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§ 157. Exhortation to Self-denial.—Caution against Seducers. (Matt., vii., 13-24.)

Christ had now pointed out the moral requisites for entrance into his kingdom, and the moral qualities which must mark its members. He now warns them (v. 13) against the delusion of expecting to secure its blessings in any easier way than he had pointed out, or hoping to avoid struggle and self-denial;412412   Matt., vii., 13-14, describe the difficulties of the way, and join closely to what precedes. The figure of the “gate,” &c., is more aptly introduced in Luke, xiii., 24, 25, and it might be supposed that the author of the Greek Matthew had transferred the passage to this connexion from the actual one in which Christ uttered it. But so obvious a figure as the “gate” and the “way” may have been used repeatedly by Christ; and in these two places, moreover, there is a difference in its application. In Luke, the “gate” is to be entered before the Master has closed it; in Matt., it is “the wide gate and the broad way, which many see; the narrow gate and the narrow way, which few find.” In the former the thought is, “that few are willing to undergo the necessary labours and struggles to enter the kingdom;” in the latter, “the majority deceive themselves as to the difficulties of the task,” &c. and cautions them against false teachers, who would lead them into such delusions, and draw them out of the right way. First, he gives a warning against such as shall falsely pretend to a Divine call as teachers and guides, inspired by self-seeking alone. “Wolves in sheep’s clothing,413413   Cf. John, x., 1-5. their evil fruits, proofs of their evil hearts, distinguish them from genuine prophets of God” (v. 15, 20). This warning was strikingly applicable at that time of out-breaking battle with the hierarchical and Pharisaic party.

The general proposition, that the state of the heart must be shown by the “fruits,” is then applied to all believers (v. 21-23). Not every 237one who honours Jesus as Messiah and Theocratic King; and makes a zealous confession thereof, is thereby fitted to share in the kingdom; the heart must be shown to accord with the confession, by a faithful performance of the will of God.414414   Ch. vii., 24, connects closely with v. 21. On the relation of v. 22, 23, to the rest of the passage, we shall speak hereafter. [“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.”]

VI. True and False Disciples Contrasted.

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