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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 12 - Verse 50
REMARKS ON MATTHEW CHAPTER 12
(1.) Our Saviour has taught us the right use of the Sabbath, Mt 12:1-13. His conduct was an explanation of the meaning of the fourth commandment. By his example we may learn what may be done. He himself performed only those works on the Sabbath which were strictly necessary for life, and those which went to benefit the poor, the afflicted, and needy. Whatever work is done on the Sabbath that is not for these ends, must be wrong. All labour that can as well be done on another day; all which is not for the support of life, or to aid the ignorant, poor, and sick, must be wrong. This example justifies teaching the ignorant, supplying the wants of the poor, instructing children in the precepts of religion, teaching those to read in Sabbath-schools who have no other opportunity for learning, and visiting the sick, when we go not for formality, or to save time on some other day, but to do them good.
(2.) The Sabbath is of vast service to mankind. It was made for man, not for man to violate or profane, or to be merely idle, but to improve to his spiritual and eternal good. Where men are employed through six days in worldly occupations, it is kind towards them to give them one day particularly to prepare for eternity. Where there is no Sabbath there is no religion. There are no schools for instructing the poor. There are no means of enlightening the ignorant. This truth, from the history of the world, will bear to be recorded in letters of gold, that the true religion will exist among men only when they strictly observe the Sabbath. They, therefore, who do most to promote the observance of the Sabbath, are doing most for religion and the welfare of man. In this respect, Sunday-school teachers may do more, perhaps, than all the world besides, for the best interests of the world.
(3.) In the conduct of Christ, Mt 12:14,15 we have an example of Christian prudence. Re did not throw himself needlessly into danger, he did not remain to provoke opposition. He felt that his time was not come, and that his life, by a prudent course, should be preserved. He therefore withdrew. Religion requires us to sacrifice our lives rather than deny the Saviour. To throw our lives away, when with good conscience they might be preserved, is self-murder.
(4.) The rejection of the gospel in one place is often the occasion of its being received elsewhere, Mt 12:15 Men may reject it to their own destruction; but somewhere it will be preached, and will be the power of God unto salvation. The wicked cannot drive it out of the world. They only secure their own ruin, and, against their will, benefit and save others. To reject it is like turning a beautiful and fertilizing stream from a man's own land. He does not, he cannot dry it up. It will flow somewhere else. He injures himself, and perhaps benefits multitudes. Men never commit so great foolishness and wickedness, and so completely fail in what they aim at, as in rejecting the gospel. A man, hating the light of the sun, might get into a cave or dungeon, and be in total darkness; but the sun will continue to shine, and millions, in spite of him, will be benefited by it. So it is with the gospel.
(5.) Christ was mild, still, retiring; not clamorous or noisy, Mt 12:19. So is all religion. There is no piety in noise; if there was, then thunder and artillery would be piety. Confusion and discord are not religion. Loud words and shouting axe not religion. Religion is love, reverence, fear, holiness, deep and awful regard for the presence of God, profound apprehensions of the solemnities of eternity, imitation of the Saviour. It is still. It is full of awe—an awe too great to strive, or cry, or lift up the voice in the streets. If men ever should be overawed, and filled with emotions repressing noise and clamour, it should be when they approach the great God. This great truth is the essence of religion, that we have most of it when we come nearest in all things to the Lord Jesus Christ.
(6.) The feeble may trust to Jesus, Mt 12:20. A child of any age, an ignorant person, the poorest man, may come, and he shall in no wise be cast out. It is a sense of our weakness that Jesus seeks. Where that is, he will strengthen us, and we shall not fail.
(7.) Grace shall not be extinguished, Mt 12:20. Jesus, where he finds it in the feeblest degree, will not destroy it. He will cherish it. He will kindle it to a flame. It shall burn brighter and brighter, till it "glows with the pure spirits above."
(8.) Men are greatly prone to ascribe all religion to the devil, Mt 12:24. Anything that is unusual, anything that confounds them, anything that troubles their consciences, they ascribe to fanaticism, overheated zeal, and Satan. It has always been so. It is sometimes an easy way to stifle their own convictions, and to bring religion into contempt. Somehow or other, like the Pharisees, infidels must account for revivals of religion, for striking instances of conversion, and for the great and undeniable effects which the gospel produces. How easy to say that it is delusion, and that it is the work of the devil! How easy to show at once the terrible opposition of their own hearts to God, and to boast themselves, in their own wisdom, in having found a cause so simple for all the effects which religion produces in the world! How much pains, also, men will take to secure their own perdition, rather, than to admit it to be possible that Christianity should be true!
(9.) We see the danger of blasphemy—the danger of trifling with the influences of the Holy Spirit, Mt 12:31,32. Even if we do not commit the unpardonable sin, yet we see that all trifling with the Holy Ghost is a sin very near to God, and attended with infinite danger. He that laughs away the thoughts of death and eternity; he that seeks the society of the gay and trifling, Or of the sensual and profane, for the express purpose of driving away these thoughts; and he that struggles directly against his convictions, and is resolved that he will not submit to God, may be, for aught he knows, making his damnation sure. Why should God ever return, when he has once rejected the gospel? Who would be to blame if the sinner is then lost? Assuredly not God. None but himself. Children sometimes do this. Then is the time, the very time, when they should begin to love God and Jesus Christ. Then the Spirit also strives. Many have then given their hearts to him, and become Christians. Many more might have clone so, if they had not grieved away the Spirit of God.
(10.) We see the danger of rejecting Christ, Mt 12:38-42. All past ages, all the wicked and the good, the foolish and the wise, will rise up in the day of judgment, and condemn fit, if we do not believe the gospel. No people, heretofore, have seen so much light as we do in this age. And no people can be so awfully condemned as those who, in a land of light, of Sabbaths, and Sabbath-schools, reject Christ, and go to hell. Among the hundred and twenty thousand children of Nineveh, Jon 4:11 there was not one single Sunday- school. There was no one to tell them of God and the Saviour. They have died and gone to judgment. Children now living will die also, and go to meet them in the day of judgment. How will they condemn the children of this age, if they do not love the Lord Jesus Christ!
(11.) Sinners, when awakened, if they grieve away the Spirit of God, become worse than before, Mt 12:43-45. They are never as they were. Their hearts are hard, their consciences are seared, they hate religious men, and they plunge deeper and deeper into sin. Seven devils often dwell where one did; and God gives the man over to blindness of mind and hardness of heart. This shows, also, the great guilt and danger of grieving the Holy Ghost.
(12.) We see the love of Christ for his followers, Mt 12:46-50. Much as he loved his mother, yet he loved his disciples more. He still loves them. He will always love them. His heart is full of affection for them. And though poor, and despised, and unknown to the rich and mighty, yet to Jesus they are still clearer than mother, and sisters, and brothers.
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