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 182 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 182 of 289)
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themselves to God ; it is now worth while to inquire
how they speed. There were those who would cry
up the Pharisee, and by whom he would go to his
house applauded, and who would look with con-
tempt upon this sneaking, whining publican. But
our Loi-d Jesus, to whom all hearts are open, all de-
sires known, and from whom no secret is hid, who
is perfectly acquainted with all proceedings in the
court of heaven, assures us that this pool', penitent,
broken-hearted publican went to his house justified,
rather than the other. The Pharisee thought, if one
of them two must be justified, and not the other, that
certainly it must be he, rather than the publican.
"No," saith Christ, " I tell you, I affirm it with the
utmost assurance, and declare it to you with the ut-
must concern, I tell you, it is the publican rather
then the Pharisee. " The pi-oud Pharisee goes away,
rejected of God ! his thanksgivings are so far from
being accepted, that they are an abomination ; he is
not justified, his sins are not pardoned, nor is he de-
livered from condemnation : he is not accepted as
righteous in God's sight, because he is so righteous
in his own sight ; but the publican, upon this humble
address to Heaven, obtains the remission of his sins ;
and he whom the Pharisee would not set with the
dogs of his flock, God sets with the children of his

The reason given for this is, because God's glory

is to resist the proud, and gii'e grace to the humble.

1. Proud men, who exa/; /Af?nse/t'es, are rivals with

God, and therefore they shall certainly be abased.

i»God, in Ills discourse with Job, appeals to this proof

that he is God, that he looks upon cveiy one that i»
/iroud, and brings him low, iiib 40. 12. 2. Humble
men, who abase tliemselves, are subject to God, and
tliey shall be exalted. God has preferment in store
for those that will take it as a favour, not for those
that demand it as a debt. He shall be exulted into
the love of God, and communion with him ; sliall be
exalted into a satisfaction in himself, and exalted at
last as high as l\eaven. See how tile punishment
answers the sin ; He that exalteth himself, shall be
abused. See how the recompense answers the duty ;
He thai humbles himself, shall be exalted. See also
the power of God's grace in bringing good out of
evil ; the publican had been a great sinner, and out
of the greatness of his sin was brought tlie greatness
of his repentance ; out of the eater came forth meat.
See, on the contrary, the power of Satan's malice in
bringing evil out of good. It was good tliat the
Pharisee was no extortioner, or unjust ; but the devil
made him proud of this, to his iniin.

15. And they brought unto him also in-
fants, that he would touch them : but when
his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 1 6.
But Jesus called them unto him, and said.
Suffer little children to come unto me, and
forbid them not : for of such is the kingdom
of God. 17. Verily I say unto you, Who-
soever shall not receive the kingdom of God
as a little child, shall in no wise enter

This passage of stoiy we had both in Matthew and
Mark ; it very fitly follows here after the story of
the publican, as a confirmation of the truth which
was to be illustrated by that parable, that those shall
be accepted with God, and honoured, who humble
themsehes, and for them Christ has blessings in
stoj-e, the choicest and best of blessings. Observe

1. Those who are themselves blessed in Christ,
should desire to have their children also blessed in
him, and should hereby testify the true honour they
have for Christ, by their making use of him, and the
true love they have for their children, by their con-
cern about their souls ; They brought to him infants,
very young, not able to go, sucking children, as some
think. None are too little, too young, to bring to
Christ, who knows how to show kindness to them
that are not capable of doing service to him.

2. One gracious touch of Christ's will make our
children happy; They brought infants to him, that
he might touch them, in token of the application of
his grace and Spirit to them, for that alwaj'S makes
way for his blessing, which likewise they expected ;
see Isa. 44. 3. I will first pour my Spirit upon thy
seed, and then my blessing upon thine offspring.

3. It is no strange thing for those who make theii
application to Jesus Christ, for themselves or for
their children, to meet with discouragement, even
from those who should countenance and encourage
them; When the disciples sain it, they thought, if
this were admitted, it woiUd bring endless trouble
upon their Master, and therefore they rebuked them,
and frowned upon them. The spouse complained
oi the watchmen. Cant. 3. 3. — 5. 7.

4. Many whom the disciples rebuke, the Master
invites ; Jesus called them unto him, when, upon the
disciples' check, they were retiring. Thev did not
appeal from the disciples to the Master,' but the
Master took cognizance of their despised cause.

5. It is the mind of Christ, that little children
should be brought to him, and presented as linng
sacrifices to his honour; "Suffer little children to
come to me, andforbid themnot ; let nothing be done



to hinder them, for they shall be as welcome as any.
The firomise is to us, and to our seed; and therefore
he that has the dispensing of promised blessings, will
bid them welcome to him with us.

6. The children of those who belong to the king-
dom of God, do likewise belong to that kingdom, as
the children of freemen are freemen. If the parents
be members of the visible church, the children are
so too ; for if the root be holy, the branches are so,

7, So welcome are children to Christ, that those
grown people are most welcome to him, who have in
them most of the disposition of* children; {v. 17.)
Whosoever shall not receixie the kingdom of God as
a little child, that is, receive the benefits of it with
humility and thankfulness, not pretending to merit
them, as the Pharisee did, but gladly owning him-
self indebted to free grace for them, as the publicsm
did ; unless a man be brought to this self-denying
frame, he shall in no ivise enter into that kingdom.
They must receive the kingdom of God as children,
receive their estates by descent and inheritance, not
by purchase, and call it their Father's gift,

18. And a certain ruler asked him, say-
ing. Good Master, what shall I do to in-
herit eternal life ? 19. And Jesus said unto
him. Why cailest thou me good 1 None is
good, save one, that is, God. 20. Thou
knowest the commandments, Do not com-
mit adultery, Do not kill. Do not steal. Do
not bear false witness. Honour thy father
and thy mother. 21. And he said. All these
have I kept from my youth up. 22. Now
when Jesus heard these things, he said unto
him. Yet lackest thou one thing : sell all
that thou hast, and distiibute unto the poor,
and thou shalt have treasure in heaven:
and come, follow me. 23. And when he
heard this, he was very sorrowful : for he
was very rich. 24. And when Jesus saw
that he was veiy sorrowful, he said, How
hardly shall they that have riches enter into
the kingdom of God ! 25. For it is easier
for a camel to go through a needle's eye,
than for a rich man to enter into the king-
dom of God. 26. And they that heard it,
said. Who then can be saved ? 27. And
he said, The things which are impossible
with men are possible with God. 28. Then
Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and follow-
ed thee. 29. And he said unto them. Verily
I say unto you, there is no man that hath
left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife,
or children, for the kingdom of God's sake,
30. Who shall not receive manifold more
in this present time, and in the world to
come life everlasting.

In these verses, we have,

I. Clirist's discourse with a ruler, that had a good
mind to be directed by him in the way to heaven.
In which we may observe,

1. It is a blessed sight to see persons of distinction
in the world distinguish themselves from others of
their rank, by their concern about their souls and
another life. Luke takes notice of it, that he was
a ruler ; few of the rulers had any esteem for Christ,
but here was one that had ; whether a church or

state-ruler, does not appear, but he was one in au-

2. The great thing we are every one of us con-
cerned to inquire after, is, what we shall do, to get
to heaven ; what nve shall do, to inherit eternal life.
This implies such a belief of an eternal life after
this, as atheists and infidels have not ; such a con-
cern to make it sure, as a careless, unthinking world
have not ; and such a willingness to comply with any
terms that it may be made sure, as those have not,
who are resolvedly devoted to the world and the

3. Those who would inherit eternal life, must ap-
ply themselves to Jesus Christ as their Master, their
teaching Master, so it signifies here, {itiac-x.a.M,') and
their r«/m? Master, and so they shall for certain
find him. There is no learning the way to heaven,
but in the school of Christ, by those that enter them-
selves into it, and continue in it.

4. Those who come to Christ as their Master,
must believe him to have not only a divine mission,
but a divine goodness. Christ would have this niler
know that if he understood himself aright in calling
him good, he did, in effect, call him God ; and in-
deed he was so; (x>, 19.) " ll'hy cailest thou me
good ? Thou knowest there is none good but one,
that is, God ; and dost thou then take me for God ?
If so, thou art in the right. "

5. Our Master, Christ himself, has not altered the
way to heaven from what it was before his coming,
but only has made it more plain and easy, and com-
fortable, and provided for our relief, in case we take
any false step. Thou knotvest the commandments ;
Christ came not to destroy the law and the pro-
phets, but to establish them. Wouldst thou in-
lierit eternal life ? Govern thyself by the command^

6. The duties of the second table must be con-
scientiously observed, in order to our happiness, and
we must not think that any^acts of de\'Otio.i, how
plausible soever, will atone for the neglect of them.
Nor is it enough to keep ourselves free from the
gross violations of these commandments, but we
must know these commandments, as Christ has ex-
jilained them in his sermon upon the mount, in their
extent and spiritual nature, and so observe them.

7. Men think themselves innocent, because they
are ignorant ; so this i-uler did ; He said, All these
have I kefit from my youth up, v. 21. He knows
no more evil' of himself than the Pharisee did, p. 11.
He boasts that he began early in a course of virtue ;
that he had continued in it to this day ; and that he
had not in any instance transgressed. Had he been
acquainted with the extent and spiritual nature of
the divine law, and with the workings of his own
heart ; had he been but Christ's disciple a while,
and learned of him, he would have said the quite
contrary ; " All these have I broken from my youth
up, in thought, word, and deed."

8. The great things by which we are to try our
spiritual state, are, how we stand affected to Christ
and to our brethren, to this world and to the other ;
by these this man was tried. For, (1.) If behave
a true affection to Christ, he will coine and follow
him, will attend to his doctrine, and submit to his
discipline, whatever it cost him. None shall inherit
eternal life, who are not willing to take their lot
with the Lord Jesus, to follow the Lamb whitherso-
ever he goes. (2.) If he have a tnie affection to his
brethren, he will, as there is occasion, distribute to
the floor, who are God's receivers of his dues out of
our estates. (3.) If he think meanly of this world,
as he ought, he will not stick at selling what he has,
if there be a necessity for it, for the relief of God's
poor. (4.) If he think highly of the other worid,
as he ought, he will desire no more than to have
treasure in heaven, and will reckon that a sufficienti



abundant recompense for all that he has left or lost,
or laid out for God in this world.

9. There are many that have a gi'eat deal in them
that is very commendable, and yet they perish for
lack of some one thing ; so this j-«/frhere, he broke
with Christ upon this, he liked all his terms veiy
■well, but this which would part between him and
hi« esUitc ;" In this, I pray thee, have me excused. "
If this be the bargain, it is no bargain.

10. Many that are loath to leave Christ, yet do
leave him. After a long straggle between their
convictions and their corruptions, their conniptions
carry the day at last ; they are very sorry that they
cannot serve God and mammon both ; but if one
must be quitted, it shall be their God, not their
■worldly gain.

11. Christ's discourse with his disciples upon this
occasion : in which we may obsene,

1. Riches are a great hinderance to many in the
way tO heaven. Christ took notice of the reluc-
tancy and regret with which the rich man broke off"
from him ; he saw that he was very sorrowful, and
was Sony for him ; but irom thence he infers. How
hardly shall they that have riches, enter into the
kingdom of God ! v. 24. If this i-uler had had but
as little of the world as Peter, and James, and John
had, in all probability he would have left it, to fol-
low Christ, as they did ; but, having a great estate,
it had a great influence upon him, and he chose
rather to take his leave of Christ than to lay him-
self under an obligation to dispose of his estate in
charitable uses. Christ asserts the difficulty of the
salvation of rich people very emphatically ; '{y. 25. )
Jt is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye
than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of
God. It is a proverbial expression, that denotes
the thing to be extremely difficult.

2. There is in the hearts of all people such a
general affection to this workV and the things of it,
that, since Christ has re(juirc?d '^ as necessary to
salvation, that we should sit loose to this world, it is
really very hard for any to get to hea\-en. If we
must sell all, or break with Christ, who then can be
saved ? v. 26. They do not find fault with what
Christ required, as hard and unreasonable. No, it
is very fit that they who expect an eternal happiness
in the other world, should be willing to forego all
that is dear to them in this world, in expectation of
it. But they know how closely the hearts of the most
of men cleave to this world, and are ready to despair
of their being ever brought to this,

3. There are such difficulties in the way of our
salvation as could never be got over ' but by pure
omnipotence, by that gi-ace of God which is al-
mighty, and to which that \s fiossible, which exceeds
all created power and wisdom. The things which
are imjwssible with men, (and utterly impossible it
is that men should work such a change upon their
own spirits as to Uim them from the woi-ld to God,
it is like dix'iding the sea, and driving Jordan back,)
these things are possible with God. His grace can
work upon the soul so as to alter the bent and bias
of it, and give it a contrary ply ; and it is he that
works in us both to will and to do.

4. There is an aptness in us to speak too much of
what we have left and lost, of what we have done
and suffi;red, for Christ. This appears in Peter ;
(v. 28.) Lo, we have left all, and followed thee.
When it came in his way, he could not forbear
magpif\ ing his own and his brethren's affisction to
Christ, in quitting all to follow him. But this we
should be so far from boasting of, that we should
rather acknowledge it not worth taking notice of,
and be ashamed of ourselves that there have been
any regret and difficulty in the doing of it, and any
hankerings toward those things afterward.

5. Whatever we have left, or laid out, for Christ,

it shall without fail be abundantly made up to us in
this world and that to come, notwithstanding our
weaknesses and infirmities ; (y. 29, 30. ) A''o man
has left the comfort of his estate or relations for the
kingdojn of God's sake, rather than they should hin
der either his services to that kingdom, or his enjoy
ments of it, who shall not receive manifold more in
this jiresent lime, in the graces and comforts of (iod's
Spirit, in the pleasures of comnmnion with God and
ot a good conscience, advantages which, to those
that know how to value and inipro\e them, will
abundantly countervail all their losses. Vet that is
not all ; in the world to come tliey shall receive life
everlasting, which is the thing that the ruler seemed
to have his eye and heart upon.

31. Then he took unto him the twelve,
and said unto them, Behold, we go up to
Jerusalem, and all things that are written
by the prophets concerning the Son of man
shall be accomplished. 32. For he shall
be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall
be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and
spitted on : 33. And they shall scourge
him, and put him to death : and the third
day he shall rise again. 34. And they
understood none of these things : and this
saying was hid from them, neither knew
they the things which were spoken.

Here is,

I. The notice Christ gave his disciples of his suf-
ferings and death approaching, and of the glorious
issue of them, which he himself had a perfect sight
and foreknowledge of, and thought it necessaiy to
give them warning of, that it might be the less sur-
prise and terror to them.

Two things here are, which we had not in the
other evangelists. 1. The suffcrinccs of Christ are
here spoken of as the fulfilling of the scriptures,
with which consideration Christ reconciled himself
to them, and would reconcile them ; All things that
are written by the prophets concerning the So?i of
7nan, especially the hardships he should undergo,
shall be accomplished. Kote, The Spirit of Christ
in the Old-Testament prophets, testified beforehand
his sufferings, and the glory that shall follow, 1 Pet.
1. 11. This pro\es that the scriptures are the word
of God, for they had their exact and full accom-
plishment ; and that Jesus Christ was sent of God,
for they had their accomplishment in him ; this was
he that should come,, for, whatever wzs foretold con-
cerning the Messiah, was verified in him ; and he
would submit to any thing for tlie fulfilling of scrip-
ture, that not one jot or tittle of that should fall to
the ground. This makes the offeiKe of the cross to
cease, and puts an honour upon it. Th us it was writ-
ten, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, thus it be-
came him. 2. The ignominy and disgrace done to
Christ in his sufferings, are here most insisted upon.
The other e\'angelists had said that he should be
mocked ; but here it is added. He shall be spitefully
treated, CCfiT^>i(rtTa.i — he shall be loaded with con-
tumely and contempt, shall have aU possible re-
proach put upon him. This was that part of his
sufferings, by which in a spiritual manner he satis-
fied God's justice for the injury we had done him in
his honour by sin. Here is one particular instance
of disgrace (lone him, that he was spit upon, which
had Ijeen particularly foretold, Isa. 50. 6. But here,
as alwavs, when Christ spake of his sufferings and
death, he foretold his resuiTection as that which
took off" both the ten-or and reproach of his suffer-
ings ; The third day he shall rise again.



II. The confusion that the disciples were hereby
put into ; this was so contrary to the notions they
had had of the Messiah and his kingdom, such a
balk to their expectations from their Master, and
such a breaking of all their measures, that they
■understood none of these thmgs, v. 34. Their pre-
judices were so strong, that they wovld not under-
stand them literally, and they could ?iot understand
them otherwise, so that they did not understand
them at all ; it was a mystery, it was a riddle to
them, it must be so ; but they think it impossible to
be reconciled with the gloiy and honour of the Mes-
siah, and the design of setting up his kingdom. This
saying was hid from them, iiix.fv/u/^en:v i.Tr' iivtZm, it
was apocrypha to them, they could not recei\c it :
for their parts, they had read the Old Testament
many a time, but they could never see any thing in
it that should be accomplished in the disgrace and
death of this Messiah. They were so intent upon
those prophesies that spake of his gloiy, that they
overlooked those that spake of his sufferings, which
the scribes and doctors of the law should have di-
rected them to take notice of, aiid should have
brought into their creeds and catechisms, as well as
the other ; but they did not suit their scheme, and
therefore were laid aside. Note, therefore it is that
people mn into mistakes, because they read their
Bibles by the halves, and are as partial in the pro-
phets as they are in the law. They arc only for the
smooth things, Isa. 30. 10. Thus now we are too
apt, in readmg the prophecies that are yet to be ful-
filled, to have our expectations raised of the glori-
ous state of the church in the latter days. But we
overlook its wilderness, sackcloth-state, and are
willing to fancy that is over, and nothing is reserved
for us but halcyon days ; and then, when tribulation
and persecution arise, we do not understand it,
neither know ive the things that are done ; though
we are told as plainly as can be, tliat through many
tribulations we !nust enter into the kingdom of God.

35. And it came to pass, tliat as he was
come nigh unto Jericho, a certain Wind
man sat by the way side, begging : 36.
And hearing the multitude pass by, he
asked what it meant. 37. And they told
him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.
38. And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou son
of David, have mercy on me. 39. And
they which went before rebuked him, that
he should hold his peace : but he cried so
much the more, Thou son of David, have
mercy on me. 40. And Jesus stood, and
commanded him to be brought unto him :
and when he was come near, he asked him,
41. Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do
unto thee ? And he said. Lord, that I may
receive my sight. 42. And Jesus said unto
him, Receive thy sight : thy faith hath saved
thee. 43. And immediately he received
his sight, and followed him, glorifying God:
and all the people, when they sav< it, gave
praise unto God.

Christ came not only to bring light to a dark
world, and so to set before us the objects we are to
have in view, but also to give sight to blind souls,
and by healing the organ to enable them to view
those objects. As a token of this, he cured manv
of their bodily blindness ; we have now an account
of one to whom he ga-ve sight near Jericho. Mark
gives us an account of one, and names him, whom

he cured as he went out of Jericho, Mark 10. 46.
Matthew speaks of two, whom he cured as they
departed fi'om Jericho, Matth. 20. 30. Luke says
it was ii tZ iTKi^iiv auTcv — wheji he was near to Jeri-
cho, which might be when he was going out of it,
as well as when he was coming into it.

I. This poor blind man sat by the way-side, beg-
ging, D. 35. It seems, he was not only blind but
poor, had nothing to subsist on, nor any relations to
maintain him ; the fitter emblem of the world of
mankind which Christ came to heal and save ; they
are therefore wretched and miserable, for they are
both poor and blind. Rev. 3. 17. He sat begging,
for he was blind, and could not work for his living.
Note, Those ought to be relieved by charity, whom
the providence of God has any way disabled to get
their own bread. Such objects of charity by the
way-side ought not to be overlooked by us. Christ
here cast a favourable eye upon a common beggar,
and though there are cheats among such, yet they
must not therefore be all thought svich.

II. Hearing the noise of a multitude passing by,
he asked what it tneant, v. 36. This we had not
before. It teaches us that it is good to be inquisi-
tive, and that those who are so, some time or other
find the benefit of it. Tliose who want their sight,
should make so much the better use of their hear-
ing, and when they cannot see with their own eyes,
should, by asking questions, make use of other peo-
ple's eyes. So this blind man did, and by that
means came to understand that Jesus of Nazareth
passed by, v. 37. It is good being in Christ's way ;
and, when we have an opportunity of applying our-
selves to him, not to let it slip.

III. His prayer has in it a great deal both of faith
and fervency ; Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy

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 182 of 289)