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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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7. Woe to the world on account of offenses! This passage may be explained in two ways. It may be taken actively, as meaning that Christ pronounces a curse on the authors of offenses; and then by the term world, we must understand all unbelievers. Or it may be taken passively, as meaning that Christ deplores the evils which he perceives to be rapidly coming on the world on account of offenses; as if he had said, that no plague will be more destructive, or attended by more fearful calamities, than the alarm or desertion of many on account of offenses. The latter meaning is more appropriate; for I have no doubt that our Lord, who had spoken on another occasion about offenses, proceeded to discourse more largely on this subject; in order to make his disciples more attentive and watchful in guarding against them. That Satan may not gain advantage over us through our sluggishness, our Lord breaks out into an exclamation, that there is nothing which we ought to dread more than offenses; for as Satan has innumerable kinds of them in his hand, he constantly, and at almost every step, throws new difficulties in our way; while we, through excessive tenderness or sloth, are too ready to yield. The consequence is, that there are few who make tolerable progress in the faith of Christ; and of the few who have begun to walk in the way of salvation, there is scarcely one in ten who has the courage to persevere till he reaches the goal. 505505     “Qui persevere courageusement iusqu’a la fin;” — “who perseveres courageously to the end.” Now since Christ intended to strike his disciples with terror on account of offenses, and thus to arouse them to exertion, woe to our indifference, if each of us does not earnestly apply himself to overcome those offenses

For offenses must come. To awaken more powerfully their care and anxiety, our Lord reminds his disciples that there is no possibility of walking but in the midst of various offenses; as much as to say, that this is an evil which cannot be avoided. Thus he confirms the former statement; for Christ shows us how great are the inconveniences which arise from offenses, since the Church never will be, and indeed never can be, free from this evil. But he does not state the reason of this necessity, as Paul does, when, speaking of heresies, he says that they arise, that the good may be made manifest, (1 Corinthians 11:19.) It must be held by us as a fixed principle, that it is the will of God to leave his people exposed to offense, in order to exercise their faith, and to separate believers, as the refuse and the chaff, from the pure wheat. Does any one object or complain, that blame attaches to our Lord for giving loose reins to Satan, to accomplish the destruction of wretched men? It is our duty to think and speak with the deepest reverence of the secret purposes of God, of which this is one, that the world must be disturbed by offenses

But woe to the man by whom the offense cometh. After having exhorted his disciples to beware of offenses, he again breaks out against those who occasion them. To impart the greater vehemence to the threatening, he adds, that neither a right eye nor a right hand ought to be spared, if they occasion offense to us; for I explain these words as added for the purpose of amplification. Their meaning is, that we ought to be so constant and so zealous in opposing offenses, that we would rather choose to pluck out our eyes, or cut off our hands, than give encouragement to offenses; for if any man hesitate to incur the loss of his limbs, he spares them at the risk of throwing himself into eternal perdition. What dreadful vengeance then awaits those who by offenses shall bring ruin on their brethren! 506506     “Lesquels par scandales auront donne occasion de faire perdre et damner leurs freres;” — “who by offenses shall have given occasion to bring ruin and damnation on their brethren.” As those two verses have been already explained 507507     Harmony, vol. 1 p. 291. under Matthew 5:29,30, it was sufficient, on the present occasion, to glance at the reason why Christ repeats here the same statement.




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