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t; and whosoever will lose his life for ny sake, shall find it.” ver. 25.
Our translators had too much good sense to render it soul, in this case, for they saw the absurdity of saying, “whosoever will save his soul shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his soul for my sake, shall find it." I can see no good reason for giving different translations of the same word in these two verses. Its meaning appears to be the same in both. So evident is this, that Dr. A. Clarke, with all his prejudices, protests against the common translation
“ On what authority many have translated the word yern, in the 25th verse, life, and in this verse, soul, I know not ; but am certain it means life, in both places.” If the word had at first been translated life in both these verses, I venture to say, that no English reader would ever have suspected, that the least danger was intimated of losing the immortal soul, or exposing it to endless torment.
XIX. “ Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and be. come as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. xviii. 3.
The parallel passages are Mark x. 15, and Luke xviii. 17. For our views of the phrase, “ kingdom of heaven,” see our remarks under Section III. of this chapter, on Matt. v. 20. What we have there said, fully explains the passage before us, so far as its bearing on Universalism is concerned.
By a reference to the context, it will be seen, that the disciples were disputing who should be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, — not meaning the kingdom of immortal glory, but the kingdom of Christ upon the earth. Jesus disapproved their ambition, and replied, “Except ye be converted and become like little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven ;” that is, except ye curb this ambition, and cultivate the meek, lovely spirit of a little child, ye cancot be my disciples, nor subjects of my moral reign. Such is the evident sense of the passage.
The best 10
commentators give it a like construction. See Paige's " Selections, Sect. XXIX.
For a very sensible article on the subject of “ Evangelical Conversion,” see“Universalist Expositor,” Vol. II. pp. 38 - 58. See, also, Skinner's " Universalism Illustrated and Defended,” pp. 306 – 314.
XX. Matt. xviii. 8, 9. For an illustration of this passage, see remarks under Sect. XXXIV. of this chapter, on Mark ix. 43-48.
XXI. “Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me. Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow-servant, even as I had pity on thee? And his Lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” Matt. xviii. 32 - 35.
This is a part of the parable of the unforgiving servant. A certain servant owed his lord ten thousand talents,
a great sum. As he had nothing wherewith to pay, his lord, according to the custom of the country, ordered him, his wife, his children, and all he had, to be sold, and payment to be made. He entreated his master to have patience, and he would pay him all. To this the master assented. But this same servant went out, and found one of his fellow-servants,
who owed him the trifling sum of one hundred pence; and he laid hands on him with violence, and demanded payment. His fellow-servant besought him, as he had besought his lord in his own case, to have patience, and he would pay him all. But this servant, who had been forgiven, was nothing softened by his master's exhibition of kindness, but cast his poor debtor into prison, until he should pay the whole debt. When his fellowservants saw this, they reported the circumstances to their master ; and the master said, as in the words quoted at the head of this section ; “O thou wicked servant,” &c. The fault of the unforgiving servant was, that he did not imitate his master's example of
clemency : his master then punished him, by compelling him to pay the whole debt. What is there in this to substantiate the doctrine of endless misery ?
“ So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye, from your hearts, forgive not every one his brother their trespasses ;” that is, God will punish you justly, for ingratitude and for a want of forgiveness. Cruelty is a greater sin in those who feel and know that they have had much forgiven ; and such deserve a severer retribution, than those who are not sensible of the benefits which have been conferred on them. not to suppose, however, that Jesus meant, that the conduct of the Divine Being towards the unforgiving, was; in all respects, like that of the lord who thrust his servant into prison, and delivered him to the tormentors ; that is, we are not, from this, to attribute any cruelty to God. For, first, nothing is more foreign to his nature ; and, second, nothing is more foreign to the nature of Christ, the author of the parable ; and, third, this would be charging upon God the very conduct which was so highly disapproved in the unforgiving servant. The great sin charged on him was, that he refused to forgive, and treated his debtor with cruelty ; and from this to charge the same conduct on God, would be to subvert the very design of the parable, which was to inculcate the virtue of tenderness from the divine example. We are not to suppose, that God resembles this king in his execrable cruelty, any more than he reseinbled the unjust judge in his injustice. Luke xviii. 2-5. There was a certain reason why God was compared to that unjust judge, and that reason was sufficient to justify the comparison ; and when we have ascertained what that reason was, we should pursue the comparison no further. Thus it is said of Christ, he should come “as a thief in the night.” The object here is, to show that he would come suddenly and unexpectedly, when men were not looking for him. This was sufficient to justify the comparison, and it should be pursued no furiher ; for it would be folly to
go on, and say, that Jesus came like a thief, to steal, to kill, and destroy. So, in the parable before us, the object was to show, that God is disposed to kindness and lenily ; that men should be influenced by his example ; he disapproved, and would punish an unkind and unforgiving spirit
. In this respect, he was like the king, though he did not resemble the king in his cruelty. Having thus ascertained the object of the parable, it is enough, and we need pursue the comparison to no greater extent. It is a good remark which we find in the old anonymous commentary ;.“ In parables, we are to consider the scope and intention of the speaker, and not over-curiously to discuss every particular; so here we must know, that God doth not always show extreme rigor, until the vindication of his justice, or the compulsion of a sinner to repentance (which light afflictions do not always effect) necessarily require it. * * * * * Similitudes, they say, do not run on four feet, they will go current if they agree in one, or a few points, according to the scope thereof, or intent of the speaker."
XXII. “ Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." Matt. xix. 23, 24. See also Mark x. 24, 25; Luke xiii. 34, 35. This passage
has been adduced by some to prove the doctrine of endless misery. We are confident, that the true sense of the passage gives no support to that Goddishonoring sentiment.
For the sense of the phrase, “ kingdom of God,” we refer again to what we have said in Sect. Ill. on Matt. y. 20.
We believe the true object of Christ, in uttering the passage before us, is clearly set forth in the following article, from the pen of Rev. Hosea Ballou, 2nd.
“ This passage is generally understood to peculiar difficulty, almost an impossibility, for a rich man to become truly religious. And the next words, as they are commonly interpreted, confirm this im
pression ; ' And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, who then can be saved ? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them ; With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.' What can be more evident, it will be asked, than that Christ here neant to teach that it was a very difficult thing indeed, for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God; and that, although it was possible for God to bring about such an event, yet it was a case of very rare occurrence! We frankly acknowledge, that this is, without doubt, the plain meaning of the words ! But it does not follow, that they intimate any peculiar difficulty in a rich man's becoming converted to the belief of Christianity, or becoming truly pious.
What, then, did Christ mean? what is the general truth he intended to assert, in the passage under consideration ? Nothing more is necessary to a satisfactory answer, than a clear understanding of the circumstances in which the expression was uttered.
“ It is a fact not generally considered, perhaps, that during his personal ministry, Christ admitted into his
little flock'none but such as actually forsook all their earthly possessions, and followed him in his travels from place to place, or went forth at his command, to preach, without any pecuniary recompense whatever. When he called Peter and Andrew, James and John, they left their nets, and followed him ; when he called Matthew, the publican, he left his office at the receipt of custom; when a certain scribe proposed to follow him whithersoever he went, Christ warned him of the consequent hardships, saying, the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head ;' when one of his disciples asked leave to go and bury his father, the reply was, • Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.' In short, the rule which he established, and which he ex