on Luke 9 :62
Put his hand to the plough - Can any person properly discharge the work of the ministry who is engaged in secular employments? A farmer and a minister of the Gospel are incompatible characters. As a person who holds the plough cannot keep on a straight furrow if he look behind him; so he who is employed in the work of the ministry cannot do the work of an evangelist, if he turn his desires to worldly profits. A good man has said: "He who thinks it necessary to cultivate the favor of the world is not far from betraying the interests of God and his Church." Such a person is not fit, ευθετος, properly disposed, has not his mind properly directed towards the heavenly inheritance, and is not fit to show the way to others. In both these verses there is a plain reference to the call of Elisha. See 1 Kings 19:19, etc.
1. Considering the life of mortification and self-denial which Christ and his disciples led, it is surprising to find that any one should voluntarily offer to be his disciple. But there is such an attractive influence in truth, and such a persuasive eloquence in the consistent steady conduct of a righteous man, that the first must have admirers, and the latter, imitators. Christianity, as it is generally exhibited, has little attractive in it; and it is no wonder that the cross of Christ is not prized, as the blessings of it are not known; and they can be known and exhibited by him only who follows Christ fully.
2. It is natural for man to wish to do the work of God in his own spirit; hence he is ready to call down fire and brimstone from heaven against those who do not conform to his own views of things. A spirit of persecution is abominable. Had man the government of the world, in a short time, not only sects and parties, but even true religion itself, would be banished from the face of the earth. Meekness, long-suffering, and benevolence, become the followers of Christ; and his followers should ever consider that his work can never be done but in his own spirit.
Since the notes on Matthew were published, I have received from Granville Sharp, Esq., a short Treatise, entitled, Remarks on an important Text, (viz. Matthew 16:18), which has long been perverted by the Church of Rome, In Support Of Her Vain And Baneful Pretensions To A Superiority Or Supreme Dominion Over All Other Episcopal Churches.
As I should feel it an honor to introduce the name of such a veteran in the cause of religion, liberty, and learning, into my work, so it gives me pleasure to insert the substance of his tract here, as forming a strong argument against a most Anti-christian doctrine.
"And I also say unto thee, That thou art Peter; and upon this Rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Matthew 16:18.
"The Greek word πετρος (Petros or Peter) does not mean a rock, though it has, indeed, a relative meaning to the word πετρα, a rock; for it signifies only a little piece of a rock, or a stone, that has been dug out of a rock; whereby the dignity of the real foundation intended by our Lord, which he expressed by the prophetical figure of Petra, (a rock), must necessarily be understood to bear a proportionable superiority of dignity and importance above the other preceding word, Petros; as petra, a real rock, is, comparatively, superior to a mere stone, or particle from the rock; because a rock is the regular figurative expression in Holy Scripture for a Divine Protector: יהוה סלעי Jehovah (is) my rock, (2 Samuel 22:2, and Psalm 18:2). Again, אלהי צורי, my God (is) my rock; (2 Samuel 22:2, and Psalm 18:2); and again, ומי צור מבלעדי אלהינו, and who (is) a rock except our God? 2 Samuel 22:32.
"Many other examples may be found throughout the Holy Scriptures; but these six alone are surely sufficient to establish the true meaning of the figurative expression used by our Lord on this occasion; as they demonstrate that nothing of less importance was to be understood than that of our Lord's own Divine divinity, as declared by St. Peter in the preceding context - 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God!'
"That our Lord really referred to this declaration of Peter, relating to his own Divine dignity, as being the true rock, on which he would build his Church, is established beyond contradiction by our Lord himself, in the clear distinction which he maintained between the stone (πετρος, petros) and the rock, (πετρα, petra), by the accurate grammatical terms in which both these words are expressly recorded. (For whatsoever may have been the language in which they were really spoken, perhaps in Chaldee or Syriac, yet in this point the Greek record is our only authoritative instructer). The first word, πετρος, being a masculine noun, signifies merely a stone; and the second word, πετρα, though it is a feminine noun, cannot signify any thing of less magnitude and importance than a rock, or strong mountain of defense. The true meaning of the name was at first declared by our Lord to be Cephas, a stone; and a learned commentator, Edward Leigh, Esq., asserts that πετρος, doth always signify a Stone, never a rock. Critica Sacra, p. 325.
"With respect to the first. - The word πετρος, petros, in its highest figurative sense of a stone, when applied to Peter, can represent only one true believer, or faithful member of Christ's Church, that is, one out of the great multitude of true believers in Christ, who, as figurative stones, form altogether the glorious spiritual building of Christ's Church, and not the foundation on which that Church is built; because that figurative character cannot, consistently with truth, be applied to any other person than to God, or to Christ alone, as I have already demonstrated by several undeniable texts of Holy Scripture. And though even Christ himself is sometimes, in Holy Scripture, called a stone, (λιθος, but not πετρος), yet, whenever this figurative expression is applied to him, it is always with such a clear distinction of superiority over all other figurative stones as will not admit the least idea of any vicarial stone to be substituted in his place; as, for instance: He is called 'the head stone of the corner,' (Psalm 118:22), 'in Zion a precious corner stone,' (Isaiah 28:16), by whom alone the other living stones of the spiritual house are rendered 'acceptable to God;' as St. Peter himself (previous to his citation of that text of Isaiah) has clearly declared in his address to the Churches dispersed throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia; wherein he manifestly explains that very text of Isaiah, as follows: - 'Ye also,' (says the apostle), 'as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices Acceptable To God, By' (or through) 'Jesus Christ.' (1 Peter 2:5). Thus plainly acknowledging the true foundation, on which the other living stones of the primitive catholic Church were built, in order to render them 'acceptable to God,' as 'a holy priesthood.'
And the apostle then proceeds (in the very next verse) to his citation of the above-mentioned text from Isaiah: - 'Wherefore also,' (says he, 1 Peter 2:6), 'it is contained in the Scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a Chief Corner Stone, elect, precious; and he that believeth on him' (επ' αυτῳ, on him, that is, on Jesus Christ, the only Chief Corner Stone) 'shall not be confounded. Unto you, therefore, which believe' (he) 'Is Precious,' (or, an honor; as rendered in the margin), 'but unto them which be disobedient' (he is, δε, also) 'the stone which the builders disallowed, the same' (οὑτος, for there is no other person that can be entitled to this supreme distinction in the Church) 'is made the Head Of The Corner.'
"From this whole argument of St. Peter, it is manifest that there cannot be any other true head of the Church than Christ himself; so that the pretense for setting up a vicarial head on earth, is not only contrary to St. Peter's instruction to the eastern Churches, long after Christ's ascent into heaven; but also (with respect to the inexpediency and impropriety of acknowledging such a vicar on earth as the Roman pretender) is equally contrary to our Lord's own instruction to his disciples (and, of course, also contrary to the faith of the true primitive catholic Church throughout the whole world) when he promised them, that, 'Where two or three are gathered together in my name' (said our Lord Jesus, the true rock of the Church) 'there am I in the midst of them,' Matthew 18:20.
"So that the appointment of any 'vicar on earth,' to represent that rock or eternal head of the Church whose continual presence, even with the smallest congregations on earth, is so expressly promised, would be not only superfluous and vain, but must also be deemed a most ungrateful affront to the benevolent Promiser of his continual presence; such as must have been suggested by our spiritual enemies to promote an apostasy from the only sure foundation, on which the faith, hope, and confidence of the true catholic Church can be built and supported!
"Thus, I trust that the true sense of the first noun, πετρος, a stone, is here fairly stated; and also, its relative meaning to the second noun, πετρα, a rock, as far as it can reasonably be deemed applicable to the Apostle Peter.
on Luke 9 :62
No man, having put his hand ... - To put one's hand to a plow is a proverbial expression to signify undertaking any business. In order that a plowman may accomplish his work, it is necessary to look onward - to be intent on his employment - not to be looking back with regret that he undertook it. So in religion. He that enters on it must do it with his whole heart, He that comes still loving the world - still looking with regret on its pleasures, its wealth, and its honors - that has not "wholly" forsaken them as his portion, cannot be a Christian, and is not fit for the kingdom of God. How searching is this test to those who profess to be Christians! And how solemn the duty of all people to renounce all earthly objects, and to be not only "almost," but "altogether," followers of the Son of God! It is perilous to tamper with the world - to look at its pleasures or to seek its society. He that would enter heaven must come with a heart full of love to God; giving "all" into his hands, and prepared always to give up all his property, his health, his friends, his body, his soul to God, when he demands them, or he cannot be a Christian. Religion is everything or nothing. He that is not willing to sacrifice "everything" for the cause of God, is really willing to sacrifice nothing.
on Luke 9 :62
9:62 Is fit for the kingdom of God - Either to propagate or to receive it.