Study

a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

7. Sermon on the Mount

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.

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? 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.

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.

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. 28And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: 29For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

16. From their fruits you shall know them Had not this mark of distinction been added, we might have called in question the authority of all teachers without exception. If there is a mortal danger to be dreaded in teachers, and if we see no way of avoiding it, we shall be under the necessity of holding them all suspected: and there will be no better or shorter method than to keep our ears shut against them all. We see that ungodly men, to screen themselves when rejecting every kind of doctrine, hold out this danger, and that weak and ill-informed persons remain in a state of perplexity. That our reverence for the Gospel, and for its faithful ministers and teachers, may not be diminished, Christ enjoins us to form our opinion of the false prophets from their fruits It is with a very bad grace that the Papists, in order to excite hatred against us, quote directly this exhortation of Christ, Beware of false prophets, and by their clamors induce ignorant people to avoid us, without knowing why. But whoever desires to follow our Lord’s advice must judge wisely and with just discretion. For ourselves, we not only acknowledge freely that men ought to beware of false prophets, but we carefully and earnestly exhort simple people to beware of them. Only we warn them that, agreeably to the rule which Christ has laid down, they should first make a strict examination, that simple people may not reject the pure Word of God, and suffer the punishment of their own rashness. There is a wide difference between wise caution and perverse squeamishness.476476     “Il y a grande difference entre une bonne facon de se donner garde d'estre trompe, et un deboutement temeraire sans savoir pourquoy.” — “There is a great difference between a proper method of guarding against being deceived, and a hasty rejection without knowing, why.” It is a heinous wickedness in the Papists to repeal the command of Christ, by infusing into unhappy persons an unfounded dread,477477     “Par une vaine crainte, qu'ils leur proposent;” — “by a vain dread which they hold out to them.” which deters them from making inquiry. Let this be regarded by us as a first principl that those who tremblingly reject or avoid a doctrine unknown to them, act improperly, and are very far from obeying the command of Christ.

It now remains to be seen, what are the fruits which Christ points out. Those who confine them to the life are, in my opinion, mistaken. As pretended sanctity, and I know not what masks belonging to greater austerity of life, are frequently held out by some of the worst impostors, this would be a very uncertain test. Their hypocrisy, I do own, is at length discovered; for nothing is more difficult than to counterfeit virtue. But Christ did not intend to submit his doctrine to a decision so unjust in itself, and so liable to be misunderstood, as to have it estimated by the life of men. Under the fruits the manner of teaching is itself included, and indeed holds the chief place: for Christ proves that he was sent by God from this consideration, that

he seeketh not his own glory,
but the glory of the Father who sent him,” (John 7:18.)

Is it objected, that few persons are endued with such acuteness, as to distinguish good fruits from bad? I answer, as I have already said: Believers are never deprived of the Spirit of wisdom, where his assistance is needful, provided they distrust themselves, renounce their own judgment, and give themselves up wholly to his direction. Let us remember, however, that all doctrines must be brought to the Word of God as the standard, and that, in judging of false prophets, the rule of faith holds the chief place. We must also consider what God enjoins on his prophets and the ministers of his word: for in this way their faithfulness may be easily ascertained. If, for example, we place before our minds what Paul requires in bishops, (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9,) that description will be sufficient of itself to condemn the whole mass of Popery: for the Popish priests seem as if they purposely intended to present an opposite picture. There is no reason to wonder, therefore, if they forbid men to form a judgment of false prophets. But this passage clearly shows, that their titles ought to go for nothing, and that not much regard ought to be had even to their calling, if those who receive the name of pastors, and are called to the office of teachers, do not faithfully answer to their charge.

Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? By these proverbs, which were then in common use and universally received, Christ confirms his statement, that no man can be deceived by false prophets, unless he is wilfully blind: for the fruits as plainly discover upright servants of God, and unfaithful workmen, as the fruits point out the nature of the tree.


VIEWNAME is study