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6. Sermon on the Mount
1Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them: else ye have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. 2When therefore thou doest alms, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have received their reward. 3But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret shall recompense thee.
5And when ye pray, ye shall not be as the hypocrites: for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have received their reward. 6But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thine inner chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret shall recompense thee. 7And in praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8Be not therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. 9After this manner therefore pray ye. Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. 11Give us this day our daily bread. 12And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. 14For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
16Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may be seen of men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have received their reward. 17But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face; 18that thou be not seen of men to fast, but of thy Father who is in secret: and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall recompense thee.
19Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal: 20but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21for where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also. 22The lamp of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is the darkness! 24No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 25Therefore I say unto you, be not anxious 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 the food, and the body than the raiment? 26Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value then they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life? 28And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
He again returns to the former doctrine: for, having begun to rebuke vain ostentation in alms and prayer, he laid down, before proceeding farther, the rule for praying in a right manner. The same injunction is now given to his disciples about fasting, which he had formerly given about prayers and alms, not to be too solicitous to obtain the applause of spectators, but to have God as the witness of their actions. When he bids them anoint their head, and wash their face, his language is hyperbolical:448448 “C'est une facon de parler hyperbolique, c'est a dire, excessive.” — “It is a hyperbolical, that is, an exaggerated way of speaking.” for Christ does not withdraw us from one kind of hypocrisy, to lead us into another.449449 “Pour nous faire retomber en 1’autre;” — “to make us fall into the other.” He does not enjoin us to counterfeit splendor, or exhort us to temperance in food in such a manner, as to encourage the luxuries of ointments and of dress: but merely exhorts us to preserve moderation, without any thing new or affected;—in short, that the fastings, in which we engage, should make no change in our accustomed way of living.
Thy Father will reward thee When he promises a reward from God to fastings, this mode of expression, as we said a little before with respect to prayer, is not strictly accurate. There is a wide difference, indeed, between prayer and fastings Prayer holds the first rank among the antics of piety: but fasting is a doubtful operation, and does not, like alms, belong to the class of those actions which God requires and approves. It is pleasing to God, only so far as it is directed to another object: and that is, to train us to abstinence, to subdue the lust of the flesh, to excite us to earnestness in prayer, and to testify our repentance, when we are affected by the view of the tribunal of God. The meaning of Christ’s words is: “God will one day show that he was pleased with those good works, which appeared to be lost, because they were concealed from the eyes of men.”