himself, must renounce self as an object in life, must give himself up as the enthusiastic physician gives himself up, regardless of all consequences to self, to the relief of his patients or to the advancement of science. You may say that the physician who does so does not deny himself, but gives expression to his highest and best self, and that is what our Lord means when he adds as his first proof of the truth of his law, "For whosoever wilt save his life shall lose it: and whosoever wilt lose his life for my sake shall find it." So long as you make self your object, your end, and your centre, you are losing your life and your self; but when you are enabled to abandon self and to live for righteousness, for God, for Christ, for the community, you emerge into life eternal, you find your truest self. "And what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" This is one of those truths that need no demonstration, and yet are very difficult to act upon. To gain even a very small part of the world is so appreciable a gain, whereas the loss of the soul is so inappreciable often in the process, and it seems so easy to regain it, that we are tempted to act as if it were a very small matter. A third ground on which our Lord rests his injunction to follow him is laid down in the twenty-seventh verse. All permanent happiness is so bound up with character that he can only make men happy in proportion to their growth. The reward chiefly desired by every one who loves him is an increase of that love and a truer likeness to himself, and in eternity, as on earth, Christ and all who are like him, will find their glory in works of self-sacrificing compassion and helpful mercy. Vers. 27, 28: As far as can be gathered from the abbreviated form we have in the text, our Lord meant to say that the man who spent his life on self, and so lost his truest life, would find his mistake in the day when at Christ's second coming things are forever arranged according to the principles he himself laid down and lived on in his first coming, and then, as if to answer the doubt whether such a day of true judgment should ever come, he goes on to say that the kingdom of heaven would, even in the lifetime of some standing there, be sufficiently manifested to make his Divine power clear to them. - D.
And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.1. The kingdom of heaven does not mean heaven.
2. The kingdom of heaven does not mean the Church. It indicates power:
(D. Fraser, D. D.)keys of the kingdom of heaven. As the kingdom is a city, keys are needed for the gates. The city is a fortified place, a castle, the palatial residence of the Great King. A steward of the house is required, a major-domo, one who may take charge not only of the keys of the gates, but of the keys of the treasure-house too, and of all the storerooms of the establishment. Our Saviour intimates to Peter that he would be constituted such a steward of the house of God. He was to have great power and authority as the prime minister of the King. Acting according to the commands of his Sovereign, he would have authority to open the gates or to shut them; to open the storehouses or to close them. His power would be, relatively to the King, administrative only. And in discharge of the functions of his high office he would at once be instructed from above by the Divine Spirit, and be assisted from around by other high officials — the other apostles. He and they unitedly would constitute the King's ministry. He would be premier. Hence it was that on the Day of Pentecost he took the lead and opened the gates of the kingdom to the Jews. Hence too, when he was in Joppa, he was instructed by his Lord to open the gates of the kingdom to the Gentiles; and he did it. Hence also, in all the lists of the apostles, Peter is invariably mentioned first. He has, however, no successor in his premiership, just as he had no successor as a Foundation-Stone. The Foundation-Stone lasts for ever. So do all the living stones. They live for ever. And so the ministry of the apostles continues for ever. The laws of the King are communicated to us for ever through the ministry of his apostolic ministers.
(J. Morison, D. D.)scribes in His kingdom; teachers of the truth, expounders of the law they had learned from Him; witnesses and exemplars of the life they had seen Him live. These keys we have authority to use too — keys of righteousness and charity, i.e., keys of kindness and good living, as well as keys of wisdom and knowledge. By our daily conduct, and by the spirit of our whole conduct, no less than by our words, we are saying to our fellows, "This, so far as we understand Him, is how Christ would have men live; you have only to live so, and you will be in His kingdom, under His rule and benediction." By our good words, and our good works, we are to constitute ourselves door-keepers in the House of the Lord, and to open the doors to all who would enter in. It is, then, no merely personal salvation, no merely future and distant heaven, no merely selfish and ignoble task, for which we look and to which we are summoned. We are looking for the heaven of being now and always in tune with the will of God, and for a salvation which embraces the whole nature of man, and extends to every race and kindred and tribe.
(S. Cox, D. D.)bound all heathen learning, i.e., he forbade his disciples to acquire it — declared what we should call "classical studies" to be wrong; while Rabbi Hillel loosed these studies — declared them to be right, that is, and encouraged his disciples to take them up. In addressing this promise to His first disciples, therefore, Christ meant to say that, humble and unlearned as they were, yet, in virtue of the new spiritual life and insight which He had conferred upon them, they should become "masters of sentences," and their decisions as to what was right and what wrong, should carry no less authority than they had once attached to the decisions of their rabbis and scribes. This promise also extends to us. We are authorized to make those practical applications of truth to the conditions and needs of the hour, by which the moral life and tone of men will be raised and purified. And we have made use of this power in the following, among other ways:
1. Abolishing slavery.
2. Raising the status of woman.
3. Securing the education of. children.
4. Advancing the cause of temperance, thrift, industry.
5. Promoting the growth of freedom, and the fraternity of men and nations.In these and similar ways, the general teaching of Christ has been applied to the social and moral conditions of men, bringing out new bearings of familiar principles on human conduct and duty.
(S. Cox, D. D.)
(H. W. Beecher.)
(H. W. Beecher.)
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