« PreviousContinue »
24 And his fame went throughout all Syria : and 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 lunatick, and those that had the palsy ; and he healed them.
apXlouvayoos, who presided, and called are probably meant, those torturing spas. persons to read the sections for the day, modic affections to which the people of or to exhort, out of the congregation those countries are liable, as tetanus, assembled, unless some one voluntarily spasmodic cholera, as well as rheumatic offered himself, for which it appears there and other more lingering maladies, &c. was full liberty given. 2. The elders of Those which were possessed with devils, the synagogue, TpEO Burepoi, who were the da povigouevous, (see the following note,) counsellors of the ruler, and with him and those who were lunatic, gennviajouevous, formed a court for the settling of dis- that is, epileptic; and perhaps also deputes, and the punishment of minor ranged patients, whose disease was gene. offences by expulsion or the infliction of rally thought to be affected by the age of “forty stripes save one.”
the moon, and hence the name both in Lord foretels that his disciples should be Greek and English; and those that had the "scourged in the synagogues ;” and allu- palsy, napalutikovs, the paralytic. All sion is made several times in the gospel these disorders are mentioned at once, to to the penalty of being “cast out of the indicate the immense number of sick persynagogue.” 3. The collectors of alms, sons that were brought to Christ, and Slakovou, deacons. 4. The servants. The his unbounded benevolence and power. Jews who were unable to go up to Jeru- Here truly we see the light shining upon salem on these great festivals are sup- these Galileans and Syrians, the people posed to have had worship in the syna- who sat in darkness and the region and gogue on those festivals as well as the shadow of death, as “the Sun of RighSabhath. This important institution of teousness rising with healing in his synagogues, where a congregation was wings.” always to be met with on the Sabbath, Verse 24. Those possessed with devils.and often at other times, and where liberty An affliction, calamitous beyond all of exhortation and of interpretation was others, and therefore not only distinallowed to qualified persons, our Lord guished from the diseases which follow, arailed himself of to teach his heavenly but put at the head of them; and the redoctrine; and itinerated through all moval of which, even more decidedly Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom. than any other, marked the divine power It was also by ministering in synagogues of Christ, and set the broadest seal upon that the apostles gathered churches in his mission : " But if I with the finger different parts of the world; and when of God cast out devils, no doubt the Christian congregations were formed, they kingdom of God is come upon you.” Luke followed, during the first ages, nearly the xi. 20. The word used in such cases is same mode of worship as that of the daiwy, a term applied by the Greeks to synagogues, with the addition of the their gods; but which the Jews applied Lord's supper.
only to evil spirits, in the number of Sickness and disease.—These terms are which indeed they reckoned the Gentile often used promiscuously; but if any dis- deities. Very strenuous have been the tinction can be made, voros rather signi. attempts of a certain class of commenta. fies a violent disorder ; Malakia, a chronic tors to resolve these demoniacal possesdebility. In the next verse is added, sions into madness, and other disorders, dicers diseases and torments, with which which they say the Jews popularly ascribed people were seized and bound; by which to evil spirits, as the ignorant among our
25 And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judæa, and from beyond Jordan.
1 Christ beginneth his sermon in the mount : 3 declaring who are blessed, 13 who are
the salt of the earth, 14 the light of the world, the city on an hill, 15 the candle : 17 that he came to fulfil the law. 21 What it is to kill, 27 to commit adultery, 33 to swear : 38 exhorteth to suffer wrong, 44 to love even our enemies, 48 and to labour after perfectness.
1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain : and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
selves ascribe extraordinary complaints mode of interpretation which renders its to witchcraft. But who does not see that meaning uncertain, and its use doubtful. this theory seriously compromises the (See note on verse 1.)
“ When,” says character of our Lord himself ?-because it Campbell, “I find mention made of the supposes him to have practised upon the number of demons in particular possescredulity and ignorance of the people, sions, their actions so expressly distinand to have falsely represented the cast- guished from those of the man possessed, ing out of devils as a stronger proof of conversations held by the former in regard the divine power than the healing of dis- to the disposal of them after their expuleases; whereas, according to this view, it sion, and accounts given how they were was but an act of the same kind. How, actually disposed of; when I find desires also, will they reconcile to this theory and passions ascribed peculiarly to them, the conduct of our Lord, who addressed and similitudes taken from the conduct them as beings separate from, and inde- which they usually observe, it is impospendent of, the possessed ; and held con- sible for me to deny their existence." versations with them? How, again, will Verse 23. And there followed him great they account for the use of the phrase multitudes, &c.—So widely did his fame “ casting” them out ? how, that those spread, and so powerful an impression afflicted persons, who were possessed, was made, that the news of the actions should uniformly address Jesus as the and discourses of this great prophet was Messiah ? And, finally, how can the his- spread from one part to another, until tory of the devils being permitted to enter greut multitudes followed him from Galithe herd of swine be interpreted consist. lee, both upper and lower; and from ently with common sense, unless an ac- Decapolis, a part of Syria, lying on the tual possession of men by evil spirits, east of the sea of Galilee, and so named inflicting torments, and producing and from its ten cities ; and from Jerusalem, exasperating diseases, be admitted ? Hu- whither his fame had also spread, though man pliilosophy must necessarily be un- as yet he had not visited it since the comable to penetrate the mystery of this mencement of his public ministry; and permitted evil, because the invisible world from Judæa, that is, Judea properly so and its laws cannot be made the subject called ; and from beyond Jordan, which of investigation; but with such conse- was a distinct country, named otherwise quences as must follow from the rejection Peræa. (See the maps of Palestine.) of the historical character of the narrative, no modest or serious man will dare CHAPTER V. Verse 1. And seeing the to entangle himself. Better reject the multitudes, 8c.—Here both the multitudes, revelation of God entirely, than set up a and his disciples, are mentioned distinctly
2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
as his auditors. Probably his disciples mountain ; they listen, and express their sat in a semicircle at his feet, as was cus- astonishment when he had “ ended these tomary with the disciples of the Jewish sayings;” and when he was “come down doctors. “The master,” says Maimoni. from the mountain great multitudes” des, “ sits in the chief place, and the still follow him. We must therefore condisciples before him in a circuit, so that clude that all which St. Matthew has inthey all see the master, and hear his serted between these historical remarks words.” The general audience were at as “the sayings” of our Lord, were at some distance; for it is evident from that time delivered consecutively. The some passages in this discourse, such as, very expression also, he opened his mouth “ Ye are the salt of the earth ;” “Ye and taught them, saying, is only used to are the light of the world,” that it was indicate the commencement of a solemn immediately addressed to his disciples as and lengthened discourse.
It was nearest to him, and separate from the phrase frequent among them, as a notice rest. But Christ publicly showed what that they were about to deliver something those doctrines were, to the knowledge weighty and deliberate, “I will open my and practice of which he was training up mouth in a parable.” Psalm lxxviii 2. So his more intimate followers, and for the also Virgil, finem dedit ore loquendi,“ he publication of which to others he was finished speaking with his mouth.” On thus qualifying them. It may throw some this divine sermon we may remark genelight upon our Lord's taking upon him. rally, that it not only explains and inself the office of a public teacher, a cir- culcates the most important truths, but cumstance which excited no surprise, and that it has frequent reference to those was in fact in itself nothing new, to re- religious errors which the Jewish doctors mark, that any man skilled in the law of different sects had spread among the appears to have had the right to become people, to the perversion of the meaning a doctor or teacher of it, to such disciples of the sacred writings, and the destrucas chose to attend his discourses; and tion of practical piety. Hence Lightfoot these disciples not only attended him at well observes, though somewhat too some usual place of teaching, but follow strongly, “To the explanation of this ed him from place to place, doing him discourse is required quick and ready honour as their instructer.
versedness in the records of the Jews; At what exact period of our Lord's for Christ hath an eye and reference to ministry the sermon on the mount was their language, doctrines, customs, tradelivered, we have no particular account. ditions, and opinions, in almost every The place was near Capernaum, and the line.” time early, but subsequent to the calling Christ shows first who are the truly of several of the apostles, and after his blessed, or rather happy persons, makagioi, fame had spread throughout Palestine, as that is, in what the true felicity of man stated in the preceding chapter. In the consists; a subject of great debate among synagogues of Galilee he had delivered heathen sages, whose opinions as to the many discourses on the subject of his chief good of man were almost equally “ kingdom ;” and the effect had been numerous and contradictory.
“ To this that many now openly professed to be his point,” says one, “three hundred sects disciples. That his sermon on this occa- of philosophers have taught as many difsion was
one continued discourse, and ferent ways; but to us one alone is fully not, as some have supposed, a collection sufficient.” On this subject, also, the of fragments, delivered at different times, Jewish teachers, seconded by their own is manifest both from the introductory proud and carnal hearts, had fatally misled and the concluding remarks of the evan- the people, though their own scriptures gelists : “ Multitudes” follow him to the contained most explicit and infallible de.
3 * Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
a Luke vi. 20.
clarations on this subject. They might quent to Grotius, who resolve it into that indeed have learned from David, that disposition which accommodates itself “ blessed is the man whose iniquity is without murmuring to poor circumforgiven, whose sin is covered; the man stances. There are many such contented to whom the Lord imputeth not sin, and persons who have no pretence at all to in whose spirit there is no guile," ex- spirituality of mind; and how that should pressions which are to be taken to exclude form any special qualification for “the all from true felicity who stand not in kingdom of heaven,” such writers fail to this relation of friendship with God, and show. Our Lord evidently alludes to who had not been in heart purged from Isaiah lxvi. 2: “To this man will I look, sin. But they placed happiness in wealth even to him that is poor," or lowly, “and and worldly distinctions; and religion in of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my superstition, and ceremony, which gene- word.” Poverty of spirit implies a penirated pride, in a fancied holiness, and a tential sense of our guilt as sinners, and a blind confidence in an external covenant- deep conviction of our unworthiness and relation to God as the seed of Abraham. natural imbecility in all things relating to Our Lord opens quite contrary views, our salvation, accompanied by an entire and makes the true felicity of man to dependence upon God for counsel, arise from the moral state of his heart, strength, and grace. It is the root of all and shows that it is entirely independent true faith or trust in God; the exciting of outward circumstances. All the beati- cause of that devotional habit which extudes must therefore be interpreted spi. presses itself in earnest, constant breathritually, and not under those low views ings after intercourse with him, and the in which they are placed by some com- exertion of his influence upon us; and it mentators, who seem little to under- excludes all religious pride and boasting, stand the whole bearing of this discourse, for which the Jews, through their want of or the true character of Christianity it- true humility, were so often reproved by self, the SOLE OBJECT OF Which is to Christ. BRING THE HEART OF MAN Back to God, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.and to renew it in righteousness and true Such were the only persons in a suitable HOLINESS, in order to restore happiness state of mind to receive the new dispensato the INDIVIDUAL, and to the world. tion of truth and mercy introduced by
Verse 3. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Christ, and with this preparation of mind -Not the poor in opposition to the rich, they would infallibly embrace it, with its for it is manifestly one great object of our spiritual benefits here and its rewards Lord to call off the attention of his hear hereafter; for the kingdom of heaven ers from outward circumstances as neces- established by Christ being spiritual, it sarily connected with true felicity; nor comprehends both grace here, and glory those, as Grotius has it, “poor in mind,” hereafter. This beatitude is not to be that is, patiently and contentedly poor, confined to those to whom the gospel was as though our Lord were no more than a first preached. “ The kingdom of heaheathen teacher of the advantages of con
among” many who tentment. Poverty of spirit signifies the enter not into it for want of true poverty same thing as humility, considered in a of spirit. To receive Christianity as a religious sense; or, at least, it is the prin- divine institution, and, from a sense of our ciple of humility, and so may be the cha- danger and necessity, to press, in the earracter of men of widely different condi. nestness of prayer, and the vigorous acttions, as to external rank, and excludes ings of faith, into the personal experience the notion of Campbell, and others subse- of its spiritual blessings and future hopes,
” is always
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek : for they shall inherit the earth.
b Psalm xxxvii. 11.
are distinct things; and through this the promise of Christ shall stand firm. lowly gate of humility only can we enter. That consolation arises from the instrucThe order of grace, as above stated, is, tion and correction which sanctified trou“Repext ye, and believe the gospel.” bles administer under the influence of Then comes that true “ blessedness" grace; the special supports which are which flows from the establishment of given in answer to prayer; the refining of that kingdom of God in our hearts, the affections of the soul from remaining which is “righteousness, peace, and joy earthliness; and the stronger and more in the Holy Ghost.”
lively anticipations of that eternal rest, Verse 4. Blessed are they that mourn,
where there shall be no more pain, nor 80.—This on the first view appears para tears, nor death.” doxical; nor is it to be explained by Verse 5. Blessed are the meek.-Meekreferring the mourning and the subsequent ness implies the absence of all irascible comfort merely to outward things as their and malignant passions, and is the fruit cause. There is, indeed, no blessedness of regenerating grace. It is a state of in being plunged into afflictions to have the soul produced by the habitual and the comfort of being ultimately relieved supreme influence of prudence and benefrom them. This “ saying” of our Lord volence. It is, therefore, patient of sufmay be taken, 1. To refer to that inward ferings, and forgiving of injuries; and distress which the recollection of our however contrary the natural constitu. offences against God produces in a con- tion of the mind may be to this affection, trite heart. It implies, however, tender. it is the certain effect of the Holy Spirit's ness as well as alarm; it regards sin influence, fully received, to produce it in against God in his characters of goodness all who seek it. The example of Christ and love, as well as those of majesty and specially enforces this temper, in which justice; and hence that loathing of it, strength and loveliness are so strikingly and those strong struggles to get free combined, upon his followers, and it is from its bondage, which characterize a carefully enjoined in the writings of his genuine repentance. Such mourners are apostles as an essential branch of true pronounced blessed by our Lord, not in religion ; for in the Christian system docreference to their present state, which is trines and external ordinances are regard. one of wretchedness ; but to the ed only as MEANS to the attainment of fort” of the Holy Ghost which shall assur- good principles, benevolent affections, and edly follow To all such is promised the rightly ordered words and actions, and remission of sins, and the pledge of adop- have no other value assigned them; a tion in the abiding presence and solacing circumstance which always distinguishes influence of “the Holy Ghost, the Com- true Christianity from its own corrupted forter." From true poverty of spirit forms, and from all the systems of Jewish proceeds this holy mourning, as from its and Gentile superstition. Meekness was principle. 2. It may also respect the little regarded as an element of practical afflictions of good men, considered in re- piety among the Jews; though someference to those moral ends which we times praised by their writers, and know from the doctrine of providence, as strongly urged in their scriptures. For it is taught by our Lord and his apostles, this reason, as well as to inculcate it upon the sufferings of such persons actually ac- all his followers, our Lord gives it an complish under divine direction. The eminent place in this discourse, which “ comfort,” however, in such cases, is formally unfolds the principles and chanot always the removal of amictive cir- racters of his religion. cumstances. These may remain, and yet For they shall inherit the earth.-In, here