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that they are his people, "O ye of little faith!" What a scrambling after riches-what a desperate effort to acquire wealth-what a melancholy devotedness to the service of the world! How many reasons and excuses do we muster to justify ourselves in this our eagerness to treasure up the things that perish in the using! Old age will come, and it can neither work nor starve. Our families must be provided for. We must have a portion for our sons and daughters. And so we delve and toil in the field of mammon; and, looking sideways at the "one thing needful," are careful and troubled about many things. Such anxiety about the world is unworthy the high vocation of Christians. "How contradictory to distrust God in the small matters of food and raiment, when we trust him in matters infinitely greater-the life and wellbeing of our souls!" Is our treasure, indeed, in heaven?-our hearts will be there also. If, indeed, we are Christ's people, our affections will dwell upon him, and be drawn up to where he sits on the right hand of the Father; and this is one test by which we may try ourselves, even whether the love of Christ or the love of the world be strongest within us. It is impossible to serve two masters-God and the world. If we dote too much upon the world, God has not our heart. If God is our portion, we will sit loosely by the world, and consider all we have in it, nay, the whole world itself, as a very small and inconsiderable matter.-ED.
1 Christ ending his sermon on the mount, reproveth rash judgment, 6 forbiddeth to cast holy things to dogs, 7 exhorteth to prayer, 13 to enter in at the strait gate, 15 to beware of false prophets, 21 not to be hearers, but doers of the word: like houses builded on a rock, 26 and not on the sand.
JUDGE *not, that ye be not judged.
a Luke vi. 37; Rom. ii. 1, xiv. 3, 4, 10, 13; 1 Cor. iv. 3, 5; James iv. 11, 12.
Ver. 1. Judge not, &c. This command refers to rash, censorious, and unjust judgment. See Rom. ii. 1. "If we judge others, we may expect to be ourselves judged. Commonly none are more censured, than those who are most censorious. He who, like Ishmael, has his hand, his tongue, against every man, shall, like him, have every man's hand and tongue against him. Gen. xvi. 12. And they shall be judged of God. James iii. 1. Christ does not here forbid his disciples to form a judgment of the state and character of men, according to their avowed principles and conduct; for he directs us to judge by this rule (chap. v. 15-20), and many of our duties require us so to do. But we ought not to be officious, rash, or severe, in forming a judgment, or hasty in declaring it." Neither does our Saviour here condemn judging as a magistrate; for that, when according to justice, is lawful and necessary.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: 'and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
b Mark iv. 24; Luke vi. 38.
2. With what judgment, &c. If we be harsh and unmerciful in judging our brethren-bitter and censorious in regard to their conduct-men will very narrowly scrutinize our behaviour, and be severe in their judgment of it. What would have become of us, had God dealt with us as we deal by our brethren? If we are uncharitable and revengeful in marking and exposing the conduct of our fellow-creatures, imputing false motives to them, and calumniating them on every occasion, can we expect that the Lord will extend his mercy unto us? "In this, as in other things, the violent dealings of men return upon their own heads." See 2 Sam. xxii. 27; Mark iv. 24; James ii. 13. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
c Mark vi. 41, 42.
3. And why beholdest thou the mote, &c. A mote signifies any light substance, as dry chaff, or fine spires of grass or grain. It probably most usually signified the small spicule or beard on a head of barley or wheat. It is thus placed in opposition to the word beam. Beam. This word here signifies a large piece of squared timber, The one is an exceedingly small object, the other a
large one. The meaning is, that we are much more quick and acute to judge of small offences in others, than of much larger offences in ourselves. We discern even a very small object, that hinders the vision of another, more quickly than a much larger one that obscures our own sight.
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
5. Thou hypocrite, first cast out, &c. Christ directs us to the proper way of forming an opinion of others, and of reproving and correcting them. By first amending our own faults, or casting the beam out of our eye, we can consistently advance to correct the faults of others. There will then be no hypocrisy in our conduct. We shall also see clearly to do it. The beam, the thing that obscured our sight, will be removed; and we shall more clearly discern the small object that obscures the sight of our brother. The best way to judge of the imperfections of others is to be free ourselves from greater ones. This qualifies us for judging, makes us candid and consistent, and enables us to see things as they are, and to make proper allowances for frailty and imperfection. Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
d Prov. ix. 7, 8; xxiii. 9; Acts xiii. 45, 46.1
6. Give not that which is holy, &c. Pearls are precious stones found in shell-fish, chiefly in India, in the waters that surround Ceylon. They are used to denote any thing peculiarly precious. Rev. xvii. 4; xviii. 12-16; Matt. xiii. 45. In this place the word is used to denote the doctrines of the Gospel. Dogs signify men who spurn, oppose, and abuse these doctrines; men of peculiar sourness and malignity of temper, who meet them like growling and quarrelsome curs. 2 Peter ii. 22; Rev. xxii. 15. Swine denote men of impure life; corrupt, polluted, profane, and sensual; who know not the value of the Gospel, and tread it down as swine would pearls. 2 Peter ii. 22; Prov. xi. 22. In admonishing such, and urging upon them the acceptance of the Gospel, we must be prudent and wise, lest its precious truths, through our instrumentality, should be made the subject of their profane merriment, and the name of the Lord be dishonoured and blasphemed. we must be very cautious whom we set down as belonging to this class, and only do it upon full evidence.
7 ¶ Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For 'every 8 For 'every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
e Chap. xxi. 22; Mark xi. 24; Luke xi. 9, 10; xviii. 1; John xiv. 13, xv. 7, xvi. 23, 24; James i. 5, 6; 1 John iii. 22; v. 14, 15. ƒ Prov. viii. 17; Jer. xxix. 12, 13. g Luke xi. 11-13. A Gen. vi. 5, viii. 21.
7-11. Ask, and it shall be given you, &c. The promise is, that what we ask shall be given us. We must ask in faith-in the name and for the sake of Christ-with humility, sincerity, and perseverance. It is implied, that we ask the things which God has promised to give, and which are best for us. 1 John v. 14. God is willing to provide for us, to forgive our sins, to save our souls, to befriend us in trial, to comfort us in death, to extend the Gospel through the world. Man can ask no higher things of God; and these he may ask, assured that God is willing to grant them. Our Saviour encourages us to prayer by adducing a very beautiful and tender illustration. No parent turns away his child with that which would be unsatisfactory or injurious. He would not give him a stone instead of bread, nor a serpent instead of a fish. Our heavenly Father is more careful of his people, than the most affectionate parent can be of his children. With what confidence, therefore, may we come as his children, and ask what we need! Parents are evil; that is, are imperfect,
often partial, blind, and sometimes passionate; but God is free from all this, and therefore is ready and willing to aid us. Every one that asketh receiveth. That is, every one that asks aright, that prays in faith, and in submission to the will of God. He does not always give the very thing which we ask, but he gives what is better. A parent will not always confer the very thing which a child asks, but he will seek the welfare of the child, and give what he thinks will be most for its good. Paul asked that the "thorn in his flesh" might be removed. God did not literally grant the request, but told him that his grace should be sufficient for him. 2 Cor. xii. 7-9. A fish. A fish has some resemblance to a serpent. Yet no good parent would attempt to deceive his child in this. So God will not give to us that which might appear to be of use, but which would be injurious. His gifts are good and perfect.
12 Therefore all things 'whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
i Luke vi. 31. k Lev. xix. 18; Chap. xxii. 40; Rom. xiii. 8-10; Gal. v. 14; 1 Tim. i. 5.
12. All things whatsoever, &c. This command has been usually called the Saviour's golden rule, a name given to it on account of its great value. All that you expect or desire of others in similar circumstances, do to them. Act not from selfishness or injustice, but put yourself in the place of the other, and ask what you would expect of him then. This would make you impartial, and candid, and just. It would destroy avarice, envy, treachery, unkindness, slander, theft, adultery, and murder. It has been well said that this law is what the balance-wheel is to machinery. It would prevent all irregularity of movement in the moral world. Its justice is seen by all men, and all must acknowledge its force and value. ¶This is the law and the prophets. The sum and substance of the Old Testament, in so far as the duties between man and man are concerned. 13 'Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 | Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
1 Luke xiii. 24. I Or How.
13, 14. Enter ye in at the strait gate. Christ here compares the way to life to an entrance through a gate. The words straight and strait, have very different meanings. The former means not crooked; the latter pent up, narrow, difficult to be entered. This is the word used here, and it means that the way to heaven is pent up, narrow, close, and not obviously entered. The way to death is open, broad, and thronged. Our Saviour here referred probably to ancient cities. They were surrounded with walls, and entered through gates. Some of those, connected with the great avenues to the city, were broad, and admitted a throng. Others, for more private purposes, were narrow, and few would be seen entering them. Such is the path to heaven. It is narrow. It is not the great highway that men tread. Few go there. Here and there one may be seen-travelling in solitude and singularity. The way to death, on the other hand, is broad. Multitudes are in it. It is the great highway in which men go. They fall into it easily, and without effort, and go without thought. Christ came to arrest men in this path, which all in the state of nature are travelling. But for the salvation which is in Jesus, all had gone straight on to eternal perdition. If you are not in Christ, you are posting along the "broad way." Pause and consider. Strive to enter into the narrow way. Man's striving, indeed, were to no purpose, but, by the gracious promise of assistance which our Lord-who himself is the way, the truth, and the light-has given to every one who asks it of him.
15 Beware of false prophets, "which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
m Deut. xiii. 8; Jer. xxiii. 16; Chap. xxiv. 4, 5, 11, 24; Mark xiii. 22;
Rom. 16-18; Eph. v. 6; Col. ii. 8; 2 Pet. ii. 1-3; o Acts xx. 29, 30.
15. False Prophets. The word prophet originally means, one who foretels future events. Afterwards it was used to denote teachers of religion in general. In this sense it is probably used here. A false prophet is a teacher of unsound doctrine, or one falsely laying claim to divine inspiration. Who come in sheep's clothing. The sheep is an emblem of innocence, sincerity, and harmlessness. To come in sheep's clothing, is to assume the appearance of sanctity and innocence, when the heart is evil. Ravening Wolves. Rapacious, or disposed to plunder. Applied to false
teachers, it means that they hypocritically assumed the appearance of holiness, in order that they might the more readily get the property of the people. They were full of extortion and excess. See Matt. xxiii. 25.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
16. Ye shall know them by their fruits. The proper test of their character. Men do not judge of a tree by its leaves, or bark, or flowers, but by the fruit which it bears. The flowers may be handsome and fragrant; the foliage thick and green; but these are merely ornamental. It is the fruit that is of chief service to man; and he forms his opinion of the nature and value of the tree by the quality and quantity of its fruit. So in regard to religion. The profession may be fair and the avowal strong; but the conduct-is the test of sincerity.
17 Even so 'every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21 Not every one that saith unto me, 'Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Jer. xi. 19; Chap. xii. 33. s Chap. iii. 10; Luke iii. 9; John xv. 2, 6. t Hos. viii. 2; Chap. xxv. 11, 12; Luke vi. 46, xiii. 25;
21. Not every one that saith, &c. "Christ here shows that it will not suffice to own him for our Master only in word and tongue. There may be a seeming importunity in prayer; but, if inward impressions be not answerable to outward expressions, we are but as sounding brass, and a tinkling cymbal. This is not to take us off from being earnest in prayer, from professing Christ's name, and being bold in professing it, but from resting in these, in the form of godliness, without the power. The hypocrite offers other things in lieu of obedience. Ver. 22. There may be a faith of miracles, where there is no justifying faith, none of that faith which works by love and obedience. Gifts of tongues and healing would recommend men to the world, but it is only real holiness and sanctification that is accepted of God. Grace will bring a man to heaven without working miracles; but working miracles will never bring a man to heaven without grace. Miracles have now ceased, and with them this plea; but do not carnal hearts still encourage themselves in their groundless hopes, with the like vain supports? They think they shall go to heaven, because they have been of good repute among professors of religion; as if this would atone for pride, worldliness, and sensuality, and want of love to God and man. Let us take heed of resting in outward privileges and performances, lest we deceive ourselves, and perish eternally, as multitudes do, with a lie in our right hand. Those that go no farther in Christ's service than bare profession, he will not own in the great day. See from what a height of hope men may fall into the depth of misery! This should be an awakening word to all Christians. A profession of religion will not bear out any man in the practice and indulgence of sin; therefore, let every one that names the name of Christ, depart from all iniquity."
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we" not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
u Num. xxiv. 4; John xi. 51; 1 Cor. xiii. 2. !
22. In that day. That is, in the last day, the day of judgment; the time when the hearts of all men shall be tried.
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: 'depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Chap. xxv. 12: Luke xiii. 25, 27; 2 Tim. ii. 19. y Ps. v. 5, vi. 8; Chap. xx. 41.
23. Profess unto them. Say unto them; plainly declare. ¶ I never knew you. For all your pretended faith and love and zeal, you never were my disciples. All these your pretended graces
were counterfeit. I never approved, loved, or regarded you as my friends. This shows that, with all their pretensions, they had never been true followers of Christ. Jesus will not on the last day, say to false prophets, and false professors of religion, that he had once known them, and then rejected them; that they had been once Christians, and then had fallen away; that they had been pardoned, and then had apostatized-but that he never knew them-THEY HAD NEVER BEEN TRUE CHRISTIANS. Whatever might have been their pretended joys, their raptures, their hopes, their selfconfidence, their visions, their zeal, they were never regarded by the Saviour as his true friends. We have in this text, a strong proof of the perseverance of the saints,-that those who are once brought into the state of grace, are not suffered to fall from it, but are supported in it till grace become glory. It is very decisive of the question, and shows that whatever else those to whom it shall be addressed on the "great day of the Lord," may have possessed, they never had any true religion. See 1 John ii. 19.
24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
z Luke vi. 47, &c.
24-27. Jesus closes the sermon on the mount with a beautiful comparison, illustrating the benefit of attending to his words and receiving his doctrine. It is not sufficient to hear them; they must be obeyed. He compares the man who should hear, and obey him, to a man who built his house on a rock. Palestine was to a considerable extent a land of hills and mountains. Like other countries of that description, it was subject to sudden and violent rains. The Jordan, the principal stream, was annually swollen to a great extent, and became rapid and furious in its course. The streams which ran among the hills, whose channels might have been dry during some months of the year, became suddenly swollen with the rain, and poured down impetuously into the plains below. Every thing in the way of these torrents was swept off. Even houses erected within the reach of these sudden inundations, and especially if founded on sand, or any unsolid basis, could not stand before them. The rising stream shook them to their foundations; the rapid torrent gradually washed away their base; they tottered and fell, and were swept away. Rocks in that country were common, and it was easy to secure for their houses a solid foundation.
No comparison could, to a Jew, have been more striking. So, tempests, and storms of affliction. and persecution, beat around the soul. Suddenly, when we think we are in safety, the heavens may be overcast, the storm may lower, and calamity beat upon us. In a moment, health, friends, Comforts, may be gone. How desirable, then, to be possessed of something that the tempest cannot reach! Such is an interest in Christ,-attention to his words-reliance on his promises confidence in his protection-and a hope of heaven through his blood. Earthly calamities do not reach these; and, possessed of true faith, all the storms and tempests of life, shall beat harmlessly around us. There is another point in this comparison. The house built on the sand is beat upon by the floods and rains; its foundation gradually is worn away; it falls, and is borne down the stream, and is destroyed. So falls the sinner. The floods are wearing away his sandy foundation; and soon one tremendous storm shall beat upon him, and he and his hopes shall for ever fall. Out of Christ, perhaps having heard his words from childhood; perhaps having taught to others; perhaps having been the means of laying the foundation on which others shall build for heaven, he has laid for himself no foundation, and soon the tempest shall beat around his naked soul. How great will be that fall! What will be his emotions when sinking for ever in the flood of divine judgment; for "God shall rain snares, fire, and a horrible tempest" upon the wicked!
28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, "the people were astonished at his doctrine: 29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
a Chap. xlii. 84; Mark 1, 22, vi, 21 Luke iv. 33. John vii. 46,