Wednesday, May 31st, 2023
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
Trapp's Complete Commentary Trapp's Commentary
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Matthew 10". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ jtc/ matthew-10.html. 1865-1868.
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Matthew 10". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://studylight.org/
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1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
Ver. 1. And when he had called the twelve ] He had set them to pray, Matthew 9:38 , and now he sets them to work. Ora et labora, pary and work, is an old proverb, and Admota manu invocanda est Minerva said the heathens. To pray to pray, is to mock God and lose one’s labour. Solomon saith, we must as well dig as beg for knowledge, Proverbs 2:2 ; Proverbs 2:4 , else to beg is bootless. The talk of the lips only brings want, Proverbs 14:23 . Christ seemed here to say to his praying disciples, as once he did to Moses, "Why criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward," Exodus 14:15 ; or as afterwards he did to Joshua, Jos 7:10 "Get thee up, wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?"
2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
Ver. 2. Now the names of the twelve, &c. ] Their names are registered and had in honour; when the grandees of the earth, those men of renown in their generation, lie either buried in oblivion or wrapped up in the sheet of shame: their memory, haply, is preserved, but stinks in the keeping, as that rich glutton, Luke 16:19-31 , who is not so much as named, as poor Lazarus is.
Peter, and Andrew his brother, &c. ] They go coupled two and two together. And this first for their own sakes. "Two are better than one," saith Solomon,Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 . For, 1. If they fall, the one will lift up his fellow, as that which is stronger shoreth up that which is weaker. 2. If two lie together, then they have heat. When Silas came, Paul burned in spirit, Acts 18:5 . Whiles Jehoiada lived Joash was free and forward for God; he was the first that complained of the negligence of his best officers in repairing the temple, 2 Chronicles 24:4-6 . While Bradford was alive he kept up Ridley, and so did Latimer, Cranmer, from thinking upon defection. 3. If one prevail, two shall withstand him. The enemy is readiest to assault where none is by to assist; and much of our strength is lost in the loss of a faithful friend; whence Paul so rejoiced that Epaphroditus recovered, Philippians 2:27 . For their own mutual help and comfort was it therefore that they were sent out by pairs: ουν τε δυω ερχινεβω , as the poet speaks of his Ulysses and Diomedes, sent to fetch in the Palladium. Secondly, for the sake of others, that the bad might be the sooner set down and convinced, the better confirmed and settled in the truth, since "in the mouth of two or three witnesses," &c. For this it was that God sent forth those noble pairs, Moses and Aaron, Zerubbabel and Joshua, Paul and Barnabas, the two faithful witnesses, Revelation 11:3 , Luther and Melancthon, a Zuinglius and Oecolampadius, &c.
a Divisae his operae sed mens fuit unica, pavit Ore
Lutherus oves, flore Melancthon apes.
3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;
Ver. 3. Bartholomew ] This, say some, was that Nathanael, Joh 1:45-49 He is by Dionysius quoted to have said of divinity, Et magnam esse et minimam ( και πολλην, και ελαχιστην ), that it was large in a little room. Ambrose Chircher the Jesuit tells of a tradition they have in China, that one Olo Puen (or Bartholomew) was brought thither from Judea in the clouds, and preached Christianity among them; whereof he left twenty-seven tomes behind him. Sed fides sit penes authorem. But let faith belong to authority.
Matthew the publican ] See here, as in a mirror, Christ’s free grace in such a choice, and Matthew’s true grace in not dissembling his old trade, but shaming himself, that God might be glorified; and thankfully crying out, with Iphicrates, εξ οιων εις οια , from how sinful and shameful to how high and honourable a calling and course of life am I advanced!
4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
Ver. 4. Simeon the Canaanite ] Or a man of Cana a in Galilee (as Judas Iscariot), that is, a man of Kerioth: see Joshua 15:25 . Simon the zealot, St Luke calls him. Christ, when he called him to the apostleship, either found him or made him zealous. Tardis mentibus virtus non facile committitur. Song of Solomon 5:0 . Tusc.
" Mediocribus esse poetis
Non Dii, non homines, non concessere columnae. "
(Her. de Art. Poet.)
a קכא significat zelum, means jealousy.
5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
Ver. 5. These twelve Jesus sent forth ] Out of deep commiseration of those poor scattered sheep, that lay panting for life, and well nigh gasping their last ( εσκυλμενοι ), Matthew 9:30 . Saul, that ravening wolf of Benjamin, and his fellow Pharisees, not only breathed out threatenings, but worried Christ’s sheep, that bore golden fleeces,Acts 9:1; Acts 9:1 . Now, because he could not go to them all himseff in person, he sends out the twelve. Thereby also to teach them and us that no minister is so "thoroughly furnished to all good works," 2 Timothy 3:17 , but that he may need the advice and help of his fellow labourers. And this, I conceive, was at first the end of erecting colleges and cathedrals.
6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Ver. 6. To the lost sheep ] This is the common condition of us all. "All we like sheep have gone astray," Isaiah 53:6 . The prophet saith not, like dogs; for these, though lost, will find their way home again, Nor like swine; for these also, when lugged, or against a storm, will hie to their home. But like sheep, that silly creature, than the which as none is more apt to wander, so neither any more unable to return.
7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Ver. 7. The kingdom of heaven is at hand ] Repent therefore. Men will do much for a kingdom. And nothing less than a kingdom, and that of heaven, can buy men out of their sweet sins. How many hear we daily making answer to the motion of this heavenly kingdom offered them by God, as the olive and vine did in Jotham’s parable! Shall I leave my fat and sweet sins, to reign, though with God? a And yet every man must be either a king or a captive; reign in heaven, or roar for ever in hell. And this the apostles were bidden, wherever they came, to preach; not to sing mass, which is the chief office of priest among the Papists. And for the people, they are taught to believe that the mass only is a work of duty; but the going to sermons a matter of convenience, and such as is left free to men’s leisures and opportunities, without imputation of sin.
a At Paris, ut vivat regnetque beatus, cogi posse negat.
8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
Ver. 8. Heal the sick ] God glorifies himself by the fruits of our sin and the effects of his own wrath. This great Alchemist knows how to extract good out of evil. He can make golden afflictions, 1 Peter 1:7 , medicinal sicknesses, fetch his own honour out of the depths of our sufferings, as wine draws a nourishing virtue from the flesh of vipers, and as scarlet pulls out the viper’s teeth.
Freely ye have received ] And so have we in some sort, and in some sense; since no pains we take, no cost we are at, can possibly countervail so great a treasure as is concredited unto us.
9 Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,
Ver. 9. Provide neither gold, &c. ] To wit, for this present voyage (for at other times our Saviour had money, and he put it not in a penny pouch, but in a bag so big that it needed a bearer), but now Christ would teach them, by experience of his fatherly providence in feeding and securing them, to trust him for ever.
10 Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.
Ver. 10. Neither two coats ] This may be a burden to you.
Neither shoes ] But sandals, a lighter kind of wearing.
Nor yet staves ] Either for offence or defence; a dog shall not wag his tongue at you: or not a staff that may cumber you. But take a staff (as St Mark, Mark 6:8-9 , hath it), sc. that may ease and relieve you in your hard toil and travel. A staff they might have to speak them the travellers, not soldiers; one to walk with, not to war with; a wand, not a weapon.
The workman is worthy of his meat ] "Of his wages," saith St Mark; of both as labourers in God’s harvest; of double honour, saith St Paul, both countenance and maintenance.
11 And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.
Ver. 11. Inquire who in it is worthy ] That is, faithful, as Lydia was, Acts 16:15 , and Philip the Evangelist, Acts 21:8 , and Mary the mother of Mark, Acts 12:12 . Lo, here, whither ministers should resort, and where should be their rendezvous, Psalms 26:4 ; Psalms 16:3 . In the excellent ones of the earth should be their delight. I forget lords and ladies, said good Mr Fox, to remember God’s poor saints.
12 And when ye come into an house, salute it.
Ver. 12. And when ye come into an house ] Into the synagogues and other places of public meeting, our Saviour sends them not as yet, because they were but young beginners and lacked boldness and other abilities; but bids them teach privately, catechise from house to house, and not stretch the wing beyond the nest till better fledged and fitted for flight.
13 And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.
Ver. 13. If that house be worthy ] The saints are the only worthies, of whom the world is not worthy,Hebrews 11:38; Hebrews 11:38 . These shall walk with Christ, for they are worthy, Revelation 3:4 . But the heart of the wicked is little worth, Proverbs 10:20 .
Let your peace come upon it ] Christian salutations are effectual benedictions. "We bless you in the name of the Lord," Psalms 129:8 .
Let your peace return unto you ] Something will come of your good wishes; if not to others, to yourselves; you shall be paid for your pains, as the physician is, though the patient dies; as the lawyer hath his fee, though his client’s cause miscarry. God will reward his ministers, though Israel be not gathered, Isaiah 49:4-5 , secundum laborem, non secundum proventum, Follow work not results, as Bernard hath it, κατα τον κοπον, ου κατα τον καρπον .
14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
Ver. 14. And whosoever shall not receive you ] Two sure signs of reprobate goats: 1. Not to receive Christ’s ministers to house and harbour, accounting themselves happy in such an entertainment. 2. Not to hear their words. The most good is done by God’s ministers commonly at first coming. Then some receive the word with admiration, others are daily more and more hardened: as fish, though fearful, stir not at the great noise of the sea, whereunto they are accustomed; and as birds that build in a belfry startle not at the tolling of the bell.
Shake off the dust of your feet ] In token that you sought not theirs but them, and that you will not carry away so much as any of their accursed dust; and that you will not have any communion at all with them, wait no longer upon them; that the dust of those feet (that should have been beautiful) shall be fatal and feral to them; that God shall henceforward beat them here as small as dust with his heavy judgments, as with an iron mace, Psalms 2:9 ; and that hereafter he shall shake them off as dust, when they come to him for salvation at the last judgment.
15 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.
Ver. 15. It shall be more tolerable ] God can better bear anything than the abuse of his free grace in the offers of mercy. Profligate professors and profane gospellers shall one day wish, "Oh that I had been a Sodomite, that I had never heard a sermon!" or, "Oh that I might hear but one sermon more!" &c. Should Solomon forsake that God that had appeared unto him twice? Good turns aggravate unkindness, and nothing more torments those in hell than to think that they might have been happy had they been worthy their years, as they say.
16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
Ver. 16. Behold, I send you forth, &c. ] This might seem incredible to the disciples, since they were sent among the "lost sheep of Israel." But strange though it seem, it is not so strange as true. Look for it therefore. "Behold:" Christ was in no such danger from Herod, that fox, as from those wolves the Pharisees.
As sheep in the midst of wolves ] Who would make it their work to worry the flock and suck their blood: as did Saul, that wolf of the tribe of Benjamin, and the primitive persecutors. Under Diocletian 17,000 Christians are said to have been slain in one month, among whom also was Serena the empress. Those ten persecutions were so cruel, that St Jerome writes in one of his epistles, that for every day in the year were murdered 5000, excepting only the first day of January. St Paul fell into the hands of that lion Nero, qui orientem fidem primus Romae cruentavit, as Tertullian hath it, who therefore also calleth him, Dedicatorem damnationis Christianorum. All the rest of the apostles are reported to have died by the hands of tyrants, save only St John; who, in contempt of Christianity and of Christ (that is, by interpretation, God’s anointed), a was cast by Domitian into a vessel of scalding oil, but came forth fresh and unhurt, by a miracle. After this the Arian heretics raged extremely, and made great havoc of the innocent lambs of Christ. Giezerichus, an Arian, king of Vandals, is said to have exceeded all that went afore him in cruelty towards the orthodox side, of both sexes. In that Laniena Parisiensis 30,000 Protestants were basely butchered in one month, 300,000 in one year. Stokesly, Bishop of London, boasted upon his deathbed that he had been the death of 50 heretics in his time. His successor, Bonner, was called the common cut-throat, and slaughter slave general to all the bishops of England. b "And therefore" (said a good woman, that told him so in a letter) "it is wisdom for me, and all other simple sheep of the Lord, to keep us out of your butchery stall as long as we can. Especially, seeing you have such store already, that you are not able to drink all their blood, lest you should break your belly, and therefore let them lie still and die for hunger." Thus she. But that above all is most horrid and hateful, that is related of the Christians in Calabria, A.D. 1560. For being all thrust up in one house together (saith Mr Fox) as in a sheepfold, the executioner comes in, and among them takes one and blindfolds him with a muffler about his eyes, and so leadeth him forth to a larger place, where he commandeth him to kneel down. Which being so done, he cutteth his throat, and so leaveth him half dead. Then, taking his butcher’s knife and muffler all of gore blood, he cometh again to the rest, and so leadeth them one after another and despatcheth them all, to the number of 88. All the aged went to death more cheerfully, the younger were more timorous. I tremble and shake (saith a Romanist, out of whose letter to his lord all this is transcribed) even to remember how the executioner held his bloody knife between his teeth, with the bloody muffler in his hand and his arms all in gore blood up to the elbows, going to the fold, and taking every one of them, one after another, by the hand, and so despatching them all, no otherwise than doth a butcher kill his calves and sheep. In fine, would any man take the Church’s picture? saith Luther; then let him take a silly poor maid, sitting in a wood or wilderness, compassed about with hungry lions, wolves, boars, and bears, and with all manner of cruel and harmful beasts; and in the midst of a great many furious men assaulting her every moment and minute; for this is her condition in the world.
Be ye therefore wise as serpents, &c. ] Let meekness be mixed with wariness, saith Nazianzen, that it may be the "meekness of wisdom," James 3:13 . c We must be neither foxes, nor yet asses. Meekness many times brings on injuries: a crow will stand upon a sheep’s back, pulling off wool from her side. Now, therefore, as we must labour for dove-like simplicity, and be no horned beasts to pelt or gore others (as the word ακεραιος here signifies), so for serpentine subtlety too, that we cast not ourselves upon needless dangers. The Roman rule was, nec fugere, nec sequi, neither flee nor follow, Christianity calleth us not to a weak simplicity; but allows us as much of the serpent as of the dove. The dove without the serpent is easily caught; the serpent without the dove stings deadly. Religion without policy is too simple to be safe; policy without religion is too subtle to be good. Their match makes themselves secure, and many happy. A serpent’s eye is a singular ornament in a dove’s head. For,
" Sit licet in partes circumspectissimus omnes,
Nemo tamen vulpes, nemo cavere potest. "
Harmless as doves ] That neither provoke the hawk nor project revenge, but when pursued they save themselves, if they can, by flight, not by fight.
" Felle columba caret, rostro non caedit, et ungues
Possidet innocuos, puraque grana legit. "
Sometimes they sit in their dove cotes, and see their nests destroyed, their young ones taken away and killed before their eyes; neither ever do they offer to rescue or revenge, which all other fowls do seem in some sort to do.
a In dolum olei immissum ferunt ludibrii causa, quia Christiani a Christo, et Christus απο του χριεσθαι .
b In less than four years they sacrificed the lives of 800 innocents here, to their idols in Queen Mary’s days.
c χρηστοτης συνεσει κεκραμμενη . Nazianzen.
17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
Ver. 17. But beware of men ] Absurd and wicked men, saith Paul, 2 Thessalonians 3:2 ; "brutish men, skilful to destroy," saith the prophet, Ezekiel 21:31 ; "Men eaters," saith the Psalmist, Psalms 14:4 ; cannibals, that make no more conscience to mischief God’s people than to eat a meal’s meat when they are hungry. These be those lycanthropi, those wolves mentioned in the former verse. These are those mankind men that St Paul met with at Ephesus,1 Corinthians 15:32; 1 Corinthians 15:32 . He fought with beasts after the manner of men, that is (as some interpret it), men fought with him after the manner of beasts. Such a man was that monster of Milan, in Bodin. de Repub. Such were the primitive persecutors, and such are the pseudo-catholics of these times. A Dutch woman they buried alive for religion, with thorns under her. Another they shamefully defiled in the sight of her husband, and then forced her to draw a sword and give her husband a deadly wound, her hands being ordered by them. The town of Burre, in France, being taken by the Papists, all kind of cruelty was there used. Children were cut up, the guts and hearts of some of them pulled out, which in rage they gnawed with their teeth. The Italians which served the king, did for hatred of religion break forth into such fury, that they ripped up a living child, and took his liver, being as yet red hot, and ate it as meat. John Burgeolus, president of Turin, an old man, being suspected to be a Protestant, and having bought his life with a great sum of money, was notwithstanding taken and beaten cruelly with clubs and staves; and being stripped of his clothes, was brought to the bank of the river Liger, and hanged, his feet upward, and head downward in the water, up to his breast. Then, he being yet alive, they opened his belly, pulled out his guts, and threw them into the river. And taking his heart they put it upon a spear, carrying it with contumelious words about the city. (Thuanus.) Were these men? or rather devils in the shape of men? What should I instance further in those late Irish unheard of cruelties, so well known, and so much written about? such as whereof the devil himself might be ashamed, had he any shame in him. Lithgow, a Scot, after he had with King James’s letters travelled through the greatest part of the known world, was, as he returned through Spain, in the city of Maligo, surprised by nine sergeants a and carried before the governor, by whose appointment they stripped him of his clothes, robbed him of his money, put him into a dark dungeon, shackled him, starved him, wounded him, &c. In 10 hours he received 70 different torments. At last, all the lords inquisitors commanded him to receive 11 strangling torments at midnight, and to be burnt body and bones to ashes, though they had nothing against him but suspicion of religion. And yet after this God wonderfully delivered him. He was brought on his bed to our king, wounded and broken, and made this account to the face of Gundamor, the Spanish ambassador.
They will scourge you ] John Fortune, a martyr in Queen Mary’s days, was thus threatened by one Mr Foster: You shall be whipped and burned for this gear, I think. His answer was, I shall be full glad of that. For it is written, "They will scourge you in their synagogues." And since the time that the sword of tyranny came into your hand, I heard of none that were whipped. Happy were I if I had the maidenhead of that persecution.
a An officer whose duty is to enforce the judgments of a tribunal or the commands of a person in authority; one who is charged with the arrest of offenders or the summoning of persons to appear before the court. ŒD
18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
Ver. 18. And ye shall be brought before governors ] Yea, they offered themselves to them, crying Christiani sumus, We are Christians, and so tiring them thereby, that one of them a in a great chafe cried out, O miseri, si libet perire, num vobis rupes aut restes desunt? Can ye find no other way to despatch yourselves, but that I must be troubled with you?
And before kings, for my sake ] As Paul before Agrippa, and afterwards Nero; Luther before Charles V; Lambert before Henry VIII.
a Artius Antoninus, apud Tertul.
19 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.
Ver. 19. Take no thought how or what ye shall speak ] Be not anxious about either matter or manner of your apology for yourselves. Ye shall be supplied from on high both with invention and elocution. Demosthenes, that great orator, was many times dismayed when he spoke to King Philip, and sometimes so disheartened that he had not a word more to say. Moses, that great scholar, feared he should lack words when he was to stand before Pharaoh, and professes, that since God had called him to that service, he found less freedom of speech than before. Latomus of Lovain, a very learned man, having prepared an eloquent oration to Charles V, emperor, was so confounded in the delivering of it, that he came off with great discredit, and fell into utter despair. No wonder therefore though the apostles, being ignorant and unlettered men, were somewhat troubled how to do when brought before kings and Caesars. Our Saviour here cures them of that care by a promise of help from heaven. And they had it, Acts 5:41 ; Acts 13:52 . And so had the confessors and martyrs in all ages of the Church. Nescio unde veniunt istae meditationes, I do not know from where such thoughts come, saith Luther of himself in a letter to his friend. And in his book of the Babylonish captivity he professeth, that whether he would or no, he became every day more learned than other. a How bravely did Ann Askew, Alice Driver, and other poor women, answer the doctors, and put them to a nonplus! Was not that the Spirit of the Father speaking in them?
a Profitetur se quotidie, velit, nolit, doctiorem fieri.
20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
Ver. 20. But the Spirit of your Father ] Who borroweth your mouth for the present, to speak by. It is he that forms your speeches for you, dictates them to you, filleth you with matter, and furnisheth you with words. Fear not therefore your rudeness to reply. There is no mouth into which God cannot put words: and how often doth he choose the weak and unlearned to confound the wise and mighty, as he did Balaam’s ass to confute his master!
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.
Ver. 21. And the brother shall deliver up the brother ] As Alphonsus Diazius did his own brother John at Neoberg, in Germany. So, Doctor London made Filmer, the martyr’s own brother, witness against him, cherishing him with meat and money, and telling him he should never lack as long as he lived, &c. So, one Woodman was delivered by his own brother into his enemy’s hands. Of him and other martyrs burnt with him, White, Bishop of Winchester after Gardiner, falsely affirmed in a sermon, Good people, these men deny Christ to be God, and the Holy Ghost to be God, &c. In the civil wars of France, the sons fought against their fathers, and brothers against brothers, and even women took up arms on both sides for defence of their religion. This is the effect of the gospel of peace, but by accident.
And the father the child ] As Philip, King of Spain, who said he had rather have no subjects than heretics, as he called them: and, out of a bloody zeal, suffered his eldest son Charles to be murdered by the cruel Inquisition, because he seemed to favour the Protestant side.
22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
Ver. 22. And ye shall be hated ] Haud perinde crimine incendii quam odio humani generis convicti sunt, saith Tacitus of those poor Christians, that by Nero were haled to death for setting the city of Rome on fire, which was done by himself. Tertullian telleth us that their name, and not their crime, was punished in Christians. So Luther complaineth that there was in his days no crime comparable to that of professing the gospel. Nullum flagitium hodie par est huic uni et summo sacrilegio, sc. Evangelion Dei confiteri. Luther, Epist. ad Episc. Sambiensem. Melch. Adam, in Vit. Brent.
But he that endureth to the end ] Apostasy loseth the things that it hath wrought, 2 John 1:8 . Non quaeruntur in Christianis initia, sed finis, saith Jerome. It is the evening that crowneth the day, and the last scene that commends the interlude.
23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.
Ver. 23. Flee ye into another ] That is, make all the haste that may be, as Song of Solomon 8:14 . Fuge, fuge, Brenti, cito, citius, citissime, so friendly did a senator of Hala advise Brentius. He did so, and thereby saved his life. There was one Laremouth, chaplain to Lady Ann of Cleve, a Scotchman, to whom in prison it was said, as he thought, "Arise, and go thy ways." Whereto when he gave no great heed at first, the second time it was so said. Upon this, as he fell to his prayers, it was said the third time likewise to him; which was half an hour after. So he, arising upon the same, immediately a piece of the prison wall fell down; and as the officers came in at the outer gate of the prison, he leaping over the ditch escaped. And in the way meeting a certain beggar, changed his coat with him, and coming to the sea shore, where he found a vessel ready to go over, was taken in, and escaped the search which was straitly laid for him all the country over. Tertullian was too rigid in condemning all kind of flight in time of persecution ( Lib. de Fuga Persecutionis ).
Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel ] This is another comfort to the apostles and their successors, that though forced to flee from city to city, yet they shall still find harbour, and places of employment. They shall not have finished, that is, taught and converted, all the cities of God’s Israel, both according to the flesh, and according to the faith, till the Son of man be come to judgment. SeeMatthew 24:30; Matthew 24:30 ; Luke 21:27 .
24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.
Ver. 24. The disciple is not above his master ] Sweeten we the tartness of all our sufferings with this sentence, as with so much sugar. Blandina the martyr being grievously racked and tortured, cried out ever and anon, Christiana sum, I am a Christian; and with that consideration was so relieved and refreshed, that all her torments seemed but a pastime to her. ( Sub Antonino Philosopho in Gallia, &c., Bucholcer.)
25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?
Ver. 25. It is sufficient for the disciple, &c. ] And a fair preferment too,John 21:18; John 21:18 . Peter thinks much that himself should be destined to die a martyr, and not John. What shall he do? saith Peter; Follow thou me, saith our Saviour. I shall show thee the way to an ignominious suffering, whatever becomes of John; though he shall suffer his part too. For if the head be crowned with thorns, should not the members feel the pain of it? a
If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub ] That is, master fly, such as Pliny calleth Μυιαγρος . The men of Elis sacrificed to Jupiter Muscarius ( Απομυιος ). He is otherwise called Jupiter Stercorarius, this Beelzebub: as the Scripture calls all the vanities of the heathen Gelulim, excrements, dunghill deities: a name too good for them. David would not do them so much honour as once to name them. And Absit (saith Jerome) ut de ore Christiano sonet Iupiter omnipotens, et Mehercule, et Mecastor, et caetera magis portenta quam numina. Beelzebub was the god of Ekron, that is, the devil of hell (for of Ekron comes Acheron). How prodigiously blasphemous then were these miscreants that called Christ Beelzebub. Wonder it was, that at the hearing thereof the heaven sweat not, the earth shook not, the sea swelled not above all her banks.
How much more shall they call, &c. ] So they called Athanasius Sathanasius, Cyprian Coprian, Calvin Cain, Farellus devil. When he came first to Geneva, and began the Reformation there, he was haled before the bishop, and set upon in this sort: Quid tu diabole nequissime ad hanc civitatem perlurbandam accessisti? What a devil meanest thou to meddle with the Scriptures? (said Stephen Winchester to Marbeek); seeing thou art so stubborn and wilful, thou shalt go to the devil for me.
a Non decet ut sub capite spinis coronato vivant membra in deliciis. Zanch. lib. 10, cap. 28.
26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.
Ver. 26. Fear them not therefore ] Be not reviled out of your religion, but say, If this what it means to be vile, I will be yet more vile. Contra sycophantae morsum non est remedium, saith Seneca. Didicit ille maledicere, et ego contemnere, said he in Tacitus. If I cannot be master of another man’s tongue, yet I can be of mine own ears. Dio writes of Severus, that he was careful of what he should do, but careless of what he should hear. a Do well and hear ill, is written upon heaven gates, said that martyr. Ill men’s mouths are as open sepulchres, saith David, wherein good men’s names are often buried: but the comfort is, there shall be a resurrection as well of names as of bodies, at the last day.
For there is nothing hidden that shall not be known ] q.d. Deal not unfaithfully in the ministry: conceal not the truth in unrighteousness, betray not the cause of God by a cowardly silence. For (whatsoever you may plausibly plead and pretend for your false play) all shall out at length: and well it shall appear to the world that you served not the Lord Christ, but your own turns upon Christ: and so yourselves might sleep in a whole skin, let what would become of his cause and kingdom. Fearful men are the first in that black bill,Revelation 21:8; Revelation 21:8 . And God equally hateth the timorous as the trencherous.
a εμμελης ην των πρακτεων, αμελης δε των περι αυτου λογοποιουμενων .
27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.
Ver. 27. What I tell you in darkness, &c. ] q.d. See that ye be valiant and violent for the truth: declare unto the world all the counsel of God, which you have therefore learned in private, that ye may teach in public, not fearing any colours, much less stealing from your colours, Hebrews 10:38 . a Quas non oportet mortes praeeligere, quod non supplicium potius ferre, immo in quam profundam inferni abyssum non intrare, quam contra conscientiam attestari? saith Zwinglius (Epist. tertia). A man had better endure any misery than an enraged conscience.
a υποστειληται ’ Steal from his captain.
28 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.
Ver. 28. And fear not them which kill the body ] That cruelly kill it, αποκτεινειν (as the word signifies), that wittily torture it, as those primitive persecutors, with all the most exquisite torments that the wit of malice could devise: that kill men so that they may feel themselves to be killed, as Tiberius bade. Odull Gemmet suffered a strange and cruel death in France for religion. For when they had bound him, they took a kind of creatures which live in horse dung, called in French escarbots, and put them unto his navel, covering them with a dish, the which, within a short time, pierced into his belly, and killed him. The tragic story of their cruel handling of William Gardner, martyr, in Portugal, may be read in Mr Foxe’s Martyrology, fol. 1242. At the loss of Heidelberg, Monsieur Millius, an ancient minister and man of God, was taken by the bloody Spaniards, who having first abused his daughter before him, tied a small cord about his head, which with truncheons they wreathed about till they squeezed out his brains. So they rather roasted than burnt many of our martyrs, as Bishop Ridley, and others. Neither would they let the dead rest in their graves, as Paulus Phagius, whose bones they digged up and burnt: so they raged exceedingly upon the dead body of Zwinglius, after they had slain him in battle, &c. a Now these that cruelly kill the body we must not fear. Our Saviour saith not, that can kill the body at their pleasure, for that they cannot; but that do kill it, when God permits them to do it. And then, too, occidere possunt, laedere non possunt, as he told the tyrant: b they may kill the saints, but cannot hurt them, because their souls are out of gunshot. St Paul’s sufferings reached no further than to his flesh, Colossians 1:24 ; his soul was untouched, he possessed that in patience amidst all outward perturbations.
But are not able to kill the soul ] As they would do fain, if it were in their power. David often complains that they sought after his soul, that they satanically hated him, &c. Now we commit thy soul to the devil, said the persecutors to John Huss. The Popish priests persuaded the people here at the burning of the martyrs, that when the gunpowder (that was put under their armholes for a readier despatch of them) gave a burst, then the devil fetched away their souls. When Cranmer often cried in the fire, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit," a Spanish monk ran to a nobleman then present, and would have persuaded him that those were words of despair, and that he was now entering into hell. c Upon the patient and pious death of George Marsh, many of the people said he died a martyr, which caused the bishop shortly after to make a sermon in the cathedral, and therein he affirmed that the said Marsh was a heretic, burnt like a heretic, and a firebrand in hell. Of Nicolas Burton, martyr in Spain, because he embraced death for Christ with all gladness and patience, the Papists gave out that the devil had his soul before he came to the fire, and therefore they said his senses of feeling were past already.
But rather fear him ] As one fire, so one fear drives out another. Therefore, in the second commandment, lest the fear of men’s punishment should keep us from worshipping of God, great punishment is threatened to them that worship him not. If I forsake my profession, I am sure of a worse death than Judge Hales had, said that martyr. There is a military law for those that forsake their captain, or else (under a colour of discretion) fall back into the rereward. They that draw back, do it to perdition,Hebrews 10:39; Hebrews 10:39 . And is it nothing to lose an immortal soul? to purchase an everlasting death? Should servants fear their masters because they have power over the flesh? Colossians 3:23 ; and should not we fear him that can destroy both body and soul in hell? Biron, Marshal of France, derided the Earl of Essex’s piety at his death as more befitting a silly minister than a stout warrior: as if the fear of hell were not a Christian man’s fortitude; as if it were not valour but madness to fight with a flaming fire, that is out of our power to suppress. This Biron, within a few months after, underwent the same death that Essex did, and then if he feared not hell, he was sure to feel it.
a In corpus Zuinglii exanime valde saevitum uit, &c. Scultet. Annal., p. 348.
b Αποκτειναι με δυναται ο Νερων, βλαψαι δε ου . Thraseds, apud Dion. in Nerone.
c Melch. Adam. in Vit. Cranmer.
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
Ver. 29. Are not two sparrows, a &c. ] Birds flying seem to be at liberty, yet are guided by an overruling hand: they fly freely, yet fall by Divine dispose, and not as the fowler will. But we are better than many sparrows. God’s providence is punctual and particular, extending even to the least and lightest circumstances of all our occurrences; whatever Jerome thought to the contrary, and Pliny with his Irridendum vero curare agere rerum humanarum illud quicquid est summum: It is a ridiculous thing, saith he, to imagine that God takes care of our particular affairs. How much better St Augustine, Deus sic curat universes quasi singulos, sic singulos quasi solos. God’s providence extends to every particular, both person and occurrence.
a στρουθια , Magna est emphasis diminutivi. The greatnes is noted in the small matters.
30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Ver. 30. But the very hairs of your head, &c. ] As things of price, and such as God sets great store by. Hence he enjoined his Nazarites, when they had accomplished their vow, to shave their heads, and put the hair in the fire, under their peace offering, for a sacrifice to the Lord, Numbers 6:18 . The Ammonites paid dearly for the hair they shaved off the heads and beards of David’s messengers. So hath Bonner, I believe, ere this, for the martyr’s beard he pulled off part of it, causing the other part thereof to be shaved, lest his manly act should be seen to the world. The three worthies were taken out of the fiery furnace with their hairs in full number, not one of them singed,Daniel 3:27; Daniel 3:27 .
31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
Ver. 31. Fear not therefore ] This is the third time, in six verses, that they and we are bidden to banish this cowardly base passion, this causeless, fruitless, harmful, sinful fear of men. He that fears God needs fear none else. Moses feared not Pharaoh, nor Micaiah Ahab, when they had once seen God in his majesty. Micaiah will not budge or alter his tale; as the lion fiercely pursued, will not alter his gait, they say, though he die for it. Doctor Taylor, martyr, when being sent for by Stephen Gardiner, his friends persuaded him not to appear, but flee. "Flee you," said he, "and do as your conscience leads you, I am fully determined, with God’s grace, to go to the bishop, and to his beard to tell him that he doth naught." This he resolved to do, and this he did accordingly. For at his first appearance, "Art thou come, thou villain?" said the bishop. "How darest thou look me in the face for shame? Knowest thou not who I am?" "Yes, I know who you are," said he again, "Doctor Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester and Lord Chancellor, yet but a mortal man, I think. But if I should be afraid of your lordly looks, why fear you not God, the Lord of us all? How dare you for shame look any Christian man in the face, seeing you have forsaken the truth, denied your Master Christ and his word, and done contrary to your own oath and writing? With what countenance will you appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and answer to your oath?" &c.
Ye are of more value than many sparrows ] Yea, than many other men, as one pearl is more worth than many pebbles, one little lark than many carrion kites. Noah found more favour with God than all the world besides. The saints are called all things, Colossians 1:20 . Tabor and Hermon are put for the east and west of the world, Psalms 89:12 , as if there were no world but Judaea, that pleasant land, that land of delight, Daniel 11:16 ; Daniel 11:41 , so styled, because in Judah was God known, and there were those excellent ones in whom is all God’s delight,Psalms 16:3; Psalms 16:3 . He reckons of men by their righteousness, and accounts such more excellent than their neighbours, whomsoever they dwell by, Proverbs 12:26 .
32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
Ver. 32. Whosoever therefore shall confess me ] A bold and wise confession of Christ is required of all his, who are therefore said to be marked in their foreheads,Revelation 7:3; Revelation 7:3 , an open place: and they that will not profess him shall be sorted with such as through excess of pain, and defect of patience, gnaw their own tongues, Revelation 16:10 . Antichrist takes it in as good part, if his bond-slaves receive his mark in their hand only; the which, as occasion serveth, they may cover or reveal, Revelation 13:16 . He lets his use what decption they will, so it may help to amplify his kingdom. It was a watch word in Gregory XIII’s time, in Queen Elizabeth’s reign, "My son, give me thy heart." Dissemble, go to church, do what ye will, but Da mihi cor: be in heart a Papist, and go where you will. Christ will endure no such dealing. He will have heart and tongue too, Romans 10:9 , he will be worshipped truly, that there be no halting; and totally, that there be no halving. We may as well (saith Zwinglius) do worship at the altar of Jupiter or Venus, as hide our faith for fear of antichrist? a "He that is not with me is against me," saith our Saviour. He likes not these political professors, these neuter passive Christians, that have fidem menstruam, faith for a month, as Hilary said of some in his time, that have religionem ephemeram, flexible religion, as Beza saith of Balduinus the French apostate, that can turn with the times, comply with the company, be (as the planet Mercury) good in conjunction with good, and bad with bad. These are they that do virtutis stragulam pudefacere, put honesty to an open shame, as the philosopher could say, And shall these men’s faith "be found to praise and honour and glory?" 1 Peter 1:7 . It is not likely.
a Ad aras Iovis aut Veneris adorare ac sub antichristo fidem occultare.
33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
Ver. 33. But whosoever shall deny me ] Not only utterly to renounce Christ, but out of base respects to dissemble him, is to deny him. Peter denied his Master as well in saying, "I wot not what thou sayest," as in swearing he never knew the man. The people of Israel, 1 Kings 18:11 , that held their peace only when the prophet had said, "If the Lord be God, follow him," are blamed, and worthily, for their detestable indifference. Indeed, they spake not against the prophet, but they dared not speak with him. Many such cold friends religion hath today. This they will dearly repent and rue, when they come to give account, with the world all on a light flame about their ears, and the elements falling upon them, as scalding lead or running bell metal.
Him will I also deny before my Father ] And the Father will entertain none but such as come commended to him by his Son Christ. He will surely cashier all others, as the Tirshatha did those proud priests, that grew ashamed of their profession, and could not find their register, Ezra 2:62 .
34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
Ver. 34. Think not that I came to send peace ] Peace is twofold, temporis et pectoris, of country and of conscience. This latter is Christ’s legacy, and the saints are sure of it. But the former they seldom find here; "In the world ye shall have trouble," saith our Saviour. Should we look for fire to quench our thirst? saith a martyr: and as soon shall God’s true servants find peace and favour under Christ’s regiment. This world is to the saints as the sea called Pacific, than the which there is nothing more troublesome and tumultuous; or as the Straits of Magellan, where, which way soever a man bend his course, he shall be sure to have the wind against him.
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.
Ver. 35. For I am come to set a man at variance, &c. ] By accident it happened so, through men’s singular corruption, causing them as bats to fly against the light of the gospel, to hate it as thieves do a torch in the night; or as the panther, which so hates man, that he tears his picture wherever he finds it.
36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
Ver. 36. And a man’s foes shall be they, &c. ] Nicholas of Jenvile, a young man newly come from Geneva, was condemned and set in the cart. His own father, coming with a staff, would have beaten him but that the officers kept him off. Julius Palmer, martyr, coming to his mother, and asking her blessing, "Thou shalt," said she, "have Christ’s curse and mine wherever thou goest." John Fetty, martyr, was accused and complained of by his own wife, and she was thereupon struck mad. Another like example there is to be read of an unnatural husband witnessing against his own wife, and likewise of children against their own mother, &c. So this saying of our Saviour is fulfilled. And it was not for nothing that Antigonus prayed so hard to be delivered from his friends; that Queen Elizabeth complained that in trust she had found treason.
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.
Ver. 37. He that loveth father or mother ] Levi said unto his father and his mother, "I have not seen him;" neither did he acknowledge his brethren, in that cause of God, nor knew his own children, Deuteronomy 33:9 ; "If the Lord Christ call me to him," saith Jerome, "although my father should lie in my way, my mother hang about my neck to hinder me, I would go over my father, shake off my mother," &c. Nazianzen was glad that he had something of value (to wit, his Athenian learning) to part with for Christ. Nicholas Shetterden, martyr, in a letter to his mother, wrote thus: "Dear mother, embrace the counsel of God’s word with hearty affection, read it with obedience, &c. So shall we meet in joy at the last day; or else I bid you farewell for evermore." "Away from me, Satan," said Rebezies, a French martyr, when Satan set before him his parents, to stop him in his course. And I know not by what reason they so called them my friends (said Borthwick, a Scotch martyr), that so greatly laboured to convert (indeed to pervert) me, neither will I more esteem them than the Midianites, which in times past called the children of Israel to do sacrifice to their idols.
He that loveth son or daughter, &c. ] As did Eli, who honoured his sons above God, 1 Samuel 2:29 . This the Lord took so heinously, that he swore that this iniquity of Eli’s house should not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever,1 Samuel 3:14; 1 Samuel 3:14 . Samuel, who brought the old priest this heavy tidings, was afterwards unhappy enough in his two sons; and succeeded Eli in his cross as well as his place. It can hardly be imagined that he succeeded him in his sin after so fair a warning. But good David was surely too fond a father, and therefore smarted in his children, whom he cockered. God will have us to hold him to be better to us than ten sons: and to bestow all our love upon him, as most worthy. What he gives us back again, we may bestow upon others; loving our friends in God, and our enemies for God. But the love of Christ must constrain us to part with all, though never so dear and near unto us, for his sake. Mr Bradford, while he was a prisoner, wrote earnestly to his mother to pray God to make him worthy to suffer, not only imprisonment, but even very death for his truth, religion, and gospel. Femella Amatriciana, a most godly woman, understanding that her son went heavily on to his death for Christ, met him and encouraged him, bidding him look up to heaven, and behold the sun in his glory. Which when he had done, "Knowest thou not, my son," said she, "thou shalt shortly be in that heavenly palace, and there outshine the sun itself!" William Hunter the martyr’s mother, said unto him, standing at the stake, that she was glad that ever she was so happy as to bear such a child as could find in his heart to lose his life for Christ’s name’s sake. Then William said to his mother, "For my little pain which I shall suffer, which is but for a short braid, Christ hath promised me a crown of joy; may you not be glad of that, mother?" with that his mother kneeled down on her knees, saying, "I pray God strengthen thee, my son, to the end; yea, I think thee as well bestowed as any child that ever I bare." John Clark, of Melden in France, being, for Christ’s sake, whipped three different days, and afterward having a mark set in his forehead as a note of infamy, his mother beholding it (though his father was an adversary) encouraged her son, crying with a loud voice, "Blessed be Christ, and welcome be these his prints and marks." Vivat Christus, eiusque insignia. (Scultet. Annul.)
Is not worthy of me ] viz. Because he holdeth not me worthy of more love than his best friends. Eli, for seeking to please his sons, Moses his wife, had like to have lost a friend of God, who had much ado to forbear killing him, Exodus 4:24 .
38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
Ver. 38. And he that taketh not up his cross ] Omnis Christianus crucianus, saith Luther. Every Christian is sure of his cross; but, first, it must be "his" cross, such as God hath laid upon him, not such as he hath created to himself (as Baal’s priests, who cut themselves with knives and lancets, 1 Kings 18:28 , the Circumcelliones of old, and the monks at this day, with their voluntary penances, &c.). Next, he must take it, and not stay till it be laid upon him; or then bear it as an ass doth his burden, because he can neither will nor choose; but he must be active in suffering and take God’s part against himself. Nay, he must (as he may) be cheerful under his cross, and thankful for it, as a favour, an honour. Acts 5:41 ; Acts 20:24 ; The very beasts take blows from their keepers. Turks, when cruelly lashed by their officers, give them thanks and go their ways. Porters go singing under their burdens, &c. Levius fit patientia quicquid corrigere est nefas. (Horat.)
And followeth after me ] Or cometh not behind me ( οπισω μου ); and this not aloof off, as Peter, Matthew 26:58 , but close at heels, as Caleb, Numbers 14:24 ; walking in Christ, Colossians 2:6 ; as Christ 1 John 2:6 ; putting him on in his virtues, as Constantine’s sons did their father, and preaching forth his praises, 1 Peter 2:9 . He is a Saviour to none but those to whom he is a sampler; neither have any his redemption but they that take his direction; his benediction, but those that submit to his jurisdiction.
39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
Ver. 39. He that findeth his llfe shall lose it ] This is a strange expression, a riddle to the world, a seeming contradiction, a such as natural reason can never reconcile. But if the paradoxes of the Stoics might be proven, much more may those of the gospel. He that findeth his life, that is, redeemeth it with the forfeiture of his faith, with the shipwreck of his conscience, makes a loser’s bargain, makes more haste than good speed; while in running from death as far as he can he runs to it as fast as he can. Christ will kill him with death, Revelation 2:23 ; and sentence him, as an apostate, unto double damnation.
He that loseth his life for my sake, &c. ] For else all is lost, since it is not poena penalty, but causa reason that makes a martyr. Christ and the thieves were in the same condemnation: Samson and the Philistines in the same destruction, by the downfall of the house: Similis poena, dissimilis causa, saith Augustine. Martyrdom is a crown, as old age, if it be found in the way of righteousness. One martyr cried out, Blessed be God that ever I was born to this happy hour. To another, when it was said, Take heed; it is a hard matter to burn. Indeed, said he, it is for him that hath his soul linked to his body, as a thief’s foot in a pair of fetters. Can I die but once for Christ? said a third.
Shall find it ] For the line of his lost life shall be hidden in the endless maze of God’s surest mercies. The passion days of the martyrs were therefore anciently called, Natalitia salutis, the birthdays of salvation, the daybreak of eternal brightness. Those poor seduced souls that lost their lives in the Holy Wars, as they called them, and were persuaded that thereby they made amends to Christ for his death, were much to be pitied.
a παραδαξον αλλ ’ ου παραλογον .
40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
Ver. 40. He that receiveth you, receiveth me ] And who would not be glad to entertain the Lord Christ? Elizabeth held it a great matter that the another of her Lord should come to her, Luke 1:43 . Behold, Christ comes to us in his servants, in his ministers especially. Receive them, therefore, as so many angels, yea, as Christ himself, Galatians 4:14 , accounting their very feet (how much more their faces!) beautiful. We know with what great respect Cornelius entertained Peter. Non tanus sum, ut vos alloquar, said Tertullian to certain martyrs. He tells us also that it was a custom of some in those times, reptare ad vincula martyrum, to creep to the martyr’s bonds in way of honour to them, which perhaps was more than was meet.
Receiveth him that sent me ] The heathens held it a great honour to entertain their gods; and the poets tell us of much evil that befell those that refused to do so. "That which we have heard and seen," saith St John, "declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us," 1 John 1:3 . But what so great matter is that might some say. You and your fellows are but men of low condition. True, saith the apostle, but as lowly as we are, our "fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ," who will also come in and sup with such as receive his servants. And may they not be glad of such guests?
41 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.
Ver. 41. He that receiveth a prophet in the name, &c. ] Though, haply, he be no prophet. This takes away the excuse of such as say, They would do good, if they knew to whom, as worthy.
Shall receive a prophet’s reward ] Both actively, that which the prophet shall give him, by teaching him the faith of the gospel, casting pearls before him, &c. And passively, that reward that God gives the prophet, the same shall he give his host. Gaius lost nothing by such guests as John; nor the Shunammite or Sareptan by the prophets, Of such Christ seems to say, as Paul did of Onesimus, "If he owe thee ought, put that in mine account: I will repay it,"Philemon 1:18-19; Philemon 1:18-19 : and he, I can tell you, is a liberal paymaster. Saul and his servant had but five pence in their purse to give the prophet, 1 Samuel 9:8 . The prophet, after much good cheer, gives him the kingdom. Such is God’s dealing with us. Seek out therefore some of his receivers, some Mephibosheth to whom we may show kindness.
He that receiveth a righteous man ] Though not a minister, if for that he is righteous, and for the truth’s sake that dwelleth in him, 2 John 1:2 . The Kenites in Saul’s time, that were born many ages after Jethro’s death, receive life from his dust and favour from his hospitality. Nay, the Egyptians, for harbouring (and at first dealing kindly with) the Israelites, though without any respect to their righteousness, were preserved by Joseph in that sore famine, and kindly dealt with ever after by God’s special command.
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.
Ver. 42. Unto one of these little ones ] So the saints are called, either because but a little flock, or little in their own eyes, or little set by in the world, or dearly respected of God, as little ones are by their loving parents.
A cup of cold water ] As having not fuel to heat it, saith Jerome, nor better to bestow than Adam’s ale, a cup of water, yet desirous some way to seal up his love to poor Christ. Salvian saith, that Christ is mendicorum moximus, the greatest beggar in the world, as one that shareth in all his saints’ necessities. Relieve him therefore in them; so shall you lay up in store for yourselves a good foundation against the time to come; yea, you shall lay hold on eternal life,1 Timothy 6:19; 1 Timothy 6:19 . Of Midas it is fabled, that whatever he touched he turned into gold. Sure it is that whatsoever the hand of charity touch, be it but a cup of cold water, it turns the same, not into gold, but into heaven itself. He is a niggard then to himself that is niggardly to Christ’s poor. If heaven may be had for a cup of cold water, what a bodkin at the churl’s heart will this be one day! Surely the devil will keep holiday, as it were, in hell, in respect of such.
Verily, I say unto you, he shall in no wise, &c. ] By this deep asseveration our Saviour tacitly taxeth the world’s unbelief, while they deal by him, as by some patching companion or base bankrupt, trust him not at all, without either ready money or a sufficient security. But what saith a grave divine? Is not mercy as sure a grain as vanity? Is God like to break, or forget? Is there not a book of remembrance written before him, which he more often peruseth than Ahasuerus did the Chronicles? The butler may forget Joseph, and Joseph his father’s house; but God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shown toward his name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister, Hebrews 6:10 .