An Exposition Of The Gospels by The Most Rev. John Macevilly D.D.

In this chapter, we have an account of the embassy from John in prison, consisting of two of his disciples, to inquire of our Redeemer if He were the long-expected Messiah. Our Redeemer’s reply, who knew well the spirit that dictated this on the part of John, who had in view to remove and cure all feelings of jealousy on the part of His followers (1–6). Our Redeemer’s encomiums on John, after his disciples had left; He praises his unchanging firmness, which luxurious living did not enervate (7–8); his prophetical character, angelic life, long before the subject of prophecy (9–10); his singular worth and sanctity; his success in preparing men for the Gospel; his having discharged the office of Elias (11–14). By a familiar similitude, He reproaches the Scribes and Pharisees with their obstinate resistance to the preachers of God’s kingdom, Himself and the Baptist, in whatever character they might appear, whether austere, or mild and condescending (16–19). He next upbraids the cities, specially favoured with His miracles and preaching, with neglect and obstinate resistance to God’s grace, and He points out the heavy punishments in store for them (20–24). He glorifies His Eternal Father for His wonderful dispensation in regard to the humble, to whom, in His mercy, He imparts Divine knowledge, and the proud and haughty, from whom, in His justice, He withholds it (25–26). This wonderful economy was common to Himself and His Father, with whom He possesses perfect equality (27). He invites all, Jews and Gentiles, to approach Him, and thus receive rest and respite in their spiritual miseries and disquietude (28). He invites them to take up His yoke and learn of Him to practise, in particular, the virtues of humility and meekness, the surest means of bearing His yoke patiently, or to approach and learn from their experience of Him, that He is not a repulsive tyrant, but a benign, affable, condescending Master. For, His yoke is sweet and His burden is light (29–30).

1. “Had made an end of commanding.” The Greek word for “commanding” (διατασσων), means arranging, giving instructions; whether of precept or merely of counsel, as it is used (1 Cor. 11:34). Here, the word refers to all the precepts, counsels, predictions of evil, and promises of good, included in the preceding chapter. The word “commanding,” might, however, be taken here in its strict signification, if we follow the opinion of some expositors, who hold, that, on occasion of the first mission of the Apostles, our Redeemer confined His instructions to the commands relating to that mission; and hence, St. Matthew employs the word “commanding” here. According to these, our Redeemer delivered on a different occasion, or rather on several occasions, many of the subjects recorded in the preceding chapter by St. Matthew; who, though remarkable for recording at full length, and in detail, our Redeemer’s words, is not so particular as the other Evangelists, about the order of events.

He passed from thence.” He departed from His twelve Apostles, whom He left to themselves to preach without Him. St. Matthew omits all mention of what they did; but, this is recorded by Mark (c. 6:12, 13); Luke (9:6).

To teach and preach.” He did not remain idle in the meantime; nor did he commit these important functions to be vicariously discharged by others. Those who labour through others, shall be remunerated through the same. They shall forfeit all rewards, themselves. “Qui per vicarium operabitur per vicarium remunerabitur.”

In their cities.” “Their,” according to some, refers to the cities of the Apostles, or of Galilee, the Apostles being Galileans; others understand them of the cities to which the Apostles were sent, two and two, before Him to preach (Luke 10:1); and therefore, He came after them. Others, most probably, understand them of the cities of the Jews, to whom our Lord had confined the preaching of His Apostles. “Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (c. 10:6). “Their” is an example of a Hebrew idiom, according to which, the antecedent of a pronoun is not expressed, but understood, from the context and circumstances.

2. “John had heard,” from his disciples (Luke 7:18). From this, it would appear, that the embassy from John to Christ, is not recorded here in its proper place by St. Matthew, since it occurred before the mission of the twelve Apostles, as we learn from St. Luke, who narrates this embassy (c. 7), and the mission of the Apostles. (c. 10)

In prison.” John was cast into prison by Herod, for having, fearlessly, in vindication of the sanctity of God’s law, upbraided him with the scandalous, adulterous state of incest, in which he lived with Herodias, the wife of his brother, Philip (Mark 6:16, 17). Imbued with that spirit of intrepidity, which he carried from his mother’s womb, which was strengthened and guarded by a life of austerity and self-denial, he feared not the countenance of the mighty; knowing no distinction between a royal sinner and his subjects, whom he upbraided with their vices, as, “a brood of vipers,” when they came out in crowds to his preaching and baptism on the banks of the Jordan (Matt. 3); reckless of the consequences, which he knew would cost him his head, he upbraided the kingly adulterer to his face, “it is not lawful for thee to have,” i.e., to live on terms of intimacy with “your brother’s wife” (Mark 6:18). The consequence was he was cast into prison.

The works of Christ,” the many splendid miracles performed by Him (Luke 7)

Sending two of His disciples,” &c. There is a diversity of opinion as to the purpose of this message from the Baptist. One thing is certain, that it did not proceed from any doubts which the Baptist himself—this “more than a Prophet,” who had “no greater among the born of women”—entertained regarding our Lord’s Divinity. He proclaimed Him from His mother’s womb (Luke 1:41). He witnessed the descent of the Holy Ghost, and heard the testimony of the heavenly Father proclaiming Him as His beloved Son, on the banks of the Jordan (Matt. 3:17). He himself publicly bore testimony to His superiority, declaring himself unworthy to perform the most menial offices in His regard (Mark 1:7; Luke 3:16), before our Lord had performed any public miracles. The most probable and best founded reason for this embassy seems to have its origin in the jealousy, which John knew to exist in the minds of his disciples towards our Lord and His disciples. Strangers to that spirit of generosity which animated St. Paul, who cared not who preached, provided Christ was preached (Phil. 1:18), they complained that Jesus baptized, and their master was deserted (John 3:26); and St. Luke tells us (7:18), that, it was on the occasion of his disciples coming, and manifesting feelings of jealous envy of our Lord’s wonderful works, John sent this message. It is likely also that, contrasting the ascetic and austere life of the Baptist and his disciples with the absence of all such austerity on the part of our Redeemer and His followers (Mat. 9:14), and perhaps offended with the lowness of his station in life, to which our Redeemer probably alludes (v. 6), his disciples regarded John’s exalted testimony, concerning our Redeemer, as spoken out of humility; and that, therefore, they might have been disposed to prefer the Precursor to the Lord Himself. Hence, in order to cure this growing evil, John sends two of his disciples, in his own name, for the purpose of investing this embassy with greater solemnity, to question our Redeemer on the subject of his Divine mission. In order to cure their infirmity, he feigns their disease, “quis infirmatur et ego non infirmor?” (2 Cor. 11:29) Knowing also that his days in this world were fast drawing to a close, it is most likely that the Baptist had in view to introduce his disciples to our Redeemer in person, to attach them to Him after his own death.

3. “Art thou He that is to come?” &c., which is understood by St. Jerome to mean, art thou He, that is to come to Limbo, whither I am shortly to go? St. Jerome adopts this meaning, because, our Lord had already come into this world. But the most probable meaning is; art thou that distinguished Prophet, that Redeemer, whom the Jewish people, following the predictions and promises of the Prophets, are daily expecting as their Messiah? ὁ ερχομενος, “ille venturus.” The Greek does not refer to any future coming, “art thou He who was to come.” He could not be expected to come in future and be present at the same time.

4. “Go”—return—“and relate to John,” &c. Our Redeemer, who knew well the mind of John, in proposing this question, in His own name (for, John himself had no doubt whatever, verses 7, 8, &c.), employs the same heavenly prudence displayed by John, and wishes to have the disciples cured of their doubts and hesitancy, the more effectually through the master to whom they were so much attached, and to whose words and opinions they would naturally attach much weight. He answers them, as if they had merely represented the feelings of John, though He knew well this was not really the case. He also refers them to a testimony less questionable than any testimony conveyed by words, the testimony of works For, we are told by St. Luke (7:21), that He had, at the moment, wrought miracles, in their presence.

What you have seen and heard,” that is to say, the miracles “you have seen,” performed by Me, in your presence, and the preaching of My doctrine, which “you have heard;” or, rather, the other miracles, of which you have heard an account from the people who saw them, but, which you did not witness, such as, “the dead arise.” This they did not see; but, only “heard” spoken of.

The Greek has, which you see and hear,” in the present. This may be verified of the miracles wrought in their presence (Luke 7:21), and the accounts of other miracles given at the moment, by the people; or, “hearing,” may be understood of our Redeemer’s preaching. “You see,” may be also verified of the prophecy of Isaias, which they saw with their eyes to be fulfilled in Him.

5. “The blind see,” &c. The first part of this verse is allusive to Isaias (35:4, 5, 6). The second, “the poor have the Gospel preached to them,” to Isaias (61:1) This passage of Isaias regarding the preaching of the Gospel to the poor is applied by our Redeemer to Himself (Luke 4:18). His answer is, that John would clearly see that in Him were fully fulfilled the prophetic words of Isaias when describing beforehand the distinctive qualities and actions, that would characterize the future Messiah.

The poor have the Gospel,” &c. In Isaias (61:1), for “poor,” it is “to preach to the MEEK.” But the two words refer to the same class, the poor being generally meek and forbearing, in contrast with the rich, who are generally haughty and disdainful. There is but very little difference in the corresponding Hebrew words, ani (poor), and anau (meek). Hence, St. Luke (4:18), quoting Isaias, has, “to preach the Gospel to the POOR He hath sent me,” the two words for poor and meek being nearly the same in Hebrew. The Septuagint read it aniim (poor); St. Jerome, anauim (meek). There is a great similarity of words, and of signification also, the poor being usually meek.

The Gospel preached to them.” The Jews held that the Messiah was to found a kingdom. It was a wonderful thing, that this kingdom should be proposed to the poor; that beggars should, in a spiritual sense, become kings, was a wonderful thing, a wonderful feature of the Christian religion. It was different with the Jews and Pagans, who courted the rich and despised the poor. While the rich are not excluded, the poor are specially referred to in the prophecy; and the rich must become “poor in spirit” to become fit subjects for receiving the Gospel, and partaking of its rich spiritual blessings.

6. “And blessed is he,” that is, he who does not depart from Me, who am the Saviour of mankind, and author of life, is so far blessed, and in the way of salvation; while he that does is so far, unfortunate.

That shall not be scandalized in me.” The word, “scandal,” in its literal signification, denotes an obstacle or impediment in the way, which may cause us to fall. Transferred to a spiritual signification, it denotes whatever may cause our fall, or that of our neighbour; or turn us aside from the path of Christian faith or morals, be it word, deed, or omission. Hence, scandal is described by divines, after St. Thomas to be, a word, deed, or omission, which is the occasion of the spiritual ruin of our neighbour, either because such word, &c., sinful; or, has the appearances of being so. That things only apparently sinful may be a subject of scandal is clear from Romans (c. 7). Our Redeemer was to the wicked and incredulous, a stone of offence and a rock of scandal, and set for the fall, as well for the resurrection of many (Luke 2:31), through their own fault and malice.

These words are spoken in allusion to the incredulity and jealousy of the disciples of John, who probably were offended at our Redeemer not living apart from the crowd, and His not leading the same austere, ascetical life as their master led, as if He said, blessed is he, to whom My doctrines, My life, My Cross shall not prove a stumbling block, or rock of offence, as we are assured by the Apostle, they were to the unbelieving Jews (1 Cor. 1); and, as a melancholy experience teaches us, they are, practically at least, to a great number of those who profess themselves Christians.

Here also we see the wonderful benignity and prudent forbearance of our Divine Redeemer in displaying to the disciples of John His Divine power of searching into their hearts, and knowing their thoughts, without disclosing their latent feelings to the multitude by any personal allusion, or particular address. He thus leaves them to their own conscience, so that, from this occult reproach, they might see His Divinity and benignity, and be thus induced, after the Baptist’s death, to adhere to Him.

7. After the disciples of John had gone away, and no sooner, lest any praise of John in the presence of his followers might savour of adulation.

Jesus began to say to the multitudes,” &c. Having cured the disciples of John of their incredulity, our Redeemer now prudently takes care to cure the multitude of any false notions this embassy from John might engender in their minds regarding John’s constancy, and the unhesitating firmness of his belief in our Lord’s Divinity, as if this message proceeded from any change of opinion on the part of John.

What went you out into the desert to see?” He appeals to their own opinion of John, when leaving their homes, the towns and cities, they flocked into the desert, and to the banks of the Jordan, to hear this wonderful man, and be baptized by him. (c. 3)

A reed shaken,” &c. A man of a fickle inconstant character, blown to this side and that, every blast of human opinion; now holding this; and again that; now proclaiming Christ to be the Messiah—the eternal Son of God; again, doubting it, as the embassy and words of his disciples would seem to imply. The well-known sanctity of the Baptist precluded any such suspicions so disparaging to his character. They regarded him rather as a man of unshaken firmness—immovable as the sturdy oak—who, at the cost of his head, would not fail fearlessly to proclaim the truth, for which he was now suffering in chains. Some take the word “reed,” in its natural sense; did they come out to the banks of the Jordan, to enjoy its scenery and the numerous reeds growing on its banks? However, it is clear from the context, that the metaphorical meaning, as above, is the one intended.

8. Perhaps, luxurious living, a spirit of accommodation to the whims and caprices of the great, with whose livery he was clad, at whose tables he was the welcome and accepted minister; perhaps, the badges of courtly ignominy in which he was clad—the price of his criminal connivance at the domestic and public villanies of the great—so wrought on him as to make him changeable in his opinions, and now, to gratity their caprices, not only make him “a dumb dog, unable to bark,” but also cause him to revoke the testimony he before rendered to the Divinity of Jesus. His place of abode from childhood,—the desert—his coarse dress, the prison where he just now was, preclude any such supposition; neither luxurious effeminacy, nor ambitious, or self interested motives could cause any change of opinion in him. “They that are clothed in soft garments” do not make the desert their place of abode: nor are they, for the bold announcement of unpalatable truths, cast into chains. They are to be found “in the houses of kings,” the obsequious instruments of their capricious whims and tyrannical behests. John was firm and constant, and had all the qualities necessary to witness to the Divinity of our Lord.

According to Calmet, John only meant to enquire, if the man who wrought the wonders, of which he heard so much, was the Messiah, the same of whom he himself had before borne testimony. So that, according to him, John’s object merely was to ascertain the identity of our Saviour’s person.

9. Having shown what John was not, our Redeemer now shows, what he was.

A Prophet!” “All held John as a Prophet” (21:26). This was the popular opinion regarding him, and this opinion our Redeemer confirms, “Yea; I tell you.” For John knew our Lord by Divine instinct, and pointed Him out as Son of God, and so, he was a Prophet. But did not John himself deny this (John 1:21)? Yes; out of humility, and he might say so, with all truth in one sense, looking to the primary and ordinary signification of the word, “Prophet,” viz., one who predicts future events to be fulfilled after a long interval. But, John pointed Him out as present, and called on the people to prepare His ways by works of penance, who was the term of all the prophecies, and so he “was more than a Prophet.” He was also “more than a Prophet,” for other reasons, grounded on the circumstances of his miraculous birth, and angelic life. Moreover, he was himself the subject of prophecy, in which he is placed on a level with the celestial spirits, “an Angel,” who was immediately to precede his Lord, to be His Precursor and Paranymph. It is this latter reason our Redeemer specially has in view when he says he was “more than a Prophet.” “An Angel,” in virtue of his office, not by nature.

10. “Behold … before Thy face,” &c. (Mal. 3:1) In Malachy it is, “My face.” The Evangelists have, “THY face.” But, the sense is no way affected by this difference or change of person; St. Jerome remarks (in Isaias, Lib. 3, c. 7), “that, in their quotations from the Books of the Old Testament, the Apostles and Evangelists attended more to the sense, than to the precise order of the words.” Here, our Redeemer clearly represents the Heavenly Father, as speaking of His Son, “before THY face,” in Malachy. St. Jerome understands the words of Malachy to refer to Christ, speaking of Himself; and then, His Divinity is clearly demonstrated. For, in Mal. 3:6, He says„ “I am the Lord, and am not changed.” If the words of Malachy be understood of God the Father, the consequence is just the same, as showing the identity of nature in Christ and in His Father. For, it was Christ that John preceded as Precursor; and speaking of Him whom John preceded, the Lord says, “MY face,” therefore, implying that, “He was in the Father and the Father in Him,” both having the same nature. In truth, Christ or the Messiah was “the Lord,” whom the Jews expected to come to His temple in Jerusalem; for whom John was “to prepare the way.” It is the same that speaks of Himself in the first person, “I send MY Angel,” and in the third, “and presently shall come to” HIS temple the Lord whom you seek (see Mal. 3:1). If we suppose that it is God the Father that speaks in Malachy (3); then, the change of person, “I send,” “the Lord shall come,” &c., is intended to convey, that although identical in nature with the Son; still it was not the person of God the Father that came to save us. The same is conveyed in the change of person given by the Evangelists, “before THY face—before THEE.”

My Angel,” by office, but not by nature; as some hold, which is clearly refuted in the Gospel—“there was A MAN sent by God,” &c. (John 1) The angelic life led by the Baptist would entitle him to be called an “Angel.”

Who shall prepare Thy way,” &c., is allusive to the custom of preparing the ways, and removing every obstacle at the coming of kings into any part of their dominions. John, by his preaching and baptism, removed every obstacle to the proper reception of Christ; by his austere and heavenly life, by his preaching of the penance which he practised, he prepared the people for the doctrine of our Redeemer.

11. He proves, that John “was greater than a Prophet.” “There hath not risen,” that is, appeared, “among them that are born of women, a greater,” &c. “Risen” is a term peculiar to prophets. St. Luke (7:28) says, “there is not a greater Prophet than John the Baptist;” hence, the comparison is not between John and all other men, but between him and the Prophets of old. This, however, will make but very little difference, and the sense is fully given by St. Matthew; for, among men, the Prophets were deemed the most holy, and the word “Prophet” was, in a general and more extended sense, applied to holy men. The words, then, taken in a positive, affirmative sense—for this is necessary in order to show that John is “more than a Prophet”—mean, that John the Baptist was the most holy and exalted of all the men that appeared before him, whether we consider the exalted prerogatives bestowed on him—his miraculous birth, the loosing of his father’s tongue, his angelic life, his sanctification in his mother’s womb, his being predicted by other Prophets, called an Angel, &c.; or, whether we regard the more abundant gifts of the Holy Spirit plenteously bestowed on him. Other Prophets became such in course of life; he, from his birth, was such. He leaped with joy in his mother’s womb, at the presence of his Blessed Saviour (Luke 1:41). Although “there arose no other Prophet in Israel like Moses” (Deut. 34:10, &c.), which has reference merely to his seeing God, and working wonderful prodigies; still, John was greater in the several prerogatives already referred to.

It is between the ancient Prophets only and John this comparison is instituted; hence, neither the Blessed Virgin, nor the Apostles are included, who, on account of their Apostolic dignity, and immediate association with Christ, are greater than John. Our Redeemer Himself can, by no means, be included, even supposing the comparison to be between John and all others, because He was not “born of woman,” in the sense here referred to, in the natural way; nor can the Blessed Virgin, either; for, it is between men the comparison is instituted.

Yet, he that is lesser,” &c., according to some, means, the least saint reigning in glory is greater than John; because, the former possesses the crown of glory, the latter is battling for it (St. Jerome); and, in this interpretation, our Redeemer’s object would be, to stimulate men to labour earnestly for the kingdom of heaven, by entering the Church which is the gate to it. Others say the words mean, the least in the Church, the least of those who embrace the Gospel, is greater than John—ratione status novæ legis—considering his state, is greater than any one outside the Church, greater than John who was nearest to it—the connecting link between the Old Law and the New. It tells against this interpretation, that the comparison would not be between John and others, but between the New Law and other dispensations. Nor can it be seen what our Redeemer’s object, in using the words, according to this interpretation, would be, unless, possibly, to stimulate men to enter the Church, and embrace the Gospel.

Others maintain, that our Redeemer, in this, was referring to Himself, thus: do not imagine that, in bestowing these magnificent eulogiums on John, I include Myself in the comparison, or prefer him to Myself. Out of modesty, He would speak of Himself in the third person.

Lesser in the kingdom,” that is to say, younger than John; later in the ministry of preaching. “Qui POST me venturus est, ANTE me factus est” (John 1:15). Up to this time, our Lord was lesser in the esteem of men than the Baptist.

In the kingdom of heaven,” may be joined with “lesser,” thus: he who is lesser in the Church of the just, in point of age and in the opinion of men; or “lesser,” later in preaching the kingdom of God, “is greater than he.” Or, they may be joined to the following words, “greater than he, in the kingdom of heaven,” greater than he in spiritual gifts, which appertain to heaven; or, reputed greater in heaven by God and His holy angels, who know how infinitely our Lord is placed above John, as the Creator above the creature.

12. It is greatly in commendation of John, that his preaching of the kingdom of heaven, which he was the first to proclaim as near at hand, joined to his holy and edifying example, has been so efficacious and fruitful in results, that, from his first appearance in public, men rush forward in crowds, with the most eager impetuosity, combined with the rigours of penance, and the violence they offer their passions and corrupt inclinations, to secure for themselves the peaceful possession of this happy kingdom.

Suffereth violence,” conveys the idea of a fortress or citadel, which men rush forward with impetuous eagerness to attack and carry by assault; or, of a precious merchandize, which men, with eager competition, contend with one another in purchasing. It was much in commendation of John, that his preaching had this effect on the people. The words convey, that John “was more than a Prophet,” since, from his time, “the kingdom of heaven,” which was referred to as distant by the ancient Prophets, was pointed out by him as near at hand, within the reach of the people.

The “violence which the kingdom of heaven suffers,” must mean, the violence which the assailants offer themselves and their own passions, since violence cannot be offered to a kingdom—“et omnis in illud vim facit” (Luke 16:16). Some commentators, with Maldonatus, say, the meaning is, that “the kingdom of heaven” is a prize; no longer, as in the Old Law, a matter of hereditary right, confined to the chosen people, but open to all, so that all may compete for it, and successfully carry it off. “Many shall come from the east and west,” &c. (Matt. 8:11, 12).

The violent bear it away.” This is literally true of many among the Jews, who, moved by John and by our Redeemer, did penance with great ardour, and earnestly applied themselves to procure heavenly blessings. If there be question of heaven, they bore it away; because, they established a claim to possess it, at a future day.

The words may also mean, that since the time of John,” who was the first to preach “the kingdom of heaven,” this kingdom “suffers violence,” i.e., cannot be obtained except by violence, and the violent alone secure it. So that there is not question of how many acquired the kingdom of heaven, or if any did so; but only of the manner in which heaven is to be acquired, and of the necessary means to be employed for this purpose.

The violent bear it away,” i.e., it is only those among men who shall have legitimately contended for it, by attending to the conditions of the warfare, and with ardent eagerness labouring for its acquisition, without any regard to birth, race, or country, that shall secure this prize; but not those idle, indifferent men, who offer no violence to their own passions, and make no exertions for its acquisition.

Bear it away.” The idea is borrowed from a camp or citadel, that is carried by assault.

13. The emphatic word in this verse seems to be “prophesied,” as if He said in commendation of John that, “the Prophets, or the writings of the Prophets,” (as the word means, c. 5:17), and “the Law” had obscurely pointed to Christ and the mysteries of His kingdom, as in the distance; but John pointed him out as present to whom all the Old Law had reference. For, “the end of the Law is Christ” (Rom. 10:4). They dealt in distant shadows and types. John pointed to the reality, not as distant, but present. Hence, in St. Luke (16:16), it is said, “the Law and the Prophets were until John; from that time the kingdom of heaven is preached,” and not “prophesied,” or obscurely signified, as in preceding times. The words of this verse are placed, by some commentators, before those of preceding verse (12), following the order given in St. Luke (ut supra). However, the casual particle, “for,” can be very naturally connected with the words of the preceding verse (12), from the days of John the Baptist,” &c., and in this verse (13), is assigned a reason for saying, “from the days of John the Baptist the kingdom of heaven suffered violence,” because till then, it was only obscurely and distantly pointed out in the Law and the Prophets; but since his time it was openly and clearly announced as present; and hence, men rush forward to gain possession of it, as of an object now within reach.

Before John’s time, the Law only foreshadowed future blessings in figures; and the Prophets foretold them. But, now, all these figures are fulfilled and realized in the Gospel, the antitype of the Law. Hence, the office of Law and Prophets has now ceased, and the kingdom of the Messiah, with its gifts and blessings, is now open to all who wish to compete for them, on the prescribed conditions, and to carry them away as prizes.

14. “If you will receive it,” that is, if you receive John, and believe as you ought, not failing at the same time to co-operate, voluntarily, with the graces now tendered to you—without which co-operation on your part, those graces and opportunities shall avail you but little—John will be the same in your regard, that Elias will be in regard to those to whom he is to announce the second coming of the Son of God.

He is Elias that is to come.” Elias is to precede “the great and dreadful day of the Lord,” at His second coming (Mal. 4:5), and the Baptist has preceded His first coming. He is not Elias in person. This John himself disavows (John 1:21), but he comes “in the spirit and power of Elias” (Luke 1:17), which may refer to the PAST spirit and power displayed of old by Elias, whose manner of life, dress, and works, resembled those of the Baptist; or, more probably, to the future power and spirit of Elias to be displayed in the conversion of the Jewish people before the second coming of Christ at the end of the world. As then, John now discharges the same office of converting the Jews (Mal. 4:6; Luke 1:17), which Elias is to discharge at the end of the world, the Messiah must already have made His appearance; and it depends, in a great measure, on themselves, and their own co-operation—“if you will”—whether John will be, in this latter sense, an Elias to them, by converting them to the Lord.

The words, “if you will,” may also denote, that John is not Elias in person, but, that they should look for another meaning in the words of Malachy, besides their literal import.

15. “Ears to hear,” means, a docile and obedient spirit, fit for receiving and obeying the truth. “Let him hear,” that is, let him attend to the mystical and moral meaning of the words, “he is Elias.” “Mysticum enim erat et egens intelligentia” (St. Jerome). This refers to the character and qualities of Elias ascribed to John, and to the consequent advent of our Saviour, which required their faith and obedience in embracing the Gospel. “Let him hear,” in other words, let him believe John to be a Prophet, and accept his testimony regarding Me as the Messiah; and let him—which “hear,” implies—believe Me to be the Eternal Son of God. For this, obedience of the will—“let him hear”—is required, “corde creditur ad justitiam” (Rom. 10:10).

The words of this verse are understood by some commentators, to be an introduction to what follows. It is hard to say, whether they are to be connected with the preceding, or with the following. They are a form of expression employed by our Divine Redeemer, whenever He wishes to solicit particular attention to anything as very important, or, to any hidden secret.

16. Hitherto our blessed Lord was engaged in bestowing a magnificent eulogium on the Baptist, which tended to add weight to his testimony regarding our Redeemer’s Divinity. In virtue of His Divine omniscience, He knew that many among the Scribes and Pharisees did not assent to what He said, and, “despised the counsel of God against themselves” (Luke 7:30). On this account, He commences to reproach them.

Generation,” does not embrace all the Jews then living, but only the Scribes and Pharisees, who paid no attention to His eulogiums on John, and heeded not His own Divine teaching.

To be like.” The comparison is instituted only in a general way, to illustrate the main features of the case. It is not meant to compare exactly all the parts of the parable, with all the corresponding parts of the principal subject. It is meant to illustrate the general scope of the subject.

In the market-place” (ἀγοραῖς), means, not only the market-place, but the broad places in the streets, at their intersection, where there is a concourse of people.

It is like to children.” The generation of men, whom our Redeemer reproaches, were not like the children crying out in the market-place, but rather, like those who were not moved or affected to grief or joy, by the performances of the children in question. Our Redeemer and John the Baptist correspond in likeness with the children referred to; and this our Redeemer insinuates in the application of the similitude (verses 18, 19). The meaning, then, is this: Something, like unto what would occur, in the case of “children piping” in the public streets, and personating the several turns of human life, without producing any effect, either in the way of joy or sorrow, on their companions or the bystanders, occurs in regard to the present generation. Similar are the phrases, “the kingdom of heaven is like unto a householder,” &c., “is like to ten virgins,” &c., the meaning of the phrases being, that something similar to what occurs in the case of a householder, or of ten virgins, occurs in the kingdom of heaven.

Some commentators say, there is allusion here to a common practice among the Jews, when two sets of boys dramatized in the public streets the vicissitudes of human life—one party representing marriage, and other festive scenes; another, funeral mournings. It is not necessary, however to understand the allusion of any existing custom. The example itself supposes it to be the same party that played joyful and plaintive airs. Hence, we need not suppose it to be anything else than an imaginary case, or what might happen. “We have piped” (ηυληκαμεν), we have played on the flute, a merry, joyous tune.

18. The application. John the Baptist made his appearance as a teacher, exhibiting the sternest virtue, the most austere asceticism, suited to him, who came to preach penance as a preparation for the kingdom of heaven, “neither eating nor drinking,” like other men, and they put him down as a madman, a lunatic, possessed of a devil.

19. “The Son of man”—the peculiar designation of our Redeemer—“came eating and drinking,” living, in this respect, like the rest of men, so that He might attract all men to Him, by His benignity and kindness, which well became Him who came to remit sin, who called upon all to approach Him as “meek and humble of heart.” He acted so, in order that His benignity and affability might attract such as would be repelled by the austerity of John. And how is He received? His condescension and kindness, far from recommending Him, are made the subject of calumnious reproaches. He is charged with loving good cheer; with wishing to make publicans and sinners His friends and associates. So that whether their preachers were austere or gentle, it was all the same; no effect was produced by either course, on such perverse men.

And wisdom is justified,” &c. By “wisdom” (in Greek, η σοφια, “the wisdom”), is generally, and most probably, meant, the wise counsel and dispensation of God’s providence employing every, even sometimes, the most opposite means, such as austere asceticism on the one hand, and mild, benign condescension on the other, as exhibited by the Baptist and our Redeemer respectively, in bringing men to salvation. This seems to be the meaning most naturally suggested by the context, and the comparison instituted by our Redeemer in the foregoing passage. “And,” may be interpreted, “but,” “however”—a sense it frequently bears—so that the words would mean: The Scribes and Pharisees have perversely resisted all the means, whether there be question of examples of meekness and condescension; or, of austerity and ascetic rigour, intended by God for their conversion; however, the wisdom of Divine Providence is declared just and approved of as having employed due, effectual means for the end it had in view.

By her children” (απο τῶν τέκνων αὐτῆς), that is, by those who have availed themselves of the means furnished by God’s wisdom as motives for receiving the faith of Christ, which they actually embrace. “By,” may signify, “on the part of,” or, “in regard to her children, who are really wise, in contradistinction to the Pharisees, only wise in their own conceits, to whom our Saviour refers (v. 25), “Thou hast hid these things from the WISE.”

The above interpretation accords well with the words of St. Luke (7:29), “And all the people hearing, … justified God, being baptized with John’s baptism.” St. Luke (7:35), has, “by” ALL her children. Hence, some commentators (Maldonatus, &c.), understand, “her children,” of the entire Jewish people. Those of them, who believed, justified God’s wisdom, by following its adorable dispositions; the incredulous portion also justified it, by showing, that no means was left untried for their conversion; that they determinedly opposed every means proposed to them, and that their obstinate unbelief was the result of their own obstinacy, and not of God’s wise providence. The former interpretation seems preferable. The wisdom of God’s providence, exhibited in the austerity of John, and the condescension of our Lord, was declared just, irreprehensible, and perfect.

Others, by “her children,” understand, John and our Redeemer, who justified God’s wisdom in leaving nothing undone to save men. These understand, “ALL her children,” of all the other Prophets and teachers, who employed similar means and followed the same manner of life respectively. By all these, God’s wisdom is justified, so that the impious are deprived of all excuse; nothing was left untried to save them. “Quid ultra facere debui vineæ meæ et non feci?” (Jansenius Gandavensis.)

20. After reproaching the Jewish people, in general, with their perverse obstinacy and resistance to the Gospel, our Redeemer now specially upbraids those cities that were specially favoured with His frequent visits, His preachings, and many miracles.

Then.” According to St. Luke (10:13, &c.), our Redeemer upbraided the cities on the occasion of sending the seventy-two disciples to preach. And the words (verse 25), according to St. Luke (10:21), were used by Him after the disciples returned and were glorying in their success; hence, some commentators say, that St. Luke describes the order in which things occurred, and that St. Matthew, as is his wont, gives in a consecutive narrative, the words spoken by our Redeemer on different occasions, so that he gives here, after the message from John, what was spoken on the occasion of the mission of the seventy-two disciples, and these explain, “then,” to mean, at that time, or, during the course of our Blessed Redeemer’s mission and preaching Others say, the words were spoken twice by our Redeemer, on the occasion of the message from John (Luke 7), and on the occasion of the mission of the seventy-two disciples.

Then,” when sending His disciples to preach in more distant places, owing to the incredulity and impenitence of the neighbouring cities, to which He Himself had preached with little, or, no fruit, “for, that they had not done penance.” This is the subject for which He reproached them. In many instances, most likely, they were incredulous; but, the cause of reproach is not precisely that; but, because they did not reform their lives and “do penance,” for the past, in accordance with the teachings of that faith, which many of them, probably, embraced—for, not unlikely, many of those whose actions are here censured, believed Christ to be the Messiah; but, did not, however, change their lives.

21. “Corozain and Bethsaida,” both cities of Galilee, near the Lake of Genesareth, and frequently favoured with our Redeemer’s visits and miracles.

If in Tyre and Sidon.” He mentions these, because, they were Gentile cities in their neighbourhood remarkable for wealth and its concomitant vices, for which they were denounced by the Prophets Isaias (23:1), and Ezechiel (26:2; 27:3; 28:2, 12).

Long ago,” i.e., at once, without so long resisting God’s graces and invitations, as you have done; without waiting for so many exhortations and miracles, such as you were favoured with.

Had done penance,” aided by the internal graces which God would not fail to bestow upon them.

In sackcloth and ashes.” In allusion to the custom in the Old Law, followed by remarkable penitents, of wearing sackcloth, and of sitting in ashes; so that the Tyrians, &c., would not only have done prompt penance, but also, remarkable penance. This shows, what the accompaniments of a truly penitential spirit were, the penitential works in which it should be manifested. These our Redeemer approves of here. Hence, an argument in favour of the Catholic practices of penitential works, in the same way as He must approve of the practice of fasting, when He lays down certain conditions for its exercise, (6:16, &c.)

22. “More tolerable,” &c. Although the Tyrians and Sidonians shall be condemned on the Day of Judgment, for their manifold crimes against the natural law, to observe which they had sufficient grace, favoured, however, with less graces than were lavished on Corozain, &c.; still, as they had fewer opportunities and lights, and resisted less graces than the Corozainites, &c., their guilt was less, and their damnation and punishment shall be less intolerable.

23. “Capharnaum.” He apostrophizes Capharnaum, because He had chosen it as His usual place of abode; therefore, more favoured (9:1), or, because it was more corrupt than the other cities, owing to its wealth, population, and maritime position.

Shalt thou be exalted?” &c. In St. Luke, it is read affirmatively (c. 10:15); but, the meaning of both readings is the same. Thou art now “exalted,” by My presence, miracles, preaching, more than by thy wealth and extensive commerce; shalt thou be always thus exalted and honoured? Thou shalt be lowered down to the lowest hell or, “Thou art now exalted unto heaven” (Luke 10:15), by thy pride in resisting My miracles and preaching; but thou shalt be laid low and reduced to the lowest state of humiliation. Thou shalt be visited with heavier punishments, in proportion as thou hast resisted greater graces and blessings.

For, if in Sodom,” &c. The comparison with abominable Sodom, of execrable memory, whose excessive sinfulness and consequent dreadful punishment are so well known, heightens the guilt of the Capharnaites. Similar is the comparison instituted by Ezechiel between Jerusalem and Samaria. (16:46–51, &c.)

Perhaps” (ἄν) is not expressive of doubt. It is rather strongly affirmative (as in verse 21, ἄν μετανοησαν, where it is left untranslated by the Vulgate). It means, it might assuredly have remained, or, it could have remained, to the present day, so far as the signal punishment inflicted by God, is concerned, because it would have done penance, it would have escaped the fire and brimstone from heaven, and so it might have remained to the present day, unless other natural or supernatural causes, such as the relapse of future Sodomites, into the sins of which their fathers repented, had interfered. “Perhaps,” shows the uncertainty of the event; it might, or might not, have remained; but, so far as its signal destruction, for its grievous crimes at the time, was concerned, it certainly would have remained. “Perhaps,” according to some, also shows the full liberty with which the Sodomites would have yielded to the impulses of Divine grace. “Nostro loquitur affectu,” says St. Jerome, “ut hominis servetur arbitrium,” or rather, it denotes that the preservation of Sodom would not be owing to physical or necessary causes, but to the free will of men, doing penance for sin. The Latin interpreter rarely renders αν, forte. Hence, he generally passes it over, expressing the thing absolutely, as inverse 21, “olim pœnitentiam egissent.” The different questions raised on this passage touching God’s media scientia, or His knowledge of future conditional matters, that never happened, need not be treated here, and are very properly relegated to treatises on Metaphysics.

24. The giant sinners of Sodom shall be punished less severely than the Capharnaites on the Day of Judgment.

25. “At that time.” According to St. Luke (10:21), this occurred on the return of the seventy-two disciples from their mission, and while they were boasting of the success that attended them, and of the miracles they wrought. From this, our Redeemer takes occasion to give expression to the following, and then He “answered.” However, the word, “answer,” is frequently used in the SS. Scriptures, when nothing in the form of a question demanding an answer, preceded; and merely means, to enter at once on some discourse. Here, then, it may be very probably connected with the foregoing denunciation of the Capharnaites, thus:—Jesus, considering within Himself the obstinate impenitence of the Capharnaites, &c., and the just judgment of God, withholding His lights and graces in punishment of their sins, consoles Himself with the thought, that such was according to the just dispensation of His Heavenly Father; and He exultingly bursts forth into acts of thanksgiving for His adorable dispensation. St. Luke says (10:21), He rejoiced in the Holy Ghost,” and thus consoles Himself with the idea that His Father willed it so. “Answering,” may also have relation to the thoughts passing in our Saviour’s mind regarding this wonderful economy of God, and the obduracy of the Capharnaites.

I confess to Thee,” i.e., I praise Thee, I extol Thee, I give Thee thanks.

O Father,” of whom I am alone the eternal, consubstantial, well-beloved Son.

Lord of heaven and earth,” having supreme dominion over all creatures, angels, and men. It is not, therefore, from infirmity or weakness that He has not subdued the rebellious wills of the Capharnaites. The words also convey, that He can do as He thinks proper, in heaven and on earth; and that, therefore, any disposition He makes regarding His creatures, is supremely just and equitable.

Hast hid,” by not imparting powerful interior graces, and in punishment of their obstinate pride, withholding those lights which would efficaciously influence them to profit by the external graces of preaching, with which they were favoured.

These things.” These mysteries of grace and glory preached by our Redeemer and His Apostles.

From the wise and prudent,” viz., the Pharisees and others, who were endowed with human learning and abilities. These were the “wise,” to whom St. Paul refers (1 Cor. 1), as rejected in the work of the Gospel; worldly wise, “wise” in their own conceits, haughty and proud, devoid of the humble docility necessary for embracing the faith.

And hast revealed them to little ones,” i.e., hast given Thy abundant, illuminating graces for embracing the difficult and abstruse truths of faith to the humble and the poor (the Greek for “little ones,” νηπίοις, means, infants), who, with the humble docility of children, embrace what is proposed to them.

These are the foolish, the weak, and the contemptible things, which God has chosen, to confound the wise, the strong, and the things of consideration in this world. (1 Cor. 1) Humble, unlearned fishermen, has He replenished with all knowledge, and placed on a level with the princes of His people.

But how could our Lord rejoice and praise his Father for having concealed these things from the proud? As a great evil, should it not be a subject for tears and sorrow? Resp. Thanksare not rendered precisely for having concealed these things; but, because, having concealed these truths from the wise, He was pleased to reveal them to the humble. Precisely, as it is said (Rom. 6:17), “But, thanks to God, that you were the servants of sin, but have obeyed,” &c., which means, thanks to God, that, having been formerly servants of sin, you have now obeyed, &c. He thanks His Father for having chosen men, like infants, and enlightened them to disseminate his faith, passing over the great ones of this world. Others say, thanks and praise are rendered for both. For, when “He hides these things,” He shows His Justice; and when “He reveals them to the little ones,” He displays His Mercy. The judgments of God, whether in the matter of Justice or Mercy, are ever equitable; ever deserving of praise.

26. “Yea” (in Greek, ναι, nay), briefly repeats the former acts of praise, and is strongly commendatory of the workings of God’s adorable providence. “I confess,” is here understood, to be repeated, as if to say: Again and again, I thank Thee, O Father, for this ordination of Thy adorable providence, which is to be ever praised and glorified.

In all things, therefore, coming from the hands of God, we should humbly bow down and give Him thanks, and from our inmost heart, conform to His adorable will, saying always, even when things go against us, “Fiat voluntas tua sicut in cœlo,” &c. “Ita, Pater, quia sic placitum fait ante te.” “Fiat, laudatur et superexaltetur in æternum, justissima, altissima et amabilissima voluntas Dei in omnibus.” God wills it, no further inquiries, reasoning, or murmurings about it.

27. Lest it might be imagined, from our Lord’s thanking His Father, for having revealed the mysteries of grace to the little ones, &c., that Christ Himself had not this power, He adds, “all things,” all power, all dominion, all knowledge, &c., were communicated to Me “by My Father,” at My Incarnation. Others say, at My eternal generation. These interpretations, however, amount to the same; or, rather, the latter is included in the former. Since it is from His eternal generation, that the gifts bestowed on Him at His Incarnation flowed, therefore, if “My Father” be omnipotent and omniscient, so am I; and I can, therefore, reprobate or save. The mysteries of grace and glory have been concealed by My Father, and also by Me, from the wise, and imparted to the humble.

And no one knoweth the Son, but the Father.” This may regard comprehensive, perfect, natural knowledge. This the Son also has, and the Holy Ghost. As the words, “and he to whom it shall please the Father to reveal Him,” although not expressed here, because they are included in verse 25, “hast revealed,” &c., are still implied, if we look to the words, “and to whom it shall please the Son to reveal,” it is better to understand it of the knowledge of the Father, known from revelation, as it is only of such knowledge, man is capable; such knowledge alone can be communicated to him.

Neither doth any one know the Father, but the Son, and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal Him.” These latter words are not expressed above, regarding the Father; because, revelation was before attributed to the Father (v. 25), and, moreover, it is through the Son that God the Father reveals Himself and the Godhead to the world. “Manifestavi nomen tuum hominibus,” &c. (John 17:6) The equality of the Son with the Father is shown here. For, He knows all regarding the Father, as the Father does regarding Him, which is put more strongly by St. Luke (10:22), “And no one knoweth who the Son is but the Father; and who the Father is but the Son.” Again, “the Son reveals it to whom He pleases.” The Holy Ghost is not included, since the exceptive or exclusive words applied to one Person of the Trinity do not regard the other Divine Persons, who possess equally the Divine nature. They only regard creatures. No one knows the mysteries regarding the Father, nor those regarding the Son, except those to whom they may be pleased to reveal them. Hence, when the Father reveals (v. 25), the Son also reveals. St. Chrysostom observes that the words, “to whom it shall please the Son to reveal,” show the Son to be equal to the Father in power and dominion. For, although Christ reveals as man, and through His human nature, still, this nature subsists in a Divine Person; and this man, Christ is God also, and as God, equal to the Father. Others connect the words of this verse with the following verse, “come to Me,” &c. As all power of saving, all dominion, all knowledge, have been communicated to Me by My Father, to be imparted by Me to whomsoever I please, I do, therefore, invite you all to “come,” &c.

28. “Come to Me,” approach Me, with the proper dispositions of faith, hope, devotion, &c., with a desire to observe all My precepts, who am equal to the Father in all things, the Sovereign Lord of heaven and earth, to whom all things were delivered by My Father, having, therefore, at My disposal the dispensation of every good gift, including the perfect liberation from all evils incident to human life; “all you that labour,” &c., groaning under the intolerable burden of sin, and its concomitant evils, viz., the tyranny of concupiscence and your corrupt passions, the remorse of conscience, and the dread of the fearful punishments of sin; and who, moreover, are groaning under the yoke of the Mosaic law.

And I will refresh you.” The Greek word for “refresh” (αναπαυσω), means, rest, cessation from trouble. Hence, the words signify: I will grant you respite and rest; respite from your temporal miseries, and vexatious sufferings, which I shall temper for you, by granting you grace to bear them patiently; rest, from the burdensome uneasiness ever attendant on sin, and the consequent remorse, with dread of punishment, by remitting them; rest, also, from the intolerable yoke of Mosaic ceremonies, which neither you nor your fathers, could bear (Acts 15:10). So that all are sweetly invited, without exception: Gentiles, whose burden of temporal miseries He alleviates, whose sins, both as to guilt and eternal consequences, He remits; and Jews, whom, in addition to the foregoing benefits, He frees, from the galling yoke of the Mosaic ceremonial law.

29. “Take My yoke upon you.” “My yoke,” in opposition to the yoke of the Mosaic law; and the heavy yoke of sin, concupiscence, and its consequences, under which you have been hitherto groaning, placed on your shoulders by your former spiritual taskmasters.

My yoke,” which you will not be left to bear alone, which I shall help you to carry. “My yoke,” which I bore before you, and gave you an example to carry. By “yoke,” is meant the law of the Gospel in all its parts, called a “yoke,” because, like every other law, it binds us to certain duties, and forbids us to transgress certain limits. It is also called a “burden,” because, we are obliged to bear it, to live according to it, and to fulfil it. It consists in bringing the Intellect into the captivity of faith, and the Will into the captivity of obedience, so as to observe all His commandments.

And learn of Me, because I am Meek,” &c., which some thus interpret: Among the virtues and precepts inculcated in My Gospel, there are two virtues in particular, which I am specially desirous you should learn of Me, as your Divine Master. These are, humility and meekness. These are the special virtues, which shall serve as the surest means of procuring perseverance in bearing My sweet yoke; which alone can secure that desirable peace and rest surpassing all understanding. It is to pride and the angry desire of vengeance—vices, the opposite of humility and meekness—that all the miseries of this world are to be attributed. These are the virtues which we can imitate our Lord in cultivating, and from which no one can be dispensed. This is the interpretation of St. Augustine: “Discite a me non mundum fabricare, non cuncta visibilia et invisibilia creare … sed quoniam mitis sum et humilis corde.” Our Lord tells us to copy after Himself in the practice of these virtues in particular (Serm. 69).

Others, with Maldonatus, &c., say, the meaning is: Take upon you My yoke, &c.; be not afraid of approaching Me, be your unworthiness and sinfulness what it may; rather, come with confidence, and learn, from your experience of Me, that I am not, like the Scribes and Pharisees, a haughty, morose, repulsive tyrant, to scare you away; but, on the contrary, a meek and gentle master, who will receive you with the greatest kindness and benignity, with truly humble condescension and affability.

This latter interpretation would seem to accord better with the context. For, the words of this verse would seem to be but a fuller explanation and development of the subject of the preceding verse (28). “Come” (v. 28), by your dispositions of heart to observe My law and obey My will and ordinances, is more fully expressed in the words of this verse, “Take up My yoke upon you.” “To Me,” who will not repel you; “because, I am meek and humble of heart,” gentle, kind in My government and intercourse, and you will find Me to be such. “And I will refresh you” (v. 28), is the same as, “you will find rest to your souls.” (The Greek for “refresh” and “rest,” is the same, ἀνἀπαυσιν). This rest, this refreshment, results not from the observance of the precepts regarding meekness and humility of heart merely, although these form a portion of God’s law very effectual for begetting peace and rest; but, from bearing the “yoke” of Christ in its fulness, embracing the observance of all His commandments, the love of God and our neighbour, all that regards faith and morals. This is quite clear from the words of Jeremias (6:16), to which our Lord here manifestly alludes, also from Ecclesiasticus (51:34, 35).

30. If we adopt the interpretation of St. Augustine, given above, then the words will mean; by practising the virtues of meekness and humility, after His example, which are the surest means for enabling us to take up the yoke of Christ, and observe all His other precepts, we will be sure to enjoy peace of soul, because, they shall divest the yoke of Christ, or, the observance of His commandments, of bitter, galling irritation—the effect commonly produced by a “yoke.” They shall render the observance of God’s commandments, neither galling nor irritating; on the contrary, they shall beget in their observance, feelings of sweet benignity and contentment; and as a burden is oppressive from its weight, they shall render this “burden” “light” and easy to be carried, “and His commandments are not heavy” (1 John 5:3).

In the latter interpretation, the words of this verse are a proof, that they would find rest for their souls, in approaching Christ, in experiencing His meekness and humility, and in carrying “His yoke,” as explained above.

The “yoke” of Christ, far from galling or irritating, is “sweet,” comparatively, if contrasted with the yoke of the Mosaic law, “which neither they nor their fathers could bear;” and with the “yoke” of sin, and the slavery of the devil, which, though sweet and gratifying to corrupt nature, still leaves behind it bitterness, remorse of conscience, and ultimately plunges men for ever into hell.

It is “sweet” in itself, and “light,” because, His law is perfectly in accordance with the natural law, which the Gospel, with the mere addition of some positive precepts, more fully developes. Again, it is mild in regard to sinners, and has removed the rigorous punishments of the Old Law. Again, it carries with it abundant help and graces, not given in the Old Law, for self-fulfilment, and holds out promises the most consoling and abundant, of the fulfilment of which it gives us a sure earnest and foretaste here in the peace of God, which it bestows, exceeding all understanding. Finally, it proposes love and charity, as the sweet motive of our actions, and not, like the Old Law, the servile fear of punishments. “Ubi amatur, non laboratur; aut si laboratur, labor amatur” (St. Augustine).

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