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Concerning Almsgiving

 6

“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2 “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Concerning Prayer

5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

7 “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9 “Pray then in this way:

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name.

10

Your kingdom come.

Your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

11

Give us this day our daily bread.

12

And forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13

And do not bring us to the time of trial,

but rescue us from the evil one.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Concerning Fasting

16 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Concerning Treasures

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The Sound Eye

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; 23but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

Serving Two Masters

24 “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Judging Others

 7

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. 2For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 4Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

Profaning the Holy

6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.

Ask, Search, Knock

7 “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 9Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? 10Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? 11If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

The Golden Rule

12 “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.

The Narrow Gate

13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. 14For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

A Tree and Its Fruit

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus you will know them by their fruits.

Concerning Self-Deception

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ 23Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’

Hearers and Doers

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. 26And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”

28 Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, 29for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

 


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The Sermon on the Mount.

1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.   2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound 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 their reward.   3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:   4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

As we must do better than the scribes and Pharisees in avoiding heart-sins, heart-adultery, and heart-murder, so likewise in maintaining and keeping up heart-religion, doing what we do from an inward, vital principle, that we may be approved of God, not that we may be applauded of men; that is, we must watch against hypocrisy, which was the leaven of the Pharisees, as well as against their doctrine, Luke xii. 1. Almsgiving, prayer, and fasting, are three great Christian duties—the three foundations of the law, say the Arabians: by them we do homage and service to God with our three principal interests; by prayer with our souls, by fasting with our bodies, by alms-giving with our estates. Thus we must not only depart from evil, but do good, and do it well, and so dwell for evermore.

Now in these verses we are cautioned against hypocrisy in giving alms. Take heed of it. Our being bid to take heed of it intimates that it is sin. 1. We are in great danger of; it is a subtle sin; vain-glory insinuates itself into what we do ere we are aware. The disciples would be tempted to it by the power they had to do many wondrous works, and their living with some that admired them and others that despised them, both which are temptations to covet to make a fair show in the flesh. 2. It is a sin we are in great danger by. Take heed of hypocrisy, for if it reign in you, it will ruin you. It is the dead fly that spoils the whole box of precious ointment.

Two things are here supposed,

I. The giving of alms is a great duty, and a duty which all the disciples of Christ, according to their ability, must abound in. It is prescribed by the law of nature and of Moses, and great stress is laid upon it by the prophets. Divers ancient copies here for ten eleemosynenyour alms, read ten dikaiosynenyour righteousness, for alms are righteousness, Ps. cxii. 9; Prov. x. 2. The Jews called the poor's box the box of righteousness. That which is given to the poor is said to be their due, Prov. iii. 27. The duty is not the less necessary and excellent for its being abused by hypocrites to serve their pride. If superstitious papists have placed a merit in works of charity, that will not be an excuse for covetous protestants that are barren in such good works. It is true, our alms-deeds do not deserve heaven; but it is as true that we cannot go to heaven without them. It is pure religion (Jam. i. 27), and will be the test at the great day; Christ here takes it for granted that his disciples give alms, nor will he own those that do not.

II. That it is such a duty as has a great reward attending it, which is lost if it be done in hypocrisy. It is sometimes rewarded in temporal things with plenty (Prov. xi. 24, 25; xix. 17); security from want (Prov. xxviii. 27; Ps. xxxvii. 21, 25); succour in distress (Ps. xli. 1, 2); honour and a good name, which follow those most that least covet them, Ps. cxii. 9. However, it shall be recompensed in the resurrection of the just (Luke xiv. 14), in eternal riches.

Quas dederis, solas semper habebis, opes.

The riches you impart form the only wealth you

will always retain.

Martial.

This being supposed, observe now,

1. What was the practice of the hypocrites about this duty. They did it indeed, but not from any principle of obedience to God, or love to man, but in pride and vain-glory; not in compassion to the poor, but purely for ostentation, that they might be extolled as good men, and so might gain an interest in the esteem of the people, with which they knew how to serve their own turn, and to get a great deal more than they gave. Pursuant to this intention, they chose to give their alms in the synagogues, and in the streets, where there was the greatest concourse of people to observe them, who applauded their liberality because they shared in it, but were so ignorant as not to discern their abominable pride. Probably they had collections for the poor in the synagogues, and the common beggars haunted the streets and highways, and upon these public occasions they chose to give their alms. Not that it is unlawful to give alms when men see us; we may do it; but not that men may see us; we should rather choose those objects of charity that are less observed. The hypocrites, if they gave alms to their own houses, sounded a trumpet, under pretence of calling the poor together to be served, but really to proclaim their charity, and to have that taken notice of and made the subject of discourse.

Now the doom that Christ passes upon this is very observable; Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. At first view this seems a promise—If they have their reward they have enough, but two words in it make it a threatening.

(1.) It is a reward, but it is their reward; not the reward which God promises to them that do good, but the reward which they promise themselves, and a poor reward it is; they did it to be seen of men, and they are seen of men; they chose their own delusions with which they cheated themselves, and they shall have what they chose. Carnal professors stipulate with God for preferment, honour, wealth, and they shall have their bellies filled with those things (Ps. xvii. 14); but let them expect no more; these are their consolation (Luke vi. 24), their good things (Luke xvi. 25), and they shall be put off with these. "Didst thou not agree with me for a penny? It is the bargain that thou art likely to abide by."

(2.) It is a reward, but it is a present reward, they have it; and there is none reserved for them in the future state. They now have all that they are likely to have from God; they have their reward here, and have none to hope for hereafter. Apechousi ton misthon. It signifies a receipt in full. What rewards the godly have in this life are but in part of payment; there is more behind, much more; but hypocrites have their all in this world, so shall their doom be; themselves have decided it. The world is but for provision to the saints, it is their spending-money; but it is pay to hypocrites, it is their portion.

2. What is the precept of our Lord Jesus about it, v. 3, 4. He that was himself such an example of humility, pressed it upon his disciples, as absolutely necessary to the acceptance of their performances. "Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth when thou givest alms." Perhaps this alludes to the placing of the Corban, the poor man's box, or the chest into which they cast their free-will offerings, on the right hand of the passage into the temple; so that they put their gifts into it with the right-hand. Or the giving of alms with the right hand, intimates readiness to it and resolution in it; do it dexterously, not awkwardly nor with a sinister intention. The right hand may be used in helping the poor, lifting them up, writing for them, dressing their sores, and other ways besides giving to them; but, "whatever kindness thy right hand doeth to the poor, let not thy left hand know it: conceal it as much as possible; industriously keep it private. Do it because it is a good work, not because it will give thee a good name." In omnibus factis, re, non teste, moveamur—In all our actions, we should be influenced by a regard to the object, not to the observer. Cic. de Fin. It is intimated, (1.) That we must not let others know what we do; no, not those that stand at our left hand, that are very near us. Instead of acquainting them with it, keep it from them if possible; however, appear so desirous to keep it from them, as that in civility they may seem not to take notice of it, and keep it to themselves, and let it go no further. (2.) That we must not observe it too much ourselves: the left hand is a part of ourselves; we must not within ourselves take notice too much of the good we do, must not applaud and admire ourselves. Self-conceit and self-complacency, and an adoring of our own shadow, are branches of pride, as dangerous as vain-glory and ostentation before men. We find those had their good works remembered to their honour, who had themselves forgotten them: When saw we thee an hungered, or athirst?

3. What is the promise to those who are thus sincere and humble in their alms-giving. Let thine alms be in secret, and then thy Father who seeth in secret will observe them. Note, When we take least notice of our good deeds ourselves, God takes most notice of them. As God hears the wrongs done to us when we do not hear them (Ps. xxxviii. 14, 15), so he sees the good done by us, when we do not see it. As it is a terror to hypocrites, so it is a comfort to sincere Christians, that God sees in secret. But this is not all; not only the observation and praise, but the recompence is of God, himself shall reward thee openly. Note, They who in their alms-giving study to approve themselves to God, only turn themselves over to him as their Paymaster. The hypocrite catches at the shadow, but the upright man makes sure of the substance. Observe how emphatically it is expressed; himself shall reward, he will himself be the Rewarder, Heb. xi. 6. Let him alone to make it up in kind or kindness; nay, he will himself be the Reward (Gen. xv. 1), thine exceeding great reward. He will reward thee as thy Father, not as a master who gives his servant just what he earns and no more, but as a father who gives abundantly more, and without stint, to his son that serves him. Nay, he shall reward thee openly, if not in the present day, yet in the great day; then shall every man have praise of God, open praise, thou shall be confessed before men. If the work be not open, the reward shall, and that is better.

The Sermon on the Mount.

5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.   6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.   7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.   8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

In prayer we have more immediately to do with God than in giving alms, and therefore are yet more concerned to be sincere, which is what we are here directed to. When thou prayest (v. 5). It is taken for granted that all the disciples of Christ pray. As soon as ever Paul was converted, behold he prayeth. You may as soon find a living man that does not breathe, as a living Christian that does not pray. For this shall every one that is godly pray. If prayerless, then graceless. "Now, when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are, nor do as they do," v. 2. Note, Those who would not do as the hypocrites do in their ways and actions must not be as the hypocrites are in their frame and temper. He names nobody, but it appears by ch. xxiii. 13, that by the hypocrites here he means especially the scribes and Pharisees.

Now there were two great faults they were guilty of in prayer, against each of which we are here cautioned—vain-glory (v. 5, 6); and vain repetitions, v. 7, 8.

I. We must not be proud and vain-glorious in prayer, nor aim at the praise of men. And here observe,

1. What was the way and practice of the hypocrites. In all their exercises of devotion, it was plain, the chief thing they aimed at was to be commended by their neighbours, and thereby to make an interest for themselves. When they seemed to soar upwards in prayer (and if it be right, it is the soul's ascent toward God), yet even then their eye was downwards upon this as their prey. Observe,

(1.) What the places were which they chose for their devotions; they prayed in the synagogues, which were indeed proper places for public prayer, but not for personal. They pretended hereby to do honour to the place of their assemblies, but intended to do honour to themselves. They prayed in the corners of the streets, the broad streets (so the word signifies), which were most frequented. They withdrew thither, as if they were under a pious impulse which would not admit delay, but really it was to cause themselves to be taken notice of. There, where two streets met, they were not only within view of both, but every passenger turning close upon them would observe them, and hear what they said.

(2.) The posture they used in prayer; they prayed standing; this is a lawful and proper posture for prayer (Mark xi. 25, When ye stand praying), but kneeling being the more humble and reverent gesture, Luke xxii. 41; Acts vii. 60; Eph. iii. 14, their standing seemed to savour of pride and confidence in themselves (Luke xviii. 11), The Pharisee stood and prayed.

(3.) Their pride in choosing these public places, which is expressed in two things: [1.] They love to pray there. They did not love prayer for its own sake, but they loved it when it gave them an opportunity of making themselves noticed. Circumstances may be such, that our good deeds must needs be done openly, so as to fall under the observation of others, and be commended by them; but the sin and danger is when we love it, and are pleased with it, because it feeds the proud humour. [2.] It is that they may be seen of men; not that God might accept them, but that men might admire and applaud them; and that they might easily get the estates of widows and orphans into their hands (who would not trust such devout, praying men?) and that, when they had them, they might devour them without being suspected (ch. xxiii. 14); and effectually carry on their public designs to enslave the people.

(4.) The product of all this, they have their reward; they have all the recompence they must ever expect from God for their service, and a poor recompence it is. What will it avail us to have the good word of our fellow-servants, if our Master do not say, Well done? But if in so great a transaction as is between us and God, when we are at prayer, we can take in so poor a consideration as the praise of men is, it is just that that should be all our reward. They did it to be seen of men, and they are so; and much good may it do them. Note, Those that would approve themselves to God by their integrity in their religion, must have no regard to the praise of men; it is not to men that we pray, nor from them that we expect an answer; they are not to be our judges, they are dust and ashes like ourselves, and therefore we must not have our eye to them: what passes between God and our own souls must be out of sight. In our synagogue-worship, we must avoid every thing that tends to make our personal devotion remarkable, as they that caused their voice to be heard on high, Isa. lviii. 4. Public places are not proper for private solemn prayer.

2. What is the will of Jesus Christ in opposition to this. Humility and sincerity are the two great lessons that Christ teaches us; Thou, when thou prayest, do so and so (v. 6); thou in particular by thyself, and for thyself. Personal prayer is here supposed to be the duty and practice of all Christ's disciples.

Observe, (1.) The directions here given about it.

[1.] Instead of praying in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, enter into thy closet, into some place of privacy and retirement. Isaac went into the field (Gen. xxiv. 63), Christ to a mountain, Peter to a housetop. No place amiss in point of ceremony, if it do but answer the end. Note, Secret prayer is to be performed in retirement, that we may be unobserved, and so may avoid ostentation; undisturbed, and so may avoid distraction; unheard, and so may use greater freedom; yet if the circumstances be such that we cannot possibly avoid being taken notice of, we must not therefore neglect the duty, lest the omission be a greater scandal than the observation of it.

[2.] Instead of doing it to be seen of men, pray to thy Father who is in secret; to me, even to me, Zech. vii. 5, 6. The Pharisees prayed rather to men than to God; whatever was the form of their prayer, the scope of it was to beg the applause of men, and court their favours. "Well, do thou pray to God, and let that be enough for thee. Pray to him as a Father, as thy Father, ready to hear and answer, graciously inclined to pity, help, and succour thee. Pray to thy Father who is in secret." Note, In secret prayer we must have an eye to God, as present in all places; he is there in thy closet when no one else is there; there especially nigh to thee in what thou callest upon him for. By secret prayer we give God the glory of his universal presence (Acts xvii. 24), and may take to ourselves the comfort of it.

(2.) The encouragements here given us to it.

[1.] Thy Father seeth in secret; his eye is upon thee to accept thee, when the eye of no man is upon thee to applaud thee; under the fig-tree, I saw thee, said Christ to Nathaniel, John i. 48. He saw Paul at prayer in such a street, at such a house, Acts ix. 11. There is not a secret, sudden breathing after God, but he observes it.

[2.] He will reward thee openly; they have their reward that do it openly, and thou shalt not lose thine for thy doing it in secret. It is called a reward, but it is of grace, not of debt; what merit can there be in begging? The reward will be open; they shall not only have it, but have it honourably: the open reward is that which hypocrites are fond of, but they have not patience to stay for it; it is that which the sincere are dead to, and they shall have it over and above. Sometimes secret prayers are rewarded openly in this world by signal answers to them, which manifests God's praying people in the consciences of their adversaries; however, at the great day there will be an open reward, when all praying people shall appear in glory with the great Intercessor. The Pharisees ha their reward before all the town, and it was a mere flash and shadow; true Christians shall have theirs before all the world, angels and men, and it shall be a weight of glory.

II. We must not use vain repetitions in prayer, v. 7, 8. Though the life of prayer lies in lifting up the soul and pouring out the heart, yet there is some interest which words have in prayer, especially in joint prayer; for in that, words are necessary, and it should seem that our Saviour speaks here especially of that; for before he said, when thou prayest, he here, when ye pray; and the Lord's prayer which follows is a joint prayer, and in that, he that is the mouth of others is most tempted to an ostentation of language and expression, against which we are here warned; use not vain repetitions, either alone or with others: the Pharisees affected this, they made long prayers (ch. xxiii. 14), all their care was to make them long. Now observe,

1. What the fault is that is here reproved and condemned; it is making a mere lip-labour of the duty of prayer, the service of the tongue, when it is not the service of the soul. This is expressed here by two words, Battologia, Polylogia. (1.) Vain repetitions—tautology, battology, idle babbling over the same words again and again to no purpose, like Battus, Sub illis montibus erant, erant sub montibus illis; like that imitation of the wordiness of a fool, Eccl. x. 14, A man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him who can tell? which is indecent and nauseous in any discourse, much more in speaking to God. It is not all repetition in prayer that is here condemned, but vain repetitions. Christ himself prayed, saying the same words (ch. xxvi. 44), out of more than ordinary fervour and zeal, Luke xxii. 44. So Daniel, ch. ix. 18, 19. And there is a very elegant repetition of the same words, Ps. cxxxvi.. It may be of use both to express our own affections, and to excite the affections of others. But the superstitious rehearsing of a tale of words, without regard to the sense of them, as the papists saying by their beads so many Ave-Marys and Paternosters; or the barren and dry going over of the same things again and again, merely to drill out the prayer to such a length, and to make a show of affection when really there is none; these are the vain repetitions here condemned. When we would fain say much, but cannot say much to the purpose; this is displeasing to God and all wise men. (2.) Much speaking, an affectation of prolixity in prayer, either out of pride or superstition, or an opinion that God needs either to be informed or argued with by us, or out of mere folly and impertinence, because men love to hear themselves talk. Not that all long prayers are forbidden; Christ prayed all night, Luke vi. 12. Solomon's was a long prayer. There is sometimes need of long prayers when our errands and our affections are extraordinary; but merely to prolong the prayer, as if it would make it more pleasing or more prevailing with God, is that which is here condemned; it is not much praying that is condemned; no, we are bid to pray always, but much speaking; the danger of this error is when we only say our prayers, and not when we pray them. This caution is explained by that of Solomon (Eccl. v. 2), Let thy words be few, considerate and well weighed; take with you words (Hos. xiv. 2), choose out words (Job ix. 14), and do not say every thing that comes uppermost.

2. What reasons are given against this.

(1.) This is the way of the heathen, as the heathen do; and it ill becomes Christians to worship their God as the Gentiles worship theirs. The heathen were taught by the light of nature to worship God; but becoming vain in their imaginations concerning the object of their worship, no wonder they became so concerning the manner of it, and particularly in this instance; thinking God altogether such a one as themselves, they thought he needed many words to make him understand what was said to him, or to bring him to comply with their requests; as if he were weak and ignorant, and hard to be entreated. Thus Baal's priests were hard at it from morning till almost night with their vain repetitions; O Baal, hear us; O Baal, hear us; and vain petitions they were; but Elijah, in a grave, composed frame, with a very concise prayer, prevailed for fire from heaven first, and then water, 1 Kings xviii. 26, 36. Lip-labour in prayer, though ever so well laboured, if that be all, is but lost labour.

(2.) "It need not be your way, for your Father in heaven knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him, and therefore there is no occasion for such abundance of words. It does not follow that therefore ye need not pray; for God requires you by prayer to own your need of him and dependence on him, and to please his promises; but therefore you are to open your case, and pour out your hearts before him, and then leave it with him." Consider, [1.] The God we pray to is our Father by creation, by covenant; and therefore our addresses to him should be easy, natural, and unaffected; children do not use to make long speeches to their parents when they want any thing; it is enough to say, my head, my head. Let us come to him with the disposition of children, with love, reverence, and dependence; and then they need not say many words, that are taught by the Spirit of adoption to say that one aright, Abba, Father. [2.] He is a Father that knows our case and knows our wants better than we do ourselves. He knows what things we have need of; his eyes run to and fro through the earth, to observe the necessities of his people (2 Chron. xvi. 9), and he often gives before we call (Isa. lxv. 24), and more than we ask for (Eph. iii. 20), and if he do not give his people what they ask, it is because he knows they do not need it, and that it is not for their good; and of that he is fitter to judge for us than we for ourselves. We need not be long, nor use many words in representing our case; God knows it better than we can tell him, only he will know it from us (what will ye that I should do unto you?); and when we have told him what it is, we must refer ourselves to him, Lord, all my desire is before thee, Ps. xxxviii. 9. So far is God from being wrought upon by the length or language of our prayers, that the most powerful intercessions are those which are made with groanings that cannot be uttered, Rom. viii. 26. We are not to prescribe, but subscribe to God.

The Sermon on the Mount.

9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.   10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.   11 Give us this day our daily bread.   12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.   13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.   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.

When Christ had condemned what was amiss, he directs to do better; for his are reproofs of instruction. Because we know not what to pray for as we ought, he here helps our infirmities, by putting words into our mouths; after this manner therefore pray ye, v. 9. So many were the corruptions that had crept into this duty of prayer among the Jews, that Christ saw it needful to give a new directory for prayer, to show his disciples what must ordinarily be the matter and method of their prayer, which he gives in words that may very well be used as a form; as the summary or contents of the several particulars of our prayers. Not that we are tied up to the use of this form only, or of this always, as if this were necessary to the consecrating of our other prayers; we are here bid to pray after this manner, with these words, or to this effect. That in Luke differs from this; we do not find it used by the apostles; we are not here taught to pray in the name of Christ, as we are afterward; we are here taught to pray that the kingdom might come which did come when the Spirit was poured out: yet, without doubt, it is very good to use it as a form, and it is a pledge of the communion of saints, it having been used by the church in all ages, at least (says Dr. Whitby) from the third century. It is our Lord's prayer, it is of his composing, of his appointing; it is very compendious, yet very comprehensive, in compassion to our infirmities in praying. The matter is choice and necessary, the method instructive, and the expression very concise. It has much in a little, and it is requisite that we acquaint ourselves with the sense and meaning of it, for it is used acceptably no further than it is used with understanding and without vain repetition.

The Lord's prayer (as indeed every prayer) is a letter sent from earth to heaven. Here is the inscription of the letter, the person to whom it is directed, our Father; the where, in heaven; the contents of it in several errands of request; the close, for thine is the kingdom; the seal, Amen; and if you will, the date too, this day.

Plainly thus: there are three parts of the prayer.

I. The preface, Our Father who art in heaven. Before we come to our business, there must be a solemn address to him with whom our business lies; Our Father. Intimating, that we must pray, not only alone and for ourselves, but with and for others; for we are members one of another, and are called into fellowship with each other. We are here taught to whom to pray, to God only, and not to saints and angels, for they are ignorant of us, are not to have the high honours we give in prayer, nor can give favours we expect. We are taught how to address ourselves to God, and what title to give him, that which speaks him rather beneficent than magnificent, for we are to come boldly to the throne of grace.

1. We must address ourselves to him as our Father, and must call him so. He is a common Father to all mankind by creation, Mal. ii. 10; Acts xvii. 28. He is in a special manner a Father to the saints, by adoption and regeneration (Eph. i. 5; Gal. iv. 6); and an unspeakable privilege it is. Thus we must eye him in prayer, keep up good thoughts of him, such as are encouraging and not affrighting; nothing more pleasing to God, nor pleasant to ourselves, than to call God Father. Christ in prayer mostly called God Father. If he be our Father, he will pity us under our weaknesses and infirmities (Ps. ciii. 13), will spare us (Mal. iii. 17), will make the best of our performances, though very defective, will deny us nothing that is good for us, Luke xi. 11-13. We have access with boldness to him, as to a father, and have an advocate with the Father, and the Spirit of adoption. When we come repenting of our sins, we must eye God as a Father, as the prodigal did (Luke xv. 18; Jer. iii. 19); when we come begging for grace, and peace, and the inheritance and blessing of sons, it is an encouragement that we come to God, not as an unreconciled, avenging Judge, but as a loving, gracious, reconciled Father in Christ, Jer. iii. 4.

2. As our Father in heaven: so in heaven as to be every where else, for the heaven cannot contain him; yet so in heaven as there to manifest his glory, for it is his throne (Ps. ciii. 19), and it is to believers a throne of grace: thitherward we must direct our prayers, for Christ the Mediator is now in heaven, Heb. viii. 1. Heaven is out of sight, and a world of spirits, therefore our converse with God in prayer must be spiritual; it is on high, therefore in prayer we must be raised above the world, and lift up our hearts, Ps. v. 1. Heaven is a place of perfect purity, and we must therefore lift up pure hands, must study to sanctify his name, who is the Holy One, and dwells in that holy place, Lev. x. 3. From heaven God beholds the children of men, Ps. xxxiii. 13, 14. And we must in prayer see his eye upon us: thence he has a full and clear view of all our wants and burdens and desires, and all our infirmities. It is the firmament of his power likewise, as well as of his prospect, Ps. cl. 1. He is not only, as a Father, able to help us, able to do great things for us, more than we can ask or think; he has wherewith to supply our needs, for every good gift is from above. He is a Father, and therefore we may come to him with boldness, but a Father in heaven, and therefore we must come with reverence, Eccl. v. 2. Thus all our prayers should correspond with that which is our great aim as Christians, and that is, to be with God in heaven. God and heaven, the end of our whole conversation, must be particularly eyed in every prayer; there is the centre to which we are all tending. By prayer, we send before us thither, where we profess to be going.

II. The petitions, and those are six; the three first relating more immediately to God and his honour, the three last to our own concerns, both temporal and spiritual; as in the ten commandments, the four first teach us our duty toward God, and the last six our duty toward our neighbour. The method of this prayer teaches us to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and then to hope that other things shall be added.

1. Hallowed be thy name. It is the same word that in other places is translated sanctified. But here the old word hallowed is retained, only because people were used to it in the Lord's prayer. In these words, (1.) We give glory to God; it may be taken not as a petition, but as an adoration; as that, the Lord be magnified, or glorified, for God's holiness is the greatness and glory of all his perfections. We must begin our prayers with praising God, and it is very fit he should be first served, and that we should give glory to God, before we expect to receive mercy and grace from him. Let him have praise of his perfections, and then let us have the benefit of them. (2.) We fix our end, and it is the right end to be aimed at, and ought to be our chief and ultimate end in all our petitions, that God may be glorified; all our other requests must be in subordination to this, and in pursuance of it. "Father, glorify thyself in giving me my daily bread and pardoning my sins," &c. Since all is of him and through him, all must be to him and for him. In prayer our thoughts and affections should be carried out most to the glory of God. The Pharisees made their own name the chief end of their prayers (v. 5, to be seen of men), in opposition to which we are directed to make the name of God our chief end; let all our petitions centre in this and be regulated by it. "Do so and so for me, for the glory of thy name, and as far as is for the glory of it." (3.) We desire and pray that the name of God, that is, God himself, in all that whereby he has made himself known, may be sanctified and glorified both by us and others, and especially by himself. "Father, let thy name be glorified as a Father, and a Father in heaven; glorify thy goodness and thy highness, thy majesty and mercy. Let thy name be sanctified, for it is a holy name; no matter what becomes of our polluted names, but, Lord, what wilt thou do to thy great name?" When we pray that God's name may be glorified, [1.] We make a virtue of necessity; for God will sanctify his own name, whether we desire it or not; I will be exalted among the heathen, Ps. lxvi. 10. [2.] We ask for that which we are sure shall be granted; for when our Saviour prayed, Father glorify thy name, it was immediately answered, I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.

2. Thy kingdom come. This petition has plainly a reference to the doctrine which Christ preached at this time, which John Baptist had preached before, and which he afterwards sent his apostles out to preach—the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The kingdom of your Father who is in heaven, the kingdom of the Messiah, this is at hand, pray that it may come. Note, We should turn the word we hear into prayer, our hearts should echo to it; does Christ promise, surely I come quickly? our hearts should answer, Even so, come. Ministers should pray over the word: when they preach, the kingdom of God is at hand, they should pray, Father, thy kingdom come. What God has promised we must pray for; for promises are given, not to supersede, but to quicken and encourage prayer; and when the accomplishment of a promise is near and at the door, when the kingdom of heaven is at hand, we should then pray for it the more earnestly; thy kingdom come; as Daniel set his face to pray for the deliverance of Israel, when he understood that the time of it was at hand, Dan. ix. 2. See Luke xix. 11. It was the Jews' daily prayer to God, Let him make his kingdom reign, let his redemption flourish, and let his Messiah come and deliver his people. Dr. Whitby, ex Vitringa. "Let thy kingdom come, let the gospel be preached to all and embraced by all; let all be brought to subscribe to the record God has given in his word concerning his Son, and to embrace him as their Saviour and Sovereign. Let the bounds of the gospel-church be enlarged, the kingdom of the world be made Christ's kingdom, and all men become subjects to it, and live as becomes their character."

3. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. We pray that God's kingdom being come, we and others may be brought into obedience to all the laws and ordinances of it. By this let it appear that Christ's kingdom is come, let God's will be done; and by this let is appear that it is come as a kingdom of heaven, let it introduce a heaven upon earth. We make Christ but a titular Prince, if we call him King, and do not do his will: having prayed that he may rule us, we pray that we may in every thing be ruled by him. Observe, (1.) The thing prayed for, thy will be done; "Lord, do what thou pleasest with me and mine; 1 Sam. iii. 18. I refer myself to thee, and am well satisfied that all thy counsel concerning me should be performed." In this sense Christ prayed, not my will, but thine be done. "Enable me to do what is pleasing to thee; give me that grace that is necessary to the right knowledge of thy will, and an acceptable obedience to it. Let thy will be done conscientiously by me and others, not our own will, the will of the flesh, or the mind, not the will of men (1 Pet. iv. 2), much less Satan's will (John viii. 44), that we may neither displease God in any thing we do (ut nihil nostrum displiceat Deo), nor be displeased at any thing God does" (ut nihil Dei displiceat nobis). (2.) The pattern of it, that it might be done on earth, in this place of our trial and probation (where our work must be done, or it never will be done), as it is done in heaven, that place of rest and joy. We pray that earth may be made more like heaven by the observance of God's will (this earth, which, through the prevalency of Satan's will, has become so near akin to hell), and that saints may be made more like the holy angels in their devotion and obedience. We are on earth, blessed be God, not yet under the earth; we pray for the living only, not for the dead that have gone down into silence.

4. Give us this day our daily bread. Because our natural being is necessary to our spiritual well-being in this world, therefore, after the things of God's glory, kingdom, and will, we pray for the necessary supports and comforts of this present life, which are the gifts of God, and must be asked of him, Ton arton epiousionBread for the day approaching, for all the remainder of our lives. Bread for the time to come, or bread for our being and subsistence, that which is agreeable to our condition in the world (Prov. xxx. 8), food convenient for us and our families, according to our rank and station.

Every word here has a lesson in it: (1.) We ask for bread; that teaches us sobriety and temperance; we ask for bread, not dainties, not superfluities; that which is wholesome, though it be not nice. (2.) We ask for our bread; that teaches us honesty and industry: we do not ask for the bread out of other people's mouths, not the bread of deceit (Prov. xx. 17), not the bread of idleness (Prov. xxxi. 27), but the bread honestly gotten. (3.) We ask for our daily bread; which teaches us not to take thought for the morrow (v. 34), but constantly to depend upon divine Providence, as those that live from hand to mouth. (4.) We beg of God to give it us, not sell it us, nor lend it us, but give it. The greatest of men must be beholden to the mercy of God for their daily bread, (5.) We pray, "Give it to us; not to me only, but to others in common with me." This teaches us charity, and a compassionate concern for the poor and needy. It intimates also, that we ought to pray with our families; we and our households eat together, and therefore ought to pray together. (6.) We pray that God would give us this day; which teaches us to renew the desire of our souls toward God, as the wants of our bodies are renewed; as duly as the day comes, we must pray to our heavenly Father, and reckon we could as well go a day without meat, as without prayer.

5. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, This is connected with the former; and forgive, intimating, that unless our sins be pardoned, we can have no comfort in life, or the supports of it. Our daily bread does but feed us as lambs for the slaughter, if our sins be not pardoned. It intimates, likewise, that we must pray for daily pardon, as duly as we pray for daily bread. He that is washed, needeth to wash his feet. Here we have,

(1.) A petition; Father in heaven forgive us our debts, our debts to thee. Note, [1.] Our sins are our debts; there is a debt of duty, which, as creatures, we owe to our Creator; we do not pray to be discharged from that, but upon the non-payment of that there arises a debt of punishment; in default of obedience to the will of God, we become obnoxious to the wrath of God; and for not observing the precept of the law, we stand obliged to the penalty. A debtor is liable to process, so are we; a malefactor is a debtor to the law, so are we. [2.] Our hearts' desire and prayer to our heavenly Father every day should be, that he would forgive us our debts; that the obligation to punishment may be cancelled and vacated, that we may not come into condemnation; that we may be discharged, and have the comfort of it. In suing out the pardon of our sins, the great plea we have to rely upon is the satisfaction that was made to the justice of God for the sin of man, by the dying of the Lord Jesus our Surety, or rather Bail to the action, that undertook our discharge.

(2.) An argument to enforce this petition; as we forgive our debtors. This is not a plea of merit, but a plea of grace. Note, Those that come to God for the forgiveness of their sins against him, must make conscience of forgiving those who have offended them, else they curse themselves when they say the Lord's prayer. Our duty is to forgive our debtors; as to debts of money, we must not be rigorous and severe in exacting them from those that cannot pay them without ruining themselves and their families; but this means debt of injury; our debtors are those that trespass against us, that smite us (ch. v. 39, 40), and in strictness of law, might be prosecuted for it; we must forbear, and forgive, and forget the affronts put upon us, and the wrongs done us; and this is a moral qualification for pardon and peace; it encourages to hope, that God will forgive us; for if there be in us this gracious disposition, it is wrought of God, and therefore is a perfection eminently and transcendently in himself; it will be an evidence to us that he has forgiven us, having wrought in us the condition of forgiveness.

6. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. This petition is expressed,

(1.) Negatively: Lead us not into temptation. Having prayed that the guilt of sin may be removed, we pray, as it is fit, that we may never return again to folly, that we may not be tempted to it. It is not as if God tempted any to sin; but, "Lord, do not let Satan loose upon us; chain up that roaring lion, for he is subtle and spiteful; Lord, do not leave us to ourselves (Ps. xix. 13), for we are very weak; Lord, do not lay stumbling-blocks and snares before us, nor put us into circumstances that may be an occasion of falling." Temptations are to be prayed against, both because of the discomfort and trouble of them, and because of the danger we are in of being overcome by them, and the guilt and grief that then follow.

(2.) Positively: But deliver us from evil; apo tou poneroufrom the evil one, the devil, the tempter; "keep us, that either we may not be assaulted by him, or we may not be overcome by those assaults:" Or from the evil thing, sin, the worst of evils; an evil, an only evil; that evil thing which God hates, and which Satan tempts men to and destroys them by. "Lord, deliver us from the evil of the world, the corruption that is in the world through lust; from the evil of every condition in the world; from the evil of death; from the sting of death, which is sin: deliver us from ourselves, from our own evil hearts: deliver us from evil men, that they may not be a snare to us, nor we a prey to them."

III. The conclusion: For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, for ever. Amen. Some refer this to David's doxology, 1 Chron. xxix. 11. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness. It is,

1. A form of plea to enforce the foregoing petitions. It is our duty to plead with God in prayer, to fill our mouth with arguments (Job xxiii. 4) not to move God, but to affect ourselves; to encourage the faith, to excite our fervency, and to evidence both. Now the best pleas in prayer are those that are taken from God himself, and from that which he has made known of himself. We must wrestle with God in his own strength, both as to the nature of our pleas and the urging of them. The plea here has special reference to the first three petitions; "Father in heaven, thy kingdom come, for thine is the kingdom; thy will be done, for thine is the power; hallowed be thy name, for thine is the glory." And as to our own particular errands, these are encouraging: "Thine is the kingdom; thou hast the government of the world, and the protection of the saints, thy willing subjects in it;" God gives and saves like a king. "Thine is the power, to maintain and support that kingdom, and to make good all thine engagements to thy people." Thine is the glory, as the end of all that which is given to, and done for, the saints, in answer to their prayers; for their praise waiteth for him. This is matter of comfort and holy confidence in prayer.

2. It is a form of praise and thanksgiving. The best pleading with God is praising of him; it is the way to obtain further mercy, as it qualifies us to receive it. In all our addresses to God, it is fit that praise should have a considerable share, for praise becometh the saints; they are to be our God for a name and for a praise. It is just and equal; we praise God, and give him glory, not because he needs it—he is praised by a world of angels, but because he deserves it; and it is our duty to give him glory, in compliance with his design in revealing himself to us. Praise is the work and happiness of heaven; and all that would go to heaven hereafter, must begin their heaven now. Observe, how full this doxology is, The kingdom, and the power, and the glory, it is all thine. Note, It becomes us to be copious in praising God. A true saint never thinks he can speak honourably enough of God: here there should be a gracious fluency, and this for ever. Ascribing glory to God for ever, intimates an acknowledgement, that it is eternally due, and an earnest desire to be eternally doing it, with angels and saints above, Ps. lxxi. 14.

Lastly, To all this we are taught to affix our Amen, so be it. God's Amen is a grant; his fiat is, it shall be so; our Amen is only a summary desire; our fiat is, let it be so: it is in the token of our desire and assurance to be heard, that we say Amen. Amen refers to every petition going before, and thus, in compassion to our infirmities, we are taught to knit up the whole in one word, and so to gather up, in the general, what we have lost and let slip in the particulars. It is good to conclude religious duties with some warmth and vigour, that we may go from them with a sweet savour upon our spirits. It was of old the practice of good people to say, Amen, audibly at the end of every prayer, and it is a commendable practice, provided it be done with understanding, as the apostle directs (1 Cor. xiv. 16), and uprightly, with life and liveliness, and inward expressions, answerable to that outward expression of desire and confidence.

Most of the petitions in the Lord's prayer had been commonly used by the Jews in their devotions, or words to the same effect: but that clause in the fifth petition, As we forgive our debtors, was perfectly new, and therefore our Saviour here shows for what reason he added it, not with any personal reflection upon the peevishness, litigiousness, and ill nature of the men of that generation, though there was cause enough for it, but only from the necessity and importance of the thing itself. God, in forgiving us, has a peculiar respect to our forgiving those that have injured us; and therefore, when we pray for pardon, we must mention our making conscience of that duty, not only to remind ourselves of it, but to bind ourselves to it. See that parable, ch. xviii. 23-35. Selfish nature is loth to comply with this, and therefore it is here inculcated, v. 14, 15.

1. In a promise. If ye forgive, your heavenly Father will also forgive. Not as if this were the only condition required; there must be repentance and faith, and new obedience; but as where other graces are in truth, there will be this, so this will be a good evidence of the sincerity of our other graces. He that relents toward his brother, thereby shows that he repents toward his God. Those which in the prayer are called debts, are here called trespasses, debts of injury, wrongs done to us in our bodies, goods, or reputation: trespasses is an extenuating term for offences, paraptomatastumbles, slips, falls. Note, It is a good evidence, and a good help of our forgiving others, to call the injuries done us by a mollifying, excusing name. Call them not treasons, but trespasses; not wilful injuries, but casual inadvertencies; peradventure it was an oversight (Gen. xliii. 12), therefore make the best of it. We must forgive, as we hope to be forgiven; and therefore must not only bear no malice, nor mediate revenge, but must not upbraid our brother with the injuries he has done us, nor rejoice in any hurt that befals him, but must be ready to help him and do him good, and if he repent and desire to be friends again, we must be free and familiar with him, as before.

2. In a threatening. "But if you forgive not those that have injured you, that is a bad sign you have not the other requisite conditions, but are altogether unqualified for pardon: and therefore your Father, whom you call Father, and who, as a father, offers you his grace upon reasonable terms, will nevertheless not forgive you. And if other grace be sincere, and yet you be defective greatly in forgiving, you cannot expect the comfort of your pardon, but to have your spirit brought down by some affliction or other to comply with this duty." Note, Those who would have found mercy with God must show mercy to their brethren; no can we expect that he should stretch out the hands of his favour to us, unless we lift up to him pure hands, without wrath, 1 Tim. ii. 8. If we pray in anger, we have reason to fear God will answer in anger. It has been said, Prayers made in wrath are written in gall. What reason is it that God should forgive us the talents we are indebted to him, if we forgive not our brethren the pence they are indebted to us? Christ came into the world as the great Peace-Maker, and not only to reconcile us to God, but one to another, and in this we must comply with him. It is great presumption and of dangerous consequence, for any to make a light matter of that which Christ here lays such a stress upon. Men's passions shall not frustrate God's word.

The Sermon on the Mount.

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.

We are here cautioned against hypocrisy in fasting, as before in almsgiving, and in prayer.

I. It is here supposed that religious fasting is a duty required of the disciples of Christ, when God, in his providence, calls to it, and when the case of their own souls upon any account requires it; when the bridegroom is taken away, then shall they fast, ch. ix. 15. Fasting is here put last, because it is not so much a duty for its own sake, as a means to dispose us for other duties. Prayer comes in between almsgiving and fasting, as being the life and soul of both. Christ here speaks especially of private fasts, such as particular persons prescribe to themselves, as free-will offerings, commonly used among the pious Jews; some fasted one day, some two, every week; others seldomer, as they saw cause. On those days they did not eat till sun-set, and then very sparingly. 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 it, that is so generally neglected among Christians. Anna was much in fasting, Luke ii. 37. Cornelius fasted and prayed, Acts x. 30. The primitive Christians were much in it, see Acts xiii. 3; xiv. 23. Private fasting is supposed, 1 Cor. vii. 5. It is an act of self-denial, and mortification of the flesh, a holy revenge upon ourselves, and humiliation under the hand of God. The most grown Christians must hereby own, they are so far from having any thing to be proud of, that they are unworthy of their daily bread. 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 this body, and brought it into subjection.

II. We are cautioned not to do this as the hypocrites did it, lest we lose the reward of it; and the more difficulty attends the duty, the greater loss it is to lose the reward of it.

Now, 1. The hypocrites pretended fasting, when there was nothing of that contrition or humiliation of soul in them, which is the life and soul of the duty. Theirs were mock-fasts, the show and shadow without the substance; they took on them to be more humbled than really they were, and so endeavored to put a cheat upon God, than which they could not put a greater affront upon him. The fast that God has chosen, is a day to afflict the soul, not to hang down the head like a bulrush, nor for a man to spread sackcloth and ashes under him; we are quite mistaken if we call this a fast, Isa. lviii. 5. Bodily exercise, if that be all, profits little, since that is not fasting to God, even to him.

2. They proclaimed their fasting, and managed it so that all who saw them might take notice that it was a fasting-day with them. Even on these days they appeared in the streets, whereas they should have been in their closets; and the affected a downcast look, a melancholy countenance, a slow and solemn pace; and perfectly disfigured themselves, that men might see how often they fasted, and might extol them as devout, mortified men. Note, It is sad that men, who have, in some measure, mastered their pleasure, which is sensual wickedness, should be ruined by their pride, which is spiritual wickedness, and no less dangerous. Here also they have their reward, that praise and applause of men which they court and covet so much; they have it, and it is their all.

III. We are directed how to manage a private fast; we must keep it in private, v. 17, 18. He does not tell us how often we must fast; circumstances vary, and wisdom is profitable therein to direct; the Spirit in the word has left that to the Spirit in the heart; but take this for a rule, whenever you undertake this duty, study therein to approve yourselves to God, and not to recommend yourselves to the good opinion of men; humility must evermore attend upon our humiliation. Christ does not direct to abate any thing of the reality of the fast; he does not say,"take a little meat, or a little drink, or a little cordial;" no, "let the body suffer, but lay aside the show and appearance of it; appear with thy ordinary countenance, guise, and dress; and while thou deniest thyself thy bodily refreshments, do it so as that it may not be taken notice of, no, not by those that are nearest to thee; look pleasant, anoint thine head and wash thy face, as thou dost on ordinary days, on purpose to conceal thy devotion; and thou shalt be no loser in the praise of it at last; for though it be not of men, it shall be of God." Fasting is the humbling of the soul (Ps. xxxv. 13), that is the inside of the duty; let that therefore be thy principal care, and as to the outside of it, covet not to let it be seen. If we be sincere in our solemn fasts, and humble, and trust God's omniscience for our witness, and his goodness for our reward, we shall find, both that he did see in secret, and will reward openly. Religious fasts, if rightly kept, will shortly be recompensed with an everlasting feast. Our acceptance with God in our private fasts should make us dead, both to the applause of men (we must not do the duty in hopes of this), and to the censures of men too (we must not decline the duty for fear of them). David's fasting was turned to his reproach, Ps. lxix. 10; and yet, v. 13, As for me, let them say what they will of me, my prayer is unto thee in an acceptable time.

The Sermon on the Mount.

19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:   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.   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 body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!   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.

Worldly-mindedness is as common and as fatal a symptom of hypocrisy as any other, for by no sin can Satan have a surer and faster hold of the soul, under the cloak of a visible and passable profession of religion, than by this; and therefore Christ, having warned us against coveting the praise of men, proceeds next to warn us against coveting the wealth of the world; in this also we must take heed, lest we be as the hypocrites are, and do as they do: the fundamental error that they are guilty of is, that they choose the world for their reward; we must therefore take heed of hypocrisy and worldly-mindedness, in the choice we make of our treasure, our end, and our masters.

I. In choosing the treasure we lay up. Something or other every man has which he makes his treasure, his portion, which his heart is upon, to which he carries all he can get, and which he depends upon for futurity. It is that good, that chief good, which Solomon speaks of with such an emphasis, Eccl. ii. 3. Something the soul will have, which it looks upon as the best thing, which it has a complacency and confidence in above other things. Now Christ designs not to deprive us of our treasure, but to direct us in the choice of it; and here we have,

1. A good caution against making the things that are seen, that are temporal, our best things, and placing our happiness in them. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth. Christ's disciples had left all to follow him, let them still keep in the same good mind. A treasure is an abundance of something that is in itself, at least in our opinion, precious and valuable, and likely to stand us in stead hereafter. Now we must not lay up our treasures on earth, that is, (1.) We must not count these things the best things, nor the most valuable in themselves, nor the most serviceable to us: we must not call them glory, as Laban's sons did, but see and own that they have no glory in comparison with the glory that excelleth. (2.) We must not covet an abundance of these things, nor be still grasping at more and more of them, and adding to them, as men do to that which is their treasure, as never knowing when we have enough. (3.) We must not confide in them for futurity, to be our security and supply in time to come; we must not say to the gold, Thou art my hope. (4.) We must not content ourselves with them, as all we need or desire: we must be content with a little for our passage, but not with all for our portion. These things must not be made our consolation (Luke vi. 24), our good things, Luke xvi. 25. Let us consider we are laying up, not for our posterity in this world, but for ourselves in the other world. We are put to our choice, and made in a manner our own carvers; that is ours which we lay up for ourselves. It concerns thee to choose wisely, for thou art choosing for thyself, and shalt have as thou choosest. If we know and consider ourselves what we are, what we are made for, how large our capacities are, and how long our continuance, and that our souls are ourselves, we shall see it is foolish thing to lay up our treasures on earth.

2. Here is a good reason given why we should not look upon any thing on earth as our treasure, because it is liable to loss and decay: (1.) From corruption within. That which is treasure upon earth moth and rust do corrupt. If the treasure be laid up in fine clothes, the moth frets them, and they are gone and spoiled insensibly, when we thought them most securely laid up. If it be in corn or other eatables, as his was who had his barns full (Luke xii. 16, 17), rust (so we read it) corrupts that: Brosiseating, eating by men, for as goods are increased they are increased that eat them (Eccl. v. 11); eating by mice or other vermin; manna itself bred worms; or it grows mouldy and musty, is struck, or smutted, or blasted; fruits soon rot. Or, if we understand it of silver and gold, they tarnish and canker; they grow less with using, and grow worse with keeping (Jam. v. 2, 3); the rust and the moth breed in the metal itself and in the garment itself. Note, Worldly riches have in themselves a principal of corruption and decay; they wither of themselves, and make themselves wings. (2.) From violence without. Thieves break through and steal. Every hand of violence will be aiming at the house where treasure is laid up; nor can any thing be laid up so safe, but we may be spoiled of it. Numquam ego fortunæ credidi, etiam si videretur pacem agere; omnia illa quæ in me indulgentissime conferebat, pecuniam, honores, gloriam, eo loco posui, unde posset ea, since metu meo, repetere—I never reposed confidence in fortune, even if she seemed propitious: whatever were the favours which her bounty bestowed, whether wealth, honours, or glory, I so disposed of them, that it was in her power to recall them without occasioning me any alarm. Seneca. Consol. ad Helv. It is folly to make that our treasure which we may so easily be robbed of.

3. Good counsel, 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. Note, (1.) There are treasures in heaven, as sure as there are on this earth; and those in heaven are the only true treasures, the riches and glories and pleasures that are at God's right hand, which those that are sanctified truly arrive at, when they come to be sanctified perfectly. (2.) It is our wisdom to lay up our treasure in those treasures; 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 with a holy contempt, as not worthy to be compared with it. We must firmly believe there is such a happiness, and resolve to be content with that, 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; thither let us send before our best efforts and best affections. Let us not burthen ourselves with the cash of this world, which will but load and defile us, and be liable to sink us, but lay up in store good securities. The promises are bills of exchange, by which all true believers return their treasure to heaven, payable in the future state: and thus we make that sure that will be made sure. (3.) It is a great encouragement to us to lay up our treasure in heaven, that there it is safe; it will not decay of itself, no moth nor rust will corrupt it; nor can we be by force or fraud deprived of it; thieves do not break through and steal. It is a happiness above and beyond the changes and chances of time, an inheritance incorruptible.

4. A good reason why we should thus choose, and an evidence that we have done so (v. 21), Where your treasure is, on earth or in heaven, there will you heart be. We are therefore concerned to be right and wise in the choice of our treasure, because the temper of our minds, and consequently the tenor of our lives, will be accordingly either carnal or spiritual, earthly or heavenly. The heart follows the treasure, as the needle follows the loadstone, or the sunflower the sun. Where the treasure is there the value and esteem are, there the love and affection are (Col. iii. 2), that way the desires and pursuits go, thitherward the aims and intents are levelled, and all is done with that in view. Where the treasure is, there our cares and fears are, lest we come short of it; about that we are most solicitous; there our hope and trust are (Prov. xviii. 10, 11); there our joys and delights will be (Ps. cxix. 111); and there our thoughts will be, there the inward thought will be, the first thought, the free thought, the fixed thought, the frequent, the familiar thought. The heart is God's due (Prov. xxiii. 26), and that he may have it, our treasure must be laid up with him, and then our souls will be lifted up to him.

This direction about laying up our treasure, may very fitly be applied to the foregoing caution, of not doing what we do in religion to be seen of men. Our treasure is our alms, prayers, and fastings, and the reward of them; if we have done these only to gain the applause of men, we have laid up this treasure on earth, have lodged it in the hands of men, and must never expect to hear any further of it. Now it is folly to do this, for the praise of men we covet so much is liable to corruption: it will soon be rusted, and moth-eaten, and tarnished; a little folly, like a dead fly, will spoil it all, Eccl. x. 1. Slander and calumny are thieves that break through and steal it away, and so we lose all the treasure of our performances; we have run in vain, and laboured in vain, because we misplaced our intentions in doing of them. Hypocritical services lay up nothing in heaven (Isa. lviii. 3); the gain of them is gone, when the soul is called for, Job xxvii. 8. But if we have prayed and fasted and given alms in truth and uprightness, with an eye to God and to his acceptance, and have approved ourselves to him therein, we have laid up that treasure in heaven; a book of remembrance is written there (Mal. iii. 16), and being there recorded, they shall be there rewarded, and we shall meet them again with comfort on the other side death and the grave. Hypocrites are written in the earth (Jer. xvii. 13), but God's faithful ones have their names written in heaven, Luke x. 20. Acceptance with God is treasure in heaven, which can neither be corrupted nor stolen. His well done shall stand for ever; and if we have thus laid up our treasure with him, with him our hearts will be; and where can they be better?

II. We must take heed of hypocrisy and worldly-mindedness in choosing the end we look at. Our concern as to this is represented by two sorts of eyes which men have, a single eye and an evil eye, v. 22, 23. The expressions here are somewhat dark because concise; we shall therefore take them in some variety of interpretation. The light of the body is the eye, that is plain; the eye is discovering and directing; the light of the world would avail us little without this light of the body; it is the light of the eye that rejoiceth the heart (Prov. xv. 30), but what is that which is here compared to the eye in the body.

1. The eye, that is, the heart (so some) if that be singlehaplousfree and bountiful (so the word is frequently rendered, as Rom. xii. 8; 2 Cor. viii. 2, ix. 11, 13; Jam. i. 5, and we read of a bountiful eye, Prov. xxii. 9). If the heart be liberally affected and stand inclined to goodness and charity, it will direct the man to Christian actions, the whole conversation will be full of light, full of evidences and instances of true Christianity, that pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father (Jam. i. 27), full of light, of good works, which are our light shining before men; but if the heart be evil, covetous, and hard, and envious, griping and grudging (such a temper of mind is often expressed by an evil eye, ch. xx. 15; Mark vii. 22; Prov. xxiii. 6, 7), the body will be full of darkness, the whole conversation will be heathenish and unchristian. The instruments of the churl are and always will be evil, but the liberal deviseth liberal things, Isa. xxxii. 5-8. If the light that is in us, those affections which should guide us to that which is good, be darkness, if these be corrupt and worldly, if there be not so much as good nature in a man, not so much as a kind disposition, how great is the corruption of a man, and the darkness in which he sits! This sense seems to agree with the context; we must lay up treasure in heaven by liberality in giving alms, and that not grudgingly but with cheerfulness, Luke xii. 33; 2 Cor. ix. 7. But these words in the parallel place do not come in upon any such occasion, Luke xi. 34, and therefore the coherence here does not determine that to be the sense of them.

2. The eye, that is, the understanding (so some); the practical judgment, the conscience, which is to the other faculties of the soul, as the eye is to the body, to guide and direct their motions; now if this eye be single, if it make a true and right judgment, and discern things that differ, especially in the great concern of laying up the treasure so as to choose aright in that, it will rightly guide the affections and actions, which will all be full of the light of grace and comfort; but if this be evil and corrupt, and instead of leading the inferior powers, is led, and bribed, and biassed by them, if this be erroneous and misinformed, the heart and life must needs be full of darkness, and the whole conversation corrupt. They that will not understand, are said to walk on in darkness, Ps. lxxxii. 5. It is sad when the spirit of a man, that should be the candle of the Lord, is an ignis fatuus: when the leaders of the people, the leaders of the faculties, cause them to err, for then they that are led of them are destroyed, Isa. ix. 16. An error in the practical judgment is fatal, it is that which calls evil good and good evil (Isa. v. 20); therefore it concerns us to understand things aright, to get our eyes anointed with eye-salve.

3. The eye, that is, the aims and intentions; by the eye we set our end before us, the mark we shoot at, the place we go to, we keep that in view, and direct our motion accordingly; in every thing we do in religion; there is something or other that we have in our eye; now if our eye be single, if we aim honestly, fix right ends, and move rightly towards them, if we aim purely and only at the glory of God, seek his honor and favour, and direct all entirely to him, then the eye is single; Paul's was so when he said, To me to live is Christ; and if we be right here, the whole body will be full of light, all the actions will be regular and gracious, pleasing to God and comfortable to ourselves; but if this eye be evil, if, instead of aiming only at the glory of God, and our acceptance with him, we look aside at the applause of men, and while we profess to honour God, contrive to honour ourselves, and seek our own things under colour of seeking the things of Christ, this spoils all, the whole conversation will be perverse and unsteady, and the foundations being thus out of course, there can be nothing but confusion and every evil work in the superstructure. Draw the lines from the circumference to any other point but the centre, and they will cross. If the light that is in thee be not only dim, but darkness itself, it is a fundamental error, and destructive to all that follows. The end specifies the action. It is of the last importance in religion, that we be right in our aims, and make eternal things, not temporal, our scope, 2 Cor. iv. 18. The hypocrite is like the waterman, that looks one way and rows another; the true Christian like the traveller, that has his journey's end in his eye. The hypocrite soars like the kite, with his eye upon the prey below, which he is ready to come down to when he has a fair opportunity; the true Christian soars like the lark, higher and higher, forgetting the things that are beneath.

III. We must take heed of hypocrisy and worldly-mindedness in choosing the master we serve, v. 24. No man can serve two masters. Serving two masters is contrary to the single eye; for the eye will be to the master's hand, Ps. cxxiii. 1, 2. Our Lord Jesus here exposes the cheat which those put upon their own souls, who think to divide between God and the world, to have a treasure on earth, and a treasure in heaven too, to please God and please men too. Why not? says the hypocrite; it is good to have two strings to one's bow. They hope to make their religion serve their secular interest, and so turn to account both ways. The pretending mother was for dividing the child; the Samaritans will compound between God and idols. No, says Christ, this will not do; it is but a supposition that gain is godliness, 1 Tim. vi. 5. Here is,

1. A general maxim laid down; it is likely it was a proverb among the Jews, No man can serve two masters, much less two gods; for their commands will some time or other cross or contradict one another, and their occasions interfere. While two masters go together, a servant may follow them both; but when they part, you will see to which he belongs; he cannot love, and observe, and cleave to both as he should. If to the one, not to the other; either this or that must be comparatively hated and despised. This truth is plain enough in common cases.

2. The application of it to the business in hand. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon. Mammon is a Syriac word, that signifies gain; so that whatever in this world is, or is accounted by us to be, gain (Phil. iii. 7), is mammon. Whatever is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, is mammon. To some their belly is their mammon, and they serve that (Phil. iii. 19); to others their ease, their sleep, their sports and pastimes, are their mammon (Prov. vi. 9); to others worldly riches (James iv. 13); to others honours and preferments; the praise and applause of men was the Pharisees' mammon; in a word, self, the unity in which the world's trinity centres, sensual, secular self, is the mammon which cannot be served in conjunction with God; for if it be served, it is in competition with him and in contradiction to him. He does not say, We must not or we should not, but we cannot serve God and Mammon; we cannot love both (1 John ii. 15; Jam. iv. 4); or hold to both, or hold by both in observance, obedience, attendance, trust, and dependence, for they are contrary the one to the other. God says, "My son, give me thy heart." Mammon says, "No, give it me." God says, "Be content with such things as ye have." Mammon says, "Grasp at all that ever thou canst. Rem, rem, quocunque modo rem—Money, money; by fair means or by foul, money." God says, "Defraud not, never lie, be honest and just in all thy dealings." Mammon says "Cheat thine own Father, if thou canst gain by it." God says, "Be charitable." Mammon says, "Hold thy own: this giving undoes us all." God says, "Be careful for nothing." Mammon says, "Be careful for every thing." God says, "Keep holy thy sabbath-day." Mammon says, "Make use of that day as well as any other for the world." Thus inconsistent are the commands of God and Mammon, so that we cannot serve both. Let us not then halt between God and Baal, but choose ye this day whom ye will serve, and abide by our choice.

The Sermon on the Mount.

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 oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?   31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?   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.

There is scarcely any one sin against which our Lord Jesus more largely and earnestly warns his disciples, or against which he arms them with more variety of arguments, than the sin of disquieting, distracting, distrustful cares about the things of life, which are a bad sign that both the treasure and the heart are on the earth; and therefore he thus largely insists upon it. Here is,

I. The prohibition laid down. It is the counsel and command of the Lord Jesus, that we take no thought about the things of this world; I say unto you. He says it as our Lawgiver, and the Sovereign of our hearts; he says it as our Comforter, and the Helper of our joy. What is it that he says? It is this, and he that hath ears to hear, let him hear it. Take no thought for your life, nor yet for your body (v. 25). Take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? (v. 31) and again (v. 34), Take no thought, me merimnateBe not in care. As against hypocrisy, so against worldly cares, the caution is thrice repeated, and yet no vain repetition: precept must be upon precept, and line upon line, to the same purport, and all little enough; it is a sin which doth so easily beset us. It intimates how pleasing it is to Christ, and of how much concern it is to ourselves, that we should live without carefulness. It is the repeated command of the Lord Jesus to his disciples, that they should not divide and pull in pieces their own minds with care about the world. There is a thought concerning the things of this life, which is not only lawful, but duty, such as is commended in the virtuous woman. See Prov. xxvii. 23. The word is used concerning Paul's care of the churches, and Timothy's care for the state of souls, 2 Cor. xi. 28; Phil. ii. 20.

But the thought here forbidden is, 1. A disquieting, tormenting thought, which hurries the mind hither and thither, and hangs it in suspense; which disturbs our joy in God, and is a damp upon our hope in him; which breaks the sleep, and hinders our enjoyment of ourselves, of our friends, and of what God has given us. 2. A distrustful, unbelieving thought. God has promised to provide for those that are his all things needful for life as well as godliness, the life that now is, food and a covering: not dainties, but necessaries. He never said, "They shall be feasted," but, "Verily, they shall be fed." Now an inordinate care for time to come, and fear of wanting those supplies, spring from a disbelief of these promises, and of the wisdom and goodness of Divine Providence; and that is the evil of it. As to present sustenance, we may and must use lawful means to get it, else we tempt God; we must be diligent in our callings, and prudent in proportioning our expenses to what we have, and we must pray for daily bread; and if all other means fail, we may and must ask relief of those that are able to give it. He was none of the best of men that said, To beg I am ashamed (Luke xvi. 3); as he was, who (v. 21) desired to be fed with the crumbs; but for the future, we must cast our care upon God, and take no thought, because it looks like a jealousy of God, who knows how to give what we want when we know not now to get it. Let our souls dwell at ease in him! This gracious carelessness is the same with that sleep which God gives to his beloved, in opposition to the worldling's toil, Ps. cxxvii. 2. Observe the cautions here,

(1.) Take no thought for your life. Life is our greatest concern for this world; All that a man has will he give for his life; yet take no thought about it. [1.] Not about the continuance of it; refer it to God to lengthen or shorten it as he pleases; my times are in thy hand, and they are in a good hand. [2.] Not about the comforts of this life; refer it to God to embitter or sweeten it as he pleases. We must not be solicitous, no not about the necessary support of this life, food and raiment; these God has promised, and therefore we may more confidently expect; say not, What shall we eat? It is the language of one at a loss, and almost despairing; whereas, though many good people have the prospect of little, yet there are few but have present support.

(2.) Take no thought for the morrow, for the time to come. Be not solicitous for the future, how you shall live next year, or when you are old, or what you shall leave behind you. As we must not boast of to-morrow, so we must not care for to-morrow, or the events of it.

II. The reasons and arguments to enforce this prohibition. One would think the command of Christ was enough to restrain us from this foolish sin of disquieting, distrustful care, independently of the comfort of our own souls, which is so nearly concerned; but to show how much the heart of Christ is upon it, and what pleasures he takes in those that hope in his mercy, the command is backed with the most powerful arguments. If reason may but rule us, surely we shall ease ourselves of these thorns. To free us from anxious thoughts, and to expel them, Christ here suggests to us comforting thoughts, that we may be filled with them. It will be worth while to take pains with our own hearts, to argue them out of their disquieting cares, and to make ourselves ashamed of them. They may be weakened by right reason, but it is by an active faith only that they can be overcome. Consider then,

1. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? v. 25. Yes, no doubt it is; so he says who had reason to understand the true value of present things, for he made them, he supports them, and supports us by them; and the thing speaks for itself. Note, (1.) Our life is a greater blessing than our livelihood. It is true, life cannot subsist without a livelihood; but the meat and raiment which are here represented as inferior to the life and body are such as are for ornament and delight; for about such as are for ornament ad delight; for about such we are apt to be solicitous. Meat and raiment are in order to life, and the end is more noble and excellent than the means. The daintiest food and finest raiment are from the earth, but life from the breath of God. Life is the light of men; meat is but the oil that feeds that light: so that the difference between rich and poor is very inconsiderable, since, in the greatest things, they stand on the same level, and differ only in the less. (2.) This is an encouragement to us to trust God for food and raiment, and so to ease ourselves of all perplexing cares about them. God has given us life, and given us the body; it was an act of power, it was an act of favour, it was done without our care: what cannot he do for us, who did that?—what will he not? If we take care about our souls and eternity, which are more than the body, and its life, we may leave it to God to provide for us food and raiment, which are less. God has maintained our lives hitherto; if sometimes with pulse and water, that has answered the end; he has protected us and kept us alive. He that guards us against the evils we are exposed to, will supply us with the good things we are in need of. If he had been pleased to kill us, to starve us, he would not so often have given his angels a charge concerning us to keep us.

2. Behold the fowls of the air, and consider the lilies of the field. Here is an argument taken from God's common providence toward the inferior creatures, and their dependence, according to their capacities, upon that providence. A fine pass fallen man has come to, that he must be sent to school to the fowls of the air, and that they must teach him! Job xii. 7, 8.

(1.) Look upon the fowls, and learn to trust God for food (v. 26), and disquiet not yourselves with thoughts what you shall eat.

[1.] Observe the providence of God concerning them. Look upon them, and receive instruction. There are various sorts of fowls; they are numerous, some of them ravenous, but they are all fed, and fed with food convenient for them; it is rare that any of them perish for want of food, even in winter, and there goes no little to feed them all the year round. The fowls, as they are least serviceable to man, so they are least within his care; men often feed upon them, but seldom feed them; yet they are fed, we know not how, and some of them fed best in the hardest weather; and it is your heavenly Father that feeds them; he knows all the wild fowls of the mountains, better than you know the tame ones at your own barn-door, Ps. l. 11. Not a sparrow lights to the ground, to pick up a grain of corn, but by the providence of God, which extends itself to the meanest creatures. But that which is especially observed here is, that they are fed without any care or project of their own; they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns. The ant indeed does, and the bee, and they are set before us as examples of prudence and industry; but the fowls of the air do not; they make no provision for the future themselves, and yet every day, as duly as the day comes, provision is made for them, and their eyes wait on God, that great and good Housekeeper, who provides food for all flesh.

[2.] Improve this for your encouragement to trust in God. Are ye not much better than they? Yes, certainly you are. Note, The heirs of heaven are much better than the fowls of heaven; nobler and more excellent beings, and, by faith, they soar higher; they are of a better nature and nurture, wiser than the fowls of heaven (Job xxxv. 11): though the children of this world, that know not the judgment of the Lord, are not so wise as the stork, and the crane, and the swallow (Jer. viii. 7), you are dearer to God, and nearer, though they fly in the open firmament of heaven. He is their Master and Lord, their Owner and Master; but besides all this, he is your Father, and in his account ye are of more value than many sparrows; you are his children, his first-born; now he that feeds his birds surely will not starve his babes. They trust your Father's providence, and will not you trust it? In dependence upon that, they are careless for the morrow; and being so, they live the merriest lives of all creatures; they sing among the branches (Ps. civ. 12), and, to the best of their power, they praise their Creator. If we were, by faith, as unconcerned about the morrow as they are, we should sing as cheerfully as they do; for it is worldly care that mars our mirth and damps our joy, and silences our praise, as much as any thing.

(2.) Look upon the lilies, and learn to trust God for raiment. That is another part of our care, what we shall put on; for decency, to cover us; for defence, to keep us warm; yea, and, with many, for dignity and ornament, to make them look great and fine; and so much concerned are they for gaiety and variety in their clothing, that this care returns almost as often as that for their daily bread. Now to ease us of this care, let us consider the lilies of the field; not only look upon them (every eyes does that with pleasure), but consider them. Note, There is a great deal of good to be learned from what we see every day, if we would but consider it, Prov. vi. 6; xxiv. 32.

[1.] Consider how frail the lilies are; they are the grass of the field. Lilies, though distinguished by their colours, are still but grass. Thus all flesh is grass: though some in the endowments of body and mind are as lilies, much admired, still they are grass; the grass of the field in nature and constitution; they stand upon the same level with others. Man's days, at best, are as grass, as the flower of the grass 1 Pet. i. 24. This grass to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven; in a little while the place that knows us will know us no more. The grave is the oven into which we shall be cast, and in which we shall be consumed as grass in the fire, Ps. xlix. 14. This intimates a reason why we should not take thought for the morrow, what we shall put on, because perhaps, by to-morrow, we may have occasion for our grave-clothes.

[2.] Consider how free from care the lilies are: they toil not as men do, to earn clothing; as servants, to earn their liveries; neither do they spin, as women do, to make clothing. It does not follow that we must therefore neglect, or do carelessly, the proper business of this life; it is the praise of the virtuous woman, that she lays her hand to the spindle, makes fine linen and sells it, Prov. xxxi. 19, 24. Idleness tempts God, instead of trusting him; but he that provides for inferior creatures, without their labour, will much more provide for us, by blessing our labour, which he has made our duty. And if we should, through sickness, be unable to toil and spin, God can furnish us with what is necessary for us.

[3.] Consider how fair, how fine the lilies are; how they grow; what they grow from. The root of the lily or tulip, as other bulbous roots, is, in winter, lost and buried under ground, yet, when spring returns, it appears, and starts up in a little time; hence it is promised to God's Israel, that they should grow as the lily, Hos. xiv. 5. Consider what they grow to. Out of that obscurity in a few weeks they come to be so very gay, that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. The array of Solomon was very splendid and magnificent: he that had the peculiar treasure of kings and provinces, and studiously affected pomp and gallantry, doubtless had the richest clothing, and the best made up, that could be got; especially when he appeared in his glory on high days. And yet, let him dress himself as fine as he could, he comes far short of the beauty of the lilies, and a bed of tulips outshines him. Let us, therefore, be ambitious of the wisdom of Solomon, in which he was outdone by none (wisdom to do our duty in our places), rather than the glory of Solomon, in which he was outdone by the lilies. Knowledge and grace are the perfection of man, not beauty, much less fine clothes. Now God is here said thus to clothe the grass of the field. Note, All the excellences of the creature flow from God, the Fountain and spring of them. It was he that gave the horse his strength, and the lily its beauty; every creature is in itself, as well as to us, what he makes it to be.

[4.] Consider how instructive all this is to us, v. 30.

First, As to fine clothing, this teaches us not to care for it at all, not to covet it, nor to be proud of it, not to make the putting on of apparel our adorning, for after all our care in this the lilies will far outdo us; we cannot dress so fine as they do, why then should we attempt to vie with them? Their adorning will soon perish, and so will ours; they fade—are to-day, and to-morrow are cast, as other rubbish, into the oven; and the clothes we are proud of are wearing out, the gloss is soon gone, the color fades, the shape goes out of fashion, or in awhile the garment itself is worn out; such is man in all his pomp (Isa. xl. 6, 7), especially rich men (Jam. i. 10); they fade away in their ways.

Secondly, As to necessary clothing; this teaches us to cast the care of it upon God—Jehovah-jireh; trust him that clothes the lilies, to provide for you what you shall put on. If he give such fine clothes to the grass, much more will he give fitting clothes to his own children; clothes that shall be warm upon them, not only when he quieteth the earth with the south wind, but when he disquiets it with the north wind, Job xxxvii. 17. He shall much more clothe you: for you are nobler creatures, of a more excellent being; if so he clothe the short-lived grass, much more will he clothe you that are made for immortality. Even the children of Nineveh are preferred before the gourd (Jonah iv. 10, 11), much more the sons of Zion, that are in covenant with God. Observe the title he gives them (v. 30), O ye of little faith. This may be taken, 1. As an encouragement to truth faith, though it be but weak; it entitles us to the divine care, and a promise of suitable supply. Great faith shall be commended, and shall procure great things, but little faith shall not be rejected, even that shall procure food and raiment. Sound believers shall be provided for, though they be not strong believers. The babes in the family are fed and clothed, as well as those that are grown up, and with a special care and tenderness; say not, I am but a child, but a dry tree (Isa. lvi. 3, 5), for though poor and needy yet the Lord thinketh on thee. Or, 2. It is rather a rebuke to weak faith, though it be true, ch. xiv. 31. It intimates what is at the bottom of all our inordinate care and thoughtfulness; it is owing to the weakness of our faith, and the remains of unbelief in us. If we had but more faith, we should have less care.

3. Which of you, the wisest, the strongest of you, by taking thought, can add one cubit to his stature? (v. 27) to his age, so some; but the measure of a cubit denotes it to be meant of the stature, and the age at longest is but a span, Ps. xxxix. 5. Let us consider, (1.) We did not arrive at the stature we are of by our own care and thought, but by the providence of God. An infant of a span long has grown up to be a man of six feet, and how was one cubit after another added to his stature? not by his own forecast or contrivance; he grew he knew not how, by the power and goodness of God. Now he that made our bodies, and made them of such size, surely will take care to provide for them. Note, God is to be acknowledged in the increase of our bodily strength and stature, and to be trusted for all needful supplies, because he has made it to appear, that he is mindful for the body. The growing age is the thoughtless, careless age, yet we grow; and shall not he who reared us to this, provide for us now we are reared? (2.) We cannot alter the stature we are of, if we would: what a foolish and ridiculous thing would it be for a man of low stature to perplex himself, to break his sleep, and beat his brains, about it, and to be continually taking thought how he might be a cubit higher; when, after all, he knows he cannot effect it, and therefore he had better be content and take it as it is! We are not all of a size, yet the difference in stature between one and another is not material, nor of any great account; a little man is ready to wish he were as tall as such a one, but he knows it is to no purpose, and therefore does as well as he can with it. Now as we do in reference to our bodily stature, so we should do in reference to our worldly estate. [1.] We should not covet an abundance of the wealth of this world, any more than we would covet the addition of a cubit to one's stature, which is a great deal in a man's height; it is enough to grow by inches; such an addition would but make one unwieldy, and a burden to one's self. [2.] We must reconcile ourselves to our state, as we do to our stature; we must set the conveniences against the inconveniences, and so make a virtue of necessity: what cannot be remedied must be made the best of. We cannot alter the disposals of Providence, and therefore must acquiesce in them, accommodate ourselves to them, and relieve ourselves, as well as we can, against inconveniences, as Zaccheus against the inconvenience of his stature, by climbing into the tree.

4. After all these things do the Gentiles seek, v. 32. Thoughtfulness about the world is a heathenish sin, and unbecoming Christians. The Gentiles seek these things, because they know not better things; they are eager for this world, because they are strangers to a better; they seek these things with care and anxiety, because they are without God in the world, and understand not his providence. They fear and worship their idols, but know not how to trust them for deliverance and supply, and, therefore, are themselves full of care; but it is a shame for Christians, who build upon nobler principles, and profess a religion which teaches them not only that there is a Providence, but that there are promises made to the good of the life that now is, which teaches them a confidence in God and a contempt of the world, and gives such reasons for both; it is a shame for them to walk as Gentiles walk, and to fill their heads and hearts with these things.

5. Your heavenly Father knows ye have need of all these things; these necessary things, food and raiment; he knows our wants better than we do ourselves; though he be in heaven, and his children on earth, he observes what the least and poorest of them has occasion for (Rev. ii. 9), I know thy poverty. You think, if such a good friend did not but know your wants and straits, you would soon have relief: your God knows them; and he is your Father that loves you and pities you, and is ready to help you; your heavenly Father, who has wherewithal to supply all your needs: away, therefore, with all disquieting thoughts and cares; go to thy Father; tell him, he knows that thou has need of such and such things; he asks you, Children, have you any meat? John xxi. 5. Tell him whether you have or have not. Though he knows our wants, he will know them from us; and when we have opened them to him, let us cheerfully refer ourselves to his wisdom, power, and goodness, for our supply. Therefore, we should ease ourselves of the burthen of care, by casting it upon God, because it is he that careth for us (1 Pet. v. 7), and what needs all this ado? If he care, why should be care?

6. Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. v. 33. Here is a double argument against the sin of thoughtfulness; take no thought for your life, the life of the body; for, (1.) You have greater and better things to take thought about, the life of your soul, your eternal happiness; that is the one thing needful (Luke x. 42), about which you should employ your thoughts, and which is commonly neglected in those hearts wherein worldly cares have the ascendant. If we were but more careful to please God, and to work out our own salvation, we should be less solicitous to please ourselves, and work out an estate in the world. Thoughtfulness for our souls in the most effectual cure of thoughtfulness for the world. (2.) You have a surer and easier, a safer and more compendious way to obtain the necessaries of this life, than by carking, and caring, and fretting about them; and that is, by seeking first the kingdom of God, and making religion your business: say not that this is the way to starve, no, it is the way to be well provided for, even in this world. Observe here,

[1.] The great duty required: it is the sum and substance of our whole duty: "Seek first the kingdom of God, mind religion as your great and principle concern." Our duty is to seek; to desire, pursue, and aim at these things; it is a word that has in it much of the constitution of the new covenant in favour of us; though we have not attained, but in many things fail and come short, sincere seeking (a careful concern and an earnest endeavor) is accepted. Now observe, First, The object of this seeking; The kingdom of God, and his righteousness; we must mind heaven as our end, and holiness as our way. "Seek the comforts of the kingdom of grace and glory as your felicity. Aim at the kingdom of heaven; press towards it; give diligence to make it sure; resolve not to take up short of it; seek for this glory, honour, and immortality; prefer heaven and heavenly blessings far before earth and earthly delights." We make nothing of our religion, if we do not make heaven of it. And with the happiness of this kingdom, seek the righteousness of it; God's righteousness, the righteousness which he requires to be wrought in us, and wrought by us, such as exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees; we must follow peace and holiness, Heb. xii. 14. Secondly, The order of it. Seek first the kingdom of God. Let your care for your souls and another world take the place of all other cares: and let all the concerns of this life be made subordinate to those of the life to come: we must seek the things of Christ more than our own things; and if every they come in competition, we must remember to which we are to give the preference. "Seek these things first; first in thy days: let the morning of thy youth be dedicated to God. Wisdom must be sought early; it is good beginning betimes to be religious. Seek the first every day; let waking thoughts be of God." Let this be our principle, to do that first which is most needful, and let him that is the First, have the first.

[2.] The gracious promise annexed; all these things, the necessary supports of life, shall be added unto you; shall be given over and above; so it is in the margin. You shall have what you seek, the kingdom of God and his righteousness, for never any sought in vain, that sought in earnest; and besides that, you shall have food and raiment, by way of overplus; as he that buys goods has paper and packthread given him in the bargain. Godliness has the promise of the life that now is, 1 Tim. iv. 8. Solomon asked wisdom, and had that and other things added to him, 2 Chron. i. 11, 12. O what a blessed change would it make in our hearts and lives, did we but firmly believe this truth, that the best way to be comfortably provided for in this world, is to be most intent upon another world! We then begin at the right end of our work, when we begin with God. If we give diligence to make sure to ourselves the kingdom of God and the righteousness thereof, as to all the things of this life, Jehovah-jireh—the Lord will provide as much of them as he sees good for us, and more we would not wish for. Have we trusted in him for the portion of our inheritance at our end, and shall we not trust him for the portion of our cup, in the way to it? God's Israel were not only brought to Canaan at last, but had their charges borne through the wilderness. O that we were more thoughtful about the things that are not seen, that are eternal, and then the less thoughtful we should be, and the less thoughtful we should need to be, about the things that are seen, that are temporal! Also regard not your stuff, Gen. xlv. 20, 23.

7. The morrow shall take thought for the things of itself: sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof, v. 34. We must not perplex ourselves inordinately about future events, because every day brings along with it its own burthen of cares and grievances, as, if we look about us, and suffer not our fears to betray the succours which grace and reason offer, it brings along with it its own strength and supply too. So that we are here told,

(1.) That thoughtfulness for the morrow is needless; Let the morrow take thought for the things of itself. If wants and troubles be renewed with the day, there are aids and provisions renewed likewise; compassions, that are new every morning, Lam. iii. 22, 23. The saints have a Friend that is their arm every morning, and gives out fresh supplies daily (Isa. xxxiii. 2), according as the business of every day requires (Ezra iii. 4), and so he keeps his people in constant dependence upon him. Let us refer it therefore to the morrow's strength, to do the morrow's work, and bear the morrow's burthen. To-morrow, and the things of it, will be provided for without us; why need we anxiously care for that which is so wisely cared for already? This does not forbid a prudent foresight, and preparation accordingly, but a perplexing solicitude, and a prepossession of difficulties and calamities, which may perhaps never come, or if they do, may be easily borne, and the evil of them guarded against. The meaning is, let us mind present duty, and then leave events to God; do the work of the day in its day, and then let to-morrow bring its work along with it.

(2.) That thoughtfulness for the morrow is one of those foolish and hurtful lusts, which those that will be rich fall into, and one of the many sorrows, wherewith they pierce themselves through. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. This present day has trouble enough attending it, we need not accumulate burthens by anticipating our trouble, nor borrow perplexities from to-morrow's evils to add to those of this day. It is uncertain what to-morrow's evils may be, but whatever they be, it is time enough to take thought about them when they come. What a folly it is to take that trouble upon ourselves this day by care and fear, which belongs to another day, and will be never the lighter when it comes? Let us not pull that upon ourselves all together at once, which Providence has wisely ordered to be borne by parcels. The conclusion of this whole matter then is, that it is the will and command of the Lord Jesus, that his disciples should not be their own tormentors, nor make their passage through this world more dark and unpleasant, by their apprehension of troubles, than God has made it by the troubles themselves. By our daily prayers we may procure strength to bear us up under our daily troubles, and to arm us against the temptations that attend them, and then let none of these things move us.

The Sermon on the Mount.

1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.   2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.   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?   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.   6 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.

Our Saviour is here directing us how to conduct ourselves in reference to the faults of others; and his expressions seem intended as a reproof to the scribes and Pharisees, who were very rigid and severe, very magisterial and supercilious, in condemning all about them, as those commonly are, that are proud and conceited in justifying themselves. We have here,

I. A caution against judging v. 1, 2. There are those whose office it is to judge-magistrates and ministers. Christ, though he made not himself a Judge, yet came not to unmake them, for by him princes decree justice; but this is directed to private persons, to his disciples, who shall hereafter sit on thrones judging, but not now. Now observe,

1. The prohibition; Judge not. We must judge ourselves, and judge our own acts, but we must not judge our brother, not magisterially assume such an authority over others, as we allow not them over us: since our rule is, to be subject to one another. Be not many masters, Jam. iii. 1. We must not sit in the judgment-seat, to make our word a law to every body. We must not judge our brother, that is, we must not speak evil of him, so it is explained, Jam. iv. 11. We must not despise him, nor set him at nought, Rom. xiv. 10. We must not judge rashly, nor pass such a judgment upon our brother as has no ground, but is only the product of our own jealousy and ill nature. We must not make the worst of people, nor infer such invidious things from their words and actions as they will not bear. We must not judge uncharitably, unmercifully, nor with a spirit of revenge, and a desire to do mischief. We must not judge of a man's state by a single act, nor of what he is in himself by what he is to us, because in our own cause we are apt to be partial. We must not judge the hearts of others, nor their intentions, for it is God's prerogative to try the heart, and we must not step into his throne; nor must we judge of their eternal state, nor call them hypocrites, reprobates, and castaways; that is stretching beyond our line; what have we to do, thus to judge another man's servant? Counsel him, and help him, but do not judge him.

2. The reason to enforce this prohibition. That ye be not judged. This intimates, (1.) That if we presume to judge others, we may expect to be ourselves judged. He who usurps the bench, shall be called to the bar; he shall be judged of men; commonly none are more censured, than those who are most censorious; every one will have a stone to throw at them; 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 no mercy shall be shown to the reputation of those that show no mercy to the reputation of others. Yet that is not the worst of it; they shall be judged of God; from him they shall receive the greater condemnation, Jam. iii. 1. Both parties must appear before him (Rom. xiv. 10), who, as he will relieve the humble sufferer, will also resist the haughty scorner, and give him enough of judging. (2.) That if we be modest and charitable in our censures of others, and decline judging them, and judge ourselves rather, we shall not be judged of the Lord. As God will forgive those that forgive their brethren; so he will not judge those that will not judge their brethren; the merciful shall find mercy. It is an evidence of humility, charity, and deference to God, and shall be owned and rewarded by him accordingly. See Rom. xiv. 10.

The judging of those that judge others is according to the law of retaliation; With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged, v. 2. The righteous God, in his judgments, often observes a rule of proportion, as in the case of Adonibezek, Judg. i. 7. See also Rev. xiii. 10; xviii. 6. Thus will he be both justified and magnified in his judgments, and all flesh will be silenced before him. With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again; perhaps in this world, so that men may read their sin in their punishment. Let this deter us from all severity in dealing with our brother. What shall we do when God rises up? Job xxxi. 14. What would become of us, if God should be as exact and severe in judging us, as we are in judging our brethren; if he should weigh us in the same balance? We may justly expect it, if we be extreme to mark what our brethren do amiss. In this, as in other things, the violent dealings of men return upon their own heads.

II. Some cautions about reproving. Because we must not judge others, which is a great sin, it does not therefore follow that we must not reprove others, which is a great duty, and may be a means of saving a soul from death; however, it will be a means of saving our souls from sharing in their guilt. Now observe here,

1. It is not every one who is fit to reprove. Those who are themselves guilty of the same faults of which they accuse others, or of worse, bring shame upon themselves, and are not likely to do good to those whom they reprove, v. 3-5. Here is,

(1.) A just reproof to the censorious, who quarrel with their brother for small faults, while they allow themselves in great ones; who are quick-sighted to spy a mote in his eye, but are not sensible of a beam in their own; nay, and will be very officious to pull out the mote out of his eye, when they are as unfit to do it as if they were themselves quite blind. Note, [1.] There are degrees in sin: some sins are comparatively but as motes, others as beams; some as a gnat, others as a camel: not that there is any sin little, for there is no little God to sin against; if it be a mote (or splinter, for so it might better be read), it is in the eye; if a gnat, it is in the throat; both painful and perilous, and we cannot be easy or well till they are got out. [2.] Our own sins ought to appear greater to us than the same sins in others: that which charity teaches us to call but a splinter in our brother's eye, true repentance and godly sorrow will teach us to call a beam in our own; for the sins of others must be extenuated, but our own aggravated. [3.] There are many that have beams in their own eyes, and yet do not consider it. They are under the guilt and dominion of very great sins, and yet are not aware of it, but justify themselves, as if they needed no repentance nor reformation; it is as strange that a man can be in such a sinful, miserable condition, and not be aware of it, as that a man should have a beam in him eye, and not consider it; but the god of this world so artfully blinds their minds, that notwithstanding, with great assurance, they say, We see. [4.] It is common for those who are most sinful themselves, and least sensible of it, to be most forward and free in judging and censuring others: the Pharisees, who were most haughty in justifying themselves, were most scornful in condemning others. They were severe upon Christ's disciples for eating with unwashen hands, which was scarcely a mote, while they encouraged men in a contempt of their parents, which was a beam. Pride and uncharitableness are commonly beams in the eyes of those that pretend to be critical and nice in their censures of others. Nay, many are guilty of that secret, which they have the face to punish in others when it is discovered. Cogita tecum, fortasse vitium de quo quereris, si te diligenter excusseris, in sinu invenies; inique publico irasceris crimini tuo—Reflect that perhaps the fault of which you complain, might, on a strict examination, be discovered in yourself; and that it would be unjust publicly to express indignation against your own crime. Seneca, de Beneficiis. But, [5.] Men's being so severe upon the faults of others, while they are indulgent of their own, is a mark of hypocrisy. Thou hypocrite, v. 5. Whatever such a one may pretend, it is certain that he is no enemy to sin (if he were, he would be an enemy to his own sin), and therefore he is not worthy of praise; nay, it appears that he is an enemy to his brother, and therefore worthy of blame. This spiritual charity must begin at home; "For how canst thou say, how canst thou for shame say, to thy brother, Let me help to reform thee, when thou takest no care to reform thyself? Thy own heart will upbraid thee with the absurdity of it; thou wilt do it with an ill grace, and thou wilt expect every one to tell thee, that vice corrects sin: physician, heal thyself;" I præ, sequar—Go you before, I will follow. See Rom. ii. 21. [6.] The consideration of what is amiss in ourselves, though it ought not to keep us from administering friendly reproof, ought to keep us from magisterial censuring, and to make us very candid and charitable in judging others. "Therefore restore with the spirit of meekness, considering thyself (Gal. vi. 1); what thou has been, what thou art, and what thou wouldst be, if God should leave thee to thyself."

(2.) Here is a good rule for reprovers, v. 5. Go in the right method, first cast the beam out of thine own eye. Our own badness is so far from excusing us in not reproving, that our being by it rendered unfit to reprove is an aggravation of our badness; I must not say, "I have a beam in my own eye, and therefore I will not help my brother with the mote out of his." A man's offence will never be his defence: but I must first reform myself, that I may thereby help to reform my brother, and may qualify myself to reprove him. Note, Those who blame others, ought to be blameless and harmless themselves. Those who are reprovers in the gate, reprovers by office, magistrates and ministers, are concerned to walk circumspectly, and to be very regular in their conversation: an elder must have a good report, 1 Tim. iii. 2, 7. The snuffers of the sanctuary were to be of pure gold.

2. It is not every one that is fit to be reproved; Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, v. 6. This may be considered, either, (1.) As a rule to the disciples in preaching the gospel; not that they must not preach it to any one who were wicked and profane (Christ himself preached to publicans and sinners), but the reference is to such as they found obstinate after the gospel was preached to them, such as blasphemed it, and persecuted the preachers of it; let them not spend much time among such, for it would be lost labour, but let them turn to others, Acts xiii. 41. So Dr. Whitby. Or, (2.) As a rule to all in giving reproof. Our zeal against sin must be guided by discretion, and we must not go about to give instructions, counsels, and rebukes, much less comforts, to hardened scorners, to whom it will certainly do no good, but who will be exasperated and enraged at us. Throw a pearl to a swine, and he will resent it, as if you threw a stone at him; reproofs will be called reproaches, as they were (Luke xi. 45; Jer. vi. 10), therefore give not to dogs and swine (unclean creatures) holy things. Note, [1.] Good counsel and reproof are a holy thing, and a pearl: they are ordinances of God, they are precious; as an ear-ring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is the wise reprover (Prov. xxv. 12), and a wise reproof is like an excellent oil (Ps. cxli. 5); it is a tree of life (Prov. iii. 18). [2.] Among the generation of the wicked, there are some that have arrived at such a pitch of wickedness, that they are looked upon as dogs and swine; they are impudently and notoriously vile; they have so long walked in the way of sinners, that they have sat down in the seat of the scornful; they professedly hate and despise instruction, and set it at defiance, so that they are irrecoverably and irreclaimably wicked; they return with the dog to his vomit, and with the sow to her wallowing in the mire. [3.] Reproofs of instruction are ill bestowed upon such, and expose the reprover to all the contempt and mischief that may be expected from dogs and swine. One can expect no other than that they will trample the reproofs under their feet, in scorn of them, and rage against them; for they are impatient of control and contradiction; and they will turn again and rend the reprovers; rend their good names with their revilings, return them wounding words for their healing ones; rend them with persecution; Herod rent John Baptist for his faithfulness. See here what is the evidence of men's being dogs and swine. Those are to be reckoned such, who hate reproofs and reprovers, and fly in the face of those who, in kindness to their souls, show them their sin and danger. These sin against the remedy; who shall heal and help those that will not be healed and helped? It is plain that God has determined to destroy such. 2 Chron. xxv. 16. The rule here given is applicable to the distinguishing, sealing ordinances of the gospel; which must not be prostituted to those who are openly wicked and profane, lest holy things be thereby rendered contemptible, and unholy persons be thereby hardened. It is not meet to take the children's bread, and cast it to the dogs. Yet we must be very cautious whom we condemn as dogs and swine, and not do it till after trial, and upon full evidence. Many a patient is lost, by being thought to be so, who, if means had been used, might have been saved. As we must take heed of calling the good, bad, by judging all professors to be hypocrites; so we must take heed of calling the bad, desperate, by judging all the wicked to be dogs and swine. [4.] Our Lord Jesus is very tender of the safety of his people, and would not have them needlessly to expose themselves to the fury of those that will turn again and rend them. Let them not be righteous over much, so as to destroy themselves. Christ makes the law of self-preservation one of his own laws, and precious is the blood of his subjects to him.

The Sermon on the Mount.

7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:   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?

Our Saviour, in the foregoing chapter, had spoken of prayer as a commanded duty, by which God is honoured, and which, if done aright, shall be rewarded; here he speaks of it as the appointed means of obtaining what we need, especially grace to obey the precepts he had given, some of which are so displeasing to flesh and blood.

I. Here is a precept in three words to the same purport, Ask, Seek, Knock (v. 7); that is, in one word, "Pray; pray often; pray with sincerity and seriousness; pray, and pray again; make conscience of prayer, and be constant in it; make a business of prayer, and be earnest in it. Ask, as a beggar asks alms." Those that would be rich in grace, must betake themselves to the poor trade of begging, and they shall find it a thriving trade. "Ask; represent your wants and burthens to God, and refer yourselves to him for support and supply, according to his promise. Ask as a traveller asks the way; to pray is to enquire of God, Ezek. xxxvi. 37. Seek, as for a thing of value that we have lost, or as the merchantman that seeks goodly pearls. Seek by prayer, Dan. ix. 3. Knock, as he that desires to enter into the house knocks at the door." We would be admitted to converse with God, would be taken into his love, and favour, and kingdom; sin has shut and barred the door against us; by prayer, we knock; Lord, Lord, open to us. Christ knocks at our door (Rev. iii. 20; Cant. v. 2); and allows us to knock at his, which is a favour we do not allow to common beggars. Seeking and knocking imply something more than asking and praying. 1. We must not only ask but seek; we must second our prayers with our endeavors; we must, in the use of the appointed means, seek for that which we ask for, else we tempt God. When the dresser of the vineyard asked for a year's respite for the barren fig-tree, he added, I will dig about it, Luke xiii. 7, 8. God gives knowledge and grace to those that search the scriptures, and wait at Wisdom's gates; and power against sin to those that avoid the occasions of it. 2. We must not only ask, but knock; we must come to God's door, must ask importunately; not only pray, but plead and wrestle with God; we must seek diligently; we must continue knocking; must persevere in prayer, and in the use of means; must endure to the end in the duty.

II. Here is a promised annexed: our labour in prayer, if indeed we do labour in it, shall not be in vain: where God finds a praying heart, he will be found a prayer-hearing God; he shall give thee an answer of peace. The precept is threefold, ask, seek, knock; there is precept upon precept; but the promise is sixfold, line upon line, for our encouragement; because a firm belief of the promise would make us cheerful and constant in our obedience. Now here,

1. The promise is made, and made so as exactly to answer the precept, v. 7. Ask, and it shall be given you; not lent you, not sold you, but given you; and what is more free than gift? Whatever you pray for, according to the promise, whatever you ask, shall be given you, if God see it fit for you, and what would you have more? It is but ask and have; ye have not, because ye ask not, or ask not aright: what is not worth asking, is not worth having, and then it is worth nothing. Seek, and ye shall find, and then you do not lose your labour; God is himself found of those that seek him, and if we find him we have enough. "Knock, and it shall be opened; the door of mercy and grace shall no longer be shut against you as enemies and intruders, but opened to you as friends and children. It will be asked, who is at the door? If you be able to say, a friend, and have the ticket of promise ready to produce in the hand of faith, doubt not of admission. If the door be not opened at the first knock, continue instant in prayer; it is an affront to a friend to knock at his door, and then go away; though he tarry, yet wait."

2. It is repeated, v. 8. It is to the same purport, yet with some addition. (1.) It is made to extend to all that pray aright; "Not only you my disciples shall receive what you pray for, but every one that asketh, receiveth, whether Jew or Gentile, young or old, rich or poor, high or low, master or servant, learned or unlearned, they are all alike welcome to the throne of grace, if they come in faith: for God is no respecter of persons." (2.) It is made so as to amount to a grant, in words of the present tense, which is more than a promise for the future. Every one that asketh, not only shall receive, but receiveth; by faith, applying and appropriating the promise, we are actually interested and invested in the good promised: so sure and inviolable are the promises of God, that they do, in effect, give present possession: an active believer enters immediately, and makes the blessings promised his own. What have we in hope, according to the promise, is as sure, and should be as sweet, as what we have in hand. God hath spoken in his holiness, and then Gilead is mine, Manasseh mine (Ps. cviii. 7, 8); it is all mine own, if I can but make it so by believing it so. Conditional grants become absolute upon the performance of the condition; so here, he that asketh, receiveth. Christ hereby puts his fiat to the petition; and he having all power, that is enough.

3. It is illustrated, by a similitude taken from earthly parents, and their innate readiness to give their children what they ask. Christ appeals to his hearers, What man is there of you, though never so morose and ill-humoured, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? v. 9, 10. Whence he infers (v. 11), If ye then, being evil, yet grant your children's requests, much more will your heavenly Father give you the good things you ask. Now this is of use,

(1.) To direct our prayers and expectations. [1.] We must come to God, as children to a Father in heaven, with reverence and confidence. How naturally does a child in want or distress run to the father with its complaints; My head, my head; thus should the new nature send us to God for supports and supplies. [2.] We must come to him for good things, for those he gives to them that ask him; which teaches us to refer ourselves to him; we know not what is good for ourselves (Eccl. vi. 12), but he knows what is good for us, we must therefore leave it with him; Father, thy will be done. The child is here supposed to ask bread, that is necessary, and a fish, that is wholesome; but if the child should foolishly ask for a stone, or a serpent, for unripe fruit to eat, or a sharp knife to play with, the father, though kind, is so wise as to deny him. We often ask that of God which would do us harm if we had it; he knows this, and therefore does not give it to us. Denials in love are better than grants in anger; we should have been undone ere this if we had had all we desired; this is admirably well expressed by a heathen, Juvenal, Sat. 10.

Permittes ipsis expendere numinibus, quid

Conveniat nobis, rebusque sit utile nostris,

Nam pro jucundis aptissima quæque dabunt dii.

Carior est illis homo, quam sibi: nos animorum

Impulsu, et cæca, magnaque cupidine ducti,

Conjugium petimus, partumque uxoris; at illis

Notum est, qui pueri, qualisque futura sit uxor.

Entrust thy fortune to the powers above.

Leave them to manage for thee, and to grant

What their unerring wisdom sees thee want:

In goodness, as in greatness, they excel;

Ah, that we lov'd ourselves but half so well!

We, blindly by our headstrong passions led,

Seek a companion, and desire to wed;

Then wish for heirs: but to the gods alone

Our future offspring and our wives are known.

(2.) To encourage our prayers and expectations. We may hope that we shall not be denied and disappointed: we shall not have a stone for bread, to break our teeth (though we have a hard crust to employ our teeth), nor a serpent for a fish, to sting us; we have reason indeed to fear it, because we deserve it, but God will be better to us than the desert of our sins. The world often gives stones for bread, and serpents for fish, but God never does; nay, we shall be heard and answered, for children are by their parents. [1.] God has put into the hearts of parents a compassionate inclination to succour and supply their children, according to their need. Even those that have had little conscience of duty, yet have done it, as it were by instinct. No law was ever thought necessary to oblige parents to maintain their legitimate children, nor, in Solomon's time, their illegitimate ones. [2.] He has assumed the relation of a Father to us, and owns us for his children; that from the readiness we find in ourselves to relieve our children, we may be encouraged to apply ourselves to him for relief. What love and tenderness fathers have are from him; not from nature but from the God of nature; and therefore they must needs be infinitely greater in himself. He compares his concern for his people to that of a father for his children (Ps. ciii. 13), nay, to that of a mother, which is usually more tender, Isa. lxvi. 13; xlix. 14, 15. But here it is supposed, that his love, and tenderness, and goodness, far excel that of any earthly parent; and therefore it is argued with a much more, and it is grounded upon this undoubted truth, that God is a better Father, infinitely better than any earthly parents are; his thoughts are above theirs. Our earthly fathers have taken care of us; we have taken care of our children; much more will God take care of his; for they are evil, originally so; the degenerate seed of fallen Adam; they have lost much of the good nature that belonged to humanity, and among other corruptions, have that of crossness and unkindness in them; yet they give good things to their children, and they know how to give, suitably and seasonably; much more will God, for he takes up when they forsake, Ps. xxvii. 10. And, First, God is more knowing; parents are often foolishly fond, but God is wise, infinitely so; he knows what we need, what we desire, and what is fit for us. Secondly, God is more kind. If all the compassions of all the tender fathers in the world were crowded into the bowels of one, yet compared with the tender mercies of our God, they would be but as a candle to the sun, or a drop to the ocean. God is more rich, and more ready to give to his children than the fathers of our flesh can be; for he is the Father of our spirits, an ever-loving, ever-living Father. The bowels of Fathers yearn even towards undutiful children, towards prodigals, as David's toward Absalom, and will not all this serve to silence disbelief?

The Sermon on the Mount.

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.   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.

Our Lord Jesus here presses upon us that righteousness towards men which is an essential branch of true religion, and that religion towards God which is an essential branch of universal righteousness.

I. We must make righteousness our rule, and be ruled by it, v. 12. Therefore, lay this down for your principle, to do as you would be done by; therefore, that you may conform to the foregoing precepts, which are particular, that you may not judge and censure others, go by this rule in general; (you would not be censured, therefore do not censure), Or that you may have the benefit of the foregoing promises. Fitly is the law of justice subjoined to the law of prayer, for unless we be honest in our conversation, God will not hear our prayers, Isa. i. 15-17; lviii. 6, 9; Zech. vii. 9, 13. We cannot expect to receive good things from God, if we do not fair things, and that which is honest, and lovely, and of good report among men. We must not only be devout, but honest, else our devotion is but hypocrisy. Now here we have,

1. The rule of justice laid down; Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do you even so to them. Christ came to teach us, not only what we are to know and believe, but what we are to do; what we are to do, not only toward God, but toward men; not only towards our fellow-disciples, those of our party and persuasion, but towards men in general, all with whom we have to do. The golden rule of equity is, to do to others as we would they should do to us. Alexander Severus, a heathen emperor, was a great admirer of this rule, had it written upon the walls of his closet, often quoted it in giving judgment, honoured Christ, and favoured Christians for the sake of it. Quod tibi, hoc alteri—do to others as you would they should do to you. Take it negatively (Quod tibi fieri non vis, ne alteri feceris), or positively, it comes all to the same. We must not do to others the evil they have done us, nor the evil which they would do to us, if it were in their power; nor may we do that which we think, if it were done to us, we could bear contentedly, but what we desire should be done to us. This is grounded upon that great commandment, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. As we must bear the same affection to our neighbour that we would have borne to ourselves, so we must do the same good offices. The meaning of this rule lies in three things. (1.) We must do that to our neighbour which we ourselves acknowledge to be fit and reasonable: the appeal is made to our own judgment, and the discovery of our judgment is referred to that which is our own will and expectation, when it is our own case. (2.) We must put other people upon the level with ourselves, and reckon we are as much obliged to them, as they to us. We are as much bound to the duty of justice as they, and they as much entitled to the benefit of it as we. (3.) We must, in our dealings with men, suppose ourselves in the same particular case and circumstances with those we have to do with, and deal accordingly. If I were making such a one's bargain, labouring under such a one's infirmity and affliction, how should I desire and expect to be treated? And this is a just supposition, because we know not how soon their case may really be ours: at least we may fear, lest God by his judgments should do to us as we have done to others, if we have not done as we would be done by.

2. A reason given to enforce this rule; This is the law and the prophets. It is the summary of that second great commandment, which is one of the two, on which hang all the law and the prophets, ch. xxii. 40. We have not this in so many words, either in the law or the prophets, but it is the concurring language of the whole. All that is there said concerning our duty towards our neighbour (and that is no little) may be reduced to this rule. Christ has here adopted it into this law; so that both the Old Testament and the New agree in prescribing this to us, to do as we would be done by. By this rule the law of Christ is commended, but the lives of Christians are condemned by comparing them with it. Aut hoc non evangelium, authi non evangelici.—Either this is not the gospel, or these are not Christians.

II. We must make religion our business, and be intent upon it; we must be strict and circumspect in our conversation, which is here represented to us as entering in at a strait gate, and walking on in a narrow way, v. 13, 14. Observe here,

1. The account that is given of the bad way of sin, and the good way of holiness. There are but two ways, right and wrong, good and evil; the way to heaven, and the way to hell; in the one of which we are all of us walking: no middle place hereafter, no middle way now: the distinction of the children of men into saints and sinners, godly and ungodly, will swallow up all to eternity.

Here is, (1.) An account given us of the way of sin and sinners; both what is the best, and what is the worst of it.

[1.] That which allures multitudes into it, and keeps them in it; the gate is wide, and the way broad, and there are many travellers in that way. First, "You will have abundance of liberty in that way; the gate is wide, and stands wide open to tempt those that go right on their way. You may go in at this gate with all your lusts about you; it gives no check to your appetites, to your passions: you may walk in the way of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; that gives room enough." It is a broad way, for there is nothing to hedge in those that walk in it, but they wander endlessly; a broad way, for there are many paths in it; there is choice of sinful ways, contrary to each other, but all paths in this broad way. Secondly, "You will have abundance of company in that way: many there be that go in at this gate, and walk in this way." If we follow the multitude, it will be to do evil: if we go with the crowd, it will be the wrong way. It is natural for us to incline to go down the stream, and do as the most do; but it is too great a compliment, to be willing to be damned for company, and to go to hell with them, because they will not go to heaven with us: if many perish, we should be the more cautious.

[2.] That which should affright us all from it is, that it leads to destruction. Death, eternal death, is at the end of it (and the way of sin tends to it),—everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord. Whether it be the high way of open profaneness, or the back way of close hypocrisy, if it be a way of sin, it will be our ruin, if we repent not.

(2.) Here is an account given us of the way of holiness.

[1.] What there is in it that frightens many from it; let us know the worst of it, that we may sit down and count the cost. Christ deals faithfully with us, and tells us,

First, That the gate is strait. Conversion and regeneration are the gate, by which we enter into this way, in which we begin a life of faith and serious godliness; out of a state of sin into a state of grace we must pass, by the new birth, John iii. 3, 5. This is a strait gate, hard to find, and hard to get through; like a passage between two rocks, 1 Sam. xiv. 4. There must be a new heart, and a new spirit, and old things must pass away. The bent of the soul must be changed, corrupt habits and customs broken off; what we have been doing all our days must be undone again. We must swim against the stream; much opposition must be struggled with, and broken through, from without, and from within. It is easier to set a man against all the world than against himself, and yet this must be in conversion. It is a strait gate, for we must stoop, or we cannot go in at it; we must become as little children; high thoughts must be brought down; nay, we must strip, must deny ourselves, put off the world, put off the old man; we must be willing to forsake all for our interest in Christ. The gate is strait to all, but to some straiter than others; as to the rich, to some that have been long prejudiced against religion. The gate is strait; blessed be God, it is not shut up, nor locked against us, nor kept with a flaming sword, as it will be shortly, ch. xxv. 10.

Secondly, That the way is narrow. We are not in heaven as soon as we have got through the strait gate, nor in Canaan as soon as we have got through the Red Sea; no, we must go through a wilderness, must travel a narrow way, hedged in by the divine law, which is exceedingly broad, and that makes the way narrow; self must be denied, the body kept under, corruptions mortified, that are as a right eye and a right hand; daily temptations must be resisted; duties must be done that are against our inclination. We must endure hardness, must wrestle and be in an agony, must watch in all things, and walk with care and circumspection. We must go through much tribulation. It is hodos tethlimmenean afflicted way, a way hedged about with thorns; blessed be God, it is not hedged up. The bodies we carry about with us, and the corruptions remaining in us, make the way of our duty difficult; but, as the understanding and will grow more and more sound, it will open and enlarge, and grow more and more pleasant.

Thirdly, The gate being so strait and the way so narrow, it is not strange that there are but few that find it, and choose it. Many pass it by, through carelessness; they will not be at the pains to find it; they are well as they are, and see no need to change their way. Others look upon it, but shun it; they like not to be so limited and restrained. Those that are going to heaven are but few, compared to those that are going to hell; a remnant, a little flock, like the grape-gleanings of the vintage; as the eight that were saved in the ark, 1 Pet. iii. 20. In vitia alter alterum trudimus; Quomodo ad salutem revocari potest, quum nullus retrahit, et populus impellit—In the ways of vice men urge each other onward: how shall any one be restored to the path of safety, when impelled forwards by the multitude, without any counteracting influence? Seneca, Epist. 29. This discourages many: they are loth to be singular, to be solitary; but instead of stumbling at this, say rather, If so few are going to heaven, there shall be one the more for me.

[2.] Let us see what there is in this way, which, notwithstanding this, should invite us all to it; it leads to life, to present comfort in the favour of God, which is the life of the soul; to eternal bliss, the hope of which, at the end of our way, should reconcile us to all the difficulties and inconveniences of the road. Life and godliness are put together (2 Pet. i. 3); The gate is strait and the way narrow and up-hill, but one hour in heaven will make amends for it.

2. The great concern and duty of every one of us, in consideration of all this; Enter ye in at the strait gate. The matter is fairly stated; life and death, good and evil, are set before us; both the ways, and both the ends: now let the matter be taken entire, and considered impartially, and then choose you this day which you will walk in; nay, the matter determines itself, and will not admit of a debate. No man, in his wits, would choose to go to the gallows, because it is a smooth, pleasant way to it, nor refuse the offer of a palace and a throne, because it is a rough, dirty way to it; yet such absurdities as these are men guilty of, in the concerns of their souls. Delay not, therefore; deliberate not any longer, but enter ye in at the strait gate; knock at it by sincere and constant prayers and endeavors, and it shall be opened; nay, a wide door shall be opened, and an effectual one. It is true, we can neither go in, nor go on, without the assistance of divine grace; but it is as true, that grace is freely offered, and shall not be wanting to those that seek it, and submit to it. Conversion is hard work, but it is needful, and, blessed be God, it is not impossible if we strive, Luke xiii. 24.

The Sermon on the Mount.

15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.   16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?   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.

We have here a caution against false prophets, to take heed that we be not deceived and imposed upon by them. Prophets are properly such as foretel things to come; there are some mentioned in the Old Testament, who pretended to that without warrant, and the event disproved their pretensions, as Zedekiah, 1 Kings xxii. 11, and another Zedekiah, Jer. xxix. 21. But prophets did also teach the people their duty, so that false prophets here are false teachers. Christ being a Prophet and a Teacher come from God, and designing to send abroad teachers under him, gives warning to all to take heed of counterfeits, who, instead of healing souls with wholesome doctrine, as they pretend, would poison them.

They are false teachers and false prophets, 1. Who produce false commissions, who pretend to have immediate warrant and direction from God to set up for prophets, and to be divinely inspired, when they are not so. Though their doctrine may be true, we are to beware of them as false prophets. False apostles are those who say they are apostles, and are not (Rev. ii. 2); such are false prophets. "Take heed of those who pretend to revelation, and admit them not without sufficient proof, lest that one absurdity being admitted, a thousand follow." 2. Who preach false doctrine in those things that are essential to religion; who teach that which is contrary to the truth as it is in Jesus, to the truth which is accordingly to godliness. The former seems to be the proper notion of pseudo-propheta, a false or pretending prophet, but commonly the latter falls in with it; for who would hang out false colours, but with design, under pretence of them, the more successfully to attack the truth. "Well, beware of them, suspect them, try them, and when you have discovered their falsehood, avoid them, have nothing to do with them. Stand upon your guard against this temptation, which commonly attends the days of reformation, and the breakings out of divine light in more than ordinary strength and splendour." When God's work is revived, Satan and his agents are most busy. Here is,

I. A good reason for this caution, Beware of them, for they are wolves in sheep's clothing, v. 15.

1. We have need to be very cautious, because their pretences are very fair and plausible, and such as will deceive us, if we be not upon our guard. They come in sheep's clothing, in the habit of prophets, which was plain and coarse, and unwrought; they wear a rough garment to deceive, Zech. xiii. 4. Elijah's mantle the Septuagint calls he melotea sheep-skin mantle. We must take heed of being imposed upon by men's dress and garb, as by that of the scribes, who desire to walk in long robes, Luke xx. 46. Or it may be taken figuratively; they pretend to be sheep, and outwardly appear so innocent, harmless, meek, useful, and all that is good, as to be excelled by none; they feign themselves to be just men, and for the sake of their clothing are admitted among the sheep, which gives them an opportunity of doing them a mischief ere they are aware. They and their errors are gilded with the specious pretences of sanctity and devotion. Satan turns himself into an angel of light, 2 Cor. xi. 13, 14. The enemy has horns like a lamb (Rev. xiii. 11); faces of men, Rev. ix. 7, 8. Seducers in language and carriage are soft as wool, Rom. xvi. 18; Isa. xxx. 10.

2. Because under these pretensions their designs are very malicious and mischievous; inwardly they are ravening wolves. Every hypocrite is a goat in sheep's clothing; not only not a sheep, but the worst enemy the sheep has, that comes not but to tear and devour, to scatter the sheep (John x. 12), to drive them from God, and from one another, into crooked paths. Those that would cheat us of any truth, and possess us with error, whatever they pretend, design mischief to our souls. Paul calls them grievous wolves, Acts xx. 29. They raven for themselves, serve their own belly (Rom. xvi. 18), make a prey of you, make a gain of you. Now since it is so easy a thing, and withal so dangerous, to be cheated, Beware of false prophets.

II. Here is a good rule to go by in this caution; we must prove all things (1 Thess. v. 21), try the spirits (1 John iv. 1), and here we have a touchstone; ye shall know them by their fruits, v. 16-20. Observe,

1. The illustration of this comparison, of the fruit's being the discovery of the tree. You cannot always distinguish them by their bark and leaves, nor by the spreading of their boughs, but by their fruits ye shall know them. The fruit is according to the tree. Men may, in their professions, put a force upon their nature, and contradict their inward principles, but the stream and bent of their practices will agree with them. Christ insists upon this, the agreeableness between the fruit and the tree, which is such as that, (1.) If you know what the tree is, you may know what fruit to expect. Never look to gather grapes from thorns, nor figs from thistles; it is not in their nature to produce such fruits. An apple may be stuck, or a bunch of grapes may hang, upon a thorn; so may a good truth, a good word or action, be found in a bad man, but you may be sure it never grew there. Note, [1.] Corrupt, vicious, unsanctified hearts are like thorns and thistles, which came in with sin, are worthless, vexing, and for the fire at last. [2.] Good works are good fruit, like grapes and figs, pleasing to God and profitable to men. [3.] This good fruit is never to be expected from bad men, and more than a clean thing out of an unclean: they want an influencing acceptable principle. Out of an evil treasure will be brought forth evil things. (2.) On the other hand, if you know what the fruit is, you may, by that, perceive what the tree is. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; and a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit, nay, it cannot but bring forth evil fruit. But then that must be reckoned the fruit of the tree which it brings forth naturally and which is its genuine product—which it brings forth plentifully and constantly and which is its usual product. Men are known, not by particular acts, but by the course and tenour of their conversation, and by the more frequent acts, especially those that appear to be free, and most their own, and least under the influence of external motives and inducements.

2. The application of this to the false prophets.

(1.) By way of terror and threatening (v. 19); Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down. This very saying John the Baptist had used, ch. iii. 10. Christ could have spoken the same sense in other words; could have altered it, or given it a new turn; but he thought it no disparagement to him to say the same that John had said before him; let not ministers be ambitious of coining new expressions, nor people's ears itch for novelties; to write and speak the same things must not be grievous, for it is safe. Here is, [1.] The description of barren trees; they are trees that do not bring forth good fruit; though there be fruit, if it be not good fruit (though that be done, which for the matter of it is good, if it be not done well, in a right manner, and for a right end), the tree is accounted barren. [2.] The doom of barren trees; they are, that is, certainly they shall be, hewn down, and cast into the fire; God will deal with them as men use to deal with dry trees that cumber the ground: he will mark them by some signal tokens of his displeasure, he will bark them by stripping them of their parts and gifts, and will cut them down by death, and cast them into the fire of hell, a fire blown with the bellows of God's wrath, and fed with the wood of barren trees. Compare this with Ezek. xxxi. 12, 13; Dan. iv. 14; John xv. 6.

(2.) By way of trial; By their fruits ye shall know them.

[1.] By the fruits of their persons, their words and actions, and the course of their conversation. If you would know whether they be right or not, observe how they live; their works will testify for them or against them. The scribes and Pharisees sat in Moses's chair, and taught the law, but they were proud, and covetous, and false, and oppressive, and therefore Christ warned him disciples to beware of them and of their leaven, Mark xii. 38. If men pretend to be prophets and are immoral, that disproves their pretensions; those are no true friends to the cross of Christ, whatever they profess, whose God is their belly, and whose mind earthly things, Phil. iii. 18, 19. Those are not taught nor sent of the holy God, whose lives evidence that they are led by the unclean spirit. God puts the treasure into earthen vessels, but not into such corrupt vessels: they may declare God's statutes, but what have they to do to declare them?

[2.] By the fruits of their doctrine; their fruits as prophets: not that this is the only way, but it is one way, of trying doctrines, whether they be of God or not. What do they tend to do? What affections and practices will they lead those into, that embrace them? If the doctrine be of God, it will tend to promote serious piety, humility, charity, holiness, and love, with other Christian graces; but if, on the contrary, the doctrines these prophets preach have a manifest tendency to make people proud, worldly, and contentious, to make them loose and careless in their conversations, unjust or uncharitable, factious or disturbers of the public peace; if it indulge carnal liberty, and take people off from governing themselves and their families by the strict rules of the narrow way, we may conclude, that this persuasion comes not of him that calleth us, Gal. v. 8. This wisdom is from above, James iii. 15. Faith and a good conscience are held together, 1 Tim. i. 19; iii. 9. Note, Doctrines of doubtful disputation must be tried by graces and duties of confessed certainty: those opinions come not from God that lead to sin: but if we cannot know them by their fruits, we must have recourse to the great touchstone, to the law, and to the testimony; do they speak according to that rule?

The Sermon on the Mount.

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.   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?   23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.   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.   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.

We have here the conclusion of this long and excellent sermon, the scope of which is to show the indispensable necessity of obedience to the commands of Christ; this is designed to clench the nail, that it might fix in a sure place: he speaks this to his disciples, that sat at his feet whenever he preached, and followed him wherever he went. Had he sought his own praise among men, he would have said, that was enough; but the religion he came to establish is in power, not in word only (1 Cor. iv. 20), and therefore something more is necessary.

I. He shows, by a plain remonstrance, that an outward profession of religion, however remarkable, will not bring us to heaven, unless there be a correspondent conversation, v. 21-23. All judgment is committed to our Lord Jesus; the keys are put into his hand; he has power to prescribe new terms of life and death, and to judge men according to them: now this is a solemn declaration pursuant to that power. Observe here,

1. Christ's law laid down, v. 21. Not every one that saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, into the kingdom of grace and glory. It is an answer to that question, Ps. xv. 1. Who shall sojourn in thy tabernacle?—the church militant; and who shall dwell in thy holy hill?—the church triumphant. Christ here shows,

(1.) That it will not suffice to say, Lord, Lord; in word and tongue to own Christ for our Master, and to make addresses to him, and professions of him accordingly: in prayer to God, in discourse with men, we must call Christ, Lord, Lord; we say well, for so he is (John xiii. 13); but can we imagine that this is enough to bring us to heaven, that such a piece of formality as this should be so recompensed, or that he who knows and requires the heart should be so put off with shows for substance? Compliments among men are pieces of civility that are returned with compliments, but they are never paid as real services; and can they then be of an account with Christ? There may be a seeming importunity in prayer, Lord, Lord: 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 saying, Lord, Lord; from praying, and 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.

(2.) That it is necessary to our happiness that we do the will of Christ, which is indeed the will of his Father in heaven. The will of God, as Christ's Father, is his will in the gospel, for there he is made known, as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: and in him our Father. Now this is his will, that we believe in Christ, that we repent of sin, that we live a holy life, that we love one another. This is his will, even our sanctification. If we comply not with the will of God, we mock Christ in calling him Lord, as those did who put on him a gorgeous robe, and said, Hail, King of the Jews. Saying and doing are two things, often parted in conversation of men: he that said, I go, sir, stirred never a step (ch. xxi. 30); but these two things God has joined in his command, and let no man that puts them asunder think to enter into the kingdom of heaven.

2. The hypocrite's plea against the strictness of this law, offering other things in lieu of obedience, v. 22. The plea is supposed to be in that day, that great day, when every man shall appear in his own colours; when the secrets of all hearts shall be manifest, and among the rest, the secret pretences with which sinners now support their vain hopes. Christ knows the strength of their cause, and it is but weakness; what they now harbour in their bosoms, they will then produce in arrest of judgment to stay the doom, but it will be in vain. They put in their plea with great importunity, Lord, Lord; and with great confidence, appealing to Christ concerning it; Lord, does thou not know, (1.) That we have prophesied in thy name? Yes, it may be so; Balaam and Caiaphas were overruled to prophesy, and Saul was against his will among the prophets, yet that did not save them. These prophesied in his name, but he did not send them; they only made use of his name to serve a turn. Note, A man may be a preacher, may have gifts for the ministry, and an external call to it, and perhaps some success in it, and yet be a wicked man; may help others to heaven, and yet come short himself. (2.) That in thy name we have cast out devils? That may be too; Judas cast out devils, and yet was a son of perdition. Origen says, that in his time so prevalent was the name of Christ to cast out devils, that sometimes it availed when named by wicked Christians. A man might cast devils out of others, and yet have a devil, nay, be a devil himself. (3.) That in thy name we have done many wonderful works. 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 real holiness or sanctification that is accepted of God. Grace and love are a more excellent way than removing mountains, or speaking with the tongues of men and of angels, 1 Cor. xiii. 1, 2. Grace will bring a man to heaven without working miracles, but working miracles will never bring a man to heaven without grace. Observe, That which their heart was upon, in doing these works, and which they confided in, was the wonderfulness of them. Simon Magus wondered at the miracles (Acts viii. 13), and therefore would give any money for power to do the like. Observe, They had not many good works to plead: they could not pretend to have done many gracious works of piety and charity; one such would have passed better in their account than many wonderful works, which availed not at all, while they persisted in disobedience. 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, have kept fasts, and given alms, and have been preferred in the church; as if this would atone for their reigning pride, worldliness, and sensuality; and want of love to God and man. Bethel is their confidence (Jer. xlviii. 13), they are haughty because of the holy mountain (Zeph. iii. 11); and boast that they are the temple of the Lord, Jer. vii. 4. Let us take heed of resting in external privileges and performances, lest we deceive ourselves, and perish eternally, as multitudes do, with a lie in our right hand.

3. The rejection of this plea as frivolous. The same that is the Law-Maker (v. 21) is here the Judge according to that law (v. 23), and he will overrule the plea, will overrule it publicly; he will profess to them with all possible solemnity, as sentence is passed by the Judge, I never knew you, and therefore depart from me, ye that work iniquity.—Observe, (1.) Why, and upon what ground, he rejects them and their plea—because they were workers for iniquity. Note, It is possible for men to have a great name for piety, and yet to be workers of iniquity; and those that are so will receive the greater damnation. Secret haunts of sin, kept under the cloak of a visible profession, will be the ruin of the hypocrites. Living in known sin nullifies men's pretensions, be they ever so specious. (2.) How it is expressed; I never knew you; "I never owned you as my servants, no, not when you prophesied in my name, when you were in the height of your profession, and were most extolled." This intimates, that if he had ever known them, as the Lord knows them that are his, had ever owned them and loved them as his, he would have known them, and owned them, and loved them, to the end; but he never did know them, for he always knew them to be hypocrites, and rotten at heart, as he did Judas; therefore, says he, depart from me. Has Christ need of such guests? When he came in the flesh, he called sinners to him (ch. ix. 13), but when he shall come again in glory, he will drive sinners from him. They that would not come to him to be saved, must depart from him to be damned. To depart from Christ is the very hell of hell; it is the foundation of all the misery of the damned, to be cut off from all hope of benefit from Christ and he mediation. Those that go no further in Christ's service than a bare profession, he does not accept, nor will he own them in the great day. See from what a height of hope men may fall into the depth of misery! How they may go to hell, by the gates of heaven! This should be an awakening word to all Christians. If a preacher, one that cast out devils, and wrought miracles, be disowned of Christ for working iniquity; what will become of us, if we be found such? And if we be such, we shall certainly be found such. At God's bar, 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.

II. He shows, by a parable, that hearing these sayings of Christ will not make us happy, if we do not make conscience of doing them; but that if we hear them and do them, we are blessed in our deed, v. 24-27.

1. The hearers of Christ's word are here divided into two sorts; some that hear, and do what they hear; others that hear and do not. Christ preached now to a mixed multitude, and he thus separates them, one from the other, as he will at the great day, when all nations shall be gathered before him. Christ is still speaking from heaven by his word and Spirits, speaks by ministers, by providences, and of those that hear him there are two sorts.

(1.) Some that hear his sayings and do them: blessed be God that there are any such, though comparatively few. To hear Christ is not barely to give him the hearing, but to obey him. Note, It highly concerns us all to do what we hear of the saying of Christ. It is a mercy that we hear his sayings: Blessed are those ears, ch. xiii. 16, 17. But, if we practise not what we hear, we receive that grace in vain. To do Christ's sayings is conscientiously to abstain from the sins that he forbids, and to perform the duties that he requires. Our thoughts and affections, our words and actions, the temper of our minds, and the tenour of our lives, must be conformable to the gospel of Christ; that is the doing he requires. All the sayings of Christ, not only the laws he has enacted, but the truths he has revealed, must be done by us. They are a light, not only to our eyes, but to our feet, and are designed not only to inform our judgments, but to reform our hearts and lives: nor do we indeed believe them, if we do not live up to them. Observe, It is not enough to hear Christ's sayings, and understand them, hear them, and remember them, hear them, and talk of them, repeat them, dispute for them; but we must hear, and do them. This do, and thou shalt live. Those only that hear, and do, are blessed (Luke xi. 28; John xiii. 17), and are akin to Christ. ch. xii. 50.

(2.) There are others who hear Christ's sayings and do them not; their religion rests in bare hearing, and goes no further; like children that have the rickets, their heads swell with empty notions, and indigested opinions, but their joints are weak, and they heavy and listless; they neither can stir, nor care to stir, in any good duty; they hear God's words, as if they desired to know his ways, like a people that did righteousness, but they will not do them, Ezek. xxxiii. 30, 31; Isa. lviii. 2. Thus they deceive themselves, as Micah, who thought himself happy, because he had a Levite to be his priest, though he had not the Lord to be his God. The seed is sown, but it never comes up; they see their spots in the glass of the word, but wash them off, Jam. i. 22, 24. Thus they put a cheat upon their own souls; for it is certain, if our hearing be not the means of our obedience, it will be the aggravation of our disobedience. Those who only hear Christ's sayings, and do them not, sit down in the midway to heaven, and that will never bring them to their journey's end. They are akin to Christ only by the half-blood, and our law allows not such to inherit.

2. These two sorts of hearers are here represented in their true characters, and the state of their case, under the comparison of two builders; one was wise, and built upon a rock, and his building stood in a storm; the other foolish, and built upon the sand, and his building fell.

Now, (1.) The general scope of this parable teaches us that the only way to make sure work for our souls and eternity is, to hear and do the sayings of the Lord Jesus, these sayings of his in this sermon upon the mount, which is wholly practical; some of them seem hard sayings to flesh and blood, but they must be done; and thus we lay up in store a good foundation for the time to come (1 Tim. vi. 19); a good bond, so some read it; a bond of God's making, which secures salvation upon gospel-terms, that is a good bond; not one of our own devising, which brings salvation to our own fancies. They make sure the good part, who, like Mary, when they hear the word of Christ, sit at his feet in subjection to it: Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.

(2.) The particular parts of it teach us divers good lessons.

[1.] That we have every one of us a house to build, and that house is our hope for heaven. It ought to be our chief and constant care, to make our calling and election sure, and so we make our salvation sure; to secure a title to heaven's happiness, and then to get the comfortable evidence of it; to make it sure, and sure to ourselves, that when we fail, we shall be received into everlasting habitations. Many never mind this: it is the furthest thing from their thoughts; they are building for this world, as if they were to be here always, but take no care to build for another world. All who take upon them a profession of religion, profess to enquire, what they shall do to be saved; how they may get to heaven at last, and may have a well-grounded hope of it in the mean time.

[2.] That there is a rock provided for us to build this house upon, and that rock is Christ. He is laid for a foundation, and other foundation can no man lay, Isa. xxviii. 16; 1 Cor. iii. 11. He is our Hope, 1 Tim. i. 1. Christ in us is so; we must ground our hopes of heaven upon the fulness of Christ's merit, for the pardon of sin, the power of his Spirit, for the sanctification of our nature, and the prevalency of his intercession, for the conveyance of all that good which he has purchased for us. There is that in him, as he is made known, and made over, to us in the gospel, which is sufficient to redress all our grievances, and to answer all the necessities of our case, so that he is a Saviour to the uttermost. The church is built upon this Rock, and so is every believer. He is strong and immovable as a rock; we may venture our all upon him, and shall not be made ashamed of our hope.

[3.] That there is a remnant, who by hearing and doing the sayings of Christ, build their hopes upon this Rock; and it is their wisdom. Christ is our only Way to the Father, and the obedience of faith is our only way to Christ: for to them that obey him, and to them only, he becomes the Author of eternal salvation. Those build upon Christ, who having sincerely consented to him, as their Prince and Saviour, make it their constant care to conform to all the rules of his holy religion, and therein depend entirely upon him for assistance from God, and acceptance with him, and count every thing but loss and dung that they may win Christ, and be found in him. Building upon a rock requires care and pains: they that would make their calling and election sure, must give diligence. They are wise builders who begin to build so as they may be able to finish (Luke xiv. 30), and therefore lay a firm foundation.

[4.] That there are many who profess that they hope to go to heaven, but despise this Rock, and build their hopes upon the sand; which is done without much pains, but it is their folly. Every thing besides Christ is sand. Some build their hopes upon their worldly prosperity, as if they were a sure token of God's favour, Hos. xii. 8. Others upon their external profession of religion, the privileges they enjoy, and the performances they go through in that profession, and the reputation they have got by it. They are called Christians, were baptized, go to church, hear Christ's word, say their prayers, and do nobody any harm, and, if they perish, God help a great many! This is the light of their own fire, which they walk in; this is that, upon which, with a great deal of assurance, they venture; but it is all sand, too weak to bear such a fabric as our hopes of heaven.

[5.] That there is a storm coming, that will try what our hopes are bottomed on; will try every man's work (1 Cor. iii. 13); will discover the foundation, Hab. iii. 13. Rain, and floods, and wind, will beat upon the house; the trial is sometimes in this world; when tribulation and persecution arise because of the word, then it will be seen, who only heard the word, and who heard and practiced it; then when we have occasion to use our hopes, it will be tried whether they were right, and well-grounded, or not. However, when death and judgment come, then the storm comes, and it will undoubtedly come, how calm soever things may be with us now. Then every thing else will fail us but these hopes, and then, if ever, they will be turned into everlasting fruition.

[6.] That those hopes which are built upon Christ the Rock will stand, and will stand the builder in stead when the storm comes; they will be his preservation, both from desertion, and from prevailing disquiet. His profession will not wither; his comforts will not fail; they will be his strength and song, as an anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast. When he comes to the last encounter, those hopes will take off the terror of death and the grave; will carry him cheerfully through that dark valley; will be approved by the Judge; will stand the test of the great day; and will be crowned with endless glory, 2 Cor. i. 12; 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8. Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord, when he comes, finds so doing, so hoping.

[7.] That those hopes which foolish builders ground upon any thing but Christ, will certainly fail them on a stormy day; will yield them no true comfort and satisfaction in trouble, in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment; will be no fence against temptations to apostacy, in a time of persecution. When God takes away the soul, where is the hope of the hypocrite? Job xxvii. 8. It is as the spider's web, and as the giving up of the ghost. He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand, Job viii. 14, 15. It fell in the storm, when the builder had most need of it, and expected it would be a shelter to him. It fell when it was too late to build another: when a wicked man dies, his expectation perishes; then, when he thought it would have been turned into fruition, it fell, and great was the fall of it. It was a great disappointment to the builder; the shame and loss were great. The higher men's hopes have been raised, the lower they fall. It is the sorest ruin of all that attends formal professors; witness Capernaum's doom.

III. In the two last verses, we are told what impressions Christ's discourse made upon the auditory. It was an excellent sermon; and it is probable that he said more than is here recorded; and doubtless the delivery of it from the mouth of him, into whose lips grace was poured, did mightily set if off. Now, 1. They were astonished at this doctrine; it is to be feared that few of them were brought by it to follow him: but for the present, they were filled with wonder. Note, It is possible for people to admire good preaching, and yet to remain in ignorance and unbelief; to be astonished, and yet not sanctified. 2. The reason was because he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. The scribes pretended to as much authority as any teachers whatsoever, and were supported by all the external advantages that could be obtained, but their preaching was mean, and flat, and jejune: they spake as those what were not themselves masters of what they preached: the word did not come from them with any life or force; they delivered it as a school-boy says his lesson; but Christ delivered his discourse, as a judge gives his charge. He did indeed, dominari in conscionibus—deliver his discourses with a tone of authority; his lessons were law; his word a word of command. Christ, upon the mountain, showed more true authority, than the scribes in Moses's seat. Thus when Christ teaches by his Spirit in the soul, he teaches with authority. He says, Let there be light, and there is light.




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