petition, "Give us this day our daily bread," has not another answering to it, because it is truly intermediate, partaking of the nature of both the other classes; since bread denotes everything whatever which is necessary for the support and preservation of spiritual life, and power to resist the evil by which it would be destroyed. Thus we see, further, what has been shown in explaining the several petitions, how this prayer applies to the wants and sentiments of every faculty and principle of the human mind, internal and external, from the highest to the lowest, including everything that can possibly be required for the establishing of the soul in good, and its withdrawal from evil, and thus for the highest exaltation of human nature; and is suitable for every state which man can experience in the whole process of his regeneration.

The petition now under consideration is not, like that which immediately precedes it, attended with any sort of difficulty, or liable to misapprehension yet the particulars it involves may be set in a clearer light by explanation. First, if viewed in connection with the petition which precedes, and with which its connection is very close, "Lead us not into temptation," it tends powerfully to remove the obscurity with which this is attended, and to establish the view of its meaning which we have taken. For it is well known that it is customary in many parts of the Holy Word, particularly in those which consist of prayers or praises, to connect two clauses together in such a manner as to appear in the letter to be perfectly synonymous with each other, only expressing the same thing in other words; although such passages are in reality not synonymous, but one of them always expresses something that has relation to the principle of good, and the other to something relating to the principle of truth. To take one of a multitude - the Psalmist, addressing the Lord, says, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Ps. cxix. 105). Though this sort of parallelism is not so observable in the Lord's prayer, the clauses of which do not run in pairs, yet it exists most perfectly in the, clauses, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Lead us not into, in the one clause, being exactly equivalent to deliver us from, in the other whence we may conclude that the former phrase is more positive in its sense than the words as they stand in English might induce us to imagine, and that they amount in signification to Rescue us from temptation. So temptation in the one clause answers to evil in the other; whence, again, we may conclude that it is not temptation, considered as a mere trial, that is the thing represented as so dreadful, but the consequence of falling in it, or being overcome by it. The temptation which we are to pray against coming into must be something equivalent to the evil which we pray to be delivered from; which would not be the case if entering into temptation, in Scripture phrase, meant no more than being assaulted by it. We must be assaulted by it, otherwise we can never overcome evil and falsity; and without overcoming them we can never be delivered from them. Without having our evils excited by temptation we should be ignorant that we had any in our nature, and that which is not known cannot be removed.

But that which we specifically pray against in the petition, "Lead us not into temptation," is the power, dominion, and influence of falsity grounded in evil; but when we add, but deliver us from evil, we pray against the power, dominion, and influence of evil itself. This is going to the root of the tree. Evil is properly the delight and concupiscence of thinking and acting contrary to Divine order, the laws of which are summarily expressed in the precepts of the Decalogue. The seeds of all evils are inherent with every one in his natural or external man, so that the delight of them is natural to him; and if not withheld from acquiring the habit of yielding to them, he is in danger of confirming them, and becoming enslaved to their power. How ardently, then, should we pray, "Deliver its from evil!"

But, as already remarked, there is reason to believe that the idea of evil is here meant to be united with that of an evil being, or rather an assemblage of evil beings, whose very life is the love of destroying and doing hurt. The word here rendered evil is in a form which may equally mean the evil one. In the parable of the sower it is said of one class of recipients, "Then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart;" where the word rendered wicked one is the same as in the last petition of the Lord's prayer is simply rendered evil. The same occurs in the parable of the tares. In this petition, therefore, we pray also, "Deliver us front the evil one." In the spiritual idea evil and the devil, or what is the same thing, evil and hell, are a one; or, evil and the whole mass of evil spirits are a one, and they act as one for the destruction of the human soul. Such being the case, nothing but the divine power of the Lord can effect our deliverance. Yet we are not to suppose it is unnecessary or useless for us to attempt to use any resistance. The law of divine order is, that we resist evil or the devil, altogether as if we were able to do so of ourselves, yet heartily acknowledging that all the power of resistance is given us from the Lord, and is the Lord in us. He who does this will not pray to be delivered from evil, or the evil one, in vain.

But, finally, evil in its deepest ground consists in self-love, which is the proper principle of man's selfhood, from which all other forms of evil have their rise and manifestation. Self-love consists essentially in the desire to rule over others - to make others subservient to ourselves; and it burns with revenge and hatred against all who do not submit. This is, in fact, the principle which reigns in the lowest hell, into which all descend who make it the ruling principle of their life here, and yield to it without check. Specifically this is the root of all evil which we pray against when we say, "Deliver us from evil." And he who completely overcomes it, and becomes regenerate even to this part of his external man, in which it has its seat, becomes after death a celestial angel, whose ruling love is the love of the Lord, and the predominant sentiment of whose heart, rising towards him, is expressed in the aspiration, "Hallowed be thy name." Such is the state of perfection and bliss which is consequent on the complete accomplishment of the prayer which entreats, "Deliver us from evil." Complete deliverance from evil, and the rejection of evil in its deepest ground, make one with exaltation into the highest angelic good and felicity.

As a close to the whole prayer are added, in the common Bible, the words, For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, for ever Amen. But it is now the general opinion of those who have examined the subject, that this formed no part of the prayer as delivered by the Lord himself; but that it was added as a suitable expression of devotion in the liturgies of the early Christians, and was from thence taken into the text by some of the transcribers. Certain it is that the chief of the most ancient manuscripts and versions are without it; whence it was never generally received till after the Reformation. It is not contained in the Bibles used by the Roman Catholics to this day. But although the words are not, we may conclude, properly a part of the sacred formulary, the sentiment intended to be expressed by them ought to be that of every heart. All ought to acknowledge both that everything true, and everything good, and every blessing that we enjoy, come from the Lord above, and to ascribe them to him in devout veneration and heartfelt gratitude.

14, 15. After delivering that divine prayer which has now been considered, the Lord returns to the subject of one of the petitions he had taught his disciples to address to the throne of mercy. The subject of that one is forgiveness. He had taught them to pray to their Father in heaven to forgive them, as they forgave one another. He now assures them, If ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Forgiveness is the only thing we are instructed to pray for conditionally. Our Lord tells us that unless we comply with the condition, our prayer will not be answered. How impressive is this lesson! There is perhaps no passion more powerful than revenge; no vice so common as unforgiveness. How quick are we to take offence - how ready to resent an injury. Yet this is the very evil our Lord singles out for reprobation, and forgiveness is the very virtue which he insists upon as the necessary channel of receiving forgiveness. "How often shall my brother offend me, and I forgive him? till seven times? I say not unto thee until seven times, but until seventy times seven." We must cultivate a forgiving spirit. Forgiveness must not be an act merely, but it state - an abiding disposition to give to others that which we seek for ourselves.

16. Alms-giving and prayer are succeeded by fasting. Moreover, when ye fast. The Lord does not in his sermon teach his disciples to give alms, to pray, and to fast: he teaches them how to perform these necessary duties. Fasting was an institution of the Israelitish church; but no specific directions were given how to fast. We learn how they fasted. They rent their garments, and sprinkled ashes on their heads, and otherwise mortified their flesh. Yet even through their own prophets they are reproved for the manner in which they fasted, and are taught a better way. "Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day unto the Lord? Is not this the fast that I have chosen to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every Yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?" (Isaiah lviii. 5-7.) Even in the, Old Testament we often see the spirit of the New. The Spirit looks at times through the cloud of ceremonies, and utters the broad and noble truth. The Lord's fast is here declared to be indeed a divine institution. Not empty forms, but deeds full of charity, were the duties the Lord required of Israel in their fasts. And this is the character of fasting even, under the sense of mortification. For what is the mortification which fasting implies? It is mortification of the mind, not of the body; the abstaining from the delights of sin - from the gratification of selfish and worldly loves - from the lusts of the flesh and the pride of life. And the true sign of mortifying ourselves is in doing disinterested service to others. The mortification and the deeds of charity are indeed distinct, but they cannot be separated. We cannot do disinterested good to others without denying ourselves, and we cannot deny ourselves without doing good to others. For what is self-denial but the effort to be unselfish? Abstinence from evil in mind and practice, and thus the mortification of self and all its corrupt lusts, is what is, spiritually meant by the fasting of which our Lord here speaks; and as this is always accompanied by a sense of our deficiency in ourselves, in regard to everything that is good, and by mourning and humiliation on that account, this also is included in the signification of fasting. Such fasting we are commanded not to perform as the hypocrites do. Indeed, such fasting cannot be performed by hypocrytes at all, who only substitute something in its place for the sake of appearance. They are of a sad countenance for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. They assume an outward appearance of mortification and austerity, being loud in the acknowledgement that they are sinners, and exhibiting such other features of external penitence as appear before the world. In the spiritual sense, the countenance and the face are the affections and thoughts of the mind, for these are expressed in them. Sadness is a state of the affections; disfigurement, of the thoughts. Assumed, not real states are here understood. Under the appearance of godly sorrow and self-abandonment they concealed callous hearts and contemptuous thoughts.

17. The true Christian is not to be like unto these hypocrites. He is to anoint his head and wash his face. He is to perform the duty of spiritual fasting with cheerfulness. The practice of anointing the head, common in ancient times, was representative of cheerful goodwill and social benevolence, because the oil with which it was done was a representative of all good, kindness, and love in general. And to wash the face was representative of interior purification, producing effects in a life of comeliness and order. The import of the direction is, that while practising abstinence from evils, and maintaining a constant guard against their influence, we are not to do this as a grievous requisition, rendering the mind melancholy from the opposition of the duty to its most cherished desires. We are to do it cheerfully and willingly, not with regret that we are obliged to surrender our darling evils, but only with sorrow that there should be anything in us that would plead for their retention.

18. We are not to appear unto men to fast, but unto our Father which, is in secret. As already explained (v. 5, 6), we are not to act from truth in the external man, but from good in the internal; thus, not from self, but from the Lord. And while the hypocrite, who acts from and for the sake of self, has the poor and transient reward of a reputation for being what he is not, the true penitent will receive a reward of divine approval, and of inward peace and satisfaction. His heavenly Father, who sees what is within, will bless him with his grace. His sorrow for his evils will be within; and this cannot exist there at all in sincerity without producing a state capable of the reception of good from the Lord. The good thus appropriated, through the rejection of evil, will, after the trial is over, be productive of delight, which will be consummated in heaven, when the joy inherent in all good from the Lord will ever be communicated to him, together with the good itself from him. Thus again his happy experience will be, that his Father, who seeth, in secret, will reward him openly.

19-21. The subject to which our Lord now directs the attention of his hearers is one that comes home to us in our every-day life, and enters into our habitual thoughts and feelings. Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. Every one has a general perception of what this language means, and of the lesson which the exhortation was intended to convey. The Lord teaches us that not temporal but eternal things should be the chief objects of our pursuit and affections. Those who have any real belief in their own immortality, and any sincere concern for their eternal state, must be aware of the importance of acting in conformity with this principle. The wealth of this world and the riches of heaven are to each other as the body is to the soul, and as time is to eternity. They have nothing in common. There is no proportion between them. They are connected only by correspondence. The lower was designed to be subservient to the higher. The treasures of this world are to be sought after and esteemed as things whose final cause is not on earth, but in heaven. It is true that natural things have a natural use; but this is not their only nor their principal use. Nothing that we love and pursue affects the body only, or terminates in this world. Our ends are in heaven or in hell; and there, where they begin, our works terminate, for everything returns to its origin. Nothing is better calculated than such reflections to regulate the desire and sanctify the use of temporal things, and at the same time to lead us to devote our best thoughts to the acquirement of heavenly things, and make them the objects of our best affections. In themselves earthly treasures are corruptible and precarious. In some way the moth and the rust are ever at work upon them; and if some turn in the wheel of fortune do not rob us of them, yet death, when he comes as a thief in the night, will sweep them all away. Heavenly treasures are incorruptible and certain; and if we possess these, death, who at last deprives us of the temporal will open the gate which introduces us into the full enjoyment of the true riches.

But there is a spiritual sense in the Lord's words. In the language of the correspondence between natural and spiritual things, riches is a term denoting the knowledge of goodness and truth, or all points of knowledge respecting spiritual subjects. The earth, in the same expressive language, denotes the external or natural man, and heaven, the internal or spiritual. Here, then, we are told how we are to proceed in regard to the knowledge of divine things with which we are brought acquainted from the Word, and from preaching, and other mediums of instruction derived from that source. We are not to lay such precious treasures up among ordinary matters accumulated in the memory of the external man, or merely to speculate upon them with the natural understanding. If we make no better use of our acquisitions than this, they are sure to be corrupted and perish, and to leave the mind as destitute of any advantage from their seeming possession as if they had never been known at all. Moth and rust will corrupt, and thieves will break through and steal. These denote the evil lusts and false persuasions which belong to the natural man separate from the spiritual; the tendency of which is to prevent, destroy, and render useless every acquisition of a spiritual nature which the mind may externally have obtained, to check its influence, to change or pervert its tendency, and at last completely to take it away. For whatever is merely deposited in the memory, and is not made matter of life and practice, never enters the spirit, or the man himself' that lives after death. In this state the proper and natural state of the person, which is one of evil and falsity, is continually endeavouring to break through from without, as thieves are said to do, and to remove and abolish the knowledges respecting heaven and divine things, and every spiritual appearance which the mind had externally taken up, and had not truly appropriated by love and life. Nothing of the kind can be permanent, or can accompany man into eternity, which has thus been admitted into the outer chambers or the threshold of the mind. Every appearance, every possession, every apparent intellectual attainment, will then be abolished, and the man will remain in eternity the mere subject of those unholy and purely earthly attachments, which he had here supremely cherished. These treasures, therefore - those sacred and as they are intended to be, saving knowledges - are to be laid up in heaven, - to be made truly the possessions of the internal man, or to be established in man's spirit, where no evil influence can come to hurt them, and where he will retain the enjoyment of them for ever. This is done by the good to which they point and lead being made the supreme object of regard. The heart being in them, or the will being conformed to them, will be elevated with them; and the life of heaven being established in the soul, man will live in heaven for ever. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. How true is this! That only is a treasure in which the ruling affections of the heart are interested. How important is it to make spiritual things the chief objects of our affections which we do when we lay them up in our inner man, and make them the delight and end of our life!

22, 23. From the heart the Lord comes to the eye. The light of the body is the eye. More properly, The lamp of the body is the eye. What a lamp is to a room, the eye is to the body. The eye is not itself luminous it is only a recipient of light. Or it may, like the lamp be considered as an instrument that may be the means of lighting up the body. But its power of lighting the body depends on the state of the organ. If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. The term single, or simple, unmixed or uncompounded, as the word properly signifies, applied to the eye, means clear, pure, or perfect - free from anything that obstructs or distorts the vision. When the eye is thus adapted to the proper discharge of its functions, small as the organ is, it is all that is requisite to give the perfect enjoyment of light to the whole man: it is as if the body were all eye, so completely is he blessed with the perception of light and all the beauties and glories that it reveals. But if the eye be evil, the whole body shall be full of darkness. If the eye be afflicted with any malady or malformation that deprives it of its functions, the whole body is plunged into darkness. And if the light (and here the word for light itself is used) that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness? that is, naturally, if that in us which should be the perception of light be only a perception of darkness, great indeed is that darkness, for the whole body is full of darkness.

But what is its application? - what the true lesson conveyed by it to the soul? The sense of the whole depends upon the spiritual signification of the eye. And of this there is a common perception. The eye is an obvious and natural symbol of the understanding. There is an exact correspondence between them. Sight is in a lower sphere what understanding is in a higher. As the eye is the lamp of the body, the understanding is the lamp of the mind because, by another obvious correspondence, light, or anything that gives light, is to the natural world what truth is to the intellectual and moral world. Here then we see that the manner in which a person will enjoy the perception of truth will be according to the state of his facility of understanding; just as a man's perception of light depends on the state of his eye. His understanding must be sound, or must be in the state which is most accurately described by singleness of eye. The understanding is single when, in all that it meditates, it has good as its end, and thus when the truth it knows and thinks is grounded in goodness in the will. According to this beautiful, plain, and obviously true meaning of the Lord's words, we are taught that the only way to have the mind filled with perceptions of divine truth, and to live in the cheering radiance of its heavenly light, is to maintain in the understanding in all we think, and thence in all we say or do, a constant regard to the principle of goodness, of charity and love, instead of allowing our faith to be defiled by the containing influence of selfish and worldly love. Then our whole body will be full of light - the body here denoting the whole mind or the whole man. But if the eye be evil, if the understanding be perverted or disordered by the mixture of evil ends, there can be no true perception of divine things, no genuine enjoyment of the light of pure truth, but the mind will be occupied with false persuasions, regarded as true, and the truths that are known will be falsified and perverted, which is the worst darkness of all. This is the sort of darkness which is here alluded to, which is the reason of the solemn exclamation at the close, "If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" In these divine words of our Lord we are presented with the reason of all the darkness in respect to the things of his Word and kingdom which prevails among mankind; and the true ground is opened to us of all determined opposition to divine truth. When men truly love darkness rather than light, it is because their deeds are evil. On the other hand, the love of truth has its true ground in goodness. "A good understanding have all they that do his commandments."

24. The two preceding subjects, combined with the present, may be said to teach singleness of heart, singleness of eye, and singleness of choice and action. No man can serve two masters. Naturally it may be possible, but this must be when the service required by one is not incompatible with that demanded by the other. In the present case the masters are two whom the metaphor regards as being opposite in their wills, and therefore in their commands. The two masters are the figures for God and mammon, who are opposite as light and darkness, as good and evil. These two no one man can serve at the same time. For either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. There can be no compromise between the service required by the one and that demanded by the other. Some, indeed, are disposed to make the attempt; but it can only be intended to please men. There can be no true knowledge of the service that each requires where there is any idea or attempt to combine them. What we require to love in the one we require to hate in the other. The love of God and the love of the world are opposite and discordant. But the opposition and discordance are in these loves as ruling loves or ends of life. We cannot serve any spiritual master without loving him. But how can we serve God from the love of God, and at the same time serve mammon from the love of mammon? God and mammon are not indeed incompatible if we make mammon our servant instead of our master. Our Lord in another place instructs us to make unto ourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness. And this we do when we serve God, and make wealth subservient to the end which the service of God implies. All lingering between two objects and halting between two opinions is dangerous. If we attempt to unite two things, so destructive of each other, in our own minds, we attempt to unite light and darkness, heaven and hell; and the consequence must be the destruction of all true life in ourselves. Let us be warned, therefore, to serve that God who deserves as well as requires our service - and who will richly reward us for our singleness of life, flowing from singleness of will and understanding.

25. The exhortation with which our Lord follows up these instructive lessons, and with which he closes what may be called this branch of his discourse, is one of the most important, and one of the most beautiful and persuasive, to be found in the whole of revelation. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? It is impossible to expose in more striking and affecting terms than the Lord does in the exhortation of which these words are a part, the futility of those cares under the influence of which people rush into self-love and the love of the world, and make external things the primary objects of their attachment it is impossible, by more touching and beautiful considerations, to urge to a reliance on Divine Providence. But we are not hence to suppose that all thought about our future well-being in this world, and all provident foresight in the disposal of our temporal affairs, are hereby prohibited. To imagine so, and to act accordingly would be to fall into fanaticism, and to go the directest way to incapacitate ourselves for the performance of uses in the world. All we are prohibited from doing is, to set our hearts upon worldly and external things, to give in to such anxieties as are incompatible with reliance on the Lord, and so to depend upon our own prudence is to disown and disregard the Divine Providence. It is not all thought and care whatever about things future that is forbidden, but all undue solicitude, all such anxiety as unavoidably arises when natural and worldly things are loved in the first place, and are made the primary objects of pursuit. And this, indeed, the Lord's exhortation literally expresses; for the word "thought," at the time our translation was made, meant "anxiety," which correctly expresses the sense of the original.

But the mind has, and needs, its provision as well as the body; and in the spiritual sense it is in regard to this provision that the Lord here speaks. For here, also, man may look too much to himself, and too little to the Lord, and may seek to obtain that by his own self-derived power and self-derived intelligence which is only to be received by gift from his all-provident Father. Every spiritual endowment and communication that man can have or enjoy, conducive to the life, and well-being of his soul, and thus to his welfare in eternity, is a free gift to him from the Lord and is by no means self-derived. All desire, then, to procure such things by one's own power, and all anxiety on that account, are here condemned in the spiritual sense of the natural images made use of. In this point of view we proceed to consider the subject.

Is not, the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? The life and the body are to be the chief objects of our concern, not the food by which the former is nourished, and the dress by which the latter is clothed. Yet obviously the life cannot be sustained without nourishment, nor the body without clothing. These, however, are to be given us from the Lord; whatever, for this purpose, we should take from self, would be destructive of the true life and well-being of both - yea, would deprive both, properly considered, of their very existence. The life is the life of the soul, as to its intellectual faculties, which can only be sustained by principles of good affections and true faith and intelligence, which are the gifts of the Lord; and anything self-derived cannot be really either good or true. By the body is here specifically meant the good of love and of the will; and the clothing of the body is truth investing such good, or the sentiments as to spiritual subjects which spring out of and harmonize with it: these again are derived from the Lord alone; for if from man himself, they are founded in and compose the clothing of his own self-love, not of any love of goodness. These are provided and given freely to us by the Lord when we regard the life of the understanding itself, and the love of goodness, as the things to be chiefly cultivated and pursued, and when we look to the Lord for that purpose, applying ourselves to the use of the means which the Lord has provided - that is, to the practice of the commandments. This is all that we have to do - and it cannot be too often repeated - to look to the Lord and to keep his commandments. Doing this, we may safely leave all the rest to him, assured that our minds will be continually replenished with every affection of goodness, and every perception of truth suited to our states, while we abstain from the desire to draw anything of this sort from a self-derived origin, but live perpetually in the conviction that the life is more than meat and the body than raiment, and that he who has given the greater will also give the less, provided we thus depend upon him.

26. The Lord confirms the truth of this doctrine, and encourages us to rely upon him, by an argument (and a most affecting one it is) drawn from the case of the bird. Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns: yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Considered only, is a natural image and comparison, this is truly beautiful, and most appropriate to the subject which it is introduced to illustrate; but when the spiritual import of it is seen, it becomes more beautiful still. Fowls, or birds, throughout the Word of God, are mentioned to describe things intellectual, such as the thoughts upon whatever subject - to which they answer by a beautiful and obvious analogy. They have the power of raising themselves towards heaven, and soaring aloft in the sky, as our thoughts have the power of rising above earthly and external things, and soaring into most exalted contemplations. They are affected in a wonderful manner by the light, so as to be in a state of life and activity, or of torpor and sleep, according to its presence or absence. And light, we have seen (v. 22), is the natural emblem of truth, which in some form or degree is what gives activity to the thoughts. Now, nothing is so irrepressible as the thoughts. So long as we are alive and awake, our thoughts are incessantly in exercise. It is always something of love or affection, connected with the object of the thoughts at any particular time, that puts them into activity, and sustains them in their powers of flight. And this is never absent. We cannot, if we wished it, cease to think, because the love which animates us, whatever be its nature, cannot be withdrawn without death; and to suppress it is entirely beyond the reach of our power. The reason is, because the Lord, as being Love itself, is also Life itself; and, he imparts life to us by imparting to us love; and by giving us love he continually supplies us with the food of thought. Thus our thoughts are entirely kept alive, without their doing anything themselves to cause it, by the fire of love with which they are nurtured by the Lord, as our heavenly Father feedeth the fowls of the air. It is true, indeed, that we are often influenced by love of an evil nature which calls forth evil thoughts; and nothing of evil can have its origin in the Lord. But that love which flows forth from the Lord as the love of goodness and truth is perverted by man himself, when wicked, into its opposite: thus the love, considered abstractedly from its evil quality, is from the Lord; the evil from which it assumes is by perversion in the man. Thus it is from the Lord that every man derives the faculty of thought, and that this faculty is nourished and kept alive; the evil use that he makes of it alone is from himself. But the wonderful provision by which it is ordered that thought call never cease but with consciousness of existence, is purely from the Lord, who thus alone spiritually feedeth the fowls of the air, and maintains them in life and being. The fowls, therefore, as denoting the thoughts, are said not to sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns: by which images is meant, to provide for their own support by the acquisition of knowledge, the insemination of these in the mind, and the storing of them in the memory. These operations are necessary to afford materials for thinking, but not for the existence of thought itself; for thought, as already remarked, is in existence and activity from the first dawn of consciousness, purely by virtue of the principle of love which exists in every human being; and the matters of knowledge which the mind acquires in early life, first by the medium of the, senses, and afterwards by instruction from others, are things on which thought are exercised, and are provided for the purpose, but are not the products of the thoughts themselves. If, then, the Lord provides for the constant existence of thought will he not as of still more importance provide for his rational creatures, that look to him, everything necessary to their support and well-being as spiritual and immortal existences? As such are not men much superior to fowls? Are not the spiritual gifts, the endowments of spiritual love and wisdom, by which we properly are human creatures, better than the mere thoughts which we enjoy in a natural manner, independently of our character as to spiritual advantages? Should we not then rely that he who has so wonderfully provided that we should ever think, whether our thoughts be true or false, or good or evil, will equally provide for us all that can be necessary to the perfection of the higher endowments of our nature, and every good, both spiritual and natural, that we ever can stand in need of, if we place our life and good in the first place, and look to him for its support and preservation? And can it be supposed that since, by our own power alone, we can neither cause ourselves to think nor cease from thinking, we can derive from self anything that is truly good for us, and especially what is necessary for our spiritual welfare?

27. Such is the argument which the Lord urges, by his appeal to the case of the fowls of the air, when spiritually understood: with which he connects another strong appeal, expressed in the words, Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature. By the stature is more spiritually meant our spiritual stature, or our state as to the things of love and wisdom of a heavenly nature, which every one sees is not to be increased in improvement by anxieties - by seeking any resources in ourselves, instead of drawing all from the care, mercy, and providence of the Lord, from whom alone all good can flow. As our spiritual stature is altogether according to the measure of excellent graces which we have received from the Lord, to think to add to it by any other means and especially by such means as involve a casting away of all reliance on the Lord, from whom alone the growth can come, were absurdity indeed. The thing is manifestly impossible: so, if we are sincerely desirous to maintain a state of spiritual life, of heavenly intelligence, and of the will of goodness, we must look to the Lord for the proper nutriment, and rely on his providence to supply it to us.

28, 29. The Divine Instructor now takes up the subject respecting care and anxiety about raiment. And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. This passage owes its exquisite beauty, unparalleled in the whole circle of human composition, to the images used being correspondences of spiritual things, and communicating with heaven. According to this correspondence of natural with spiritual things, raiment or garments, throughout the Word of God are mentioned to denote, specifically, such principles of truth in the mind as flow from the state of good in which a man is principled, and which occasion such language and conduct as are the natural and spontaneous manifestations of the good within. This is the signification of raiment, or garments, in a genuine sense; for truth is that in which goodness manifests its existence and presence, as the affections of the will first come clearly to light to the man himself in the perceptions and thoughts of the understanding. Sometimes, however, garments are mentioned to denote the mere faith or profession of truth, separate from all proper connection with the will or affections of the wearer; and sometimes, like most other natural images employed in the Word, they are mentioned in an opposite sense, to denote principles of falsity grounded in evil. In their genuine sense they are attributed to the Lord himself: as when it is said that he covereth himself with light as with a garment. Here, because light is the most obvious symbol of truth, it is said to compose the garment of the Lord, as flowing forth from the body of his divine love, and truth being in him truth itself. From the same cause, when the Lord Jesus Christ was transfigured, not only did his face "shine as the sun," to express the ardour of his divine love, but his raiment became "white as the light," to represent the inexpressible beauty of his divine truth. It is impossible to desire more conclusive evidence to evince that garments, or raiment, in their most proper and genuine sense, denote truth flowing from and investing the principle of good, as garments invest the body.

If this be the case - if all truth, to be genuine, or, to belong properly to the man himself who makes profession of it, be grounded in a principle of good, must flow from the feelings of love and charity incorporated in his own mind - we see how truly the Lord says that the body, as denoting such a principle of good, must be more than raiment; as truly so, though in a case of immensely more importance, as the natural body is of more dignity and importance than the clothes that cover it. We see, also, how justly we are warned not to be anxious about raiment, since no spiritual raiment that we could procure by any anxiety of our own could be of that genuine kind which forms the proper investiture of the principle of goodness. Let this only be diligently attended to, and the other will follow of course, as a free gift from our heavenly Father. Therefore the Lord illustrates the doctrine by the case of the lillies of the field, which neither toil nor spin, because by these are represented such perceptions of truth as are of a celestial origin, or such as spring spontaneously in the mind of him who has attained what may be called the degree in the regenerative process, so as to have his mind continually recreated with beautiful perceptions of truth and wisdom springing forth from the ever-varying play of celestial affections. To be able thus to see truth intuitively - to have its sweetest and most beautiful perceptions spontaneously opening in the mind - is a very different state from that of those who arrive at it first by the accumulation of facts as matters of knowledge and faith, and by the inferences of reason deduced from the facts. To express this difference, it is said of these lilies that they toil not, neither do they spin, because by toiling is spiritually meant the accumulation of truths merely as facts, or things known by study and learning; and by spinning is meant the composing of coherent systems of doctrine or opinion by reasonings from such facts. In this process there is much of man himself mixed up with the acquisitions be may have made; in the other, all is from the Lord. They differ also in intrinsic excellence and in genuine beauty, just as the works of man and the works of God. The works of man possess no other beauty than that which is exhibited on the surface. The most exquisite painting is inwardly nothing but a rude assemblage of earthy matters, having no correspondence to the beauty of form and colour which the artist's skill has portrayed upon the surface. The most perfect statue still has no beauty but that which is artificial, there being, again, no correspondence between the particles of stone or metal which compose its substance, and the exterior shape which, by the sculptor's genius, they have been made to assume. Not so the works of the Almighty hand. Here, from its inmost principles, there is a determination, towards the form the plant or the animal exhibits to the eye, and there is nothing in it but what harmoniously conspires to the production of the form, and of no other; while even the utmost beauty that appears upon the surface is impressed by the wonderful adaptation of the interior parts by which its texture is composed. What an immense difference is there between the flower itself and the imitation of it by the artist, though to the eye and at a sufficient distance, the resemblance may be perfect! But touch the leaf of a rose or any other flower - let the exquisite delicacy and softness of its texture be felt, and then let it be observed that these are produced by the harmonious arrangement of myriads of myriads of fibres and of threads of feathery pile, to which those of the finest velvet bears no comparison for delicacy - and the exquisite Perfection of the works of the Divine, hand is seen to be admirable indeed. So it is, correspondently, with the perceptions which spontaneously arise in the minds of those who are in such a state of life as to enjoy what may be properly denominated perception indeed, as being, in a manner, immediate revelations from the Lord himself, and of which the lilies of the field, which in the East flourish in extraordinary splendour, where the lily is esteemed the queen of flowers, are here mentioned as the appropriate natural symbols.

Therefore it is said, that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. That no splendour of clothing manufactured by human skill can equal in intrinsic beauty and loveliness the delightful flowery products of the hand of Omnipotence, follows from the remarks just made upon the difference between the works of man and the works of God, so that it literally is true that neither Solomon nor the most powerful earthly prince that ever existed could boast of robes that equalled the clothing of the lily. But the comparison is made to express an important truth. Solomon, as king of Judah and Israel, represented, as all kings do, the spiritual principle properly so called, which is especially the principle of truth; and the clothing of this principle are all truths of intelligence and knowledge, or truths seen and understood. But this principle is separated by a discrete degree from the celestial principle, which is essentially the principle of love, the clothing of which are perceptions of wisdom, or truths felt and perceived. The spiritual truths belong to the understanding, considered as distinct by itself; the celestial belong to the will, even when they enter the understanding. Now, the highest degree of spiritual intelligence, though very beautiful and excellent, is inferior to the lowest degree of celestial wisdom, which is truly simple and altogether lovely; and these are what are signified respectively by the raiment of Solomon and of the lily. The difference is precisely as that between the gorgeous robes of a king and the delicate simplicity of a flower.

30. But the Lord immediately changes his terms in speaking of the flower: From naming the lily he adverts to the grass; and speaks of it as of little account. If God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven. He here calls it the grass of the field, to intimate that he is speaking of the lowest perceptions of celestial wisdom, but still of such as are truly celestial in their nature, or the immediate products of love. But where love or goodness is accounted as everything, nothing of truth, not even the highest perceptions of the most exalted mysteries, are regarded in themselves as anything, except so far as they tend to fan the flame of love, and promote the perception and appropriation of those celestial affections which the man of this character feels as constituting his life, his all. Therefore the use of the grass of celestial perception is described to be," cast into the oven "- that is, to feed the heat by which the support of man's life, the good, of which the products of the oven is the symbol, is prepared. By him who truly loves the Lord above all things, nothing of truth, even the most delightful perceptions with which his mind can be recreated, are at all prized for their own sake, but only for the sake of the good which is seen to be in them, and which they are adapted to nourish and keep alive. To this use he constantly applies them. Thus never abiding in truth by itself, but always applying it immediately to the purposes of life, and the exaltation of the flame of love, or of his affection for goodness, he is continually supplied with new stores of it from its Divine Author. His lilies toil not, neither do they spin: as the grass of the field, they are cast into the oven but he knows that they will continually grow again in still more luxuriant abundance, being watered with the dew of heaven. As these perceptions of truth, communicated solely for the sake of good, are thus continually provided and taken care of by the Lord's bountiful hand, should not the man himself who lives continually intent upon the good which is thus essential, be effectually provided for with every perception of truth that the welfare of his state may require at the hands of his heavenly Father? This is what the Lord teaches when he says, Shall he not much more clothe you, 0 ye of little faith? Assuredly we may rely upon his Word.

31, 32. Having, by the exquisitely beautiful and tenderly affecting comparisons and appeals which have now been considered, placed the subject of his admonition in the most striking and engaging manner before his hearers, the Divine Speaker repeats the proposition with which he set out, though now as a conclusion from the premises advanced, and in a somewhat different, form, affirming the needlessness of the conduct condemned: Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, wherewithal shall we be clothed? (for after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. A double reason is assigned by the Lord why this conduct should not be pursued. First, a negative and deterring one: for after all these things do the Gentiles seek. A powerful reason certainly it ought to be to the spiritually minded, not to seek after those things which are sought by the natural minded, meant by the Gentiles, especially the positively wicked, which the nations more particularly denote. This is the deterring reason. But a more affecting and convincing one is added: for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. What tenderness is implied in this mode of stating the providential care of our heavenly Father! The Lord does not directly say that whatsoever we have need of shall be given us; but he conveys this delightful assurance in a way that makes it tenfold more affecting. He assumes this as a fact universally known, and which we cannot be so ignorant or so credulous as to doubt; and thence he argues, we may be assured, as the greater includes the less, or the whole the part, that he will supply to us freely, and without any anxiety on our part, those things which the natural man prizes so highly is to make them the objects of his exclusive regard, It is sufficient to assure us that he knows we have need of them, to assure us that we shall not be left without them.

33. But now he tells us, in direct terms, how we are to proceed to secure the attainment of all things that can be necessary for our real welfare, even of those which the natural man makes his exclusive goods. Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. The kingdom of God, as we have seen, is a phrase which denotes the government of the Lord's divine truth both in heaven and on earth; and his righteousness is a term expressive of his divine goodness, or of such goodness as owns him for its Author. Applied to ourselves individually, the kingdom of God which we are to seek is the government of the Lord's truth in our understanding; and his righteousness, which we are also to seek, is the presence of his love or goodness in our wills. But how are we to seek these two great elements of all blessing? Not simply by asking God to bestow them upon us. We must indeed seek them by prayer, but we must also seek them by the still more practical means of self-denial and active virtue. To obtain the kingdom we must apply the divine truth to the government of our thoughts, with the view of bringing every thought under obedience to Christ; and to obtain the Lord's righteousness, we must cultivate the divine good in our affections and in the duties of a righteous life. But we are not only to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, but we are to seek them first. It is easily seen that the expression first refers to what is chief and primary. And nothing is chief and primary with us but what is regarded with overruling or governing love. To seek effectually the kingdom of God and his righteousness, we must seek them with the ruling determination of soul - to make them the objects of the ruling or governing love and desire. To seek them first is to put them in the first place; to exalt the Lord's truth above all other kinds of truth, and the Lord's goodness above all other kinds of goodness; to give them the first place in our understandings and hearts, in our minds and lives. Then, will all other things be added to us. Every kind and degree of truth and good will then be added to the supreme good and truth; because according to right order, every other good descends and is derived from the First. So far from having to give up anything orderly that is inferior to the First, everything will come to be possessed in greater abundance, and enjoyed with greater zest. The spiritual does not abolish, but sanctifies the natural: and spiritual men glorify the Lord with their souls and with their bodies, which are his.

34. We come now to the closing words of this beautiful discourse, against indulging in anxious thoughts about meat, and drink, and clothing. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Looking at these words even in the most general manner, when the truth on which they are founded - the perpetual care of the Lord's divine providence, rendering human care respectively needless - is believed, how admirably adapted is the injunction conveyed in them to soothe the human breast. Man's proneness to torment himself with unavailing cares for futurity has always afforded a copious theme for the declamations or reasonings of the moralist and philosopher. No considerations can be of any real avail for its cure but those which rest on the doctrine of a Divine Providence; and these, again, cannot come with any power of conviction but when they proceed authoritatively from a divine source. It argues the knowledge of Omniscience as to the inmost wants of human nature, together with the benevolence of Infinite Goodness desiring to remove them, when the Lord Jesus Christ so positively declares, and so plainly demonstrates through the whole of this discourse, the existence of a Divine Providence over all human affairs - yea, over the whole creation, providing for the real necessities of all.

But they who have rightly learned the lesson inculcated in the words under consideration, and, in reliance on the Lord's Providence, have banished that care for the morrow which is here condemned, do not make this renunciation in the fanatical manner which a literal adherence to the Lord's words, as given in the common version, might seem to recommend. They know that to provide things necessary for the morrow, both for themselves and their families, is not contrary to the order of the Lord's providence and will, provided such things are not made the primary objects of regard, are not pursued with anxiety, or with reliance on selfish prudence, nor in any way that would foster in the bosom the love of the world, a disposition to avarice or self-seeking. As a reason for not being anxious for the morrow, the Lord says, for the morrow will take thought for the things of itself. And he adds, as a further reason, Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Considered as to the literal expression, these sentences contain truth which all experience of human life confirms. As mere matter of prudence, it is undoubtedly unwise to load the present moment with anxious cares about futurity, when every future day, when it comes, will bring cares of its own. And the evils or troubles which may be pressing upon us at the present moment are enough to bear of themselves, without being aggravated by the anticipation of ills to come. But spiritually, as well as naturally, the sentiments are most true, and the lesson they involve is most important. In every new state on which we may enter, spiritually signified by the morrow, there will be new trials or temptations, arising from the opposition made by the corrupt part of our nature, excited from an infernal source. From that part of us which is the seat of all anxiety and distrust of the Divine Providence, or from the influence of which it is that all such anxiety arises, there will be trials and temptations, thus occasioned, to be encountered. But we are not to fall into despondency by anticipating these. Sufficient for our present state is the evil which is therein to be experienced - the opposition which selfish and worldly desires and appetites present to the establishment of the kingdom of God and his righteousness within us. It is enough for us to be steadily engaged in resisting evil which is present, and requires to be overcome at the present moment and in the present state, through the whole course of our pilgrimage. If we do this, we need not be anxious about what is to come upon us hereafter. Resisting evil whenever it is present, we may rely that the Lord will never suffer it to prevail against us. Just as we rely on him, and combat in his strength we shall prevail. But if we fall into doubts and anxieties, which always arise from the influence of our own selfhood, and yield to them, we shall not overcome. And the same renunciation of care for the morrow which will make all the occurrences of life acceptable to us, and prosperous for our real good, will have the same influence on our spiritual states. When we discover in ourselves what is evil and wrong, we shall not fight to retain it, and so either sink downward with it, or bring upon ourselves a severer course of discipline to force it from us; but we shall let it go at once: putting ourselves herein in the stream of providence, willingly going where that leads. Thus all things will truly concur for our well-being in time and in eternity. Setting, as we know the Lord does, eternal ends in view, we shall willingly part with what is incompatible with them, gladly complying with whatever will advance them, and so finally realize them to our inexpressible beatitude.



7



COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW p. 8        CHAPTER VII

1. In continuing his sublime discourse the Lord comes to treat of judgment as exercised by men upon one another; and of the consequences of the judgement pronounced, not upon the person judged, but upon the person who judges. Judge not, that ye be not judged. It is almost unnecessary to say that the Lord does not here intend to interdict all judgment. We know too well that society could not exist without the exercise of private judgement and of public judicature. Our Lord himself authorized judgment when he laid down a rule for its exercise: "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." But we are to reflect that our Lord always spoke with reference, not merely to the moral, but the spiritual states of men; and not to temporal, but eternal retribution. In this respect his words, "judge not," express a direct and positive prohibition. While it is necessary to judge men as to their moral character, it is not allowable to judge them as to their spiritual state; and while it is lawful and necessary to inflict temporal punishment for moral crimes, it is neither lawful nor necessary to punish for religious opinions, much less to pronounce upon "heretics" an eternal malediction. Both society and the church may judge, and in their own modes inflict penalties upon unworthy members; for their conduct lies open to public view, and to pass over immoral conduct would relax the bonds of civil and ecclesiastical law. But this is entirely different from judging the internal states of men. No eye but His which "looks upon the heart," can see the state of the interior mind, and none but the Judge of all the earth can pronounce upon the eternal condition of the soul a righteous judgment. It is a law of Divine Providence that the essential spiritual state of no one shall be known with certainty by another during his abode in the present world. Every human being is left in a state of freedom to form for himself the character and destiny, which are to be truly and eternally his own. To judge the outward conduct, and even the proximate motive, does not interfere with internal and essential freedom, but rather assists it, by keeping the external in some degree of order; but if the internal itself could be interfered with, spiritual reformation would be prevented, because human would usurp the place of divine authority. But although it is not permitted us to judge of the spiritual state of others absolutely, it is permitted us to judge of them conditionally. We may say of or to any one, that if he really is what he appears to be, he will be lost or saved but we may not say that he is what he seems to be, therefore he will be lost or saved. There is a sense in which our Lord may be understood as unconditionally prohibiting judgment. That against which he warns us is condemnatory judgment. This appears more clearly from his words, as given by Luke - "Judge not, that ye be not judged condemn not, that ye be not condemned." The judgment which is interdicted is the judgment of truth without good, or that of in enlightened understanding without a regenerated will. It is the function of the understanding to judge, and truths are the laws according to which judgment should proceed; but the judgments of the understanding are influenced by the inclinations of the will, and its decisions are just or unjust according as the higher faculty is under the influence of charity or uncharitableness, The judgment therefore which the Lord prohibits is that of justice without mercy. There is one other lesson we may learn from this solemn injunction. We are but too ready not only to judge, but to prejudge. One bad consequence is likely to follow from this. Having an interest in the success of our prejudgment, which is a sort of prediction, we may be either actively or passively instrumental in procuring its fulfilment. We should be careful, therefore, to avoid judging unfavourably of the future of any one; we should ever desire and hope the best; and then we shall have every motive to second our hopes by our prayers and efforts. In the higher sense, or abstractly considered, we are prohibited from judging, not persons but principles - as all judgment in fact, resolves itself' into this. We are required to "judge not," and therefore to "condemn not," the principles of goodness and truth , either as they are revealed in the Word or as they are acknowledged in the church and among men. It is lawful and necessary for us to judge for ourselves as to what is, or is not, the truth; but our judgment in this important matter cannot be just unless it be influenced by a sincere love of truth. And here it is necessary for us to "judge not according to the appearance, but to judge righteous judgment." Judge not, that ye be not judged. This teaches us at once both the nature of the judgement interdicted and its consequence.

2. Our judgment, whatever it is, returns upon ourselves. With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again. This is of the same character, and is determined by the same law, as "the merciful shall obtain mercy". Those who judge, shall also be judged, without mercy. It is unnecessary to explain again the law by which this result is determined. It is enough to say, that it is not by any arbitrary or sovereign appointment of the Almighty, but flows from the law, of eternal order, which the Creator introduced into all his works, and which rule in all his dominions. It is not the Lord who judges without mercy; as men are judged, not by what is without, but by what is within them, they who have no mercy must be judged without any. But the measure of retribution is that which our Lord here speaks of. The measure of our reward, whether for good or evil, is determined by the capacity we have acquired in the world for happiness or misery. Goodness is the capacity for happiness, evil is the capacity for misery; and the measure of happiness or misery received in the other life is determined by the measure of good or evil we have acquired in this. God does not, by any sovereign appointment, fix either the nature or extent of our bliss or woe. This is fixed by a law of order, by which certain causes produce certain effects, and which measures our experience by our state and conduct. Every one who is either condemned or saved has a certain measure which is capable of being filled. This measure is filled in the other life; but with some it is more, with some less. It is procured in the world by the affections which are of love; for the more any one has loved what is evil and false, or what is good and true, so much the greater a measure has he procured for himself. That measure cannot in the other life be transcended, but may be filled. With those who have been in the affection of what is good and true, it is filled with goodnesses and truths; and with those who have been in the affection of what is evil and false, it is filled with evil and falsity. And as in heaven the apostolic principle of a community of goods is carried out in all its perfection, he who is raised into one of the mansions of the blest comes into the enjoyment of the common good by which its inhabitants are distinguished; so that the happiness of all becomes the happiness of each. And on the same principle, evil is strengthened and its misery is increased by the wicked assembling with their like in the kingdom of darkness.

3. Proceeding with his teaching as to the wrong and the right mode of dealing with our neighbour, the Lord says, And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? The idea which our Lord here presents is similar to that which he expressed when he told the Jewish moralists that they strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel. On that occasion the conduct he censured was that which the Pharisees practised in regard to themselves. The same principle is here exemplified in relation to the neighbour - the hypocrite sees not the beam that is in his own eye, but detects the mote that is in his brother's. The Lord here introduces the term brother, because the subject relates to charity, which a brother denotes. A mote in the eye of a brother is a trifling error or false persuasion in the understanding of one who is, nevertheless, in the life of charity; while the beam in our own eye is an evil in the will intellectually confirmed, which perverts our vision. How just and necessary is the reproof conveyed in our Lord's words? Naturally and habitually we are too blind to our own faults, and too keenly perceptive of the faults of others. If we need anything beyond our own conscience and experience to convince us of this fact, we shall find it too abundantly exemplified in the world in which we live. The evil are the readiest to detect evil, the severest to judge it, the most unrelenting to punish it. The spiritual sense reveals the origin of this seeming inconsistency. The eye is the emblem of the understanding, the perceptive faculty of the mind; the mote is a symbol of error and the beam of evil. When the understanding is under the dominion of an evil will, it is blind to its own evil, but is keenly perceptive of error or falsity in another, when these do not favour its own desires. The difference between the spiritual and the natural man supplies an answer to the Lord's question, "Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, and considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" The natural man looks outwards, and marks the faults of others; the spiritual man looks inwards, and observes his own. And he who examines himself and discerns his own evils and imperfections, will be less disposed to drag those of his neighbours into the light, or to judge them severely.

4, 5. Our Lord continues, - Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and behold, a beam is in thine own eye? To see the mote is one thing, to cast it out is another. It is no doubt an act of charity to point out and assist in removing error from the mind of another. But this office cannot be performed by those who look at their neighbour's errors and failings with an evil eye, and with whom there can be no true regard for their neighbour's welfare. How can one remove error from another's mind who has not even discovered the root of error in his own? What is to be expected from the labours of one who strives to convict his brother of error, rather than to convince him of the truth? To correct what is wrong in another requires moral principle as well as intellectual discernment. Take the case of a parent, who so often has occasion to correct faults in his child. It requires no great amount of intelligence to see a child's faults, but it requires great moral wisdom rightly to correct them. Gentleness, kindness, patience, with firmness, are essentially necessary to be possessed and exemplified by the parent who would be the real improver of his child. The parent whose temper is irritable or violent, who is harsh, unkind, impatient, infirm of purpose - how can he draw out from the young mind, delicate and sensitive as the eye in which is the mote, the errors and evils that are incident to it as that of a fallen and imperfect being? Just so is it in all the relations of life. The same qualities are required in the brother, the friend, the teacher, the pastor. Not only a clear sight, but a kind heart - not truth only, but goodness must be employed in the work of correction and reformation. To cast the beam of evil out of our own eye is therefore the first and principal duty we have to perform, and is the only means of enabling us to remove the mote from our brother's eye.

6. While the Divine Teacher warns us against acting from truth without goodness, he warns us also against acting from goodness without truth. Of these two opposite states one is about as defective in itself and about as faulty in its consequences, as the other. As truth alone is all light and severity, good alone is all feeling and tenderness. So far as men are in good without truth, they give evil men the fruit of the tree of life for food, without applying its leaves to them for medicine. They would present the pure goods and truths of the Holy Word to the lustful and the sensual, who are disposed to profane and destroy them. Against this the Lord warns us when he says, Give not that which is holy unto the dogs neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. Those are compared to dogs and swine who are the slaves of their passions and panderers to their senses. The goods of charity and the truths of faith, which are holy things, and the knowledge of truth and good from the Word, which are pearls, are not to be cast before such characters. These heavenly things, cast injudiciously before the grossly sensual, are more likely to exasperate and provoke than to reprove and repress their evil lusts and appetites. They trample them under their feet - they scoff at them, degrade them beneath the very lowest of their own low thoughts and impure affections, and trample upon the holy principles they inculcate and having subjected the spiritual principals of the Word to this treatment, they turn again and rend those who have dispensed them. The disciples whom they rend are, abstractly, the living principles of the Word which constitute the church, the dissipation and destruction of which is meant by rending. Our Lord was a pattern to all teachers. He accommodated himself not only to the capacities, but to the states of his hearers. To those who were without, he delivered his truth in parables; and he condescended to adapt his instruction to the infirmities of the disciples themselves, leading them by visions of glory suited to their external states, as when he promised as a reward for following him in the regeneration, that they should sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. In a more abstract sense these words teach us, that if the external man remains sensual, holy things that flow down from the internal, where they may have been received, into the sensual external, will there be perverted and profaned, and will only be the occasion of the external turning more fiercely against and rending the internal, and so destroying all spiritual life in both.

7. From the subject of giving, the Lord turns to that of asking. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. We are constantly taught that the grace of God, though freely offered, must yet be earnestly and actively sought to be obtained. There is a philosophy that harmonizes these seemingly discordant facts. Our prayers are not to induce God to give, but to fit us to receive. And to fit us to receive the gifts of God, all our faculties must be brought into activity. We must ask with the heart, seek with the understanding, knock with the life. All these are to be employed, and their operation continued, in order that we may receive. God delights to give. He waits to be gracious. All that is required on our part is to be earnest in our desire and efforts to receive.

8. The promise of receiving is as certain as the duty of asking is imperative, and is as significantly expressed. Every one that asketh, receiveth: for asking and receiving, which are the briefest and directest modes of communication, express the desire for good from God, and its reception by the will. And he that seeketh findeth: for the understanding searches and seeks for the means of salvation, and finds the object of its search in the riches of wisdom and knowledge. And to him that knocketh it shall be opened: for the bringing of the principles of the will and the understanding into the life and conversation opens the door of communication between the Lord and man, and between the spiritual and natural degrees of man's own mind, and not only brings them into communion, but into conjunction with each other.

9-11. It is worthy of remark that in teaching us the character of our Father in heaven, and his dealings with his children, the Lord does not employ abstract terms or use the arguments of reason, but simply appeals to those affections of our nature which he himself has implanted, and which, being possessed alike by all, are the ground of universal perception. He appeals to our instincts rather than to our reason, in proof of his Fatherly tenderness and beneficence. And this appeal will be seen to be the more appropriate when we reflect that the love of parents for their children is an offshoot from his own love for his children of the human race, and is implanted in all human hearts, notwithstanding their hereditary corruption, as it is in the nature of all the inferior creatures, the fiercest as well as the gentlest. The Lord does not therefore refer us to those parents who are regenerate and holy, and in whom the image of their Father has been restored, but to the fallen race of men without distinction. If, this simple fact had been always kept in view, how much obscurity would have been avoided and controversy prevented respecting the character and dealings of God. The universality and unchangeableness of the Divine Love could not have been for a moment doubted. What encouragement does this give us to come to the Lord in all our necessities, in the confidence that he will listen to us not only with all a father's love, but that he will supply our wants with all a father's wisdom. Let us see what his language involves.

9, 10. What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? What parent, indeed, would thus mock the wants and abuse the confidence of his hungering and pleading child? The force of this appeal as a comparison, consists in the fact, that natural affection is sufficient to prompt a father to supply the natural wants of his son, when those wants are expressed. But these words have a spiritual meaning. Like the loaves and fishes with which the Lord fed the multitude, the bread and fish are symbolical of the two essential principles of goodness and truth, which sustain the voluntary and intellectual life of the soul. So we read in the Word of "bread that strengtheneth man's heart" (Ps. civ. 14); for the heart is the symbol of the will, and good, which is specifically meant by bread, is that principle by which the life of the will is sustained. The will, thus sustained, is called a heart of flesh, which is the living goodness into which the appropriated bread of life is turned. But while in the Word we read of a heart of flesh, we read also of a heart of stone (Ezek. xi. 19). These are not mere figures to express penitence and impenitence of heart, but are real correspondences. And as the heart of flesh denotes a will renewed by the reception of principles of goodness, the stony heart is the unrenewed will, hardened by unbelief and its resulting evil, as is expressed in Zechariah, - "They have made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law" (vii. 12). To give a stone to a son who asks bread would therefore be to give him a false good for a true one, and so turn the will into a heart of stone. So in regard to the fish, which signifies truth that nourishes the understanding and forms a true faith. A serpent is the emblem of sensual truth. But these things are here evidently to be understood in a sense opposite to that of their genuine meaning - the stone of what is false grounded in evil, and the serpent of self-derived prudence These given for bread and fish torment and destroy spiritual life. But before a son can desire, and a father can give spiritual food, which is the knowledge of spiritual things, they must themselves be to some extent spiritually-minded: and then they are the emblems of the Lord and his children. We are the children of our heavenly Father when we desire that he will feed our hungering souls with heavenly goodness and truth, as while on earth he fed the bodies of the fainting multitude with loaves and fishes.

11. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much, more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? It is the result and evidence of a merciful Providence that, notwithstanding man's state of moral evil, he is endowed with natural affection for his offspring, which prompts him to love them tenderly, and anxiously supply their natural wants, and in every possible way to provide for their temporal welfare. This, it is true, is an affection common to man and animals; yet it is inspired by the Author of nature, and is given alike to the mild and ferocious among animals, and to the best and worst among men. The fact, therefore, that men, being evil, yet know how to give good gifts to their children - gifts that are good as natural means for a natural end - is a proof and assurance to us that God will much more give good things to them that ask him. It is not possible that he who is goodness itself can withhold a good thing from any one who sincerely asks him. As he has implanted natural affection in all human hearts, both good and evil, so has he bountifully provided for all men's natural wants, without respect of persons, and without solicitation. Those things which God requires to be asked before he gives are spiritual things such as are necessary for sustaining the life of good in the soul, and securing its spiritual and eternal welfare. These are not given unasked - that is, undesired and unsought for; because desire is to the soul what hunger is to the body, and the desire for heavenly good must exist before that good can be supplied. The mind has an inherent desire for food as well as the body; but here the moral condition of the mind determines the nature of the desire, and consequently of the kind of good which is craved. Those who have become conscious of their spiritual wants, and desire the spiritual good which is necessary to supply them, will find the Lord, as their heavenly Father, infinitely more ready to give the good things which are necessary for sustaining the true life of the soul than any earthly parent can be to give temporal gifts unto his children.

12. The Lord concludes this series of lessons on mutual benefits between man and man by laying down this grand principle, - Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. This has been called the "Golden rule;" yet it belongs rather to the silver than to the golden age. The celestial principle prompts men to love others better than themselves; the spiritual principle prompts them to love others as themselves. Even in these days we see the higher principle emulated, if not exemplified, by parental and filial love, and imitated in the forms of ordinary politeness. But this may be done from natural affection and conventional usage, without any of the spirit of religion. Such acts may proceed from selfish as well as from disinterested affection. The principle which our Lord lays down does not require disinterested love for its recognition and application. It is to be considered in connection with what the Lord had just said, that men, being evil, knew how to give good gifts unto their children. The law which he now lays down is for the natural man as well as for the spiritual. It appeals not only to every man's sense of right, but to his self-love, and requires only to be honestly applied to make every one a law of equity unto himself. What God has revealed through Moses and the prophets is intended, therefore, to change a natural law into a religious obligation, in order to give men a conscience to do what their own judgment may tell them is their duty. Every man can see, and can be brought to admit, that he ought to do to another as he would that another should do to him. Before he acts towards another, he has only to consider how he would wish or expect another to act towards him under the circumstances. In all our intercourse and transactions with others - in all the duties and relations of life, we have only to reverse the position in which we stand to another, to know what we ought to render to him, and what we ought to expect from him. And what we would consider it right to do or expect, if our case were his, we must see it is our duty to do. It is not necessary to cite instances, for no case is exempt from the law. Its application is universal and invariable. "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." But although there is no need for illustration, there is some need for explanation. It is thought by some that the law requires not only that you put yourself in the other's place, but that you must put yourself also in his state. This would be to change not your place only, but your identity with another, which would make things precisely as they were. If such could be done, every one would of course act precisely as the other acts, and judge as he judges.

The law requires us only to take another's place, and to consider what our principles would require us to do under the other's circumstances. If one is a seller, he is to consider what, if he were a buyer, he would consider it right that a seller should do. If he is a master, what, if a servant, he would expect a master to do. By thus placing ourselves in the position of those with whom we have to do, we learn to be more just and merciful - to demand less and give more - in a word, to be more equitable. What a different world it would be if this great law were, in any considerable measure, the rule of conduct! And not only would it affect the state and condition of men and nations in this world, but, what is of infinitely more consequence, it would affect the state and condition of men in the world to come. The law of equity is the practical form of the law of love to the neighbour: practically to love our neighbour as ourselves is to do to him as we would that he should do to us. This is the law of heaven. In heaven, therefore, all are united in the bond of mutual love and service. Unless we cultivate love to the neighbour, how can we live in that kingdom where this law universally prevails?

13. Our Lord proceeds to show how this law of equity is to be carried out, and how we are to act, so as to bring ourselves under its government. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. The strait gate can only be entered by self-denial, and the narrow way can only be walked in by circumspection and perseverance. In Luke, therefore, we read, "Strive to enter." The gate of life has become strait by natural aversion to that which has made the gate of death wide - our natural aversion to good and our natural aptitude for evil. That which is delightful is easy; that which is undelightful is difficult. And that which is difficult is strait, and that which is easy is wide. Straitness, in a moral sense, is anxiety, anguish, difficulty. The gate of life can only be entered through straitness of spirit; striving with the devil, the world, and the flesh, being the agonistic conflict through which the passage lies to victory. On the other hand, the gate of destruction is wide, because no striving is required to enter it. So far from self-resistance being necessary for entrance into the way that leads to destruction, self-indulgence opens the gate; and the more we indulge, the wider the gate and the broader the way become. But where and what are these gates and ways? They are in our own minds. In that rational faculty that stands midway between the spiritual and the natural mind there is a gate that opens and a way that leads upward to heaven, and another gate that opens and a way that, leads downwards to the world and hell. During the early part of life these gates are not open, and yet are not shut. That is to say, the thoughts and affections are not determinately bent in either direction previous to the mind's deliberately and practically choosing good or evil as a principle of life. There is in every one a hereditary tendency to the downward road; but the Lord in his mercy provides that the gate that leads to destruction shall not be actually opened, nor the gate that leads to life be actually closed, till man, as a free agent, shall knowingly and deliberately open one and close the other. To open and enter into the gate that leads to destruction is easy, because congenial to man's fallen nature; but the Lord gives him aids and means, and inspires him with motives, and supplies grace to enable him, if he is willing, to enter the strait gate and walk in the narrow way which lead to life. We enter the gate of life by repentance, and advance in the way of life by persistent holiness. We enter the gate of death by impenitence, and walk in the road to destruction by persistent sinfulness. If there are literally many that enter the wide, and few that find the strait gate, it is not from necessity, but from choice. All walk more or less in the downward road. While the Lord provides against our being betrayed unwarily into any confirmed state of evil, his grace so abounds, that whenever we sincerely desire to return from our evil ways, and enter into the right path, all things will work together in our favour. But although it may be literally true that at the time our Lord spoke, and even now, more may enter the wide than the strait gate, the Lord's declaration does not teach that it is a necessary state of things. On the principle that numbers in the Word spiritually express quality, and not quantity, few signify those who are in the faith of charity; and many signify those who are in faith without charity.

15. That we may enter into the strait, and avoid the wide gate, we must be careful what counsel we take or listen to. We must beware of false prophets. Personally, these are false teachers; abstractly, they are false principles. Care to avoid these last is the more necessary, because we may be our own teachers; and prejudice or inclination may lead us to adopt and follow the false, as if it were the true. We ought, indeed, to cultivate the faculty of distinguishing between the false and the true, without respect of the persons who utter them; to accept truth and reject error, whoever may teach them. It is the more necessary to beware of false prophets since they come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. False prophets are hypocritical teachers, who conceal a devouring selfishness under an appearance of disinterested kindness. But abstractly they are false principles that seem outwardly to teach charity but inwardly are as destructive of it as the wolf is of the sheep. All errors in religion avow as their object, "Glory to God in the highest, good will towards men" for no one teaches or adopts what is false as falsehood, but as truth, much less as leading to evil, but to good. It is important, therefore, to beware of false prophets; for though they come under the aspect of charity, they in their very nature are cruel and destructive.

16. But the question comes, How are we to know false prophets? Our Lord gives the answer, - Ye shall know them by their fruits. This is the moral test. The Word gives another, - To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them." It may be difficult to detect, individual teachers of falsity, or hypocritical teachers of truth, by their outward lives. As a general test it is an entirely true and certain one. The natural, and therefore the general, result of falsity is evil, and the natural and general result of truth is goodness. Life is, without doubt, the great test; and it is one that every person may apply and judge by. Yet it is more important to be able to test principles, than persons. And the question with each of us is, What fruits do certain principles produce in ourselves? We can know our own principles by their fruits, because we can see our inward as well as our outward life. The inward life is more especially meant by the grapes, and the outward life by the figs; for grapes are the goods of charity proceeding from the internal man, and figs are the goods of obedience. But, do men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles? If the falsities of concupiscence, which are the thorn and the thistle, are rooted in the mind, there can be no genuine good produced in the life. The appearance may be put on, as the wolf may appear in sheep's clothing, but the reality cannot be there. Such principles cannot produce the inward fruit of peace and goodwill to our neighbour, nor the outward fruit of consistent and disinterested goodness.

17, 18. But whatever outward similarity there may be between the actions of a good and those of an evil man, their deeds, viewed from within, by means of spiritual light, are essentially different. Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. This is absolutely true. The fruit must correspond to the tree. Good principles cannot produce bad practice; and evil principles cannot produce good practice. A good man, it is true, may do some evil, and an evil man may do some good; but the reason of this is, that, in this world, there is no man so good as to be entirely free from evil or error, and no man so evil as to be entirely destitute of goodness and truth. But good itself, as a principle in the mind, must of necessity produce good; and evil, as a principle, must produce evil. This is as much a law of mind as that a vine must produce grapes is a law of nature. Our Lord declares this to be the case. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. "To will evil and to do good are in their nature opposite to each other, for evil is derived from hatred towards our neighbour, and good from love towards him; in other words, evil is our neighbour's enemy, and good is his friend, which two cannot possibly exist together in the same mind: evil cannot exist in the internal and good in the external. In such circumstances man is like a tree whose root is decayed through age but which yet produces fruit, that appears outwardly like fruit rich in flavour and fit for use, but which inwardly is unsavoury and useless." The good which a man does from evil - that is, from a selfish motive - is not good, but evil; for the end determines the quality of the deed. This may not be seen clearly by men in this world; but when men enter the spiritual world, the quality of men's works is obvious to all. And as our Lord spoke eternal, and therefore spiritual, truth - truth for the spiritual world - this is the essential truth which he taught in these words.

19. The lesson we may derive from the necessary connection between the internal and the external is most important. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. On this declaration, which is a repetition of one made by John the Baptist (ch. iii. 10), it is sufficient here to remark, that if we allow evil and false principles to take root in our hearts while we live in this world, the tree which has grown up and produced its evil fruits cannot be changed in the other life, but must be hewn down and cast into the fire. The evil man himself is such a tree: for such as a man's ruling principles are, such is his whole being. The good which a man does in the body proceeds from his spirit, or from the internal man, this being his spirit which lives after death; consequently, when man casts off his body, which constituted his external man, he is then wholly immersed in the evils of his life, and takes delight in them; while he holds good in aversion, as being offensive to his life.

20. Our Lord concludes by repeating the principle he had already laid down. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. To know the fruit is to know its quality, not merely its appearance. If we thus know the fruit, we know the tree. It is our duty therefore, to look to results, and as far as we can know these truly, we shall be able to judge correctly of the principles that produce them. We may regard this exhortation of our Lord as designed to correct the tendency to judge our brother by his opinions, and look at the mote in his eye rather than at the blemish in his life.

21, 22. The Divine Speaker brings this subject of sinning and living home to us most powerfully by carrying us by anticipation into the scene of our final judgment. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. The time of decision will indeed show the difference between saying and doing, between profession and practice. It is plain that the contrast the Lord here makes is between those who have lived in the mere profession and those who have lived in the practice of his religion. Nor are the professed disciples those only who have named themselves by the name of Christ, but those who have been zealous in his cause - for they say, Have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? What more, apparently, could they have done to commend themselves to his favour? One thing have they lacked - sincerity. All these things have they done for to be seen of men. They have not done the will of their Father who is in heaven. The Father's will is, that they should be perfect even as he is perfect: that they should love him above all things, and their neighbour as themselves, manifesting that love in all manner of good works. Instead of this, they have rendered to the Lord a lip service, in formal and ostentatious prayers, thus saying, Lord, Lord: they have taught the Word and the doctrines derived from it, and it may be with eloquent persuasiveness, thus prophesying in the name of Christ: they have liberated other minds from errors of religion, thus casting out demons they have effected numerous conversions, thus doing many wonderful works. But this they have done, not for the Lord's sake, nor for the salvation of souls, but for the sake of themselves and the world. Those who are of this character are in what may be called persuasive faith. They have, no inward perception of truth, and no inward faith in it, or love for it, but adopt a creed, and confirm it by reasons grounded in self-interest, as a means by which they may obtain reputation, wealth, and honours. The worst of men may have this persuasive faith, and maintain it with zeal, condemning all who differ from them without regard to the good which they exhibit in their lives. Many of the wonderful works of party zeal have no doubt this origin and character.

23. The Lord therefore says, Then will I profess unto them, I never knew you. He never knew them as his own. His saving knowledge was not in them. They are not his children. He knows them not. He never knew them: their whole life, has been a deception. Can any other conclusion be expected from such a life of hollow pretence than that expressed in the Lord's words, Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity? They have, wrought iniquity. Whatever good they may have done for others, they have done none for themselves. Their motive has been evil, because selfish; and an evil tree cannot produce good fruit. The Lord's sentence upon them to depart expresses the necessary result of their real state. His love is not in them; there is no mutual sympathy between him and them: his truth is not in them; there is no mutual knowledge. Separation is the inevitable consequence. The evil and the false must depart from him who is goodness itself and truth itself. This is the cause of removal from the presence and exclusion from the kingdom of God. He does not cast them out. Their own state of contrariety to his holy nature excludes them. They gravitate to their own centre, which is the kingdom of evil, and fall into the abyss, not because justice demands, but because mercy cannot prevent their ruin.

24. Having in his sermon enunciated the great principles of his church and kingdom, the Lord concludes his sublime discourse by a most striking description of the two opposite results which his teaching would have with the multitude whom he addressed, and with all future generations of men, according as they use or abuse the mercies of the gospel of righteousness and peace. Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man; and every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, I will liken him unto a foolish man. The whole difference between the wise and the foolish, and between the eternal consequences of wisdom and folly, consists in one thing, and is described by one word, and that one word is DOETH. This word holds a most prominent place in the whole of the Scriptures of truth, and an all-important place in the economy of the religious life. To do or not to do decides the question of order and disorder, of weakness and power, of salvation and condemnation of life and death. Doing is the use and end of religion. Hearing the Lord's sayings which includes knowing and understanding them, is but a means to an end, and that end is to do them. To do what we hear is wisdom; to hear and not do is folly. Wisdom and folly in Scripture do not mean intellectual, but moral states. Wisdom is not knowledge, but the right use of it; folly is not the absence of knowledge, but its abuse. He that heareth those sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him to a wise man. Let us see what this man did as an evidence of his wisdom. He built his house upon a rock. The expressive word edification means building up, and has been borrowed to express the idea of practical education, is a building up of the mind in knowledge and virtue. In this sense it is used in Scripture. The only difference is, that the materials here are spiritual, and the building is not for time but for eternity. Every one builds in this world the house in which he shall live for ever. The materials of this house are the truths of the Word, and these may be built up by practical wisdom into a holy habitation, in which grace and truth may dwell together - yea, in which the Lord himself, by his love and wisdom, may take up his abode, according to his own divine promise: "If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." But the stability of the house depends on the foundation on which it is built. The wise man builds his house upon a rock. This rock is eminently the Lord himself. A rock, in Scripture is the symbol of truth, and the Lord is called a rock, as being the truth itself; and he is especially the Rock of Ages as the truth manifested - the Word made flesh. Faith in this Truth - or this Truth held in faith - is the rock on which the wise man builds his house. It is that of which the Lord declared to Peter, - after his ever-memorable confession, "Thou art the Christ," - "On this rock I will build my church." And the house which the Christian builds upon this foundation is the church in him.

25. The advantage of building the house upon a rock our Lord describes by expressive figures. And the rain descended, and the floods came and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. The power of resisting trials and temptations is the great advantage which results from a faith which rests on the foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no regeneration without temptation. Temptation is the trial of our faith. Temptation confirms a true faith and overturns a false one. A true faith is not only a faith in the truth, but a faith that is true - sincere. A true faith is one that is of the thought from affection, and a false faith is one that is of the thought without affection. A true faith, therefore, not only resists in temptation, but is increased and confirmed by it. The temptations to which faith is subjected are described by the storm that fell upon the house. And no images could more expressively depict the danger to which the mind is exposed by the trials and temptations of life than that which threatens the house by the combined action upon it of the rain, the flood, and the wind. The temptation arising from false suggestions is meant by the rain; for rain when it falls upon the earth in gentle and fructifying showers, is the expressive symbol of truth; when it beats upon the house, and threatens it with destruction, it is the equally expressive, symbol of falsity. And as the subject of the Lord's words is the foundation of a true faith, the temptations come from what is opposite to, and tends directly to invalidate the truth, and destroy faith in it. But not only does the rain descend, but the floods come. Rain is that kind of temptation that comes in gradually-increasing torrents of false suggestions; but floods are those temptations that arise from the accumulation of such false suggestions, and when they come in a body, like an inundation of waters, bear down everything that is not capable of the greatest resistance. The wind indicates that kind of temptation that flows into the thoughts - for wind is more subtle than water - and is, the stormy wind that sweeps over the mind like a tornado, and threatens to root up and cast down everything before it. But there is one object that resists them all - the house that is founded upon a rock. The church of the Lord that is built in the human mind upon the rock of a living faith against it the very gates of hell shall not prevail. And these temptations of which our Lord here speaks are induced by the powers of darkness, and are the means which the spirits of darkness employ for the purpose of effecting their purpose of destroying the soul by pulling down what the Saviour has built up. But the assurance which the Saviour gives to his faithful ones is, that having built their faith upon him as its foundation, all the combined powers of the kingdom of darkness, in the severest temptations, will not be able to overturn it. And it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

26. The Divine Speaker contrasts with these wise ones the persons who build on an unstable foundation. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand. The description of these is simply the reverse of the others. The mere hearer of the Lord's words builds a house, but he builds it on the sand. We commonly speak of those building in the air who place their hopes of happiness on visionary or unpractical schemes. Answering to them are those who build their hopes of eternal happiness on their being hearers of the words of Jesus Christ. They build upon the sand. Considered simply as a figure, it is sufficiently suggestive of the baselessness of the fabric of a mere verbal and persuasive faith.

But the sense obtained by correspondence is more specific and instructive. While a rock and a stone signify truth as a principle, sand signifies knowledge as a simple acquirement. The sand is to the rock as the dry bones that lay scattered in the valley of Jehoshaphat were to the exceeding great army that the prophet's voice raised up from them. Religious facts and opinions laid up in the memory, or even in the natural understanding, are mere shifting sands, on which no rational hope can be placed. A faith of the intellect, which is not at the same time of the heart, is dead, and can avail nothing in the day of trial. Our Lord tells us, therefore, that when the storms assailed the house built upon the sand it fell, and great was the fall of it. The house which the religious professor builds becomes a ruin, however fair it may have been. So will the faith of every hearer of the Word who does it not; and a ruin complete, according to the pains that have been taken, to make it great and admirable in the eyes of men. The fall of those who have known and professed the truth is great compared with that of those who have known and assumed less. We may learn from this similitude how important it is to be doers of the words of Divine Wisdom, and especially of those heavenly principles which our blessed Lord delivered in his ever-memorable sermon on the mount.

28. And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine. Those who had been accustomed to the superficial, trifling and lifeless addresses of the Jewish scribes might well be astonished at the doctrine which they had just heard from the lips of Jesus. But the word expresses something more, or rather something other than astonishment: it means that the people were inwardly moved or affected. The teaching of Jesus did not play upon the outside, but penetrated into the inmost depths of their beings. He taught them as one having authority - more properly, as one having power, not the power of authority only, but the power of convincing the understanding and moving the heart. Supposing the law had been taught by the scribes in its original simplicity and purity, the spirituality which Jesus showed it to possess, and which he so clearly and practically set forth, must have presented it to every well-disposed mind in a new light of unspeakable beauty, and with a force that must have brought it home to every conscience. But when we reflect that the Jewish teachers had made the commandments of none effect by their traditions, the Lord's enforcement and exposition of the law must have produced on the minds of his sincere and earnest hearers a wonderful impression indeed, such as that which led his mercenary hearers to exclaim, "Never man spake like this man."




8



COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW p. 9        CHAPTER VIII.

1. Having finished his sermon on the mount, Jesus now comes down to exemplify in works of mercy and benevolence the spiritual principles he had enunciated as those of the kingdom he had come to establish upon earth. His coming down from the mountain does not mean descent from a more to a less perfect state, but the bringing down of his holy principles into beneficent acts, and enforcing by example what he had taught by precept. This also is the order of individual experience. The Lord first implants the principles of righteousness in the mind, and then causes them to come down into the actions of a holy life, that the external may be an image of the internal, and both together form the regenerate or new man. No wonder that when the Lord came down, great multitudes followed him. The multitudes that gathered about the Lord - the common people who heard him gladly - are types of the common affections and thoughts of our nature that give us a sense and perception of natural justice and truth, and which, when unbiassed by interest or unawed by authority, can see and admire religious truth when presented to them in its own light and power. Those who had been astonished at his doctrine could not now be less astonished at his works. And as the works which the Lord performed, beneficent and marvellous as they were, are to be regarded as but the natural types of spiritual operations, which he is ever performing in the souls of the penitent and believing, we have a deeper interest in them than those who beheld them with their eyes and experienced them in the restoration to health and strength of their diseased and enfeebled frames.

2. When Jesus came down from the mountain, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him. Leprosy was one of the most dreadful and loathsome diseases with which the Jews were afflicted. Under that representative dispensation evils in the mind produced corresponding diseases in the body. The disposition of the people to depart from the worship of the Lord and the ordinances of the law, to worship false gods and observe their unholy rites, led them into acts of profanation, which brought upon them the disease of leprosy. Leprosy therefore represents profanation - the mixing of the holy and the impure. Of this greatest of sins there are two kinds - the profanation of truth and profanation of good. These are expressed in the New Testament by a word against the Son of Man and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. We are guilty of the first sin when we profane or pervert the letter of the Word. We are guilty of the second when we violate its Spirit. The first is pardonable, like the leprosy which could be cured; the second is unpardonable, like the leprosy which cleaved to its victim for ever. The leper who came to Jesus represented one who has been guilty of the milder degree of profanation. He came to him with the prayer to be made clean. This, spiritually, is the confession of sin, and an active desire for its removal. Every such prayer implies a knowledge and sense of sin, and the acknowledgment that the Divine power alone can remove it. That is true penitence and true worship which produces the prostration of self, the exaltation of the Lord, and the submission of the human to the divine will. The new creature is born, not of the will of man, but of the will of God. So the leper says to Jesus, "If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." Blessed is the state when the suppliant for divine aid confides solely in the Lord's will.

3. In answer to the leper's prayer, Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. The Lord's hand is the symbol of his power, especially as it now operates upon men from or through the Divine humanity; and the Lord's will is his love in union with his Kingdom. The will and the power of the Lord are one. Whatever the Lord wills he can do. Yet there are some things that He wills that are not done. He wills that all men should be saved, yet all are not saved. He wills that all should be saved; but he wills that they should be saved by their own consent, and cannot will that they should be forced - therefore cannot exert his power to force them. For the Lord to force men to accept salvation would be to contradict himself, which is impossible. He bestowed freewill upon man, and preserves him in possession of it every moment of his life; how, then, can he at once preserve freedom and employ force? The Lord is both willing and able to save to the uttermost, but he must save in accordance with the laws of his divine order, which are the laws his wisdom inscribes upon his love, and according to which his love ever acts. If all are not saved, it is because all do not desire and will not accept salvation. To those only whose will accords with his own can the Lord's hand be extended to cure them of their spiritual maladies. His hand is put forth when his power, ever present in the inmost of their souls, above the seat of their consciousness, is allowed to come forth into the thoughts and affections of their minds, And thence into the actions of their lives. It is then that the divine hand "touches," that is, affects them, communicating to them the power and virtue of his humanity, in which his love and truth are brought near to save them. When the Lord's will and his power are thus unitedly active within the soul their action must be effective. When Jesus can at once put forth his hand and touch the leper, and say, "I will, be thou clean," the effect follows - immediately his leprosy was cleansed. To show the miraculous nature of the Lord's cures it was necessary that they should be instantaneous. Had they been gradual, those who saw the beginning of a miracle might never see its end, nor might they be able to distinguish between a miraculous and an ordinary cure. But those instantaneous cures do not represent instantaneous salvation. What is instantaneous in regard to time represents what is certain in regard to state; for the soul is not subject to time. For "immediately" we have only to read "certainly," and we have the assurance which the spiritual language of revelation expresses, that to those who sincerely desire it, and co-operate with the Lord to receive it, his salvation is sure.

4. After the leper was cleansed Jesus laid on him a double injunction. See thou tell no man; but go thy way, show thyself to the priest. There is something peculiar in the first command. It has been supposed that the man was only required not to tell any one till he had shown himself to the priest. But the same command was given when no such condition existed (ch. ix. 30; Mark v. 43). It appears from the record of the same miracle in Mark (i. 40) that there was a reason entirely separate from this. We there find that the cleansed leper, like others on whom silence had been enjoined, "went out, and began to publish it much, and blaze abroad the matter" the result of which was, that "Jesus could no more enter into the city, but was without in desert places." It appears, therefore, that it was to prevent the necessity of his withdrawing himself from the chosen scene of his labours that Jesus wished these works of his not to be publicly known.

But how could the public knowledge of a miracle have the effect of driving him, so to speak, from the city into the desert? It would seem that two causes conspired to produce this effect. A report of the miraculous cure would excite the opposition of the rulers on the one hand, and throng him with supplicants for similar favours on the other. It is easy to see how the first of these circumstances might operate as a cause, but the second does not at first sight appear likely to act in the same manner; it would rather, it might seem, have an opposite tendency. We are to remember, however, that these works were not the primary, but the secondary object of the Lord's ministry. His first object was to teach, his second to cure. Miracles did not produce faith, but faith was necessary to the production of miracles; and faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. It was therefore, it would appear, contrary to order for the miracle to be proclaimed by man before the gospel of the kingdom had been preached by the Lord. John, who was the forerunner of the Lord, did no miracle, doubtless to teach us that instruction must precede regeneration. We may therefore suppose the Lord addressing each cleansed sinner thus: "Go thy way. Live according to the truth. Speak not to men, but act towards God. Turn not thy thoughts earthward, but thy steps heavenward. Before thou go into the world, enter into the sanctuary; give thy heart to the Lord before thou give thy experience to men". Another reason for silence is given in this Gospel (ch. xii. 17), which we shall consider in its place - that it was to fulfil a prophecy. But the second command which the Lord gave to the leper will still further explain the first: "Show thyself to the priest." In this command the Lord, as our Prophet, directs us to himself as our Priest - as the Truth he leads us to himself as the Good; as the Human to the Divine. To show ourselves to the Lord as our Priest is to see ourselves as he sees us, and to see his truth from good. As our Priest, the Lord sees us savingly when he gives us to know that he dwells in us, and we in him, by the love we have received from him; for he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. He sees and pronounces us clean when he whispers to us through our conscience that the plague of sin no longer cleaves to us. When the conscience is purified from dead works, we can offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. The gifts and offerings commanded in the Levitical law were types of the purified thoughts and affections that are offered to God, in gratitude for deliverance experienced and mercies received, and which become sanctified to the worshipper by being dedicated to the service of him who gave them. The offering of the cleansed leper consisted of lambs without blemish, fine flour, and oil - symbols of innocence, charity, and love: innocence unblemished by conscious guilt, charity that envieth not, love that is without dissimulation. These are the gifts which the purified soul offers as a testimony to the Lord as the Author of all good, and which are the means of effecting conjunction of life with him as the supreme good.

5, 6. The Lord, having cleansed an Israelite, is now besought to cure a Gentile. When Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, and saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. A servant signifies the natural or external part of the mind, because this serves the internal, as a servant his lord. The word here used is not that which means a bond-servant. In Luke vii. 2, this servant is said to be dear to his master - a fact which may be inferred from his solicitude for his recovery. But this loved servant was sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. Palsy represents a state where there is the will, but not the power to do. The will to do is from good but good has no power of acting but by truth. Truth is in the mind what the muscular system is in the body. Good can no more act spiritually without the ministry of truth, than the will can act naturally without the concurrence of the muscles. Paralysis is the symbol of that state of the mind when, from some opposing influence, truth refuses to obey the behests of goodness or, what is the same, when the external is unable to do what the internal wills to be done. Such a state is described by the apostle, where he says: "To will is present with me but how to perform that which is good, I find not" (Rom. vii. 18). Such a condition of mind is attended with torment; for what can be more afflictive to one who desires to do good than to find that evil is present with him? How pathetically does the apostle lament this state - when he exclaims, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Rom. vii. 24.)

7. The state which this case represents and the apostle describes as one that is not without hope. There is a physician in Israel to whose healing power every disease must yield. So knew the apostle when, turning his thoughts from his own feeble and wretched condition to a powerful and blessed one in whom there was help, he said, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." The centurion had learnt where to look for help in his time of need; and this help he found. His prayer was answered before it was expressed. To his simple declaration that his servant was sick, the Lord responded, I will come and heal him. He comes by influx and revelation, and heals by reformation and regeneration. The Lord comes by a knowledge of his truth, and restores by obedience to it.

8. But the centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof; but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. A sense of unworthiness is a sign of worth. It is one of the first results of distinguishing in ourselves between what is from the Lord and what is from self; and this feeling deepens as the distinction is more perfectly perceived. This is the ground of true humility. The highest angels are the most humble. Those who are in the deepest humiliation are in the highest exaltation. Those who are farthest from self are nearest to the Lord. Yet true humility among men, as arising not only from a sense of evil and nothingness, but from a conviction of sin, rather deprecates than craves the Lord's intimate and immediate presence. "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord," was the prayer of Peter, on a signal manifestation of the Lord's power, contrasted with his own unavailing labour; and a sudden sense of the Lord's loving condescension made the centurion feel and declare his unworthiness to receive Jesus under his roof. The mind that has a deep sense of the Lord's goodness has, at the same time, a deep sense of its own unworthiness: the one is proportioned to the other. It feels itself too mean for such a guest - too disorderly, dark, and impure to endure the presence of him who is order and light and purity itself. Speak the word only, is its language, and my servant shall be healed. Unworthy to receive, and unable to bear thy immediate presence and power, give me thy mediate presence and operation. Come to me through thy Word, out of which virtue goes to heal all manner of sickness and disease.

9. The centurion's humility and faith were enhanced by his position. I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. The centurion representing the rational man, or the rational faculty, his hundred soldiers are rational truths, existing in adequate fulness, in orderly arrangement, and in due subordination to the ruling principle of the mind. As soldiers, they signify also truths combating, not only, as is too much the case with the natural rational man, against error in others, but against doubt and unbelief in himself. The subordination of all the principles of the mind, born of the will, the understanding, and the outward life, is meant by this one going, another coming and the servant doing. Faith becomes conspicuous in the submission of the mind, with all its powers and possessions, to the Lord.

10. It was when the centurion, after his entreaty, had made this statement of his condition, that the Lord marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. We are not of course to imagine that the Lord was taken by surprise. He who knew what was in man, knew all the centurion told him before he uttered a word. His was an expression of admiration. It expresses the sympathy which existed between the spiritual truth of the Lord and the rational truth in the mind which acknowledges and is desirous to receive the higher light. The Lord's saying to them that followed him, that he had not found so great faith in Israel, was literally to express to them how much more believing and receptive he found this Gentile than he had found any among the Jews, and how much better disposed towards him were those beyond than those within the pale of the church.

11, 12. From the case of the Gentile centurion whose faith surpassed any he had found in Israel, the Lord proceeds to speak of the state of the Gentile world, as compared with that of the Jews. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with, Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. The subject is not limited to any particular people or time. The contrast is between those who are in good without truth, and those who are in truth without good. The first are spiritually meant in the Word by the Gentiles, and may be found within as well as out of the church; the second is the state of all who have been unfaithful to the knowledge they possessed. Of those spiritual Gentiles it is said that "many shall come from the east and west," because east and west signify states of good, as south and north signify states of truth. East is a state of interior good, is it begins in the heart; and west is a state of exterior good, where it ends in the life. East and west, therefore, are expressive of all states of good, internal and external. But these are states of natural good, having in it, like all sincere good, the desire to receive truth, by which it becomes spiritual. This truth is meant by the term "kingdom;" for a kingdom is under the government of laws, and these laws are truths. But that here spoken of is the kingdom of heaven, which is heavenly or spiritual truth. For Gentiles to come into the kingdom of heaven, therefore, is for those who are in natural good to come into spiritual truth. This, in fact, is the same as coming into heaven itself. All who are principled in good, who live and die without the truth, receive it in the other life, and so enter heaven; nor can they come into heaven till their good receives and is united to truth; for heaven is the conjunction of good and truth. But heaven is a state as well as a, place; and being in man, it can exist in this world as well as in the other. All true members of the church are in the kingdom of heaven while they yet live on earth. The Lord, therefore, taught, and commanded his disciples to teach, that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. All the good, when they receive the truth, enter the church, and all who enter the church enter the kingdom of heaven. But it is said of those who come from the east and from the west, that they sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. There are three degrees of perfection to which the good are capable of attaining, which are called celestial, spiritual, and natural; and there are three heavens formed respectively of those who are in these states. These are meant in the Word by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who represented the Lord himself as he is present with men and angels in his Divine Humanity. To sit down with these patriarchs is to sit down with the Lord in his kingdom, as he accommodates his attributes to the states of his people. To sit, we have seen, is expressive of a confirmed and permanent state of life, and includes the idea of serenity and peace. Such is the blessed end of those who cherish affections of goodness, however they may be deficient in the knowledge of the truth.

The children of the kingdom are those who have been born and nurtured in the church, but who have sinned against the light of truth. These shall be cast out into outer darkness. As truth is the symbol of light, darkness is the symbol of falsity. The degree of falsity into which the evil ultimately come is proportioned to the degree of truth against which they have sinned. Outer darkness is expressive of that degree of falsity which is opposed to the clearest light of truth; and those who are cast, or whose evils cast them into it, are such as have extinguished all truth in their minds, and confirmed themselves in that falsity which is grounded in evil. The weeping and gnashing of teeth which prevail in the region into which they are cast are no doubt expressive of the misery they endure; but they also signify active states of the affections and thoughts, weeping being expressive of the absence of all true satisfaction of heart, and gnashing of teeth, of sensual reasonings and disputations, by which they confirm themselves in the evils they love.

13. When the Lord had concluded his address to those who followed him, he said unto the Centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. This often-repeated command, "Go thy way," is an injunction to live as the Lord directs - to order our lives according to the dictates of his truth. Thus our faith becomes practical, being exemplified in our life, and conversation. When we have thus believed, so will it be done unto us. Although salvation is in goodness, it comes through truth; although it is in love, it is received through faith, not through faith alone, which is dead, but through faith in conjunction with love, which is living. Faith is the medium through which the Lord's power becomes operative - for truth is the power by which the Lord works, and truth is the object of faith. Therefore faith was a common condition of salvation, and of the Lord's miraculous cures, which represented it. According to our faith in the Lord as the Saviour, so is the saving virtue we receive from him. Such was the centurion's faith that his servant was healed without the Lord's personal presence, and in the moment of his declaring the cure. The self-same hour in which the cure was effected was symbolical of the state of the centurion's faith, which secured the blessing, for time is the symbol of state.

14, 15. A third miraculous cure was that performed on Peter's wife's mother. And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever. The Lord's coming into Capernaum represented his presence with man in doctrine, which a city signifies; his coming into Peter's house represented a further progression, and his presence with man in the good of faith; for Peter represented faith, and a house signifies good, and Peter's house, the good in which faith dwells. As Peter represented faith, his wife signifies the affection of faith, which is charity, or neighbourly love. The mother of Peter's wife represented the affection of love. to the Lord; for love to the Lord is the parent of love to the neighbor. But Peter's wife's mother was laid, and sick of a fever. A fever is expressive of the burning lust of evil. The evil of self-love is the opposite of love to the Lord; and a state like that of a burning fever is produced in the mind when the evil of self-love rises up in the heart in opposition to the good of love to the Lord. The state here described is not one in which the evil of self-love predominates in the mind, but is one in which that hereditary affection is excited by evil spirits, giving rise to a state of temptation. The two expressions "laid" and "sick" indicate the operation of this temptation as active both in the will and the understanding. When the Lord saw her, he touched her hand, and the fever left her. This teaches us not only that the Lord's divine power is that by which deliverance from the influence of evil love is effected, and love to him is restored to health and established in its supremacy in the heart, but also how this deliverance is effected. The hand is the emblem of power, because it is that member of the body by which power is manifested. The hand also signifies, therefore, the natural principle, which is the instrument by which the spiritual acts. The Lord's touching the hand was emblematical of his power flowing into and restoring to order the natural principle, so that the spiritual could act in an orderly manner through it. The natural mind is the seat of evil; and when the evil that resides therein is excited into activity, the natural mind reacts against the spiritual, which produces spiritual disorder and disease, one form of which is here meant by a fever. When Jesus touched her hand the fever left her. Here again was an instantaneous cure, intended to teach us the certainty of restoration when the Lord's power is invoked or received. The completeness of the cure is indicated by the circumstance that she arose, and ministered unto them - indicating the return of complete health and strength. But this represents that when opposing lusts are removed, the oppressed and diseased affection of love to the Lord is elevated to a still higher place in the heart, and thence proceeds into act in ministering to the Lord and men in works of piety, charity, and mercy.

16. After the Lord had performed these three miracles on individual persons, When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick. The demoniacal possessions so common at the time of our Lord's manifestation in the flesh were the result of the dominion which the kingdom of darkness had then acquired over mankind, - a dominion so complete that evil spirits ruled not only the minds but the bodies of men. And had not the Lord in this crisis come into the world, by assuming our nature and receiving the assaults of evil spirits into his own humanity, and by overcoming in temptation, conquered the hells, no flesh could have been saved. His casting out demons was a part of his work of redemption. But these deliverances of men from external possessions represented deliverance from internal possessions, to which all men are subject. For evil spirits still dwell in our impure affections, and possess our souls as truly as demons then possessed the bodies of men. It is said that they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils. The many here mentioned are spiritually the numerous affections of the natural mind or external man, and those who brought them are the affections and perceptions of the spiritual mind or internal man. When the Lord gives us internally to see the real state of the natural mind as it is by nature, and to know him as our Saviour, we may draw near to him with our sufferings and sorrows, with the hope and even the certainty of having them removed. When the possessed ones were brought to him, he cast out the spirits with, his word, and healed all that were sick. How does he cast out with his Word the evils in our minds, in which evil spirits dwell? By his Word, which is divine truth, being received by us and loved and obeyed. No word of the Lord can deliver us except by our active co-operation with it in affection and thought, by word and deed. In all who become workers together with him the Lord works effectually in casting out the spirits of evil from our hearts, and healing all the sicknesses of our understandings.

These last miracles were done when even was come, both to indicate an obscure state of the mind, and to mark completion of the general state of the regenerate mind, meant by the day in which the several works were performed, of which these were the last.

17. These last works were performed, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses. This important prophecy has been interpreted to mean that Jesus, as our surety and substitute, assumed the guilt of our moral infirmities, and suffered the punishment due to our sins. In the practical exposition which the evangelist gives of this prediction no such idea is expressed, or even alluded to. It is a great truth delivered by the prophet, where he says, "The Lord hath laid on him (or, as expressed in the margin, hath made to meet on him the iniquity of us all" (Isa. lii. 6). But how did our iniquities meet upon him? Not certainly by God imputing to him the guilt of our sins, and punishing him in our stead, but by his taking upon himself our fallen nature, with all its hereditary evils, or its moral infirmities and sicknesses.

The Lord took our evils upon him, that he might have in his humanity the common ground of human temptation, and be able, by overcoming those temptations, to subdue the powers of darkness, and glorify his humanity. Thence he is able to succour us in our temptations, and to effect our regeneration. The casting out of devils from the minds and bodies of others was the result of his having first overcome them in their attempts to possess humanity as he had taken it upon himself. The Gospel, therefore in this case gives an instance of the effect of the Lord's work of glorification, and of his having himself taken our infirmities and borne our sicknesses.

18. Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side. This commandment indicates a purpose to extend his saving operations to another sphere of the human mind, one which may be understood by the place to which he proposed to repair. The other side of the sea of Galilee was out of Palestine, being on "the other side Jordan." In the original settlement of the Israelites two tribes and a half received their inheritance on the farther side of the river. Under this division Canaan represented the internal man, and the land beyond the river the external. The tribes that dwelt in Canaan represented the spiritual principles that reside in the internal man, and those beyond the river represented the natural principles that reside in the external man; while the tribe of Manasseh, half of which dwelt on either side the river, represented the principle of goodness which unites them. The Lord's commandment, to depart unto the other side expresses his desire to proceed from the internal to the external of the mind, that he may there manifest the power of his truth to deliver, and the virtue of his love to save, even unto the uttermost.

19, 20. But this purpose operates as a test and trial in two ways. First, it brings to a decision what affections in the mind are disposed to adhere to and follow the Lord through the self-denying labours of the Christian life - what good affections and thoughts, which his teaching has awakened and his works have strengthened, are ready to leave the things that are behind, and press onward to the things that are before. One comes to the Lord with the noble profession, - Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And now the Lord discloses to him the kind of experience that awaits every one who undertakes so serious a duty. The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay HIS HEAD. True as this was naturally at the time, not less true will every one find it spiritually who follows the Lord in the regeneration. The natural mind of man, in its yet unregenerate state, is the den of every wild beast, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird. Its affections and thoughts are only evil, and that continually. But not only are evils there by nature, which no one can help, but that which is to be mourned over is, that they are more or less cherished in every heart and mind. Here the foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, where they live in security and increase. The foxes are the types of all evil affections, the birds of all false thoughts. And when these are cherished, to the exclusion of good affection and right thoughts, the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. The Lord's sacred head should be pillowed on every heart - his truth should find a place in our best affections. We lament the state of the world that produced the necessity for the Lord's declaration, and sympathize with the Son of man. Let us look within; and then may we remedy, if we will, the corresponding state in ourselves, and so render our sorrow and sympathy practical and availing.

But the point of this declaration consists in its being addressed to a would-be-disciple, as a test of his sincerity, whether he was disposed to follow a Master who bad nothing in the meantime to promise but hardship and privation. Though this test may no longer exist naturally, it still exists spiritually; for the disciple must follow his Lord "Withersoever he goeth" - through privation and suffering, as well as in doing.

21, 22. When the Lord had addressed these words to the first who offered to follow him, another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, follow me; and let the dead bury their dead. This is one of those passages which Christians intuitively perceive have a deeper sense than that which lies on the surface. This they perceive from the Lord's answer, rather than from the man's request. For there seems nothing either extraordinary or unreasonable in the desire which the disciple expressed; and some objectors have assumed that the request was more humane than the answer. But we are to reflect that the soul and eternity, not the body and the world, were ever in the Lord's thoughts, and were really the subjects of his discourse on all occasions, the temporal events of which others spoke being made by him images and the vehicles of corresponding spiritual truths. Thus in the Lord's mind the body was an image of the soul, and natural were, images of spiritual death and burial. In the spiritual sense, a father signifies, in relation to man in his natural state, the principle of self-love, this being the origin of the affections of our unrenewed nature; and this is the father we are required in the Gospel love and hate. But when this love dies within us, should it be wrong to desire to bury it? One reason is, burial signifies resurrection, or rising again into new life. The disciple's request to be allowed to bury his father involved the existence of a lingering desire to restore, rather than to reject, this principle of self-love, now dead within him. And this was more especially the case as he desired to "go" and do it, which was spiritually a desire to turn away from the living to the dead. The singular phrase, "let the dead bury their dead," is instructive; for Jesus never spake without a solemn and important meaning. In the work of regenerating evil spirits are made the instruments of removing evil. They excite evil in the human mind, and when their assaults are resisted, and the temptation is overcome, the evil is removed along with those who excited it. Nay, they themselves remove it. The spirits of darkness cling to the evil which they excite in our hearts, and they never leave us till we let the evil go. Then they go with it to their own dark abode, and become the dead that bury the dead. When, therefore, the Lord said, "Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead," he inculcated the Divine lesson, that it is the duty of the disciple to walk onward with Him who is the life, and not turn back to dead principles and works, but leave them to return to the regions of darkness from whence they came.

23, 24. There are trials before us in the onward path of regeneration which require the energies we are often disposed to waste on things and states that are past. The incident we now come to consider teaches us this. And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. A ship signifies the knowledge of goodness and truth: for knowledge is not truth, much less is it in itself goodness, but is only the vessel which contains them, and conveys them to the understanding, and thence to the will of the mind. The Lord's entering into a ship, and his disciples following him, represented his entering into, and his presence in, the knowledge of good and truth which we have derived outwardly from his Word. The sea on which the Lord and his disciples were now embarked was an expansion of the Jordan, through which Israel passed on their way to Canaan, and has a similar signification. In relation to man, both signify the natural mind, or more strictly, perhaps, the natural rational, which is intermediate between the spiritual and natural degrees of the mind, as Jordan and the sea were between Canaan and the region on the east. Here the disciples experienced tribulation, which is the symbol of temptation. For, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea. The tempest produced by the stormy wind was a type of the tumult of evil passions excited in the natural mind by influx from the kingdom of darkness. But in the midst of all this agitation and alarm Jesus is asleep, - in a state of tranquil and peaceful repose while the tempest rages. So in the mind of the tempted one there is inward peace while there is outward tribulation; for the Lord is in the inmost of the soul as its peace and security. We may be unconscious for the moment of the inward secret peace which we possess. These tribulations arise partly from our too great attention to and immersion in outward things, so that the inward principle is laid asleep, and seems as if it were not. A natural state of the mind is also called sleep, compared with a spiritual state, which is called wakefulness. This of course is still more the case when we fall into tribulation, which indeed can only happen when the spiritual principle is less active than the natural. But these tribulations are permitted in order to lead us to a sense of our danger and of our weakness, and to prompt us to flee for succour to Him who only has power to control and subdue the angry passions of the human heart, and to awaken within us the Divine love and truth that our own carelessness and carnality have cast into a deep sleep. The disciples, when they awoke the Lord, exclaimed, Lord, save us; we perish. It is only when we feel ourselves to be perishing sinners that we truly feel the need of a Saviour. It is not that we are without the Saviour's presence; but these times of peril awaken up the slumbering consciousness of his indwelling life into activity, and bring the preciousness of his mercy home to our hearts. So is it with us in regard to every object of our love. In ordinary circumstances there may be little sensible emotion in regard to our most loved ones; but bring us into the fear of losing them, and the deepest solicitude is excited for securing what we now doubly feel we so greatly prize and cherish. Yet our fear originates in a want of faith. Every temptation indicates the weakness of our principles, and the use of the trial is to strengthen them. Temptation is an overshadowing of our convictions, a deadening of our love. It is the temporary ascendency of the natural over the spiritual principles within us. Fear is the offspring of doubt - the want of perfect confidence in our reliance on the Lord's providence. Why are ye fearful? is a question the Saviour asks every trembling heart. Were we in every time of trial able confidingly to say, "The Lord is my strength," we should be able also to say, "Of whom shall I be afraid?" The Lord, who asked the question, gave the answer when he said, O ye of little faith. Yet the threatening of the tempest, gave distinctness and direction to the faith of the disciples, since it led them to Jesus, to allay the storm which their lack of faith had produced, and which it disclosed. Then the Lord arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea. How sublime is this spectacle of Jesus speaking peace to the raging elements, manifested in the result - and there was a great calm! We should let no occasion pass of recognizing the wonder-working power of the Divine Saviour. And hardly any one more strikingly presents evidences of his superhuman Power- than the rebuking of the storm, and causing the raging tempest to subside at once into a profound calm. But great as that work undoubtedly was, still greater and infinitely more blessed in its results is the power which the Lord exercises over the spirit of man when tossed upon a sea of spiritual trouble, when the tempest and the whirlwind are such as threaten to engulf the soul in spiritual evils, and finally in hell itself. The rebuking the wind and the calming of the storm in the soul is the result, not only of the Lord's awaking, but of his arising that is his elevation in our hearts and minds, by which he acquires the power to bring the lower thoughts and affections into subordination and submission to himself, and thereby into the tranquillity of spiritual repose. That which our Lord produced was called a great calm, because greatness is predicated of a state of love and goodness, from which all true peace exists.

27. When the Lord had quelled the, tempest, the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him! And must not spiritual deliverance from such tribulation and peril lead the devout mind to marvel and say, What manner of man is this? Must he not be a, divine man? To be a divine man, his manhood must be divine for in no other way can divinity be possessed by a man than by his being divine as man. Every act of his saving mercy and power which we experience should lead us to adore the Lord in his divine humanity; for it is by his humanity being divine, and having been made divine through tribulation, that he is able to enter into our human trials and tribulations, and bring us out of them with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. It is by this also that he can rule the kingdom of darkness, and that he can tranquillize the mind in its greatest temptations. Even the winds and the sea obey him. The thoughts and affections of the mind, although, when excited by the influence of evil spirits, they may be beyond our own control, art, completely under the power of him who rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

28-34. And when, he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, &c. This is so extraordinary a case of demoniacal possession, and discloses so much the nature of the connection between the spiritual and the natural worlds, that it deserves a few words in its simply historical sense. The spiritual and the natural worlds are as closely connected with each other as the soul and the body. The ordinary connection of men with the inhabitants of the spiritual world, though intimate, is not, however, sensible. The two worlds, like the spiritual and the material parts of man, have nothing in common: they are united by correspondence; and such a union, however close, is not sensible either to men or to spirits. The only circumstance that was peculiar in the possessions mentioned in the New Testament was, that the ordinary laws of spiritual intercourse were overborne, and spirits entered not only into the affections of men's minds, but into the sensories and organs of their bodies. This arose from the prevalence of evil in the world, and the grossly sensual state into which men had fallen, which enabled wicked and sensual spirits to descend into the very ultimates of human nature. Such was evidently the case in the possession here recorded. The men did not speak as free agents under the influence of the evil spirits, but the evil spirits spoke through the men as passive instruments, showing that they had possession of their physical organs, and used them at their pleasure. But this singular narrative shows that spirits were not only able to possess human beings, but the inferior creatures. Animals as well as men live by virtue of their connection with the spiritual world; for the souls of beasts are spiritual, though not immortal, and they are capable, like men, of being the subjects of an extraordinary as well as of an ordinary influx from the spiritual world, or through it from the Divine and only Fountain of life. Animals and the animal nature of man are, by the ordinary laws, governed by a common or general influx from the spiritual world. Gentle and clean animals, like regenerate men, receive their life through heaven, while ferocious and unclean animals, like wicked men, receive their life through hell. In the present instance it is evident that the swine became the subjects of an extraordinary spiritual influx, the devils being permitted to possess them and use them as the involuntary instruments of their will.

It is remarkable that these evil spirits knew and acknowledged Jesus to be the Son of God and the Redeemer, at a time, when even his disciples had but an obscure perception of his true character, and of his object in becoming incarnate. This is not surprising. The nature and purpose of the Incarnation were, at that particular time, better known in the spiritual than in the natural world. The Lord's redeeming work had more immediate relation to the spiritual than to the natural world. Redemption consisted in the subjugation of hell, and in the performance of a judgment in the world of spirits, or intermediate state, on those who had lived in the world from the time of the Noetic dispensation, as well as in the establishment of a new church on earth. Subjugation and judgment in the spiritual world were even then in progress; and therefore spirits know more of the Lord and of his work than men upon earth as yet knew. The language of these spirits bespeaks some knowledge and dread of the approaching day of decision. Judgment is effected by the Lord's more immediate presence, or by an extraordinary influx of his divine truth, which lays open the interior states of those who are subjected to it, and which, by divesting them, or rather by inducing them to divest themselves, of everything that is opposite or extraneous to their true character, consigns them to their final and everlasting abode. To the evil this is attended with torment; not because it is the nature of the Lords truth, or the will of the Lord himself, to cause pain or misery even to the worst of devils, but because their corrupt and perverted state is in direct opposition to the purity and order of his truth, which acts upon their deranged spiritual organism as light does upon a diseased eye. Such was the torment which these demons experienced from the presence and words of Jesus. This teaches us the important truth, that those only whose state of life is in harmony with the Divine life; which is pure love, can enjoy happiness in his presence, and that to those whose ruling love is opposite to his, the Lord's presence can only be productive of torment.

We now come to consider this miracle according to its spiritual meaning.

28. And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. In this simple relation we have a true but awful picture of the state of man as to his natural mind, signified by Gergesenes, at the time our Lord came into the world, and at the time of his first coming to every man as his Redeemer and Saviour. The two possessed with devils are the will and the understanding of the natural mind, as, in every unregenerate man, they are possessed and ruled by evils, and by the false persuasions connected with them. Although at this day evil spirits do not possess the bodies of men, they possess their minds; and in this way they may possess and rule men as completely as they did at the time of the Lord's incarnation. This kind of possession makes men even more culpable than the demoniacs of old. The possessed with devils, like lunatics, ceased for the time to be responsible beings; but those who give their minds to demons, while they retain their liberty and reason, are responsible for their actions. According to the ordinary law, spirits dwell in the affections of men. They are not allowed to enter directly into men's thoughts, and can only influence their thoughts through their affections so that every man is left free to think, and therefore to decide and choose between good and evil. Although less obvious, possessions at this day are not less real or deplorable than they were of old. Every evil man is possessed with devils; nay, every evil passion in every man is a body which some wicked spirit inhabits, and every depraved appetite is a tomb in which some unclean spirit dwells. Every evil man inwardly cherishes hatred and breathes destruction against all who are not his slaves; and is exceeding fierce, so that no man may safely pass by the way, or cross the path of his interest or ambition. But in the spiritual sense, "man" is the expression of what is truly human, which is the image of God in man; and the fierce hatred against men by these dwellers in the tombs is expressive of the direful hatred that is in all evil against what is truly human, or what is good and true, whether in themselves or in others. This hatred against men must have been still more intense against Jesus, as Man in the highest and holiest sense, but be came to moderate the fierce hatred of evil spirits against mankind, or at least to deprive them of the power to possess and destroy them. His great and beneficent power was exemplified on the present occasion. The men, under the control of the devils who possessed them, came out of the tombs when Jesus approached them, and, according to Mark v. 6, ran and worshipped him. This abject submission of the demons to the power of Jesus exemplifies the complete subjugation of the powers of darkness by the Lord as man's Redeemer. Redemption itself, as the great work of the Lord in the flesh, is well represented in this case. The Lord redeemed mankind by delivering them from the overwhelming power of hell, and restoring them to a state of spiritual freedom. Such was then the ascendancy of the power of hell over the power of heaven that men were in a state of bondage, which deprived them of spiritual liberty. They had, like the demoniacs, become to some extent the involuntary subjects of demoniacal power. It was not to cast off all communication between men and evil spirits that the Lord entered into conflict with the powers of darkness, but only to remove their ascendancy over mankind, which deprived them of their freewill; and to restore the equilibrium between heaven and hell, on which the freedom of the human will depends.

29. When Jesus came near these demoniacs, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? This cry, though uttered by the men, was really that of the devils who possessed them. But the words are attributed to the possessed, to describe spiritually the exquisite torment experienced by those who are being regenerated, when the Divine and the diabolic power come into actual conflict within them. Evil spirits suffer torment on such occasions, but their torment is communicated to those in whose evils they dwell, and which they defend with all their power. The kind of temptation is also indicated by the names of those engaged in it. The demoniacs address the Lord as "Jesus, thou Son of God." Both these divine names are expressive, not only of the Lord in his humanity, by which he is our Saviour, but specifically of the Lord in respect to his essential attribute of goodness, as the Son of Man is expressive of the Lord, not only as the Word, but in respect to his essential attribute of truth. The principle of evil, and the class of infernal spirits that are directly opposed to the Lord's goodness, are also expressed in the Word by the devil, the name by which the evil spirits who possessed the men are designated; while false principles, and spirits that are directly opposed to the Lord's truth, are named Satan. Temptation conflicts between good and evil are attended with much greater torment than those between truth and falsity; is all mental trials which have relation to love are more afflictive than those which have relation to faith: for truth and faith are means, and belong to the understanding, but goodness and love are ends, and belong to the will. In addressing Jesus the demoniacs say, "art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" Time signifies state, and the state here alluded to, as the anticipated time of torment, is the climax of temptation, when suffering is so direful that it induces something or despair as to the result. It was when looking to the extremity of his temptation, in the passion of the cross, that Jesus prayed that the cup might pass from him, and that, when the hour of his conflict came, he uttered the despairing cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!" The cry of the demoniacs was of the same character, though far inferior in degree, to that of the Lord himself to consider the subject more precisely. "Before," in regard to time, means principal in regard to state. Torment before the time signifies, therefore, suffering arising from temptation as it acts upon the principal or ruling affections of the mind, and not on those of an inferior degree; and the more interior temptation is, the more exquisite is the torment with which it is attended.

30. And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. As, in the spiritual sense, the relation has reference to one person, and to every person in a particular stage of the regenerate life the "men" represent the rational, and the "swine" the sensual part or principle of man's nature. The sensual part of man's nature being the lowest and grossest, it is "a good way off" from the rational, which, though not a spiritual, is an interior natural principle. The sensual affections and appetites, with all the impressions and ideas that have been acquired through the medium of the senses, which form the sensual principle, are "many," and form a "herd," being drawn and held together by a common bond that is rather animal than human. But the swine were feeding at the time the devils entreated to be sent away, or suffered to go into them; for the state here described is one in which man is as yet living in the indulgence of his sensual appetites. We cannot but call to mind in this connection that beautifully expressive description of the sinner's descent into the lowest state of spiritual degradation, in the prodigal's being reduced to the last degree of destitution, when he hired himself to a citizen of the far country in which he had wasted his substance with riotous living, and who sent him into his fields to feed swine. It was here, however, that the prodigal came to himself, and resolved to return as a penitent to his father. It is here, too, in the spiritual sense of the present narrative, that the men's deliverance from demoniacal possession was effected, the swine serving as the channels, so to speak, through which the devils were sent to their own congenial abodes.

31, 32. So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine. When evil spirits are expelled from the inner or rational part of the mind, they still seek and find a refuge in the lower or sensual part. Their own desire, and the divine permission, though diametrically opposite in end and purpose, nevertheless work together to produce the same beneficent result. The spirits of darkness can only operate upon man by Divine permission. But we must remember that, in the government of the Divine Providence, the permission of evil is regulated by this principle, that the Lord only permits a less evil to prevent a greater, and, as far as possible, to bring ultimately some good out of the evil permitted. Evil spirits are allowed to enter into men's evil affections, not only because man in his present state could not live and act as a free agent without connection with the spirits of hell as well as with the angels of heaven, but because evil spirits excite men's evils, so as to bring them to his knowledge, as a necessary means of his being induced and led to remove them, or rather to consent to their removal. When we consider that evil spirits are permitted to enter into man's evils that they may excite them, and so be made the negative instruments of removing them, we can see the divine wisdom and goodness of the Lord in suffering the devils to go away into the herd of swine when cast out from the men they had so completely possessed. Regeneration, too, proceeds from higher to lower. The interior of the mind is first regenerated, and the exterior afterwards and through it. The lower evils are therefore excited last; and when these are removed regeneration is completed. With this purpose and order of the Lord's saving operation the very inclinations and purposes of the spirits of darkness are made to conspire, to work out the final cause of temptation. The tenacity with which evil spirits cling to the lusts and phantasies of the human mind is such, that they never relinquish their hold, and can only be cast out by the evil itself, in which they dwell, being renounced and removed. Thus are the evils of the human heart and mind removed by the evil spirits who dwelt within them, and carried away to the kingdom of darkness, to which they belong This kingdom is meant by the sea, in the waters of which the swine perished. The whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, to express the downward inclination of evil and evil spirits, and the avidity with which they plunge into the lowest depths of iniquity, and, as a consequence, into the abyss where all evil has its ultimate and endless abode. Those who live and die in a state of impenitence are dragged, with their cherished evils, down into the regions of eternal woe. The penitent have a far different end. Repentance and amendment separate their evils and evil spirits from them, so that what is intended and expected to be their destruction proves their salvation; for the devils carry away their evils, while they themselves, delivered by the Lord's power, are restored to their right mind, and after having witnessed the Lord's mercy and goodness here, enter into his kingdom of peace and blessedness hereafter.

33. When the herd of swine had rushed into the sea, and perished in the waters, they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told everything, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. It is not said of these, as it is of the prodigal, that they fed the swine, but that they kept them. The swine-herds, too, although terror-stricken at the catastrophe, were awed into wonder by the miracle. They fled from the scene of the disaster, but they entered the city in a calmer mood, and were not so entirely occupied with their own loss as to forget to relate what had befallen to the possessed of the devils. Spiritually understood, the possessors and the keepers of these unclean animals are related to each other as affection and thought. It is the affections that possess, and the thoughts that keep watch over the mind's possessions, whatever they may be. When man is merely sensual, his affections are lusts, and his thoughts are devices to secure the means of their gratification. This is not exactly the state described in the present narrative. It represents man as alive, indeed, to sensual gratification, but not dead to a sense of higher things. It describes the state of one whose thoughts have been directed to the Lord as the Redeemer, come to destroy the works of the devil by the subjugation of hell, not only as it is in itself, but as it is in man, thereby restoring the rational mind to a sound state. The conveyance of this to the affections is meant by the keepers relating everything, and that which had befallen to the possessed of the devils, to those in the city.

34. On hearing the tidings, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts. The citizens, like their informants, seem to have regarded Jesus with mingled feelings of fear and wonder. Although they desired him to depart from their coasts, they did not offer to employ force, but used entreaty. They quailed before one who had given them so severe a proof of his power; but there was no manifestation of rage or enmity. The Lord also complied with their petition, and departed. Personally, they represent those who see in the Lord a Being of power rather than of goodness, and who worship him from fear, rather than from love, and are more distressed than comforted by the idea of his near presence. This is characteristic of those who are in an external state in regard to religion. They see in God, even as revealed in the Word, an angry and vindictive Being, and tremble at his presence, believing that no man can see him and live. In more particular sense, the circumstances describe a state in which the whole affections, suddenly brought under a powerful Divine influence, are moved to separate themselves from the dogmas of their sensuous faith to meet the Lord at his coming. Yet this very state, which brings man's evils more vividly to his mind, makes him unable to bear the nearer presence of the Lord, or makes the clear light of truth terrible to him. The case and the language of these Gentiles may be compared with those of the Gentile woman whose son died while she nourished Elijah, and who said unto him, "What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? Art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son" (I Ki. xvii. 18).




9



COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW p. 10        CHAPTER IX.

1. When Jesus, in compliance with the Gergesenes, departed out of their coasts, he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city. Capernaum is now called the Lord's own city, and was during his public ministry what Nazareth had been during his private life. As a city signifies doctrine, the Lord's own city is the doctrine which relates personally and immediately to him, and which teaches that he is God manifest, and that in his Divine humanity he is the Redeemer and Saviour of men. This heavenly doctrine in us is the Lord's own city of habitation, from which he goes forth to carry his saving virtue into every faculty and affection of the mind, and to which he returns with renewed strength, to proceed again and again on his mission of salvation. The Lord can only dwell with man in that which is his own. Divine good can only dwell in divine truth; genuine good must have genuine doctrine for its place of abode. When the Lord's power brings deliverance to the good and inspires terror into the evil of the external man, he returns into the internal, where there are purer affections and truer thoughts, that can bear his presence, and can recognize him as a benefactor.

2. When he had entered into his own city, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy. This disease represented, as we have seen (viii. 6), the state of one who has the will but not the power to do good, or in whose external there is such a want of conformity and correspondence with the internal as to prevent him from manifesting in and by it the thoughts and intentions of the heart. This man was lying on a bed. A bed signifies the particular religious doctrine or persuasion in which a man confides, and in which he seeks rest for his weary soul. So the Psalmist exhorts, "Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still" (Ps. iv. 4); and declares for himself, "My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate upon thee in the night-watches" (Ps. lxiii. 5, 6). The wicked, on the contrary, "deviseth mischief upon his bed" (Ps. xxxvi. 4). And so the Lord, to teach us that it is not any one's religious doctrine or persuasion that saves him, tells us that in the last days of the church "there shall be two men in one bed - the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left" (Luke xvii. 34). Two may be in one doctrine, and while to one it may be a living faith, to the other it may be lifeless persuasion. The sick of the palsy was brought on his bed of languishing to Jesus by his friends. The best affections of our hearts prompt us to come, and the best thoughts of our understandings bring us to Jesus, for the removal of our spiritual maladies and our restoration to health. And Jesus, seeing their faith, (the faith no doubt both of the paralytic and his friends), said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, be of good cheer: thy sins be forgiven thee. The man sought health for his body, and the Lord gave him salvation for his soul. This, however, was but preparatory to the restoration of his body also. From this we may learn that there is a connection between sin and disease. We must be careful rightly to understand this doctrine. We must not, like the Jews at the time of our Lord's incarnation, suppose that every man's particular maladies are the results of his particular sins. Disease is the general effect of general corruption, but not always the effect of particular sin. The Lord, who sees the connection between causes and effects, knows when a particular natural disease proceeds from a particular spiritual cause; and when this is the case, the removal of the sin is the way to cure the disease. This may have been the case in the present instance. But when we understand the diseases of the body to be types of diseases of the mind, we can see that spiritual disease is invariably the result of spiritual evil. In the spiritual body outward disease is always the effect of inward corruption. Diseased action is the effect of corrupt motive. When these co-exist as cause and effect, the removal of the first is preparatory to the cure of the second. When the Lord, therefore, desired the man to be "of good cheer," and declared his sins to be forgiven, he uttered words of comfort and assurance to every humble and penitent supplicant for his mercy, that a true and sincere faith is that through which the Lord inspires confidence and gives pardon.

3, 4. In, forgiving the sins of this man, certain of the scribes, knowing that none can forgive sins but God only, said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. The Lord gave these objectors what they ought to have accepted as a proof of his possessing the divinity and power they denied him. Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? In telling them their unuttered thoughts the Lord gave them a proof of his power to forgive sins, and of being God, who only, according to their own faith, could claim the power of forgiveness. But he condescended to give them another proof, in the cure of the disease with which the man was afflicted.

5. Before performing this miracle the Lord demanded of the scribes, Whether is easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? The Lord received no answer, and required none. His question implies that he who, with a word, could instantly restore an impotent man to sound and vigorous health, could cure the maladies of the soul, and restore it to a state of righteousness. It was no doubt equally easy to say the words that Jesus uttered, but he showed that it was equally easy to do the works which his words expressed. But in the spiritual sense the connection of these two acts is still more obvious. The spiritual connection between the forgiveness of the man's sins and his rising up and walking is so intimate that, although distinct, they are not separate or isolated acts, but form two parts of the same divine work. The forgiveness of sins does not consist in pronouncing them pardoned, but in removing from the heart the inclination to commit them. When the Lord said to the palsied man, "Thy sins be forgiven thee," he intimated the removal of the sinful inclination from the heart, and the communication to it of the love of goodness - and when he further said, "Arise, and walk," he intimated the deliverance of the external life from the effects of inward evil, and the descent into it of the life and activity of the love of goodness, which had been inspired into the inner man. Thus the Lord first brought the internal into a state of order, and then, as a consequence, restored the external to a state of correspondence with it; so that, in the best sense, the man might have a sound mind in a sound body.

6, 7. The Lord, still addressing the scribes, continues: But that ye that know that the Son of man hath power on earth, to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house. We cannot well conceive that such a miracle as this could produce any effect but awe on the minds of impartial spectators. To see a man entirely palsied rise at once from his couch, and stand before them in all the vigour of health, and take up the bed on which, but a moment before, he lay utterly prostrate, and depart with it to his own house, were surely enough to awe men into holy fear, and cause them to bow down in profound reverence before him who had performed so mighty a work. There is no record to tell that these scribes, though utterly silenced, were at all convinced; on the contrary, the relation leaves it to be inferred that they continued in the obduracy of sinful and determined unbelief.

One purpose the Lord had in performing this miracle was, that those who heard him pronounce the man's sins forgiven might know, by beholding his work, that the Son of man had power on earth to forgive sins. There is a great and consolatory truth involved in this fact. The Lord assumed human nature, and thus became the Son of man, or Divine Truth in its ultimate degree, that he might deliver man from evils which his Divine Truth, such as it was in relation to man on earth, could not reach before the incarnation. Divine Love exercises its saving power by means of Divine Truth; but love has power by truth only so far as it is accommodated to the states of the human mind. The Word, which in the beginning was with God - Eternal Wisdom, as it dwelt in the bosom of Eternal Love, - was all-sufficient for the spiritual generation of unfallen man; but man's fall rendered it necessary that the Word should be made flesh, and so come down to his level, and accommodate itself to his altered state of affection and perception. By this means the Son of man had power on earth to forgive or to remove sin. But this language expresses still more. For earth, in the purely spiritual sense, means the earthly or natural mind of man. This region of the mind is the seat of all man's evils. And as the Lord by incarnation took this earthly mind, or this part of man's organization, upon himself, he thereby brought his Divine Truth down into it, and so dwelt among us as Man among men. And not less, but even more, is he among us now as the Son of man who has been lifted up, or glorified, that he may draw all men unto him. And this he does by removing from our natural man, or earthly mind, the sins which separate us from him as our God.

8. But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men. The simple, less spoiled through vain philosophy, and less influenced by intellectual pride, were more ready to draw the proper conclusion which the evidence of their senses justified, and even demanded. They did not, it is true, recognize in Jesus the Supreme Being, clothed, though not entirely concealed, by the frail garment of humanity. They marvelled, or, as some read, were afraid, and glorified God; but they glorified him because he had given such power unto men. They regarded Jesus as a man but, as one who had his power to do these wonderful works immediately from God; and were therefore much better than the scribes and Pharisees, who ascribed the Lord's power, when they could not deny it, not to the Most High, but to Beelzebub. The science, falsely so called, which leads men to ascribe everything to nature, and the pride of intellect, which persuades them that they can see in secondary causes the beginnings of things, blind them to the perception of the truth, which simplicity of mind, though it be that of comparative ignorance, disposes and prepares men to receive and reverence. Singleness of mind can alone see the Divine in the human of the Lord, which is truly and spiritually to glorify God that gives such power unto men. The Divine gives its power to the human, and that power is manifested by it in the salvation of man. The union of the Divine and the human in the person of the Lord is the source of his saving power.

9. And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith, unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. The calling of the twelve apostles, like the birth of the twelve patriarchs, represented the order in which the regenerate acquire the graces of religion. The calling of the first four, as recorded in chap. iv., has already been considered. Peter, we have seen, signifies faith in the understanding, and Andrew, his brother, signifies faith in the will; James signifies charity or love to the neighbour, and John, his brother, signifies love to the Lord, - but love as a practical principle, such as the Lord describes it when he says, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me" (John xiv. 21). As we shall see, when we come to the enumeration of the apostles on their being sent forth to preach the Gospel, as recorded in chap. x., the apostles form three groups of four members each. Matthew belongs to the second group. The first four were fishermen, whose worldly occupation corresponded to the spiritual function they were to exercise - that of being fishers of men Matthew's occupation at the time of his call was different from that of the four we have named; but, no doubt, had as close an analogy to the special use he was intended to perform as he himself had to the grace he represented. He was a publican, or collector of the tax which the Romans levied on the Jews, which was felt as an oppressive burden; and, what rendered it still more obnoxious, it was an undeniable badge of their subjection to a foreign yoke. The Roman power represented the natural rational principle, and the taxes which they levied from the Jews symbolized the making of spiritual knowledge subservient to the ends of man's natural reason. The Lord himself recognized it as, a duty to render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; but he declared it at the same time to be a no less imperative duty to render unto God the things which are God's. When, to avoid giving offence, Jesus consented to pay the tribute money, he so ordered it that the money should be obtained from the mouth of a fish in the sea, to represent that the natural, but not the spiritual principle, should be subject to the rational - that scientific, but not intellectual truth, should be subservient to its uses. When the Lord called Matthew from the service of Caesar to his own, be did representatively what he does spiritually, when he delivers the spiritual principle in man from the dominion of the rational, and brings it into immediate connection with himself. Matthew was obedient to the call: he rose up, and followed Jesus. To obey the Lord when he calls us is a dutiful act and shows a, desire to do his will and make it our own. There is one act recorded of Matthew which teaches us the secret of the willingness of all whom be represented to follow the Lord. "He rose up," and followed him. If, when we are called, we raise our affections from worldly to heavenly things, and from temporal to eternal ends, we, too, shall, with readiness and cheerfulness, follow the Lord wherever he is pleased to lead us.

10. Jesus, after he had called Matthew, entered into his house. And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. No part of the Lord's character stands out in more beautiful relief from that of the Pharisees of those and of all other times, than the tender regard he manifested for the despised and rejected among men, and his readiness to mix with them even in their feasts. But this compassionate tenderness and divine condescension was one of the very things for which the Pharisees accused and contemned him. The merit of the Lord's condescension consisted, of course, in the beneficent end he had in view; but this the Pharisees were unable to comprehend. Religion with them was a thing of mere ceremony and ostentation, and in their estimation it would only have been degraded by being brought down to the condition of the poor and miserable. But the religion which the Lord came to establish and to exemplify among men, was one whose very object it was to save the degraded and lost. Jesus, therefore, mingled with men in every condition, and entered into their houses as the means of entering into their hearts. Such was his purpose in coming into the house of Matthew. But to regard this subject spiritually: a house is an emblem of the mind; and Jesus is spoken of as having sat down there, to express the interior reception, by the obedient mind, of the Lord as the truth and the life. His entertainer sat with him, to indicate community of state, which is necessary to make the Lord truly the guest of the humble but willing mind. The Lord sat at meat in the house; because meat for the body is typical of food for the mind, especially of the principle of good, which constitutes man's spiritual meat. And the Lord sitting at meat is expressive of the Lord's communion through good with man, and with all the affections and thoughts of his mind. The spiritual affections which the Lord introduces into the mind are meant by his disciples, who (Mark ii. 15) entered and sat down in the house with him. But besides these spiritual affections which the Lord introduces, there are other and natural affections which belong to man. These are the "many publicans and sinners that came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples." The name sinners is not, we may remark, always used in the New Testament in a moral sense, but frequently indicates no more than that those to whom it was applied were lax in their observance of the numerous ceremonials which the Pharisees had added to the law. The disrepute, too, in which the publicans were held, had no necessary reference to their moral character, but only to their office as tax-gatherers, whom the Jews regarded with extreme abhorrence. Those, therefore, who came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples may have been morally better than the Pharisees who despised them. The publicans represented affections or inclinations of the will - thus the affections and thoughts that belong to the natural mind of man. Spiritually, these are evil in every one by inheritance, for in this respect all men are alike; but when the heart and mind are turned heavenward, these are disposed to meet the Lord as an instructor and a Saviour. They come and sit down with Jesus and his disciples; they are inclined to come under his influence and receive his teaching, that they may be brought into conformity with the laws of his divine truth, as the principles of his kingdom, and have the same mind in them which is also in him.

11. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? The self-righteous man shuns "sinners" from contempt; the man of the world for the sake of reputation; the sensual man enters their company for gratification - the spiritual man only as a means of doing them good. Our Lord was a perfect pattern of what every minister of the Word, and every Christian in private life should be. The Christian should seek to save souls, by drawing men away from sin, which he can do only by imitating the Lord in hating the sin and loving the sinner This the self-righteous do not. Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners, is still the demand of the Pharisee. The Lord himself, as we shall see, answers the question. Here we only attend to the spiritual idea in his eating with them. To eat with any one is to enter into communion with him by the reciprocation of goodness. This is expressed by the Lord himself where he says, "If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me" (Rev. iii. 20). The Lord at all times is urgent to enter the hearts, as he was willing to enter the homes, of publicans and sinners, to accept their good and impart his own. Not that men have any good self-derived; but in whatever mind there is anything good which the Lord has already implanted, he desires to draw it forth, and make it the channel of conveying to the mind good of a still higher and purer kind. There is no salvation without reciprocation. If men could be saved by the Lord operating in them and upon them, all would be saved; for he desires the salvation of all. Man's co-operation is that which brings him salvation. The Lord is in every man, but every man is not in the Lord. In order to be saved, not only must the Lord dwell in us, but we must dwell in him. This is the reason that, in the days of his flesh, the Lord condescended to eat with publicans and sinners. To the spiritual Pharisee this is still a cause of offence. He denies the necessity for man's co-operation in the business of salvation, and deems it only consistent with the majesty and omnipotence of God that sinners should be saved by irresistible grace, or left by justice as vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. To all such we may say, Hear what the Lord saith.

12. But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. No answer could better meet such an objection. That which the Pharisees blindly considered a reason why Jesus should avoid sinners, was the very reason he had for eating with them. They were sick - he was a physician. They were the objects of whom he was in search, the persons he had come to seek and to save. Do we sufficiently reflect upon this as eminently the work of the Divine Saviour, and of the Christian's mission? If we despise, or neglect, or shun our degraded brethren of the human race, do we not practically make the same accusing demand as the Pharisees? What we ourselves think it a degradation to do, we must think it a degradation for the Lord to have done. If, on the other hand, we have the Lord's spirit dwelling within us, we shall desire and act towards sinners as the Lord himself acted, and as he still acts, towards them. The whole family of fallen man are included in the number of the sick who need a physician. Yet our Lord speaks as if there were some who are not in this condition. As we shall see in explaining the words which follow, the distinction is to be understood, not as applicable to fallen men in any age, but to humanity in its primeval and present state.

13. The Lord further exhorts the Pharisees, saying, But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Naturally understood sacrifice is worship offered to God, and mercy is good done to man. The Lord wills mercy, and not sacrifice. Divine worship was instituted not as an end, but as a means. The end of worship is to make the worshipper like the Object of his worship - to make him good and just, merciful and forgiving. These are the things that the Lord wills. Not only does he will mercy in preference to sacrifice, but mercy is the only thing in sacrifice which he either wills or accepts. He can receive nothing from man. The homage he asks is only intended as a means for conveying the riches of his grace to the mind of the worshipper, and to inspire him with and keep him in the desire of doing mercy to his fellow-creatures. The Lord gives a reason for addressing to the Pharisees what had been written in the Word, - for his requiring mercy, and not sacrifice. He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. He therefore, as Man, and the pattern for men, did what the Divine will desires. He showed mercy, and freely admitted into his presence, and entered into communion with, sinners who required it. Mercy is love grieving and forgiving sacrifice is truth demanding and exacting. Had man not fallen, God would not have required mercy. Man would have been the subject and the object of divine love, and would have rendered to the Lord the sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise, and spontaneously paid his vows unto the Most High. But man's state is changed, and with it the divine economy in relation to him. The men of the first or celestial church are meant by the whole, who need not a physician - the righteous, whom the Lord came not to call. The spiritual, who lived after the time of the primeval church, are the sick whom the Lord came to heal, the sinners whom he came to call to repentance, the lost whom he came to save. When the celestial church ended, a spiritual church began. A miraculous change was then effected in the mental condition of men, - the intellect was separated from the will, and conscience was substituted for perception. A lower standard of duty was consequently introduced. The Lord does not require from his imperfect creatures all that the laws of eternal order required of him in his unfallen state; but he deals with him in conformity with the merciful accommodation of his truth to his fallen condition. That the law teaches more than man can ever realize, is true; that it demands perfect obedience, or the death of the sinner, is not. Nor is it a truth that Jesus came to live a life of holiness, and to offer himself as a sacrifice for sin, in our stead. Jesus came to fulfil the law, as a means of enabling us to fulfil it; and now, with all the aid that a Saviour perfected through suffering, can give us, what we are required to render, the Lord gives us power to perform. We are required to come up to the standard as it is set up in our conscience, formed by the truths contained in the divine law, but the Divine mercy and justice require no more. The Lord will have mercy, and not sacrifice: he desires that men should be not only the objects but the subjects of his mercy, receiving his mercy into their hearts, and exhibiting it in their lives in deeds of mercy and charity to each other.

14. After the Lord had thus gently rebuked and instructed the Pharisees, Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? John's disciples, strict observers of the ritual law, agreed with the Pharisees on the subject of fasting, and were scandalized at the idea of Jesus and his disciples neglecting to fast. Looking at the subject spiritually, this question contains a deeper meaning. John represented the written Word, especially as to its literal sense, while the Lord was the Word itself, as the Divine Wisdom from which the written Word proceeded, and which it contains. John's great mission was to preach repentance, as the means of preparing the way of the Lord. His followers are therefore disciples of the letter, and as such are preparing the way, by self-denial, for the Lord's entrance into their hearts and minds. This work of self- denial is signified in the Word by fasting; and with those who are in this preparatory stage of the regenerate life, spiritual fasting is not only a necessary, but seems to them a paramount duty. The Lord's work, as succeeding that of John, represented the doing of good rather than the ceasing to do evil, - the supplying of the mind with the principles of goodness and truth, for which fasting from everything evil and false has prepared it.

15. In answer to the disciples of John, Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bride chamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. The Lord does not say that the children of the bridechamber do not mourn, but that they cannot mourn so long as the bridegroom is with them. He does not therefore say that his disciples do not fast; he only says that their time of fasting had not yet come, but that, when it did arrive, it would be more severe than that which John's disciples practised. The Lord delivered his lesson to John's disciples in a parable beautifully expressive of the truth he intended to convey to them, and to those whom they represented. The heavenly marriage in the Christian mind, which is the union of goodness and truth, is that which is everywhere meant in the Word by nuptials, in the genuine sense, and, as a true internal union. The marriage of the Lord and the church is also included in its signification; but the church consists of those only in whom the marriage of good and truth exists. The children of the bridechamber are those who are in the affection of goodness and truth, and who receive into these affections the joys and delights of love and truth from the Lord's presence with them. In the state here spoken of, the Lord is with his disciples as a bridegroom, which indicates a state preparatory to marriage, or to the complete and confirmed union of the principles of goodness and truth. But even in this preparatory state the children of the bridechamber cannot mourn, for the bridegroom is with them. They are in the bridechamber, or in the internal affection of truth, and the bridegroom is with them in that affection as the principle of good. Yet this itself is but a state of preparation. The actual conjunction of goodness and truth cannot be effected in the mind without trial and temptation. The, bridegroom in whom they now rejoice must be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. This taking away of the bridegroom, in reference to the Lord's disciples, literally refers to his being taken away from them by the death of the cross, which blasted all their cherished hopes of his restoring Israel as a temporal kingdom. But every Christian disciple passes through states corresponding to those which the Lord's first disciples underwent. Between the joyful reception and the happy union of goodness and truth there is an intervening state of trial and sorrow, in which the Lord seems to be taken away, and in which the disciple fasts indeed. This fast is of a different character, and of much greater severity, than that of the disciples of John: it is not a voluntary abstinence from sinful gratifications, but an involuntary deprivation of the delights of goodness, which the soul has come to esteem as its life. But as the Lord, after his crucifixion, rose in greater glory than that in which he had previously appeared, so is this trial succeeded by a state of higher perfection and greater joy than any which the disciple had previously experienced.

16, 17. The Lord proceeds by another parable to instruct the disciples of John why his disciples, unlike them and the Pharisees, did not then fast. No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved. The old garment is Judaism, the new piece is Christianity; the old bottles are the rituals of the Jewish church, the new wine is the truth of the Christian dispensation. The entire system of Judaism was alien to the spirit of the Christian religion. The moral law is indeed the same; but what was peculiar to the Jewish church was incapable of being combined with the principles of Christianity. These parables have, however, reference to the church in our day as well as to that which existed when they were first uttered. The principles of the new church cannot be engrafted on the doctrines of the old, as they now are. "The imputation of the former church does not correspond with the new church, not as to the twentieth part." The name of the Christian doctrines remains, but the reality has ceased to be. But there is a still more practical lesson for us contained in these words of the Lord. It is possible for those who know the true doctrines of the church to fail in the duty which the Lord intended to teach them. The old garment is the righteousness of the old and unregenerate nature - the moral vesture which men put on to cover their spiritual corruption. We cannot become religious by merely inserting a piece of the new into the old, in order to repair this world-made vesture; but we must buy of the Lord new raiment, that the shame of our spiritual nakedness may not appear; we must put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, the white robe, which is the righteousness of saints. Nor must we put the new wine of spiritual truth into the old maxims of moral expediency and worldly prudence; but we must put our new principles into their only suitable receptacles - honesty, integrity, and sincerity - under the conviction, that only by doing so can we have either true morality or true religion, and that only when both are new can both be preserved. But there is an idea expressed in the Lord's similitudes that we must attend to. The new piece properly means cloth that has come from the loom, but had not yet passed through the hands of the fuller, and symbolizes a righteousness which has been acquired, but is not yet perfected by trial and temptation. It is this kind of righteousness which, when put unto the old garment, takes from it, and makes the rent worse. The other similitude includes the same idea. The danger to old bottles from filling them with new wine arose from the wine fermenting, and so exerting a pressure on the old skin receptacles which they were unable to bear. Fulling and fermenting signify temptation, by which man is purified and perfected. By these two expressive parables we are instructed that temptation tests the soundness of our principles, and that unless our external is made new, and thus a suitable vesture and receptacle of new internal principles, we cannot stand in the day of trial.

18. While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live. This man is an honourable exception to the general class of Jewish dignitaries. Though not so distinguished for his faith as the Roman centurion, he had confidence in the Lord's power to prevent death, if not to restore life. For although, as appears from Mark vi. 23, the ruler's daughter was not then actually dead, but was only dying, the case may be regarded as nearly the same. Regarded spiritually, a daughter is a type of an affection for good, as a son is a type of an affection for truth. Thus understood, the dying out of such an affection in the mind, and the apprehension of its total loss, is that which the feeling of this father for the dreaded loss of his daughter is intended to express. But it may be asked, how can a cherished affection die out of the heart? or if it is suffered to die out, how can this be a cause of distress, and how can there be such solicitude for its restoration? In the cases recorded in the Gospel, of disease and death, and of solicitude and prayers to the Lord for their recovery and restoration, two states of mind are represented. Either the mind has become diseased and dead in regard to spiritual things, and has been awakened to a sense of its disordered and lost condition, or it has become the subject of spiritual tribulation, in which state evils and falsities invade the affections and thoughts, and sometimes to such an extent as to cause everything good and true in the mind to languish or die. These conflicts take place in the natural mind, where evils and falsities reside, and where evil and false spirits excite them into opposition to what is good and true. The faith which, in such states, turns to the Lord as the Saviour, is the faith of the inner man, where the Lord himself dwells in the heavenly goods and truths which he has there implanted. Faith, as a living principle, confides in the Lord's power, and is that through which his power is manifested. The faith of the ruler enabled him to say to Jesus, "Come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live." The Lord's hand is the symbol of the power which resides in his humanity, and when laid upon and received by any one, heals spiritual infirmities and restores spiritual life.

19. And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples. Spiritually, Jesus arising is the elevation of his divine love in the heart and its affections. But when Jesus arose, he and his disciples followed the ruler. Jesus and his disciples are, spiritually, the Lord's divine love and the truths derived from it. The Lord's following the ruler signifies his descent, by the influx of his divine love and truth, into the inferior or natural degree of the mind, where the evil which is to be removed resides.

20, 21. But while Jesus was on his way, before be came to the ruler's house, Behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: for she said within herself, If I may but touch, his garment, I shall be whole. This case is extremely interesting, not so much from the nature of the woman's disease, as from her confidence that so great was the healing virtue which proceeded from the person of Jesus that she had only to touch the hem of his garment to be made whole. The issue of blood, with which she had so long been afflicted, signifies natural love separate from spiritual love, and a degree of profanation as the result. The spiritual signification of the disease may be known from its nature, considered in the light of the Scriptures. In the Word the blood is called the life or the soul of the flesh, being the vital fluid from which the substance of the body is derived, and by which it is constantly renewed. The blood therefore signifies truth pervaded by the life of love, from which the good that constitutes the very spiritual body is derived and constantly renewed. A diseased condition of the blood, or a drain of that stream of life, is symbolical of a deficiency of the love which is the life of truth, and a consequent perversion and dissipation of the truth itself by which the soul lives. The period of twelve years, during which the woman was afflicted, is expressive of a full state in relation to the truths of faith, - in the present instance, a habitual condition of the mind in opposition to the truths of faith. But it may again be naturally asked, how it is that such a condition of mind is consistent with the undoubting faith which this woman displayed? The whole of the cases of disease recorded in the Gospel, as brought to the Lord to cure are intended to show the deplorable state of human nature, as it is in itself, and more or less in all by practice, and also, and principally, to impress upon us this great truth, that mere human power is utterly unavailing for the removal of diseases of the soul, and that the Lord alone is able to cure them, what is impossible with man being possible with God. All things, it is true, are possible to him that believeth; but the possible with man is from the power of the Lord, acting through his faith, and delivering him from evil, and gifting him with good, according to the measure of his belief. But that which is peculiar in the present case is the manner of the cure. The woman's disease was cured simply by her touching the hem of the Lord's garment. Virtue went out of the Lord and restored her to health. As the woman's disease was the type of a spiritual malady, so was the Lord's garment, as the means of her cure, representative of a divine medium of salvation. When the Lord appeared before John the Revelator, be was clothed with a garment down to the feet; and when he was transfigured, he appeared in raiment white as light. This garment with which the Lord, as the Word, clothes himself, is its literal sense, and the hem of this garment is the extremity or lowest part of the letter of the Word - its simplest truths of faith and plainest precepts of life. What, then, do we learn from the present beautiful incident? That he who takes hold of the lowest truths of the Word, if his faith in its divinity be sincere, shall, through that holy medium, receive from the Lord, who dwells within it, saving virtue sufficient to restore him to health and bless him with happiness.

22. After the woman was cured of her disease by touching the hem of his garment, Jesus turned him about. The woman came behind the Lord to touch the hem of his garment. The back signifies the external, and the face the internal. The back also signifies the will, and the face the understanding because in the head, the lesser brain, which is the organ of the will, is behind, and the larger brain, which is the organ of the understanding, is before. In relation to the Lord, the back and the face signify the Divine will and understanding, which are infinite love and wisdom. The woman's coming behind Jesus is spiritually expressive of a deep sense of unworthiness, and of a feeling that the mind admits of no more than an external and obscure perception of the Lord through his Word. Coming behind the Lord signifies also a desire to come into his presence rather as the object of his love and mercy than of his wisdom and omniscience of his love, which covers, rather than of his wisdom which discovers our sins. This, however, is a state which is preparatory to another and more perfect one. When the woman had touched the Lord, and virtue had gone out of him to heal her, he turned himself toward her, - she received internally what she had previously received externally: and to the influence of the Lord's love on her heart was now added the perception of his wisdom in her understanding; for the Lord not only turned himself to her, but saw her; and when the Scriptures speak of the Lord's seeing any one, they spiritually mean that his wisdom or truth enters into the understanding, and gives an internal perception of the good which his love had inspired. An interesting instance of this occurs in Revelation (i. 10). John heard a voice behind him, and he turned to see the voice that spake to him; by which we are instructed that when the Lord's love, which flows into the will, is heard or obeyed, it turns the understanding to the Lord, to receive a perception of his wisdom. The same truth is expressed in the Lord turning to man, or in man turning to him, and in the present case, of Jesus turning himself about and seeing the woman. When the Lord saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. This endearing salutation contains within it the blessed assurance of being born of God. The Lord's sons and daughters are they who have become his children by regeneration. The reception of his love gives joy of heart and comfort after affliction, and the reception of his truth into the understanding becomes, through faith, the power of saving health. The actual existence of this state is the hour of restoration, and which is that mentioned by the evangelist: And the woman was made whole from that hour.

23, 24. The history now returns to the ruler's daughter. We are not to regard the account of the cure of the issue of blood as an interruption to the history of the restoring to life of the ruler's daughter, or to view it as an incidental and isolated circumstance; for in the spiritual sense everything is connected and in series. And this connection will be seen in the present instance, if we consider the subject in relation to one mind, of which the woman with the issue is an internal affection, and the ruler's daughter an external affection.       

The obstruction to the Divine influx being removed by the cure he had performed on his way to the ruler's house, the life of his love and truth can now descend into the external, to restore life to the affection of good which is therein. And when Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise, he said unto them, Give place. The house is a symbol of the mind - in the present case, of the natural mind, to which the affection of good which Jesus had come to restore to life belongs. The minstrels and the people making a noise, whom the Lord saw when he entered the house, and who were the professional mourners, piping their requiem over the dead maiden, and the crowd of professional wailers and others who attended on such occasions, represent the crowd of natural and worldly affections and thoughts that obstruct the operation of the divine life of love and truth in the soul. The Lord's seeing them denotes the discovery by the mind itself, from the light of divine truth, of the true character of such affections and thoughts and the necessity of their being removed before his divine life can be received into the good affection thus surrounded and obscured. When the Lord commanded the crowd to give place, he gave as a reason, for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. We need hardly say that the distinction which the Lord makes between death and sleep is for the sake of a higher than the literal sense. It is evident from what Jesus said to his disciples respecting Lazarus - first intimating that he was asleep, and then telling them plainly that he was dead - that by sleep he meant death. But there are two kinds or degrees of spiritual death, - the extinction of the life of faith and the extinction of the life of love; or, what is the same, the extinction of the affection of truth in the understanding and the extinction of the affection of good in the will. The first is meant by the sleep of death, the second by death itself. The first is like suspended animation, when, though the lungs no longer move, the heart continues to beat; the second is like the complete cessation of life, when the motion of both these organs has ceased. What, therefore, the Lord calls sleep is a more external and less confirmed state than that which be calls death. He did not therefore mean that the maid was not dead, but that her state represented a spiritual death which has not entirely extinguished the life of love in the soul - that the affection itself of good in the heart is not dead, but asleep. When the Lord had said to the crowd that the maid was not dead, but asleep, they laughed him to scorn - implying that the mere natural and worldly affections and thoughts not only deny, but deride the declarations of divine wisdom, and reject both and the idea and the hope of resurrection. For the merely natural affections, while they mourn over the death of better affections in the mind, do not desire their resuscitation into a newer and higher life.

25. But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose. The putting forth of the people is the removal of those tumultuous and worldly feelings that indispose the mind for the reception of the peaceful influences of the Lord's spirit, with its restoring and renewing power. That these merely natural affections and worldly thoughts occupy a lower place in the mind than the affection of spiritual good, represented by the maid, appears from the relation itself; for when the people were put forth, the Lord went in: having removed the crowd from the outer apartment, he went into the inner room where the maiden lay. He then took her by the hand, indicating again the communication from the Lord of new life by the power of his Divine Humanity, in which all saving virtue dwells. And this virtue is communicated through the hand of the maiden, which signifies the ultimate degree of the mind, where its faculties manifest themselves in power. The efficacy of this mode of operation arises from the circumstance that the influx of the Lord's love and truth from his Humanity is his divine life accommodated or brought down to the lowest degree of the human mind. Life and action were the result of the Lord's touch. The maid arose. This does not imply merely that the spiritually dead are raised by the Lord to their former life, but to a new and higher one. They arise, as the Lord himself rose, into a degree of perfection and glory far exceeding all they, had previously known, or that had entered into their heart to conceive.

26. And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land. The fame of the Lord's wonderful work goes abroad into all the land when the whole mind is brought under his influence, and acknowledges his goodness and power in raising up into new and spiritual life the affection of good in the will, and the consequent perception of truth in the understanding which had, by the prevalence of those evils and errors that belong to the corrupt selfhood, been cast into a dead sleep. Considered in reference to the regenerate, this death, like that of the body, is not to be considered as anything more than an apparent evil; for it represents, in their case, the putting off of something that is old, preparatory to the putting on of something that is new, - the laying down of their life, that they may take it again; giving up a lower and viler life for one higher and more glorious.

27. From the raising of the dead to life, the Lord next proceeds to restore the blind to sight. And when, Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou son of David, have mercy on us. Mental, or rather spiritual blindness, is that which is spoken of in the Scripture in reference to men as immortal beings. There are, however, several kinds and degrees of spiritual blindness, - as the blindness of ignorance, the blindness of error, and the blindness of falsity. The blindness of ignorance is represented by that with which these two men were afflicted. Simple ignorance is without sin,- but in those who have reached mature years, ignorance is never unaccompanied with error, and with evil as a consequence. As there are two distinct objects of knowledge, ignorance is twofold - ignorance of truth and ignorance of good. These were represented by the two blind men. Considered in connection with the previous miracle, the opening of the understanding to the perception of truth, after the awakening of the affection of good in the will, is represented by this opening of the eyes of the blind. This miracle was an exhibition, in a representative form, of one of the great objects for which the Lord came into the world - to give man power to understand spiritual truth. By the prevalence of evil, the human understanding had been closed to the perception of Divine truth, as their hearts had become closed to the reception of his Divine love; and the Lord's coming was to unseal the eyes as well as to open the hearts of men. Those mighty works which the Lord performed on the bodies of men were but the outworks and the symbols of still mightier and more beneficent works, which he, as the Saviour, performed, and will continue to perform, in the souls of all who come to him. Truth is to the intellect what light is to the eye; and the bestowal of spiritual sight is a blessing as much greater than the giving of natural sight, as eternal life is greater than temporal.

In the account of this miracle there are some particulars that demand our attention. The blind men follow the Lord, which spiritually means to follow his teaching and example. The perseverance of these men proved the means of their obtaining the object of their prayer, and teaches us the necessity of following on to do the Lord's will, that we may know of his doctrine, or have a knowledge and perception of his truth. While they followed the Lord, they kept crying, and saying "Thou Son of David, have mercy on us." Crying is expressive of affection, and saying of thought; teaching us that both must be directed to the Lord when we desire his mercy. Their addressing the Lord as the Son of David shows that they acknowledged him as the Messiah; but in the spiritual sense the Son of David signifies the Lord as Divine Truth; and the blind appropriately address him by this name, it being their desire to receive from him the power of seeing, that is, of understanding. They crave his mercy, for mercy is love grieving and brought down to the aid of the fallen and helpless. The celestial ask for mercy, the spiritual for grace; thus the prayer for mercy is expressive of a deeper sense of imperfection and a stronger desire for the needed salvation.

28. And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him. It would appear that the Lord did not comply with the blind men's petition; nor does it seem that be even attended to it while he was on the way. Although the Lord generally granted the prayers of the afflicted at once, yet on several occasions he either seemed unwilling to listen to their petitions or delayed compliance with them. We cannot suppose that this arose from any want of compassionate tenderness towards these suffering and helpless supplicants, much less from anything like disregard to their wants and entreaties. Such cases teach us an important lesson. The Lord's seeming neglect of our petitions, or his slowness to grant them, does not proceed from his unwillingness to give, but from our unpreparedness to receive. How many of those who follow the Lord, confessing their blindness and praying him in mercy to open their eyes, would be startled by the question, Believe ye that I am able to do this? If they were required to answer it in the presence of him who knows the heart, how few would be able to say, with the blind men, Yea, Lord. The purpose of the Lord's inquiry is to enable us to know whether we are able, in the sincerity of our hearts to make this affirmation before him. If we do not receive an answer to our prayer for enlightenment - to have our eyes opened to see the wondrous things contained in his Divine law, and to see him as the Divine Lawgiver - it is because we do not truly believe that he is able to do this for us and in us. But it was not till Jesus came into the house, and the blind came to him there, that the question was asked, and was affirmatively answered. The Lord's coming into the house with us is his coming into the mind, and specifically into the will, or into the good which has its dwelling there - and our coming to him is our entering into communion with him through the good in which he is present with us.

29, 30. Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. And their eyes were opened. The Lord's touching their eyes signifies his communicating the power of understanding and seeing the truth. If the giving of natural sight opens the gateway that admits the blessed light of this world, which reveals so many scenes of beauty and sources of instruction and delight, unknown and therefore unappreciated before, how immeasurably greater the beauty, instruction, and delight that are disclosed to us by the opening of the understanding to admit the light of spiritual and eternal truth! How impressive and even sublime are the words, "And their eyes were opened!" The natural sublimity of the command, "Let there be light," has often been dwelt upon. These words express the same spiritual idea, and describe the same spiritual state, as the less striking words in which is described the restoration of sight to the two blind men. When he had opened their eyes, Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it. Here, again, the Lord imposes silence on those on whom he had bestowed one of his most precious blessings. We have already (ch. viii. 4) considered the sense and meaning of this often-repeated command. There is, however, we confess, some obscurity in it, or rather in our apprehension of its spiritual meaning. Why the injunction should have been laid upon some, and not upon others - why persons, on whom silence had been solemnly enjoined by one who had conferred on them so great a boon, should, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country, - and why this should be recorded by the evangelist without any expression of disapproval, are points that do not appear to us perfectly clear. We can well understand how strong the impulse to publish the matter must have been in the hearts of those who had received such extraordinary cures, and how it must have contributed to the fame of Jesus as a healer in Israel. We can comprehend also how the experience of his divine mercy, in the cure of our spiritual maladies, should incite us to extend, through our whole hearts and minds, with all their affections and thoughts, the fame of his great goodness.

32. After the Lord restored the blind to sight, As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil. Dumbness is usually the result of deafness. In the New Testament cases are mentioned of persons being deprived of the power of speech, apparently without their hearing being taken away; and this appears to be one of these. Whether they are found together or separately, there is a distinction between deafness and dumbness, which it is important to attend to as the symbols of spiritual conditions of mind. Deafness closes the channel of influx, dumbness closes the channel of efflux. Receiving and giving are the two great functions of life. One cannot exist in perfection without the other. Dumbness signifies a state of obstructed efflux, in which the understanding is prevented from going forth in the performance of us use, in glorifying God and imparting of us gifts to men. This dumb man was possessed with a devil, who seems to have been what is called elsewhere a dumb spirit, which is indeed plainly declared in Luke xi. 14, where the same miracle is recorded. This case is appropriately recorded after the case of the blind men. Nor is it without a meaning that the blind men followed Jesus into the house, where they were restored to sight, and that this man was brought to him, and that he cured him as he went out of the house; for this cure restored that faculty by which man is enabled to give utterance to the thoughts of his heart, and was symbolical of the casting out of the dumb spirit which sometimes possesses us, under the pressure of some severe trial or temptation; a state described so accurately by the Psalmist: "I was dumb with silence - I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred. I was dumb, I opened not my month: because thou didst it" (Ps. xxxix. 2, 9). Zacharias was made dumb because he believed not the words of Gabriel, when the angel promised him a son in his old age, and remained so till the promise had been fulfilled; for how can we praise God, and proclaim the power of his name, when we disbelieve his sacred promises on our behalf? Therefore it was that, in the time of the Lord's natural presence, faith was so essential a condition of deliverance even from physical ills. How much more so for the curb of spiritual evils!

33. But how is spiritual dumbness to be cured? By the Lord casting out the spirit which had produced it. And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake. But bow does the Lord cast him out? His alone is the power to deliver from this and every other spiritual affliction; but our free will and active concurrence are indispensably necessary to bring his power to work effectually for our deliverance. We only require to come with our afflictions to him, having faith in his mercy and omnipotence, and nothing will prevent his casting out the spirit of evil from our hearts And then shall we experience the benefit of our restoration to a sound condition of mind, as expressed in the present case - the dumb spake. If, with the Psalmist, we pray, "O Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise" (Ps. li. 15), our prayer shall be answered, and we shall be enabled to praise the Lord with joyful lips. Like Zacharias, too, when his month was opened, and his tongue loosed, we shall speak, and praise God. The spirit of unbelief and distrust being cast out, the Holy Spirit will enter into us, and prompt us to show forth the goodness of the Lord, and to rejoice in the power of blessing and serving him. Another result of such a manifestation of the power of our Saviour is expressed in that which followed the dumb being enabled to speak: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, "It was never so seen in Israel. This, spiritually, is expressive of the recognition and acknowledgment of the Lord's wonder-working power by the whole of the affections and thoughts of the natural mind, now brought under the influence of the Divine Love, and gifted with a perception of his wisdom, as exhibited in the superior faculties of the mind being restored to order. The declaration of the marvelling multitude, that "it was never so seen in Israel," teaches also a spiritual lesson. The Lord came to do in his spiritual Israel what had never been done before.

He came to open the blind eyes, to unstop the ears of the deaf, and cause the dumb to shout for joy. In his humanity he brought his saving power down to men, and it was to them nearer than, in their fallen and marred condition, it had ever been or could be brought before. And the same may he said now of and from individual experience. Never before could the Lord's regenerating power be manifested so fully and beneficently as since his incarnation. And never was spiritual truth itself so enlightening as now, when the light of the moon has become as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun has become sevenfold, as the light of seven days.

34. But there is a dark side to this picture. This ready and hearty acknowledgment of the Lord's marvellous and benevolent works by the multitude was met by the Pharisees saying, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils. It may not be unjust to class with this Pharisaical theory of a demoniacal origin of the Lord's miracles the philosophical one of tracing them to natural causes. The natural man avails himself of any argument to evade their force and enable him to deny their divinity, and to bring the most marvellous operations of Divine power down to the level of ordinary natural phenomena, that the claim of Jesus to divine, or even to supernatural power, may be rejected, and his religion deprived of us high claims and of us beneficent character. While the learned are often, on these high questions, spoiled through vain philosophy, the multitude, who judge of plain facts and simple testimony by common sense, are often right. No answer of the Lord to this accusation is here mentioned but on another occasion be refuted it by simply saying, "If Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself - how then shall his kingdom stand?" But this objection, as a suggestion from Satan, may enter into our own hearts; for the Pharisees have their representatives there. And whenever a heavenly influence awakens our good affections to an acknowledgment of the Lord's power and goodness, an opposite influence from the kingdom of darkness is sure to excite some suggestions against it.

35. After this Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. We cannot realize an idea of this simple fact without a deep sense of our Saviour's love for his creatures, which prompted him to come to seek and to save that which was lost. The Divine Author of their existence himself labouring to turn them from sin unto righteousness, and healing every malady to which their frail bodies bad become subject, as a symbol and promise of the spiritual health that he above all things desired to impart to their souls, is truly a matter of wonder and admiration. Spiritually significant and instructive as these circumstances are, they are not on that account less deserving of our devout attention and adoring gratitude as simple historical facts. This reverence for the historical circumstances helps us to enter more profitably into their spiritual meaning, which again sheds its purer light back upon the great facts of the letter.

The Lord, in this higher sense, is still going into all our towns and villages preaching the gospel. He is still spreading, by his Spirit and through his Word, throughout every receptive mind, the glad tidings of his great salvation. He goes about our cities and villages, when divine truth, proceeding immediately from himself, enters into the truths, both internal and external, which we have acquired from the literal sense of the Word, and built up into systems of doctrine; and he enters into our synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, when his divine truth flows into the truths we have acquired from the Word, and have understood with some degree of spiritual light, and communicates through them a perception of the gospel of the kingdom, which is the good of spiritual and heavenly truth - thus bringing to the mind glad tidings of great joy. When the Lord, as the Saviour, has thus been received into the things that are in some degree of order in the interior of the mind, he can, with his divine truth, flow down into, and bring into order the things that are in disorder in the exterior of the mind - thus healing every sickness and every disease among the people, or removing everything evil and false, as the cause of spiritual disease, from the more external and common affections and thoughts meant by the people, especially those of an intellectual kind.

36. But wherever the Lord went there was a numerous class of objects to whom his mercy was intensely directed. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.

The multitudes are descriptive of man himself as to his natural state and condition - and more particularly still, they denote the innumerable principles of affection and thought, all confused and unarranged, which occupy his will and understanding. This their unarranged and disordered state is expressed by their "fainting" more strictly unloosed - "and scattered abroad." In the spiritual sense the first has reference more particularly to the affections of the will, and the second to the persuasions thence derived in the understanding: thus they imply, that while man remains yet in his natural state, regardless of divine things, and unsolicitous of obtaining conjunction of life with the great Source of life and love of a spiritual and truly human nature, his affections and desires, unloosed from any connection with eternal goodness as their proper object, wander at random, in dissolution and disorder, towards anything, however unworthy, that offers them gratification, whilst his opinions and thoughts, underived from eternal truth as their proper source, are in like manner scattered abroad, and espouse every idle fallacy that the senses suggest. Still, we are capable of better things. Even in our natural state we are capable of feelings of humanity and some regard for others, the fault being, not that we are wholly insensible to such emotions, but that they are not strong enough to act with sufficient force to counteract the impulses of our selfish propensities, the good dispositions only making themselves attended to when the selfish are for the moment asleep, and in all cases yielding when these require it. It is on this account that we are here compared to sheep; for sheep in the Word properly signify the principle of charity, or love to our neighbour; but when, as here, the sheep are presented as undirected by a shepherd, they signify the good natural affections which, for want of being united with genuine principles of truth, are not yet in connection with their proper centre, and are easily perverted and led astray. But we find, for our consolation, that notwithstanding, in our natural state, we are loosed and scattered abroad, if we are desirous to escape from the defilements of our selfhood, and to become the real subjects of the Lord's kingdom, his divine compassion, by which such desire is first implanted, immediately becomes operative in our behalf. The proper exciting cause of compassion is wretchedness and whenever we become sensible of our wretched condition, the Divine compassion is excited, not towards us, but in us. This state is what is here described by its being said that the Lord was moved with compassion: for he who is compassion itself cannot be the subject of emotion. In Scripture divine emotion means human emotion from the Divine. When we become sensible of the divine compassion working in us, then is the state signified by Jesus being moved with pity.

37. Then, too, we become sensible of the value of heavenly blessedness, and affected with the spiritual things in which that blessedness resides, which is implied by the Lord's saying, The harvest truly is plenteous. The disciples represent all the truths of the Word taken collectively; and as it is only by means of the truths of his Word that the Lord imparts spiritual instruction to man, therefore it is here stated that the Lord said to his disciples, "the harvest truly is plenteous," to denote that it is by means of the truths of the Word that man receives a conviction of the value of heavenly attainments. The harvest also signifies that completion of the regenerate state when a judgment is performed within us, and a separation is finally made between the principles of heavenly life and love and the opposite principles of infernal life and love, and when man becomes fixed in goodness and truth, and is liberated from evil and falsity. To effect this, much labour and combat is requisite. And this labour is to be carried on by means of truths derived from the Word, which are meant by the labourers; and these truths, so long as they are only learnt and stored up in the memory, have not the power to accomplish the work; therefore it is said of this state, that the labourers are few. Truths are said also to be few, and thus inadequate to the work of gathering in the harvest, because as yet the mind in acquiring them has acted too much under the influence of self, and has used them too much in reliance on us own power.

38. Therefore the Lord says, Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. We are thus instructed to turn from ourselves to the Lord, to recognize the harvest as his, and the labourers as his, and to pray him to send them forth. We are thus instructed that the truths of the Word, by which the harvest is to be reaped and the wheat separated from the tares, are from the Lord alone, and are to be acknowledged as his. Only when this is the case are his Spirit and his power in the truths of our faith; and then only are they sufficient for the important work of gathering in the abundant harvest which his bounty provides. To this end the interiors of the mind must be continually directed to him, and thus kept open to the reception of influences from him. A devout acknowledgment must be impressed on the inmost of the soul, that he is the Lord of the harvest, that all the blessedness of heaven is from him, and that the work of separating between good and evil in the human mind, and confirming the one and casting out the other, is his alone. This is the internal prayer of the true disciple - a prayer which the Lord himself inspires and answers.

If we keep the interiors of our minds continually turned to the Lord, which is to obey the Scripture injunction, to pray without ceasing - always to pray, and not to faint - at the same time learning truths from the Word, and making them our own by loving and obeying them, they will prove efficient labourers in the Lord's harvest, will root out everything that offends, gather the wheat into his garner, and constitute in us the felicity of his kingdom for ever.



10



COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW p. 11        CHAPTER X

The last chapter closed with the divine declaration that the harvest is plenteous, but that the labourers are few, and the divine exhortation to the disciples to pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth labourers into his harvest. This chapter begins with Jesus, as the Lord of the harvest and shepherd of the sheep, calling unto him his twelve disciples, to send them on the great mission of gathering souls into his church.

1. Jesus first called unto him his twelve disciples. The twelve represented all the principles which constitute the church, understanding the church to be a state of spiritual love and faith, or goodness and truth, in the heart and understanding of man. As these heavenly graces and spiritual principles are derived from the Lord through his revealed Word, the twelve disciples represent also all the goods and truths of the Word, these being the powers by which the Lord works out his saving purposes, whoever be the personal instruments who use them. When the Lord had called his twelve apostles, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. In sending his servants forth on this mission of mercy the Lord gave them power to do what he himself had done. The power which Jesus exerted for the benefit of mankind he derived from the Father - that is, from his own indwelling divinity. The power of healing conferred upon his disciples was entirely different from that power as it existed in the Lord. They wrought their miracles in his name; and in that name, as expressive of the divine humanity of the Saviour, was all the power of which they were but the finite mediums. Still, the result of their labour was the same as if they had possessed that power in their own persons. The reason of this was, they were representative characters. The principles of goodness and truth contained in the Word, which they represented, are truly the Lord's apostles or ambassadors; and it is only these in the minds of teachers that makes them servants of the Lord. The Lord's calling his twelve disciples unto him spiritually means, his drawing into a most intimate connection with himself the goods and truths of his Word, and endowing them with new power to evangelize the world and regenerate the human soul. But this subject, and the explanations we have offered, cannot be rationally understood without reflecting that this relates to the Lord in his humanity. When the Lord was made flesh, and his humanity was glorified, a more intimate connection was established between himself, as the eternal Word, and the written Word, and a power from him was imparted to us truths which they did not before possess, or could not exert. There was a reason for this. When the Lord was born into the world he passed, during his sojourn in it, through all the states of human life. Especially did he, as a man, acquire a knowledge of the truths of the Word, and these, in the first instance, as apparent truths. But as he advanced in glorification, as a mere man advances in regeneration, he elevated, or called unto him, the truths which he had acquired, putting off their appearances successively, until in him they were purely divine. And having ascended through all the degrees of truth, as they are in the Word, he is now enabled to descend through them, thus giving them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out from every human mind into which the truths of his holy Word have been admitted, and to heal therein all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease. This calling of the truths of the Word unto him, and giving them power over evils and falsities, the Lord also does in every one who is regenerated; for the truths acquired from the Word, first laid up in the memory, are gradually called forth by the Lord, and elevated nearer to himself, and as they are elevated, so are they endued with power to make all things new in the mind and life of man. And so is it with the church as a body, which was also represented by the disciples. Her power to correct disorder, and introduce order into the world, is exactly in proportion, not merely to the abstract purity of her principles, but to the actual elevation they have obtained in the hearts and understandings of her members.

2-4. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these. Before we proceed to consider the reason for enumerating the apostles by name we shall offer a few remarks on their general arrangement. We have already observed that the apostles, as enumerated in the Word, form three groups, consisting each of four numbers. This general arrangement is common to all the three gospels in which the twelve are named in series.

Matthew, x. 2.

1.       Simon and
2.       Andrew,
3.       James and
4.       John,
5.       Philip and
6.       Bartholomew
7.       Thomas and
8.       Matthew,

9.       James the son of Alphaeus and
10. Lebbaeus,
11. Simon the Canaanite and
12. Judas Iscariot.

Mark, iii. 16.

1.       Simon and
2.       James and
3.       John and
4.       Andrew and
5.       Philip and
6.       Bartholomew and
7.       Matthew and
8.       Thomas and

9.       James the son of Alphaeus and
10. Thaddaeus and
11. Simon the Canaanite and
12. Judas Iscariot.

Luke vi. 14.

1.       Simon and
2.       Andrew,
3.       James and
4.       John,
5.       Philip and
6.       Bartholomew,
7.       Matthew and
8.       Thomas,

9.       James the son of Alphaeus and
10. Simon Zelotes,
11. Judas the brother of James and
12. Judas Iscariot.

It will be seen that while the three lists differ from one another in the particular arrangement of the apostles, they all agree in this, that, taken in fours, each corresponding group consists of the same four names, and each group begins with the same name. As in the Word there is nothing accidental, there must be a purpose and a meaning in this general similarity with particular diversity. As the apostles represent all the principles of goodness and truth in the Word, and thence in the church and in the human mind, this trinal arrangement of their names may be considered to represent that trinal order in which, we know, all the goods and truths of the Word exist, which we call celestial, spiritual, and natural. There are other similarities and distinctions that may be seen in these sacred namings of the apostles. There is the general agreement among all the evangelists of placing the name of Simon first, and that of Judas last. There is also the connecting them in pairs, as it will be seen is done in Matthew and Luke, and is according to the order in which the Lord sent them forth, as recorded in Mark vi. 7. Matthew's connecting them, and the Lord sending them forth, two and two, represented that good and truth are partners, every good having its own truth, and every truth its own good; and that they ever proceed from the Lord united, however they may be divided in their finite recipients. So naming the twelve disciples is spiritually to express the quality of the principles they represent; for in ancient times names were generally given, not as now, to distinguish one person from another, but to express something peculiar to or characteristic of the person named. To trace the connection between Scripture names, where their meaning can be determined, and the spiritual signification of the persons named, would be a most useful study, and would yield most valuable results. This has been done to some extent, in the case of the apostles, by Noble, in the Intellectual Repository for 1839, to which we must be content to refer the reader.

5, 6. After naming the apostles, the evangelist says - These twelve Jesus sent forth. In its reference to the regeneration and spiritual progress of man, this circumstance of the calling to him and sending forth his twelve apostles appears to describe that period in man's regenerative process in which his mind has been already furnished with a sufficient store of the knowledge of goodness and truth, or of the truths of the Word, and these have been united with their proper affections in the internal man, and endued with power by conjunction with the Lord, and thus stand ready to descend into the external man, to bring this into due correspondence with them. The command which the Lord gave the twelve when he sent them forth, expresses the law of order according to which the principles which the apostles represent operate, so as to effect the objects for which they are sent forth. Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. If these directions be only looked at externally, they must appear rather singular. The Lord came into the world, among other purposes, expressly to extend to the Gentiles the privilege of admission into his church, which had long been confined to the Jews; and while on earth, Samaritan and Gentile people shared his love, attention, and approbation. Whatever reason the Lord had for this limitation of the sphere of the apostles' labour, it was only a temporary arrangement, and can afford no ground for the charge of partiality, since the full and final command of the Lord was, to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. It is in the spiritual sense, and its individual application, we propose to consider it. In this view, the apostles, the Gentiles, the Samaritans, and the Israelites, have all reference to certain principles, powers, and faculties existing in ourselves. The apostles, we have seen, are all the principles of truth and goodness operating in our minds from the Divine Word, all the graces of heaven striving for full transmission into, and influence over the whole man. The Gentiles, when mentioned in Scripture in an unfavourable manner, and as in opposition to the Israelites, or Jews, always signify the evils belonging to the natural mind. And as in the Word, when evil is treated of, falsity is usually treated of at the same time, therefore by the Samaritans, who were the descendants of the people whom Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, planted in Samaria when he carried the Ten tribes into captivity, and who mixed with the nation, and adopted a corrupt form of the Jewish religion, are meant all the false sentiments to which the human understanding is naturally prone. But the apostles are commanded not to go into the way of the Gentiles, by which is meant not to turn aside to any false sentiment, having its origin in evil, and not to enter into any city of the Samaritans, by which is meant not to support any doctrine having its origin in false principles. But why this prohibition, if it is to be understood as relating to heavenly principles? These, in themselves can have no tendency to go out of the right course or countenance anything evil or false. But as they are in us frail and fallible creatures they may turn, or rather be turned aside by being perverted, as many truths of Scripture sometimes are, to countenance the sins and practices that are inconsistent with the principles of pure Christianity.

In this command we have the momentous direction, that on no account are the gifts of heaven to be defiled and abused. They are to be regarded as sacred in all the variations of our affections and thoughts, and preserved unsullied in all their native purity. On no account are they to be presented so as to seem to favour any evil lust which the heart is prone to, or any false persuasion which the mind is disposed to adopt. Our duty is to "go not in the way of the Gentiles, and enter not into any city of the Samaritans but to go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." By this is meant that the spiritual apostles - the reclaiming principles of goodness and truth present with us from the Word - are to be applied to the cherishing and purifying of everything in us that partakes of good of every power and faculty of our constitution into which good can enter. As the Israelites, in a general sense, are all the members of the true church, so, in a particular sense, they are all the principles and faculties in the human mind into which the graces constituent of the church in man can enter. Sheep are constantly mentioned in Scripture as types of the principle of charity, which is the same thing as goodness; for genuine charity is the affection of spiritual love, and it is what a man loves that he denominates good. All the sheep of the house of Israel are all the affections of charity or goodness which have an affinity with the principles constituent of the church in man. But those here mentioned are the lost sheep of the house of Israel; by which are meant affections of charity as existing in a state not genuine, in consequence of not being in union with genuine truth; for without the guidance and purifying efficacy of genuine truth, charity is blind natural affection, capable of being easily led astray and drawn into connection even with grievous evils. Truth, in fact, is the keeper of good - the shepherd of the sheep, without whose guardianship they wander from the fold or become scattered abroad. These lost sheep are to be reclaimed by the preaching of the gospel; our natural charity is to be made spiritual by admitting the influence and operation of the divine emanation of pure goodness and truth constantly proceeding from the Lord, and communicated to our minds through the medium of the instructions of his life-giving Word.

7. When the apostles were sent forth, the first thing they were to do as they went, was to preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. How momentous and blessed the announcement of the first preaching of the gospel! And how beautifully and emphatically is here pointed out, spiritually, the first impression and impulse under which man acts in the beginning of his regeneration, and which continues to urge him on through the whole course of his progress in the heavenly life! The preaching of the apostles denotes the impressions which the truths of the Lord's Word make upon man's mind; it is the perception and dictate, accompanied with an impelling influence, which is felt by every one who is awakened to a sense of the importance of eternal things, calling and prompting him to attend to the things that are essential above all others to his real welfare; it is the truths which he bears, reads, and learns from the Word, accompanied with suitable affection and desire, and filled with an influence from above, continually reminding him that but one thing is needful - to provide for his eternal salvation. Hence the constant theme of this genuine preaching, is the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is the government of the Lord's divine truth; that is, of his wisdom united with his love, as it proceeds from heaven into the human mind. This kingdom is pre-eminently heaven itself, where the Lord's divine love and wisdom ever reign, and when received in heaven by the angels, makes heaven to be really heaven.

8. But it is not only by proclaiming these good tidings that the spiritual apostles, or the graces of heaven communicated by the Word, are commissioned to benefit us, They are to act as well as to teach; and the beneficent acts which they are empowered and enjoined to perform are expressed by the command, Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. These, are the ills from which we are to be delivered by the ministry of the apostles, if we will accept their aid for the purpose; and whether we are aware of it or not, their assistance herein is of the most indispensable necessity to us all; for whether we are aware of it or not, we are all the subjects of those deplorable miseries. Spiritually, and by birth and inheritance, we are all sick, leprous, and dead; and being dead, we are animated by a life worse than death: we are possessed and actuated by demons. By these miseries are summarily described the selfish nature of man, or the exact state of the natural mind as it exists by birth. The term here rendered sick is one that properly means weak or infirm. Owing to the corruption which reigns in his natural mind, he is mere weakness and infirmity in regard to all that is good, and has no power to resist evil; but would, if he allowed himself to be led by his natural inclinations and prudence, surrender at the first assault; and not only so, but would yield himself up a willing slave. Man is in his natural state called a leper, because, owing to the same ingenerate corruption, he is in the continual tendency to pervert and profane the truth: for, as we have seen (viii. 2), the terrible disease called leprosy is representative of the state of profanation. In the same manner also, man is what the Scriptures call dead; he is void of all spiritual life, being alive only to the objects of sense and nature, but dead to everything of God and heaven. This is the hereditary and natural state of every one. It is being dead in trespasses and sin; for, viewed in itself, the life of the natural man is, in its real quality, a life of mere evil and of false sentiment. What a man loves supremely is his life. The ruling love which constitutes man's life comes either from heaven or from hell. If his love or life be merely natural, and therefore evil, it connects him with the kingdom of darkness, makes him the organ of infernal influence, and he is possessed as to all the active faculties of his mind by "devils," or, as the original expresses it, demons, by which are specifically meant those evil spirits who are in a life of false persuasions springing from evil lusts. Such is the picture of all mankind as they actually are in themselves, as drawn by him who knows the heart, and who has declared that it is naturally deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. But the Lord only portrays this state that we may be delivered from it, and restored to life and health. He sends forth from himself agencies for our deliverance from the ills under which we labour, and for our restoration to a state of soundness and true enjoyment. He has given his Word, wherein is laid open the path of salvation. He has endowed us with faculties for receiving its divine truths; and as we yield to his leading, He accompanies those with a living influence from himself. These are the living and active apostles whom he sends forth to purify us from our corruptions, and restore us to the order into and for which we were created. These living agents he empowers and employs to heal the sick, to cleanse the lepers, to raise the dead, to cast out devils. By this means be bestows upon us the power of resisting evil, and of receiving truth without perverting or profaning it; he raises us from the death of our natural corruptions, and casts out those principles and agents of living death which, by an influx from the lower world, cause us to regard such death as life.

9. When the Lord commanded his apostles to take neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in their purses, his meaning, in a general sense, is that nothing of their own was to be mixed with what was from him. Gold, silver, and brass are the three kinds or degrees of love and goodness of which man is receptive from the Lord, - gold expressing the highest degree of pure goodness or love, which is love to the Lord, silver, pure spiritual truth, which in itself is love to the neighbour; and brass, natural good, which is the good of obedience and which may be otherwise expressed as charity, faith, and good works. To have these in our purses is to have and claim these things as our own, and not depend upon the Lord as their Source and Giver. Besides, gold, silver, and brass in purses do not represent the graces of charity, faith, and good works as living and quickening principles, but only as knowledge in the memory, of which faculty a purse, like any other similar receptacle, is the symbol.

10. Neither were they to have scrip for their journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor get slaves. The scrip was a bag for carrying food. They were not only to take with them no money, but no food or extra clothing. Food is the symbol of the good which supports the soul, clothing, of the truth which protects it, and the staff, of the ultimate power on which it rests. Here, again, there are three things not to be taken, - food, clothing a staff; representing things that belong to the will, to the understanding, and to the outward life. The prohibition implying that nothing that ministers to the life of either must be self- derived, being derived solely from the Lord, whose gifts and graces are to be preserved single, unmixed with anything of our own. In this simple injunction surely all Christians may see there must have been some other than the mere literal meaning, since this law, literally interpreted, is seen to be not now applicable to the preachers of the gospel. Yet how beautifully instructive is it in its spiritual sense, and how true is it in that sense, since nothing is more necessary to the members of the church, and to the minister of the gospel, than simplicity of character and a single eye to the Lord's glory in all the labours of the Christian life! The Lord, while he prohibits the disciples from taking their scrip, teaches them to depend on their labour for their daily bread - for the workman is worthy of his meat. In spiritual and heavenly thing labour is its own reward. We acquire good by doing good. Use is the channel through which the Lord supplies us with the bread of life. So the Lord testifies of himself: My meat is to do the will of him that sent me."

11. While the apostles were enjoined to attend to those rules that were necessary to qualify them for being suitable agents for preaching the gospel, they were also required to attend to certain rules in regard to those to whom they were sent. Into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. Cities are constantly mentioned in the Word to signify doctrine, because it is always in some general principles, assumed as positive truths or settled conclusions, which are matters of doctrine, that the mind, and every distinct faculty in it, feels at home. And when, as here cities and towns (or villages) are mentioned, cities denote what is interior and principal, and villages what is respectively exterior and subordinate. A city symbolizes the mind itself, especially the intellectual faculty, in which all the affections and thoughts, as its living inhabitants, are contained. To this the apostles are to come, and they are to inquire who in it is worthy. Understanding this in relation to the mind itself, we are instructed that in the work of regeneration we are to seek to embody our principles in suitable and worthy forms of doctrine and life. To be more precise, when we seek to bring down the holy truths and goods from the inner into the outer man, we are to examine ourselves to see that they enter into worthy thoughts and affections, which will afford them a habitation suitable to their heavenly character, and a centre from which they can extend their influence and operation in all directions outward. And who are these worthy ones that are thus to be selected from the general mass? In every mind, as in every land, God has reserved a witness for himself. There is some good ground in every heart. Not, indeed, by birth has man this witness and ground in himself; but it is of providence that every human being shall receive the faculty of understanding and loving the good and truth of heaven - a faculty which is formed by the Divine operation upon the soul during the innocence of infancy and youth, and preserved by the Spirit of God in every subsequent period of life. In every faculty and principle of the human mind, both interior and exterior, there is something that is of the Lord. Every part of the human mind, by virtue of creation, is good, however it may have been perverted and misapplied; every one has a proper use; and in its use the Lord can be present and his apostles received. That which is worthy in any faculty of the human mind must be the end for which, when man was created, such a faculty was bestowed upon him, - it must be the proper use of the faculty, separate from the abuse of it; and there can be nothing in the whole man either in his mind or body, which has not a proper use belonging to it. It is even indubitable that no evil can be committed by man but by the exercise of power entrusted to him for a nobler purpose. It is the perversion of something which by creation is good, and to which a proper use is annexed; whereas when use is drily regarded, the faculty is restored to order, it is the abode of such heavenly principles as are represented by the apostles, and is made co-operative with them and by them for conducing to man's eternal benefit. It is in the proper use of the faculty that the apostles are to abide till they go thence. This abiding, or dwelling, has always reference to a state of good, and confirmation in it. To abide till they go thence means that the heavenly principles must continue their, presence in every recipient faculty or principle till a state of good is completed and confirmed, and are thence to proceed into use in good deeds. For it is not the purpose of the Lord that good should be confined to one faculty of the mind, or be locked up in the heart, but that it should pervade the mind, and extend itself to the outermost activities of man's life, The apostles are to go through the cities of Israel, and everywhere do the will of their divine Master.

12. The apostles received the command, And when ye come into an house, salute it. As the city has relation to the intellectual part of the mind, the house has more especial relation to the will. The salutation refers, therefore, to the exploration which the sacred principles of goodness and truth are to make in the affections of the will. The salutation which was used, as we learn from Luke, was, "Peace be to this house." How heavenly and happy this gospel salutation! Yes, peace is the wish and aim of the gospel, and such should be the spirit and end of its propagation. The principles of heaven, as they flow into the human mind, bring this heavenly sphere with them. The Lord's "doctrine drops as the rain, his speech distills as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass." "The wisdom that cometh from above is peaceful, gentle, meek." But not only is the message one of peace, but when it gives its peaceful salutation, it desires to receive an answer of peace. "If the house be worthy," says the Lord to his apostles, "let your peace come upon it." Its worthiness is expressed in Luke by, "If the son of peace be there." It appears from this, that heavenly peace, to be received, must find the son of peace already in the recipient mind. But whence is this pre-existing element? We have had frequent occasion to remark that the Lord, when he comes to man as his Regenerator, comes to complete a work which he has already begun - to call out those latent affections and perceptions which he has already produced and laid up in the heart and understanding as the germs of the heavenly life. Without these there could be no ground of reception, no sympathetic feeling, no reciprocating thought, no answering voice to the heavenly salutation. The son of peace must already be there, to make the home worthy, before the heavenly messengers can enter and take up their abode. And what is this son of peace but the perception which is the offspring of the peace and innocence of childhood, He that would enter into the kingdom of heaven must become a little child. Regeneration changes the innocence and peace of ignorance into the innocence and peace of wisdom.

The first peace is that to which the second appeals - is that which must give the welcome, and with which alone it can abide. In the mind without this, there can be no tarrying.

13. If the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it. The peace of the apostles coming upon the house which was worthy, wherein was the son of peace, describes the imparting of spiritual peace to the will in which there is reciprocating natural peace; for the good qualities of the mind before actual regeneration, though in themselves spiritual, are naturally apprehended and loved. They do not constitute the kingdom of heaven, but only bestow the faculty of acquiring it, the stems on which its principles may be grafted. But if the house be not worthy, let your peace return to you. A principle of the utmost importance, and a lesson of the greatest moment, are contained in this rather singular injunction. If spiritual principles are allowed to enter into natural principles that are not in harmony or correspondence with them, they become weakened and finally dissipated, since it is a law of influx, that life is modified and even changed by the forms into which it flows. Goodness and truth, as they flow from the internal can only find their proper abode in honesty and decorum in the external. If these are not found, the heavenly principles must return to the internal, till they find suitable receptacles for them in the natural man. For the meaning of the Lord's words is, not that this return of peace into their own bosom was to be permanent, but only till a worthy house was found for their reception.

14. A contingency of a more general and of a more serious character, involving a rejection of a more aggravated kind, and demanding a more solemn protest against it, is now spoken of. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake of the dust of your feet. In the instances of unworthy persons already mentioned, there is nothing said of their refusing to receive the apostles into their houses; but only of the unfitness of these holy men being their guests. The Lord now speaks of those who will not receive them, nor even hear their words. We have seen that the inquiry of the apostles, as to who in a city or house is worthy, is intended to teach us that it is necessary carefully to scrutinize the character of the doctrinal sentiments and moral principles that have entered the external part of our minds from the world, and to do this under the influence of higher principles and the direction of a higher intelligence, before we allow the spiritual to enter into the natural, and "there abide." The refusal being in the present case on the part of the householders and citizens, we are to understand not only incongruity, but a moral hostility on the part of the external man or natural mind. Such a condition of the whole of the natural mind is not to be supposed; for only some of the cities and houses visited are assumed to be hostile. It is possible for the natural mind generally to be debased, and yet the voice of the inquiring apostle to be heard asking who in it is worthy; for heaven sometimes speaks through the conscience of the sinner even when he is meditating the darkest crimes. But this is not the state represented here. The apostles are here going not only on a mission of saving mercy, but on a journey of spiritual progression. And it is possible that they may find in their progress not only unworthy but hostile inhabitants among those they seek to benefit. Do not all of us imbibe from the world, and more or less adopt as our own, intellectual doctrines and moral principles that are directly opposed to the truths and goods of religion? A different duty is imposed on the disciples in regard to these; from that which is laid upon them. With respect to the unworthy. They are not simply to let their peace return to them, but they are to shake off the dust of their feet. This, in Mark vi. 11, is commanded to be done for a testimony against them. The literal sense speaks of judgment and retaliation, but the spiritual sense, of the defence and preservation of what is good and true. The apostles were to shake the dust off their feet, to prevent it from adhering to and defiling them. Dust signifies what is in the lowest degree earthly. Since the fall, dust has been the serpent's meat the sensual man, and the sensual principle in man, have no higher than earthly aims and satisfactions. The lesson our Lord designed to teach us by his command to the disciples is this, that if we find in our natural will and understanding any sensual inclination or sentiment that is directly opposed to our spiritual principles, we must not allow it to cleave to them, but must shake it off - separate it from all connection with the spiritual principle within - nor allow it to affect our life and practice, which are especially the part of the new man which must be preserved free from all contamination from the world and the flesh.

15. Speaking of the cities that should refuse to receive the disciples, the Lord says, Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment than for that city. Those who sin against the clear light of revelation are more guilty, and will bring upon themselves greater condemnation, than those who sin against the dim light of tradition. But this declaration of our Lord has a more interior meaning. Every one may see that a whole city could not be condemned because they did not receive the disciples, and instantly acknowledge the new doctrine which they preached. By Sodom and Gomorrha are meant those who are in evil of life, but have known nothing of the Lord and of the Word; while by the house or city which would not receive the disciples are meant those who are within the church, but do not live according to the truth. In a more particular application, the Lord's words relate to the members of his church individually, and to a judgment which takes place within them. Their day of judgment is the time of separation between good and evil in their own minds, with the condemnation and rejection of the evil, and the approval and confirmation of the good. In this judgment the deeper evils must be the subjects of a severer condemnation. Those that belong to early life, which may be considered as sins of ignorance, are less grievous than those committed at a more advanced age, when the mind is more enlightened. As it is necessary for us to judge ourselves, that we may not be judged, we must, if we would escape final condemnation, bring our own evils into judgment, and subject them to the condemnation of divine truth.

16. Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the, midst of wolves. The sheep are the principles of charity in the spiritual mind, and the wolves are the lusts of evil in the natural mind. This and the whole history of the opposition and persecution which the disciples were, to experience from the world, to which they were sent on a mission of peace, is strikingly true as all outward representation or type of the enmity that exists in our own natural mind against the spiritual. The labour of regeneration consists in bringing the natural mind into obedience to the spiritual. The necessity for this, the way in which it is to be effected, and the conflicts and trials with which it is attended, as described by corresponding circumstances in the experience of the disciples, are most interesting and instructive to those at least who are following the Lord in the regeneration. The spiritual principles which the Lord implants in the inner man are truly like sheep in the midst of wolves, when they first descend into the external, for the purpose of making this an image of itself. It is not, however, until good comes into actual contact with evil, that the malignity of the evil, as the opposite and enemy of goodness, is fully exhibited. And as evil works by means of what is false, it is as cunning as it is malignant. That they may be prepared to meet this opposition without being overcome by it, the Lord exhorts them in the memorable words, Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. How worthy was such in advice of Him who is Wisdom itself and Goodness itself, and in whom, and in all whose works, these attributes are perfectly united. The Christian, whether contending with evil in the world or in himself, is to aim at uniting these two elements of a perfect character. The union of wisdom and simplicity is the surest means of success, as well is of defence, against the evils that assail us in our upward course. But the wisdom of the serpent is, in a more specific sense, that which the children of this world so largely possess, and which makes them wiser in their generation than the children of light. In the Word the serpent is emblematical of the sensual part or principle of man's nature, - that which is most external, and by which he communicates immediately with the world. The serpent is in consequence the emblem of circumspection, which man exercises through the sensual principle of his nature. The sensual principle performs the same office to the mind that the senses do to the body, which act as sentinels to guard the avenues to the seats of life, to warn them against evil, as well as to minister to them for their good. It was through the sensual principle, meant by the serpent, that man was betrayed to his fall, and it was through this principle also that he was redeemed and provided with the means of restoration. "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John iii. 14). It was by assuming and glorifying the sensual principle of human nature that the Lord can regenerate man even as to this principle. And it is through this principle, now glorified, that the Lord exercises divine circumspection over the human race, and protects them from the cunning and malice of their spiritual enemies. When, therefore, he exhorted his disciples to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves, he exhorted them to be in this, as in everything else, imitators and images of himself.

17. The Lord proceeds to show the necessity that would arise for the exercise of this wisdom. Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you by their synagogues. As the distinguishing facility of man is reason, natural men specifically signify, in relation to ourselves, natural reason. The disciples are exhorted to beware of men, to teach the Christian disciple that the greatest danger he has to encounter is from the opposition of his own natural reason to the truth of the Word and religion. The subtle reasonings of the natural mind are as the Pharisees and Sadducees, who contrived ingenious devices to entangle in his talk him who was the Word and the Truth itself and from whose sensual and subtle reasonings the Lord called them a generation of vipers. This reasoning character of the "men" of whom the disciples were to beware is indicated in the Lord's words, - they will deliver you up to the councils;" for what are those councils to whom the disciples were to be delivered up, but those reasonings by which the natural-rational man tries to invalidate the truth of the spiritual man, and give a show of judgment and justice to its premeditated condemnation? As the award of their seemingly impartial and dispassionate but unjust judgments, the disciples were to be scoured in their accusers synagogues - indicating that good and truth are often subjected to violence under the influence of superstition or in the name of religion. For the natural man and the natural mind have their religion as well as the spiritual; and we know, both from history and experience, that conventional religion not unfrequently comes into conflict with that which is universal and essential, and makes men, by no very remote figure, scourge the disciples in their synagogues, - since all false doctrines of the church and religion, which these synagogues of Satan signify, oppose the divine truths of the Word, which is meant by scourging the disciples. But there is a synagogue in ourselves in which the disciples may be scourged. Every man has a religious principle of his own, which has its root in his self-love, and is supported, even when not confirmed, by his own self-intelligence and his synagogue is that spurious or false conscience in which his religion finds its sanctuary and its worship. Here the truth may be scourged, and is scourged when it is presented.

18. Besides the religious, there is a worldly side of men's opposition to the truth. After telling the disciples that they would be scourged in the synagogues, the Lord adds, - And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. When in an orderly state, governors and kings signify governing principles of goodness and truth; but here they denote evils and falsities opposed to good and truth. The opposition here spoken of is that which evils and falsities, originating in worldly love, offer to the Christian principles that originate in the Lord's humanity - that is, to the Lord's government in the heart and mind. The disciples were to be brought before kings and governors, for a witness to them and the Gentiles. The Jews and the Gentiles were those within and those out of the church, and represented those principles in us that are acquired and those that are natural. The disciples witnessing to them of Jesus, is a communication of the divine truth and its influence to the intellectual and moral principles of the natural man, and is one of the leading uses of the operation of the internal upon the external man. The Lord said of himself, that for this end he came into the world, that he might bear witness unto the truth. And the witness of him is the witness of the truth. But what is the truth that is thus witnessed? It is the truth that exposes and condemns evil, and that teaches the good that is to be introduced in its place. The witness of Jesus is the testimony which the Word bears to the Lord in his humanity - the great truth that comprehends all salvation in itself.

19, 20. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. There was, no doubt, with the apostles in their teaching the presence of a divine influence not given to ordinary men; but the present promise had reference to extraordinary occasions. This was the promise rather of inspiration than enlightenment. And no better idea of the inspiration by which the Word was given can be obtained than the Lord's words express: it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. It is somewhat surprising it should be believed that the apostles should be gifted with this plenary inspiration when they testified of their Lord before kings and governors, and that they should be left partly, if not wholly, to themselves when writing the sacred truths of the gospel for the use of the church in all future ages of the world. No just idea of the Scriptures as the Word of God can be obtained but by admitting the fact, that the sacred writers wrote not from guidance, but from the Spirit of the Lord. In regard to the spiritual sense of these words; when divine principles are brought to the bar of human opinion, in the world or in the individual mind, as the disciples were before kings and governors, it is for the purpose of exhibiting to the understanding the purely spiritual and heavenly - nay, the divine, character of the principles which the Lord has implanted in the inner man, and of causing their power to be felt and their authority to be acknowledged both by the ruling affections and thoughts of the natural mind - the governors and kings - and by the common and subordinate principles, which are the nations over whom the kings bear rule. The injunction to the disciples to take no thought, not to be anxious or solicitous, about what they should speak, implies the absence of man's own will, and also of his own wisdom, in such a case. For so far as our own will and wisdom enter into the witness we bear to the truth, so far it fails to produce its desired effect-conviction. The Spirit of our Father is the truth that is from love; and as this is the spirit that is constantly flowing into the heart and mind of every one that will receive it, so should we endeavour to allow it to have free course to run and be glorified, preserving it, as far as our frailty admits, pure and inviolate. Such should be our inward desire. But the very purity and spirituality of the principles of the new life, as they exist in the inner man must, as a necessary consequence, excite the greater opposition to them in the outer man, when they descend into the natural mind for the purpose of bringing it into order. Therefore the Lord proceeds further to say -

21. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. There are here three different kinds of opposition. Brother against brother is falsity against truth, the father against the son is evil against truth, and the children against their parents are falsities against goods. The enmity between these is described as being carried out even to the death of the good and true that is, to their extinction. In those who are being regenerated this does not involve the idea of actual extinction, but the extreme of conflict, in which death is the means of life, the passage into the new life, the true resurrection. This enmity of the natural to the spiritual is so great that the disciples themselves are spoken of as suffering the extreme of human dislike.

22. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. This is expressive of a repugnance of the whole natural mind to the principles of heavenly truth and good, or a conflict in which all the selfhood is exercised in opposition to what is the Lord's in the mind. It is promised, however, that he that endureth to the end shall be saved, which means that those spiritual principles that do not yield in temptation shall become confirmed principles of both the inward and outward life. This is to be saved for what is salvation but the Lord's saving principles of love and truth wrought into the mind by persevering steadfastness in faith and obedience against all the allurements and temptations that our own corrupt selfhood can use to draw us away from the path of duty. But, to be able to persevere unto the end, we must have wisdom as well as harmlessness and fortitude. The serpent must direct while the dove must influence.

23. When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another. Clowes, on this passage, which he renders, "When they persecute you in this city, flee into the other," remarks, -"The internal meaning appears to be this, that when man is opposed in the doctrine of faith, he ought to take refuge in the doctrine of charity and when he is opposed in the latter, he should take refuge in the former: in other words, when he is opposed in truth, he should flee to good and when opposed in good, he should seek refuge in truth. This alternation is of the Divine Providence, and is probably intended for the perfecting of each principle in the regenerate, since without it man might be induced to rest in one principle separate from the other, or to cherish one at the expense of the other; whereas the end of regeneration is, they should be both distinctly perfected and both distinctly conjoined." The Lord gives a reason for the disciples fleeing from one city to another, Verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of man be come." According to the literal sense, this is generally understood to mean that before the disciples had been persecuted in every city, the Lord would have come as an avenger in the destruction of Jerusalem. In the internal historical sense it means that the days of persecution and of the Jewish church should be shortened, not as a work of vengeance, but of love; for unless those days should be shortened there should no flesh be saved. No church or religious age is allowed to come naturally to a full end; for if it should, there would be no possibility, because no means of forming a new one, which must be raised up out of the remains of the old. That a remnant may be saved, to become the initialment of a new church, the days of every expiring church must be hastened by the performance of a judgment upon it, signified by the Son of man coming before the disciples had gone over the cities of Israel, before the church had completed its consummation, by extinguishing every principle of good and truth. In the internal sense, in which it relates to the work of regeneration, it may, when applied to the doctrinals of the church signified by the cities of Israel, denote the consummation and perfecting of those doctrinals; and in proportion as this is effected, the Son of man comes, or, what is the same thing, divine truth is manifested.

24, 25. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. This truth was uttered for the immediate purpose of reconciling the disciples to the treatment they were to receive it the hands of those whom they were sent to bless with the tidings of joy and peace, knowing that their Lord and Master had been treated no better than themselves. But the Lord's declaration is not to be understood as being limited to his immediate disciples, but as applicable to those of all times. In a universal sense it signifies that man ought not to make himself equal with the Lord, but that it is sufficient for him that he has everything that be possesses from him, - and thus the disciple is as his master, and the servant as his lord; for the Lord is in him, and enables him to will what is good and think what is trite. The case is similar in the particular sense, as relating to any individual man who is led of the Lord; the external or natural man in such a person is a disciple and servant, and the internal or spiritual man is a master and lord; and when the external or natural man serves the internal or spiritual by obeying and effecting, then he also is a master and lord, for they act in unity, as it is said of the principal and instrumental causes that they act as one cause. This particular sense coincides with the universal sense, that when the spiritual and natural act in unity, then the Lord himself acts; for the spiritual man acts nothing of himself, but when he acts, he acts solely from the Lord; for so far as the spiritual man or mind is open into heaven, so far he does not act from himself, but from the Lord. And as disciple and master, servant and lord, have reference to good and truth, or will and understanding, we are instructed that as the interior things of the will and understanding suffer from the opposition of the loves of self and the world in the natural mind, so must exterior things suffer also. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? The master of the house is the ruling principle of the mind: to call him Beelzebub is to oppose and endeavour to pervert, essential principles; for to call the Lord Beelzebub was in the highest possible degree to call good evil, and light darkness. And those who thus pervert the primary things of good and truth, much more will they pervert their secondary things, which are them of the household.

26. Fear them not therefore for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. The disciple is not to fear his persecutors. This does not exhort them to have confidence in themselves, but to have confidence in the Lord. The Christian is like the Israelite, - he is not to fear his enemies, however strong and numerous they may be; for it is the Lord that fights for him, and delivers him, and gives him the victory. Fear indicates that the disciple is one of little faith. The reason the Lord gives for dismissing fear is that "there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known." This is a universal truth with regard to man - the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed in the eternal world, and all outward disguises shall be stripped off, and everything, even the darkest and most hidden thoughts and intentions, come into open day. So, correspondingly everything covered and hidden shall be brought to light in our own minds; and nothing in the minds of the regenerate shall remain covered or concealed by the fallacies of the senses, or falsities, but everything shall be brought under the influence of the light of truth, and its true value be revealed. In a more interior degree the remains of goodness and truth shall be uncovered and brought into manifestation, to the succour of the heavenly principles that act upon the outer mind, in the interiors of which those remains are stored up and concealed till the regeneration brings them forth for use.

27. The result of thus uncovering what is evil and false on the one hand, and what is good and true on the other, is spoken of. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. What the Lord speaks to his disciples in darkness is the truth which he reveals interiorly to their understandings, and what they hear in the ear is the good which they receive interiorly in their wills. What is given in the interior is obscurely seen and indistinctly felt, and only becomes clear and sensible when it comes forth into the understanding and will of the national faculty of the mind. This meaning appears plain from the same words, used on a different occasion and for a different purpose, in Luke xii. 3, where we have an additional clause, that serves as a key to the explanation,- "that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops." The closets are the interiors of the mind, and, relatively to them, the housetops are the exteriors on which there is manifestation. So with regard to light, "Light does not exist in wisdom itself, but in the thought of the understanding, and thence in speech," just as heat does not exist in love itself, but from it in the will, and thence in the body. Love and wisdom are the essence of heat and light; heat and light are things proceeding. The Lord is said to dwell in the thick darkness, not only because he is in his own essential nature incomprehensible, but also because he is so to the mind in its highest habitation. The teachings of the Lord through the inner man come first as whisperings in the ear and mutterings in the darkness and it is not till they descend into the will and thought that they become sonorous and intelligible, perceptible and communicable. In the upper regions of the atmosphere sound is tacit, and light is imperceptible; it is when they descend into the lower air that sound becomes audible and light truly visible. The true preacher, like the true disciple, is one who receives from his Master impressions and ideas, faint in their outline, but pregnant with meaning, - souls not yet clothed with bodies, ideas not yet formed into visible images. These he brings down into the region of conscious feeling and distinctive thought, and there gives them intellectual form and moral expression, and, clothing them in intelligible language, makes them perceptible to others. What he hears in the darkness he speaks in the light; what he hears in the ear he proclaims upon the housetops. But the disciple is to be a teacher to himself as well as to others; and what he has learnt from his Lord he is to proclaim in deeds as well as in words. He must bring forth the inward dictates of divine truth clearly into the thoughts of his own understanding, and the inmost impressions of divine love into the affections of his own will, and must thus bring them out into manifestation in his own life and conversation, that we may see his good works, and glorify Him who is their true Author.

28. In laying this duty on his disciples the Lord speaks of two opposing influences that would act upon them - one from the world and one from, himself - and exhorts them accordingly. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. We are to act, not with the fear of men, but with the fear of God before our eyes. The power of man extends only to the body, that of God to soul and body alike. But the literal sense of these words express an apparent, not a real truth. God destroys not the soul in hell, and the material body in all alike is killed by death, and survives not beyond the grave. Its spiritual sense is that which discloses the true meaning and real force of this rather singular declaration. Soul and body are predicated of the spirit, and signify the internal and the external man, which are indeed as soul and body to each other. In the spiritual sense him we are to fear does not mean the Divine Being, who never destroys, but some principle in ourselves which is the cause of our destruction. What, then, is it that kills the external, but cannot reach the internal? and what is it that reaches and can destroy both? The partial destroyer is falsity, the entire destroyer is evil. False persuasions may greatly injure the external man by perverting the understanding, but evil alone is able to destroy the whole man, for the man is wholly such as his will is. This destruction is not only wider but deeper than the other. For the Lord says of him whose power extends only to the body, that he kills it; but of him whose power extends to both body and soul, that he destroys them both in hell. Hell implies a deeper state of immersion, in the state opposite to what is expressively called life in the Word, than death. This appears from the Lord's words as given in Luke xii. 4, where the disciples are warned to beware of him who, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell. Death and hell are therefore mentioned distinctly; and where both mean final states, death is the abode of satans, hell of devils. How solemn a lesson is this, and how practical in its inner meaning!

29. To show them how little cause they had to fear men, the Lord directs his disciples to the Providence that is ever over them, and which enters into the minutest particulars of their lives. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. If the last was to excite fear, this is to inspire hope and trust in God and in his goodness. Birds are the emblems of thoughts, and sparrows of the commonest and least precious, and when two are mentioned, they mean thoughts of truth and thoughts of good, or true and good thoughts. Two sparrows are sold for one farthing, or are worth only one farthing, when the lowest of our thoughts of good and truth are united to the lowest degree of the knowledge of good and truth, of which knowledge money is the emblem. Yet it is declared that even one of these shall not fall to the ground without your Father. We are to reflect that the trials and persecutions of the disciples is the subject to which these beautiful analogies relate. A sparrow falls to the ground when, in times of trial, the thoughts, instead of soaring into the heaven of the inner man fall drooping and even dead to the earth of the outer man. The reason of this is obvious. Affection is the life of thought; - and when the affections or the feelings are depressed, the thoughts languish and even die. Every one knows the effect of natural trial. The death of some beloved one in whom the affections are bound up seems for the moment to leave the world a blank, and the thoughts seem as if they had fallen to the ground, never to rise again. How much more in severe spiritual trial! Yet even in these states we are under the care of our heavenly Father, who controls and overrules even the least of our thoughts, if we are his disciples. The promise is, therefore, that when in these states the thoughts, or rather one such thought, fills, it shall not fill without our Father. Where there is sincere trust in God, the divine love enters into and preserves the least of our thoughts, so as that even in their depression to the earth they shall not be without its influence to sustain them.

30. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. The hairs of the head are the ultimate things of wisdom, or of the rational principle, as sparrows are of the natural. And here again the minuteness of the Lord's providence is declared and promised to watch over us, especially in times of temptation. The declaration teaches us that all things, even to the least and lowest, are not only known to God, but ordinated (numbered) by him, and are thus under the superintending care of an all-provident Father. How much reason have we, therefore, to take courage from the words of the Lord in the next verse!

31. Fear ye not, therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. If the Lord takes care of the least and lowest, he will assuredly not forget the highest and the best. The disciples represent these highest and best principles. Those principles that are nearest to the Lord and heaven, that love him above all things, and seek to carry out his purposes and fulfil his commandments, are of more value than many lower thoughts and affections that concern themselves with matters of less importance - that relate to the concerns of the world and the body. And, indeed, some of our trials relate to these; some of our temptations come through them. It is about these things that we are inclined to take thought for the morrow, and that brings our thoughts down to the dust, when they should be elevated to the Lord in trust and thanksgiving. It is these that lead us to inquire "What shall we eat, and what shall we drink, and wherewithal shall we be clothed?" not remembering, or rather not fully believing, that our Father knoweth that we have need of all these things, and that he who feeds the fowls of the air and clothes the grass of the field will not leave unprovided those who are much better than the fowls, and more enduring than the grass, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven.

32. Whosoever, therefore, shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. If we confess the Son before men, the Son will confess us before his Father. The Son is the Divine truth, the Father is the Divine good. If we do the truth, the truth will lead us to good. We confess the Son not only by openly avowing our faith in him, but by faithfully doing his commandments. This is practical confession. And this is the confession of the truth that leads to good. For the truth itself is then in us as a witness, and it acknowledges us as sons, and gifts us with the good of truth as the result and reward of our consistent profession. The Father is said to be in heaven, and the Son is understood to be on earth. The promise further implies, therefore, that a consistent and preserving practical acknowledgment of truth in the external man will be the means of raising that truth into the internal man, and so change the government of wisdom into the government of love.

33. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before the Father which is in heaven. The denial of the Son before men involves the denial of the denier by the Son before the Father. If truth is practically denied in the life, it cannot lead to the good to which it continually points and was intended to conduct us. But we find here a more serious consequence of denying the Son than his not confessing us before his Father: he will deny us. And this denial means that when the truth is known and yet dishonoured, the truth itself condemns us, and deprives us of all the good which it teaches, resulting in a greater opposition against both truth and good than if we had never known and professed the truth.

34. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. The literal meaning of this declaration is not that the Lord came to create discord among men, but that a necessary result of his teaching was difference of opinion, and division as a consequence. The world could not be awakened from its lethargy and sinfulness without causing commotion and conflict among men. In the spiritual sense it teaches, in a very striking manner, the result, in the mind of the believer, of the coming of the Lord to him as his Saviour. That result is, to excite into hostility the whole of the thoughts and affections of the natural mind against the spiritual. This is the subject we have already said is treated of in this chapter. And here it is directly declared, and as, plainly as directly, to those who look at this declaration spiritually. For the natural mind of man is meant by the earth. The Lord came not to give peace, nor does he ever come to give peace to the natural mind of man in its state of disorder and corruption. The sword of divine truth must go forth against the principles of evil and falsity in the mind, which are equally the enemies of God and of the man himself. Before regeneration, there is peace; but it is the false peace which is not peace, but the mere acquiescence of the whole mind in the disorder, and infidelity, and sin which are the natural man", chosen inheritance. The coming of the Lord to the soul, and his acceptance as the Saviour, introduces the sword, and initiates a war that continues till victory is obtained over evil, and peace established on the principles of justice and truth. The war which the Lord's reception creates is between the external and the internal man. The evils of the external being no longer acknowledged as the ruling principles of the mind and life, but another law - the law of God -being now acknowledged in the inner man, the lusts and imaginations of the natural mind rise up in hostility against the new and inward law, and strive in all the bitterness of hatred to wage a successful war against it. The nature of this warfare is described in some of the verses that now follow.

35. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in- law. The man, a son, the daughter, and the daughter-in-law are the new principles and affections of good and truth in the internal man; and the father, mother, and mother-in-law are the old principles and affections of evil and falsity in the external man. The man is truth, and the daughter and daughter-in-law are the affections of good and truth. These are the principles of the inner man. The father is evil, and the mother and mother-in-law are the affections of evil and falsity; and these are the principles of the external man. The Lord's coming to the soul sets these at variance; for the mind that has been enslaved to what is evil and false cannot receive the truth, whose very nature it is to make its recipients free, without striving to be freed from the bondage of sin, and resisting therefore the tyranny of his evil passions. In this struggle the Christian finds the truth of the Lord's words as expressed in the next verse.

36. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. The house is the man's own mind. And truly are his foes they of his own house. His hereditary nature is nothing but evil. To love himself and the world before the Lord and his neighbour is his very nature. The loves of self and the world are always his enemies, since they deprive him of the true riches and of true happiness. But they are not known and regarded as enemies so long as the principles of truth and life are unknown. When a man becomes in purpose a friend of God, and of men as the images of God, he soon finds how deep is the enmity of his yet unregenerate heart. His foes are truly seen and felt to be those of his own house.

37. He that loveth, father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth, son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me. When a man has made the discovery that his enemies are they of his own house, there is a danger to which he is exposed, as indeed all trial and conflict are attended with danger. For the conflict or warfare of the Christian life is between the love of God and the love of self - the love of the neighbour and the love of the world - and the very fact that there is a conflict between these opposite loves indicates a balance of power that makes it possible for either side to gain the victory. If self and the world were not deeply rooted in our affections, there would be no ground for a serious contest, nor any danger of the natural overcoming the spiritual. As it is, this result is possible. Therefore our Lord guards us against such a calamity: "He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me." Father and mother are the loves of self and the world, which are the parents of all evil loves; and son and daughter are the affections of all falsity and evil, which are the offspring of these two principal loves; thus they include all evil, hereditary and actual. The object of the conflict is to determine whether self is to be loved more than the Lord, or the Lord more than self. And in this warfare we have need to be reminded of the truth, that he that yields, and gives the predominance to self is no more worthy of him whose love is life. Evil is the devil, especially the evil of self-love; and if we are of our father the devil, we are utterly unworthy, because utterly unfit, to be called or to be the sons of God.

38. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. A necessary ditty, and one that is essential to success in the Christian warfare, is that work of self-denial of which the cross is the expressive symbol. To crucify the world and the flesh is the Christian's daily labour, and to follow the Lord is his daily duty. He must not only struggle against the evil lust within, but against the evil habit without; and must not only cease to do evil, but he must also learn to do well. He must take up his cross by resisting evil, and follow the Lord by imitating his holy example. And if he do not, he is not worthy of him who at once bore his cross and lived a life of beneficence love. To perform the important duty of bearing the cross, it is necessary to know what that duty is, or to understand what the cross means. Bearing the cross does not consist in afflicting the body, but in purifying the mind; not in denying either body or mind its proper and natural gratifications, but in resisting whatever is impure and selfish in them; so that whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, we may do all to the glory of God. Bearing the cross means more especially to endure temptation; and temptation is an inward struggle against spiritual evil, as it rises up in our hearts against the good which the Lord has implanted there.

39. To bear the cross implies constant self- denial; but it includes also, as its end and final result, the crucifixion and death of the selfhood; and if it effect not this, we have borne it in vain. He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. Love is life. The love of self and the world is our own or unregenerate life; the love of the Lord is our new, our regenerate life. He that findeth his life, by allowing self-love to rule in his heart, must lose his life, which is the love of God, and which alone is trite life. But he that for the Lord's sake loses or lays down his life shall find it in love to him. For to lay down our life for the Lord's sake is to die to self, that we may live to God; it is to exchange evil for good and falsity for truth, and to do this because the Lord's will is thereby done and his glory advanced. It may be remarked that the original word for life in this passage is one of two that are both rendered by this term in the New Testament. But there is a distinction between them, and the propriety, if not necessity, of attending to it will appear from an example. We read of our Lord that "in him was life, and the life was the light of men" (John i. 4); and we read also that our Lord himself said, "I lay down my life for the sheep. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again" (John x. 15, 18). The life he derived from the Father was not the same as the life he laid down, and is not expressed by the same term. The life which the Lord laid down is expressed by the same word as that which he used when he said, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." The reason of the distinction will at once be seen when we reflect that the life which the, Lord had in him, by virtue of his being begotten by the Father, was the Divine love; and that the life which was sorrowful, and which he laid down, was the Divine truth: for the Lord was tempted and put to death as divine truth; but as divine love or good he was above all temptation, and incapable of death. Let us here remark that, when we speak of him suffering and dying as divine truth, we do not mean divine truth as it is in itself, but of divine truth as clothed with appearances of truth derived from his descent into the world by means of a finite and frail humanity. We may express the doctrine otherwise by saying, that the life which the Lord had in him from the Father was the life of his internal man, and that the life which he laid down, and which he derived from the mother, was the life of his external man. The life therefore, which he that findeth shall lose, and which he that loseth, for the Lord's sake, shall find, is the life of his external man, specifically the life of his intellectual mind. To lay down this life is to put off the falsities and fallacies with which the truth we possess is surrounded, and thus remove from our faith the doubt and unbelief which adhere to it from the natural man. Intellectual pride is, in this application, the life or soul that we are required to lose - and when this life is laid down we find a new life, which is the living soul that God breathes into us, and which makes us new creatures. We may remark, in conclusion, that these two promises express summarily the doctrine of divine providence, which includes that of the Lord's permissions, as well as of his provisions, in regard to us as his disciples. We have remarked that the Lord never permits any evil to befall us but for the purpose of preventing a greater, and for our good as an end. A sparrow never falls to the ground without his permission and control - and the very hairs of our head are all numbered. The numbering of the hairs of our head signifies not only the preservation but the arrangement by the Lord, and in agreement with his divine order, of all the least things and minutest activities of our natural mind and life. It is by this, indeed, that the Lord preserves; for he operates by order, and order is power.

40. We come now to another and still brighter side of the subject of the process by which the natural mind, and consequently the man himself, is regenerated. He that receiveth you, receiveth me; and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me. The disciples were sent of Jesus, and Jesus was sent of God. We are not to understand that Jesus Christ was a separate person from the Father, as the disciples were separate persons from him The Divine Essence is one and indivisible, and that which is begotten of God is God, and therefore infinite. But men are created, and therefore finite; and between the infinite and the finite there is no comparison: the infinite is life itself, the finite is a mere receptacle of life - a life which cannot exist for a moment separate from its source. But although the Divine Essence is one and indivisible, yet there is in it a plurality of Divine Essentials. Love and wisdom, or goodness and truth, in God are distinct, though inseparable, as are the will and understanding in man. This distinction in God is expressed in the New Testament as that of Father and Son - the Father being the Divine Love or Goodness, the Son being the Divine Wisdom or Truth. Wisdom proceeds from love, or truth from goodness, comparatively as a son proceeds from a father; this, at least, is the natural similitude by which this divine subject is expressed to men in the natural world. Divine wisdom is thus sent by divine love. In this sense Jesus is the sent of God. In a corresponding sense the disciples are sent of Jesus; for the disciples whom the Lord sent, in his name represented the truths that proceed from the Lord; is the, Truth itself - truths accommodated to the lower apprehensions of the human mind. Thus, we may say, there is a gradation of life from God to man. Divine truth is sent of divine good, and truth divine is sent of divine truth. So also the spiritual principle proceeds from the celestial, and the natural from the spiritual. The lower leads to the, higher, and the higher to the highest; and not only so, but the lowest includes the higher in it. He therefore, who receives the lowest in all sincerity receives the others also. So with respect to the Word: all its interior senses are contained in its ultimate or natural sense. So is every one that is taught of God. He who receives the truth in its simplest sense receives in it its higher wisdom. He who is in simple obedience to God has in that obedience both the love of the neighbour and the love of God and if he continues to progress in the religious life, those loves which are potentially in his obedience will successively come to be active principles in his mind, and raise him into a correspondingly perfect life. "If a man loves me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him" (John xiv. 23). Here we have the blessed promise, that if we hear - that is, hearken to and obey - the Lord's words, our minds will become the habitation both of his love and wisdom, and thus the tabernacle of God will be with us, and we shall be his people, and the Lord himself shall be with us, and be our God.

41. The Lord proceeds to say. - He that receiveth a prophet in the, name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. A prophet who taught the truth, and a righteous man who did it, signify truth and righteousness. To receive a prophet in the name of a prophet is to receive truth for its own sake - and to receive a righteous man in the name of a righteous man is to receive good for its own sake. The reward of receiving what is true and good for their own sake is to have the affection of truth and goodness. In love is happiness, for spiritual love is the Lord's love in us, and in this love are contained, and in it are bestowed, both happiness and heaven.

42. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward. Little children are the emblems of innocence; and to give the little ones to drink is to instruct the ignorant who are in innocence, and to insinuate truth into innocence itself. But the reward which is promised for this duty extends to those who give to drink only a cup of cold water. As warmth is love or affection, cold is the absence of love, or rather a defect of love. Cold water is the truth, not of love, but of obedience. And the promise that he who gives even a cup of cold water to a little one shall not lose his reward, is an assurance that even the simplest act of goodness done from a dutiful obedience to the Lord's will shall have its own reward, as well as the highest, and not less in its degree than the most loving virtue. But to be entitled to a reward, this simple duty must be done in the name of a disciple - it must not be done in our own name. It must have respect to the teaching of the Word, and not be the offspring of natural benevolence. To give it a spiritual quality and a heavenly result, duty must proceed from a spiritual principle. Christians often lament their want of love to God. If they have not much love, they need have no lack of obedience. No one can force himself to love, but every one can compel himself to obey. And he who begins with honest, though it be but cold obedience, will, by a conscientious discharge of duty, gradually come to have and to feel that love the absence of which he laments. Although love cannot be willed into existence, it can be wrought into existence. If we give God obedience, he will give us love.



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COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW p. 12        CHAPTER XI.

1. And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding (or ordaining) his twelve disciples, he departed thence, to teach, and to preach in their cities. The Lord's operations are of two kinds - mediate and immediate. He acts mediately through his Word and through his church, in heaven and in the world, and immediately from himself His immediate operation is into the inmost of the soul, and thence as far as possible into the faculties of the mind below. But this inmost and immediate operation must, to effect its purpose in our regeneration, be seconded by outward agencies, by whom knowledge and other means are supplied for opening the way for the descent of life and light from within, thus far preparing the way of the Lord. This two-fold operation is treated of in these chapters. When the Lord disposes in heavenly order the principles of goodness and truth in the inner man - which is meant by ordaining the twelve disciples and causes them to descend into the outer man, to bring him into a corresponding heavenly order - which is meant by sending the disciples forth to gather in the lost sheep - the Lord himself operates from within to accomplish his beneficent end in our salvation; and this is meant by his departing thence to teach and to preach. The cities into which he went to preach are doctrines, these being the receptacles of his divine influx, and the ground of his operation.

2. Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples. Historically considered, the fact of John's sending to inquire of Jesus if he were the Messiah, or only, like himself a forerunner of the expected Saviour, seems rather unaccountable, seeing that he had himself pointed out Jesus to the people as "the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world." Various conjectures have been made on the subject, which it would profit little to repeat. Our object is to derive from the circumstances of the history, some lesson of spiritual wisdom. John had been shut up in prison for bearing noble testimony to the truth, in reproving the reigning tyrant, Herod, for having taken his brother Phillip's wife. This criminal connection well represented the state of the Jewish church - and John's imprisonment as fitly represented the treatment by that church of the Word, which John represented, for its testifying against the gross and glaring sinfulness into which the Jews had fallen. But, considered in reference to the regeneration of the man of the true church, this subject has another meaning. John representing the written Word, or the truth which it teaches, the imprisonment of John represents a state of temptation, when the truth is shut in and deprived of its freedom of action by the enmity and opposition of the natural man, whose evils it condemns. In this state doubts regarding the Lord in his humanity arise in the mind, and these doubts relate to the salvation which the Incarnate Word has provided. In these states of spiritual trial the Lord appears to be absent, and it seems as if he had forgotten to be gracious, and that he comes not to give deliverance. These doubts do not indeed, originate in the Word itself, which John represented; but the truths of the Word not unfrequently, in times of temptation, are so construed by us as seemingly to favour them. But there is a time of light in the darkest states of trial, Which come when the mind seeks and is prepared to receive it. This time is when the thoughts and affections like the two disciples of John, are sent forth to the Lord himself, to see if he will remove our doubts, and give us from his lips, or by immediate influx, an assurance of the truth.

3. But the Lord himself is the subject of the doubt. Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? To understand this in relation to ourselves, we must reflect that the period to which this belongs represents a transition state in the regenerate life. John's life and ministry, in relation to the Lord's, represented the state of reformation, the Lord's own life representing the state of regeneration; and the end of John's ministry, and the beginning of the Lord's, represented the transition state which is between them. John's own words were now about to be fulfilled: "He must increase, but I must decrease." The one state is the inverse of the other. As the second increases, the first decreases. The truth which leads to good, which John's ministry represented, decreases in its influence and power, as truth derived from good, which the Lord's ministry exemplified, increases. The office of the first is superseded by that of the second. The ministry of the letter gives way to that of the spirit; the ministry of repentance, to that of holiness; the labour of sowing, to the work of reaping. In the trial attending this change of state, the doubt of John is felt. This question then arises in the mind, - Is this the very Good itself, and the very Truth itself - the Lamb that removes the sins and sorrows of the soul? Is this the very principle and state which the soul, through her repentance and tribulation, has looked for? or is it but another stage in the preparatory state of labour which is to prepare the way of Him who is yet to come as the Prince of Peace?

4. How significant was the Lord's answer to John's disciples "Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see. This was saying in effect, "If you are looking for one whose coming is not in word but in power, judge whether I am the Christ or no." And if we interpret aright what our affections hear and what our thoughts see, allowing experience to be the interpreter, no other evidence will be required to convince us that He whom we look for has indeed come for what more convincing evidence can we receive of the Lord having come to us, than his beneficent works being wrought in us. But the lesson which it teaches is most consoling and encouraging to those who are passing through states of temptation, represented by John in prison. It tells them that even while their external man is bound in affliction and iron, and is darkened by doubt and oppressed with the worst apprehensions, tempted even to doubt if the Lord is a Saviour or no, that Lord is at the very time present with them, working deliverance for them by his miracles of goodness, healing all their diseases, and restoring their souls. Let us see what those beneficent works are.

5. The blind receive their sight - the understanding, blind from ignorance or error, is restored to the power of perceiving truth - and the lame walk - the life, distorted with the evil of ignorance and error is restored to rectitude; the lepers are cleansed - the truths that were known, but falsified and profaned by perverse interpretation so as to countenance sin, are purified from defilement; and the deaf hear; the will, deaf to the voice of truth and love, is brought to hearken and obey - the dead are raised up- natural love, which is death, gives place to spiritual love, which is life; and the poor have the gospel preached to them - poverty of spirit becomes the ground of a new and higher reception and love of the truth, while the gospel becomes to the soul truly the glad tidings of salvation. This brief enumeration of the Lord's works, which the disciples of John beheld, includes almost all the kinds of miracles He performed, and are such as prophecy had declared the Messiah would perform. To John, therefore, if he had doubts, these wonders must have been sufficient testimony that Jesus was the Christ. To those who, like John, are in prison, tempted with doubts as to the Saviour, in relation to themselves as the objects of his saving mercy, the testimony here given is that which is to be seen in themselves, in the removal of the very evils in which temptations originate, or with which they are connected.

6. When the Lord had shown John all these things, he pronounced the words, and blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. While prophecy had foretold the Lord's works of mercy and power, it had also declared that he would be a stumbling-stone and rock of offence. The time in which our Lord came was one when trial and decision were necessary. He was the stone on which men were to fall, the Truth by which they were to he tried. To the evil, or those confirmed in sin, he was a, stone of offence, to the repentant he was a rock of safety. Blessed are they who are not offended in him. This blessing is ours when, having cast out all things that offend, and brought our minds into a state of holy submission to the laws of divine order, the Lord's love and truth rule in our hearts and understandings, and thence govern the life and conversation. The Lord had given testimony to John respecting himself as the Eternal Word in human nature, and he now turns to the multitude to give his testimony to them respecting him who represented the written Word in its literal sense. This will he seen to he appropriate when we reflect that the outward coverings with which divine truth, in descending from God out of heaven to men on earth, had clothed itself, was analogous to the humanity which Jesus, as the Word itself, had put on to come into the world. What went ye out into the wilderness to see? This question is addressed to us as truly as it was to the Jews. For, as John was a type of the revealed Word-which is still the subject of numerous opinions, all which are comprehended in the Lord's descriptions of the different notions and expectations of those who went out to see John in the wilderness - so we may each find a revelation of our own state of mind in relation to the Word of truth. The wilderness - which describes the desolate state of the Jewish church, where the revealed Word was described also the state of the human mind when in a corresponding state of spiritual desolation or temptation. We go out to see and examine the Divine Word with different expectations of what it is and teaches, - too often with preconceived opinions; not content, as we should be, to see and hear in simplicity what the Lord communicates through that sacred medium concerning himself and his kingdom. These different views, the false as well as the true, are accurately expressed by the Divine Speaker, who had a perfect knowledge of the state of the church, as he has of the human heart. We should therefore listen to his words of wisdom, that we may learn of him respecting ourselves.

What went ye out to see? A reed shaken with the wind? This describes with great exactness and force the state of a large class as to their ideas regarding the Divine Word. The Divine Word is "a reed shaken with the wind" to those who regard it merely in its literal sense, and who are dependent for their views of its teaching on the opinions of others. The hollow reed is an exact emblem of the Word when its outward literal sense is considered to he all that constitutes it. As the literal sense of the Word consists for the most part of apparent truths, it is capable of every different interpretation which human expositors may he disposed to give it, and may he made apparently to teach not only different but opposite doctrines, as we know is actually the case. To all such the Word is as "a reed shaken with the wind," a revelation, in its origin Divine, made to yield to the breath of human opinion. This character of the Word in the letter adapts it to the states of all, and by admitting of different interpretations, serves as a protection to its internal sense, being in this respect the flaming sword that turns every way to guard the way of the tree of life. But even if the Word in the letter is interpreted erroneously, yet, if this is done sincerely, it is not seriously injurious to or destructive of faith, for even "the bruised reed will he not break." If, on the other hand, it is subjected to a sinister interpretation, it becomes "the staff" of a broken reed, whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand and pierce him" (Isa. xxxvi. 6). If men wilfully pervert it, so as to make it oppose its own essential principles, then do they, like the blaspheming Jews, put a reed in the right hand of the Son of man, and take a reed and smite him on the head, and spit upon him, and mock him (ch.xxvii. 29, 30). When, however, the letter is honestly interpreted, it he comes like the reed on which the sponge with the vinegar was raised to the lips of the Lord upon the cross, by which men minister to interior truth, when suffering at the hands of its enemies.

8. Another class who go out into the wilderness are those who go to see a man clothed in soft raiment. This class consists of those who think that, to be worthy of God and attractive to men, the Word should he clothed in more than the graces of the most perfect human composition, and who are therefore offended with its hairy garment. But our Lord teaches us that they who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. The kings' houses are the mansions of heaven, which is the house of the King of kings - and consequently not in its literal, but in its spiritual sense, is the Word to be found in the soft and gorgeous attire in which some unwisely desire to see it in this lower world. In this world, indeed, it is possible to behold the Word in something of this soft and flowing apparel. To those who are in heavenly states of mind, Divine Truth will disclose some of its heavenly beauties. Those who are in kings' houses are spiritually those who are in the good of spiritual truth; for houses signify the affections of the will, and kings the spiritual truths of the understanding and those truths which reside in these affections are soft and beautiful. They have cast off the rough garment of the prophet, when, as a preacher of repentance, he reproves, and prohibits, and threatens the sinner with divine wrath and judgment, and have put on the soft raiment of those in kings' houses, where, the reign of order being established, God is felt as well as seen to be love, and his kingdom to be the rule of righteousness and peace.

9. Besides these two classes who form a wrong estimate of the essential character of the Word, by judging of it from their own disordered states, there is a third class who regard it with a juster appreciation of its nature, and who are meant by those of whom the Lord says - But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. It is difficult to see what can be meant by its being said that John was not only a prophet but more than a prophet; unless it be allowed that the term prophet has some spiritual meaning, and that John was not merely a man entrusted with a divine commission, but a man who was invested with a representative character. A prophet, whose office it was to teach the doctrines of the Word, signifies doctrine derived from the Word. We regard the Word of God in its true character when we look to it as the source of all true doctrine, and seek earnestly and honestly to learn its doctrines from it. But the Lord said of John, not only that he was a prophet, but that he was more than a prophet. Although the Word contains all doctrine, the Word itself is more than all doctrine; it is, even in the letter, Divine Wisdom itself revealed for the use of men, to serve for their instruction and edification in all states of the regenerate life, and through all generations.

10. In consequence of the Word being more than all doctrine, and thus more than a prophet, it is the Lord's forerunner as well as messenger to the church, and to every member of the church. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The Word, we have seen (iii. 3), which John represented, is the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make his paths straight." The truths of the Divine Word, by whoever preached, are alone capable of preparing the Lord's way into the human heart. The Lord speaks in the passage before us as if another sent the messenger to prepare his way, as if Jehovah had sent John to prepare the way of Jesus. But Jehovah and Jesus are the same Being yet distinct as the Divinity and the Humanity of the one Lord and Saviour, and as the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom. Jehovah may here he said to send his messenger before the face of Jesus, since it is the Divinity that is the sender or the origin of the Word, while the whole Word has reference to Jesus as God manifest in the flesh, the Redeemer and Saviour of men. It is said that John came before the face of Jesus; for the Lord's face is the internal of the Word, which Jesus was, and the letter of the Word, and true doctrine as its interpreter, go before the internal truths of its spiritual sense, to prepare the mind for its reception.

11. But not only is the Baptist more than a prophet, but Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist. Those who are born of women are opposed to and distinguished from those who are born of God. The letter of the Word is formed of images taken from nature, and is thus adapted to the natural apprehensions of men. Its literal truths are therefore meant by those born of women. As the truths revealed to us in the Word, even in its literal sense, are greater than those to he found in the writings of men, it is said of the Word even in the letter, that a greater hath not risen than John the Baptist. Yet immeasurably greater as the Word is than all human compositions, its literal sense is far less glorious than its spiritual sense. The highest apprehension of divine truth by men can bear no comparison to the lowest apprehension of divine truth by angels. Therefore, although "Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist;" notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

12. The Lord proceeds to say, And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. Assuming as we think we justly may, that the authorized version expresses the true meaning of the passage, the question is, What does it mean? The common interpretation is, that the violence used and the force exerted are such as holy men can employ. This interpretation may he considered as on the whole correct. But it may he understood that the violence and force here spoken of, though such as indeed are consistent with the nature of the heavenly kingdom and of the heavenly life, are yet of a character as belongs to the church, and to the member of the church, in that stage of their progression meant by the days of John the Baptist, which is a state of initiation. In the beginning of the Christian dispensation, as in that of every other, its truths were received intellectually rather than morally, or men endeavoured by the power of intellect alone to enter into the mysteries of faith. Some seized on the truth with avidity, but did not, as they ought to have done, unite to it the good which makes it truly useful, except, indeed, that many whose first reception this describes might come to accept the good as they advanced in the knowledge of what the gospel required. According to Luke, the first reception of the gospel was the same with all. "The law and the prophets were until John; since that time every one presseth into it," or enters into it by violence. This does not mean that all men entered it, but that those who did so, entered by force. The language seems also to imply, in the spiritual sense, that entrance was not effected without severe trial, and that temptation, of an external but violent kind, is a means by which every one, in the days of John, enters into the kingdom of God.

13. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. It is the time of the prophets with us when we are yet only learning of the Lord; it is the time of John when the Lord has indeed been born in the inner man, but has not yet been fully manifested in the outer man, in which, however, a way is being prepared by repentance and obedience for his coming into it and passing through it into the life.

14. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. Why was it promised (Mal. iv. 5) that Elijah should come to prepare the way of the Lord? It may he admitted that Elijah was a type of John; but the reason he was selected from among the prophets to be so was, because, like John, he was in eminent representative of the written Word. It is the Word itself that prepares the Lord's way both into the church and into the human mind. It is, moreover, the function of the prophet, and not the prophet himself, that represents what is divine and holy; and therefore the personal question is one of no moment.

15. When the Lord had finished his address to the people respecting John, he added these words, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. This was to call their attention to what he had said to them, and also to remind them that his words demanded a willing and attentive hearing. The ear, as being the sense through which the sound as well as the meaning of articulate language is conveyed, is the organ that more especially communicates with the, will, as the eye is the organ that communicates more especially with the understanding. He that hath ears to hear is one whose will is inclined to hearken to the lessons of divine wisdom, and who has a disposition to obey. This submission of the will to the Lord's teaching is better than any offering we can make for "to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams."

16, 17. Few, it would appear, were ready to incline their ear to either the Lord's teaching or to John's, which the Lord proceeds to point out in a parable. But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. The Jews had refused to mourn with John or to rejoice with Jesus. John had appeared as an ascetic, living in retirement, clothed in his hairy garment, and feeding on locusts and wild honey, and teaching the hard lesson of self-denial. He mourned unto men, but they refused to lament. The Lord came without any sign of austerity and mingled with the people in the ordinary concerns and even the pleasures of life. He piped to them, but they refused to dance. Besides this meaning, as applicable to the Jews, this beautiful parable has a meaning still more instructive for us. The little boys here spoken of, sitting in the markets, are manifest figures of the truths of love and innocence contained in the holy Word; and their calling to their companions is a figure equally plain of the application of those truths for reception with man. "We have piped unto you; denotes the celestial affection with which they are replenished, and which they are calculated to inspire, for pipers and piping signify such affection. "Ye have not danced" denotes that that affection had not been admitted, so as to produce a corresponding joy in the natural mind, for dancing denotes such joy and delight. "We have mourned unto you," denotes truth without affection. Ye have not lamented," denotes that they had not acted in conformity with such truth, by obeying it as they ought to have done. A still more personal application of it may bring its lesson nearer to our common spiritual states and experience. The want of sympathy between the children and their juvenile companions, expresses a want of harmony between the internal and external affections of our own minds. The children that piped and mourned are the affections of the spiritual mind which call to their companions, the affections of the natural mind, to reciprocate their joys and their sorrows; for the joys of the spiritual mind should be reciprocated by pure delights of good and truth in the natural mind, and its sorrows should be reciprocated by contrition and humility. It is the Lord's purpose in his divine operation to produce harmony between the spiritual and the natural affections and thoughts in our minds, to bring the natural mind to respond to and co-operate with the spiritual. The slowness of our natural disposition to yield a ready and hearty compliance with the calls of the spiritual affections is a matter which most of us must have learnt by abundant experience. The Lord's parable may remind us of our natural want of sympathy with what is spiritual, and should lead us to listen to the calls and pleadings of the conscience, which has been formed within us by the good of truth.

18, 19. The Lord openly applies and explains the parable in reference to himself and John the Baptist. John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. We see this disposition to magnify and distort, so as even to turn virtues into vices in those we are disposed to condemn. Its spiritual meaning is our principle object. John came neither eating nor drinking, because the work of reformation, which John's ministry represented, consists essentially in the removal of evil by self-denial. The Son of man came eating and drinking because the work of regeneration, which the ministry of Jesus, as distinguished from that of John, represented, consists essentially in the doing of good. Self-denial, or desisting from evil, is Spiritual fasting, and doing good is spiritual eating and drinking. The Jews said of John that he had a devil, for the natural man regards self-denial as an evil, and as destructive of all true life and enjoyment, and they said of the Son of man that he was gluttonous and a winebibber, for the natural man has so little relish for the good and truth of religion that the very idea of them is surfeiting to his spirit. But this objection to the Lord was no doubt made chiefly by the Pharisees, who affected great sanctity and who regarded the Lord's life as that of a man of the world, because he refused and condemned nothing of the world but its evil and hypocrisy. They therefore coupled with this accusation that of his being a friend of publicans and sinners. He was indeed their friend, for his object, in his intercourse with them, as with all others, was to do them good. In this feature of his character, our Lord was the pattern of the perfect man. He did not shun sinners as many do, either because they contemn them or fear contempt. His love for their souls was so great as to draw him towards them, and so pure as to prevent his being contaminated by contact with them. The Lord concludes by saying, But Wisdom is justified of her children. In the literal sense, the children of wisdom are the wise; and of all these, but of these only, is wisdom justified. He who is Wisdom itself is justified only of those who have become wise from him; for who but the wise can appreciate wisdom? In the spiritual sense, the children of wisdom are the truths and goods of wisdom. In Scripture usage, wisdom is not so much an intellectual as a moral quality. As folly means depravity, so wisdom means; goodness grounded in intelligence. Wisdom is justified of her children when the fruits of wisdom bear testimony before men of the excellence of the principles that produce them.

20-24. The Lord now turns to those cities in which most of his mighty works had been done, and upbraids them because they did not repent. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgement than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which, art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall he more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee. These cities afforded solemn examples of the truth he had just delivered in his parable. How striking and solemn an answer is this to those who demand signs and wonders that they may believe. The mighty and beneficent works of the Saviour did not produce conviction or conversion generally in the cities in which they were done. Men could witness the greatest and most beneficent miracles ever performed, and yet remain in unbelief and sin. External evidence cannot produce internal conviction; there must be an internal witness before there can be internal belief. There is only one way in which the Lord's miracles can produce saving faith - by being spiritually wrought in our own souls. The Lord's miracles represented the saving works which are the means of restoring the soul to a sound state; and these are the only works that carry their own evidence with them, since they give us an experimental knowledge of the Lord as our Saviour. Those who do not thus witness the works of the Lord are the Chorazin, Bethesaida, and Capernaum, on which rests the woe of unbelief and unrepented sin.

In the literal sense of this passage some find a difficulty. If those works would have led Tyre and Sidon to repent, why were they not done in them? The answer to this is, had the Lord saved Tyre and Sidon, he could not have saved Chorazin and Bethsaida. Had he come into the world at an earlier period, he could not have provided for the salvation of those who lived after his coming. Iniquity had to be consummated or full before the remedy for it could be applied, that the remedy might he a complete one. Yet the Lord's mercy provides, as far as possible, against any disadvantage to those who lived before his coming. It was to be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for the cities who rejected the Saviour. "To whom much is given, of them much is required." "This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light." The spiritual sense teaches a still more solemn and important lesson. It appears evident that the intellectual principle of the natural man in general is represented in this passage, by Tyre and Sidon, and the false persuasions in that principle by Chorazin and Bethsaida. In like manner, the will principle of the natural man in general seems to be signified by Sodom, and the evils inherent in it by Capernaum. According to this view, we find that the intellectual principle itself of the natural man, represented by Tyre and Sidon, is capable of being saved by the "mighty works" or redeeming mercy of the Lord; whilst the false persuasions of it, represented by Chorazin and Bethsaida, being diametrically opposed to the divine truth of the Lord, must be rejected and condemned. A woe is pronounced against them, and we can only escape being subject to it by separating ourselves from them, and concurring in the judgment by which they are anathematized. So also we find that the mighty works of the Lord's redemption extend even to the saving of the will principle of the natural man, represented by Sodom; but the evils of it, represented by Capernaum, being diametrically opposite to the divine love of the Lord, must he extirpated and removed. A woe is here also pronounced, and we can only avoid being included in it by leaving every evil, especially that of self-love, to sink into hell; whilst, by appropriating principles from heaven which have an opposite gravitation, we are borne up and saved from sinking into perdition with them.

25, 26. At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. The subject we have been considering has another side, a divine and heavenly one. Whilst men reject the overtures of divine mercy, that mercy is employed in tempering both the malignity and the consequences of their rejection, by hiding from them, as far as may be, the knowledge that would aggravate their state and criminality. When Omniscience sees that the impenitent will not accept the good that would make them happy, mercy withholds from them the truth that would but increase their sin and misery. It is a part of God's providential operation that man shall not he admitted into the interior acknowledgment of truth further than that he can be preserved in it to the end of his life. Such being the case, God's goodness hides the things of salvation from the wise and prudent. But it reveals them unto babes - to those who have innocence of heart and simplicity of spirit sufficient to enable them to receive it. How can God at once conceal and reveal the truths of life? One way is this. The letter of the Word conceals its spiritual truths from the wise, and reveals them to the simple. It is like the cloudy pillar that came between the camps of the Egyptians and of Israel - it was light to the one and darkness to the other. This thanksgiving is addressed to the Father, and the concealing and revealing is said to have seemed good in his sight. As the Father signifies the Lord as to his divine love, we are instructed that this providential dealing is one of pure love, which is further indicated by its being good in his sight; for all good is of love. Yet the Lord's love acts by wisdom, which is meant by his sight, in which it seemed good.

27. From addressing the Father as one distinct from and superior to himself, the Lord turns to the multitude and instructs them respecting the true nature of the relation existing between them. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. If his thanksgiving seems to acknowledge his inferiority to the Father, his address claims equality with him. "All things" include "all that the Father hath"- all the attributes and prerogatives of Deity. These the Father delivered to the Son. It is almost needless to say that it was impossible for one divine person to impart these personal attributes and rights to another.

When we know that the Father is the Lord's indwelling divinity, and that the Son is the humanity in which his divinity dwells, we can see the possibility and reasonableness of "all things" belonging to the divinity being delivered to the humanity. We see an image of this in the soul delivering all things that it hath to the body. The soul does not by this act divest itself of any of its attributes or authority but only invests the body with them - at once giving them to another and retaining them in itself. The Lord's delivering the attributes of his divine to his human nature made the human itself divine - a fitting divine body for the habitation of a divine soul. The human thus became the very form and manifestation of the divine. In Jesus the Divine is human, and the Human is divine. Both are alike infinite. Hence, "No one knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any one the Father, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him." If no one knows the Son, but the Father, and no one knows the Father, but the Son, their knowledge of each other must be infinite. But the Son is the only source of our knowledge of the Father. We cannot know the Divine but in and through the Human. How appropriate therefore, is the invitation which now follows!

28. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. This blessed invitation and assurance brings Jesus before us as the Divine Man, who himself has passed through all states of spiritual labour, laden with the burden of all human infirmity and sorrow, and who is therefore able to comfort poor sinful creatures in their afflictions, and sustain them under their heaviest trials. Evil and error are the two oppressive burdens which depraved humanity bears, and under which it groans. But it is only those who have come to feel these as a hindrance to their entrance on the spiritual life who will answer the Lord's call, for they only can be disposed to exchange their own burden, oppressive as it is, for the easy yoke of the meek and lowly Jesus. We must see evil to be sin before we will listen to the Lord's exhortation - before we will seek that rest which he promises to the weary souls that come to him. "I will give you rest." There is none but the Saviour can give that which the sinner needs, and he needs rest. "There is no rest for the wicked." Rest is only to be obtained in righteousness, and righteousness can be found only in him who is Righteousness itself. To obtain his rest we must "come unto" him by forsaking the way of sin, and bringing forth fruits meet for repentance. But we must advance beyond this, by doing his commandments from love; for it is love that draws us to him as the Author of rest.

29. He who invites men to seek from him rest from their burden, invites them likewise to take his yoke upon them, and learn of him. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. When we throw off the yoke of Satan, we must take upon us the yoke of Christ. The yoke of sin must be exchanged for the yoke of righteousness. To take the Lord's yoke is to accept his love as the guiding principle of our wills, and to learn of him is to accept his truth as the directing principle of our understandings. The Lord himself is meek and lowly of heart. He is meekness and lowliness itself. He who is greatest is least; he who is the highest is also the lowest: "I am among you as him that doth serve." Those who imitate his blessed example will find rest to their souls; for there is rest only in him who has conquered all the powers and cast out from his humanity all principles of discord, and has made peace in his reconciled humanity, now the Fountain of peace to all who seek it.

30. My yoke is easy, and my burden is light. If the Lord's yoke is the yoke of love, it cannot but be easy; if his burden is the burden of truth, it cannot but be light. Truth makes us free, and love is perfect liberty. Where these are there can be no sense of oppression or weariness, but a feeling of happiness and freshness, the service which the state of our hearts prompts us to render being a delight. Such must be the experience of all who take upon them the yoke of Jesus. It is not so difficult to live for heaven as many suppose. The Lord came into the world that he might make the way to heaven more easy, and our entrance into it more certain. He did this by first making the burden and the yoke of the law his own, and then enabling us to bear it. He did not fulfil the law in our stead, but on our behalf, not as one who relieves us of the duty, but as one who, by doing the duty, makes it more easy for us to do it. We are to take his yoke upon us; and it is easy because it is his. He has done all that he requires us to do, and he gives us strength to do it, because he is with us as our Sustainer, as well as our Example. The exhortation of the Psalmist is truly applicable to the Christian and his Saviour: "Cast thy burden on the Lord, and he will sustain thee." He does not say that the Lord will bear our burden for us, but that he will sustain us under it. Such is the Lord to us - a Friend and Helper, who will go with us in all our journey, and will succour us, and hold us up in our goings, till he introduce us into his own kingdom of joy and peace.



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COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW p. 13        CHAPTER XII

1. In the previous chapter we find our Lord severely censuring some of the cities of Judah for remaining unmoved by the mighty works he had done in them; and in the very beginning of this chapter we find the same people exhibiting their zeal for a traditional observance of the Sabbath, condemning the Lord for an assumed breach of its requirements. At that time Jesus went on the Sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungered, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. It is the mark of a fallen church that it is zealous for external observances, and careless about internal principles, or, as our Lord expresses it, that its members pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, but neglect the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and truth. This the Pharisees so completely did, that they found great fault with the Lord for doing works of mercy on the Sabbath day, as well as for walking through the cornfields. Our Lord did not, however, violate the Jewish sabbath, as established by the Jewish law. He observed all the duties connected with its rightful observance, but he did not conform to the ceremonial additions that the church had made to them. But our Lord's conduct, while consistent with the law, had a deeper cause and purpose than the Pharisees dreamt of. The Sabbath was a representative institution as well as a day of rest. The day is said to have been instituted to commemorate God's having rested on the seventh day, after the six days of creation. This assigned reason involves an important spiritual idea. The account of the creation in Genesis is a symbolical description of the spiritual creation or regeneration of man, while in the highest sense it describes the glorification of the Lord, which is regeneration in its divine degree. The six days' work are expressive of the states of spiritual labour which precede and are preparatory to the state of spiritual rest. In the case of the Lord, to whom the subject eminently relates, the six days' work signifies his states of temptation in his conflicts with the powers of darkness; while the sabbath signifies his state of glorification, which is rest itself, and the origin of rest to heaven and to those who follow him in the regeneration. All that the Lord did on the Sabbath day, including his going through the corn, had therefore special reference to the two works of glorification and regeneration. The Lord's glorification was the union of divinity and humanity in his own person; but this is a result of the union of goodness and truth in his humanity. The image of this in man is the conjunction of goodness and truth, or of charity and faith, in his external man, and the consequent conjunction of the external with the internal, which completes his regeneration. The corn-field is an emblem of the church, and consequently of the human mind, in an advanced stage of the regenerate life, the corn being a symbol of the spiritual good which the church provides for the support of her children, and a type of that harvest which the Lord had just before sent his disciples forth to gather in. And while we see in the corn a representative of the provision which Jesus, as the Lord of the harvest as well as of the Sabbath, had made for the members of his church, the hunger of his disciples is expressive of the desire or spiritual appetite which the Lord's true disciples have for the "corn of heaven." Standing or growing corn signifies good as conceived and increasing in the mind, but not yet fully brought forth into the life, and gathered into the garner of the inner memory. The ears of corn signify the knowledge of what is good; while eating the corn is expressive of the actual reception and appropriation of the principles of goodness thus acquired, so as to incorporate them with the inner life.

2. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. The Pharisees represent those persons whose religion consists in mere formality and profession, and therefore also signify such thoughts and feelings themselves in the natural mind. These offer opposition to the spiritual principles there; but this opposition only serves to bring out the true spiritual ground of the orderly operation which they oppose. All such opposition to what is good and true acts by means of some perversion and misapplication of the truth, as was in fact the case in the present instance. There was no violation of the law in going through the corn on the Sabbath day; while the act of the disciples, when there, is expressly authorized: "When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbour, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hands" (Deut. xxiii. 25)

3, 4. The Lord justified the conduct of his disciples by 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 shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests. The Lord introduces this reference by asking the Pharisees if they had not read what David did; and it is presented in this form for the purpose of teaching that the Lord desires to excite inquiry in the minds of those with whom such suggestions arise. That which the Lord cited was a very apposite case, for it was representative and therefore prophetic, of himself. David's entering into the house of God, and there receiving sacred bread from the officiating priest, represented the union of good and truth in the Lord's humanity. For the priest represented the principle of divine love or goodness, and the king represented the principle of divine wisdom or truth in the Lord's humanity the humanity itself being represented by the house of God, in which the priest and the king were together present. The union of divine good and truth in the Lord's humanity is described by the priest giving David the sacred bread - the bread representing the principle of good; the priest giving this bread to David signifying giving the communication of divine good to divine truth, by which union is effected between them. This does not, however, represent complete and final union, for the Lord's humanity was perfected successively, or by distinct degrees, and one of those degrees is represented in this historical fact. Besides receiving the hallowed bread, David on that occasion received from Abimelech the priest the sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom he had slain. As David represented the Lord as divine truth, he represented him also as the Redeemer, and in this character he engaged in conflict with the powers of darkness. Therefore David received from the priest, and in the Lord's house, both the hallowed bread and approved sword - the bread representing good and the sword truth - one for supporting, the other for combating.

5. The Lord gives another case. Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? What the Lord calls profaning the Sabbath, consisted in preparing the sacrifices that were offered on that day, this being servile work, like that of which the Pharisees accused Jesus. This, like the previous case, is not to be regarded as being adduced merely to justify what the Lord did, but also to describe representatively his own divine work. For as the priest represented the Lord as to divine good, so the priestly office represented the Lord's work of salvation. As the case of David and the priest, which the Lord had previously mentioned, is descriptive of the union of good and truth in the Lord's humanity, the present case describes the succeeding state, which is that of the Lord as divine good, in the temple of his humanity, engaged in the work of salvation - the priests representing the Lord in his priestly character, and the temple in which they officiated representing the divine humanity. The Lord speaks of their work on the Sabbath, because, as we have seen, the Sabbath was the most sacred representative of the union of the divinity and the humanity in the person of the Lord, and the consequent divine rest into which the Lord entered after his temptation conflicts. But this rest into which the Lord entered is not inaction, but the most perfect activity. It is not labour, indeed, but work, and is the great work of salvation, for the sake of which the; Lord laboured in effecting the work of redemption. The work of the priests, in the temple on the Sabbath eminently represented this work of salvation, as did the Lord's own work on the Sabbath, he having on that sacred day performed many of his beneficent miracles and on that day walked through the cornfields, his disciples plucking the ears of corn, that they might eat, and thus enter into the enjoyment of that abundant provision which the Lord of the harvest and of the Sabbath had made for them.

6. The Lord, however, justifies himself not only by parallel instances, but by asserting his authority. But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. This assertion must have greatly offended Jewish prejudice. One of the charges brought against the Lord, and that on which he was condemned, was, that he had declared he would destroy the temple and rear it up in three days; on hearing which the high priest rent his clothes, and pronounced the words to be blasphemy when the whole Sanhedrim at once condemned him to be guilty of death (Mark xiv. 58-64). The Lord spake of the temple of his body (John ii. 21). In the Lord we are indeed to behold one greater than the temple. How grand is the truth declared in the Lord's words! The temple, the glory of the Jewish church, when seen to be a type of him who was to come, discloses the wonderful truth, that the whole of the elaborate and splendid ceremonial revealed from heaven was but the shadow of good things to come, whose substance Christ was. But the Lord is greater than the temple in a higher sense. When he declared, "The Father is greater than I" (John xiv. 28), he taught that the divinity was then greater than the humanity, and that in heaven and the church divine good is greater than divine truth. But when the Lord speaks of himself as greater than the temple, his words, spiritually understood, are assertive of his being the Father as well as the Son - the divine is well as the human, the essential Divine Good as well as the essential Divine Truth. He is greater than the temple, as his habitation in its, when in our estimation and experience his love is greater than his truth, or when charity is greater than faith.

7. The Lord proceeds to point out to the Pharisees the real origin of their having condemned the guiltless, which they would not have done if they had known what this meaneth, I will have merry, and not sacrifice. This we have already considered (ch. ix. 13). This passage occurs in Hosea vi. 6: "I desired mercy, and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings." Sacrifice, we have seen, is here put for worship or piety which the Pharisees regarded as religion. This divine declaration shows that, even under the Jewish dispensation, the superiority of mercy to sacrifice, or of charity to piety, was distinctly taught. To do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God, is really all that God requires. Other things are included in human duty, but they are the means, of which these are the end; for without these there is no religion. If the Pharisees had cultivated the grace of mercy, as that which God requires both in worship and in life, they would not have condemned the guiltless; nor will those condemn the guiltless who render mercy to God in their conduct towards their fellow-creatures.

8. But how much less would they have been disposed to censure the act of the Lord's disciples on the Sabbath if they had known that the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day! The Lord's claim to this character is a claim to divinity: for no one can be Lord of the Sabbath but he by whom the Sabbath was instituted. Spiritually, he is Lord of the Sabbath, as being he whom the Sabbath represented, and as being through his divine work in the flesh, the Author of that state of spiritual rest which the Sabbath signified. He is also the Lord of the Sabbath as the Author and Pattern of the conjunction of goodness and truth in the minds of his regenerate children. When this, the sabbatical state, is formed in us, and the Lord's love is the ruling principle in our hearts and lives, then is Jesus practically to us Lord of the Sabbath. This state of spiritual rest and peace is not attained except by the overthrow of the kingdom of darkness within us, and the submission of our natural thoughts and affections to the laws of eternal order, the effecting of which is our six days' work of regeneration. The state of rest which succeeds is meant by the Sabbath day, of which Jesus says he is the Lord; for day signifies state.

9. The miracle and the circumstances connected with it, which come now to be considered, afford a further exemplification of the difference between the Lord's doctrine and that of the Pharisees respecting the Sabbath. When he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue. This was on a Sabbath, though not the same day as that on which he and his disciples walked through the corn (Luke vi. 6). A change of place is a change of state. A synagogue being the symbol of doctrine, the Lord's entering into it signifies the influx of his divine truth into the doctrine of the church, as it is in the minds of her members.

10. This influx is productive of different effects upon those who are in the same doctrine, but in opposite states of life - the evil, like the Pharisees, being excited to opposition, the good, like the infirm man, brought into submission. Behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. Palsied frames and withered members signify, as we have seen, a state of the external man in which it refuses to obey the behests of the internal. The hand is withered when any infirmity of temper, or other evil that has become habitual, prevents the concordant action of the internal and of the external man, of the will and the life. But the peculiar circumstance in this case was the tempting of Jesus by the Pharisees. Before, it would appear, either the man had asked or Jesus had spoken of a cure, the Pharisees proposed the question whether it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath days. According to Luke vi. 8, the Pharisees did not utter this question; but Jesus read it in their thoughts, and addressed them accordingly - a singular instance showing that in the Lord's sight speech and thought are one. The question of the Pharisees proceeded from the evil intention of drawing from the Lord a declaration that might injure him in the estimation of the people. But every evil intention endeavours to effect its purpose by ingenious reasonings, and some of these may even be urged in the name of religion and virtue. So did the Pharisees when they condemned the Lord's merciful works of healing on the Sabbath day. The insidiousness of such reasonings is marked by the Pharisees attempting to carry out their opposition even to the Lord's destruction; for false reasonings may proceed even to the destruction of truth. These enemies of truth and goodness, as these principles were incarnated in the person of Jesus, asked him, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath days? that they might accuse him. Although Jesus had as yet performed no miracle on the Sabbath day, the Pharisees, who had seen him walk through the corn-fields, supposed he would not be more scrupulous about performing cures on that day, and therefore resolved to try to draw from him a declaration that might be used against him.

11, 12. One of the remarkable features in our Lord's history is the marvellous facility with which he defeats the attempts of the most cunningly devised schemes of his many and skilful enemies to entrap him in his words; and he defeats them generally, as he did the tempter when he came to him, by means of that very Word in whose laws they trusted, and by which they sought to betray him. When asked, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day?" he answered by demanding of them, What man shall there be among you that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the Sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? This answer was sufficient not only to silence them, but to put them to shame. In the law to which the Lord refers (Deut. xxii. 4), there is nothing said about the Sabbath day, but only about the duty of helping a brother's beast out of the pit into which it had fallen; yet the Jews did not scruple to do this on the Sabbath day, How much more might the Lord on the Sabbath day deliver from a more painful and helpless condition a much more precious object! But let us look at this as it applies to ourselves. The sheep and the man are the symbols of two different affections - a natural affection being meant by the sheep, and a rational or spiritual affection, by the man. Thus understood, How much is a man better than a sheep? Of how much greater value are the affections that have spiritual and eternal things for their objects, than those that are fixed upon the things of sense and time? Of how much more importance is it also to attend to the spiritual than to the natural, both in others and in ourselves? The natural man, even when from motives of benevolence he seeks the improvement of his neighbour or himself, seeks only to elevate the natural affections, and place them on higher natural objects. But the spiritual man, while he does not neglect the natural affections in himself or others, makes the spiritual the object of his chief regard. Thus he esteems the man is better than the sheep, and seeks to deliver those whom disease has disabled or whom Satan has bound (Luke xiii. 14). Like his Lord, he is ever ready to do this on the Sabbath day. For while the Sabbath of the Pharisee is but an outward sanctity, that of the true Christian is a spiritual state, in which he works the works of God.

The conclusion which our Lord established from his address to the Pharisees was, that it was lawful to do well, or rather to do good, on the Sabbath day. Looking at the subject only in its literal sense, this is a principle that it were happy for us faithfully to act upon. The Sabbath is a day for religious instruction and for the exercise of charity. This is the description of the Christian Sabbath, and it accords with our Lord's declaration and with his practice. And his words are applicable to the Sabbath as a heavenly state of life, and to heaven itself as well; for doing good is the essential of spiritual life both on earth and in heaven.

13. When Jesus had ended his address to the Pharisees, who seem to have made no attempt to gainsay his heavenly doctrine, Then, saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. How was he to stretch forth that withered hand? Faith in him who gave the command induced him to make the effort to obey, and in the effort he received the power to do as he was commanded. Thus it ever is with the willing and faithful. The power to do the Lord's will is always given. The power comes in the attempt to use it. But why attempt to use what we seem not to possess? The impotent man did not reason thus. He knew his hand to be powerless; he had often essayed to use it, and had often essayed to use it, and had as often failed. So do we fail when our attempts originate in our own strength; but so soon as we make the effort in obedience to the Lord's command, his strength is imparted to us, and the successful result follows in due course. In the effort and the act, the withered hand was restored; nor is it simply said to have been restored, but restored whole like as the other. The two hands, like the two feet, correspond to the power of the two faculties of will and understanding - the hands to the power of these facilities in the internal man the feet to their power in the external man. When one of these two members is diseased or powerless, it represents the want of correspondence between the state and activity of the two faculties, which injures or destroys their harmony and their use. When the will refuses to act concordantly with the understanding, or the understanding with the will, there we see a withered hand; and when divine mercy effects the removal of the obstructing cause, the hand is restored whole "like as the other."

14. The Pharisees, so far from being convinced by this exhibition of the Lords power, or conciliated by the benevolence of his act, become more stubborn in their unbelief and more exasperated in their opposition.

Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him. Evil shuns the presence of goodness, falsehood the presence of truth. It is thus that the evil, inwardly in this life, and outwardly also in the other, go out from the presence of the Lord. It is thus, too, that the malignant thoughts of the unregenerate mind shun the true light and retire into their own darkness to plot against the truth, how to destroy it. Falsity is the opposite of truth; but its destructive tendency is proportioned to the evil by which it is actuated. As error may be redeemed by purity of intention, so falsity is rendered more destructive in proportion to the mind's hatred of goodness. And then this hatred takes possession of the heart, the intellect becomes inventive of means for accomplishing its purposes. Yet, however cunningly devised the schemes of the unrighteous may be, there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel. How much less against in Him who Jacob and Israel represented, and who is the Author of all that makes the church, both in its external and internal principles!

15. The action of our Lord in reference to the proceedings of the Pharisees is deserving of our attention in its literal as well as in its spiritual sense. When Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence. This is not the only instance of the Lord withdrawing from a place of threatened danger. He had at his command divine power; yet, although he was God, he acted as a man, both because it behooved him to do so, and because in all things he was to be a pattern to men.

He instructs us in this practical way that we are to act with prudence, and not leave ourselves to the machinations of our enemies, Even when we may have the power to defend ourselves, it is not always wise to use it. It is often better both for ourselves and our enemies to imitate the example of Him who was as wise as he was good, and as merciful as he was powerful, - to avoid rather than to resist evil. In the spiritual sense, as this circumstance applies to individual man, Jesus withdraws himself from the sphere of evil, by drawing his truth inward towards the interiors of the mind, when evil in the external is excited into active opposition to good, in order to draw after him man's better thoughts and affections, and there to carry on his divine work of restoring them to a state of healthy activity. These are the great multitudes that followed him, and of whom it is said, he healed them all. May these believing multitudes be found in us, and be ready to follow the Lord, when evil influences compel him, so to speak, to withdraw himself from the more open and ordinary scene of his saving operations; and may they be delivered by him from the evils and disorder that still adhere to them!

16, 17. Those whom the Lord cured he charged that they should not make him known. This charge differs from that given to the leper (viii. 4), which we have already considered. The leper was desired to "tell no man" that Jesus had cured him: here the multitudes that he cured are charged not to make him known. It cannot be supposed that the Lord was literally afraid of the Pharisees, yet it is not inconsistent to suppose that the Lord's reason for withdrawing himself from them might also dictate the command that he should not be made known. The Lord's charge not to make him known was no doubt grounded in the same benevolent cause that led him to thank the Father that he had hid these things from the wise and prudent, and had revealed them unto babes. To the well-disposed, knowledge is a power for good; to the ill-disposed, it is a power for evil - and therefore to the one it is a means of salvation, to the other, of condemnation The same mercy that grants it to the good withholds it from the evil. That this is the distinction the Lord had in view would seem to be indicated by the prophecy quoted from Isaiah; for the Gentiles art there the only ones mentioned to whom the Lord had come to show judgment, and the Gentiles signify those who are in simple good, and thence in the desire and capacity of receiving truth; while the Jews, as they then were, have a contrary representation, and may be said to have almost destroyed that capacity in themselves.

18. The prophecy relating to the Lord, as quoted by Matthew, says, - Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased. The Lord is called a servant - the servant of Jehovah - with respect to his divine humanity, because he served his Father by doing his will, as he frequently declared; by which is meant that he brought all things in the spiritual world into order, and at the same time taught men the way to heaven. It is, therefore, the Divine Humanity which is meant by "my servant, whom I have chosen," or on whom I have laid hold, and by "My beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased." The Lord is called a servant in respect to the Divine truth by which these effects were produced, and beloved, with respect to the Divine good from which they were produced. From this being the case, the Lord is called chosen of the Father, and his beloved in whom his soul is well pleased. To see the true meaning and force of these words, we must reflect that all these expressions of relationship and endearment between the Father and the Son are descriptive of the relationship, and the infinite sympathy and infinitely perfect union, that exist between the Divine and Human of the Lord, by which the salvation of the human race is provided for. And when Jehovah speaks of Jesus, those principles in the human which had been received from the Divine, and by which union was effected between them, are to be understood. Thus the Divine truth in the Son was the servant, and the Divine good from the Father in the Son was the beloved. It is therefore said of the servant that the Father had chosen, or taken hold of him; for it was by the Divine truth in the humanity that the Divine love took hold of man, both in the person of the Saviour, and through him of the saved; and therefore, also, is it said of the beloved that the soul of the Father was well pleased in him, because the "soul" is the Divine wisdom, and good pleasure is the Divine love. The soul of Jehovah is the Divine truth, which the Lord was as to his humanity in the world, and in this was the Divine love. The same great truth is expressed in these words of the prophet as in those of the Father, "This is my beloved Son," or the Son of my love, "in whom I am well pleased." The Son of the Father's love is the Divine wisdom from the Divine love, which was and is the Son. The prophet proceeds to say, I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall show judgment to the Gentiles. The Spirit of Jehovah is the Divine proceeding, - which, it is said (John iii. 34), the Father gave without measure to the Son; for the humanity received the Spirit of Jehovah, or all the divine attributes, infinitely, and so became divine. But the Spirit of God is, distinctively, the Divine truth; and in reference to the Lord having this put upon him, it is said that he would bring forth "Judgement to the Gentiles" - meaning that the Lord would impart of his saving truth to all who are in good, or who have in them the good ground of an honest heart; and would thereby effect in them that work of individual saving judgment which consists in separating their good from their evil - gathering their good as wheat into the garner, and dispersing the chaff, which "the wind driveth away."

19. As a further effect of the Lord's being the servant and beloved of the Father, and receiving his Spirit, it is declared, He shall not strive nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. This does not mean that the Lord would not teach in the streets; for the unfaithful are represented as to him in the judgment, "Thou hast taught in our streets." It only means, literally, that he would not teach with noise and vehemence, but with gentleness and meekness. The streets of a city are the truths of doctrine, or, personally considered, the thoughts of the understanding. In these the Lord teaches: they are the avenues to the will, which it is the great purpose of his labours to reach. But while the Lord teaches, he does not strive nor cry, - he does not strive with or force the will, nor does he cry to or overbear the understanding; neither does any one hear his voice in the streets, - he does not act compulsorily on the affections of truth, so as to compel assent.

20. Therefore it proceeds to say, A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench. The reed, as we have seen (xi. 7), is a symbol of truth such as it is in the letter of the Word. A bruised reed is such truth, as apprehended by the Gentiles and by the young and the simple, who see it through the fallacies of the senses, and therefore apprehend it sensuously. Flax is also a symbol of truth, but of a higher order; and the slumbering fire, whose existence is faintly indicated by the smoke, signifies some small degree of love in truth, feebly burning and struggling for existence. That the Lord will not break the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax, is a promise that in acting on the young and the Gentile mind, he does not break down their simple faith, though not in agreement with the genuine truths of his Word, nor will be extinguish their feeble love, though it be more natural than spiritual. On the contrary, the Lord in his goodness leads his creatures by whatever in their hearts is not opposed to his love, and by whatever in their understandings is not hostile to his truth. Were it not for this stooping to our infirmities, and taking hold of us by our imperfect thoughts and feelings, we never could be brought to know and love God as he is. The Lord thus leads us till he send forth judgment unto victory - that is, until genuine truth can be implanted in the mind, and its power can be exerted so as to overcome our errors and evils.

21. Then in his name shall the Gentiles trust. The Gentiles trust in the Lord's name when good, at first natural, is made spiritual by the reception of truth; for truth spiritualizes good by directing it to true objects and guiding it to right ends.

22. Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind and dumb. This double calamity, we ought thankfully to acknowledge, is one of rare occurrence. Two cases only are known to have occurred in recent times, of which that of Laura Bridgman, in America, is the most interesting. In her case we see how much can be done by intelligent Christian philanthropy to mitigate the worst states of physical imperfection, and reach the mind through the densest covering which Providence has permitted to be cast over it. Such rare instances are sufficient to show us how great a blessing we possess in sight and hearing, as the two great avenues to the heart and intellect, and how much we should be disposed to do to aid others in whom they are closed. The one whom our Lord cured had not, however, been blind and dumb from birth; but, like other of the maladies then prevalent, this was the result of demoniacal possession. There is nothing directly stated in the narrative to authorize this conclusion; but in Luke xi. 14, where the same case is recorded, we read that "when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake." We read of evil spirits taking possession of the organs of the human body, but here we find that they can not only use them for their own ends, but, when it suits their purpose, can entirely suspend their functions. Great as such a calamity as this is, that which it represents is far greater. For that which this singular case represents is nothing less than the suspension of the functions of the understanding and will in everything relating to spiritual life. A mind whose affections and perceptions of the good and truth of heaven are dead, rendered of none effect by the overpowering influence of some demoniacal principle, combining in itself both falsity and evil, is the spiritual state represented by the blind and dumb. The afflicted person does not represent one whose heart and intellect are wilfully closed against the voice of love and the light of truth, but one who is labouring under some strong temptation, or under the pressure of circumstances that lay him open to the seductive power of evil and deceitful spirits, by whom he is held for the time in spiritual thraldom. Jesus healing this afflicted man teaches us again, that he who came to destroy the works of the devil is able to deliver from the power of evil spirits, and, curing the most dreadful and hopeless of spiritual disorders, to restore the powers of the soul to the freest exercise of their functions, insomuch that even the blind and dumb both speak and see.

23. So extraordinary was this miracle felt to be, that the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? Amazement is the effect of beholding some extraordinary and unexplained phenomenon, and may be produced by beholding or contemplating the exhibition of some extraordinary instance of moral excellence, as well as of physical power. Amazement at our Lord's works must have combined these two - for his goodness was as great as his power. His beneficent works could not fail to produce in the well-disposed of the beholders reverence and admiration as well as amazement. We therefore find that this miracle forced upon the minds of the multitude a conviction of the true character of Jesus, as expressed in the affirmative question, "Is this not the son of David?" This is equivalent to saying that he was the Messiah. But the form in which it was expressed involves a particular meaning. David was a type of the Lord as a king, or as the Divine Truth, conquering and governing - conquering his enemies, the powers of darkness, and governing his church - and, individually considered, overcoming men's evils and ruling in their hearts. The Lord is called the son of David, the offspring of David, the branch or germ that grows out of the roots of Jesse; and this idea of derivation directs us to the Lord as divine truth in us, which subdues our evils and enmity, and makes us his willing and obedient subjects, - branches that grow out of and live in him as the true vine.

24. But if the people or multitude are thus led by his wonderful works to acknowledge and receive him, not so the Pharisees. A negative state is only made more negative by that which brings conviction or confirmation to the willing mind. And even the greatest and most beneficent miracles, which some suppose so powerful to convince, can do nothing to create belief. The Pharisees could not deny the miracle which our Lord performed. They did not even attempt to evade its force, or explain it away; but they showed that what men cannot deny they will pervert. When the Pharisees heard it they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils but by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils. By Beelzebub, who was the god of Ekron, is understood the god of all falses, for the name of this Beelzebub literally means the god flies, and flies signify the falses of the sensual mind - thus all falses. This is further evident from the Lord substituting Satan for Beelzebub, "If Satan cast out Satan" (v. 26), and opposing to this the real power which he cast out demons, the Spirit of God (v. 28,); for Satan means all falsities, and the Spirit of God all truth. And here, indeed, in the conduct of the Pharisees was both exemplified and represented the sum and the essence of all falsehood, not simply the denial of the Lord's power to work miracles but the ascription of his miracles, and of this as one of the most marvellous and benevolent, to the demoniac power itself. Can so great a wickedness be the symbol of anything in us, or in any who confess the name of Jesus? This crime is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and its nature and possibility will come to be considered under verses 31, 32.

25. And Jesus knew their thoughts. This is one of those instances that bring to view the divinity of the Saviour. "Thou knowest my thoughts afar off," is one of the characteristics of Deity. From this knowledge of their thoughts the Lord proceeds to show the fallacy of their explanation, and then the wickedness of their charge. He answered their explanation by saying, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand. The argument here is plain and conclusive. It is only surprising that the hatred of the Pharisees should so blind them as to lead them to propose the idea that Satan should overturn his own kingdom. Leaving the literal sense, which carries its own weight with it, both as a refutation of the Pharisees and an instance of the extraordinary wisdom of Jesus, we turn to the spiritual sense, which is more profitable for our spiritual instruction. The kingdom signifies the church, and a city and house signify the truth and good of its doctrine, which do not stand, but fall to pieces, if they are not in unanimous agreement. This is to be understood of the church in its least form in the mind, as well as of the church in its largest form in the world. This, too, must be in harmony within itself, in order that it may stand; but if it be divided against itself it must come to desolation. In this particular sense, the house is a correspondent of the will, the city, of the understanding, and the kingdom of both together in the life. Each must be harmonious in itself and with the others, that there may be stability; but if each and all are divided, there must be dissolution.

26. And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? Although the kingdom of darkness is one of discord, yet it is not divided against itself as a power that is opposed to its own principles, and one that desires and labours to effect their destruction. In the practical application of the Lord's declaration we see its absolute truth. Falsehood and evil cannot, and if they could they would not, deliver us from their own power and dominion. Truth only can cast out what is false, good only can cast out what is evil. Therefore, in casting out demons the Lord manifested his trite character as the enemy of Satan, and of all hell and evil, and the only Deliverer of the world and of the soul from their dominion.

27. And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? This is one of those touching appeals which the Lord in his wisdom and goodness sometimes makes to the heart and conscience of man for the truth of his doctrine and the beneficence of his acts. Therefore they shall be your judges. How can men condemn in another what they justify in their own? But let us see what is the spiritual sense of these words. Whether the sons or disciples of the Pharisees really were able, or only professed to be able, to cast out evil spirits is of no consequence. If they were able to do it, it was as the Egyptian magicians were able to perform wonders imitative of the miracles of Moses, - by means of the truth which they possessed, and perverted to their own ends. But if truth in the hands of a human and even insincere instrument was able to cast out devils, how much more the Truth itself! How much more unreasonable and wicked, therefore, was the imputation of sorcery against him who was the Truth in person! The sons in this case are their judges; for the truths that the evil possess are the witnesses that convict and the judges that condemn them.

28. But how different the case when it is acknowledged that devils are, and can only be, cast out by the Spirit of God - that is, by the power of divine truth proceeding from the Lords divine humanity. This is the truth; for none can really cast out evil spirits, and the evils and falsities in which they reside, but the Spirit of God, that leads into all truth, and makes us free from the slavery of sin. And when this is experienced and acknowledged, then is the kingdom of God come nigh unto us; for the government of the Lord's truth and love can only be established in the mind when the government of what is evil and false is destroyed.

29. The Lord gives another illustration of the same general truth. Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. Without recurring to the literal meaning, which is sufficiently obvious and striking, we turn at once to the spiritual sense. And as falsity as opposed to truth, and truth as opposed to falsity, is the subject of the verses immediately preceding, evil as opposed to good, and good as opposed to evil is the subject of the present verse, The house here mentioned is the mind, especially the will, the strong man is self-love, and his goods are evils, which are the objects of that love. But how can love to God enter into the will as its habitation, and remove the evils that are there, unless self-love be brought under subjection, bound by those truths which are the laws of order, and thus deprived of the dominion which it has hitherto exercised?

30. When the Lord had delivered these momentous truths, he laid down this principle as a conclusion, - He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. In Mark ix. 40 we have the inverse of this: "He that is not against us is on our part." He that is not with me in principle is against me, and he that is not against us in principle is on our part. The end determines the state of every one. This end is evil or good, and essentially determines whether we are with the Lord as the essential good and truth. This end has its seat in the will. And such as is the state of the will, such is the state of the understanding And as the will is either with or against the Lord, the understanding either gathereth with him or scattereth abroad. If the will is in good, the understanding gathers truths which are in favour of the Lord, and gives the intellect harmonious and united action with the Divine wisdom; but if the will is not in good, the understanding scatters truths - disperses and dissipates them, leaving that faculty a prey to falsities.

31, 32. The Lord comes now, after refuting the Pharisees' explanation, to set forth the spiritual character of their accusation. Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. The sin against the Holy Spirit, especially as distinguished from a word against the Son of man, with the unpardonable nature of the one and the pardonable nature of the other, has been felt to present some difficulties. The sin of the Pharisees was directed against the Lord himself, and yet it is treated as a sin against the Holy Spirit. It is trite that their charge against him - that he performed his miracles by Beelzebub involved the denial that he did them by the Spirit of God, but in this charge Jesus himself was implicated. The truth is, that the accusation which the Pharisees brought against the Lord involves both these sins, since Jesus was and is at once the Holy Spirit and the Son of man. The subject can only be understood by a knowledge of the distinction between the Spirit and the Son of man, not as divine persons, but as divine principles. In relation to the Lord himself, the Holy Spirit is his Divine spiritual principle, and the Son of man is his Divine natural principle. But this distinction may be best seen by considering the subject in relation to the Word; for whatever relates to the Lord relates to his Word also. Thus considered, the Holy Spirit is the spiritual sense of the Word, and the Son of man is its literal sense. To violate the sanctity and pervert the meaning of the Word in its spiritual sense is to be guilty of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit; but wrongly to interpret the literal sense is to speak a word against the Son of man. The former sin cannot be forgiven, but the latter may. The reason is this, - The spiritual sense of the Word consists of naked and genuine truths, or of divine truths as they are seen in the light of heaven; but the literal sense consists of truths clothed with appearances - truths is as seen in the light of the world. The obscure and apparent truths of the literal sense of the Word may be misunderstood, and may therefore be misinterpreted without a sinful intention, and without producing errors of doctrine destructive of spiritual life. The numerous sects among Christians are a standing evidence of how various interpretations may be given of the letter of the Word, and the history of the church is no less prolific in examples. In many of the systems of Christian doctrine there is a word, in some of them a cruel word, against the Son of man. Yet this can be forgiven; for in every doctrine and sect men may be saved - because in every one the heart may be sincere, though the understanding may be in error. The case is different with those who receive and acknowledge the spiritual sense. The truths of this sense being real and not apparent, naked and not clothed, they cannot be misunderstood, and therefore cannot be misinterpreted. He therefore, who would evade their meaning or their force has no alternative but to deny or pervert them. This was the sin of which the Pharisees were guilty. The work which the Lord performed by the Spirit of God was so plainly supernatural, if not divine, that they could not deny it to be miraculous; but in order to evade its force, they impiously ascribed it to diabolical powers, and thus perverted the truth, even to a denial of the Lord, to believe in whom is life eternal. The Lord provides, as far as can be done consistently with man's free-will, against this greatest of all sins; and that men may not presumptuously enter into the spiritual sense, and profane its pure and holy truths, he has covered it with a veil of apparent truths, as a protection and guard. This special providence is the cherubim that stand at the late of Paradise; and the flaming sword that turns every way to guard the way to the tree of life, is the Word in its literal sense. This serves as a protection to the internal sense, because it is capable of being variously interpreted without being destroyed; and is thus a means in the hand of the Lord for guarding the way to the living truth of its spiritual sense, lest the hand of the profane should be put forth to take of the fruit of the tree of life, to eat of which would bring upon the evil a never-ending living death. It has been a question whether the unpardonable nature of this sin is to be understood as implying that one who commits it is placed beyond the reach of possible forgiveness. The language of the Lord is certainly peculiar, - Neither in this world, neither in the world to come. Yet there is nothing inconsistent in it. It is literally true in the contrasted cases; for a wrong interpretation of the letter, if not corrected in this life, can be corrected in the next; but not so a violation of the spirit of the Word. In the spiritual sense, by "this world" is understood the natural mind, and by the next world, the spiritual mind. This sense teaches us that "a word against the Son of man" may be confined to the natural mind, but that the sin against the Holy Ghost extends to both the spiritual and natural. That which is only of the natural mind can be removed in the other world, but that which is engraven on both the natural and the spiritual parts of the mind cannot, but remains to eternity. It is possible, however, that the greater sin may be repented of in the present world, and therefore forgiven.

33. One kind or degree of profanation is hypocrisy, which consists in speaking and acting well and thinking and willing ill. This was one of the sins of which the Pharisees were guilty. It is in reference to this that our Lord said, Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt for the tree is known by his fruit. The tree itself is the man and the fruit is his works. Our Lord teaches in these words that it is less sinful to be openly evil than hypocritically good. It is not to be inferred from this that the evil should be allowed freely to practise wickedness. The Lord's words only mean that, spiritually, an evil heart is hardened in evil by the outward pretence of holiness. In the other world the universal law is, that the tree and the fruit must be alike, both good or both evil: the external and the internal make one; the mind can no longer be divided. In the more precise spiritual sense the tree is the will, the leaves are the understanding, and the fruit is the outward life. As we are not to judge of a tree by its leaves, but by its fruit, so we are not to judge a man by his faith, but by his works. In this world, indeed, even works may deceive; but it is enough for us that we judge so far as we can see. No doubt, on the large scale, principles are known by their results, though individually we may not always be able to discover the trite character of a man by his actions. This, however, is a truth by which we are to judge ourselves more than others, and by which we shall all be judged in the other life.

34. Our Lord now addresses the Pharisees in their trite characters. O generation of vipers. The cunning and malignant, who deceive by fair appearances, are spiritual serpents and vipers. The serpent is an emblem of the sensual part of man's nature; and in this have originated all the fallacies that have ever presented evil under the guise of good, or error under the name of truth, since man was first persuaded by it to eat of the tree of knowledge, that he might be as God, knowing good and evil. To ascribe the Lord's beneficent works to the prince of the devils, was truly to put evil for good and darkness for light. Error may be unintentional, but falsehood has its root in cherished evil. How can ye, being evil, speak good things? In the sight of God nothing that evil men speak or that they do can be good - an evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit. The word and the work are essentially such as the will and intention are. Truth that is spoken to deceive is falsehood; good that is done from dissimulation is wickedness. This was not, however, the case in the present instance with the Pharisees: they spake the, falsehood which their hearts prompted and their thoughts conceived. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, was trite of them. And it is true of all, though not always discerned by all, nor fully, except by Him who discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart.

35. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. The heart is the treasury whence issue the good or evil that the lips utter or the hands perform; and as our words and works are effects from the good or evil intentions of the will, and of the trite or false thoughts of the understanding, so do they contain them. Our words and works are reproductive of the good or evil that produces them; they, like fruit, have the seed within themselves that produce trees of the same quality as that by which they were produced. The tree which exists from a seed, exists again in the seed that it produces. In the small seed treasured up in the heart of the fruit the whole tree is comprehended; its whole history is written its whole experience is expressed. So in our words and works our whole being is embodied But to read our entire life and character in what we say and do, is the prerogative of Him only who is to judge every man according to his works. Men and angels may see something of one's true character in his works, but these are only gleams of light from Him who is the light itself.

36. The Lord therefore proceeds to say, But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. These words are spoken with immediate reference to the sin of which the Pharisees had been guilty. They are designed to teach us how carefully we should guard the door of our lips. Not only blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and a word against the Son of man, but every idle word that men speak shall be brought into judgment. We are not to include in these idle words everything we say that is not solemn or important. Words may be trivial and yet innocent. We are to make a distinction, too, between the lighter conversation that serves as an intellectual recreation, and the idle talk that forms the business and delight of life. One of the most pernicious and sinful kinds of idle words is that of using the language of Holy Scripture to garnish idle talk. When seriously and judiciously introduced, the language of Scripture serves both to adorn and invigorate human composition; but nothing is so indicative of bad taste and the absence of true religious sentiment, and, above all, of the want of reverence for the most sacred things, as to drag in the language of Scripture to give a quaint or ludicrous turn of expression. One great evil arising out of this is, that sacred language becomes so connected with profane ideas, that their Separation is a matter of difficulty even in the other life.

37. The Lord continues; For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. That is but a part of the doctrine that we shall be judged according to our works. Words are acts, and come forth from the will as much as deeds. Whatever any one wills from the love principle, he wills to do, to think, to understand, and to speak. Words are verbal acts, and they reflect the character as faithfully and completely as the deeds which the hand performs. Every word we utter, as well as every act we do, is inscribed on the memory as distinctly and much more indelibly than if written in a book, and will be read aloud on the day of our judgement, as if it came from the hands instead of the lips. How much good and how much evil, how much sweetness and how much bitterness, flow from the tongue! How much may the tongue do to enlighten and comfort, to promote harmony and peace; and how much may it do to darken counsel and disturb peace, to create discord and contention! In the words which our Lord addressed to the Pharisees there is something deserving of our particular attention. In nothing is Christianity more distinguished from Judaism than in considering words and actions as deriving their character from the motive which gives them birth - the end they are intended to serve. The motive is not measured by the act, but the act by the motive. Yet motive is not the only thing taken into account. The will, as the motive power of the mind, does not of itself determine the character of an action. The understanding, as the directing power, has its share in every act performed. It is to include both these faculties, which are united in everything we say or do, that both words and works are spoken of as certain to be brought into judgment. Good and evil are not of the will alone, nor are truth and falsity of the understanding alone, although we ascribe them distinctively to these faculties. Good and evil are produced by the will acting through the understanding, and truth and falsity are produced by the understanding acting from the will. Both faculties are concerned in producing every word we speak and every action we do, and both are included in every word and action when produced. Whether, therefore, we are judged by our words or works, or by both, we are judged as to our whole mind and life.

38, 39. As if to show how little impression these solemn words had made upon them, Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. They had seen the Lord perform a great miracle, yet they ask him to give them a sign. There would be no real meaning in this demand, nor in the Lord's answer to it, if there was no difference between a sign and a miracle. By a miracle is meant that which excites, strikes, and occasions amazement; but by a sign is meant that which declares, testifies and persuades concerning what is inquired after. Thus, a sign moves the understanding and its faith, and a miracle moves the will and its affections; for the will and its affection are excited, struck, and amazed, and the understanding and its faith are persuaded, and to them declaration and testification are applied. The Lord's miracles were works of benevolence; and their spiritual purpose, with regard to those who beheld them, was to affect their hearts with a sense of the Divine goodness, and incline them to listen to the teaching of his truth. A sign, on the other hand, is a work of power, having nothing in its character to affect the hearts of the spectators, but is a direct appeal to their understandings, so as to produce conviction. The Lord refused to give a sign, because it is no part of his providential economy to compel men to believe, or even persuade them to believe with the understanding only. This it would be easy for Omnipotence to do: if it pleased the Lord, he could exhibit every truth so clearly before men's minds that unbelief would be impossible. Their intellects could be raised into such clear light as would enable them to see the truth. This would be giving them a sign. But what would it avail? It would not produce true or lasting faith, but it would render unbelief or error more inexcusable, and only increase their condemnation. True faith is not produced by signs, but by reasons - the truth being rationally apprehended and spiritually discerned. Nor does saving faith come from without, but from within, nor by truth alone, but by truth and love united. Truth must, indeed enter the understanding from without, but unless love comes into the will from within, there can be no true faith. The Scriptures give the knowledge of the truth, and without revelation there would be nothing to believe, no means of belief in God and in spiritual and eternal things; but faith itself comes from the Spirit of the Lord acting upon the heart, and inspiring it with the love of the truth which has been acquired from the Word. If the Holy Scriptures themselves cannot give faith, how much less any outward sign that neither informs the understanding nor improves the heart! An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign. This is the case individually as well as generally. It is only those in whose minds unbelief has been generated by evil and impure affections that seek faith through other means than the Word and the Spirit of the Lord, Such a demand is, in fact, nothing else than asking God to convince us of the truth by suspending the functions of that very faculty which he has given to enable us to understand it.

40. The demand which the unbelieving make for a sign cannot even for their own sake be granted. But there is one sign, and one only, which the Lord grants. There shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: for as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. That which completed and for ever scaled the Lord's great work of redemption is the historical evidence of the truth of the gospel; and those who refuse to receive this are not in a state to accept any other sign, even if it were given them from heaven. Yet this is a sign which natural men are unwilling to receive. But the Lord's death and resurrection were themselves but the outward sign of in inward glorious work. The Lord's resurrection was the effect and the sign of his glorification. The Lord's glorification is eminently the sign of the prophet Jonas. The three days and nights during which the Lord was in the tomb represented, because they completed, the glorification of his humanity. The glorification of the Lord's human nature is in the highest sense the sign which is given to all men, in all ages, in testimony of the truth. Through that divine work the means and the power of faith were provided; and the Lord in his humanity, as he is the only true Object, so is he the only Author of saving faith. But this pre-eminent sign produces another, which is its reflected image. This other sign is regeneration. The prophet Jonas was therefore, the sign, not only of the Lord's glorification, but of man's regeneration, which is its effect and image. The new birth is to us and all men the practical sign, the inward and living witness, of the truth. If we would believe the truth, we must both receive and live it. "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God." The evil heart of unbelief must be removed before any sign can avail to produce faith, for faith is of the heart as well as of the understanding. The sign of the prophet Jonas is, therefore, the only sign that can be given unto men; but it is one that cannot fail to produce conviction of the truth, if they only admit it as the foundation and evidence of their faith.

41, 42. The Lord now contrasts the men of that generation with some of earlier times, who, without their advantages, manifested religions qualities of which they were destitute. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with, this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth, to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. In this and some other instances the Lord cites the case of Gentiles, to show that they were more ready to receive the truth than the Jews, who possessed the Word, and had even the presence and teaching of Him who was the Word itself. The singular circumstance of a Jewish prophet being sent to preach to a heathen nation, and the Ninevites repenting at his preaching, typified the calling of the Gentiles at the time of the Lord's advent, and the successful preaching of the gospel after his resurrection, the Christian apostles having at first shown no less reluctance than the Jewish prophet to carry the great tidings to the heathen The Queen of Sheba, here called the, queen of the south, coming to Solomon at Jerusalem, with exceeding great riches, with camels carrying spices, gold, and precious stones, like the wise men who came from the east to present their gifts to the infant Saviour, represented the wiser Gentiles coming to the Lord to offer him the precious gifts of their best affections, and to receive from him in return the riches of his wisdom. The Queen of Sheba also represented the celestial affection by which the Lord acquired all wisdom and intelligence meant by the queen's precious gifts, the camels denoting the knowledges of the natural man by which they were introduced. Wherefore, when he whom they represented is come, truly may we say, Here is one greater than Jonah, Solomon, and the temple itself. Yet the change from the representation to the actual in ourselves is not effected without opposition and conflict. Considered in reference to ourselves, the Ninevites and the queen of the south, Jonah and Solomon, are representative of different affections and principles, as they exist in our own minds in early life, before the commencement of regeneration. As actual regeneration commences with the Lords birth in the soul, corresponding to his birth into the world, the religious element which exists in the mind before this, is rather representative of the kingdom of heaven than the kingdom itself. Like the persons and events of the Old Testament, they are the shadow of good things to come, whose substance Christ is, when he makes his advent into the little world of the human mind. The old man with his affections and lusts, of which the Pharisee and the Sadducee, and the priest and the scribe, are the fit representatives, offer a determined resistance to the new man, with his heavenly affections through whom the Lord shows his power by casting out demons and healing all manner of sickness and disease, and his wisdom by teaching and reproving. What, then, is specifically to be understood by the men of Nineveh and the queen of the south rising up in the judgment against this generation and condemning it? The judgment in which they rise up with the men of this generation is the judgment which takes place in the mind of every one who becomes regenerate, by which a separation is effected in his mind between good and evil. In the process of this judgment all states return, and the early states of life rise up in judgment against the later, and condemn them. Our contrition for the errors we committed in our youth, when, like so many among the Ninevites, we could not distinguish between our right hand and our left, rises up and condemns our impenitence for the evils we have committed since we had the guiding power of a clearer light; and the simple affections of childhood, innocent though natural, rise up, as experience often testifies, and condemn the loves of our after-life. And what are the grounds of this condemnation?

The men of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonas, but those of a later age could not be moved to penitence by the preaching of Jesus. And so it is still. Not only were the sins of our youth more venial than those of our manhood, but, when reproved by the Word, our repentance was more ready and earnest. The queen of the South came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, but the men of a later age turned away from the wisdom of Jesus. And so it is still. The affections of our childhood drew us to the Word, and made us listen with delight to its lessons of wisdom, as conveyed in its charming narratives and simple precepts; and even when, like the Queen of Sheba, we tried it with hard questions, we received from the lips of parents solutions, of all our difficulties, while its higher wisdom is neglected or contemned by its in our riper years. When those rudimentary states of penitence and affection are made to "rise up" in the judgment with the impenitence and deadness of our after-life, they cannot but condemn them; and it is for condemnation that they are brought into the judgment against them, that they may bring to light, in order that we may condemn, our errors and evils, and so lead us to a true and loving acknowledgment of the Lord as the supreme good and truth, of whom all inferior goods and truths are the types and foregleams.

43. The Pharisees, we have seen (v. 38), demanded a sign, and the Lord declared that no sign should be given them. He now returns to the subject, and describes what the state of an impenitent man would be, supposing he were brought by a sign to a conviction of the truth. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. By the power of a sign, the spirit of unbelief would indeed be driven out for a time, but it would eventually return with seven-fold greater force than before. The spirit is here to be identified with the man, for a man's hearts belief or unbelief is himself, and in going out of this, unless from a sincere conviction, he goes out of himself. The spirit wandering in "dry places, seeking rest, and finding none," aptly describes the mental condition of one in whom the singular contradiction exists of having obtained faith without having received the truth - truth being meant by water, of which there is none. The outcast spirit seeks rest, but finds none, in the waste places of the soul. The mind can find no rest in a faith which is forced upon it from without. The knowledge and the evidences of truth come from without; but faith, as a living principle, comes from within, and is produced by the Spirit of the Lord operating upon the heart. Faith which is impressed upon the understanding, without changing the heart, passes away with the force which produced it, and leaves the mind more hardened in its infidelity.

44, 45. As the effect of the sign begins to pass away, as it must do, or life would cease, the spirit begins to say, I will return into my house from whence I came out. And what a picture does the house present of the faculty on which the sign had taken effect! The spirit finds it empty, swept, and garnished - empty of everything true, swept of everything good, and garnished or disposed, brought into conformity of state with evil and falsity, which the absence of everything good and true implies. The spirit is represented as first returning to the house alone, and then, when he found it empty, going and taking with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself and they enter in and dwell there. By the former spirit returning, is signified the return of the original spirit of unbelief; but his going out and returning with seven others, indicates that circle of life which every principle makes before it is confirmed. It is like the blood that flows from the heart and returns to the heart again, and may return either pure or defiled. The mind thus empty becomes the prey of greater infidelity and wickedness than before; for the seven other spirits more wicked than the former one signify a complete and confirmed state of unbelief and profanation. And this greatest of all sins makes the last state worse indeed than the first. Our Lord concludes with the terrible declaration, - Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation. The generation to which these descriptions apply is the whole congregated mass of evil and falsity, which not only deny the Lord's love and wisdom in the salvation of man, but pervert them to the destruction of spiritual life and to the everlasting misery of the soul.

46-49. As if to relieve this dark picture by shedding upon it a ray of divine light, we read that: While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Yet here too, there is a claim put in - not, it is true, by the evil and the false, represented by the Pharisees, but by the naturally good and true, represented by the mother and brethren of the Lord. Therefore, when one told him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee, the Lord did not comply with their desire, but continued his discourse to the multitude, and changing the natural into a spiritual idea, showed who were truly his mother and who were his brethren. It is well known that the Lord never addressed Mary by the name of mother. The name "woman," by which he addressed her at the marriage in Cana, was expressive of respect. The Lord's avoiding the use of "mother" in relation to Mary had a deep spiritual ground. Jesus was indeed the son of Mary according to the flesh, but he was the Son of God according to the Spirit. The humanity he derived from his human mother was but a natural and temporary covering to the humanity he derived from his Divine Father; and it was eventually put off, and so entirely, that not the least vestige of it remained; so that when his glorification was completed, at the time of his resurrection, the Lord, as to his humanity, was purely the Son of God - born, as he had been begotten, of the Essential Divinity. Even at the time when he addressed Mary, as we first read of it in the gospel the Lord's consciousness was so far in the paternal humanity, and he so far spake immediately from it, that to have called Mary his mother would have been to express an idea and a feeling that did not at the time exist. But whatever the Lord spake was not to express natural and temporary, but spiritual and eternal truth. One great purpose the Lord had in never calling Mary by the name of mother was to teach the church, in all ages, that the Lord's humanity is purely divine, and no longer the son of Mary. Another purpose was to teach the important spiritual lesson which he delivered to the multitude on this occasion, when he said, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! There is no real relationship between the Lord and men but a spiritual relationship. He has no saving relationship with men according to the flesh. That which is born of the flesh is flesh. To come into saving relationship with him, men must be born of the Spirit, for that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. And in this new birth Jesus is not our God only, but our Father. Whatever other degrees of relationship may exist between the Lord and mankind, they are all derived from this, and comprehended in it. On our part, sonship lies at the foundation of brotherhood, and of every other degree of relationship with Him who is all in all to us. The disciples to whom the Lord stretched forth his hand are all the true members of the church. His brethren are those who are in the good of charity from him; his sisters are those who are in truths derived from that good; and mother signifies the church derived and formed from those principles.

50. The question the Lord asked of the one who told and the many who heard him he still asks of us, "Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?" And it behooves us to prepare ourselves to learn from him the true answer. And the answer is, - Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. To do his Father's will is to keep his commandments from love - from his own love in us. His Father's will is his own divine love. This closing declaration of the Lord's discourse is an answer to all demands made of him, as recorded in this chapter. Those who do the Lord's will require no sign, for it will enable them to know the truth; and they who do the Lord's will, will be recognized by him as his true relations, and will not only be permitted to speak with him, but to dwell with him in the mansions of heaven - the home which he has prepared for his family, consisting of the faithful, the loving, and the obedient. There will the blessed truth which these words contain be truly and fully realized. In heaven, where all is spiritual, natural relationship is not even known. Those who were related to each other on earth may indeed dwell together in heaven; but it must be on the basis of spiritual, not of natural affinity. In heaven there is but one Father, and all existing degrees of nearness to each other in him.



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COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW p. 14        CHAPTER XIII.

1. Luke mentions, what Matthew has not recorded, that while the Lord was delivering the preceding discourse, "a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat" (ch. xi. 37). It is in reference to this that the evangelist relates that the same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the seaside. The present discourse being delivered upon the same day with the preceding one, implies its being adapted to the same general state, with the difference, that in this instance the divine teaching is accommodated to the mind in its more external condition. The sea is emblematical of the Word in its natural sense; and when the sea and the land are mentioned together, they refer to the two distinct principles of truth and good, of which it consists. The Lord's sitting by the sea side, where the land and water meet, denotes his presence where there is conjunction of good and truth in the letter of the Word, sitting also denoting an interior state, the result of that conjunction.

2. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. A ship signifies knowledge, and thence doctrine. The Lord spiritually teaches from a ship in the sea when he instructs us from doctrine in the literal sense of his Word, And when he sits in the ship, as he sat on the mount, we are instructed that he is in the inmost of all the doctrine which he teaches from the Word the whole multitude standing on the shore denoting a state of external good which is receptive of true doctrine, their standing being expressive of an active state of thought to listen to the teaching of divine truth.

3. And he spake many things unto them in parables. The present discourse consists almost entirely of parables. These were delivered to teach men by similitude the nature of the kingdom of heaven. They are not to be considered as different illustrations of the same thing or the placing of the same subject in many different lights. The king of heaven, as a state of heavenly-mindedness and holiness of life, is formed progressively, and is made up of many different and various graces and virtues, the growth of years and the result of manifold experience. Every different parable has, therefore, a meaning of its own, as descriptive of a particular state. And the parables, as a whole, contain a circle of instruction applicable to the entire religious life, It is not necessary to assume that the whole may be matter of common experience to every one who reads them; yet there is something in each that comes home to all. They teach us much relating to regeneration that may be useful to every Christian, as showing the nature and magnitude of that divine work in the soul, and providing spiritual knowledge that may aid us materially in our future life. The first which the Lord delivers is the parable of the sower - one on which more has been preached and written than on any other in the New Testament; which is due to the circumstance, that the delineations it gives of the characteristic differences of the several classes of the hearers of the Word are so wonderfully confirmed by observation and experience. The Lord begins by saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow. The Lord is the sower, and this character belongs to him as the Author of all truth. As the sower, the Lord has gone forth in every age of the world, and into every land. There is no heart in which the truths of his kingdom have not been sown. But the character and office of the sower are more especially applicable to the Lord in his humanity. He went forth as the sower, in a peculiar sense, when he came into the world as the Word in person, that he might accommodate his eternal truth to the altered states of men. The Lord also inseminates his truth in the mind from the earliest period of life, and afterwards to eternity. The Saviour is therefore ever going forth to sow, and in all souls are the seeds of truth scattered with a bountiful and impartial hand. There are, however, various and very different kinds as well as degrees of reception, but these depend on the recipient, not on the dispenser of the blessing. The divine speaker describes four different kinds of ground, as, symbolical of four different states of mind among those who constitute the visible church. We shall consider these separately, together with the explanation which the Lord gave to the disciples, when they asked him why he spake unto the multitude in parables.

4-19. The first class is described in these words: And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them, up. In the Lord's explanation of the parable, he that received seed by the way-side is one who heareth the word, and understandeth it not. Understanding is not mere intellectual apprehension. A right apprehension of divine truth is most important; but that which our Lord means is, "to understand with the heart," which consists in receiving the truth in love. Love or goodness forms the ground in which the seeds of the eternal truth are sown. A difference of minds, in respect to the principle of goodness, is that which is so graphically set before us in the parable. The way side is where there is no proper soil, or where it is so trodden down that the seeds that fall upon it never enter it, but lie unchanged upon its hardened surface. These are they in whom the good acquired from the Lord through parents and others in early life has been so trampled upon by the practical errors of later years as to have hardened the heart into a careless unconcern about eternal life. Of the seeds that fell by the way side it is said that "the fowls came and devoured them up." These the Lord explains to mean the wicked one. Fowls are the emblems of thoughts and, in the present case, are the wicked thoughts originating in evil, which is the wicked one that catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. It is a temptation of all in early manhood to forget their Creator, whom they had been taught to remember in the days of their youth, and allow light pleasures and a vain philosophy to catch away that which pious hands had been sowing in their hearts, and which the Lord's providence is continually scattering, although it be upon an ungrateful soil. Let them reflect that there is a harvest as well as a seed time, that the reaping is according to the sowing, and that he who sows the wind shall reap the whirlwind.

5, 6-20, 21. The second class of unprofitable receivers of the truth are those whose minds are like stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. In his exposition the Lord tells us, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. No class is better known than this, its characteristics being so open to observation. The readiness with which some persons accept views and receive impressions is only equaled by the readiness with which they part with them, and their warmth and zeal are quickly succeeded by indifference, and their goodness is the early dew that passeth away. The reason is to be found in their ground being stony, where there is not much earth. They have more intellect than heart; they have a keen appreciation of the beautiful, but a small love of the useful. Yet the seed which quickly germinates in the slender but genial soil might come to a weak maturity were it, fanned by zephyrs and refreshed with dews and warmed by the tempered rays of the sun of heaven. But this is not the unvarying course of Nature nor of Providence. Nature has her floods and her tempests, her dense clouds and her beaming sunshine; and Providence has its tribulations and persecutions. These strengthen the strong and healthy, but destroy the feeble and sickly; they soon prostrate or wither - that which has no root in itself, however promising its beginning may be in the eyes of men. No heavenly plant can be reared without temptation, and those which are unable to endure this ordeal must perish. Some of those, who, when they hear the word, anon with joy receive it, sometimes have so little root in themselves that they fall away under the outward tribulation of contempt or opposition; but still more liable are they to fail when the inward persecution of temptation comes. Then it is that they are offended; the sun, not of heaven, but of their own self-love, arising, scorches up everything green and living in the mind.

7-22. The third class of unproductive recipients consists of those of whom it is said - And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them. The Lord explains the thorns to mean the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches. Temporal care and a desire to be rich doubtless have a tendency to stifle the spiritual affections and repress the soul's aspirations. We are, however, to distinguish between distrustful care and mere absorbing worldly occupation, and between the honourable pursuit of wealth and an ambitious or avaricious desire to be rich. There is, however, another world and other riches, the care and deceitfulness of which may choke the Word and render it unfruitful. This world, individually considered and spiritually understood, is the natural mind, and the riches which belong to it are the knowledges of religion - and its riches are deceitful when we deceive ourselves with the false idea that the knowledge of religion is religion itself. The Lord's description of this class leads us to suppose that they do not want capacity but culture. The - ground was neither deficient nor barren. The soil which produces weeds can support something better. Wheat would have grown where the thorns flourished. But the thorns required to be rooted up, and the ground prepared to receive the good seed. And here we see the great defect of those whose state is here described. It is not enough to know the truth; if we would be happy, we must do it. And even here we may deceive ourselves. For it is not enough to do good, we must cease to do evil. We must root out the thorns as well as sow the wheat. And this is just what the class we are considering neglect to do. And a large class it is, if theory be an indication of practice, which it is not always, even when doctrine is unfavourable to virtue. They may be pious, and studious, and exemplary, but they do not examine themselves to discover, with the view to put away, the inborn and inbred evils of their neglected hearts. The seed is indeed received and grows, but it never comes to perfection, but becometh unfruitful.

8-23. We come at last to those with whom the seed fell into good around. But other fell into good ground, and brought forth some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. The divine Sower himself explains it thus: he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth, the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Some hear, but do not understand; Some understand, but fail to perform: but here we have one who, after he has taken the first step, goes on perseveringly till he has reached the end, from the sowing of the seed to the ingathering of the harvest. The distinguishing mark of this class is - they bear fruit; the other parts of the process are necessary to precede, but this is the end and fulfilment of them all. "Herein is my rather glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples" (John xv. 8). The fruitfulness of religion is different in different members of the church. Every branch of the vine must bear fruit, otherwise the husbandman taketh it away - but every branch is not alike productive, nor does the husbandman demand that it should be. All that bear fruit are branches of the true vine, but they may bear some thirty, some sixty, some an hundredfold. Yet this does not mean a difference only in the quantity of the fruit, but of the quality also. With some, good works are the fruits of simple obedience; with some, they are the fruits of charity and with others, they are the fruits of love. These are the three degrees of perfection pointed out by our Lord in his thirty, sixty, and an hundredfold. The thirty, sixty, and an hundredfold are expressive both of three distinct states and degrees of the regenerate life, and of three distinct classes of regenerate persons. The numbers are significative of the character of these states, and of those distinguished by them. These numbers are three tens, six tens, and ten tens. Ten has perhaps the most comprehensive signification of any number that occurs in Scripture. God gave his representative people ten commandments, and be required, of them a tenth of their produce; the one being expressive of all their moral duties, the other of all their divine worship. Ten therefore signifies a full or complete state, the other numbers with which it is combined signifying the quality of the state. These signify the three states and degrees which we call natural, spiritual, and celestial. Ten signify remains - three tens, the remains of good and truth acquired by instruction - six tens, remains of good and truth confirmed by temptation; and ten tens, the remains of good and truth confirmed by life: this last is a complete and perfect state, in which good and truth are equal and united.

We may remark in conclusion that, although we have explained the parable in reference to different classes in the church, it is not without an application to different but successive states in the regeneration of one. You will perceive from the parable that the ground improves in each succeeding state, and the seeds enter more deeply into the soil, and make a more successful effort to grow up, till the effort is crowned with success in the producing of fruit. And then, also, the threefold fruitfulness may be found in the fully regenerate man.

As, in order to avoid prolixity and repetition, we have given the spiritual sense and practical application of the parable of the sower as our Lord explained it, combining with it whatever is peculiar in the parable itself, we shall now return to verse 10, where we find the disciples inquiring, and the Lord declaring, the reason of his teaching by parables.

10. After the Lord had delivered the parable of the sower, the disciples came and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? The disciples and the multitude are those who are within and those who are without the church, and the question is, why those who are without, differently from those who are within, are taught by parables. This question and the Lord's answer cover more than what is strictly called the parabolic portion of the Word. The whole of the literal sense of the Word, considered in relation to the spiritual, is parabolic - truth veiled - so as to make it apprehensible by the natural mind.

To those within the church who are in genuine doctrine from the letter of the Word, the spiritual sense can be opened. Not that a mere intellectual reception of true doctrine can prepare the mind for seeing the internal sense of the Divine Word; for the real reception of genuine doctrine itself presupposes a state of love and holiness, since they only who do his will know savingly of the doctrine. Those who by goodness have received the genuine doctrines of the Word, and have been introduced into the church, are prepared to see and receive the spiritual sense. To them it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven but to those who are without it is not given.

12. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. The meaning of which seeming paradox is this - that whoever has goodness will receive truth, and receive it abundantly; but whoever has not goodness, from him will be taken away even the truth of doctrine that he hath. This law is fulfilled in its perfection in the other life. Those who in this world have lived in love to God and to their neighbour, although in comparative ignorance, or even in error, will receive as much truth as their good admits or requires; rich in goodness here, they will abound in wisdom hereafter; but they who have not lived in love and charity will be deprived of that truth, however much it may be, which they had known in the world.

13. Therefore, continues our Lord, speak I to them in parables; because they, seeing see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. Man has an internal and an external will and understanding, and there are internal and external goods and truths adapted to them: the first are spiritual, the second are natural. We may see with our natural understanding, and hear with our natural will, and yet have no inward discernment or love of truth and goodness. Nay, the internal will and understanding may be opposed to the external. The outward will may prompt us to learn and even to teach the truths of religion, and the understanding labour intelligently and unweariedly in the work, and yet our inner natural mind may disbelieve and contemn them. There is no real understanding where there is no inward discernment, for the outward sight is derived from the inward perception.

14. This, in the Jews, was the fulfilment of a prophecy by Isaiah, the first part of which is similar to the statement of the Lord in the preceding verse, and on which it is unnecessary to enlarge.

15. In this verse, however, it is declared that the heart of the people had waxed gross, intimating that the will had become sensual, which is the ground of all other morbid conditions; for when the will is debased, men close their ears and their eyes against the truth. And their object in doing so is, lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted and be healed. To understand with the heart - that is, from the will - is true discernment, and the gate of true conversion and health. Conversion is a change of the understanding; healing is a restoration of the will. When this salvation is deliberately and determinately refused, it is a mercy to speak to men in parables - to address the truth to them in dark sayings. Were it presented to them in clear light, they would pervert and profane it. But why present it to them at all? Because, in the first place, the Word is of much indirect benefit to even natural men; and in the second place, salvation being possible with, and therefore offered to all, the Lord provides all with his truth as they are able to bear it and are most likely to profit by it.

16. But happy are those whose state is the reverse of all this, and to whom the Lord can say, blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. To have the understanding and the will open to the admission of heavenly light and love must be a blessed state indeed. In this is realized the Lord's desire towards his creatures, and their own true happiness.

17. The blessing connected with this state is spoken of as being enhanced by the circumstance. That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. This refers to the fulfilment of the prophecies and promises to which the wise and good of all ages had looked forward with hopeful desire but which the disciples were privileged to behold in the person and work of the Incarnate God. But, as we have seen, there is a spiritual state in the life of every regenerate man corresponding to that which preceded the Lord's advent; and there is a looking forward of truth in the intellect, and a desiring of good in the will - which are the prophet and the righteous in us - to the time and state in which the things which once were objects of faith and hope shall be the realized possession of the heart and life; when, indeed, things that existed abstractly in the remote conceptions of the inner man will exist actually in the practical experience of the outer life. To the former state belongs the parable, to the latter its explanation. for the second state is the unfolding of the first.

18-23. These verses contain the Lord's explanation of the parable of the sower, which has been incorporated with the parable itself, as explained in verses 1-9.

24-30. Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened auto a man which sowed good seed in his field: but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. In the previous parable there is one sower and one kind of seed; in this there are two sowers and two kinds of seed. The Divine Sower is here followed by his enemy, who sows tares where he had sown wheat. In the former parable there were pre-existing in the mind obstacles enough to the success of the sower's labours; here there is a new and extraneous aspect and element employed to neutralize his work. This particular feature in the parable describes a circumstance in the regenerate life similar to that recorded in the 4th chapter, where we read that Jesus was led of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil. The reception of the Lord's truth and of the Spirit of truth lays the mind open to temptation, as induced by the spirits of darkness. Temptation is not, however, the result of the mere admission of truth into the mind, even when intellectually apprehended. There can be no temptation where there is no goodness, for temptation is essentially a conflict between good and evil; yet evil assails good by means of falsity, and good defends itself by means of truth. It is therefore the truth of good that lays the mind open to temptation. That which the man of the present parable sowed in his field is therefore called good seed, to indicate that the implantation of the truth of good, and its confirmation by temptation, is the subject treated of. As this parable of the Lord contains in it arcana relating to the separation of the evil from the good, and concerning the last judgement as it took place in the spiritual world, it is of importance it should be minutely explained. The kingdom of heaven is the Lord's church in heaven and on earth, for the church is in both worlds. The man, called in ver. 37 the Son of man, who sowed good seed in his field, is the Lord as to divine truth, which is the Word; the good seed is the divine truth, and the field is the church, where the Word is. "But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way," signifies that whilst men lead a natural life, or the life of the world, then secretly, or when they are not aware, evils from hell insinuate and implant falsities. To sleep signifies to lead a natural life, or a life in the world, which life is sleep compared with spiritual life, which is wakefulness. The enemy signifies evils from hell, which affect the natural life separate from spiritual life. To sow tares is to and implant falsities; and his going his way signifies that it was done secretly, or whilst they were unaware. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also, means, when truth grew and good was produced, falsities from evil were intermixed; for the blade springing up signifies truth, such as it is when first received, fruit signifies good, and tares signify falsities derived from evil, in this case intermixed. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? By this is to be understood that those who are in truths derived from good, perceiving that falses from evil were intermixed, then make complaint; for the servants of the householder signify those who are in truth from good. The householder signifies the Lord as to truths from good the good seed, the field, and the tares signify the same as already explained. He said unto them, An enemy (or adversary) hath done this, signifies that those falsities were from evil in the natural man. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them (the tares) up? signifies the separation and ejection of falsities derived from evil before truths derived from good are received and increased. But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them, signifies that thus truth derived from good, and its increase, would also perish; for with the man of the church truths are intermixed with falsities, which cannot be cast out and separated until they are reformed. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. The separation of false principles derived from evil, and their ejection, can not be effected until it is the last state of the church; for then such falsities are separated from the truths of good, and these falsities are delivered to hell, and the truths of good - or, what is the same, those who are in them - are conjoined to heaven. These things are done in the spiritual world, where all who are of the church, from its beginning to its end, are in such a manner separated and judged. The harvest is the end or last state of the church; binding in bundles signifies to conjoin together the several species of falsities derived from evil; to burn signifies to deliver to hell; and to bring together into the barn, is to be conjoined to heaven.

31, 32. Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: which indeed is the least of all seeds; but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. When the Divine Word declares the deep depravity of the human heart, and points out the long and severe labour of the regenerate life, we are sometimes disposed to be overwhelmed and discouraged. There are not wanting, on the other hand, lessons that give us relief and encouragement. The parable of the mustard seed is one of these. It tells us, in language which every one can understand, that if the kingdom of heaven is really received into the heart, the smallest possible beginning is sufficient to ensure a successful issue, if we only persevere. In its spiritual sense the parable teaches this lesson still more clearly. The mustard seed is the symbol of truth in which there is something of spiritual good. If only a little, however little, of spiritual good has taken root in the heart, it grows as seed in good around. In the process of its growth the mustard seed becomes first the greatest among herbs, and then a tree. When faith is being conjoined to love, the spiritual principle within us is an herb or a shrub, but when faith and love are actually united, it is a tree. And then the birds of the heavens come and make their nests in its branches. Birds are thoughts, branches are knowledges; in which, when man is regenerate, thoughts, or intellectual truths, are multiplied.

Nor is the encouraging lesson of this parable confined to the growth of spiritual principles in the present life. For any one who, by combating against evil, as sin, has in the world procured anything spiritual, however small, is saved, and his uses afterwards grow like a grain of mustard seed into a tree.

"For so long as man lives in the body, the seed is in corporeal ground, and is there entangled and obscured by scientifics and pleasures, and by cares and solicitudes; but when these are put off, as is the case when he passes into the other life, the seed is loosened from them and grows, as the seed of a tree grows when it rises out of the ground to grow into a shrub, and then into a tree, and next to be multiplied into an orchard of trees; for all science, intelligence, and wisdom, with their delights and felicities, thus fructify and are multiplied and thereby increase to eternity, and this from the smallest seed, as the Lord teaches respecting the grain of mustard seed - which may be sufficiently manifest from the science, intelligence, and wisdom of the angels, which was ineffable to them at the time they were men."

33. Another parable spake he unto them: The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal.

This parable describes the formation of the heavenly state in the mind, as effected or promoted by temptation. Leaven itself signifies what is false derived from evil; and meal or flour, truth, from which good is derived. Meal or flour has two significations. Considered as the product of wheat, meal signifies truth derived from good; but, considered as that from which bread is made, it signifies truth from which good is derived. As bread-making is the subject of the present parable, the meal signifies truth from which good is derived. The leavening process, which is the prominent idea of the parable, is an expressive symbol of temptation. The use of temptation is analogous to that of leavening or fermentation: it serves to purify good and truth. The purification of truth from falsity in the mind cannot be effected without that tribulation to which fermentation corresponds, and which is the combat of falsity with truth, and of truth with falsity. After the conflict, when truth has triumphed, falsity falls down like dregs, and leaves the truth pure like wine, which becomes clear after fermentation. This conflict, meant by leavening and fermentation, belongs chiefly to that turning-point or transition state in the regenerate life where the Christian, who has hitherto acted from the truth of faith, begins to act from the good of charity; or when his religion, which has been hitherto chiefly of the head, begins to be of the heart. This distinction between a state of truth and a state of good was represented in a singular distinction ordained by the Jewish law between the general meat offerings and that of the first-fruits. The Passover and other feasts were required to be celebrated with unleavened bread - leaven being strictly forbidden; but in the new meat offering at the feast of the first-fruits, the wave-bread was commanded to be baked leavened. The first-fruits, it is easy to see, represent a new state in the regenerate life. This new state is the state of good which succeeds a state of truth, or of love that succeeds a state of faith. And to mark this distinction, the preceding feasts were to be celebrated with bread unleavened, but this with leavened bread. Thus, when we have sown our seed, and have succeeded in bringing our harvest to that degree of maturity which enables us to offer the, first-fruits to the Lord, who has crowned the year with his goodness, we have at least entered on that state which enables us to eat and to offer leavened bread - good purified from evil by temptation. So is the kingdom likened unto leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of meal. Let us attend to the particulars. A woman represents affection; here the affection of that good on which the regenerate soul is entering, which it desires, and to which it looks forward, as the woman did to the bread for which she was preparing. The woman's taking the leaven and hiding it does not imply that the regenerating man knowingly adopts what is false, but that the false principle insinuates itself into the mind through the affections. Her hiding it teaches that falsity, when it has thus insinuated itself, lies concealed among the truths which have been acquired, signified by the meal. And there being three measures of meal, indicates that the mind, having attained a full state of truth, is prepared to enter on a state of good; and the attainment of this state is indicated by the leaven remaining in the meal till the whole was leavened. It is only when the whole is leavened that the kingdom of heaven is realized.

Another lesson contained in this parable may be useful. Fermentation not only signifies the purification of the individual man, but of the collective or social also. Spiritual fermentations are effected by various methods, both in heaven and on earth. They are evils and falsities together, which, being let into societies, produce effects similar to those produced by leaven put into meal and new wine, by which heterogeneous things are separated, and homogeneous things conjoined and purity and clearness are effected.

36. We here read that when Jesus had sent the multitude away, he went into a house, and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. This sending of the multitude away, and going into a house with his disciples, evidently signifies a change of state in which the natural thoughts and affections recede, while the higher affections and thoughts are elevated into a higher region or faculty of the mind. It describes a state, indeed, in which man retires from the world, and enters into a more immediate communion with the Lord, and is enlightened by him respecting those external truths which had been addressed to him while in a more external state of apprehension. The Lord, therefore, expounds the parable to his disciples. His exposition we shall now consider.

37-43. He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man, signifies divine truth from the Lord; the field is the world, signifies the church everywhere; the good seed are the children (or sons) of the kingdom, signifies that divine truth is with those who are of the church; the tares are the children of the wicked one, signifies falsities with those who are in evil. The enemy that sowed them is the devil, signifies that they have falsities from evil which is from hell; the harvest is the end of the world (consummation of the age) signifies the last time of the church; and the reapers are the angels, signifies that divine truth from the Lord effects separation. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, signifies that divine truths from the Lord are about to remove those who shall hinder separation; and them which do iniquity, signifies that they are those who live in evil; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire, signifies into hell, where they are who are in self-love, in hatred, and revenge: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth, signifies where there is what is direful arising from evils and falsities. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, signifies that they who have done the Lord's precepts will live in heavenly loves and in their joys in heaven: they are called righteous who acknowledge the Lord and do his precepts.

44. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth, that field. In the previous parable the kingdom is compared to leaven hid in meal; here it is compared to treasure hid in a field. In the former case the worse is hid within the better; here the better is hid within the worse - at least, the precious within the common. Does not this point to that inversion of state of which we have spoken in treating of the last parable? The internal was occupied by an evil and disturbing element; now, when tribulation has spent its force and done its purifying work, a treasure is found where impurity dwelt. And now also the treasure is appreciated, and is a source of joy; and to obtain possession of it, the discoverer is disposed to sell all that he has. But to obtain the treasure it is necessary to purchase the field in which it lies bid. The treasure which the man found are the treasures of wisdom and knowledge as revealed in the Divine Word, and the field is the church and heaven, not the church that is without him, but the church that is within him - the principles that constitute the church, especially the good in which is truth. But if the church containing the treasure is within, why should he sell all that he hath to obtain it? Because these principles are as yet only in the inner man, and they are not truly a man's own till they have become principles of the outer man also. And they cannot become so till the evils of self-love and the love of the world, which have their abode in the outer man, are removed to make room for them. These evils of the selfhood are man's own and only property - the all that he hath; the treasure and the field are the Lord's. And these can be purchased and possessed only by selling all that he hath, which is to give up his own will and wisdom, that he may make the divine will the motive of his heart, the divine wisdom the guide of his understanding, and both the rule of his life. Nor is this now felt to be so very difficult a work; for the joy which he has in the newly-found treasure makes him willing to go away and part with his old possessions. And when he has sold all, the treasure is his, and he is the Lord's.

45. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man seeking goodly pearls. The man of the previous parable found the treasure - this man goes in search of the pearls. After the mind has been freed by tribulation from its obscurity arid deadness, truths are seen and joys are felt to which the mind was before a stranger. And when these hid treasures, thus brought to light, have been acquired, they give the mind a desire for more, and prompt it to seek after them. Now, too, there is a definite object in view: goodly or beautiful pearls are the objects of his search. These pearls are the beautiful and precious truths that enlarge the mind's view of spiritual life and eternal things, and that lead to a more perfect practice; and like the pearly gates of the holy city, introduce the mind into the glories and beatitudes of the second paradise. But this searcher also becomes a finder: in seeking for pearls be finds one pearl of great price. This pearl of pearls, this truth of truths, is the truth as it is in Jesus - the knowledge of him whom to know is life eternal. It is not the merely intellectual, but the saving knowledge of the Lord, the saving truth, that makes him to us, not the Saviour of the world only, but the Saviour of our souls. This is the pearl of great price for which the merchant man sells all that he hath. But what has the regenerate man to sell if he has already sold all? A man may part with all that is opposed to religion so far as he has become religious, but a new advance in truth or goodness brings some new principle of the mind into action, and discloses some new evil or error hostile to it which requires to be removed. And that which is opposed to the love of the Lord, which has now been found, is the love of self; as that which is opposed to the love of the neighbour, as already remarked, is the love of the world. As there are two distinct possessions that belong to the selfhood, so there are two distinct acts of alienation; the alienation of the lesser evil being meant by the selling of the man's all in the last parable, and the alienation of the greater evil by the selling of his all in this.

47-50. The Lord gives still another parable, which forms the last of the present discourse. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto, a net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: which when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. In a general sense the sea signifies the Word, and the fish in the sea signify the living truths which the Word contains. Fishers are teachers who draw truths from the Word that they may impart them to others and their net is the science or knowledge they employ for the double purpose of acquiring truths and converting men. The general subject, or the internal historical sense of this passage, relates to the end of the church, and the judgment by which that event is attended in the spiritual world. "The separation of the evil and the good is here likened to a net cast into the sea, which gathered fish of every kind, because fish signify natural men as to scientifics and knowledges; and they, in the consummation of the age, or the time of the last judgement, are separated from each other, for there are natural good men and natural evil men. Their separation in the spiritual world appears as a net cast into the sea, gathering and drawing fish to the shore: this appearance is also for correspondence, wherefore the kingdom is likened by the Lord to a net gathering fish." Judgment being the subject of the parable, we may extend the application. Consider it first in application to those who draw truths from the Word, and judge, and separate between them. When we first learn from the Word, we draw truths of every sort, consisting, however, of two general kinds, which are genuine and apparent truths. In the minds of the young, these are mixed or undistinguished; but when reason assumes its sway, it judges between them, gathering the genuine into the vessels of true doctrine, and casting the apparent away, that is, removing them from the others, and placing them out of the field of active use. But there is still another judgment, more practical, because entering deeper in the life than this. A time comes when it is required of us to judge of principles, not as they relate to doctrine, but to life; not to the understanding, but to the will. So far as we are natural, we cast our net into the sea of life, and take up all that comes, indulging without distinction in lawful and unlawful pleasures, gains, likes and dislikes, ends and means or if we distinguish between them, it is by a worldly rule applied by worldly motives. As we acquire, not the knowledge, but the conscience of good and truth, and act from the will, which is meant by sitting down, we gather the good into the vessels of the inner memory, which is into the life, and cast the bad away or remove worldly ends away from the life's love. That this judgment proceeds from a high spiritual principle is indicated in the parable. There is nothing said in the parable as to who cast the net into the sea, or who drew it to the shore; but in the Lord's explanatory application we learn that the separation is effected by the angels. "In the consummation of the age the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just." That is to say, when we come to act from spiritual or heavenly principles, the spiritual or heavenly principles of the internal man "come forth" into the external, where the good and bad have been mixed, and where the separation between them is to be effected. Besides separating the wicked from the good, they are to cast them into a furnace of fire, where there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. As the scriptural descriptions of the final place, and sufferings in the other life, is only a description of their final state, operations and experience, so, when understood of separated principles, these descriptions are only revelations of their real character. This casting into the furnace of fire means that these wicked principles are in themselves burning lusts, and that it is their very nature to give birth to evil and falsity, signified by wailing and gnashing of teeth.

The way to know the final state of the evil and the good is to know the nature of evil and goodness; and the way to avoid the furnace of fire in the other world is to quench the fire of evil lusts while we live in this.

In treating of this series of parables we have not always traced their connection. This has been done by Clowes, whose remarks we quote, as a summing up of the whole. The serious and intelligent reader will be at once edified and delighted at observing that the several parables contained in this chapter stand in a connected order as to their internal sense, and thus follow each other in a regular series, expressive of the whole process of regeneration, commencing with the first reception of heavenly truth from the Word, and advancing through all the gradation of its growths to the full maturity of heavenly love and life. Accordingly, the first parable, of the sower, describes the first insemination of truth, which is the first step towards the heavenly life. The second parable, of the tares of the field, describes the manifestation of evils and falses in consequence of such insemination, which is the second step, and an effect of the first. The third parable, of the grain of mustard seed, describes the small increment of heavenly life; whilst man supposes that he does good from himself alone, and not from the Lord, which is the third state in the regeneration. The fourth parable, of the leaven &c., describes the temptation consequent on the reception of heavenly truth and good, which is a fourth state.

The fifth parable, of treasure hid in a field, describes the further effect of heavenly truth and good, in leading man to renounce his proprium, or his own proper life, that he may appropriate the life of heaven, which is signified by selling all that he hath, and buying that field, which is a fifth state. The sixth parable, of the merchant man seeking beautiful pearls, describes the effect of heavenly truth in leading man to the acknowledgment of the Lord as the alone source of all good and truth, and the consequent renunciation of self-love and its guidance, which is a sixth state. The seventh parable, of a net cast into the sea, describes the last effect of the reception of heavenly truth and good, in accomplishing a full and final separation between goods and evils, and between truths and falses, so that goods and truths are brought into conjunction with heaven, whilst evils and falses are cast down into hell and this is the seventh and last stage of the regenerate life.

51. When he had finished his parables, Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? Addressed to the disciples, this question is still asked of every one by the Spirit of the Lord, that dwells within him and every true disciple must be able to answer: Yea, Lord. Question and answer express reciprocation. Love asks and wisdom answers. And when the answer and the question correspond, there is unity of heart and understanding.

52. Then said he unto him, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old. Literally, a scribe was one skilled in the law; a scribe instructed unto the kingdom, of heaven is one versed in the gospel. Things new and old, which the disciples, as scribes instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, were to bring out of their treasures, are the truths of the Old and New Testaments. Every heaven-instructed scribe must bring out of both these treasure-houses the precious things, new and old, in such due proportion as may be required for edification; for the law and the gospel are intimately connected, forming but two parts of one great whole. There are, however, other two things, included in these, which the heaven-instructed scribe must bring forth; which are the letter and the spirit of the Word. In the Scriptures these are called old and new, as where the apostle speaks of serving God, not according to the oldness of the letter, but according to the newness of the spirit. The letter without the spirit is not only old, but dead, and therefore killeth. The letter and the spirit together afford the means of perfect instruction and these new and old things every scribe instructed unto the kingdom of heaven will bring unitedly to bear on the eternal concerns of men, and not less on his own, which it is his duty and his privilege to promote.

53. And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. When Jesus teaches - men, and departs from the scene of his labours, it is to represent that he first instructs his children, and then withdraws himself, leaving them freely to act upon the lessons of life he has imparted to them. We feel ourselves more in the presence of the Lord when reading his Word; but when we are engaged in the business of the world, we feel as if we were alone. We are not then less in his presence, but are permitted to feel as if we were alone, that we may act from liberty according to reason, and so confirm by practice what he has taught us by precept.

54. But when the Divine Teacher withdraws from one place, he goes to another. In the present instance he went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up (Luke iv. 16). And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue. The Lord comes to his own country in us, where he was brought up, when we contemplate him as he appeared to us in our early life, when our thoughts of him, though reverential, were yet natural, when we saw him as man, but knew him not as God. When he returns, it is in the power of the Spirit, to preach a new doctrine in our old synagogues, to infuse into our early religious notions higher ideas, to emancipate us from the dominion of the senses, as well as from the slavery of sin. This state is accurately described in the narrative, which is instructive in itself. If the Lord's words and works did not produce belief, they caused astonishment. The people were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom and these mighty works? The wisdom of the Lord's words, and the might of his works, were not questioned; the doubting question was, whence he had obtained them. The inquiry is one that may be legitimately and usefully made; but we should strive to obtain the true answer, which the Lord himself has given, - Of myself I can, do nothing. As I hear I judge. The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works."

55, 56. The Nazarenes had seen Jesus as an ordinary man, and they could not bring themselves to believe that he was anything more. Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren James, and Joses, and Simon and Judas? and his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? They who asked these questions were more excusable than those in the present day who look upon Jesus as a mere man; for these obstacles to a belief in his divinity are now removed out of the way of the senses, which draw down the mind to sensual judgment, and the record of his whole life is presented in the gospels, while to the evidences which his words and works presented to the people of his own country are added his resurrection and ascension, which raise him out of the category of ordinary men, and, truly considered, declare him to be God in a divine humanity. But the Spirit of inspiration, in adopting these inquiries as a part of revelation, has embodied in them spiritual and eternal truths. Joseph is not mentioned by name in this passage. Jesus is called the carpenter's son. "His being apparently the son of a carpenter, or worker in wood, confirmed the people in a natural idea respecting him, not understanding its divine signification, as being representative of the good of life derived from the doctrine of truth." In the general sense, Mary, the mother of Jesus, signifies the church; and the church is constituted by life and not by doctrine without it. To teach this representatively, the Lord on the cross consigned Mary to John as his mother, and John to Mary as her son; and John, who represented the good of love, took her to his own home, to represent that where the good of love is, there is the church. Those called the brethren and sisters of the Lord represented rational good and truth. "In the Lord himself is the, celestial marriage, being the essential divine good, and at the same time divine truth. Angels and men are in the celestial marriage so far as they are in love to the Lord, and in charity towards the neighbour, and thence in faith - that is, in the Lord's good, and thence in truth. Then they are called daughters and sons, and amongst themselves sisters and brothers. The reason why rational truth is called a sister is, because it is conceived by an influx of divine good into rational truths; the good which is thence in the rational principle is called brother, and the truth thence is called sister." The contemptuous ascription of mere natural descent and relationship to the Lord, when understood by angels, as they may be obscurely by men, are changed into ideas of spiritual affinity with him, according to his own declaration, "He that doeth the will of my Father, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother."

57. Those who pointed to his natural relationships were offended in him. This is an example of the proneness of the natural mind to judge of the Lord and his Word by appearances, and its repugnance to connect visible effects with divine causes. The Word, as divine truth, is precisely analogous to the Lord himself when on earth: it is clothed with a natural body, which is its literal sense; and those who judge of the Word by the letter alone are similar to those who judged of Jesus by the outward humanity alone. In both cases, within those human appearances, from which the natural man judges the whole to be human, there is a true spirituality and divinity that raise them entirely above ordinary men and ordinary writings. When, the Lord saw the effects of the reasonings of the people, he said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. The literal truth of this is well illustrated by the case of the Lord himself. If any one could have escaped this common fate of prophets, our Lord must have been that one; yet even he was no exception to the rule. If such was the experience of the Perfect One, how much more the frail members of his household. As to the spiritual meaning of this, the prophets represented the doctrine of truth which they taught. The native country and the house of the prophet are the understanding and will of the natural mind. The doctrines and truths of the Word are, at their first reception, laid up in the memory as knowledge, having the same place, and being on the same level, as other knowledge relating to the world. So long as they occupy this part of the mind they are not honoured above the other matters of science with which they are mingled. It is only when they are separated from other and inferior things, and made the subjects of a higher thought, and connected with higher ends, that they obtain the honour that is due to them; for they are then elevated into the spiritual mind, and exalted in the affections and thoughts, and invested with the authority which belongs to them. It is possible, on the other hand, that when the time for decision comes, the truths and doctrines of religion thus laid up in the natural memory may be rejected and degraded, instead of being chosen and honoured; when the early disciple becomes offended in Jesus, and regards him only as a man among men.

58. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief. It is a very common opinion that one great purpose of the Lord's miracles was to produce belief. Here we find that unbelief was an impediment to his performing miracles. Hence the question so often put to applicants for cures, "Dost thou believe that I am able to do this?" Miracles may confirm and exalt belief, but they cannot produce it. The ground of belief is in an honest and good heart, and this miracles cannot create. The same principle holds good in our individual experience in regard to the Lord's mighty works of regenerating power. He can do no mighty work in us if our unbelief is such as to hinder the operation of his love and truth within us. The Lord works in us through our faith. And if his mighty working in our hearts and minds and lives is not experienced by ourselves, and made manifest to others, it is assuredly because of our unbelief.




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COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW p. 15        CHAPTER XIV.

In the eleventh chapter we read of John, in prison, sending two of his disciples to Jesus, to ask him if he was the promised Saviour, or if they were to look for another. The cause of that eminent servant of the Lord being shut up in the prisoner's cell, and the cause and manner of his violent death, are brought to light in the beginning of this chapter. Like many other teachers sent from God, he suffered for his faithfulness and integrity. Although it may seem inconsistent with an overruling providence that the just should suffer for their righteousness, it evinces at least that God does not show any partiality even in favour of those who serve him, but that it is the order of his government that events should take their natural course, uninterrupted by his special interference. So far on the circumstances relating to John the Baptist as historical facts. As part of the Divine Word, they contain a deeper sense, and convey a more instructive lesson, which we now come to consider.

1, 2. At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, and said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist: he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him. Herod, as the ruler of Galilee, represented the ruling principle in the unregenerate natural mind, and the natural man, of which Galilee was the symbol (ch. ii. 22). He heard of the fame of Jesus. Evil is no insuperable obstacle to men acquiring the knowledge of spiritual and divine things. But the effect is very different on them and on the good. With Herod the knowledge of the fame of Jesus revives in his mind the recollection of his crime against John; and superstition, which is the natural man's religion, leads him to see in this new power the increased potency of an old and hated, and now dreaded enemy. This is no unfaithful representation of the case of the evil in the other life, where judgment follows crime. When they themselves are risen from the dead, the Word which, because of its testimony against their sins, they had destroyed in themselves, rises from the dead - with greater than its former power, - is a testimony against them. For the words which the Lord has spoken, and which he speaks in our conscience, though silenced, are not absolutely destroyed, but will rise against us even out of our own minds in the day of judgment. But, in regard to the regenerate, this circumstance has another aspect. With these, when in temptation, the truth is imprisoned in their own natural minds, among the evils and falses of the selfhood, and when the appearances of truth die, or are put off, the truth itself rises into new life in a higher region of the mind; and then it is no longer John, but Jesus - not the letter, but the spirit of truth. Herod did not keep his conviction of the identity of Jesus with John in his own heart, but expressed it to his servants. His servants signify the thoughts of the natural mind, and his telling them signifies the feelings of a corrupt and guilty will, finding utterance in the thoughts of a subservient understanding.

3. The evangelist then begins to relate the events which had given rise to this surmise of the guilty tetrarch. For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife. This aggravated crime of Herod represented the complete adulteration of good and truth in the church. Herod's hostile conduct towards John describes the sinner's determination to silence and repress the testimony of the Word against himself. And in the description of Herod's acts the completeness of this activity is represented, for laying hold of John signifies opposition of the will to the divine truth, binding him signifies opposition of the understanding and putting him in prison signifies the ultimate effect of both in the life.

4. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. John's noble testimony against Herod's aggravated and unnatural crime represented the condemnation of sin, by the Word, as contrary to divine order and to human happiness. When the lusts of the flesh, or other natural concupiscences, tempt us to forbidden because debasing pleasures, we should listen to the voice of God's truth, which ever speaks to us in the words of him who still comes to prepare in our minds the way of the Lord- "It is not lawful for thee to have her."

5. in the disposition of Herod to put John to death, we see the effect of the Divine testimony on the hardened sinner, who desires not only to silence, but to destroy the truth. That there was some faint trace of conscience even in the mind of Herod, appears from the record of the evangelists; but the outward consideration was stronger then the inward dictate. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude. The fear of man is not without its use: it prevents the perpetration of many crimes. Yet the fear of man only restrains; the fear of God constrains. Of this truth Herod is a striking example. Spiritually, the multitude are the affections and thoughts of the natural mind - those which have been brought under the influence of the principles of religion in early or in simpler states of life. Although the lessons of truth may not have taken root in the heart, they yet check us in our sinful career. Because they counted him as a prophet. The Word is still acknowledged as a teacher of truth and righteousness, whose authority is not to be entirely defied.

6. When the soul is progressing in sin, these suggestions of external truth are easily and effectually silenced by the influence of inward passion. The history of Herod's crime against John, naturally and spiritually understood, teaches this. But when Herod's birthday was kept. Birth signifies the coming into actual existence in the external of what has been purposed and deliberated in the internal - thus, the bringing an intention into act. Here, indeed, we have not a birth, but the celebration of a birthday; but we celebrate birthdays only because we rejoice in the birth, and our joy includes rejoicing in the continuance and progress of a life which was commenced on the day we keep in its honour. The rejoicing on a birthday denotes also a state of the delight of the affections, which disposes the mind to yield to the ruling tone of the person or principle born. The new state represented by that of Herod on his birthday is pregnant with warning. A crime, from which he had been restrained by the fear of the multitude, he is now led to commit through a promise to an unscrupulous woman. When the restraining influence of fear yields to the promptings of corrupt affection, We have entered on a new stage of sinful indulgence. The daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. What is here rendered "before them" literally means in the midst of them; and this spiritually signifies what occupies the centre of the affections and thoughts, and exercises a commanding influence over them. Dancing has been employed in the most profane, as well as in the most sacred rites, acquiring a character from the object it is designed to promote. It signifies the pleasantries and joy of the affections, whether they be good or evil. The daughter of Herodias signifies the affection of evil in the will; and when this puts itself, so to speak, into the most graceful or alluring attitudes and exciting action, its influence on an already yielding intellect may easily be imagined.

7. The effect of her dancing upon Herod is most striking, and reads us a most useful lesson. He is first fascinated, and then blindly abandons himself to the dominion of his enchantress, even binding himself by an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And such is the progress of evil. The analogy with the spiritual life is easily seen. The principal point here is the promise upon oath. An oath signifies confirmation, either in good or evil, as the case may be. Confirmation belongs to the understanding. Consent is dangerous, but confirmation is fatal. And the understanding may be so influenced as to blindly give up the reins to passion, regardless of consequences. When the understanding says to the will, "Ask what thou wilt, and I will give it thee," we may be sure the result will be sinful and disastrous.

8. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger. The affection of evil, which is the daughter, acts under the direction, or from the prompting of the evil and depraved will, which is the mother. And what should such a will desire of the understanding? To give up to its power that truth which had reproved it, to deny and reject the Word itself, which is as a standing condemnation, to deprive it of all authority and rule in matters of life - this is to give the head of John the Baptist.

She desired it should be given in a charger. All vessels signify knowledges or scientifics. When truths are received into false scientifics, they themselves become falses, being falsified; so that even the highest and principal truths are turned into the lowest and deadliest of falsities.

9. And the king was sorry, nevertheless, for the oath's sake, and them which, sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. A new step in sin is seldom made without compunction. Nay, some never re-eat an old sin without awakening a feeling of remorse but the sin is repeated nevertheless. The intellect may see an act to be wrong, and yet consent to it, and lend itself to its commission. This weak and sinful compliance arises from the fact that the intellect has already bound itself as if with an oath to the corrupt will. Another consideration that swayed Herod's mind was what the world calls honour, for them that sat at meat with him - those who are joined by the appropriation of a common good or evil. All the affections, therefore, that participated in the prevailing evil bound the mind still more firmly to its sinful promise. When Herod, bound by his oath and his honour, commanded that John's head should be given to her, he acted as those he represented act, from both evil and falsity.

10. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. This great crime, committed against the law of God and man, on one who was more than a prophet, because he had honestly reproved sin in the cause of holiness, and in love for the sinner, represented a crime still greater - the separation of the internal of the Word from its external, and the consequent destruction of both, which is the beheading, of him who represented the Word. This separation of the principles from the laws of truth reduces the divine laws to a dead letter, and makes righteousness either lifeless or hypocritical.

11. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. The purpose was the mother's and, after its accomplishment through various agencies, it returns to her in its present horrid shape - such, one might suppose, as would cause the most obdurate sinner to tremble. Can it be supposed that any one not utterly abandoned could be guilty of such a crime? If under the law of Christ hatred is murder, and hatred of a person is hatred of his principles, there is the possibility of this crime being committed in another form, even by those who profess veneration for that Word which John represented. Practically to deny any of the great principles of the Word is spiritually to do as the wife of Herod did. When an evil, proceeding as an intention from the will, has been carried out into act, and obtains the approval of the will which purposed it, the circle has been completed which makes it completely our own. Evil has returned to its origin, and that which in this world gratifies the love of evil will in the next produce wretchedness and woe. We cannot think of the death of John the Baptist without reflecting on the seeming inscrutableness of Divine Providence. One who was devoted from his mother's womb to be the messenger sent to prepare the way of the promised Saviour, and who went before him in the spirit and power of Elias, we see smitten down by an unprincipled ruler to gratify the personal revenge of a wicked woman. May we not say with David, in his lamentation over Saul, "How are the mighty fallen!" But if we lament, need we be astonished? Was not the fate of John also the fate of Jesus? And, no doubt, there is some analogy between the case of the messenger and that of the Lord whose way be came to prepare. John represented, and Jesus was, the Word. John represented the written Word, Jesus was the Word incarnate. The rejection, like the reception, of the written Word preceded, and always precedes, the rejection of the incarnate Word. John prepared the Lord's way in his life; he prepared his way also in his death. There is some difference however. John fell a victim to the kingly power - Jesus to the priestly power. John was put to death in Galilee; Jesus in Judea. All these circumstances, representative as they were, point to the fact that the men of the church treat the Lord as they treat his Word. Those who deny the divinity of the Word deny also the divinity of the Lord. Those who behead John come also to crucify the Son of Man.

12. When Herod had put John to death, his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus. The disciples of John, taking up his body and burying it, represented the transfer of the church to others, when the former has been utterly perverted; and also the preservation of the Word, so as that its pure truths shall be capable of restoration in the interval between the end of a former church and the establishment of a new one. The body of John is the letter of the Word itself. Hence then, we are taught that, while the Word is utterly rejected in the minds of the corrupt members of a former church, it is nevertheless preserved and reinstated among a new body of people, who are willing to be disciples indeed. It has, however, a more particular application. In regard to the disciples of John, it is to be considered that John's imprisonment was to them a trial, and their trial represented a temptation. The death of John, though it represented the extinction of the Word or the Divine truth in the minds of the evil, represented its exaltation in the minds of the good. And the exaltation represented is effected by the putting off of the letter, and the raising up of the spirit of the Word, as it is received and acknowledged in the mind. And whether we speak of putting off the letter of the Word, and raising it up in the spirit, or raising the Lord's truth out of the natural mind into the spiritual it amounts to the same; for divine truth in the letter is adapted to our natural apprehension, and in the spirit to our spiritual apprehension; and its resurrection in us is its elevation into the perception of our spiritual mind. This elevation of the Word brings the mind into more immediate connection with the Lord as the divine good, indicated by John's disciples coming and telling Jesus - this name being expressive of the Lord as to his divine love or goodness.

13. When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart. This retirement of Jesus into the solitude of the desert was, we learn from Mark and Luke, because of the multitudes which were "coming and going." Yet why should the Lord himself propose (Mark vi. 31) to go with his disciples into a desert place apart, and rest awhile, when he knew that the multitudes would follow him, and even outgo him? Does not this teach us that the Lord had another purpose, and that his departure has another meaning? The Lord sometimes leaves us, that we may follow him. He withdraws into the desert solitudes of our own minds, that we may go with him there to behold the wonders of his power, and see a table spread for us even in the wilderness, that, where all natural and human resources fail, his power and goodness may become more conspicuous in our deliverance and support. This desert place also represents a lower or more external part of the mind; for it was on the east of the sea of Galilee, external to the land of Palestine itself, though on that side where the two tribes and a half had originally settled. And in descending into a more external part of the mind, his purpose is to bring his regenerating power and operation down into our lower affections and thoughts, and into the words and actions of our lives. It is in the ultimate degree of the mind also, that his power is most fully manifested. No doubt, also, the Lord's departure was on account of the death of John, to represent that the rejection of his truth deprives the guilty mind of his presence. The Lord, therefore, when he went into a desert place, not only knew, but intended, that the multitude should follow him, as they eagerly did. To follow the Lord is to follow the teachings of his truth, and imitate his example; to go out of the cities on foot is to live a life of natural obedience from the doctrines of truth.

14. Those who follow the Lord will find the truth of the Divine promise, that if they draw near to him he will draw near to them. And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. As these great multitudes represent the numerous affections and thoughts of the natural mind, which have sought to be elevated to a more interior communion and conjunction with the Lord, he whom the activity of evil had caused to retire inwards now comes forth to communicate the blessings desired and so much needed. When he saw the multitude he "was moved with compassion toward them." Jesus, as the Divine Man, cannot be moved with compassion, for he is mercy itself His compassion is said to be moved when it moves us - when it works in us penitence and humility, a sense of our own inherent destitution, and a sincere desire to be replenished with the blessings of spiritual and eternal life. And here we may point out the reference to the two essential attributes of the Lord's Divine nature. For "to come forth" refers to the activity of his love, while "to see" refers to the activity of his wisdom; and, again, to be "moved with compassion" has reference to the saving operation of his love, while "to heal their sick" has reference to the saving operation of his wisdom.

15. When the Lord had healed their sick, and when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. The disciples did not yet understand or did not on the occasion reflect upon, the Lords infinite resources. But these circumstances were ordered, as they are recorded, to convey a spiritual lesson. The suggestion of the disciples describes the state of the regenerate while they are yet in an obscure perception of the truth, signified by evening, which leads them to think that man must acquire good by an external way, meant by going away into the villages, and by his own power, meant by buying themselves victuals. They are like Israel in the desert, - they turn to Egypt, instead of looking to heaven, for the supply of their wants.

16, 17. But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart. The disciples did not perceive the Lord's meaning: their hearts were yet hardened. When the Lord said, give ye them to eat, they looked to themselves, and thought of their own small store, without reflecting on the Lord's power and resources, and more especially on what he himself had just commanded them to do. And the say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. The bread and fish signify the spiritual food, consisting of good and truth, which sustains the soul. They here signify the remains of goodness and truth; and the miracle, with all the particulars connected with it, contains a most beautiful description of the way in which these are brought out, and increased, and appropriated, so as to make them the elements of the spiritual body - of the life and character. The disciples are here to be considered as sustaining a two-fold representation. On one side they represent the interior affections of the natural mind, where the remains of good and truth are stored up; while the multitude represent the exterior affections, among which the increase of these remains are distributed. The interior natural principle, where remains are stored up and preserved for future use, is more specifically pointed out in John's account of the miracle, and is signified by the "lad," who had the five loaves and two small fishes. On the other hand, the disciples represented the truths proceeding immediately from the Lord, as the Truth itself, and the fountain of all blessing.

18. When the disciples told the Lord of the scanty means they possessed - but live loaves and two fishes - He said, Bring them hither to me. This is the first, and in all-important condition of spiritual increase. Stored up during early life, good and truth remain in the mind as the means of commencing and forming the spiritual life in mature years; but they never enter into the life until, in obedience to his command, they are brought to the Lord, or until the things we have learned and imbibed relating to the Lord and to eternal life are turned to him as their Author, and are acknowledged to be his.

19. When remains, and, by their means, the mind that contains them, are turned to the Lord, and are thus consciously connected with him, he can bring into orderly arrangement the principles of the natural mind, represented by his commanding the multitude to sit down (or recline) on the grass. Grass signifies the lowest kind of knowledge, and the people sitting on the grass represent the arrangement of truths in knowledges. Another significant act follows. The loaves and fishes that had been brought to the Lord he now takes. The Lord's taking the loaves and fishes signifies to adjoin to himself, as the essential Good and Truth, the good and truth of remains in the human mind. And then, looking up to heaven, he blessed, to represent the opening of the spiritual mind - the heaven of the inner man, and the descent through it, from the Lord's Divine Love, which is the Father in heaven, of that mercy and peace which bless our acquired good and truth with spiritual life, and give them the power of supplying all our spiritual wants, and satisfying our highest desires. When the Lord had blessed, he brake the bread, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. This breaking of bread is a beautifully significant act, and has descended from the earliest times, when every act had a distinct and understood meaning. In those times bread was broken, when given by one to another, symbolically to express the imparting of one's own good to another or when one piece was broken among many, it expressed the communion of good; and in both cases it was given and received as a token of brotherly love and conjunction. And such was the meaning and the purpose of the breaking of bread in the early Christian church. When, therefore, our Lord brake the bread, he symbolically expressed his love for his people; while, by distributing the broken bread among the multitude, he expressed his desire that they should be conjoined to him, and also to each other, by their reception from him, and their partaking with each other, of a common good - the good of love to him and to one another. The Lord gave the loaves to the disciples to distribute to the multitude, to represent that his good is communicated through heaven and the church, by which it is accommodated to the different states of human reception, and, more abstractly considered, that his gifts descend by distinct degrees from himself to his creatures. In the particulars recorded in these two verses we may observe a circle, or an ascending and descending series, of operations. The loaves are brought by the disciples to the Lord. By him they are, as it were, raised from earth to heaven, whence they descend with the blessing of eternal love, to be given, thus enriched, to feed the hungering souls of those who occupy the sphere from whence they came.

20, 21. We now come to that part of the transaction which places it, in the list of miracles, as one of the greatest. And they did all eat, and were filled. Here was a mighty work. Ten thousand fed to fullness by a provision sufficient for a few persons! This miracle is no doubt of the same character as that of the manna, that for forty years daily fed the ten thousands of Israel in the desert. Nor is the miracle very difficult to explain. When we know that creation is an outbirth from God, that the order of creation is from spirit to matter, and that matter is but the natural form and covering of what is spiritual, we can see that material forms may it any time be instantaneously produced by an extraordinary influx of Divine Truth from the Lord through the spiritual into the natural world. We need not, however, suppose a creation of new matter, or of something out of nothing; for the spiritual principle descending into the sphere of nature clothes itself with the substances already existing, concreting which was previously abstract or diffused. This implies, of course, a creation, and therefore a divine power; and this our Lord possessed. What act could be more appropriate for the Lord Jesus Christ to do than to multiply the loaves and fishes? "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made" (John i. 3). It is, however, with the spiritual meaning of the miracle that we have mainly to do. Spiritually regarded, it tells us of a work of divine goodness and wisdom not less wonderful, and still more interesting to us, than the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. It tells us that the remains of good and truth, small though they be, and inadequate, as the acquisitions of youth, to supply the wants of the full-grown man, are yet, when called forth into use, and brought under the influence of him by whose providence they were implanted, capable of immense and indefinite increase so as to be not only sufficient to supply the immediate demands of the soul, however great, but to leave a remnant greater than that from which the supply was produced. For they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. The twelve baskets of fragments that remained signify fulness of instruction and appropriation. The quantity left indicates the abundance of the supply. Naturally, the abundance of the fragments of a feast is not of necessity a true index of the quantity consumed. Spiritually, however, the more that is taken the more there is left. The more we appropriate, the more fragments remain to be gathered up into the receptacles of the mind, that nothing that God has blessed and multiplied may be lost, but that all remains may be stored up in the affections of the will, of which the baskets are the types. Baskets denote things of the will, because they are vessels to contain meats, and because meats signify celestial and spiritual goods, and these are of the will. It is worthy of remark, that the multiplication of the loaves and fishes was not effected by a single act, so as to produce the necessary quantity at once, before the food was distributed, but was increased in the eating, to teach us the momentous truth, that spiritual good is multiplied in the using. It is like the cruse of oil and the barrel of meal: one continued to flow while there was a vessel to receive it; the other never failed while there was a use that required it. The extent of the demand but increases the supply, for the source is infinite. Of the few loaves and fishes, they that had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children. These signify all who are of the church in truths from good: men, those who are in truth; women and children, those who are in good.

22. After performing this miracle, straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. The circumstance which comes now to be considered is of a singularly interesting character. It manifests the Lord's divinity in a most striking manner, and teaches us a lesson of humility that it is most important for us to learn. We need not dwell on the particulars that merely resemble those that have already been explained. The leading features of the narrative are the Lord's walking on the sea and Peter's unsuccessful attempt to imitate his Master's example. The scene presented before us in this and the next verse is entirely different from that which we have just contemplated. Here we have the Lord alone upon a mountain, the disciples on the sea, and the multitude sent away to their own homes. This separation between those who were so near to each other is attended with results which are descriptive of the Christian's experience in corresponding circumstances. Changes of state like the present, though painful, are beneficial. They are under the directing band of Providence. And so the Lord constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and go before him unto the other side. They were now passing over into Canaan, and were therefore progressing from a less to a more perfect state.

23. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. The Lord's sending the multitude away, as well as the disciples, while he himself went up into a mountain apart to pray, presents to our minds, if they are in any degree enlightened by his truth, a scene of solemn grandeur, which we may see shadowed in our own active duty and experience in corresponding circumstances, when all lower thoughts and feelings are dismissed, and we ascend into the holy mountain, to seek communion with God in contemplation and prayer. The Lord's desire for this communion was inconceivably ardent; his prayers were inconceivably fervent, the union he sought with God was inconceivably intimate. When we reflect that the Divinity with whom he sought to be united was the Divinity that dwelt within him, how much more intense must all his human feelings have been than any that mere man ever experienced! Apart from its connection with the other particulars of the history, the scene here presented to our view is sublime and impressive. Jesus in the mountain, alone all night, and in prayer! As the Lord was truly man as well as truly God, the feelings that prompted him to withdraw from the world, and spend a night in solitude and prayer, were real human feelings; and his doing so is instructive to us as human creatures, who are to learn from his example. It teaches its that, however useful and innocent our life may be, we yet require occasionally to raise our minds above the cares and temporalities of the world, that we may be alone with God, and enter into solemn communion with him. These were among the means by which the humanity of the Lord progressed towards that perfect union with his Divinity, which is the origin and the pattern of the union of the external with the internal in ourselves, and our consequent conjunction with him; and a similar course is necessary for us, who have a corresponding work to perform. Nor is this lesson from the circumstance at all inconsistent with, or even separate from, the representative character of our Lord's actions. The representative does not lessen, but greatly exalts the actual. While we understand that all these events are transacted spiritually in the human mind during regeneration, we see that if the Lord is really in our understandings and hearts as the Truth and the Life, his Spirit will constrain us to do as he has done, while passing through the very states which he underwent. Not that we are to imitate the Lord with a presumptuous literality, but to follow at that distance which our finite nature and our feeble powers enable us to do. To have these events realized in our experience is the object of the spiritual sense which they contain. To have the Lord's saving truth exalted in our hearts - to have it there alone as our only ruling principle - alone from worldly, but not from that heavenly love which is its true life, and to which its aspirations ascend, - this is to realize in our experience the scene presented to our minds in the Lord's going up into the mountain. There may, indeed, be obscurity in this state, for all prayer implies a desire for comfort and illumination; and in some cases it is the evening, to be followed by the night, through which we long for the morning.

24. But while the Lord was on the mountain in solitude and prayer, his disciples were in the ship; and the ship was now in the midst of the sea tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. We have here a representative description of the lower region of the human mind, as subjected to the trial of temptation, when agitated by conflicting passions when the wind is contrary, and the sea is tossed with waves and sometimes even raised into a storm that threatens to shatter our frail bark, or swallow it up, with every living affection it contains. Temptation is a conflict between good and evil, thus between the good affections and evil passions excited into action by an influx from the kingdom of darkness, which, like the wind that raised the waves in the sea of Galilee, is contrary to our progress towards the holy land.

25. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. The disciples had spent the night in tribulation, but the dawning of the day brings them relief. The Lord descends from the mountain, and comes to them walking on the sea. We may perceive in this beautiful and evidently symbolical incident a historical representation of a matter of Christian experience. The Christian disciple has sometimes the experience of a state at once of outward tribulation and inward peace. The Lord, with his divine truth, may be in the inward man, raising the affections and thoughts to heaven, while the spirits of darkness may be exciting the lusts and passions of the natural mind, and producing a feeling of apprehension almost amounting to despair. And this sorrow may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. This sense of danger arising from tribulation, and the tribulation itself, are the result of the difference and separation, or want of correspondence and conjunction, between the internal and external man, or the natural and the spiritual mind. But these tribulations are permitted for the purpose of producing the desired correspondence as the means of conjunction. It is when the tribulation has so far produced this effect that the morning dawns, and the Lord descends from the mountain of the inner man, walking upon the very element whose tempestuous heavings had caused the anger and alarm to give the troubled soul a sense of security and promise of deliverance. And the correspondence and connection between the spiritual and the natural is expressed by the fourth watch - a number which, like two, signifies conjunction.

26. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit: and they cried out for fear. The sphere of the Lord's immediate presence sometimes troubles the mind and inspires fear. The feelings of the disciples arose, however, partly at least, from misapprehension. They saw, but perceived not. They saw the form but did not perceive that it was the Lord who had come to rescue them from their perilous situation. They supposed it to be a spirit or apparition. In spiritual danger arising from temptation, when the mind is in the dim twilight of intellectual perception, the truth is seen, but not understood and not only not understood, but misunderstood, and seen rather as a phantom to terrify, than a real being to comfort. Sometimes, too, conscience invests an object with a shape and character which are the coinage of its own apprehensions, the Nemesis of its own state. The disciples were in such extreme fear that they cried out; and, as the utterance of an oppressive feeling brings relief, so, when spiritual fear finds expression, the mind is prepared for deliverance. The extreme or ultimate of any state of spiritual trial opens the way to a state of tranquility. But while considering this circumstance in its spiritual sense, we must not pass it over as a literal fact.

27. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer it is I; be not afraid. By a word, the deepest fear was turned at once into the highest joy. So do the Scriptures describe, as well as represent, the transition from one extreme to the other in the experience of the righteous. "Light shall arise in the darkness, your sorrow shall be turned into joy," are among the promises to those who are plunged by spiritual tribulation into darkness and anguish of spirit. And this is but the reaping of a harvest which they have themselves prepared; for "light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart." The Lord's night upon the mountain prepared for the deliverance he was now about to afford his suffering and terrified disciples; for it is when the truth has been exalted in the inner man, and more fully united with its own good, that it can descend into the outer man, and first walk in safety and majesty upon its turbulent waters, and then hush the wind into silence, and the waves into profound repose. How assuring and comforting in the midst of the storm must be the voice of one who has so often helped us hitherto, our confidence in whom has grown out of our experience! And even when the eye, as the emblem of the intellect, may be deceived, as was Mary Magdalene's, yet the ear no sooner hears the familiar voice than recognition, with all its joy, ensues. "It is I: be not afraid," is sufficient to cheer the heart in its deepest despondency, as must have been the experience of the disciples.

28. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it he thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. Among the disciples there was one who, unlike the rest, was not satisfied with being restored to confidence from a state of alarm, and willing to wait till the Lord should come to them into the ship, but whose eagerness to meet his Divine Master prompted him to ask to be invited to come to him on the water. Peter represented faith, or that reception of the truth which makes the Lord the object of faith. When that disciple said, "If it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water," he wished to do naturally what we, through faith, desire to do spiritually in corresponding circumstances. When the truth is revealed to us through the affection of truth, our intellectual zeal is excited to attempt what we are not always able, because not prepared, to perform - to come to the Lord on the water without reflecting sufficiently whether our faith is strong enough to support us on its troubled waves, and enable us to make our way to the Lord through the angry element that he, in his strength, is able to tread upon.

29, 30. Yet the Lord, in his providence, sometimes permits us to try our strength, that we may discover our weakness. Jesus indulged Peter's impetuous temper by inviting him to come. Nor was there anything inconsistent with his love and truth in answering Peter according to the disciple's love and faith. The Lord desires that all should come unto him, and the attempt on our part is often the only effectual means of teaching us the causes of our failure and the conditions of success. Peter's attempt to walk upon the sea has left on record a lesson that will teach humility wherever the gospel is preached. When Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and, beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me! How strikingly does this represent a feature in our Christian conduct and experience! Peter in the ship was bold and confident; but when he came down from the ship, and planted his footsteps on the angry sea, he became timid and doubting, and then he began to sink. While we are in doctrine, and think and speak from it, we have great faith in ourselves, which assumes to us the appearance of faith in the Lord, and we suppose that in the strength of that faith we are able to do anything: But when we come down out of doctrine, and enter on the labours, and face the difficulties and trials of life, we soon find that doctrinal faith and practical faith are two different thing. This untried, and so far merely intellectual faith, may endure for awhile, as Peter's did, for its first impulse carries us forward and upholds us for a time; but when we see the wind boisterous, the thoughts excited into turbulent commotion by the influence of the kingdom of darkness, fear seizes the mind, and we begin to fail. This experience of our weakness is the lesson the Lord intends to teach, by permitting us to make the trial. And it has the good effect of leading us to feel our need of the Saviour, and to call upon him to save us. When we can be brought by experience to such a sense of our feebleness as to cry out from the depth of broken and contrite hearts. "Lord, save me!" we have arrived at a state of mind far nearer to the kingdom of God than when we boldly, in self- confidence, confronted the danger.

31. We therefore find that when Peter cried out for the Lord to save him, immediately Jesus stretched forth, his hand, and caught him. That hand, able to save to the uttermost, is ever ready to be stretched out to take hold of the perishing sinner, or the self-confident disciple, when the Lord's power is sincerely and humbly invoked. The divine power has been brought savingly near to us by the Lord's assuming our nature; but before his power can be manifested and magnified in our salvation, it must have an humbled mind and contrite heart to act upon. The Lord's power is always with us, but it can only be manifested in our weakness. It is through our sense of the need of his support that he stretches out his hand; and through our desire to be saved that he takes hold of us. When the Lord had saved Peter, he administered the loving and gentle reproof, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? The Lord's words implicitly teach that, if Peter's faith had been sufficiently strong, he might have walked upon the sea. The Lord's reproof should remind us that failure in any attempt which has his sanction originates in want of faith, and in the doubts that arise in our hearts.

32. When they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. In this second time of calming the storm, we see another instance of the Lord's power over the elements of the outer world, and have another assurance of his power over those of the inner also, whose tribulation he can still, if we but admit him into our hearts through love, and into our minds through faith. But the wind ceased when Jesus and Peter came into the ship. When the Lord enters through faith into doctrine, or into our knowledge of his truth, the contrary influence of falsity ceases, and prosperity attends us in our religious life.

33. The miracle of making the wind cease had the happy effect of confirming the Lord's disciples in the belief in his divinity. They that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth, thou art the Son of God. Whatever this worship and acknowledgment included in the minds of the disciples at the time, we are instructed by the divine record that deliverance by the Lord produces in the mind a conviction of his being the true Object of worship, and leads to the profound worship of him as such. But when can we, as disciples, say, "Of a truth thou art the Son of God"? When the power of his Divine humanity has been displayed in working the truly divine miracle of restoring tranquility to the mind, which the prince of the power of the air has been able seriously to disturb. But this title of the Son of God is also expressive of the principle of Divine Good in the Lord's humanity; so that he is the Son of God to us experimentally, when the good of his love has been received in our will, and has thus become the ruling principle of our life. And we worship him as the Son of God, when our worship is not only directed to him as love and goodness, but when it springs from his love and goodness in our hearts. We can only worship the Lord, as he is in himself, from what he is in us - only as far as his love is in us can we worship him as Love.

34-36. And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret. And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased; and besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garments: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole. No sooner did the ship reach the western shore of the lake than the Lord's work of mercy was renewed, in healing the multitudes of sick that were eagerly brought to him from all parts of the surrounding country. The scene of these cures is called the land of Gennesaret. The sea of Galilee, or of Tiberias, was named also the lake of Gennesareth. Gennesareth was in lower Galilee, and in it was Capernaum, the spot to which, according to John (vi. 17, 24, 59), Jesus and his disciples came. As lower or southern Galilee signifies the internal of the external man (ch. ii. 22), Gennesareth must signify a division of this region of the mind, the particular of which is meant by Capernaum. Gennesareth represents the natural affection of truth, but of truth connected with good, because called the land of Gennesareth, which may therefore be considered as representing the good of natural truth. This receives confirmation from Gennesareth, the ancient Chinnereth, having been part of the lot that fell to the tribe of Naphtali (Josh. xix. 35), which tribe represented the quality of temptation by which man overcomes, and by which, therefore, the internal is united to the external man. This multitude of particular miracles are such as have been already explained, with the virtue derived from the Lord through touching the hem of his garment. The cure of the diseased represented the removal of evils and errors, by which our faculties are restored to a healthy state, and enriched with goodness and truth; and touching the hem of the Lord's garment signifies taking hold of him through the lowest truths of his Word. Virtue never fails to come forth thence to the humble and contrite heart: "as many as touched him were made whole." This eagerness of the people of Gennesaret, and of all the country round, to collect all that were diseased, arose, no doubt, from the effect of his miracle of feeding the multitude; and shows the result of the inward reception of the Lord's goodness and truth, in creating a desire to have outward evils removed, and producing that faith in the Lord the Saviour which is necessary to his working a cure.



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COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW p. 16        CHAPTER XV.

1. This chapter commences with recording one of those transitions, from the faith of the simple to the unbelief of the learned, which are of frequent occurrence in the gospels. Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, - those, spiritually, who are principled in falsities and evils. These were of Jerusalem, to indicate that they represent such as are in the interior doctrines of the church, which Jerusalem represented. Yet those who are in the doctrine of the church can oppose the truth, as these rulers of the Jewish church opposed themselves to the Lord.

2. They assailed him in this instance through his followers. Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. It is surprising how much importance men of cultivated understanding can attach to outward forms and ceremonies, which are but the shadow, of which religion is the substance, and are nothing without it. The Jews had, indeed, ceremonies prescribed to them by their law, and these they were bound to observe. But the ceremony that formed the subject of the present question was a "tradition of the elders." These traditions are like parasites, that live upon the body that produces them. Like things of the imagination, that are treasured up in the memory without any view to use, they are rather hindrances than aids to vital religion This washing of the hands was but a sign of that kind of purification which the natural man practises - the washing of the, hands instead of the heart. Washing the hands was, indeed, a testification of innocence - but when it was practised as a virtue in itself, the neglect of which was a sin, it then became the emblem of an outward assumption of purity to which there is no corresponding condition of the heart. The demand of the Lord is, "Wash thy heart from wickedness;" the command of the elders is, "Wash thy hands as an appearance of innocency."

3-6. The arbitrary and hypocritical rites of the Pharisees were set aside by the Lord, the object of whose teaching was to induce his disciples to cleanse the inside, that the outside may be clean also. When, therefore, the Jewish authorities asked him why his disciples transgressed this mere ceremonial rite, he demanded of them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and He that curseth father and mother: let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; and honour not his father or his mother he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. It may be useful to understand what this transgression consisted in. The Divine law required children to honour their parents but the Jewish authorities had placed the claims of the church above the claims of parents. Anything devoted to the church was sacred, and could not be diverted to any other purpose. By this law unnatural children were able to refuse the claims of their parents for aid, on the plea that anything by which they might be profited by them was already corban - that is, a gift, devoted, though not yet given, to the service of religion. Thus the priesthood made the commandment of God of none effect by their tradition. But what is the spiritual evil to which this corresponds? The father and mother whom God commanded children to honour are, spiritually, the Lord and the church. In an abstract sense they are the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom. To honour these is to reverence and serve them; and we reverence and serve them when we love God and keep his commandments. But when we exalt our own natural love and wisdom above those of God, and devote that to the service of man or to our own service, which we ought to devote to the service of God, we make the Divine commandment of none effect. And we do more if we evade the requirement of God's law under the pretence or in the name of religion. We then profane what is holy for we make religion itself an apology for sin.

7-9. The Lord, therefore, concludes his address to the Pharisees by calling them hypocrites; for such conduct is hypocrisy, which is mocking God with outward service, while the heart is devoted to self and the world. The Lord, therefore, proceeds to expose such heartless wickedness. Well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. The mouth and the lips signify the thought, which they are instruments for expressing, and the heart devoted to is the will. When the will or love is far from. God, and what is opposite to him, as the Supreme Love and Wisdom, what is the service of the lips, proceeding from the thought but emptiness and profanity? Worship in such a state is vain. For what is Divine worship but vanity, when the doctrines we teach, the principles that rule us, are the commandments of men - the dictates of our own natural lusts and worldly prudence?

10-13. Turning to and calling the multitude, the Lord summed up the discourse he had delivered to the Pharisees in a parabolic statement of the doctrine he had been teaching. Hear, and understand - Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. When the Lord had delivered this parable, the disciples came to him and said, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. The Lord's Father in heaven is the Lord himself as to his divine love or goodness; and no good in the human mind but that derived from the Divine Good can remain, but must, in the judgement, be rooted up. "There is none good but one, that is God." From the one Good all real good is derived, as a stream from its fountain, as a branch from its parent stem: and the stream must dry up, and the branch must wither, that has not its source or its root in the Divine Love.

14. Yet where hypocrisy exists there is no ground to work upon, with the hope of producing reformation, especially when it is considered that evil is united to and defended by what is false. Our Lord therefore said, Let them alone: and added, as a reason, they be blind leaders of the blind. Their blindness was not that of involuntary ignorance, but of voluntary error, or rather deliberate falsification of the truth. A blind understanding led a blind will, and both fell into the pit of infernal falsehood, as the prelude to the pit of everlasting perdition. This is Pharisaic blindness - blindness of understanding and blindness of heart. The understanding is the eye of the mind, and was given as a guide to the will. The light of the body is the eye; but if the eye be not single, and if the light that is in the intellect be darkness, how great is that darkness!

15-16. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. That to which the apostle referred was the parable the Lord had delivered to the multitude in relation to the Pharisees, and which we have passed over, to consider it as our Lord explained it. When the Lord addressed the parable to the people, be prefaced it by saying as he so often did, "Hear and understand" and he now asks the disciples, on whose behalf Peter spoke, Are ye also yet without understanding? And this Divine inquiry is intended, like all that the Lord addresses to his disciples, to awaken in them reflection and self-examination, for the purpose of preparing them understandingly to receive the knowledge they desire to obtain, and dispose them to receive the truth at the Lord's mouth.

17-18. Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth, in at the mouth, goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. The lesson which our Lord here teaches is most instructive. The mouth signifies the thought or the thinking faculty, and the heart signifies the will. That which entereth in at the month is everything that enters into the thought from the world; but that which proceeds out of the mouth from the heart is that which the thought expresses from the will. How is it that what enters in at the mouth does not defile, and that what comes forth from the month does? That which enters into the thought, but is not permitted to enter into the will, but is thrust out or rejected as unclean, does not defile the man; only that which is freely chosen, and so admitted into the will, and is thence brought forth into the life, defileth a man This is a truth of very great importance, because of great practical value. It serves as a guide to determine what is sinful and what is not sinful in the operations of the mind. We have two faculties, a will and an understanding and nothing is imputed to us, because nothing becomes our own, till it has obtained the joint consent of both. The understanding is given us to examine and judge whether anything that presents itself from without, or even anything that rises as an impulse from within is good or evil and to tell us whether, therefore, we should accept or reject it. The subject which our Lord speaks of is the admission or rejection of evil. Now, there are many evil suggestions and impure images that obtrude themselves into the thought from the world, both directly and indirectly - both from what we read, and hear, and see, and from what is already in the memory, having entered through the senses. We cannot altogether prevent these entering nor would it be well if we could, for the mind is thereby exercised, and may be perfected. Their entering the thought does not defile us. It gives us the opportunity of discovering their character, of ascertaining whether we like or dislike them, of knowing ourselves, and exercising self-denial, if we are disposed to do so. If we condemn the evils that thus obtrude themselves into our thought, and resist any rising desire they may provoke, that which entered "in at the month goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught"-is rejected as unclean, and so separated from the life. The evils which are thus resisted and cast out never enter into the heart, and therefore never came forth out of the mouth, and therefore do not defile the man. They rather tend to purify him: for an evil condemned is a good justified, and an evil refused is a good accepted. This is plainly taught in Mark vii. 14, where it is added that this going out into the draught purges all meats; which evidently means that good of every kind is purified by this exercise of the mind. The understanding is an alembic in which the affections are purified; for, when subjected to the operation of the thoughts, the evil is detected, and may thus be separated from the good to which it adheres, and which it defiles. But, on the other hand, if we admit evil into the will, and bring it forth into the life, this is, indeed, to defile ourselves. In the heart there are inherent tendencies to evil of all kinds. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." Such is the testimony of him who made man and knows what is in man. By nature, man is nothing but evil; and if he remains natural, his heart is in the disposition to bring forth those hereditary evils into act. Yet hereditary tendencies to evil are not condemnatory. Inherited evil is involuntary, as in the case of infants and little children, who know not the nature of evil as sin. Before evil can become sin it must have the sanction of the understanding: it must be known to be evil, and to be sin against God. Only the evil that comes forth from the heart through the understanding or the thought is sin in the sight of God. Our Lord, therefore, says those things that proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart. The mouth is the thought, and the things that proceed out of the thought are the things that defile the man. It is not their being in the heart, nor even their coming out of the heart, that defiles the man; but their coming into act out of the heart, with the consent of the understanding, that defiles the man. It is their coming out of the mouth which gives evils their sinful character.

19. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts (or reasonings), murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. The seven general classes of evils here mentioned by the Lord all merit the most profound consideration, especially on account of their connection with each other in their internal sense and signification; for "evil reasonings," which is the first class, denote a perverted state of the will and understanding, through self-love and the love of the world, hence come, secondly, "murders," or the destruction of charity; thirdly, "adulteries," or the perversion of good; fourthly, "fornication," or the perversion of truth fifthly, "thefts," or the claiming to self what belongs to the Lord, sixthly, "false witnessings," or the calling good evil, and evil good seventhly, "blasphemies," or the total rejection of what is divine. What a catalogue of evils is here

These evils exist in the world, and therefore must come forth from the heart, which is their only fountain. And what a corrupt fountain must that be which spontaneously produces them! Yet the sin does not consist in their being there, but in their being allowed to come forth into act.

20. These are the things which defile a man. Whether we consider them as natural or spiritual, they are such sins as pollute the soul; and it may be well to observe that the natural sin is not overlooked or under-rated by attending to the spiritual evil. Indeed, the natural sin is grounded in the spiritual evil, the spiritual being the cause in which the natural originates for the spiritual sense of the Word, properly considered, contains the knowledge of causes, as the literal sense contains the knowledge of effects. The spiritual sense of this series of evils which the Lord enumerates exhibits the evils in their real character. It not only shows that every sin originates in the spirit, but it points out the particular spiritual evil in which every particular sin has its origin and it teaches us further, that the only effectual way to prevent natural sin is to resist the spiritual evil. If they are not rooted out by being resisted from spiritual principle, but they are only restrained by worldly considerations, they remain and defile the man - that is, the inner man, which is the real man; and when he casts off his outer covering, and appears in the eternal world, all his spiritual impurity will be disclosed. These truly are the things that defile a man, but to eat with unwashen, hands defileth not a man "O Jerusalem! wash thine heart from wickedness."

21. Then, Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. Tyre and Sidon represented the interior and exterior knowledge of spiritual things, or of things good and true. The description of Tyre in Ezekiel xxviii answers to its representative character. "With thy wisdom and with thine understanding thou hast gotten thee riches, and hast gotten gold and silver into thy treasures. . . . Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering." But as Tyre and Sidon were situated on the borders of Philistia, and were near the sea, they signify knowledges of a relatively external kind. More especially was this the case at the time of the gospel history, for Hiram with his Sidonians, who had hewed wood for the temple, and his Tyrians, who had wrought in brass for it, had been long dead, and the plains were now inhabited by ordinary Gentiles.

22. Behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts (or borders), and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David. This woman was one of these Gentiles; she was not, however, ignorant of the Lord being the promised Messiah, and was therefore actually in possession of the knowledge which Tyre and Sidon represented. She entreated the Lord to have mercy on her, and this she sought for the sake of her daughter, who was grievously vexed with a devil. Her daughter, like the daughters of Canaan mentioned in Genesis xxviii. 8, signify an affection for truth, but from a ground not genuine. By this we mean an affection sincere, but unenlightened - the affection of a well-disposed but uninstructed mind. She comes to Jesus, and appeals to him as the son of David, a name which is expressive of his divine truth, and entreats him to show mercy to her daughter, which spiritually, is to ask that the Divine truth may enter into the human love of truth and goodness, and deliver it from the evil whose presence and power it laments. But the peculiar and interesting part of this miracle is the apparent inattention of the Lord to this loving mother's prayer, and his apparent reluctance to extend his beneficent aid to the poor sufferer. No one who reads this relation with any reverence for the Lord and his Word, can for a moment doubt that there was a purpose - a wise and merciful purpose - in his manner of acting towards the Canaanitish woman; and those who believe in the spirituality of his Word, know that the record contains some hidden spiritual meaning. His seeming inattention to the woman's prayer was no doubt to increase her fervency and her faith. But in the spiritual sense, her being a Gentile furnishes a key to the meaning of the Lord's demeanour towards her being so unusual, and so unlike himself. There is one other instance like it in the New Testament, which serves to account for and explain it. When the Lord was asked by Pilate "What is truth?" he gave him no answer. It has been said that Pilate did not wait for an answer - a human inference for which there is no good ground. The reason the Lord did not answer was that Pilate was a Gentile, and was not in a state to receive a direct answer to his own question. Rather, he represented the Gentiles who have a desire for truth, but have no immediate divine revelation, and cannot therefore be answered without preparation, even by the Word itself. One purpose of what the Lord did when on earth was also to teach his church and people, in all future ages, how their states retard or accelerate the manifestation in them of the love which he ever and infinitely has for them. It is our state that hinders, not his will that holds back, any good thing that we ask or need.

23. When the woman cried to him for mercy, he answered her not a word. How strange soever this may seem, it is plain the Lord intended it only as a trial. He himself knew what he would do. But he also acted in this manner to represent that there are states in which prayers return into our own bosom, and the Divine oracles give out no sound; when some evil or imperfection in our mind prevents, for the time, that communion with the Lord which gives the heart a sense of his love, and the understanding a perception of his truth, which conveys the assurance that he is indeed our deliverer from the power of the devil. If our prayer proccedeth not out of feigned lips, but expresses the real desire of the heart, "importunity" has the promise of ultimate success. To our earnest prayer the Lord may answer us not a word, and yet our redemption may be nigh. When the agonized mother continued to plead with the Lord for her daughter, his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. The disciples now add their prayers to the petition of the woman; for they wished their Master to do as he was wont - to send the supplicant away with the assurance of a cure. The disciples representing divine truths as revealed in the Word, their beseeching Jesus on the woman's behalf is expressive of the mind's looking to the Lord through the truths of the Word, which have been received and acknowledged. This therefore, is a step in the progress of the regenerate life.

24. Still, this appeal does not succeed. The mind, though receptive of the truths represented by the disciples, is not yet prepared to receive the Supreme Truth, which the Lord himself is. So he answers, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The lost sheep of the house of Israel are the spiritual affections of charity which have departed from the fold of the shepherd, or from under the guidance of heavenly truth, which alone can lead them in the way to heaven, which is their true sheep-fold. And to restore these - which was to seek and to save that which was lost - was the object for which the Lord was sent into the world; for divine love sends divine truth to redeem and save. But this affection was in the mind of the supplicant herself, and it was to awaken and draw this affection into connection with himself that the Lord thus addressed her; for in every mind there are some remains of these spiritual affections, and through them the Lord enters the willing mind.

25. When the Lord had uttered these words which, though they do not express a positive denial, give but little ground for hope, Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. Utterance, though not encouraging, gives more hope than silence. And, indeed, the Lord speaking spiritually describes the voice of truth speaking in the heart. And does not this voice sometimes tell us, in our anguish of spirit, that we are not included in the number of those whom the Lord came to seek and save? But this should not tempt us to utterly despair. To doubt the Lord's mercy may arise from a sense of our own unworthiness; to disbelieve it arises from a denial of the divine perfection. Such doubts, when they arise in the minds of the penitent, only stimulate them to more earnest and persistent prayer, with the persevering use of all other means. The woman, who had followed the Lord, now comes before him and worships him, entreating his help. Thus his seeming refusal to cure her daughter only increased the depth of her humiliation and the earnestness of her prayer.

26. Still, these deep movings of the spirit within her do not bring her the desired relief. He answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. Literally, this sounds somewhat harsh in our ears; yet we know how much tenderness there may and must have been in the tone in which it was uttered. Nor does the language itself seem to have been regarded as offensive by her to whom it was addressed. Times and usages give a peculiar sense to such expressions. There is, however, a spiritual ground for its being employed. Those out of the church were called dogs, because dogs correspond to those who are natural, and even sensual, as sheep do to those who are spiritual. Expressing himself in the sacred language of correspondence, the Lord applied this name to the Gentile woman without any purpose of reproach, much less of contempt. "The children's bread" is the good of innocence such as it is in those who are spiritual; and this cannot be given to those who are only in the good innocence such as it is in those who yet natural.

27. But the woman showed, by her willingness to accept the epithet which Jesus had applied to her, that she possessed true humility, and that she acknowledged the truth of his declaration. She therefore said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table. To be content with the crumbs is to be content with the least of the divine mercies - the smallest measure and lowest degree of the good which the Lord bestows for the bread on the table signifies spiritual good, but the crumbs that fall from the table signify natural good, or good in the natural mind from a spiritual origin the crumbs falling from the table, and being eaten under it, expressing the idea of good derived from the internal and appropriated in the external. This was the good therefore, which was adapted to the woman's state, and that which she was content to receive; and so it brought her to a state capable of receiving what she had so perseveringly and trustingly sought.

28. When, therefore, she had made this speech, which bespoke as much wisdom as humility, Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou will. Her faith was great, because grounded in humility and love, and confirmed by trial and perseverance; and through that faith her daughter was made whole from that very hour. That very state which brought her mind into conformity with her Saviour's will was that in which her daughter was delivered, and restored to soundness of mind and health of body.

29. And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh, auto the sea of Galilee. From those in the external knowledges of good and truth, he turns or accommodates himself to those who are in a more interior state. And went up into a mountain, and sat down there - the symbol of love - that from the depth and ardency of his love he may dispense the blessings of his goodness, as from the mount he delivered, in his memorable sermon, the lessons of his wisdom.

30. And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet and he healed them. Here, again, these maladies represent the different kinds of spiritual infirmity with which the souls of men are afflicted; the lame, those in whom good and truth are disjoined; the blind, those whose understanding are in ignorance of the truth, or in error; the dumb, those who are not in the acknowledgment of truth and the maimed, those whose faculties and powers are impaired.

31. The Lord cured the numbers of diseased and afflicted, insomuch, that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel. The wonder excited in the multitude implies the admiration of the affections, arising from the experience of the Lord's healing and restoring power, and the exaltation in the heart of the Lord in his humanity as the origin of these blessings.

32-38. When Jesus had performed these beneficent cures, he turned to the multitude, for the purpose of feeding them. So, when the Lord removes our evils, be communicates his goodness. This miracle resembles that recorded in the previous chapter, and does not require to be explained, further than it contains points of difference. It seems less wonderful than the other, since the number of people was smaller, and the number of loaves was greater. Spiritually, this difference is very significant, and shows at once a reason for this miracle, which some critics are disposed to identify with the other, and the important relation it bears to the first. In the other miraculous feeding of the multitude there were five loaves and five thousand men; here there are seven loaves and four thousand men. The fragments that remained also, though naturally less, are spiritually more. Twelve baskets were gathered up on the former occasion, and seven on this. Now, five signifies remains, and a few; but seven signifies what is holy, and at the same time ample, complete while the number four, like two, signifies conjunction - the conjunction, that is, of the will and the understanding and of goodness and truth. Seven is a holier, if not a more complete number than twelve, and has more relation to a state of good, like the Sabbath, from which its holy signification is derived. The second describes therefore, a more advanced state than the other, and so renders this more complete as the representation of such a state. It is mentioned by the Lord that the multitude had now been with him three days, and had had nothing to eat - three days describing an entire state of truth; that is, the multitude had been led by the Lord through a circle of intellectual instruction and self-denial, meant by their fasting or having nothing to eat, and now they were brought to a state of hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and were about to be filled with good in union with truth.

39. When the divine Saviour had sent away the multitude, thus fed with the bread of heaven, he took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala. This place is famous as the town of that Mary who has become the type, if not the pattern, of all that is most loving and devoted to the Lord. Yet, in reference to the people generally of the place, it has not so exalted a signification, or, rather, the principle it represented is lower in degree than when the name is coupled with that of Mary. Magdala seems to signify a principle of natural good. Mary, who represented celestial good, when called, as she always is, Mary Magdalene, represents celestial good in natural good, or the union of the highest and lowest good, which forms the most perfect state and character. When the Lord went by ship to Magdala, he performed a natural journey, which represented a spiritual progression, by the doctrine of truth, to natural or external good - a progression in the mind which brings his divine truth, and his divine presence and influence, down, by means of knowledge, into the outward life.



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COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW p. 17        CHAPTER XVI.

1. Again we find the adversaries of Jesus present, and at their daringly evil work of tempting him. And if we look within our own hearts, and into our own experience, shall we not find too many of these subtle foes of the Lord's love and truth? The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would show them a sign from heaven. We have already considered a similar instance of this (xii. 38). It was there shown that a sign is some wonder that acts directly upon the, understanding, whereas a miracle is a wonder that acts directly upon the will; and that Jesus refused a sign, because it is contrary to divine order, and would be most injurious to man to carry absolute conviction to his intellect by any evidence that would leave his heart unchanged and that, therefore, no sign is given but the sign of the prophet Jonas, because this is a sign of regeneration, which is the only real confirmation of the Lord's truth to the mind. The additional particulars in the present narrative are very interesting. The former demand was made by the scribes and Pharisees; this is by the Pharisees with the Sadducees. And as the Sadducees, though less hypocritical, were more material and infidel, so the present indicates a tempting of the Lord from a more determined negation of his truth, while requiring a sign that mightconvince them against their will. While there is this difference, there is an important addition, which is contained in the 2d and 3d verses.

2-4, He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, it will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. The reason our Lord expressed himself thus was, because evening and morning signify his coming. And so the Lord says to the Pharisees, ye can discern, the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? The church being then devastated, a superficial serenity prevailed, because its members lived securely in all evil life, concealed by false persuasions; this was their evening, when the weather was fair and the sky red. But when they had come to know the Lord, but denied and persecuted him, then was their morning, when the sky was red and lowering. This is true of the individual in corresponding states. While he lives without God in the world, he has that kind of serenity which arises from the absence of concern for eternal life and of spiritual temptation; but when, having come to the saving knowledge of the Lord, the false and evil principles of the natural mind rise in opposition to him, then does the horizon become red and lowering charged with the elements of an impending storm. If he endures the shock, it will clear his moral atmosphere, and make his day bright and heavenly, but if, like the Pharisees and Sadducees, he will not see the signs of the times - signs of his own state - then will he harden himself in a state of guilt, and become like the hypocrites whom the Lord accuses of wilful blindness. The final consequence may be that solemn one here recorded: and he left them, and departed. Beware lest this departure be for ever.

5, 6. When the disciples were come over to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread, then Jesus said to them, Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. We forget to take bread when we neglect to provide ourselves with the spiritual good by which the soul is fed. It is because we do not sufficiently hunger after the true bread that we forget to take it when we pass over to the other side; for the disciples were now in Canaan, the type of the church and heaven. It is then we are told to "take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees," because it is then we are most liable to be tempted to accept the false for the true bread, and to admit it into our hearts. It is then, therefore, that we are to beware of this leaven.

7. But the disciples did not understand what the Lord meant. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. The Lord intended to direct their minds to something higher than they themselves were yet prepared to perceive. He therefore proceeds to remind them that although they had forgotten to take bread, he did not require to warn them against taking of the bread of the Pharisees. Had they forgotten the two miracles of the loaves and fishes, with which the Lord had fed so many thousands, and how many baskets they took up? He who had done these wonders could supply the bread which they had forgotten, without the necessity of taking of the leaven of the Pharisees. Then understood they that he did not bid them beware of the leaven, but the doctrine of the Pharisees, of which leaven was the symbol. And what is the lesson it teaches us? That the Lord warns us against false doctrine, of which we are to beware, especially when our moral goodness is not present to our minds as a safeguard. But even then, if we call to remembrance the manifestation of the divine mercy, in giving us spiritual good in all fulness, then the Lord, speaking to us through the remains of good stored up within, at once enlightens and comforts us. The whole of this relation shows that divine language is expressed in the natural world according to the correspondence which exists between natural and spiritual things.

13, 14. The next subject that occurs in this chapter is one of the most interesting and important that occurs in the whole of the New Testament history - Peter's famous confession of the Lord. Jesus, we find, goes to Caesarea Philippi, one of the most northern ports of Palestine; and as he approaches the borders, he asks his disciples, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? The Lord thus led his disciples to reflect and decide on the great question, as to who the Lord was that had come into the world; and the first question was to ascertain what men thought of him. These were not men of the, world generally, but men of the Jewish church; for their opinions respecting the Son of man were such as only the members of the church would form. Some thought the Lord to be John the Baptist, some Isaiah, others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. None, it appears, acknowledged Jesus to be what he really was. Many thought him to be a prophet, but none thought him to be the prophet. Some thought him to be the forerunner of the Messiah, but none thought him to be the Messiah himself, although it is doubtful whether those who thought Jesus to be John the Baptist thought John to be the Elias who was for to come. Spiritually understood, a prophet signifies doctrine from the Word, and John the Baptist signifies the Word itself - that is, the Word as existing in the church, but not the Word, or the very divine truth itself, which was made flesh. Every one of these opinions, even the highest, made Jesus human and finite. Another remarkable fact in all these opinions respecting Jesus is this: all those persons whom they supposed the Lord to be, were men who had once lived on the earth. Jesus they therefore believed to be one of those holy men raised from the dead. They were of those therefore, who sought the living among the dead, as indeed, all do who seek or place Jesus among finite beings as one of them; for all finite beings are in themselves dead, having no life in them but what they derive every moment from God who is the only being who has life in himself. And Jesus was and is that being, for he said, "As the Father hath life in himself so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself" All these opinions of Christ, therefore, were and are of the earth earthly.

15, 16. Well then might Jesus turn from all these conjectures and inquire of the disciples, But whom say ye that I am? And now comes the true and ever-memorable answer. Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. Let us see the true and full import of this confession. The acknowledgment of Jesus as the Christ was literally the acknowledgment of him as the Messiah - the Saviour whose coming into the world had been the theme of prophecy from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Malachi. And whatever had been foretold of the Messiah, either as to his character or work, was included in that acknowledgment. Spiritually, the Christ is expressive of the Lord's character as the Essential Divine Truth, by whom the world was created, and by whom, as the Incarnate Word, it was to be redeemed. The confession of him as the Son of the living God is the acknowledgment of him as having been the begotten of God, as the child born into the world by the virgin Mary. And this acknowledgement of his Divine paternity is, properly considered, the acknowledgment of his being God, and, of course, the supreme and only God, as to his divine nature, and the true and only Son of God as to his human nature. For there can be no God but one, and that which is begotten of God must, so far as derived from him, be divine, and one with himself. But the Lord, as born of a human mother, was, of course, so far as he partook of her nature, merely human that is, finite. His internal man or soul, as being from the Divine Father, was divine or infinite; but the external or body, as being from the human mother, was human or finite. Now, this merely human part was gradually glorified, and this glorification was completed by the passion of the cross; and when the Lord rose from the dead, he rose in a humanity wholly and purely divine. This is the humanity that is, in the complete and exclusive sense, the Son of God. And Jesus became the Son of God by glorification, as we become sons of God by regeneration, by being born of God. Jesus was begotten of God when be came into the world, and he was born of God when he went out of the world. He was declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead. He then ceased entirely, and for ever, to be the son of Mary, and was solely and purely the Son of the living God. Not, of course, that he was, according to the crude and erroneous notion, a distinct divine person from the Father, but that his humanity was divine, and one with his eternal divinity, as the body is one with the soul. The writer of the Hebrews seems to have had a clear view of this great truth when he spoke of Jesus, as represented by Melchisedec, being "Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life" (vii. 3); for the Lord was himself the Father as to his divine nature. He had no mother, for he entirely ceased to be the son of Mary as to his human nature; and in himself he has neither beginning of days nor end of life; for he is the first and the last, the beginning and the end, who is, and who was, and who is to come the Almighty. Such is the great truth confessed by Peter - the truth of Christianity, which comprehends in itself the whole of salvation, as the design and result of the incarnation.

17. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which, is in heaven. The Lord here teaches that this great truth cannot be seen and acknowledged by mere human wisdom grounded in the human will. Flesh and blood - the will and wisdom of man - cannot reveal this truth to any human soul; and hence it is that mere human reason cannot see the divinity of the Lord's humanity, but can only see Jesus as the son of Mary, and sometimes even as the son of Joseph. The perception of this truth must come from God out of heaven, entering as divine light through the interior of the human soul. And, indeed, its true and spiritual acknowledgement comes in mostly, not from the light, but from the love of God, not from divine light in the intellect, but from divine love in the heart. This love in the will of the inner man, in our heart of hearts, is the Father in heaven, by whom alone it is revealed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. He is to us the Christ as the Divine truth in our understanding. He is to us the Son of God as the Divine good in our wills. And the interior knowledge of this makes us blessed, for it has in it all the blessings of redemption and salvation.

18. This blessing is not, however, left to be inferred. I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church. We need not dwell upon the mistaken notions and false applications of this declaration of the Lord to Peter, or rather to Simon Barjona, for here Simon's name was changed to Peter. It was as Simon that he made the confession, but it was as Peter that be became the foundation of the church, and the keeper of the keys of the kingdom and is therefore expressive of faith as grounded in the affection of truth in the will. Jona, which literally means a dove, signifies the principle of spiritual love or charity; so that the name Simon, son of Jona, is name was changed to Peter in consequence of the confession he made of the Lord as the Son of God; for Peter, literally a rock, signifies the truth. As Simon is expressive of faith in the will, Peter is expressive of that clear perception of truth in the understanding which gives to faith the evidence of intellectual sight. When from the heart we have made confession of the Lord as the Son of God - as God in his humanity - this great truth becomes in the mind the sure foundation, the chief corner-stone, on which all the principles of the church rest. Peter represents faith as well as truth; and, indeed the one implies the other, for truth has no actual existence in the mind except as the truth of faith. Thus the spiritual sense teaches, that what the Lord addressed literally to Peter is spiritually applicable to all whom Peter represented - to those who confess the Lord from the heart, and trust in him with the confidence of a true and living faith. Abstractly, it is applicable to the principle of truth and the grace of faith themselves, so that it is upon them in the heart and mind of the believer, and not upon him personally, that the gifts are Conferred. The heart's confession of the Lord as the Son of God develops itself into a living faith in his truth in the understanding, and this change in our state is analogous to the change of Simon's name to Peter, and the change of Jacob's name to Israel, by a further development of the spiritual principle, and advance in the spiritual life. When from being Simon we become Peter, the truth of Jesus becomes the rock on which he builds his church; for he, as the eternal truth revealed to and dwelling in a sincere faith, is that on which all Christian graces and virtues repose as on a foundation. These graces and virtues constitute the church in the human mind. And when we have the true foundation of the church within us, then do we receive the divine assurance - and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Jesus came into the world to overcome - hell and hold it in subjection. And when he himself is the foundation, how can the power of hell prevail against the building that is reared and that rests upon it? This assurance implies, that the powers of hell make the attempt to overthrow the church in the mind of the Christian disciple. Of this the Lord's disciples, and Peter in particular, had sufficient experience after this assurance was given; but they found, with the exception of one who never had this foundation in himself, that the Lord's strength was sufficient to enable them to overcome the greatest assaults of the enemy. And such will be the experience of every Christian who carefully preserves the same sure and tried stone as the foundation of his hopes.

19. With this power of resisting the gates of hell there is also given to the Christian the power of opening the gates of heaven. I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt find on earth shall be found in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. As there is a connection and series in the internal sense, we may see it here. Evil resides in the natural mind, which is meant by earth in the Word; and indeed, evil constitutes hell; so that the natural mind, in its unregenerate state, is a miniature, hell, the image of the greater. In the natural mind are the gates by which evil enters from the world and the kingdom of darkness, and by which it goes out to assault the good of the kingdom we have received from God. These are the gates of hell in our own minds that assail the church when it has been built upon the Rock of Ages. And it is when, by successful combat against evil, we have shut these gates of hell in the natural mind, that we can use the keys of the kingdom to open the gates of heaven in the spiritual mind; for the shutting of the one is the opening of the other. The keys of heaven are not actually given to us till we have resisted evil and shut the gates of hell. It is by the natural truths, precepts, and laws of the Word, and indeed, by those truths that say, "Thou shalt not," that we resist and overcome evil, and so close the gates of hell. But it is by the spiritual truths of the Word, and those laws that say, "Thou shalt love the Lord above all things, and thy neighbour as thyself" that we are enabled to open the gate of heaven. Repentance shuts the gates of hell; holiness opens the gate of heaven. These spiritual and eternal truths are the keys of the kingdom, and they are given to us when we have faithfully employed the prohibitory laws of the letter of the Word in resisting evil. The keys of the kingdom were given to bind and to loose. This mode of expression is a Hebraism for prohibiting and allowing, as authority and power are meant by having the keys. In the spiritual sense, binding and loosing are expressive of very important acts in the regenerate life. By earth and heaven, as we have already seen, we are to understand the natural and the spiritual mind, or the internal and the external man. To bind on earth is to restrain and control the evil lusts of the natural mind, and to loose on earth is to give liberty and free action to its good affections. We are to bring our bad thoughts and affections under subjection to the authority of divine truth; and by the power of the same divine truth we are to deliver our good thoughts and affections that are imprisoned and oppressed. For in the natural mind, in its unregenerate state, evil rules and good serves - the natural rules the spiritual, the temporal the eternal. Thus the state of man is inverted, and regeneration restores it to order, which consists in the lower serving the higher. The keys of the kingdom give us the power of binding the evil and loosing the good, giving dominion to the good, and reducing the evil to subjection. Whatsoever is bound and loosed on earth is also bound and loosed in heaven. One of the grand features of regeneration consists in the spiritual and natural minds being brought into harmony and unity, and this is effected by bringing the natural into correspondence with the spiritual, the earthly into harmony with the heavenly. In man the spiritual mind acts and the natural mind re-acts. In his unregenerate state the natural re-acts against the spiritual, and so overcomes or neutralizes its action; when regenerated, the natural re-acts in obedience to and in harmony with the spiritual. Whatever, therefore, is bound and loosed in the natural mind is bound and loosed in the spiritual mind. Not that evil ever actually gains admission into the spiritual mind, but the effect is the same as if it did - for every unrepented evil in the natural mind turns into evil the good that flows into it from the spiritual mind. But when the evil is bound in the natural mind, the effect is that it no longer perverts the good that flows into it, so that what is bound on earth becomes bound in heaven. On the other hand, the good affections and thoughts in the natural mind, being loosed from bondage, become loosed and free in the spiritual mind also; for good can flow into the natural affections and thoughts, and act through them, so as to come forth, as it ever desires to do, in words of truth and works of goodness. This may be seen by the analogy between the less and the greater. We know that no one can enter heaven unless he is made heavenly while he lives upon earth. Only those persons who have fought the good fight, and have bound the evil and liberated the good in themselves, can ascend into heaven. In like manner, only those things that we have loosed and bound on earth will be loosed and bound in heaven; for our works follow us. No evil can be bound, no good can be loosed, in the other world, that is not first loosed or bound in this. So is it in our own heaven and earth As men are made angelic on earth before they become angels in heaven, so our thoughts and affections must be made angelic in the natural mind before they can exist as such in the spiritual mind. As there is not an angel in heaven who was not once an angelic man upon earth, so there is not an angelic principle in the spiritual mind that was not first an angelic principle in the natural mind. That is first which is natural, and afterwards that which is spiritual. When we speak of a work being done on earth before it is done in heaven, or in the natural mind before it is done in the spiritual, we mean that it has no positive and permanent existence in the higher till it is done in the lower. No work is complete till it comes into its ultimate state. The reason our Lord came into the world and assumed a natural humanity was, that he might operate from first by last principles, and so accomplish the work of redemption. And having while on earth bound hell itself, and loosed mankind from spiritual bondage, and glorified his humanity, he ascended far above all heavens. And now he has the keys of hell and of death; and he it is who opens, and no man can shut; and who shuts, and no man can open. He it is therefore who binds and looses in us, and to whom belongs the glory.

20. When Jesus had delivered and expounded this great truth of his kingdom to his followers, when he had been acknowledged by them openly in his true character, and had delivered to them the keys of his kingdom, Then charged he of his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ. The time was not yet come for the full preaching of this truth to the world. But there is a sense in which it applies to us also. This injunction is to be understood in a way to that which he gave to some when cured of their diseases - to tell no man that he had done it - that this truth could not yet be received rightly and profitably by the natural man - meant by the men without - the Lord's humanity being not yet glorified to that degree which corresponded with the degree of life and receptivity in which they were. The disciples afford an example of this themselves, on the very subject which the Lord next introduces to them; for although it seems evidently to have made an impression upon them, and was several times repeated to them, they had so entirely forgotten it that even its fulfilment failed to bring it to their remembrance. Yet there were reasons for this truth being made known at this time to the disciples themselves.

21. From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. This was one of the means by which his purpose in coming into the world was to be effected, yet the Lord now only began to show it to those who were to be the instruments of preaching Christ and him crucified, yea, rather, risen again. This shows that it formed no part of their first preaching of the gospel. Their commission then was to preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand, and to heal the sick and cleanse lepers. The preaching of the gospel in the fulness of its spirituality and glory was yet to come. Jesus only now "began" to show unto them the mystery of the cross, and through this the majesty and glory of his kingdom. Gradually, and wisely, and tenderly, as they were able to bear it, did the Lord unfold unto them the mysteries of his kingdom. Through Peter they had confessed the grand truth that he was the Christ, the Son of the living God, and they were now prepared to hear, though not yet to understand, the ultimate means of his glorification. In all this we see the progressive unfolding of the Christian principle in the mind of every true Christian, the history of the disciples being the history of every true follower of the Lord. When a truth is once received and acknowledged, it begins to unfold itself. The great truth of the Lord's being the Christ, when once received, must work itself out into a practical principle. Between the reception and the realization of this truth stands the cross - first as an offence to the intellect, and then of terror to the heart, but finally to become an object in which to glory, as the symbol of the gate of life.

In directing the disciples to look forward to the cross, Jesus told them he must go to Jerusalem, out of which it cannot be that a prophet perish. Jerusalem represented the church. The Lord went up to the holy city, not to provoke the hostility of the Jewish priesthood, but to represent his entering into the interior states of good and truth, which were the necessary parts of his glorification. The opposition which there assailed him was the inevitable result of that awful perversion of the sanctities of religion which then had desecrated the holiest place. Jerusalem - or, rather, the elders, chief priests and scribes of the church there - represented also the perverse religious element in our own minds, - the old life, with its lusts, errors, and prejudices, that opposes itself to the Lord's new life in the soul, especially to the humiliating means by which it is to be perfected, and against which the natural mind revolts. The Lord indeed, directs his disciples to look beyond these means to the glorious end, when he should be raised again the third day. But at this stage the disciple cannot look to the end; he does not relish it, and he cannot comprehend it. He questions what the rising from the dead can mean. He cannot see Christ's glory as an end, so long as he cannot see his suffering and