They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins…
The first thing expressed in this reason of confessors wandering is, the world's vileness. The world is not worthy of them. This consequence is confirmed by this direction which Christ giveth to His disciples (Matthew 10:11, 13). They who preferred the things of this world before communion with the great King were counted not worthy of that favour to sit at His table (Matthew 22:4, 5). This should dissuade confessors of the truth to take heed of complying too much with the men of this world. This had almost cost Jehosaphat his life (2 Chronicles 18:31). He was sharply reproved for it by a prophet (2 Chronicles 19:2). Saints do herein undervalue themselves, and give occasion to be trampled under foot, yea, and torn to pieces. The world may take great advantage hereby, but saints may be sure to get no good. Should saints comply with them whom God thinks to be unworthy of them? This is the second thing expressed; for this phrase," was not worthy," is here set down as a judgment, which followed upon saints wandering from them. So as the world's unworthiness deprived them of the society of saints, and might be very beneficial unto them. On this ground Christ saith to the Jews, "The kingdom of God shall be taken from you" (Matthew 21:43). And it is expressly noted that Christ returned back again from the unworthy Gadarenes, where they besought Him to depart from them (Luke 8:37). This departing from the men of the world is sometimes done by the world's forcing them (Acts 8:1; Matthew 10:23). Thus God in His wise providence maketh persecutors spoilers of themselves. Potiphar spoiled himself of a very faithful and profitable servant by casting Joseph into prison (Genesis 39:20), so the Jews spoiled themselves of Christ (John 7:33, 34). And of the apostles, who carried the light of the gospel from the Jews to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46, 47).
1. Here we have one special reason of saints suffering what they do by the world. It is not God's displeasure against them; for in love to them, and for their present and future glory are they here persecuted. It is for the punishment of the world to deprive it of those that would be their greatest honour, comfort, and profit, if they were well entertained among them.
2. Herein appeareth the world's sottishness in punishing themselves by their attempts to punish saints. They may spoil saints of earthly habitations and revenues, they may put them to bodily pains and deprive them of life, but they spoil themselves of the means of spiritual grace, of peace of conscience, and comfort of soul. Yea, and of eternal life, and implunge themselves into easeless torments.
3. This showeth whose case is the worst, whether their's that are persecuted, or their's who do persecute. Surely if all things be duly weighed, we shall easily discern that the persecutor's case is the worst. The persecuted therefore may say," Weep not for us, but weep for yourselves" (Luke 23:28).
4. This giveth occasion to such as are deprived of faithful ministers and godly neighbours to examine themselves, and consider whether their unworthiness hath not been the cause thereof.
5. This exhorteth us to esteem ministers, saints, Divine ordinances, and other holy things appertaining to the kingdom of God, so as God may account us worthy to enjoy them; and not take them away by reason of our unworthiness.
Parallel VersesKJV: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;