Thomas Boston on Matthew 23:37: Selected Comments

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1) And then Christ himself holds out that safe covert of his righteousness and grace, which he offers to sinners in the gospel, Matth. xxiii. 37, ” How often would I have gathered thy children together, even aa a hen gathereth her chicken8 under her wings!” They are weak, and in hazard of being made a pray; but under the wings of his grace they may find safety, tender affection, and cherishing for their dejected souls, Pssl. xci. 4; and therefore come they to “trust under hie wings.” His blood is the only propitiation to which they lippen their souls, his righteousness their only cover, his satisfaction their only plea, or ground on which they will plead mercy, his payment of the debt their only plea for their discharge; for they have had the sentence of death in themselves carried and thrust home into their souls by the law, that they might trust in him who raiseth the dead, while others keep up their confidence in the flesh. Such the Lord pronounceth blessed, Matt 11. v. 3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Thomas Boston, “Distinguishing Characters of Real Christians in Works, 4:512

2) 3. Them is a double gathering of scattered sinners to Christ me one is now a doing, has been from the beginning, and will be to the end of the world; and that is a gathering of sinners by the gospel to him into the bond of the covenant of grace, Gen. xlix. 10. m e other is to come certainly at the world’s end, and that is a gathering of them by the angels to meet him in the air, never to set their foot more on the cursed earth, but to go away with him to heaven. And that will be a gathering quickly dispatched, as appears from the text.

4. Them are many who will not be gathered to. Christ now, what ever pains he is at to gather them, Mat. xxiii. 37.–“How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as s hen gathereth her chickens under her rings, and ye would not!” In He set up his standard among them, he calls to them to come to him; but they get away from him. They love better to wander on, than to return; they prefer a vain world, and their deceitful lusts, to Christ ; and they love rather to be at their liberty, than to be brought into the bond of his covenant. They cannot endure to be so hedged up, Ps. ii. 3. So they refuse to gather to him. Thomas Boston, “The Art of Man-Fishing,” in Works, 5:517-518.

3) So by this trust, the soul takes possession of Christ and his righteousness; and useth the same as its own, to the purpose of salvation. By it the sinner betakes himself as a condemned man, unto Jesus Christ as the propitiatory mercy-seat through his blood, affording safety to the guilty before a holy God: and by it the sinner betakes himself as a sick man, unto the same Jesus as the physician of souls having the fullness of the Spirit of sanctification in him, to be communicated. Accordingly faith is called a coming to Christ, John vi.36; a fleeing for refuge, as one in hazard of his life by a pursuer, Heb. vi. 18; and is often expressed, as Psalm ii. 12, by a word which properly signifies, to retire as into a shadow, Jndg. is. 16, or as the chickens do under the wings of the hen, Ruth ii. 12, “The Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust;” properly to retire. Compare Yatth. xxiii. 37, “How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings!” Thomas Boston, “Human Nature in its Fourfold State,” in Works, 8:601.

4) 5. “Cast thy burden on the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.” The soul is heavy laden, while out of Christ: Jesus holds out the everlasting arms, Dent. xxxiii. 27, faith settles down on then, casting the soul’s burden upon them; ”Come (says he) with all your misery, debts, beggary, and wants, I have shoulder to bear them all; I will take on the burden, ye shall get rest.” He in content to marry the poor widow–Such come to him.

6. As one in whom they may find refuge: Heb. vi. 18, “Who have fled for refuge, to lay hold on the hope set before us” The law, as the avenger of blood, pursues the soul. Christ is that city of refuge, where none can hove power against them. The gates are never shut; here is a refuge from the law, from justice, and from the revenging wrath of God. Here is shelter under the wings of Christ: how willing is he to gather his people, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings!–Such come to him. Thomas Boston, “Christ’s Invitation to the Labouring and Heaven laden: The Same Continued,” in Works, 9:205.

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