Page:Tracts for the Times Vol 2.djvu/28

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
6
TRACTS FOR THE TIMES.

ness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." (v. 17–19.) This, with other parallel passages, seems to give us a clue to the view of the Gospel dispensation as unfolded by St. Matthew. Our Lord appears in the character of a prophet, like Moses, raised up to be the Giver of a new law, and the founder of a new Kingdom or Polity. The Scribes and Pharisees were corrupt expounders of the Divine law, they were unfaithful stewards of the mysteries of the kingdom: other servants were therefore to be chosen into their place, who should be the true "light of the world;" faithful rulers over God's household, giving to every one their portion of meat in due season. The Scribes and Pharisees were to be deposed from Moses' seat; St. Peter and his fellow apostles were to be exalted in their room. They had "the keys of knowledge" committed to them, to open the kingdom of heaven unto men; but they had abused their trust, and they were to be deprived of their sacred office. Thus does our Lord pass sentence upon them: "Woe unto you. Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites: for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in." And thus, in terms strictly corresponding, as it would appear, is their bishopric given for another to take: "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona; and I say unto thee, that thou art Peter; and I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven." The kingdom of heaven, of which the keys were thus taken away from the Scribes and Pharisees, and given to St. Peter and his brethren, was that everlasting kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world, which had been committed to the Son by the Almighty Father. To Him of proper right it belongs; of Him alone it is properly said, that "He openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth." "The law and the prophets were until John," He himself declares; since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." (Luke xvi. 16. Matt. xi. 12.) For the baptism of repentance for