Matthew Henry.

Exposition of the Old and New Testament : wherein each chapter is summed up in its contents ; the sacred text inserted at large, in distinct paragaraphs ; each paragraph reduced to its proper heads ; the sense given, and largely illustrated ; with practical remarks ad observations (Volume 5) online

. (page 126 of 289)
Online LibraryMatthew HenryExposition of the Old and New Testament : wherein each chapter is summed up in its contents ; the sacred text inserted at large, in distinct paragaraphs ; each paragraph reduced to its proper heads ; the sense given, and largely illustrated ; with practical remarks ad observations (Volume 5) → online text (page 126 of 289)
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(v. 25.) Wien they shall rise from the dead, they
neither marry, nor are given in marriage. It is a
folly to ask. Whose wife shall she be of the seven ?
For, the relation between husband and wife, though
instituted in the earthly paradise, will not be known
in the heavenly one. Turks and infidels expect sen-
sual pleasures 'in their fool's paradise, but Christians
knoiv better things — that flesh and blood shall not
inherit the kingdom of God ; (1 Cor. 15. 50.) and
expect better things — even a full satisfaction in God's
love andUkeness; (Ps. 17. 14, 15.) they are as the
angels of God in heaven, and we know that they
have neither wives nor children. It is no_ wonder if
we confound ourselves with endless absurdities, when
we measure our ideas of the world of s{Dirits by the
affairs of this world of sense.

III. He builds the doc rine of the future state, and
of the blessedness of the righteous in that state, upon
the covenant of God with Abraham, which God was
pleased to own, being after Abraham's death, v. 26,
27. He appeals to the scriptures ; Have ye not read
in the book of Moses? We have some advantage in
dealing with those that have read the scriptures,
though many that have read them Tjrest them, as
these Sadducees did, to their own destruction. Now,
that which he refers them to, is, what God said to
Moses at the bush, lam the God of Abraham ; not
only, I was so, but I am so ; I am the Portion and Hap-

fiiness of Abraham, a God all sufficient to him. Note,
t is absurd to think that God's relation to Abraham
should be continued, and thus solemnly recognised,
if Abraham was annihilated, or that the lixnng God
should be the Portion and Happiness of a man that is
dead, and must be for ever so ; and therefore you
must conclude, 1. That Abraham's soul exists, and
acts in a state of separation from the body. 2. That
therefore, some time or other, the body must rise
again ; for there is such an innate inclination in a
human soul towards its body, as would make a total
and everlasting separation inconsistent with the ease
and repose, much moi-e with the bliss and joy, of
those souls that have the Lord for their God. Upon
the whole matter, he concludes. Ye therefore do
greatly err. Those that deny the resun'ection,
greatly err, and ought to be told so.

28. And one of the Scribes came, and
having heard them reasoning together, and
perceiving that he had answered them well,
asked him. Which is the first command-



ment of all ? 29. And Jesus answered him,
The first of all the commandments is, Hear,
O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord :
30. And thou shalt love the Lord tlty God
with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and
with all tiiy mind, and with all thy strength :
this is the first commandment. 31. And
the second is like, namely., this. Thou shalt
love thy neighbour as thyself: there is none
other commandment greater than these.

32. And the Scribe said unto him. Well,
Master, thou hast said the truth : for there
is one God, and there is none other but he.

33. And to love him with all the heart, and
with all the understanding, and with all the
soul, and with all the strength, and to love
his neighbour as himself, is more than all
whole-burnt-offerings and sacrifices. 34.
And when Jesus saw that he answered dis-
creetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far
from the kingdom of God. And no man
after that durst ask him any question.

The Scribes and Pharisees were (however bad
otherwise) enemies to the Sadducees ; now one would
have expected that, when they heard Christ argue
so well against the Sadducees, they should have
countenanced him, as they did Paul when he ap-
peared against the Sadducees ; (Acts 23. 9.) but it
had not that effect ; because he did not fall in with
them in the ceremonials of religion, his agreeing with
them in the essentials, gained him no manner of re-
spect with them. Only we have here an account of
one of them, a Scribe, who had so much civility in
him as to take notice of Christ's answer to the Sad-
ducees, and to own that he had a7iswered well, and
much to the pui-pose ; {v. 28.) and we have reason
to hope that he did not join with the other Scribes,
in persecuting Christ ; for here we have his applica-
tion to Christ for instruction, and it was such as be-
came him ; not tempting Christ, but desiring to im-
prove his acquaintance with him.

I. He inquired, Wiich is the first commaiidment
of all? {v. 28.) He doth not mean the first in order,
but the first in weight and dignity ; "Which is that
command which we ought to have in a special man-
ner an eye to, and our obedience to which will lay a
foundation for our obedience to all the rest ? Not that
any commandment of God is little, (they are all the
commands of a great God,) but some are greater
than others, moral precepts than rituals, and of some
we may sav, Thev are the greatest of all.

II. Christ gave him a direct answer to this inquiry,
V. 29 — 31. "Those that sincerely desire to be in-
structed concei-ning their duty, Christ will guide in
judgment, and teach his way. He tells him,

1. That the great commandment of all, which is
indeed inclusive of all, is, that of loving God with all
our hearts; (1.) Where this is the commanding
principle in the soul, there is a disposition to every
other duty. Love is the leading affection of the soul ;
the love of God is the leading grace in the renewed
soul. (2.)^Vhere this is not, nothing else that is
good, is done, or done aright, or accepted, or done
long. Loving God with all our heart, will effectu-
allv take us off from, and arm us against, all those
things that are rivals with him for the throne in our
souls, and will engage us to everv thing by which he
may be honoured, and with which he will be pleas-
ed ; and no commandment will be grievous where
this principle commands, and has the ascendant.



ST. MARK, XII.



419



Now here in Mark, our Saviour prefixes to this |
command the gi'eat doctrinal truth upon which it is
built; (t'. 29.) Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is
one Lord ; if we firmly believe this, it will follow,
that we shall love him loHh alt our heart. He is Je-
hovah, who has all amiable pei-fections in himself,
he is our God, to whom we stand related and oblig-
ed, and therefore we ought to love him, to set our
affections on him, let out our desire toward him, and
take a delight in him ; and he is one Lord, there-
fore he must be loved with our whole heart ; he has
the sole right to us, and therefore ought to have the
sole possession of us. If he be one, our hearts must
be one with him, and since there is no God besides,
no rival must be admitted with him upon the throne.
2. That the second great commandment is to love
our neighbour as ourselves, (v. 3].) as tnily and sin-
cerely as we love ourselves, and in the same instan-
ces, and we must show it by doing as ive would be
done by. As we must therefore love God better
than ourselves, because he is Jehovah, a Being infi-
nitely better than we are, and must love him with
alt our heart, because he is one Lord, and there is
no other like him ; so we must love our neighbour as
ourselves, because he is of the same nature with our-
selves ; our hearts are fashioned alike, and my neigh-
bour and myself are of one body, of one society, that
of the world of mankind ; and if a fellow-christian,
and of the same sacred society, the obligation is the
stronger. Has not one God created us? Mai. 2. 10.
Has not one Christ redeemed us ? Well might Christ
say. There is no other commandment greater than
these; for in these all the law is fulfilled, and if we
make conscience of obedience to these, all other in-
stances of obedience will follow of course.

III. The Scribe consented to what Christ said,
and descanted upon it, v. 32, 33. 1. He commends
Christ's decision of this question; IVetl, Master, thou
hast said the truth. Christ's assertions needed not
the Scribe's attestations ; but this Scribe, being a
man in authority, thought it would put some repu-
tation upon what Christ said, to have it commended
by him ; and it shall be brought in evidence against
those who persecuted Christ, as a Deceiver, that
one of themselves, even a Scribe of their own, con-
fessed that he said the truth, and said it well. And
thus we must subscribe to Christ's sayings, must set
to our seal that they are tnie. 2. He comments upon
it. Christ had quoted that great doctrine. That the
Lord our God is one Lord ; and this he not only as-
sented to, but added, " There is none other but he ;
and therefore we must have no other God besides. "
This excludes all rivals with him, and secures the
throne in the heart entire for him. Christ had laid
do-\vn that great law, of loving God with all our
heart; and this also he explains — that it is loving
him with the understanding, as those that know
■what abundant reason we have to love him. Our
love to God, as it must be an entire, so it must be an
intelligent love ; we must love him with alt the un-
derstanding, e| okjic tSc <rv<i'i(Ti!ii( — out of the whole un-
derstanding ; our rational powers and faculties must
all be set on work to lead out the affections of our
souls toward God. Christ had said, " To love God
and our neighbour is the gi-eatest commandment of
all;" "Yea,"saith the Scribe, "it is better, it is
more than all whole-burnt-offerings and sacrifices,
more acceptable to God, and will turn to a better
account to ourselves. " There were those who held,
that the law o{ sacrifices was the greatest command-
ment of all ; but this Scribe readily agi-eed with our
Saviour in this — that the law of love to God and our
neighbour is greater than that of sacrifice, even than
those whole-bumt-offerings, which were intended
purely for the honour of God.

rV. Christ approved of what he said, and encour-
aged him to proceed in his inquiries of him, v, 34.



1. He owned that he understood well, as far as he
went ; so far, so good. Jesus saw that he answered
discreetly, and was the more jjleased with it, Ijecausc
he had of late met with so many c\ en of the Scribes,
men of letters, that answered indiscreetly, as those
that had no understanding, nor desired to have any.
He answered v»»s;)^^t — as one that had a mind ; as a
rational, intelligent man, as one that had his wits
about him ; as one whose reason was not blinded,
whose judgment was not biassed, and whose fore-
thought was not fettered, by the prejudices which
other Scribes were so much under the power of. He
answered as one that allowed himself liberty and
leisure to consider, and as one that had considered.

2. He owned that he stood fair for a further ad\'ance ;
" Thou art not far from the kingdom of God, the
kingdom of gi-ace and gloiy ; thtiu art in a likely way
to be a Christian, a disciple of Christ. For the doc-
trine of Christ insists most upon these things, and is
designed, and has a tendency direct, to bring thee to
this." Note, There is hope of those who make a
good use of the light they have, and go as far as that
will cany them, that by the gi-ace ot God they will
be led further, by the clearer discoveries God has to
make to them. What became of this Scribe we are
not told, but would willingly hope that he took the
hint Christ hereby gave him, and that, having been
told by him, so much to his satisfaction, what was
the great commandment of the law, he proceeded to
inquire of him, or his apostles, what was the great
commandment of the gospel too. Yet, if he did not,
but took up here, and went no further, we are not to
think it strange ; for there are many Vho are not far
from the kingdom of God, and yet never come
thither. Now, one would think, this shoiJd have
invited many to consult him ; but it had a contrary
effect ; .A'b inan after that durst ask him any ques-
tion ; every thing, he said was spoken with such au-
thority and majesty, that eveiy one stood in awe of
him ; those that desired to learn, were ashamed to
ask, and those that designed to cavil, were afraid
to ask.

35. And Jesus answered and said, while
he taught in the temple, How say the
scribes that Christ is the Son of David ?
36. For David himself said by the Holy
Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit
thou on my right hand, till I make thine
enemies thy foot-stool. 37. David therefore
himself calleth him Lord ; and whence is
he then his Son ? And the common people
heard him gladly. 38. And he said unto
them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes,
which love to go in long clothing, and love
salutations in the market places, 39. And
the chief seats in the synagogues, and the
uppermost rooms at feasts: 40. Wliich
devour widows' houses, and for a pretence
make long prayers : tliese shall receive
greater damnation.

Here,

I. Christ shews the people how weak and defec-
tive the scribes were in their preaching, and how
unable to solve the difficulties that occurred in the
scriptures of the Old Testament, which they under-
took to expound. Of this he gives an instance,
wliich is not so fully related here as it was in Mat-
thew. Christ was teaching in the temple : many
things he said which were not written ; but notice
is taken of this, because it will stir us up to inquire
concerning Christ, and to inquire of him ; for none



420



ST. MARK, XII.



can have the right knowledge of him, but from him-
self; it is not to be had from the scribes, for they
•will soon be iim aground.

1. They told the people that the Messiah was
to be the Son of David, {v. 35.) and they were in
the right ; he was not only to descend from his loins,
but to fill his throne ; (Luke 1. 32. ) T/ie Lord God
shall give him the throne of his father David. The
scripture said it often, but the people took it at what
the scribes said ; whereas the ti-uths of God should
rather be quoted from our Bibles than from our
ministers, for there is the original of them. Dulciiis
ex ifisofonte bibuntur aqux — The waters are sweet-
est when drawn immediately from their source.

2. Yet they could not teU them how, notwith-
standing that it was very proper for David, in spi-
rit, the spirit of prophecy, to call him his Lord, as
he doth, Ps. 110. 1. They had taught the people
that concerning the Messiah, which would be for
the honour of their nation — that he should be a
branch of their royal family ; but they had not taken
care to teach them that which was for the honour
of the Messiah himself —that he should be the Son
of God, and, as such, and not otherwise, David's
Lord. Thus they held the truth in unrighteous-
ness, and were fiartial in the gospel, as well as in
the law, of the Old Testament. They were able to
say it, and prove it — that Christ was to be David's
Son ; but if any should object, Hoiv then doth Da-
vid himself call him Lord? they would not know
how to avoid the force of the objection. Note, Those
are unworthy to sit in Moses's seat, who, though
they are able to preach the truth, are not in some
measure able to defend it when they have preached
it, and to convince gainsayers.

Now, this galled the scribes, to have their igno-
rance thus exposed, and, no doubt, incensed them
more against Christ ; but the common peo/ile heard
him gladly, v. 57. What he preached was sui-pris-
ing and affecting ; and though it reflected upon the
scribes, it was insti-uctive to them, and they had
never heard such preaching. Probably there was
something more than ordinarily commanding and
charming in his voice and way of delivery, which
recommended him to the affections of the common
people ; for we do not find that any were wrought
upon to believe in him, and to foUonv him, but he
■was to them as a lovely song of one that could Jilay
well on an instrument ; as Ezekiel was to his hear-
ers, Ezek. 33. 32. And perhaps some of these cried.
Crucify him, as Herod heard John Baptist gladly,
and yet cut off his head.

n. He cautions the people to take heed of suffer-
ing themselves to be imposed upon by the scribes,
and of being infected with their pride and hypocri-
sy ; He said unto them in his doctrine, " Be%vare of
the scribes; {v. 38.) stand upon your guard, that
you neither imbibe their peculiar opinions, nor the
opinions of the people conceniing them. The charge
is long, as drawn up against them in the parallel
place; (Matth. 23.) it is here contracted.

1. They affect to appear vein/ ^reat ; for they go
in long clothing, with vestures ^own to their feet,
and in those they walk about the streets, as princes,
or judges, or gentlemen of the long robe. Their
going in such clothing was not sinful, but their lov-
ing to go in it, priding themselves in it, valuing
themselves on it, commanding respect by it, saying
to their long clothes, as Saul to Samuel, Honour me
noil) before this /leo/ile, this was a product of pride.
Christ would have his disciples go ^vith their loins
girt.

2. They affect to appear very good ; for they
pray, they make lo>ig firayers, as if they were very
intimate with Heaven, and had a deal' of business
there. They took care it should be known that
they prayed, that they prayed long, which, some



think, intimates that they prayed not for themselves
only, but for others, and therein were vciy particu-
lar and very large ; this they did for a pretence,
that they might seem to love prayer, not only for
God's sake, whom hereby they pretended to glorify,
but for their neighbour's sake, whom hereby they
pretended to be serviceable to.

3. They herein aimed to advance themselves ;
they coveted applause, and were fond of it ; they
loved salutations in the market-places, and the chief
seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at
feasts ; these pleased a vain fancy ; to have these
given them, they thought, expressed the value they
had for them, who did'know them, and gained them
respect from those who did not.

4. They herein aimed to enrich themselves. They
devoured widows' houses, made themselves masters
of their estates by some trick or other ; it was to
sci-een themseh'es from the suspicion of dishonesty,
that they put on the mask of piety ; and, that they
might not be thought as bad as the worst, they were
studious to seem as good as the best. Let fraud
and oppression be thought the worse of for their
having profaned and disgraced long prayers ; but
let not prayers, no, nor long prayers, be thought
the worse of, if made in humility and sincerity, for
their having been by some thus abused. But, as
iniquity, thus disguised with a shew of piety, is dou-
ble iniquity, so its doom will be doubly heavy ; These
shall recerve greater damnaiion ; greater than those
that live without prayer, gi-eater than they should
have received for the wrong done to the poor wi-
dows, if it had not been thus disguised. Note, The
damnation of hypocrites will be, of all others, the
greatest damnation.

41. And Jesus sat over against the trea-
sury, and beheld how the people cast money
into the treasury : and many that were rich
cast in much. 42. And there came a cer-
tain poor widow, and she threw in two
mites, which make a farthing. 43. And he
called i/nto him his disciples, and saith unto
them, Verily I say unto you, that this poor
widow hath cast more in than all they
which have cast into the treasury. 44. For
all tJiei/ did cast in of their abundance ; but
she of her want did cast in all that she had,
even all her living.

This passage of story was not in Matthew, but is
here and in Luke ; it is Christ's commendation of
the poor widow, that cast two mites into the trea-
sury, which our Saviour, busy as he was in preach-
ing, found leisure to take notice of. Observe,

I. Thei-e was a public fund for charity, into
which contributions were brought, and out of which
distributions were made ; a poor's box, and this in
the temple ; for works of charitv and works of piety
very fitly go together ; where God is honoured by
our worship, it is proper he should be honoured by
the relief of his poor : and we often find jirarjers and
alms in conjunction, as Acts 20. 1, 2. It is good to
erect public receptacles of charity for the inviting
and directing of private hands in giving to the poor ;
nay it is good for those who are of abihty to have
funds of their own, to lay by as God has prosfiered
them, (1 Cor. 16. 2.) that they may have something
ready to give when an object of charity offers itself,
which is before dedicated to such uses.

II. Jesus Christ had an eye upon it ; He sat over
against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast
money into it ; not grudging either that he had none
to cast in, or had not the disposal of that which was



ST. MARK, XIII.



42]



cast in, but observing what was cast in. Note, Our
Lord Jesus takes notice of what we contribute to
pious and cliaritable uses ; whether we give libe-
rally or spai-ingly ; whether cheerfully or with re-
luctance and ill-will : nay, he looks at the heart ;
he observes what principles we act upon, and what
our views are, in giving alms ; and whether we do
it as unto the Lord, or only to be seen of men.

III. He saw ma7iy that nvere rich, cast in much ;
and it was a good sight to see rich people charita-
ble, to see many rich people so, and to see them not
only cast in, but cast in much. Note, Those that
ai'e rich, ought to give richly ; if God give abun-
dantly to us, he expects we should give abundantly
to the poor ; and it is not enough for those that are
rich, to say, that they give as much as others do,
who perhaps have much less of the world than they
have, but they must give in proportion to their es-
tates ; and if objects of charity do not present them-
selves, that require so much, they ought to enquire
them out, and to devise liberal things.

IV. There was a poor trndorj that cast in tnvo
■mites, nvhich jnake a farthing ; {v. 42.) and our
Lord Jesus highly commended her ; called his dis-
cifiles to him, and bid them take notice of it ; (n.
43. ) told them that she could very ill spare that
which she gave, she had scarcely enough for her-
self ; it was all her living, all she had to live upon
for that day, and perhaps a great part of what she
had earned by her labour the day before ; and that
forasmuch as he knew she did it from a ti-uly cha-
ritable disposition, he reckoned it more than all that
put together, which the rich people threw in ; for
they did cast in of their abundance, but she of her
want, V. 44. Now many would have been ready to
censure this floor widow, and to think she did ill ;
why should she give to others, when she had little
enough for herself ? Charity begins at home ; or, if
she would give it, why did she not bestow it upon
some poor body that she knew ? What occasion was
there for her bringing it to the treasury to be dis-
posed of by the chief priests, who, we have reason to
fear, were partial in the disposal of it ? It is so rare
a thing to find any that would not blame this widow,
that we cannot expect to find any that will imitate
her ! and yet our Saviour commends her, and there-
fore we are sure that she did very well and wisely.
If Christ saith, JVell-done, no matter who saith
otherwise ; and we must hence learn, 1. That giv-
ing alms, is an excellent, good thing, and highly
pleasing to the Lord Jesus ; and if we be humble
and sincere in it, he will graciously accept of it,
though in some circumstances there may not be all
the discretion in the world. 2. Those that have but
a little, ought to give alms out of their little. Those
that live by tlieir labour, from hand to moutli, must
gii'e to those that need, Eph. 4. 28. 3. It is very
good for us to straiten and deny ourselves, that we
may be able to give more to the poor ; to deny
ourselves not only superfluities, but even conveni-
ences, for the sake of charity. We should in many
cases pinch ourselves, that' we may supply the ne-
cessities of others ; this is lo\ing oiir neighbours as
ourselves. 4. Public charities should be encouraged,
for they bring upon a nation public blessings ; and
though there maybe some mismanagement of them,
yet that is not a good reason why we should not bring
m our guota to them. 5. Though we can give but
a little in charity, yet if it be according to our ability,
and be given with an upright heart, it shall be ac-
cepted of Christ, who requires according to what a
man has, and not according to what he has not ?
two mites shall be put upon the score, and brought
to account, if given in a right manner, as if it had
been two pounds. 6. It is much to the praise of
charity, when we give not only to our power, but
beyond our power, as the Macedonian churches.



Online LibraryMatthew HenryExposition of the Old and New Testament : wherein each chapter is summed up in its contents ; the sacred text inserted at large, in distinct paragaraphs ; each paragraph reduced to its proper heads ; the sense given, and largely illustrated ; with practical remarks ad observations (Volume 5) → online text (page 126 of 289)