Page images

17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good ? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

reproves him for using the title of respect good ?" which, according to this reading, to him, “Good Master," which he ought means not the good being, but the good to have reserved for God alone; for the thing which was to be done in order to Rabbins were wont to exact high titles attain life. A most preponderating weight from their disciples; and under the view of authority ought to be produced from of conciliating our Lord, this young man mss. and versions before the text can be approached him in the language of inde- resigned to so disjointing and destructive corous compliment. This title, however, a criticism ; but the truth is, that the was not rejected by our Lord because evidence from versions is nearly balanced, improperly applicable to him, but be- whilst that of the mss. is beyond compacause it was improperly applied by one rison superior in favour of the common who regarded him only as a mere man, reading; which alone furnishes a consisor at best but as a human being, not as tent or indeed a conceivable meaning. the divine Messiah. The argument which For, as Campbell well observes, “nothing has therefore been sometimes built upon can be more pertinent than to say, 'If this text, to prove that Christ himself you believe that God alone is good, why disclaimed divinity, is wholly unsound; do you call me so ?' whereas nothing can for our Lord did not in this case restrain appear less pertinent than, 'If you believe one from calling him “good,” who came that God alone is good, why do you conprofessing his persuasion that he was a di. sult me concerning the good that you vine person; or one who entreated him to do must do ?!” an act which supposed divine power, and But if thou wilt enter into life, fc.-If so might be considered as implying such thou art sincerely and seriously bent a persuasion ; but one who addressed him upon the great work of salvation, keep only as a teacher, good TEACHER, 818aokale the commandments. Thus whilst he reayade, and proposed a question which all proves him for using flattering titles, and eminent teachers among the Jews pro- through hiin still more forcibly reproved fessed to answer : “What good thing the pride of the Pharisaic Rabbios, he shall I do that I may have eternal life?” condescends to answer an inquiry which For want of attending to this, the ortho appears to have been proposed with an dox, fearing the perverted use which honest intention. The answer of our Arians and Socinians have ever been Lord is not to be understood as given ready to make of this passage, have too with reference to the covenant of works, eagerly caught at a various reading, the ground on which some commentators which appears in some mss. and versions, place it, under the idea that if it was a and which is supported by several of the serious and not an hypothetic direction, fathers. It is, To je epuras nepi tou ayalov; it would be inconsistent with the doctrine “Why askest thou me concerning good?" of justification by faith. The answer is to But the internal evidence alone is destruc- be considered with reference to the young tive of this emendation, because it de- man's question, which was, not, “How prives what follows of all meaning; for shall I be justified?” but, “How shall I whether we read the sequel as in the re- enter into eternal life,” or be finally saved? ceived text, Oudeus ayalos, en un eis, o Deos, It is in no respect therefore an answer inThere is none good but one, that is, God,” consistent with Christian doctrine, which or ELS ESTIV o ayados, “There is one that is whilst it teaches that we are justified by good,” &c.; the words have no perceivable faith only, as strongly enjoins that, if we Cunnexion with the previous part of the would enter into life, and be finally reply, “Why askest thou me concerning saved, we must keep the commandments

18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, i Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness.

19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up : what lack I yet?

21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell

i Exod. xx. 13.

The connexion of this obedience with reasons have been given, why Christ the atonement, and the work of the Holy mentions only the duties of the second Spirit in the heart, it is true, is not fully table, not the first; our duty to our brought forward; but nothing is said neighbour, and not to God; but the true contrary to either, and the case did not one lies upon the surface. The love of as yet require further doctrinal expla- God, in which all the precepts of the first nation.

table are summed up, can only be made Verse 18. He saith to him, Which, &c.— manifest and proved by our obedience to He alludes to the vain distinctions made by his moral commands; and where that is, the Pharisees between greater and smaller in the true extent, and as arising from commandments, and the greatest and the right principles, the other cannot be least; or, it is perhaps still more probable, wanting. Nor is this a proof to others from the answer of our Lord, that he only; it is the best proof to ourselves, wished to know whether he referred to since we thus know, and perhaps only moral rules or to ritual observances, the thus fully know, whether we truly love importance of which had been so magni- God, or are under the influence of a mere fied by the Pharisees as to lead to the inoperative sentiment and cmotion. neglect of “ the weightier matters of the Verse 20. All these things have I kept law,” justice, mercy, and charity. Those from my youth up.-From this it appears, commandments which our Lord selects as that, though a young man, he was not necessary to be observed, do not exclude very young; for his answer supposes a the others contained in the two tables, considerable space between his coming to but are adduced as INSTANCES of moral, in the knowledge of good and evil, and the opposition to ritual, obedience; and he present time. Indeed, his being a ruler, leaves the decalogue to bring in the gene- sufficiently indicates that he was not in ral cornmand, “ Thou shalt love thy the common acceptation a youth. That, neighbour as thyself,” which is in Levit. as to the letter and his outward conduct, xix. 18, in order to show that he compre- he had observed these commande, is prohended all the moral precepts of the law, bable; and that he had been from his childas well as those of the decalogue. This hood serious and moral. But that he knew manner of quoting a part for the whole not “ the length and breadth” of the law was familiar with the Jews. It is also in its spirituality, is abundantly manifest; observable, that our Lord does not follow and that he formed much too high an the order of the commands of the second estimate of his virtue, the sequel speedily table; probably to show, as the Jews proved. themselves express it, that “there is nei. Verse 21. If thou wilt be perfect.The ther first nor last in the law ;” and, that question of the young man, What lack I such is the perfection and fulness of every yet? that is, In what am I deficient? exprecept, that it is of no consequence plains the meaning of the term perfect, as which is first or last quoted. Various it is here used. If thou wilt be complete,

that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful : for he had great possessions.

so that nothing shall be wanting in the earliest youth; the affection with wbich in order to attain eternal life, fully re- our Lord regarded him; the sorrowful nounce the world, and become a spiritual struggle of spirit with which he departed; man. Sell all that thou hast, and give to and, to close the whole, the perfect silence the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in respecting him afterwards, which renders heaven : and come and follow me.-Thus it probable that he gained the world, which was he brought to the test. Christ ap- he could not sacrifice, and lost his soul. proved of his seriousness and general It is left on record as a solemn warning character; and beholding in him what against preferring the things of earth to was amiable and hopeful, as it is said by the interests of our salvation; and espeMark. “ he loved him,” he manifested cially to guard the young against closing a strong emotion of affection towards their hearts against the calls of Christ, him: and now throws open to him that under the influence of worldly hopes and gate of life which he desired to enter. In pleasures. On this young ruler being a word, he invites him to become one of required to sell his property and renounce his select and more intimate disciples, to his civil offices and rank, and to follow be trained up by him to a more perfect Christ, it may be remarked, that not only knowledge of spiritual things, and to be did He who knew the heart of man see thereby qualified to teach them to others. that this way was necessary for his salva. But this privilege he could only obtain by tion, but that it was no more than he making sacrifices ; and, much as Christ had required of all the apostles, who left loved him, he did not lighten the cross all and followed him, in order to be his which he was to take up; and for a reason immediate and peculiar disciples; and which ought to sustain us under the further, that, for a short time, and for crosses which may be appointed to us to reasons arising out of the peculiar state of bear: he did not lighten it, because he the Jewish church after the day of penteloved him. This was his only way to life : cost, all the rich were required to sell a smaller demand might be made upon their possessions, and form a common others consistent with their safety; but fund, out of which the wants of all were his secret attachment to wealth, rank, and to be supplied, whilst they all gave themexternal influence could only thus be de- selves up to spiritual exercises, in order tected and exposed to himself, and be to lay the foundations of the new religion cured by one mighty act of self-renun- broad and deep among the wondering ciation. But here his feeble virtue failed; people. That this was a temporary for he went away sorrowful ; not cavilling arrangement, will be shown in the proper at the answer, not angry, but grieving, place. In this instance, however, the inwardly convinced that Christ had opened young man was not required to bring his to him the only sure way of life, yet so wealth into the common stock, from entangled by earthly affections, that he which Christ and his disciples were supcould not make an effort towards it. For ported. It was too great a property to he had great possessions. This is a touch- be so applied. The whole wealth our ing relation, heightened at every step by Lord admitted appears to have been carthe seriousness of the young man's in- ried by Judas in a bag, which was requiry after eternal life; the respectful plenished as occasion required by the manner of his approach to Christ; the small contributions of a few pious perexcellence of his moral character from his sons, chiefly women ; and even this was

23 & Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

regarded with so little attention, that gence; whereas the disciple of Christ is Judas occasionally robbed it without being to deny himself, and keep his body under called to account, although the omniscient subjection : they are a trust given for the eye of our Lord could not be deceived. public good; but great is the danger lest The injunction, therefore, was, “ Sell all the stewards of them should be found thou hast, and give to the poor ;” and unfaithful, and spend upon their own our Lord thereby showed his disinterested. vanities what God designed for others, ness in the advice he gave, whilst all sus- and for their sakes made the rich the picion would have been precluded, had almoners of his bounty : they naturally the young man had the courage to follow give their possessors influence and power; the advice.

but these are among the strongest tempVerse 23. A rich man shall hardly enter, tations to arrogance, and self-will, and 80.-He may enter, but he must do so self-seeking, all of which are forbidden by Buokolws, with difficulty; and whether the the meekness and simplicity of our relikingdom of heaven be understood of the gion. How difficult then is it for a rich church on earth, or the state of the glo- man to sink into that spirit of self-renunrified in heaven, the words are equally ciation, in which alone he can enter applicable. To enter the visible church Christ's spiritual kingdom, remain a when in a state of prosperity and honour, lively member of it, and acquire a full when in fact, as in nations nominally meetness for the future state of felicity! Christian, that church embraces the Verse 24. It is easier for a camel,, is not difficult, being only a matter It has been disputed among critics wheof education and example ; but to be ad- ther kaunaov, a camel, or Kajumov, a cable mitted among the truly humble and spirit- rope, should be here read; and Euthyual, whose names are written in heaven, mius and Theophylact contend that both and who only are considered in truth as words have the latter meaning. But composing “ the kingdom of heaven," kaminoy has no support from mss. ; and the rich man must make the same renun- that kaunaov signifies a camel, cannot be ciations of worldly affections and pride doubted, however otherwise it may be now as in the time of Christ ; and what- figuratirely used. Thus in the proverb, ever difficulties riches then presented, “To strain at a gnat and to swallow a exist now. The hinderances offered by camel,” we must understand the animal riches to wisdom and virtue were per- so called, and not surely a cable rope. ceived by heathen sages, and remarks to Some mss. of authority, for dleddelv, have this effect appear in their writings; but ELSEVOELV ; but the sense is not thereby aftheir views of virtue were superficial and fected. The expression is proverbial and defective, and the case was but very par- hyperbolical; and as in the Jewish writtially known to them. Riches naturally ings we find impossible or absurd endeaentangle the heart; but earthly and hea. vours compared to an attempt to make venly affections are incompatible : wealth “an elephant pass through the eye of a insensibly nurtures up a feeling of supe- needle,” of which Buxtorf and Lightfoot riority to others; but in the Christian have given examples, there is no reason church euch is to prefer another before for departing from the usual sense. Our himself: they tempt to ease and indul. Lord here intends to express an impossis

25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved ?

26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible

27 q i Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore ?

j Mark x. 28; Luke xviii. 28.

bility, not a mere difficulty ; but whether ayales aduvatov, “ But it is impossible that an attempt be made to pass a camel or a they who are very rich should be good cable rope through the eye of a needle, also.” For the sense of the term is as papus, from pattw, to sew, the impossibi- absolute in these words of Plato as those lity is expressed with equal strength. of our Lord : and what is more concluThe conjecture of Harmer in his Obser- sive is, that to take aduvatov to signify vations, that there is here an allusion to difficult, destroys the point of the text; the Arabs training their camels to kneel for we must suppose that, though diffi. so as to enter low door-ways, though with cult, it might be done without God, which difficulty, is wholly absurd.

is contrary to the whole doctrine of our Verse 25. Exceedingly amazed.—St. salvation. With men, left to themselves, Mark says, “ astonished out of measure," and without the special succours of an as still clinging to their notions of an omnipotent grace, it is utterly impossible earthly monarchy. That such a kingdom for a rich man to become so humble, so of heaven should exclude the rich and heavenly-minded, so simple in intention, great, might naturally exceedingly sur- so self-denying, as is necessary for his prise them; and indeed might equally being a member of the true, spiritual surprise us but for what follows. For church of Christ ; but with God all things though we are instructed in the spiritual are possible, which is not to be taken as nature of the dominion of Christ, yet we an abstract truth merely, but is applicaexpect that it shall become universal in ble to the occasion. God, by his powerextent, and impress its influence upon ful and renewing influence upon the all ranks, according to the prophecies. hearts of the rich, can bring them into But if it be impossible for the rich to this required state of mind, and allow enter, we might ask, whether as such them to retain their rank and riches, yet they are to be excluded ; or whether they so that dignity, leisure, wealth, and inmust all part with their wealth as a neces- fluence shall all be consecrated to his sary qualification for admission. Even service, employed for the benefit of man. then we should be surrounded with diffi. kind, and, by a reflected influence, for the culties ; because if one parted with his spiritual benefit of the rich themselves. riches, others would gather them; and if This is one of the noblest triumphs of the property, by an equal distribution, were grace of God in man; but how few of the to be diffused among all, how the affairs rich seek it, and thus become “rich toof life could be carried on would be a wards God!” Such, however, even in perplexing inquiry. But the whole is our Lord's days, were Nicodemus, Joseph relieved by what follows: with men this is of Arimathea, Joanna the wife of Chusa, impossible. Aduvatov is not to be here Herod's steward, and many illustrious taken in the sense of hard or difficult. examples afterwards. And an example which has been quoted Verse 27. We have forsaken all, and from Plato in favour of this softer sense followed thee ; what, &c.—This question is not satisfactory: alovoies d'ou apodga kat appears to have been dictated by Peter's

« PreviousContinue »