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The word 'judgment means, in the Hebrew, law, commands, &c. Ps. xix. 9; cxix. 29, 30. It means the whole system of truth; the law of God in general; the purpose, plan, or judgment of God, about human duty and conduct.
19 He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.
'He shall not strive,' &c. He shall not shout, as a warrior. He shall be meek, and peaceful. Streets were places of concourse, public places. The meaning is, that he should not seek publicity, and noise, and popularity.
20 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.
'A bruised reed,' &c. It is an expressive emblem of the soul, broken and contrite on account of sin, weeping and mourning for transgression. He will not break it. That is, he will not be haughty, unforgiving, and cruel. He will heal it, pardon it, and give it strength. 'Smoking flax.' This refers to the wick of a lump when the oil is exhausted-the dying, flickering flame and smoke that hang over it. It is expressive of the languishing graces of the people of God. He will not treat them harshly or unkindly, but will cherish the feeble flame, minister the oil of grace, and kindle it into a blaze. 'Till he send forth judgment unto victory.'
Judgment' here means truth, the truth of God, the gospel. It shall be victorious. It shall not be vanquished. Though not such a conqueror as the Jews expected, yet he shall conquer. Though mild and retiring, yet his scheme shall be victorious.
21 And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.
And in his name,' &c. The Hebrew in Isaian is, ' And the isles shall wait for his law.' The idea is, however, the same. The isles denote the Gentiles, or a part of the Gentiles-those out of Judea. The meaning is, that the gospel should be preached to the Gentiles, and that they should receive it.
22 Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and
'One possessed with a devil. See note, Matt. iv. 24. The same account, substantially, is found Mark iii. 22-27, and Luke xi. 14-26.
23 And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?
That is, is not this the promised descendant of David, the
Messiah? They were acquainted with the prophecy in Isaiah xxxv. 5, and they inferred that this must be the promised Messiah. This inference was drawn by the common people, and not by the proud and haughty pharisees. It is not uncommon that the plain common sense of the candid, but unlearned, sees the true beauty and meaning of the bible, while men, filled with pride and science, foolishly so called, are blinded.
24 But when the pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.
Here was a manifest miracle, an exertion of power unquestionably superior to what men could do. The common people were fast coming into the belief that Jesus was the Messiah, and the authority and power of the pharisees were declining. Unless, therefore, some way should be devised of accounting for these facts, their influence would be at an end. But it was necessary that they should acknowledge that there was superhuman power. The people were fully persuaded of this; and no man could deny it. They therefore ascribed it to the prince of the devils-to Beelzebub. In this they had two objects: 1. To concede to the people that here was a miracle, or a work above mere human power. 2. To throw all possible contempt on Jesus. Beelzebub was an opprobrious name, given to the worst and vilest even of the devils. See Matt. x. 25.
25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: 26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?
And Jesus knew their thoughts,' &c. To know the thoughts of the heart belongs only to God, Ps. cxxxix. 2. Jer. xvii. 10. Every kingdom,' &c. Jesus made their argument recoil on their own heads. A kingdom, or a family, can prosper only by living in harmony. If divided-if one part undoes what the other does-it must fall. So with the kingdom of Satan. You believe that Satan has possessed those whom I have cured, and that he has helped me to cure them. If so, then he has helped me to undo what he had done-that is, to oppose and discomfit himself. At this rate, how can there be any stability to his kingdom? It must fall; and Satan must have less than human prudence.
27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.
" By whom do your children,' &c. Your disciples, taught by you, and encouraged by you, pretend to cast out devils. If your argument be true that a man who casts out devils must be in league with the devil, then your disciples have made a covenant with him also. You must therefore admit that the working of miracles is proof of the assistance of God.
The words of Christ, here, do not prove that they had actually the power of casting out devils, but only that they claimed it, and practised magic, or jugglery. See Acts xix. 13. "Your children.' Your disciples, or followers. They shall be your judges.' They shall condemn you and your argument.
28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.
'By the Spirit of God,' means the power of God-in Luke, 'by the finger of God.' Compare Ex. viii. 19. Ps. viii. 3. The reign of Satan over men, and the reign of God, are in opposition. If God expels Satan from his dominion over men, then his reign has come. He has set up his kingdom,
29 Or else, how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.
A man could not break into the house of a strong man, and take his property, unless he had rendered the man himself helpless. If he had taken his goods, it would therefore be sufficient proof that he had bound the man. So I, says he, have taken this property-this possessed person-from the dominion of Satan. It is clear proof that I have subdued Satan himself, the strong being that had him in possession. 'Spoil his goods.' The word spoil, means here to plunder, to take with violence, as it commonly does in the bible. See Col. ii. 8, 15.
30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
There could be but two parties in the universe; there was no neutral ground. If any one did not act with our Lord, he was against him. If he gathered not with him he scattered. He that did not gather with him, or aid him, scattered abroad, or opposed him. The application of this was, as I have not united with Satan, but opposed him, there can be no league between us.
31 Wherefore I say unto you, all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. 32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not
be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
In this place, and in Mark iii. 28-30, Jesus proceeds to state the awful nature of the sin of which they had been guilty. That sin was the sin against the Holy Ghost. It consisted in charging Jesus with being in league with the devil, or in accusing him of working his miracles, not by the Spirit or power of God, but by the aid of the prince of the devils. It was therefore a direct insult, abuse, evil speaking against the Holy Ghost-the Spirit by whom Jesus worked his miracles. That this was what he intended by this sin, at that time, is clear from Mark iii. 30, Because they said he had an unclean spirit.' All other sins-all speaking against the Saviour himself-might be remitted. But this sin was clearly against the Holy One; it was alleging that the highest displays of God's mercy and power were the work of the devil; it argued, therefore, the highest depravity of mind. The sin of which he speaks is, then, clearly stated. It was accusing him of working miracles by the aid of the devil-thus dishonouring the Holy Ghost. All manner of sin-shall be forgiven.' Men repent and believe. If they continue in this sin they cannot be forgiven, Mark xvi. 16. Rom. ii. 6-9. Blasphemy.' Injurious or evil speaking of God. See note, Matt. ix. 3. A word against the Son of man.' The Jews were offended at the humble life and appearance of the Saviour. Jesus says, that reflections on his poverty, humble birth, and the lowliness of his human nature might be forgiven. Neither in this world, nor in that which is to come.' That is, as Mark expresses it, hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation. It means, then, that the guilt will be unpardoned for ever; that God will not forgive a sin so direct, presumptuous, and awful. It cannot be inferred from this that any sins will be forgiven in hell. He meant to say that there were no possible circumstances in which the offender could find forgiveness.
33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit:
You are to judge of a man's being in league with Satan by his works. If my doctrines and works be properly the works of Satan, then I am corrupt: if not, then your charge is blasphemy. So, on the other hand, if, notwithstanding your professions, your works are the works of the devil, and your doctrines be such as he would teach, it would prove, respecting you, that which you charge on me.
34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh. 35 A good man, out of the
good treasure of the heart, bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
O generation of vipers!' Christ here applies the argument which he had suggested in the previous verse. They were a wicked race; like poisonous reptiles, with a corrupt and evil nature. As the bad fruit of a tree was the proper effect of its nature, so were their words about him and his works the effect of their nature. Vipers are a poisonous kind of serpents. They are emblems of malignity and mischief. sions were not the effect of anger and malice; they were a declaration of the true character of the men with whom he was conversing.
36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
'Idle word.' This literally means a vain, thoughtless, useless word, that accomplishes no good. Here it means, evidently, wicked, false and malicious; for such were the words which the pharisees had spoken.
37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
That is, words shall be the indication of the true principles of the heart; by words the heart shall be known, as the tree by the fruit. If false, envious, malignant, and impious, they will prove that the heart is wrong, and will therefore be among the causes of condemnation. See James iii. 3-12.
38 Then certain of the scribes and of the pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.
"We would see a sign from thee.' See Luke xi. 16, 29-32. A sign' signifies a miracle-that is, a sign that God was with the person, or had sent him. Luke adds, that this was done tempting him-trying him, doubting if he had the power to do it. Perhaps they referred in this to Moses. He had been with God amidst thunders and lightnings; and he had given them manna -bread from heaven-to eat. They wished Jesus to show some miracle equally undoubted.
39 But he answered and said to them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas :