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§ 204. Instructions to the Seventy on their Mission. (Luke, x.) The Wo to the Unbelieving Cities.

The Spirit of Christ, and of the communion which he founded and inspired, demanded that his organs should not labour as isolated instruments, but in union with each other, reciprocally assisting each other; just as he promised, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Therefore, in sending out his disciples in various directions before him, he sent them not singly, but. two and two.

The instructions given to them were similar to those which he had previously impressed upon the Twelve;550550   That is, indeed, an arrogant and presumptuous criticism which decides that the whole account of the mission of the Seventy is a mere imitation of that of the Twelve, simply because the two sets of instructions are not accurately distinguished from each other. but, as the opposition of the Pharisees had greatly increased in violence, he foretold that they would meet with many enemies: “I send you forth as lambs among wolves.” This may either imply that they were to go forth defenceless among the most fierce and cruel foes; or because the Pharisees, as selfish leaders who sacrificed the welfare of their flocks, were wolves in sheep’s clothing, the disciples were contrasted with them as lambs in innocence of heart and gentleness. Or both thoughts together may have been intended. But unfavourable as was the field of their labour, he bade them take no uneasy care for the future, and to trust confidently that all their wants would be supplied. They were told, as the Apostles had been (ix., 3), to “carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes;” but with the view, in addition to the trust in Providence, which the rule implied in both cases, to expedite their journey, as its immediate objects required haste: [“Salute no man by the way.”]


After declaring to them (v. 5-12) that the destiny of the towns into which they entered would be fixed by the reception they gave to the preaching of the kingdom of God, Christ pronounced a wo upon those towns of Galilee551551   Many miracles are here presupposed as wrought in Western Bethsaida and in the neighbouring and obscure village, Chorazin, which have not been transmitted to us. which had been so greatly favoured by his labours, and had (the little flock of believers excepted) given them so unworthy a reception. “Had such miracles552552   Such sayings from Christ’s own lips prove that he himself was conscious of performing acts out of the ordinary course of the material world, by which even the dullest might have been awakened had they possessed proper religious susceptibilities; as, indeed, without these, the stimulus of miracles could have been but transient. been wrought in Tyre and Sidon, they had a long while ago repented. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be cast down to Hades.”553553   The word ὑψωθεῖσα (v. 15) may be understood objectively or subjectively. In the firs, sense, it would imply that the town was exalted by the lot which had fallen to it; certainly not in reference to worldly wealth, although it was a prosperous place; but to the presence and the ministry of Christ which it had enjoyed. Taken subjectively, it would refer to the arrogance of the city, as preventing it from rightly appreciating the grace which had been bestowed upon it. The connexion favours the first. The higher one may rise by rightly using the grace bestowed upon him, the deeper will be his fall if he neglects it. He who was the humblest of men here betokened himself as one whose ministry in a city could exalt it to heaven; and in the mouth of any other the expression would have been the height of arrogance. Vainly, indeed, do some attempt to flatten down this language of Christ’s into Oriental hyperbole; an attempt, too, which is utterly unjustifiable in regard to his language, in which the figures of the East were so imbued with the sobriety of the West as to stamp them with fitness for all times and all countries.

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