But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers.
I. THE NATURE OF CHRISTIAN EQUALITY. Christianity is essentially democratic. Jesus Christ was a Man of the people, the greatest Tribune of the people the world has ever seen. He took the side of the oppressed against their oppressors, that of the "dim multitude," not that of the privileged few. His aim in this matter was to bring about a condition of brotherhood. There is a measure of inequality which no arrangements of men can set aside. One man is not always as good as another. People differ enormously in character, in ability, in energy. Therefore absolute equality is impossible. It is impossible according to the constitution of nature, and it is doubly impossible in face of the great variation of human conduct. But there is an equality to be striven for. The equality of Christian brotherhood is to be observed among Christians. Christ's words do not directly apply to the larger society of mankind. This equality should involve an equivalent in religious privileges which are meant to be freely offered to all. It should discourage any artificial distinctions.
II. THE GROUNDS OF CHRISTIAN EQUALITY.
1. The Fatherhood of God. We have one Father in heaven, and undue deference to men in religion obscures the honour due to God.
2. The Lordship of Christ. This is the specifically Christian principle, while the former one is a general religious principle. The Church is not a republic; it is a kingdom with Christ as its Head. Christians are bound to see that they put no one in the place of Christ. He has direct dealings with each of his people. He wants no grand vizier, no local satrap, no intermediate lord. He is the Master of each individual Christian, and every one can go to him personally for instructions.
III. THE VIOLATION OF CHRISTIAN EQUALITY. The words of Christ are ominous of coming dangers. They have a profound significance in the light of subsequent events. It is wonderful that their plain meaning should have been so egregiously disregarded as to permit of the construction of a monstrous ecclesiastical hierarchy in one direction and the creation of a system of dogmatic orthodoxy in another. Forgetting Christ and the privilege of closest relationship with him, Christian people have bowed their necks to the tyranny of various ecclesiastical masters and theological fathers. Order requires the appointment of officers in the Church, and truth demands respect for knowledge and for the capacity to teach. But it is a mistake, a wrong to God and Christ, to show such deference to human authorities as shall be false to Christian liberty. - W.F.A.
But be not ye called Rabbi.
(T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)I. Human masters may transmit their words; Christ alone can impart His Spirit.
II. Human masters may teach the elements; Christ alone can conduct to the goal.
III. Human masters may establish schools; Christ alone can found a church.
(J. P. Lange, D. D.)I. He Himself, by Himself, teaches us, and leads us by the way of virtue to heavenly glory. All others teach as they have been first taught by Him.
II. All others only teach in words that sound in the outward ears, like a tinkling cymbal; but Christ makes known their meaning inwardly to the mind.
III. All others only show what the law commands and what God requires; but Christ gives grace to the will, that we, when we hear the things which ought to be done, may indeed constantly fulfil the same.
(Lapide.)"I am my own master," cried a young man, proudly, when a friend tried to dissuade him from an enterprize he had on hand, "I am my own master." "Did you ever consider what a responsible post that is?" asked his friend. "Responsible! what do you mean?" "A master must lay out the work which he wants done, and see that it is done right. He should try to secure the best ends by the best means. He must keep on the look-out against obstacles and accidents, and watch that everything goes straight, else he must fail. To be master of yourself, you have your conscience to keep clear, your heart to cultivate, your temper to govern, your will to direct, and your judgment to instruct. You are master over many servants, and, if you don't master them, they will master you." "That is so," said the young man. "Now I could undertake no such thing," continued his friend; " I should fail if I did. Saul wanted to be his own master, and failed. Herod failed. Judas failed. No man is fit to be his own master. 'One is your Master, even Christ.' I work under His direction."I. Christians have a Master and a Father.
II. Christians have but one Master, but one Father.
III. There is no man upon earth that is the Christian's father or master.
IV. God is the Christian's only Father, Jesus Christ their only Master.
1. When the gospel began to be preached, men who were convinced of its truth, and inclined to receive it, were often in danger of incurring the displeasure of their nearest relations and dearest friends, of father and mother, as also of the rulers in Church and State.
2. The Jews at that time were accustomed to pay a blind and slavish deference to their spiritual fathers, their doctors, and wise men, and to prefer their authority even to that of their prophets and of their own sacred books.
3. Our Saviour foresaw that the same corruption would enter into His Church, and the same slavish obedience to the traditions and doctrines of men; that fathers, and monks, and councils, and synods, and prelates, and popes would at last so engross all power, both spiritual and temporal, and abuse it to such an enormous degree, that scarcely the shadow of Christianity would remain in the Christian Church.
1. A belief in God, in opposition to atheism.
2. Moral duties, in opposition to vice and debauchery.
3. Christianity, in opposition to infidelity.
(J. Jortin.)all beings, they are all, in some way, related to us.
(J. Jortin.)I. He is the Author of their spiritual being, gives life, and imparts His own nature.
II. God supplies all the need of His children. They are dependent, etc.
III. He provides them with a suitable home and habitation — Himself, His Church, His heaven.
IV. He secures the instruction of His children by His works, His word. He has appointed for them teachers.
V. He guards and protects His children.
VI. He gives them a glorious and everlasting portion. Reverence and fear Him; live and delight in Him; follow and obey Him, etc.
(J. Burns, LL. D.)It is virtue that puts an esteem upon men, it makes their countenances lovely, their words to be remembered; it casts a perfume on all that men do or say; gives every word or action a rich scent. This will make our so much distasted habits and gestures that they shall not be contemned or derided, but reverenced and honoured.
(C. Buckley.)I. A PROHIBITION.
1. Against a proud, ambitious spirit — "Be not ye called Rabbi."
2. Against a servile spirit" And call no man your father upon earth."
II. A REVELATION.
1. As to Christ. He was their Master.
2. As to the unseen God. He is our Father in heaven.
III. AN IDEAL — "All ye are brethren."
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