Immagini della pagina

8. When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, rather, a weddingfeast," sit not down in the highest room, " in the first place;" lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him ;

9. And he that bad, " invited,thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest place;

Common prudence ought to teach them not to seat themselves first, lest the master of the feast should mortify them by desiring that they would seat themselves last.

10. But when thou art bidden," invited,go and sit down in the last place; that when he that invited thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher; then shalt thou have worship, " respect," in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.

The first argument which Christ employs to dissuade men from taking the first place is the fear of disgrace: the next is the hope of honour, which is more likely to be secured by those who shun it, than by those who seem eager to obtain it.

11. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

This maxim Christ had before delivered to his disciples, when they contended among themselves which should be the greatest: he who was the least ambitious

of honour would be deemed the most worthy of it; and it was a rule that would hold equally good in the common intercourse of life; mankind generally taking pleasure in honouring the humble, and in mortifying the proud.

12. Then said he also to him that invited him; When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not, “ invite not,” thy friends nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen nor thy rich neighbours, lest they also invite thee again, and a recompence be made thee:

13. But when thou makest a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.

By this language Christ cannot mean absolutely to prohibit men from showing respect to their rich friends, neighbours and relations, by inviting them to their houses, and making entertainments for them ; or to require that such testimonies of regard should be shown only to the poor: for he himself accepted of invitations to several entertainments, and suffered a costly perfume to be expended upon his person, rather than to be sold for the poor: but he intends to represent the little value of hospitality to the rich, when compared with hospitality to the poor; and for this purpose enjoins the one and forbids the other; just in the same manner as, he says, in another place, Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth to everlasting life; where he means no more, than that men should seck the one in preference to the other. Nor can Christ mean, by advising us to invite the poor when we make a feast, that splendid entertainments should be provided for the poor, as they now are for the rich; for this would be a disadvantage rather than a benefit to persons in the lower class of life: but he intends to recommend performing acts of beneficence for the poor, who

are in want, rather than for the rich, who stand in need of nothing.

14. And thou shalt be blessed, or, 6 happy :" for they cannot recompence thee: for thou shalt be recompenced at the resurrection of the just*.

He recommends hospitality to the poor, as a noble instance of disinterested benevolence, because there could in this case be no prospect of a return, except in a future life, when, indeed, such acts of beneficence would meet with an ample recompence. Whereas, hospitality to the rich might proceed from the narrow principle of self-interest, and arise from nothing better than a desire of experiencing from others the kindness which we show to them.

The language of Christ upon this occasion will be illustrated by what he says on another; If ye love them that love you, what reward have ye? for sinners also love those that love them; and if ye do good to them that do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same; and if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again; but love ye your enemies, &c. and your reward shall be great.


1. The conduct of Christ, in healing on the sabbath-day, teaches us a maxim which he has repeatedly endeavoured to inculcate, that humanity is a leading principle of our religion, to which ceremonial observe ances are to give place, whenever they happen to interfere, and both cannot be attended to. We also learn

See Luke xx. 35, 36. Phil. iii. 11. Amner on the resurrection, p. 96. from his conduct on this occasion, that we are to teach and practise what is right, however offensive it may be to others, and however hazardous to ourselves. He persists in the same practice, and maintains the propriety of it, although surrounded with enemies, who were watching his conduct, and earnestly looking for something whereby they might ruin his character. He had no idea that his uscfulness could be promoted by concealing the truth, or by silently countenancing what was wrong.

2. The directions which Christ gives respecting the place which men should take at public entertaininents, shows us, that the surest way to honour is bumility. Mankind are disposed to take an ill-natured kind of pleasure, in mortifying the vanity and humbling the pride of those who rank themselves above their station, and claim precedency in society as their right and their due. Such men are regarded as usurpers over the rights of others, and all men are united to oppose them; whereas the modest and humble man, who is unconscious of his own merit, or afraid to assert it, but ready to acknowledge the pre-eminence or claims of others, attracts the affection of every one, and engages their services in his favour. They esteem him most worthy of honour, who appears to think that he does not deserve it. Learn to think modestly then of your own. abilities and attainments, and be not afraid of underva. luing them. If they are underrated, there are enow who will discover the mistake, and be in haste to publish their discovery to the world, as a proof of their own discernment; they will soon advance you to the honour of which you think yourselves not worthy.

3. Let us never forget the estimation in which Christ holds hospitality to the poor, and the weighty motives by which he recommends it. It is to do good where it is most wanted, and where there is no prospect of gain. It is helping those who can make no return for your kindness, except by their thanks and their blessings. It is benevolence which is noble and godlike; such as Jesus practised towards his followers;

the main ?ses to

od inte hall

such as the Governor of the universe exercises towards his children. Nor shall it always remain without reward: the time will come, when those who have sowed bountifully in this way shall reap bountifully; when the measure received into their lap shall be fully pressed down and running over. This is what will take place at the resurrection of the just; and it must also be remembered that there will be a resurrection of the unjust; when those who have been insensible to the cries of the poor, and have neglected to supply their wants, while they spent their substance in making entertainments for the rich and great, will likewise receive according to their works. In vain will they urge the greatness of their sufferings, and the wretchedness of their condition, as an argument for a remission of their punishment. That mercy which they refused to others will be denied to them.

The language of Christ does not absolutely condern making entertainments for the rich and great, as in all cases unlawful; but only represents in a strong manner the little value of such beneficence, when compared with showing hospitality to the poor :-yet surely, in times of great and general scarcity, when one part of mankind can with much difficulty obtain the necessary means of subsistence, and suffer much from want and hunger, it cannot be right that the rich should waste the means of subsistence by luxurious feasting, and thus aggravate a calamity which is in itself sufficiently distressing

[ocr errors]

15. And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.

In the preceding verse Jesus had promised that those who showed hospitality to the poor should be recompensed at the resurrection of the just: this reminded

« IndietroContinua »