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Parable of the Salt of the Earth.
MATT. V. 13.
"Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of
THIS parable occurs in the Sermon on the Mount, which appears to have been addressed particularly to the disciples of Christ. "When he was set his disciples came unto him; and he opened his mouth and taught them, saying, &c." vers. 1, 2. That Jesus was addressing his disciples seems further evident from verses 11 and 12. "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you."
The disciples were "the salt of the earth.” Every one knows the preserving qualities of salt. In the hot climate of Judea, it was so necessary a thing, that no meat could be preserved sweet, though but for a short time, without it. The disciples, from their knowledge of the doctrine of Christ, and their efforts to spread it in the world, would perform the same office for mankind that salt does for animal food; they would save men from corruption and impurity in their doctrines and practices.
"But if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?" The application of this is very easy. It is a common thing for salt, when exposed to the
air in hot countries, to lose its saline quality. Maundrell, in his book of travels, describing the valley of salt, speaks thus: "Along on one side of the valley towards Gibul, there is a small precipice about two men's lengths, occasioned by the continual taking away of the salt; and in this you may see how the veins of it lie. I broke a piece of it, of which that part that was exposed to the rain, sun and air, though it had the sparks and particles of salt, yet it had perfectly lost its savour; the inner part which was connected to the rock, retained its savour as I found by proof." If the disciples should lose the savour of the divine word, how could they benefit mankind? The church of Christ did in time lose its savour, and during that time it exercised no good influence upon the world."It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." Adam Clarke gives a paragraph from Schoetgenius, which may with propriety be introduced in this place. "There was a species of salt in Judea, which was generated at the lake. Asphaltitis, and hence called bituminous salt, easily rendered vapid and of no other use but to be spread in a part of the temple, to prevent the slipping in wet weather. This is probably what our Lord alludes to in this place." Christians, without the power of divine truth, would be equally useless; and would be rejected as insipid salt, or the vilest substances.
Parable of the Light of the World.
MATT. V. 14, 15.
"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house."-Matt. v. 14-15.
THIS parable, like the preceding, was spoken to the disciples; and the design of it was to induce them not to be ashamed of him and his words, but to make an open profession of their faith before the world.
"Ye are the light of the world." They were the repositories of truth; and as truth was moral light, the disciples, as sources of it to mankind, are called "the light of the world." As God made use of the sun to give light to the natural world, so he employed Christians to illuminate the minds of mankind by shedding upon them the rays of divine truth. Adam Clarke says, "light of the world was a title applied to the most eminent Rabbins. Christ transfers the title from these, and gives it to his own disciples, who, by the doctrines that he taught them, were to be the means of diffusing the light of life throughout the Universe."
Jesus next refers to the importance of their shewing this light. "A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid." It is supposed that he drew his figure from the city of Bethulia, which was situated upon a mountain, in plain sight of the spot where he delivered these instructions. With this view Maundrell says, "A few points towards the north (of Tabor) appears that which they call the mount of
beatitudes, a small rising, from which our blessed Saviour delivered his Sermon in the 5th, 6th and 7th chapters of Matt. Not far from this little hill is the city Saphet, supposed to be the ancient Bethulia. It stands upon a very eminent and conspicu ous mountain, and is seen far and near. May we not suppose that Christ alludes to this city, in these words of his, "A city set on a hill cannot be hid.” "Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house." Those who make themselves acquainted with the truth, and hesitate to profess it before men, are chargeable with the same folly with the man who should light a candle, and then hide it under a bushel. The very object of lighting a candle is to give light-the object of hiding it would be to conceal that light; and it is therefore preposterously absurd that those who light a candle should put it under a bushel. Truth is moral light. Those who ignite the torch of the mind with its holy flame, should not endeavor to hide the light thereof; but let it shine before men, that others may see it and glorify God. Jesus would not that any should be ashamed of him. "Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels." The apostle exhorts his Hebrew brethren to "hold fast the profession of their faith without wavering." Truth is not a thing of which man may be ashamed; and hence the exhortation is highly proper, "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." At the death of Christ, "when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God." He professed that Jesus was a righteous person.
So by manifesting our faith before mankind, we shall bring them to believe in Christ, and thus will they glorify our Father in heaven, as the centurion did.
This parable furnishes a severe reproof to those of the present day, who have not courage to avow the convictions of their own minds. What they are persuaded is truth, they keep hidden. Professed ministers of the gospel are sometimes guilty of this unchristian practice. The love of the world, and the fear of man, sway them with a stronger influence than a desire to do their duty. They "light a candle, and put it under a bushel."
Parable of the offending Hand or Foot.
MATT. V. 29, 30: XVIII. 8, 9-MARK IX. 43—48.
"And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire, Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."-Mark ix. 43—48.
As this parable is one which has been often misapplied, and, as it has been generally used in defence of the doctrine of endless torment, and moreover, as it is now thought to be one of the principal