Matthew 19:12. For there are some eunuchs, &c. Our Lord here shows that the fore-mentioned gift of continence is given to three sorts of persons: 1st, To some by natural constitution, without their choice. 2d, To some by the violence of men, against their choice: and, 3d, To others by grace, with their choice; who steadily withstand their natural inclinations, that they may wait upon God without distraction, and may glorify him in a single life, judging it to be a state more free from worldly cares, and more friendly to devotion, than that of marriage. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it He that has this gift, in any of these ways, whether by natural constitution and disposition; or by the injury of human force used upon him, rendering him incapable of the matrimonial union; or by an ardent desire of promoting the interests of religion, animating him to subdue his natural appetite, and enabling him to live in voluntary chastity, unencumbered with secular concerns; such a person will not sin though, he leads a single life. The words, however, let him receive it, must not be referred to the clauses immediately preceding them, as if our Lord had meant to say, He that is able to become a eunuch by any of the ways I have mentioned, let him become one; for the second way, namely, through violence offered to men’s bodies, is absolutely unlawful: but they must be referred to Matthew 19:11, as is plain from the words themselves; and the meaning of them is, He that can receive the saying there mentioned, and live chastely without marriage, may receive it; and, as many commentators understand the words, ought to receive it. “They who have the gift of continency,” says Henry, “and are not under any necessity of marrying, do best if they continue single, 1 Corinthians 7:1; for they that are unmarried have opportunity, if they have but a heart, to care more for the things of the Lord, how they may please the Lord, 1 Corinthians 7:32; 1 Corinthians 7:34, being less encumbered with the cares of this life, and having greater vacancy of thoughts, and time to mind better things.” The word eunuchs, from the Greek ευνουχοι , eunouchoi, means having the care of the bed, or bed-chamber, (from ευνην εχειν ,) this being the principal employment of eunuchs in the eastern countries, that is, of such as our Lord says were made eunuchs by men, merely for the purpose of attending in the apartments of queens and princesses.
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