Luke 14

CHAPTER XIV.

Christ heals a man ill of the dropsy, on a Sabbath day, 1-6.

He inculcates humility by a parable, 7-11.

The poor to be fed, and not the rich, 12-14.

The parable of the great supper, 15-24.

How men must become disciples of Christ, 25-27.

The parable of the prudent builder, who estimates the cost

before he commences his work, 28-30.

And of the provident king, 31, 32.

The use of these parables, 33.

The utility of salt while in its strength and perfection; and

its total uselessness when it has lost its savour; 34, 35.

NOTES ON CHAP. XIV.

Verse 1. Chief Pharisees] Or, one of the rulers of the

Pharisees. A man who was of the sect of the Pharisees, and one

of the rulers of the people.

To eat bread on the Sabbath day] But why is it that there should

be an invitation or dinner given on the Sabbath day? Answer: The

Jews purchased and prepared the best viands they could procure for

the Sabbath day, in order to do it honour. See several proofs in

Lightfoot. As the Sabbath is intended for the benefit both of the

body and soul of man, it should not be a day of austerity or

fasting, especially among the labouring poor. The most wholesome

and nutritive food should be then procured if possible; that both

body and soul may feel the influence of this Divine appointment,

and give God the glory of his grace. On this blessed day, let

every man eat his bread with gladness and singleness of heart,

praising God. In doing this, surely there is no reason that a man

should feed himself without fear. If the Sabbath be a festival,

let it be observed unto the Lord; and let no unnecessary acts be

done; and avoid that bane of religious solemnity, giving and

receiving visits on the Lord's day.

They watched him.] Or, were maliciously watching,

παρατηρουμενοι-from παρα, intens. or denoting ill, and

τηρεω, to observe, watch. Raphelius, on Mr 3:2, has proved

from a variety of authorities that this is a frequent meaning of

the word:-clam et insidiose observare, quid alter agat-to observe

privately and insidiously what another does. The context plainly

proves that this is the sense in which it is to be taken here. The

conduct of this Pharisee was most execrable. Professing friendship

and affection, he invited our blessed Lord to his table, merely

that he might have a more favourable opportunity of watching his

conduct, that he might accuse him, and take away his life. In

eating and drinking, people feel generally less restraint than at

other times, and are apt to converse more freely. The man who can

take such an advantage over one of his own guests must have a

baseness of soul, and a fellness of malice, of which, we would

have thought, for the honour of human nature, that devils alone

were capable. Among the Turks, if a man only taste salt with

another, he holds himself bound, in the most solemn manner, never

to do that person any injury. I shall make no apology for

inserting the following anecdote.

A public robber in Persia, known by the name of Yacoub, ibn

Leits Saffer, broke open the treasury of Dirhem, the governor of

Sistan. Notwithstanding the obscurity of the place, he observed,

in walking forward, something that sparkled a little: supposing it

to be some precious stones, he put his hand on the place, and

taking up something, touched it with his tongue, and found it to

be salt. He immediately left the treasury, without taking the

smallest article with him! The governor finding in the morning

that the treasury had been broken open, and that nothing was

carried off, ordered it to be published, that "Whoever the robber

was who had broke open the treasury, if he declared himself, he

should be freely pardoned, and that he should not only receive no

injury, but should be received into the good graces of the

governor." Confiding in the promise of Dirhem, Yacoub appeared.

The governor asked; How it came to pass that, after having broken

open the treasury, he took nothing away? Yacoub related the affair

as it happened, and added, "I believed that I was become your

FRIEND in eating of your SALT, and that the LAWS of that

friendship would not permit me to touch any thing that appertained

to you." D'Herbelot. Bib. Orient. p. 415. How base must that man

be, who professes Christianity, and yet makes his own table a

snare for his friend!

Verse 2. The dropsy.] υδρωπικος, dropsical; from υδωπ,

water, and ωψ, the countenance, because in this disorder the face

of the patient is often very much bloated. Probably the insidious

Pharisee had brought this dropsical man to the place, not doubting

that our Lord's eye would affect his heart, and that he would

instantly cure him; and then he could most plausibly accuse him

for a breach of the Sabbath. If this were the case, and it is

likely, how deep must have been the perfidy and malice of the

Pharisee!

Verse 4. They held their peace.] They could not answer the

question but in the affirmative; and as they were determined to

accuse him if he did heal the man, they could not give an answer

but such as would condemn themselves, and therefore they were

silent.

Verse 5. An ass or an ox] See Clarke on Lu 13:15.

Verse 7. They chose out the chief rooms] When custom and law

have regulated and settled places in public assemblies, a man who

is obliged to attend may take the place which belongs to him,

without injury to himself or to others: when nothing of this

nature is settled, the law of humility, and the love of order,

are the only judges of what is proper. To take the highest place

when it is not our due is public vanity: obstinately to refuse it

when offered is another instance of the same vice; though private

and concealed. Humility takes as much care to avoid the

ostentation of an affected refusal, as the open seeking of a

superior place. See Quesnel. In this parable our Lord only repeats

advices which the rabbins had given to their pupils, but were too

proud to conform to themselves. Rabbi Akiba said, Go two or three

seats lower than the place that belongs to thee, and sit there

till they say unto thee, Go up higher; but do not take the

uppermost seat, lest they say unto thee, Come down: for it is

better that they should say unto thee, Go up, go up; than that

they should say, Come down, come down. See Schoettgen.

Verse 11. For whosoever exalteth himself, &c.] This is the

unchangeable conduct of God: he is ever abasing the proud, and

giving grace, honour, and glory to the humble.

Verse 12. Call not thy friends, &c.] Our Lord certainly does not

mean that a man should not entertain at particular times, his

friends, &c.; but what he inculcates here is charity to the poor;

and what he condemns is those entertainments which are given to

the rich, either to flatter them, or to procure a similar return;

because the money that is thus criminally laid out properly

belongs to the poor.

Verse 14. For they cannot recompense thee] Because you have done

it for God's sake only, and they cannot make you a recompense,

therefore God will consider himself your debtor, and will

recompense you in the resurrection of the righteous. There are

many very excellent sayings among the rabbins on the excellence of

charity. They produce both Job and Abraham as examples of a very

merciful disposition. "Job, say they, had an open door on each of

the four quarters of his house, that the poor, from whatever

direction they might come, might find the door of hospitality open

to receive them. But Abraham was more charitable than Job, for he

travelled over the whole land in order to find out the poor, that

he might conduct them to his house."

Verse 15. That shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.] This is

spoken in conformity to the general expectation of the Jews, who

imagined that the kingdom of the Messiah should be wholly of a

secular nature. Instead of αρτον, bread, EKMS-V, more than one

hundred others, with some versions and fathers, read αριστον,

a dinner. This is probably the best reading, as it is likely it

was a dinner at which they now sat; and it would be natural for

the person to say, Happy is he who shall dine in the kingdom of

God. It does not appear that there was any but this person

present, who was capable of relishing the conversation of our

Lord, or entering at all into its spiritual reference.

Verse 16. - 24. A certain man made a great supper, &c.] See a

similar parable to this, though not spoken on the same occasion,

explained, Mt 22:1-14.

Verse 17. Sent his servant] Messengers are sent to invite the

guests to a Hindoo feast; when not only relations, but all persons

of the same division of caste in the neighbourhood, are invited. A

refusal to attend is considered as a great affront.

Verse 22. And yet there is room.] On some occasions, so numerous

are the guests that there is not room for therm to sit in the

court of the person who makes the feast, and a larger is therefore

borrowed.

Verse 23. Compel them to come in] αναγκασον, Prevail on them

by the most earnest entreaties. The word is used by Matthew,

Mt 14:22, and by Mark, Mr 6:45; in both which places, when

Christ is said, αναγκαζειν, to constrain his disciples to get into

the vessel, nothing but his commanding or persuading them to do it

can be reasonably understood. The Latins use cogo, and compello,

in exactly the same sense, i.e. to prevail on by prayers,

counsels, entreaties, &c. See several examples in Bishop PEARCE,

and in KYPKE. No other kind of constraint is ever recommended in

the Gospel of Christ; every other kind of compulsion is

antichristian, can only be submitted to by cowards and knaves, and

can produce nothing but hypocrites, See at the end of the chapter.

Lu 14:34

Verse 26. And hate not] Matthew, Mt 10:37, expresses the true

meaning of this word, when he says, He who loveth his father and

mother MORE than me. In Mt 6:24, he uses the word

hate in the same sense. When we read, Ro 9:13,

Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated, the meaning is

simply, I have loved Jacob-the Israelites, more than Esau-the

Edomites; and that this is no arbitrary interpretation of the word

hate, but one agreeable to the Hebrew idiom, appears from what is

said on Ge 29:30, 31, where Leah's being

hated is explained by Rachel's being loved more than Leah. See

also De 21:15-17; and Bishop

Pearce on this place. See also Clarke's notes on "Mt 10:37".

Verse 27. Doth not bear his cross] See on Mt 10:38; 16:24.

Verse 28. To build a tower] Probably this means no more than a

dwelling house, on the top of which, according to the Asiatic

manner, battlements were built, both to take the fresh air on, and

to serve for refuge from and defence against an enemy. It was also

used for prayer and meditation.

This parable represents the absurdity of those who undertook to

be disciples of Christ, without considering what difficulties they

were to meet with, and what strength they had to enable them to go

through with the undertaking. He that will be a true disciple of

Jesus Christ shall require no less than the mighty power of God to

support him; as both hell and earth will unite to destroy him.

Verse 33. Whosoever he be of you] This seems to be addressed

particularly to those who were then, and who were to be, preachers

of his Gospel; and who were to travel over all countries,

publishing salvation to a lost world.

Verse 34. Salt is good] See Clarke on Mt 5:13,

and See Clarke on Mr 9:50.

ON the subject referred to this place from Lu 14:23,

Compel them to come in, which has been adduced to favour

religious persecution, I find the following sensible and just

observations in Dr. Dodd's notes.

"1st. Persecution for conscience' sake, that is, inflicting

penalty upon men merely for their religious principles or worship,

is plainly founded on a supposition that one man has a right to

judge for another in matters of religion, which is manifestly

absurd, and has been fully proved to be so by many excellent

writers of our Church.

"2nd. Persecution is most evidently inconsistent with that

fundamental principle of morality, that we should do to others as

we could reasonably wish they should do to us; a rule which

carries its own demonstration with it, and was intended to take

off that bias of self-love which would divert us from the straight

line of equity, and render us partial judges betwixt our

neighbours and ourselves. I would ask the advocate of wholesome

severities, how he would relish his own arguments if turned upon

himself? What if he were to go abroad into the world among

Papists, if he be a Protestant; among Mohammedans if he be a

Christian? Supposing he were to behave like an honest man, a good

neighbour, a peaceable subject, avoiding every injury, and taking

all opportunities to serve and oblige those about him; would he

think that, merely because he refused to follow his neighbours to

their altars or their mosques, he should be seized and imprisoned,

his goods confiscated, his person condemned to tortures or death?

Undoubtedly he would complain of this as a very great hardship,

and soon see the absurdity and injustice of such a treatment when

it fell upon him, and when such measure as he would mete to others

was measured to him again.

"3rd. Persecution is absurd, as being by no means calculated to

answer the end which its patrons profess to intend by it; namely,

the glory of God, and the salvation of men. Now, if it does any

good to men at all, it must be by making them truly religious; but

religion is not a mere name or a ceremony. True religion imports

an entire change of the heart, and it must be founded in the

inward conviction of the mind, or it is impossible it should be,

what yet it must be, a reasonable service. Let it only be

considered what violence and persecution can do towards producing

such an inward conviction. A man might as reasonably expect to

bind an immaterial spirit with a cord, or to beat down a wall with

an argument, as to convince the understanding by threats and

tortures. Persecution is much more likely to make men hypocrites

than sincere converts. They may perhaps, if they have not a firm

and heroic courage, change their profession while they retain

their sentiments; and, supposing them before to be unwarily in the

wrong, they may learn to add falsehood and villany to error. How

glorious a prize! especially when one considers at what an expense

it is gained. But,

"4th. Persecution tends to produce much mischief and confusion

in the world. It is mischievous to those on whom it falls; and in

its consequences so mischievous to others, that one would wonder

any wise princes should ever have admitted it into their

dominions, or that they should not have immediately banished it

thence; for, even where it succeeds so far as to produce a change

in men's forms of worship, it generally makes them no more than

hypocritical professors of what they do not believe, which must

undoubtedly debauch their characters; so that, having been

villains in one respect, it is very probable that they will be so

in another, and, having brought deceit and falsehood into their

religion, that they will easily bring it into their conversation

and commerce. This will be the effect of persecution where it is

yielded to; and where it is opposed (as it must often be by

upright and conscientious men, who have the greater claim upon the

protection and favour of government) the mischievous consequences

of its fury will be more flagrant and shocking. Nay, perhaps,

where there is no true religion, a native sense of honour in a

generous mind may stimulate it to endure some hardships for the

cause of truth. 'Obstinacy,' as one well observes, 'may rise as

the understanding is oppressed, and continue its opposition for a

while, merely to avenge the cause of its injured liberty.'

"Nay, 5th. The cause of truth itself must, humanly speaking, be

not only obstructed, but destroyed, should persecuting principles

universally prevail. For, even upon the supposition that in some

countries it might tend to promote and establish the purity of the

Gospel, yet it must surely be a great impediment to its progress.

What wise heathen or Mohammedan prince would ever admit Christian

preachers into his dominions, if he knew it was a principle of

their religion that as soon as the majority of the people were

converted by arguments, the rest, and himself with them, if he

continued obstinate, must be proselyted or extirpated by fire and

sword? If it be, as the advocates for persecution have generally

supposed, a dictate of the law of nature to propagate the true

religion by the sword; then certainly a Mohammedan or an idolater,

with the same notions, supposing him to have truth on his side,

must think himself obliged in conscience to arm his powers for the

extirpation of Christianity; and thus a holy war must cover the

face of the whole earth, in which nothing but a miracle could

render Christians successful against so vast a disproportion in

numbers. Now, it seems hard to believe that to be a truth which

would naturally lead to the extirpation of truth in the world; or

that a Divine religion should carry in its own bowels the

principle of its own destruction.

"But, 6th. This point is clearly determined by the lip of truth

itself; and persecution is so far from being encouraged by the

Gospel, that it is most directly contrary to many of its precepts,

and indeed to its whole genius. It is condemned by the example of

Christ, who went about doing good; who came not to destroy men's

lives, but to save them; who waived the exercise of his miraculous

power against his enemies, even when they most unjustly and

cruelly assaulted him, and never exerted it to the corporal

punishment, even of those who had most justly deserved it. And his

doctrine also, as well as his example, has taught us to be

harmless as doves; to love our enemies; to do good to them that

hate us; and pray for them that despitefully use and persecute

us."

From all this we may learn that the Church which tolerates,

encourages, and practises persecution, under the pretence of

concern for the purity of the faith, and zeal for God's glory,

is not the Church of Christ; and that no man can be of such a

Church without endangering his salvation. Let it ever be the glory

of the Protestant Church, and especially of the Church of England,

that it discountenances and abhors all persecution on a religious

account; and that it has diffused the same benign temper through

that STATE with which it is associated.

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