Luke 14:28.For which of you, etc , That no one may think it hard to follow Christ on the condition of renouncing all his desires, a useful warning is here given. We must consider beforehand what the profession of the gospel demands. The reason why many persons yield to very slight temptations is, that they have pictured to themselves unmixed enjoyment, as if they were to be always in the shade and at their ease. No man will ever become fit to serve Christ till he has undergone a long preparation for warfare.
Now the comparisons are exceedingly adapted to this object. Building is a tedious and vexatious matter, and one that gives little satisfaction on account of the expense. War, too, brings along with it many inconveniences, and almost threatens destruction to the human race, so that it is never undertaken but with reluctance. And yet the advantages of building are found to be sufficient to induce men to spend their substance on it without hesitation; while necessity drives them to shrink from no expenses in carrying on wars. But a far more valuable reward awaits those who are the builders of the temple of God, and who fight under the banner of Christ: for Christians do not labor for a temporary building, or fight for a passing triumph.
If a king find himself unable to endure the burden of a war, (607) he prevents an ignominious defeat by seeking peace with his adversary. The statements which our Lord makes to this effect must not be applied to the present subject, in such a manner as if we were to enter into any compromise with our spiritual foe, when our strength and resources fail. It would be idle to treat parables as applying in every minute point (608) to the matter in hand. But our Lord simply means that we ought to be so well prepared, as not to be taken by surprise for want of a proper defense, or basely to turn our backs: for it is not every one of us who is a king, to carry on war under his direction.
This doctrine reproves the rashness of those who foolishly proceed beyond their capacity, or flatter themselves without thinking of bearing the cross Yet we must take care lest this meditation, to which Christ exhorts us, should fill us with alarm or retard our progress. Many persons, not having from the outset laid their account with suffering, relax their zeal through cowardice: for they cannot endure to be Christians on any other condition than that of being exempted from the cross Others again, when a condition that is harsh and unpleasant to the flesh is proposed to them, do not venture to approach to Christ. But there is no good reason for being discouraged by a knowledge of our poverty, for the Lord grants to us seasonable aid. I readily acknowledge that, if we calculate the expense, we are all destitute of power to lay a single stone, or to wield a sword against the enemy. But as the materials, expense, arms, and forces, are supplied by the Lord out of heaven, no pretext on the score of difficulty can be offered by our indifference or sloth. The design of Christ, therefore, is to warn his followers to bear the cross, that they may prepare themselves with courage.
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