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destroy men's lives. The people upon whom they wished to inflict this punishment were not members of the commonwealth of Israel, and had fallen into gross and hurtful errors on important subjects, by mistaking the place where God was to be worshipped, and by mixing with his service many idolatrous rites. They were animated with an inveterate rancour against the Jews, who were the true worshippers of God, and under the influence of this evil spirit they had refused the necessaries of life to travellers on their journey, because they were going up to Jerusalem. To wish for exemplary vengeance on such men might be regarded as a proof of zeal for true religion, and of affection to a Master who had received an unprovoked affront; and in these lights no doubt these disciples considered it. But Jesus saw that they were actuated by a different temper; by pride, which would not allow them to brook an affront, and by a desire of revenge for a supposed injury, which they were willing to retaliate at the expence of men's lives.
These two disciples, in their desire to exterminate the Samaritans, have had, alas, but too many imitators, in every age of the Christian church; particularly in those who have endeavoured to punish men for renouncing or opposing what they apprehended to be the truth, and who have imprisoned or tortured their persons and confiscated their property, for this purpose. We have a glaring example of the like misguided and pernicious zeal, in that memorable instance of human folly and depravity, the attempt of the christian world to punish the infidelity of Mahometans, and to exterminate them from the Holy Land. And it is well if there be not examples of a like spirit prevailing in more modern times. Let us, my brethren, while we hold such a spirit in abhorrence, be careful that we do not countenance it, either by our words or actions. The spirit of christianity is a spirit of gentleness, meekness, benevolence and mercy; of forgiveness and patience under injuries. The only lawful methods by which it is to be propagated or defended are reason, scripture and argument; if these fail, we must leave to God his own cause, and not presume to defend it by weapons which he has not authorized us to use.
Luke ix. 57—60, corresponds with Matt. viii. 19—22.
Luke x. 1-20.
1. After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, or, rather, seventy others," and sent them two and two before his face, into every city and place, whither he himself would come, was about to come."
These words refer not to any seventy which had been sent out before, but to the twelve apostles, who had been before sent out to preach, as mentioned in the last chapter, verses 1, 2. Christ fixed upon the number of twelve apostles, in allusion to the number of the tribes of Israel, which were twelve; and upon seventy disciples, to go before him to announce his approach, in reference to the seventy elders, whom Moses, by the direction of God, chose to assist him in the affairs of the nation of Israel; of whose institution you have an account, Numbers xi. 16. As they were sent only to places where Jesus was about to come, it appears that the design of their mission was to prepare the minds of men for his reception. Although journeying towards Jerusalem at this time, he travelled slowly towards that place, and preached every where as he went. The reason of sending two of these disciples together, was not so much for mutual assistance, as to give greater weight to their united testimony, than could have been obtained for that of a single individual.
Therefore said he unto them,
The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few.
Pray ye therefore the
lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
The directions which follow are nearly the same with those which he gave to the twelve apostles, of which you have an account in the tenth chapter of Matthew; except that they are delivered there a little more at large.
Go your ways; Behold I send you forth as lambs among wolves.
4. Carry neither purse nor scrip nor shoes, i. e. none but what you and salute no man by the way;
That is, Employ the greatest dispatch: for eastern salutations, we are told, are very tedious, being accompanied with many inquiries and compliments.
As these disciples had many places to visit, and but a short time for the purpose, Jesus continually following them, such ceremonies must be omitted, since they would occasion much delay.
5. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.
This was the usual form of salutation, in entering a house in the east, and is still retained. By the term peace, they understand not merely tranquillity, but likewise all good things.
6. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it, rather, 66 upon him," i. e. the son of peace: if not, it shall return to you again.
It was usual with the Jews to call a person who possessed any good or bad quality, the son or child of that quality; thus wise persons are called the children of wisdom. Agreeably to this method of speaking, a person worthy of the wish of peace, is called the son of
peace; and Christ declares, that the blessings included in that wish shall descend upon him, or, if he were not what he was supposed to be, the wish should, notwithstanding, not be lost: for that it should be fulfilled in the person who uttered it.
7. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire.
Christ advises his disciples to accept, without fear of doing wrong, such food as the hospitality of the person with whom they resided might provide for them: for if they laid aside the common employments of life, and devoted their time to the instruction of others in religious matters, they had a just claim upon them for support; agreeably to a common maxim, that the labourer is worthy of his hire. It was upon this principle also, that Jesus prohibited his disciples from providing any extraordinary clothing for their journey: for he would have them depend upon those who enjoyed the benefit of their labours, for such supplies.
Go not from house to house.
Christ prohibits this, because it would have the appearance of their being dissatisfied with the entertain. ment provided for them, and give occasion to suspicions, that they were actuated by other motives than the desire of communicating important truth. The advice in the next verse is founded upon the same principle.
8. And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you;
9. And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
That is, Learn from these miraculous cures, and our
preaching, that the Christian dispensation has approached.
10. But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say,
Even the dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you.
When men refused to receive them into their houses, or to afford them necessaries, they are ordered to declare publicly, by a symbolical action, by shaking the dust from their feet, that they would maintain no kind of intercourse with such wicked people. This Paul did at Antioch in Pisidia, Acts xiii. 51.
Notwithstanding, be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
Remember, although you have rejected us, and we shall have no further communication with you, that the gospel has been brought to you, and that you must expect the dreadful doom which awaits those who have refused to receive it.
12. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day, a day of judgment, for Sodom than for that city.
The day here referred to is the season of temporal punishment, and not, as is generally supposed, final retribution; and Christ declares, that the calamities which should fall upon the towns and cities of Judæa, at the destruction of Jerusalem, would be more terrible than those which befel Sodom.
13. Woe unto thee; "alas for thee," Chorazin! alas for thee, Bethsaida! for if