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18. Parables

1In that hour came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 2And he called to him a little child, and set him in the midst of them, 3and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye turn, and become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me: 6But whoso shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble, it is profitable for him that a great millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depth of the sea.

7Woe unto the world because of occasions of stumbling! for it must needs be that the occasions come; but woe to that man through whom the occasion cometh! 8And if thy hand or thy foot causeth thee to stumble, cut it off, and cast it from thee: it is good for thee to enter into life maimed or halt, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into the eternal fire. 9And if thine eye causeth thee to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is good for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into the hell of fire. 10See that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven. 11For the Son of man came to save that which was lost. 12How think ye? if any man have a hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and go unto the mountains, and seek that which goeth astray? 13And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth over it more than over the ninety and nine which have not gone astray. 14Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

15And if thy brother sin against thee, go, show him his fault between thee and him alone: if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16But if he hear thee not, take with thee one or two more, that at the mouth of two witnesses or three every word may be established. 17And if he refuse to hear them, tell it unto the church: and if he refuse to hear the church also, let him be unto thee as the Gentile and the publican. 18Verily I say unto you, what things soever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and what things soever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father who is in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

21Then came Peter and said to him, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? until seven times? 22Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times; but, Until seventy times seven. 23Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, who would make a reckoning with his servants. 24And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, that owed him ten thousand talents. 25But forasmuch as he had not wherewith to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26The servant therefore fell down and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27And the lord of that servant, being moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. 28But that servant went out, and found one of his fellow-servants, who owed him a hundred shillings: and he laid hold on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay what thou owest. 29So his fellow-servant fell down and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee. 30And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay that which was due. 31So when his fellow-servants saw what was done, they were exceeding sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. 32Then his lord called him unto him, and saith to him, Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou besoughtest me: 33shouldest not thou also have had mercy on thy fellow-servant, even as I had mercy on thee? 34And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due. 35So shall also my heavenly Father do unto you, if ye forgive not every one his brother from your hearts.

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10. Beware of despising one of these little ones As pride is the mother of disdain, and as contempt hardens men in giving offense, our Lord, for the purpose of applying an appropriate remedy for curing this disease, forbids his disciples to despise the little ones. And certainly, as we have already hinted, no man who has a proper care for his brethren will ever allow himself, on light grounds, to give them offense This conclusion of our Lord’s discourse has the same tendency as the commencement of it, to remind us that we ought to strive with each other who shall be most submissive and modest; for God embraces with wonderful love the little ones It would be strange indeed that a mortal man should despise, or treat as of no account, those whom God holds in such high esteem. He proves this love from the fact, that angels, who are ministers of their salvation, enjoy intimately the presence of God. Yet I do not think that he intended merely to show what honor God confers on them by appointing angels to be their guardians, but likewise to threaten those who despise them; as if he had said, that it is no light matter to despise those who have angels for their companions and friends, to take vengeance in their behalf. We ought therefore to beware of despising their salvation, which even angels have been commissioned to advance.

The interpretation given to this passage by some commentators, as if God assigned to each believer his own angel, does not rest on solid grounds. For the words of Christ do not mean that a single angel is continually occupied with this or the other person; 508508     “Les mots n’emportent pas qu’un Ange n’ait autre charge que de veiller tousiours sur cestuy-ci ou sur cestuy-la;” — “the words do not bear that one Angel has nothing else to do than to watch continually over this or that man.” and such an idea is inconsistent with the whole doctrine of Scripture, which declares that the angels encamp around (Psalm 34:7) the godly, and that not one angel only, but many, have been commissioned to guard every one of the faithful. Away, then, with the fanciful notion of a good and evil angel, and let us rest satisfied with holding that the care of the whole Church is committed to angels, to assist each member as his necessities shall require. It will perhaps be asked, Do the angels occupy a station inferior to ours, because they have been appointed to be our ministers? I reply, Though by nature they take rank above us, this does not prevent them from rendering service to God 509509     “Cela n’empesche point que Dieu n’use de leur service;” — “that does not hinder God from employing their services.” in dispensing the favor which he freely bestows upon us. For this reason they are called our angels, because their labors are bestowed on us.

Matthew 18:11. For the Son of man cometh Christ now employs his own example in persuading his disciples to honor even weak and despised brethren; for he came down from heaven to save not them only, but even the dead who were lost It is in the highest degree unreasonable that we should disdainfully reject those whom the Son of God has so highly esteemed. And even if the weak labor under imperfections which may expose them to contempt, our pride is not on that account to be excused; for we ought to esteem them not for the value of their virtues, but for the sake of Christ; and he who will not conform himself to Christ’s example is too saucy and proud.

12. What think you? Luke carries the occasion of this parable still farther back, as having arisen from the murmurings of the Pharisees and scribes against our Lord, whom they saw conversing daily with sinners. Christ therefore intended to show that a good teacher ought not to labor less to recover those that are lost, than to preserve those which are in his possession; though according to Matthew the comparison proceeds farther, and teaches us not only that we ought to treat with kindness the disciples of Christ, but that we ought to bear with their imperfections, and endeavor, when they wander, to bring them back to the road. For, though they happen sometimes to wander, yet as they are sheep over which God has appointed his Son to be shepherd, so far are we from having a right to chase or drive them away roughly, that we ought to gather them from their wanderings; for the object of the discourse is to lead us to beware of losing what God wishes to be saved The narrative of Luke presents to us a somewhat different object. It is, that the whole human race belongs to God, and that therefore we ought to gather those that have gone astray, and that we ought to rejoice as much, when they that are lost return to the path of duty, as a man would do who, beyond his expectation, recovered something the loss of which had grieved him.




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