« AnteriorContinuar »
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither
will your Father forgive your trespasses.
o Mark xi. 25, 26; Eph. iv. 32; Col. iii. 13. p Chap. xviii. 35; James ii. 13.
14, 15. If ye forgive. If ye pardon. Trespasses. Offences, faults. If ye forgive others when they offend or injure you. The duty of forgiving the offences and faults of our brethren, by which we may have been aggrieved or injured, is every where inculcated in Scripture. Many of these have been committed in ignorance, and by persons who, had they known the circumstances, would have been little disposed to act as they have done; and who, when the circumstances are explained, will be ready to confess they have erred, and to retract what they may have spoken to our prejudice. But even when such offences have proceeded from malignant motives, the Christian is not to revenge them. Instead of returning evil for evil, he is to imitate the example of his divine Master, who, when he was reviled, reviled not again. Our Saviour teaches that we are to forgive, even if the offence be committed seventy times seven. Matt. xviii. 22. When one who has injured us asks our forgiveness, we are cordially to grant it-to forget the injury, and act towards him as if it had never been committed. If he does not ask forgiveness, yet we are still to treat him kindly; not to harbour malice; not to speak ill of him; to be ready to do him good; and be always prepared to declare him forgiven when he asks it.
16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
16-18. Moreover when ye fast, &c. The word fast literally signifies to abstain from food whether from necessity or as a religious observance. It is, however, commonly applied in the Bible to the latter. It is an expression of grief and humility on account of sin. Such is the constitution of the body, that in a time of grief or sorrow we are not disposed to eat. The grief of the soul is so absorbing, as to suspend the natural appetites of the body. Men in deep affliction eat little, and often pine away and fall into sickness. Fasting is a natural expression of grief. The soul, when oppressed and burdened by a sense of sin, is so filled with grief, that the body refuses food. The term "fasting," is appropriated to scenes of penitence, of godly sorrow, of suffering, and to those facts connected with religion that are fitted to produce grief, as the prevalence of iniquity, or some dark impending calamity, or tempest, pestilence, plague, or famine. It is in connection with sin, and because of it, that the judgments of the Lord are abroad upon the face of the earth. Sin is the cause of all the suffering and calamity with which the children of men are exercised. National calamities accompany, or come in the train of, national backsliding and guilt. It well becomes us at all times, and especially when iniquity abounds in an extraordinary degree-when the Gospel is set at nought by those in influential stations-when no reference is made to the hand of God in public affairs-when his holy superintending providence is not only not recognised, but even denied-to humble our souls before God, to mourn over our own sins, which have helped to swell the national guilt, and to bring things to so fearful a crisis of ungodliness, to confess, and be in bitterness on account of, the sins of the community, which rise up to heaven in so dark a cloud, and to pray fervently unto our heavenly Father, that he would send deliverance, arise for the vindication of his cause upon earth, and manifest his glory in the eyes of all flesh. The Scriptures abound in encouragements to this duty-in precious promises that, in answer to the prayers of his people, in times of public calamity, as at all times, he will send deliverance and in notable examples of his faithfulness to his promises, as experienced by his servants of old. Or, if the judgments of God be not withdrawn, his people have yet the comfortable assurance that, cleaving unto him, and "flying like doves to their windows," they shall not be unvisited with grace suited to their necessities, but shall be brought into a sweet frame of resignation and cheerful submission to the will of their heavenly Father, their reconciled God, obtain the sanctified use of affliction, and be made greatly to rejoice in the Rock of their salvation, having his presence and company with them in the midst of the furnace. Of a sad countenance. That is, sour, morose, assumed expressions of unfelt sorrow. They disfigure their faces. That is, they do not anoint and wash themselves as usual; they are uncombed, squalid,
and baggard. They were often in the habit of throwing ashes on their heads and faces; and this, mixing with their tears, still farther disfigured their faces. So much pains will men take, and so much will they undergo, for the sake of external appearance, whilst yet their hearts may be very far from God-wholly untouched by a true sense of sin-altogether unhumbled-full of the spirit of self-righteousness. Men should exhibit outwardly no more than they feel inwardly. What goes beyond this lies on the side of hypocrisy. As in their prayers, so in their fastings, the Pharisees were self-seekers and men-pleasers. They did all ostentatiously, to be seen of men, that they might gain their applause; and in this applause they had their reward.
"We are here cautioned against hypocrisy in fasting, as before in alms-giving and in prayer. Religious fasting is a duty required of the disciples of Christ, when God in his providence calls to it, and the case of their own souls require it. But it is not so much a duty itself, as a means to dispose us for other duties. Christ here speaks especially of private fasts, such as particular persons prescribe to themselves, commonly used among the pious Jews. It was not the Pharisee's fasting twice in the week, but his boasting of it, that Christ condemned. Luke xviii. 12. It is a laudable practice, and we have reason to lament that it is so generally neglected among Christians. The primitive Christians often fasted. See Acts xiii. 3, xiv. 23. Private fasting is supposed. i Cor. vii. 5. It is an act of self-denial, and mortification of the flesh, and humiliation under the hand of God. It is a means to curb the flesh and the desires of it, and to make us more lively in religious exercises, as fulness of bread is apt to make us drowsy. Paul was in fastings often, and so he kept under his body, and brought it into subjection. Christ's disciple is to avoid all ostentation. His fast is to be in private. In his family, or when from home, he is to be cheerful, and attired as at other times."
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
s Prov. xxiii. 4; 1 Tim. vi. 17; Heb. xiii. 5; James v. 1.
19. Lay not up for yourselves treasures, &c. Treasures or wealth, among the ancients, consisted in clothes, or changes of raiment, as well as in gold, silver, gems, wine, lands, and oil. It meant an abundance of any thing that was held to be conducive to the ornament or comfort of life. As the Orientalists delighted much in display, in splendid equipage, and costly garments, their treasures, in fact, consisted much in beautiful and richly ornamented articles of apparel. See Gen. xlv. 22, where Joseph gave to his brethren changes of ruiment; Josh. vii. 21, where Achan coveted and secreted a goodly Babylonish garment. See also Judges xiv. 12. This fact will account for the use of the word moth. When we speak of wealth, we think at once of gold, and silver, and lands, and houses. When a Hebrew or an Orientalist spoke of wealth, he thought first of what would make display, and included, as an essential part, splendid articles of dress. The moth is a small insect that finds its way to clothes and garments, and destroys them. The moth would destroy their apparel, the rust their silver and gold; and thus all their treasure would waste away.
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
t Chap. xix. 21; Luke xii. 33, 34; xviii. 22; 1 Tim. vi. 19; 1 Pet. i. 4.
20, 21. Lay up treasures in heaven. "Christ counsels to make the joys and glories of the other world, those things not seen that are eternal, our best things, and to place our happiness in them. Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. There are treasures in heaven, as sure as there are on this earth, which those that are truly sanctified arrive at. It is our wisdom to give all diligence to make sure our title to eternal life through Jesus Christ, and to depend upon that as our happiness, and look upon all things here below as not worthy to be compared with it, and to be content with nothing short of it. If we thus make those treasures ours, they are laid up, and we may trust God to keep them safe for us; thither let us then refer all our designs, and extend all our desires. There it is safe; it will not decay, nor can we be by force or fraud deprived of it. It is a happiness above and beyond the changes and chances of time, an inheritance incorruptible. Where your treasure is, on earth or in heaven, there will your heart be. That way the desires and pursuits go, thitherward the aims and intents are levelled, and all is done with that in view."
22 "The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy
whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole
u Luke xi. 34, 36.
22, 23. The light of the body, &c. The duty of fixing the affections on heavenly things, Jesus proceeds to illustrate by a reference to the eye. When the eye is directed singly and steadily towards an object, and is in health, or is single, every thing is clear and plain. If it vibrates, flies to different objects, is fixed on no one singly, or is diseased, nothing is seen clearly. Every thing is dim and confused. The eye regulates the motion of the body. A man crossing a stream on a log, if he will look across at some object steadily, will be in little danger. If he looks down on the dashing and rolling waters, he will become dizzy and fall. Our Saviour teaches that, in order to walk as becometh his disciples, there must be a stedfast looking to himself; the eye of the soul must be set upon heavenly things. If we get entangled with the cares of this world, and set our hearts eagerly upon its objects, we shall stumble and fall, like one walking in darkness over a rugged path. "Blessed is the man that maketh the Lord his trust." "O fear the Lord, ye his saints; for there is no want to them that fear him." "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" ¶ If therefore the light that is in thee, &c. The light of the body, the guide and director, is the eye. All know how calamitous it is when that light is irregular, or extinguished, as when the eye is diseased or lost. The soul is the organ of spiritual light and vision. The believer fixes the eye of the soul upon Christ, the glorious object of his faith, and by looking unto him is enlightened. But if the soul be sunk in ignorance, worldly-mindedness, sin-if it be rivetted to earth, and look not heavenward-how fearful and deep must that darkness be in which it is involved! In such a state are all unconverted men; and they prefer the darkness to the light, their deeds being evil.
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
z Luke xvi. 13. y Gal. i. 10: 1 Tim. vi. 17; James iv. 4; 1 John ii. 15.
24. No man can serve two masters, &c. Christ proceeds to illustrate the necessity of laying up treasures in heaven, from a well-known fact, that a servant cannot serve two masters at the same time. His affections and obedience would be divided, and he would fail altogether in his duty to one or the other. One he would love, and the other hate. To the interests of one he would adhere, the other he would neglect. The affections can be supremely fixed on only one object. So the servant of God cannot at the same time obey him and be avaricious, or seek treasures supremely on earth. One interferes with the other, and one will be, and must be surrendered. Mammon. Mammon
is a Syriac word-a name given to an idol worshipped as the god of riches. It is not known that the Jews ever formally worshipped this idol, but they used the word to denote wealth. The meaning is, ye cannot serve the true God, and at the same time be wholly engaged in obtaining the riches of this world. One must interfere with the other. See Luke xvi. 9-11.
25 Therefore I say unto you, "Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 "Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the
≈ Ps. lv. 22; Luke xii. 22, 23; Phil. iv. 6; 1 Pet. v. 7. a Job xxxviii. 41; Ps cxlvii. 9; Luke xii. 24.
oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
fore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
25-31. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought, &c. In these verses, our Lord warns believers against taking too much anxiety about the things of this world, and the supply of their temporal wants. By several cogent arguments and beautiful illustrations, he teaches Christians that, in regard to these things, they are to exercise their faith on the promises of their heavenly Father, and place upon him the confidence of loving and obedient children. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?" Shall not their heavenly Father, who created their bodies out of the dust of the ground-who breathed into their nostrils the breath of life, and gave them living souls, and who has hitherto supplied all their wants out of his own fulness, continue to furnish a table for them in the wilderness, until his purposes with them here below shall be finished, and they be introduced into the kingdom of glory? He who has bestowed upon his people the gift of eternal life, the greatest and best gift he had to bestow, shall freely give all other things good and profitable for them. Believers should remember that all things are theirs, and in their straits comfort themselves with the argument of the apostle, "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" There is a degree of care and industry in regard to temporal things, which not only is proper, but the neglect of which would infringe upon the Divine commandments. 1 Tim. v. 8; 2 Thess. iii. 10; Rom. xii. 11. The man whose mind is wholly or chiefly engrossed with the concerns of life-who seeks his portion in this world-who frets against the dispensations of God's holy providence, is no disciple of Jesus, however strong his professions may be. He is actuated by the same spirit of unbelief as the Israelites, when, after witnessing all the acts of omnipotent power which the Lord put forth on their behalf, they cried out, "Can he give bread also? Can he provide flesh for his people?" Behold the fouls of the air. The providence of God extends over all his works. He opens his hands and satisfies the desire of every living thing. A sparrow falls not to the ground without his knowledge and appointment. The fowls of the air take no forethought. They are not provident of the future; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns. Yet they are all provided for. God feedeth them. Is not the life of the believer more precious in the sight of God than that of the fowls of the air; and shall not his ever-watchful providence, which provides for the wants of the lower creation, much rather minister all things necessary to those whose souls are precious in his sight, and whom he keeps as the apple of his eye? The believer is never for a moment out of the sight and keeping of his heavenly Father. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore." Ps. cxxi. 4-8. ¶ Which of you by taking thought. To be over-solicitous about the supply of our temporal wants, argues a want of confidence in our heavenly Father, and brings a charge against the faithfulness of his promises. Not only is it very sinful; it is also vain. Every comfort we enjoy is the gift of God. To Him, and not to our own industry, or skill, or management, is our possession of it to be referred. Without the blessing of God upon his labours, a man can as little acquire any worldly object at which he aims, as he can, by taking thought, add a cubit to his stature.
32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek :) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
b See 1 Kings iii. 13; Ps. xxxvii. 25; Mark x. 30; Luke xii. 31; 1 Tim. iv. 8.
32-34. For after all these things do the Gentiles seek. The heathens, in the darkness of nature, and in their ignorance of the nature, character, mind, and will of God, which he has been pleased to reveal to his people, take this world as their portion, and make it their chief anxiety to seek food and raiment. Very different ought to be the conduct of believers. They have tasted of the grace of God, and, through Christ, have been reconciled to him. They know, and it is their duty to live
according to what they know, that God will provide for them all things needful. God is their Father to-day, and shall be so for ever. He has hitherto cared for them, and shall continue to do He shall supply their wants, as these wants occur.
1. In this chapter, our Lord, continuing his sermon on the mount, lays down a variety of precepts regarding religious duty, and warns his disciples against worldly-mindedness. The duties of which he speaks are alms-giving, prayer, and fasting. He is chiefly employed in teaching the manner in which these duties are to be performed. His disciples are to do all things with a view to the glory of God. They are to be actuated by very different feelings, and swayed by very different motives, from those under the influence of which hypocrites and nominal professors manifest an external appearance of godliness. Many have a name to live, whilst they are yet dead-a form of godliness, whilst they deny the power thereof. The motives which prompt such to act are described by our Saviour. These motives are ostentation and vain-glory. They seek to please men, and care not to honour God. 66 Vain-glory," as has well been remarked, "is a subtle evil preying most on best things a moth that breeds in and corrupts the finest garments." It is a sin into which, in the pride and weakness of our nature, we are very apt to fall. In every thing it is to be condemned, and above all in matters of religion.
2. The duty of ministering to the wants of the poor is strictly enjoined in Scripture. It is to be done in a meek and humble spirit. We are to do good unto all men as we have opportunity, especially to those of the household of faith. By every means within our power we are to seek the advancement of their spiritual and temporal interests. In supplying the temporal wants of men, it little becomes the Christian to be ostentatious. If you are in circumstances to relieve the needy, it is entirely owing to the goodness of God. He has given you your wealth, and given it as a trust, for the husbandry of which you must render him an account. To what is it to be traced, except the bounty of God towards you, that you are not in the condition of those needy persons who solicit your sympathy? Instead of seeking the applause of men in ministering to the poor, you ought to give thanks to your heavenly Father who, in respect of temporal mercies, has made your estate so much more full and comfortable than theirs. Whilst you relieve their bodily wants, you should also, and chiefly, seek to be instrumental in promoting the interests of their immortal souls.
3. "Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies." "As to prayer, how foolish and how wretched a thing it is to speak to God and look to man !" In God we live, and move, and have our being. We are most intimately dependent upon him for every mercy, spiritual and temporal, which we enjoy; and are so bound, by every consideration, to render thanks and make supplication unto him-to give thanks for all the blessings he has already bestowed upon us, and to supplicate that, if it be agreeable to his holy will, he may continue to us the enjoyment of his rich and excellent gifts. It would be base ingratitude not to acknowledge temporal mercies, and a mark of spiritual death to rest satisfied with them. With our God there are blessings infinitely more precious, which he is willing, at all times, liberally to bestow upon us-all the benefits of redemption purchased by Christ. We are, to be sure, utterly unworthy to receive the least of all God's mercies. It is not in our own name that we ask them, nor for our own deserts. It is in the name, and for the sake, of Him who is "our elder brother "-whom we have as "an advocate with the Father." The merits of Christ are the arguments with which we are to go to the throne of grace. These merits are inexhaustible. They deserve that God should bestow upon his people whatever is needful for them. He who pleads the merits of Christ, uses an argument that must prevail. God never shut his ear against it-never sent such a pleader empty away. A true believer is a man of prayer. He cannot live without it. He feels how continually he stands in need of the refreshments of Divine grace, and how languid and dead he becomes when the life-giving influences of the Holy Spirit are withheld from his soul. He knows that prayer is the means which his heavenly Father has appointed by which all spiritual blessings may be conveyed to him; and, valuing these blessings above all things, he diligently uses the means of obtaining them. Prayer is as much a privilege as a duty. We esteem it an honour to be admitted into the presence of some great man, and to hold converse with him; but in prayer we commune with God-we are brought very near to him, nay, into his very presence; for prayer is a "trysting-place" which he has marked out for his people, and there they are sure to meet him. The same reasons which engage the believer to secret devotion, obviously enjoin the duty of family prayer. Is God respected, and the Redeemer glorified, in that house where there is no family altar?
4. Worldly-mindedness is with most men a besetting sin. How prevalent is it even amongst believers! With what propriety might our Lord address many of whom there is reason to believe