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And blessed is he, that doth not take occasion to be offended at my mean and homely condition; but sees and acknowledges Majesty and Power, in this my outward Poverty and Infirmities.
XI. 7 What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
To what purpose went ye out into the wilderness, to see John Baptist? What conceit or expectation drew you thither? Did you think to see there a man light and unconstant to his own courses and resolutions?
XI. 8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. Or, did you think there to see a man gaily or richly clothed? this kind of outward bravery of apparel is to be looked for in the courts of kings and princes, not in a rude desert.
XI. 9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
No, ye say ye went out to see a Prophet, for such indeed ye acknowledge him; and yet ye regard not the testimony that he gives concerning me: herein ye are not mistaken, that ye hold John no less than a Prophet; yea, let me add somewhat to your valuation of him, I say he is more than a Prophet.
XI. 10 Behold, I send &c. See Malachi iii. 1.
XI. 11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. Verily I say unto you, that, among all those ancient Prophets which have been most famous in the world in former times, there hath not arisen one greater or more honoured in his function, than John Baptist. They all have spoken of the Messiah to come; and this hath been their principal glory, that they have foreshewed him to the world, long before he was exhibited: but this is the privilege and honour of John, that he points to that Saviour and Messiah already exhibited. And, in the very same regard, the meanest minister under the Gospel may justly challenge to have a more excellent office and function than John the Baptist; for that he preacheth the same Saviour, as having fully satisfied for mankind, triumphed over death and hell, ascended into the glory of heaven.
XI. 12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. Ever since the days of John's first preaching until now, there bath been much zealous search after the Gospel; and such confluence of holy clients to the Evangelical Church, as if they would forcibly thrust themselves into it: with such eagerness do men follow the ordinances of God, the means of grace, as if they would offer a kind of religious violence to heaven.
XI. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. Neither is it any wonder, that God works now so strongly and vehemently in the hearts of men; for now, in the days and preaching of John, the Gospel, which was formerly hid under types and
shadows, is clearly opened and revealed to the world; so as he doth fully make up all that, which in the Law and Prophets was foresignified.
XI. 14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to
And, if ye had grace to know and acknowledge it, whereas the last prophet Malachi told you of an Elias, that should come before the day of the Lord, ye should see and find, that this John is the fore-promised Elias, in whose power and spirit he is come, to prepare the way before me.
XI. 15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
He, that hath not an outward only, but an inward and hearing ear, let him hear and receive this, which I deliver unto you.
XI. 16 But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows. But, alas! what shall I say to this generation, or whereto shall I liken them? It is just with them, as in the ordinary proverb of the boys playing with their fellows in the market place; whose word, in their sport, to each other, is, We have piped to you, and ye have not danced, &c. Even the very same word may I take up against this people: we have spoken comfortable things to them, and they have not so far believed, as to rejoice therein; we have justly bewailed their dangerous condition, and they have not been affected with sorrow and fear.
XI. 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.
Neither way are they to be reclaimed, whether by austerity or sociableness, by gentleness or rigour; for John came severely and sadly to them, in a retired and hard course of life, and they say, He hath a devil.
XI. 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of pub licans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children. And, again, the Son of Man came in a kind, affable, and plausible manner, conversing with them sociably, at their tables, and they say, Behold a man that loves his paunch and his palate well; a glutton, a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners, with whom he freely eats and drinks, at Matthew's late feast, and upon every occasion. But, however the false pretenders unto wisdom are ready to pass these unjust verdicts, and to spend their censures thus injuriously; yet those, who are the true sons of wisdom, can and will give a justifying and approving testimony of me, and of my carriage and doctrine.
XI. 21 For if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
For the mighty and admirable miracles, which have been done in you, had been enough to have converted those impious and infamous cities of Tyre and Sidon; and, in all human probability,
had those works been done amongst them, they would have been convinced thereby, and have been drawn to a serious and solemn repentance So also the latter part of verse 23.
XI. 23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell.
And thou, Capernaum, which hast been so frequented by me as if thou hadst been my native city, and by this honour of my presence and continual doctrine and miracles hast been exalted far above all other cities, and hast had better and more means of salvation than they all, shalt, for thy unproficiency and contempt, be cast down unto hell.
XI. 25 I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
I thank thee, O Father, who, being Lord of Heaven and Earth, having therefore absolute power to dispose of all things according to thy good pleasure, hast thought good to hide the great Mysteries of Salvation from the worldly wise and great clerks of the world, and to reveal them to plain, simple, unlearned souls.
XI. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. In your recourse unto me, do not dream of liberty and ease, as if the following of me should secure you from all troublesome restraints of your corrupt nature; but know, that you must submit yourselves to the discipline of my Spirit, and yield yourselves over to the obedience of my command, and learn of me that lesson of meekness and humility which you see so plainly and eminently practised in me.
XI. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Which if ye shall compose yourselves unto, ye shall find the obedience which I require of you to be easy and pleasant.
XII. 5 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?
Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests are appointed to undertake laborious works in the temple, concerning the sacrifices, which are double offered that day, and are notwithstanding blameless?
XII. 7 I will have mercy and not sacrifice. See Hosea vi. 6.
Is this that Messiah, that was promised should come from the loins of David, and succeed in his kingdom?
XII. 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. We cannot deny indeed, but that this man doth cast out devils; but this is done of him, by way of compact, not by way of com
mand: he useth the aid and power of a greater devil, to eject the less.
XII. 26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?
Howsoever there may be much collusion amongst the evil spirits,. voluntarily yielding to a seemingly forcible action for the deceiving of men, yet a true hostility there is not amongst them;. and, if one devil should cast out another by strong hand, as ye see me do, the kingdom of darkness could not stand.
XII. 27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. Ye see some of your own nation and blood, who make use of my Name for the ejecting of devils; so as, in their mouths, my Name is allowed as powerful to prevail against the evil spirits: they shall be sufficient witnesses to convince you, and judges to sentence you; for ye give approbation to them, which make use of my Name to this purpose, and yet make opposition to me whose power enables them hereto.
XII. 28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.
But if I, by the divine power of the Almighty Spirit of God, do cast out devils, this, as it is a just honour to me, so it is a great privilege and happiness unto you; for hereby you are assured, that that kingdom of the Messiah, which ye have so long expected and desired, is now come unto you.
XII. 29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.
Which kingdom of mine cannot possibly take place, unless Satan be first powerfully ejected by me; for, since that Evil Spirit hath gotten so strong possession as he hath done of the world, how is it possible to enter upon his hold, and to spoil and defeat him in all his wicked practices, except he be first disabled, and personally vanquished?
XII. 30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
It had been your parts, both for your own honour and safety, to have set forward and advanced this spiritual kingdom of mine; which if ye do not, I can account you no better than the enemies thereof: for, in this case there is no neutrality; he, that is not for me, is against me; and he, that doth not bestir himself to gather with me, even while he stands still scattereth abroad.
XII. 31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
And now, whereas the Scribes have not stuck, against the light of their own conscience, to accuse me of casting out devils through Beelzebub, their case is fearful; for herein they have maliciously sinned against the evidence of God's Spirit, convincing their hearts of the truth and this condition is woeful and desperate; for I
say unto you, that all those sins, which we commit against God upon frailty or ignorance or sudden and forcible prevalence of a temptation, are yet capable of forgiveness; but the malicious blasphemy, that a man utters against the known truth of God, wilfully opposing the illumination and conviction of God's Spirit, is a sin, as uncapable of remission, as of repentance.
XII. 32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come.
And, whosoever, out of ignorance or mistaking or by the seduce ment of others, shall speak words of reproach and blasphemy against me, the Son of Man, under the colour of this outward infirmity and meanness which appeareth in me, it may be forgiven to him; but, whosoever doth despitefully, against his own knowledge and conscience, and against the light of God's Spirit shining into his soul, make opposition to the Son of God, or that saving truth that concerneth him, it shall never be forgiven to him.
XII. 33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.
There is nothing more odious to God, than a false and counterfeit profession of holiness: I could therefore wish you, Scribes and Pharisees, to be such as ye seem: either be good, and shew yourselves to be such by the fruits which ye bear; or, if ye will needs be corrupt and wicked, let the world know you for such: howsoever, your works will descry you, one time or other; the tree will be known by his fruit.
XII. 36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. Ye have, out of the evil treasure of your heart, brought forth blasphemies against me, whereof ye shall one day give a fearful reckoning: for I say unto you, that even for those words which are but idle, useless, unprofitable, men shall be called to a strict account, in the Day of Judgment; how much more, for wicked and blasphemous!
XII. 39, 40 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Nothing will satisfy the Jews, who are a wicked and adulterous brood, but signs and wonders, whereby their infidelity might be throughly shamed and repelled: still, therefore, they call for strange and miraculous works; wherewith, although in my own due time I shall abundantly convince them, yet now, for the present, Jonas the prophet shall be instead of many signs unto them: For, as Jonas the prophet, after three days and three nights spent in the whale's belly, was restored to the light again, and preached to the Ninevites; so shall the Son of Man, after part of three