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Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware 17 of men.
For they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before 18 governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and
ed into the conflict. What an in- limited to forty among the Jews. fallible evidence is here of his up- Deut. xxv. 2, 3. Thirty-nine were rightness and honesty; his infinite usually given, a scourge of three removal from deception, or enthu- cords being struck thirteen times, siasm! The figure here used is with greater or less force in profound elsewhere, of comparing the portion to the crime. The same bad to wolves and other wild beasts, punishment was in use among other and the innocent to sheep and nations, and the number of stripes lambs. Lam. iii. 10. Mat. vii. 15. proportioned to the offence comActs xx. 29. Is. xl. 11, Joho xxi. mitted. The punishment was a 15, 16.-Wise as serpents, and harm- very painful one, as the blows fell less as doves. The Apostles were to upon the naked back and sides, and combine two qualities seldom found sometimes extended round to the together; sagacity and simplicity ; breast, cutting up the skin and flesh. to imitate two animals most unlike The victim stooped forward, and each other; the one the most sub was sometimes bound to a low. piltle, the other the most simple in lar, that the person inflicting the
So the perfect character stripes might do it to better advanis even that which holds in the tage. The sentence was execunicest equipoise varying traits; ted sometimes in the synagogues. the lion heart and lamb-like inno- Mat. xxiii. 34. Mark xiii. 9. Acts cence; the wisdom of the serpent xxii. 19. xxvi. 11. Our Saviour and the simplicity of the dove. himself suffered under this brutal The Egyptians used the serpent as punishment, though unconvicted of a symbol of wisdom. In their mis- any offence. Luke xxiii. 15. John sion the Apostles would be exposed xix. 1. to difficulties requiring the utmost 18. Before governors and kings. caution and prudence, and at the Though to all human appearance same time they were vehicles of a the cause of the Gospel was too doctrine demanding entire sinceri- humble to attract such notice, yet ty and simplicity. Rom. xvi. 19. Jesus foresaw what agitation it was
17. Beware of men. Be on your destined to produce, and that kingguard against their plots, for they doms and empires would not, in all will seek to ensnare and destroy their fancied strength, be able to you.--They will deliver you up to the shut it out or suppress it.- For my councils, and they will scourge you in sake. For the sake of my Gospel. their synagogues. This was actual - For a testimony against them and ly fulfilled upon many occasions the Gentiles. Or, a testimony to afterwards. Acts iv. 5—7, 15. v. them and the Gentiles. The wit40. 2 Cor. xi. 24. The councils ness which the Apostles and disciwere the Sanhedrim and other tri- ples bore to the truth of Christianibunals among the Jews. Scourg- ty, on those occasions when they ing was a severe punishment, in were arraigned before the civil auficted upon the body with rods or thorities, contributed materially to thongs. The number of blows was its advancement. The book of
19 the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how
or what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in that same hour 20 what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of 21 your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up
the brother to death, and the father the child; and the children shall 22 rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death; and
ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. But he that endur23 eth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this
Acts, and succeeding ecclesiastical luminations and endowments. God history, establish this point with re- himself would aid them. They peated instances, and show Jesus need not fear, therefore, kings or to have predicted nothing but what emperors. The encouragement was was fulfilled.
the more needed, as the people of 19, 20. See Luke xii. 11, 12. the east look upon their rulers,
19. Take no thought, &c. Be not kings, and governors with a superanxious as to the matter or manner stitious awe, as if they were verily of your defence. They might well gods. be alarmed, poor and unlearned as 21. We have in the prediction some of them were, at the prospect contained in this verse, which was of being summoned before the afterwards frequently fulfilled to great and powerful rulers and the letter during the persecutions statesmen of the world, unless of the Christians, another instance some assurance were given them both of Christ's prophetic power that they would not be deserted at and his open-mindedness. When such crises.-For it shall be given in after years the Apostles were you in that same hour what ye shall treated with every indignity and speak. It would appear from the cruelty, and in some cases their individuality of those speeches of nwn friends turned against them, the Apostles and disciples on re- they could not complain that they cord, that their inspiration was not had not been forewarned of their of a kind to supersede the activity difficulties. And if their Master's of their own minds. They were prophecies in relation to their earthnot passive mouth-pieces of the ly trials held so true, they might Divinity. But they were aided and well believe that his promises of illuminated by the Holy Spirit. a better life after death would likeConscious of the divine help and wise be gloriously verified. History authority, they were lifted above relates that their nearest friends all fear, and spoke with a force and and relatives sometimes betrayed point which none of their adversa- the Christians, and consigned them ries could gainsay.
to modes of torture and death too 20. It is not ye that speak, but the horrible to be described. Spirit of your Father. Mat. ix. 13, 22. Hated of all men. Univerand Jobn xii. 44, bave like idioms. sally, not literally by every man.It is not so much ye that speak, as For my name's sake. Because they the spirit of God. Ex. iv. 12. A were Christians. 1 Peter iv. 14, 16. strong expression, to imply that He that endureth to the end shall they would be sustained on those be saved. This would be true in trying occasions by supernatural il- many ways. He who bore himself
city, flee ye into another. For verily I say unto you, ye shall not
mansully to the last, and acted with ish festivals and the national rites
mind them that they need expect 23. Flee ye into another. Acts no better fate for themselves than ix. 30. xvii. 10. They were not their Master suffered. They should rashly and needlessly to lose their not repine under their trials, for lives. When persecuted, they were their Lord had already endured the to flee, if possible ; and by thus do same or greater. John xv. 20. ing they did not compromise or Similar language is also used for betray their cause, but helped it other purposes. Luke vi. 40. John forward, inasmuch as wherever xiii. 16. they were scattered they preached 25. It is enough for the disciple, the truth. Thus the persecution &c. The disciple must be contentmentioned in Acts viii. 4 gave a ed to suffer the same hardships and wider extension to the Gospel, and persecutions as his Master - Beelzethe purpose of its enemies was de- bub. To escape the necessity of feated. — Ye shall not have gone over acknowledging his divine authority, the cities of Israel, &c. III treated and yet being unable to deny the in one place, they were to choose fact of Christ's miracles, the Scribes another as the sphere of their exer and Pharisees imputed them to the tions. They would not in this way agency of evil spirits. “He casteth visit all the towns in Palestine be out devils by Beelzebub, the prince fore the coming of the Son of Man. of devils.” Mat. xii. 24, 27. The — Till the Son of Man be come. meaning of the name is lord of Much obscurity envelopes this flies, or lord of filth. 2 Kings i. 2, phrase, and many different inter- 16. "He is called the God of Ěkron. pretations have been advanced. The inhabitants of that region apBut the most probable is that which pear to have worshipped him as a regards the coming of the Son of protector from the insects which Man as the time when, about forty ravaged their land. “ He is never years after the crucifixion, Jerusa. called a devil, or represented as a lem was destroyed, the temple fallen angel.” Little is known, razed to the foundations, the Jew- however, of the connection be
26 how much more shall they call them of his household ? Fear them
not therefore. For there is nothing covered, that shall not be reveal27 ed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness,
that speak ye in light; and what ye hear in the ear, that preach 28 ye upon the house-tops. And fear not them which kill the body, but
are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to de29 stroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a far
thing ? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your
tween the term as used in the Old whispered in the ear, and then Testament and in the New. It is made it public to the audience.sufficient to understand that it was House-tops. The houses of the a term of the deepest insult and east had flat roofs, which in mild scorn which Jewish hatred could weather were much frequented at devise to heap upon the head of certain hours of the day. The Jesus. And the disciples could ex minister of the synagogue, accordpect no milder treatment than their ing to Lightfoot, gave notice of the Master had received in this respect. coming of the Sabbath by sound
26–33. See Luke xii. 2-9. ing with a trumpet six times from 26. Therefore. Better, neverthe a high house-top:
Among the less, fear them not.–For there is, Turks the hour of prayer is simi&c. The reason why they were Jarly announced by a crier. The not to fear contempt and persecu- phrase denotes therefore that what tion was, that the truth was great, was spoken secretly should be proand would prevail; Christianity claimed in the most public manwould gloriously triumph, and their ner. course of conduct would be justi 28. While you are thus conspicfied in the eyes of all maukind; uously preaching, fear not, Jesus and when the secrets of all hearts says, human scoffers and persecuwere revealed, they would be re tors ; rather stand in awe before compensed with eternal life for all Him who is not only master of our they had labored and suffered on present, but also of our eternal deseartb. Eccles. xii. 14. 1 Cor. iv. 5. tiny, and who can punish in the
27. What I tell you in darkness, severest manner not only body, but &c. The instructions I give you soul, in the future world. Let the in private are to be publicly pro- fear of him conquer all other fears. claimed. What I teach you in ob- The disciples would be tempted by scurity is to go forth in light and temporal hopes and apprehensions, glory, and fill the earth. Je- but these were to be subdued by sus had not one doctrine for the motives drawn from God and eterinitiated, and another for the igno- nity. rant, like the priests and philoso 29. Farthing. Equal to about phers of old," but his teachings seven mills of our currency.-One were alike intended for all condi- of them, &c. Two sparrows were tions of men.-What ye hear in the worth but a farthing, and not one ear, &c. This is thought to refer to of those creatures, thus cheap in a Jewish custom. The doctors of the eyes of men, was neglected by the law had interpreters, who re
the kind Creator. The beautiful ceived what they said by its being argument is, If God takes such in
Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 30
terest and care of the least of birds, every act, Christ may be confessed. how much more will he guard his We are to manifest everywhere dear child, man,--Without your Fa- that we are his disciples, by obeyther. Without his oversight and ing his commandmenis and breathpermission. “Not one of them is ing his spirit. In the church, in forgotten before God.”
the family, in the scenes of busi30. Another illustration of the ness, in the festival, and at the su. minuteness of the Divine Provi- neral, we are to show ourselves dence. God's care extends, as well Christians, by trusting, following, as his knowledge, to the smallest loving, imitating our blessed Masparticulars. How surely then will ter. Thus confessing him to be he protect and bless his human off our Saviour before men, we are asspring, his saints, his Apostles! If sured that he will acknowledge us their hairs are numbered, how as his disciples in the presence of much more will their heads be God, and in the realms of the blest. shielded, and their souls strength 33. But on the other hand, if his ened! 1 Sam. xiv. 45.
disciples did not adhere to him 31. Mat. vi. 26. Since the Di- through evil report and through vine Being provides for animals, good report, if they denied him, he much more will be for his moral would of course not acknowledge creatures, made in his likeness, use them to be his followers, unless, ful in advancing his designs, and like Peter, they repented again, and destined to rise and improve for professed to be his disciples. The
Watching over the sparrow, declaration in these two he is pledged not to neglect man. served to animate and warn his folSuch considerations were eminent- lowers and others at that time, and ly fitted to soothe and cheer the they are not less applicable now. disciples of Jesus in their approach. If we confess Christ before men, ing trials; and they are equally he will confess us before his Father adapted now to comfort the lonely and our Father. If we deny him and suffering, and strengthen all before men, he will deny us before our hearts for the dangers and trials God and all good beings. Let the of life.
proinise cheer us, and the admoni32. This verse is connected with tion warn us. the 27th. The intervening portion
34. Think not that I am come, &c. consists of encouragements to the The effect of the coming of our persecuted. What Jesus taught his Lord is here put, by a strong figure disciples privately, they were to of speech, for the object or purpreach in the most public manner. pose of that coming. It certainly They were to acknowledge them never was the direct aim of Jesus selves his followers openly, before to send strife into families or comthe world.
In every scene, and munities. His intentions were pa