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 83 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 83 of 289)
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phecy, when it was all a lie, Such there had been



\ formerly, (Jer. 23. 16. Ezek. 13. 6.) as was fore-
told, Deut. 13. 3. Some think, the seducers here
pointed to were such as had been settled teachers in
the church, and had gained reputation as such, but
afterward betrayed the trath they had taught, and
revolted to error ; and from such the danger is the
greater, because least suspected. One false traitor
in the garrison may do more mischief than a thou-
sand avowed enemies without.

[2.] There should appear _/a/sf Christs, coming
in Christ's name, {i<. 5.) assuming to themselves the
name peculiar to him, and saying, / am Christ,
flseudo-Christs, v. 24. There was at that time a
general expectation of the appearing of the Mes-
sias ; they spoke of him, as he that shall come ; but
when he did come, the body of the nation rejected
him ; which those who were ambitious of making
themselves a name, took advantage of, and set up
for Christs. Josephus speaks of several such impos-
tors between this and the destruction of Jerusalem ;
one Theudas, that was defeated by Cuspius Fadus ;
;motlier by Felix, another by Festus. Dosetheus said,
he was the Christ foretold by Moses, Origen adver-
sus Celsum. See Acts 5. 36, 37. — 21.28. Simon Ma-
gus pretended to be the great power of God, Acts 8.
10. In after-ages there have been such pretenders ;
one about a hundred years after Christ, that called
himself Bcr-cohobas — The son of a star, but proved
Bar-cosba — The son of a lie. About fifty years ago,
Sabbati-Levi set up for a Messiah in the Turkish
empire, and was greatly caressed by the Jews ; but
in a short time his folly was made manifest : see Sir
Paul Rycaut's History. The popish religion doth,
in effect, set up a false Christ ; the Pope comes, in
Christ's name, as his vicar, but invades and usurps
all his offices, and so is a rival with him, and, as such,
an enemy to him, a deceiver, and an antichrist.

[3. ] These false Christs and false prophets would
have their agents and emissaries busy in all places
to draw people in to them, v. 23. Then when pub-
lic troubles are great and threatening, and people
will be catching at any thing that looks like de-
liverance, then Satan will take the advantage of im-
posing on them ; then they will say, Lo, here is a
Christ, or there is one ; but do not mind them : the
trtie Christ did not strive, or cry ; nor was it said of
him, Lo here! or, Lo there ! (Luke 17. 21.) there-
fore if any man say so concerning him, look upon it
as a temptation. The hermits, who place religion
in a monastical life, say, He is in the desert ; the
priests, who make the consecrated wafer to be
Christ, say, " He is h to7c tx/mioi; — in the cupboards,
in the secret chambers ; lo, he is in this shrine, in that
image." Thus some appropriate Christ's spiritual
presence to one party or persuasion, as if they had
the monopoly of Christ and Christianity ; and the
kingdom of Christ must stand and fall, must live and
die, with them ; "Lo, he is in this church, in that
council ;" whereas Christ is All in all, not here or
there, but meets his people with a blessing in every
place where he records his name.

(2.) The proof they should offer for the making
good of these pretences ; They shall shew great signs
and wonders, {ii. 24. ) not trtie miracles, those are
a divine seal, and with those the doctrine of Christ
stands confirmed ; and therefore, if any offer to draw
us from that by signs and wonders, we must have
recourse to that iiile given of old, (Deut. 13. 1, 2, 3. )
If the sign or wonder come to pass, yet follow not
him that would draw you to serve other gods, or
believe in other Christs, for the Lord your God
proveth you. Butthcse were lying wonders wrought
by Satan, (God permitting him,) who is the prince
of the power of the air, 2 Thess. 2. 9. It is not said.
They shall work miracles, but, Theti shall shew great
signs ; they are but a show ; either they impose upon
men's credulity by false narratives, or deceive their



ST. MATTHEW, XXIV.



275



senses by tricks of legerdemain, or arts of divina-
tion, as the magicians of Egj'pt by tlieir enchant-
ments.

(3.) The success they should have in these at-
tempts.

[1.] Tlieu shall deceive many, {y. 5.) and again,
V. 11. Note, Tlie devil and liis instruments may
prevail far in deceiving poor souls ; few find the
strait gate, but many are drawn into tlie broad way ;
many will be imposed upon by their signs and won-
ders, and manv drawn in by tlic hopes of deliver-
ance from tlieir oppressions. Note, Neither mira-
cles nor multitudes are certain signs of a trtie church ;
for all the nvorld monders after the beast, Rev. 13. 3.

[2.3 They shall deceive, if it were possible, the
very elect, v. 24. Tliis bespeaks. First, Tlie strength
of the delusion ; it is such as many shall be carried
away by, (so strong shall the stream be,) even those
that were thought to stand fast Men's knowledge,
gifts, learning, eminent station, and long profession,
will not secure tliem ; but, notwithstanding tliese,
many vnW be deceived ; nothing but the almighty
grace of God, pursuant to his eternal purpose, will
be a protection. Secondly, The safetv of the elect
in the midst of this danger, which is taken for
granted in that parenthesis. If it were possible,
plainly implying that it is not possible, for they are
kefit by tlie fiower of God, that the purpose of God,
according to the election, may stand. It is possible
for those tliat have been enlightened to fall away,
(Heb. 6. 4, 5, 6. ) but not for those that were elected.
If God's chosen ones should be deceived, God's
choice would be defeated, which is not to be ima-
gined, for whom he did predestinate, he called, jus-
tified, and glorified, Rom. 8. 30. They were given
to Christ ; and of all that were given to him he will
lose none, John 10. 28. Grotius will have this to be
meant of the great difficulty of drawing the primi-
tive Christians from their religion, and quotes it as
used proverbially by Galen ; when he would express
a thing very difficult and morally impossible, he
saith, " You may sooner draw away a Christian from
Christ."

(4.) The repeated cautions which our Saviour
gives to his disciples to stand upon their guard
against them ; therefore he ga\e them warning, that
they might watch ; {v. 25.) Behold, I have told you
before. He that is told before where he will be as-
saulted, may save himself, as the king of Israel did,
2 Kings 6. 9, 10. Note, Christ's warnings are de-
signed to engage our watchfulness ; and though the
elect shall be preserved from delusion, yet they shall
be preserved by the use of appointed means, and a
due regard to the cautions of the word ; we arc kept
through faith, faith in Christ's word, which he has
told us before.

[I.] We must not believe those that say, Lo, here
is Christ ; or, Lo, he is there, v. 23. VVe believe
that the true Christ is at the right hand of God, and
that his spiritual presence is where two or three are
gathered together in his name ; believe not those
therefore who would draw you off from a Christ in
heaven, by telling you he is any where on earth ;
or draw you off from the catholic church on earth,
by telling you he is here, or he is there ; believe it
not. Note, There is not a greater enemy to true
faith than vain credulity. The simple believeth
every word, and runs "after every cry. Ms^mtro
i^imiv — Beware of believing.

[2.] We must not go forth after those that say.
He is in the desert, or, He is in the secret chambers,
V. 26. We must not hearken to every empiric and
pretender, nor follow every one that puts up the
finger to point us to a new Christ, and a new gospel ;
"Go not forth, for if you do, you are in danger of
being taken by them ; therefore keep out of harm's
way, be not carried about with every wind; many



a man's vain curiosity to go forth hath led him into
a fatal apostacy ; your strength at such a time is to
sit still, to have the heart established with grace."

II. He foretells wars and great commotions among
the nations, t. 6, 7. Wlicn Clirist was bom, there
was a uni\'ersal peace in tlie empire, the temple of
Janus was shut; but think not that Christ came to
send, or continue, such a peace ; (Luke 12. 51.) no,
his city and his wall are to be built e\en in trouble-
some times, and even wars shall forward his work.
From the time that the Jews rejected Christ, and
he left their house desolate, the sword did nez'cr de-
part from their house, the sword of the Lord was
never quiet, because he had given it a charge against
a hypocritical nation and -the people Of his wrath,
and by it brought ruin upon them.

Here is, 1. A prediction of the e\ent of the day ;
You will now shortly hear of wars, and rumours of
wars. When wars are, they will be heard ; for
every battle of the warrior is with confused noise,
Isa. 9. 5. See how ten-ible it is, (Jer. 4. 10.) Thou
hast heard, O my soul, the alarm of wars .' Even
the quiet in the land, and the least inquisitive after
new things, cannot but hear the rumours of war.
See what comes of refusing the gospel ! Those that
will not hear the messengers of peace, shall be
made to hear the messengers of war. God has a
sword ready to avenge the quarrel of his covenant,
his new covenant. A'ation shall rise up against na-
tion, that is, one part or province of the Jewish na-
tion against another, one city against another ; (2
Chron. 15. 5, 6.) and in the same province and city
one party or faction shall rise up against another, so
that they sliall be devoured by, and dashed in pieces
against, one another, Isa. 9. 19, 21.

2. A prescription of the duty of the day ; See that
ye be not troubled. Is it possible to hear such sad
news, and not be troubled ? Yet, where the heart is
fixed, ti-usting in God, it is kept in peace, and is not
afraid, no not of the evil tidings of wars, and rumours
of wars ; no not the noise of Arm, arm. Be not
troubled ; /uiS-foti^i — Be not put into confusion or
commotion ; not put into throes, as a woman with
child by a fright ; See that ye be not — t'f&Tt. Note,
There is need of constant care and watchfulness to
keep trouble from the heart when there are wars
abroad ; and it is against the mind of Christ, that his
people should have troubled hearts even in troublous
times.

^^'e must not be troubled, for two reasons :

(1.) Because we are bid to expect this ; the Jews
must be punished, niin must be brought upon them ;
by this the justice of God and the honour of the Re-
deemer must be asserted ; and therefore all those
things must come to pass ; the word is gone out of
God's mouth, and it shall be accomplished in its
season. Note, The consideration of the unchange-
ableness of the divine counsels, which govern all
events, should compose and quiet our spirits, what-
ever happens. God is but performing the thingthat
is appointed for us, and our inordinate trouble is an
intei-pretative quarrel with that appointment. Let
us therefore acquiesce, because these things must
come to pass ; not only necessitate decreti — as the
product of the divine counsel, but necessitate medii —
as a means in order to a further end. The old house
must be taken down, (though it cannot be done with-
out noise, and dust, and danger,) ere the new fabric
can be erected ; the things that are shaken, (and ill
shaken they were,) must be removed, that the things
which cannot be shaken may remain, Heb. 12. 2".

(2.) Because we are still to expect woi-se ; IVie
end is not yet ; the end of time is not, and, while
time lasts, we must expect trouble, and that the end
of one affliction will be but the Ijeginning of another ;
or, "The end of these troubles is not yet; there
must be more judgments than one made use of to



276



ST. MATTHEW, XXIV.



bring down the Jewish power ; more vials of wrath
must yet be poured out ; there is but one woe past,
more woes are yet to come, more arrows are yet to
be spent upon them out of God's quiver ; therefore
be not troubled, do not give way to fear and trouble,
sink not under the present burthen, but rather ga-
ther in all the strength and spirit you have, to en-
counter what is yet before you. Be not troubled to
hear of wars and rumours of wars ; for then what
will become of you when the famines and pestilences
come ?" If it be to us a vexation but to understand
the refiort, (Isa. 28. 19.) what will it be to feel the
stroke when it toucheth the bone and the Jiesh ? If
running with the footmen weary us, how shall we
contend with horses ? And if we be frightened at a
little brook in our way, nuhat shall we do in the sivel-
linga of Jordan ? Jer. 12. 5.

III. He foretells other judgments more immedi-
ately sent of God — -famines, pestilences, and earth-
quakes. Famine is often the effect of war, and pes-
tilence of famine. These were the three judgments
which David was to choose one out of ; and he was
in a great strait, for he knew not which was the
worst : but what dreadful desolations will they make,
when they all pour in together upon a people .■' Be-
side war, (and that is enough,) there shall be,

1. Famine, signified by the black horse under the
third seal. Rev. 6. 5, 6. We read of a famine in
Judea, not long after Christ's time, which was very
impoverishing ; (Acts 11. 28, 29.) but the sorest fa-
mine was in Jerusalem during the siege. See Lam.
4. 9, 10.

2. Pestilences, signified by the fiale horse, and
Death iifion him, and the grave at his heels, under
the fourth seal, Rev. 6. 7, 8. This destroys with-
out distinction, and in a little time lays heaps upon
heaps.

3. Earthquakes in divers filaces, or from place to
place, pursuing those that flee from them, as they
did from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah,
■Zech. 14. 5. Great desolations have sometimes been
made by earthquakes, of late and formerly ; they
have been the death of many, and the terror of more.
In the apocalyptic visions, it is observable, that
earthquakes bode good, and no e\'il, to the church,
Rev. 6. 12. Compare v. 15. — 11. 12, 13, 19. — 16.
17 — 19. ^Vhen God shakes terribly the earth, (Isa.

2. 21. ) it is to shake the wicked out of it, (Job 38. 13. )
and to introduce the Desire of all nations. Hag. 2.
6, 7. But here they are spoken of as dreadful judg-
ments, aud yet but the beginning of sorrows, ijhm
— of travailing fiaijis, quick, violent, yet tedious too.
Note, Wlien God judgeth, he will overcome ; when
he begins in wi-ath, he will make a full end, 1 Sam.

3. 12. When we look forward to the eternity of
misei-y that is before the obstinate refusers of Christ
and his gospel, we may ti-uly sav, concerning the
greatest temporal judgments, "They are but the
beginning of sorrows : bad as things are with them,
there is worse behind."

IV. He foretells the persecution of his own peo-
ple and ministers, and a general apostacv and decay
m religion, thereupon, v. 9, 10, 12, 13. 'Observe,

1. The cross itself foretold, v. 9. Note, Of all
future events, we are as much concerned, though
commonly as little desirous, to know of our own suf-
ferings as of any thing else. Then, when famines
and pestilences prevail, then they shall impute them
to the Christians, and make that a pretence for per-
secuting them ; Christianos ad leones — .^way with
Christians to the lions. Christ had told h's disciples,
when he first sent them out, what hard things they
should suffer, but they had hitherto experienced
little of it, and therefore he reminds them again,
that the less they had suffered, the more there was
behind to be filled up. Col. 1. 24.

(1.) They shall be afflicted with bonds and im-



prisonments, crziel mockings and scourgings, as
blessed Paul; (2 Cor. 11. 23, 25.) not killed out-
right, but killed all the day long, in deaths often,
killed so as to feel themselves die, vtade a spectacle
to the world, 1 Cor. 4. 9, 11.

(2. ) They shall be killed ; so cruel are the church's
enemies, that nothing less will satisfy them than the
blood of the saints, which they thirst after, suck,
and shed, like water.

(3. ) They shall be hated of all nations for Christ's
name's sake, as he had told them before, ch. 10. 22.
The world was generally leavened with enmity and
malignity to Christians ; the Jews, though spiteful to
the heathen, were never persecuted by them so as
the Christians were ; they were hated by the Jews
that were dispersed among the nations, were the
common butt of the world's malice. What shall we
think of this world, when the best men had the worst
usage in it ? It is the cause that makes the martyr,
and comforts him ; it was for Christ's sake that they
were thus hated ; their professing and preaching his
name incensed the nations so much against them ;
the devil, finding a fatal shock thereby given to his
kingdom, and that his time was likely to be short,
came dowti, having great wrath.

2. The offence of the cross, v. 10, 12. Satan thus
carries on his interest by force of arms, though
Christ, at length, will bring glory to himself out of
the sufferings of his people and mmisters. Three
ill effects of persecution are here foretold :

(1.) The afiostacy of some. When the profession
of Christianity begins to cost men dear, then shall
many be offended, shall first fall out with, and then
fall off from, their profession ; they will begin to pick
quarrels with their religion, sit loose to it, grow
weary of it, and at length revolt from it. Note, [1. ]
It is no new thing (though it is a strange thing) for
those that have known the way of righteousness, to
turn aside out of it. Paul often complains of desert
ers, who began well, but sometimes hindered them.
They were with us, but went out from us, because
never truly of us, 1 John 2. 19. We are told of it
before. [2.] Suffering times are shaking times; and
those fall in the storm, tliat stood in fair weather,
like the stony-ground hearers, ch. 13. 21. Many
will follow Christ in the sunshine, who will shift for
themselves, and leave him to do so too, in the cloudy
dark day. They like their religion while they can
have it cheap, and sleep with it in a whole skin, but,
if their profession cost them any thing, they quit it
presently.

(2.) The malignity of others. When persecution
is in fashion, emy, enmity, and malice, are strangely
diffused into the minds of men by contagion : and
charity, tenderness, and moderation, are looked upon
as singularities, which make a man like a speckled
bird. Then they shall betray one another, that is,
" Those that have treacherously deserted their reli-
gion shall hate and betray those who adhere to it,
for whom they have pretended friendship." Apos-
tates ha\'e commonly been the most bitter and violent
persecutors. Note, Persecuting times are discover-
ing times. \A^olves in sheep's clothing will then
throw off their disguise, and appear wolves : they
shall betray one another, and hate one another. The
times must needs be perilous, when treachery and
hatred, two of the worst things that can be, because
directly contrary to two of the best, (tinith and love, )
shall have the ascendant. This seems to refer to the
barbarous treatment which the several contending
factions among the Jews gave to one another ; and
justly were thev, who eat up God's people as they
eat bread, left thus to bite and devour one another
till they were consumed one of another ; or it may
refer to the mischiefs done to" Christ's disciples by
those that were nearest to them, as ch. 10. 21. TTie
brother shall deliver ufi the brother to death.



ST. MATTHEW, XXIV.



277



(3.) The general declining and cooling of most, tj.
12. In seducing times, when false prophets arise,
in persecuting times, when the saints are hated,
expect these two things :

[1.] The abounding of iniquity ; though the world
always lies in wickedness, yet there are some times
in which it may lie said, that iniquity doth in a spe-
cial manner abound ; as when it is more extensive
than ordinaiy, as in the old world, wlien allficsli had
corrujited their may ; and when it is more excessive
than ordinary, when -violence is risen ufi to a rod of
wickedness, (Ezek. 7. 11.) so that hell seems to be
broke loose in blasphemies against God, and enmi-
ties to the saints.

[2.] The abating of love ; this is the consequence
of the former; Because iniquity shall abound, the
love of many shall wax cold. Understand it in ge-
neral of true serious godliness, which is all summed
up in love ; it is too common for professors of religion
to grow cool in their profession, when the wicked
are hot in their wickedness ; as the church of Ephe-
,sus in bad times left her first love. Rev. 2. 2, 4. Or,
it may be understood more particularly of brotherly
love. When iniquity abounds, seducing iniquity,
persecuting iniquity, this grace commonly waxes
cold. Christians begin to be shy and suspicious one
of another, affections are alienated, distances crea-
ted, parties made, and so love comes to nothing.
The devil is the accuser of the brethren, not only to
their enemies, which makes persecuting iniquity
abound, but one to another, which makes the love
of many to wax cold.

This gives a melancholy prospect of the times,
that there shall be such a great decay of love ; but.
First, It is of the love of many not of all. In the worst
of times, God has his remnant that hold fast their
integrity, and retain their zeal, as in Elijah's days,
■when he thought himself left alone. Secondly, This
love is grown cold, but not dead ; it abates, but is not
quite cast off. There is life in the root, which will
shew itself when the winter is past. The new nature
may max cold, but shall not ivax old, for then it
would decay and vanish away.

3. Comfort administered in reference to this of-
fence of the cross, for the support of the Lord's peo-
ple under it ; (t;. 13.) He that endures to the end shall
be saved. (1.) It is comfortable to those who wish
■well to the cause of Christ in general, that, though
many are offended, yet some shall endure to the end.
When we see so many drawing back, we are ready
to fear that the cause of Christ will sink for want of
supporters, and his name be left and forgotten for
■\vant of some to make profession of it ; but even at
this time there is a remnant according to the election
of grace, Rom. 11. 5. It is spoken of the same time
that this prophecy has reference to ; a remnant who
are_ not of tliem that draw back unto fierdition, but
believe and persevere to the saving of the soul ; tliey
endure to the end, to the end of their lives, to the
end of their present state of probation, or to the end
of these suffering trying times, to the last encounter,
though they should' be called to resist unto blood.
(2. ) It is comfortable to those who do thus endure to
the end, and suffer for their constancv, that thev shall
be saved. Perseverance wins the crown through free
grace, and shall wear it They shall be saved; per-
haps they may be delivered out of their troubles, and
comfortably sui-vive them m this world ; but it is the
eternal salvation that is here intended. They that
endure to the end of their days, shall then receive
the end of their faith and hope, even the salvation of
their souls, 1 Pet. 1. 9. Rom. 2. 7. Rev. 3. 20. The
cro-wn of glon' will make amends for all ; and a be-
lieving regard to that will enable us to choose rather
to die at a stake with the persecuted, than to live in
a palace with the persecutors.

V. He foretells the preaching of the gospel in all



the world ; (-y. 14.) This gospel shall be fireachcd, and
then shall the end come. Observe here, 1. It is called
tlie gospel of the kingdom, because it reveals the
kingdom of grace, whicli leads to the kingdom of
glory, sets up Christ's kingdom in this world ; and
secures our's in the other world. 2. This gospel,
sooner or later, is to be preached in all tlie world,
to every creature, and all nations are to be discipled
by it ; for in it Christ is to be Salvation to the ends
of the earth ; for this end tlie gift of tongues was the
jhrst fruits of the Spirit. 3. I'he gospel isjireached
for a witness to all nations, that is, a faithful declara-
tion of the mind and will of God concerning the duty
which God requires from man, and the recompence
which man may expect from God. It is a record,
(1 John 5. 11.) it is a witness, for those who believe,
that they shall be saved, and against those who per-
sist in unbelief, that they shall be damned. See
Mark 16. 16. But how does this come in here ?

( 1. ) It is intimated that the gospel should be, if not
heard, yet at least heard of, throughout the then



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 83 of 289)