Verse 39. "Ye shall not see me" - I will remove my Gospel from you, and withdraw my protection.
"Till ye shall say, Blessed" - Till after the fullness of the Gentiles is brought in, when the word of life shall again be sent unto you; then will ye rejoice, and bless, and praise him that cometh in the name of the Lord, with full and final salvation for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. See Rom. xi. 26, 27.
Our Lord plainly foresaw that, in process of time, a spiritual domination would arise in his Church; and, to prevent its evil influence, he leaves the strong warnings against it which are contained in the former part of this chapter. As the religion of Christ is completely spiritual, and the influence by which it is produced and maintained must come from heaven; therefore, there could be no master or head but himself: for as the Church (the assemblage of true believers) is his body, all its intelligence, light, and life, must proceed from him alone. Our forefathers noted this well; and this was one of the grand arguments by which they overturned the papal pretensions to supremacy in this country. In a note on ver. 9, in a Bible published by Edmund Becke in 1549, the 2nd of Edward VI., we find the following words:-Call no man your father upon the earth. Here is the Bishoppe of Rome declared a plaine Antichrist, in that he woulde be called the most holye father; and that all Christen men shoulde acknowledge hym for no lesse then their spyritual father, notwithstandinge these playne wordes of Christe. It is true, nothing can be plainer; and yet, in the face of these commands, the pope has claimed the honour; and millions of men have been so stupid as to concede it. May those days of darkness, tyranny, and disgrace, never return! From the 13th to the 39th verse, our Lord pronounces eight woes, or rather pathetic declarations, against the scribes and Pharisees.
1. For their unwillingness to let the common people enjoy the pure word of God, or its right explanation: Ye shut up the kingdom, &c., ver. 13.
2. For their rapacity, and pretended sanctity in order to secure their secular ends: Ye devour widows houses, &c., Matthew xxiii. 14.
3. For their pretended zeal to spread the kingdom of God by making proselytes, when they had no other end in view than forming instruments for the purposes of their oppression and cruelty: Ye compass sea and land, &c., ver. 15.
4. For their bad doctrine and false interpretations of the Scriptures, and their dispensing with the most solemn oaths and vows at pleasure: Ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing, &c., ver. 16-22.
5. For their superstition in scrupulously attending to little things, and things not commanded, and omitting matters of great importance, the practice of which God had especially enjoined: Ye pay tithe of mint and cummin, &c., ver. 23, 24.
6. For their hypocrisy, pretended saintship, and endeavouring to maintain decency in their outward conduct, while they had no other object in view than to deceive the people, and make them acquiesce in their oppressive measures: Ye make clean the outside of the cup, ver. 25, 26.
7. For the depth of their inward depravity and abomination, having nothing good, fair, or supportable, but the mere outside.-Most hypocrites and wicked men have some good: but these were radically and totally evil: Ye are like unto whited sepulchres-within full-of all uncleanness, ver. 27, 28.
8. For their pretended concern for the holiness of the people, which proceeded no farther than to keep them free from such pollutions as they might accidentally and innocently contract, by casually stepping on the place where a person had been buried: and for their affected regret that their fathers had killed the prophets, while themselves possessed and cultivated the same murderous inclinations: Ye- garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, If we had been, &c., ver. 29, 30.
It is amazing with what power and authority our blessed Lord reproves this bad people. This was the last discourse they ever heard from him; and it is surprising, considering their wickedness, that they waited even for a mock trial, and did not rise up at once and destroy him. But the time was not yet come in which he was to lay down his life, for no man could take it from him.
While he appears in this last discourse with all the authority of a lawgiver and judge, he at the same time shows the tenderness and compassion of a friend and a father: he beholds their awful state-his eye affects his heart, and he weeps over them! Were not the present hardness and final perdition of these ungodly men entirely of themselves? Could Jesus, as the Supreme God, have fixed their reprobation from all eternity by any necessitating decree; and yet weep over the unavoidable consequences of his own sovereign determinations? How absurd as well as shocking is the thought! This is Jewish exclusion: Credat Judaeus Apella-non ego.