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chief anxiety thus to seek food and raiment. But you, who have a knowledge of your Father in heaven, who know that he will provide for your wants, should not be unduly anxious.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto
Seek first his kingdom; seek first to be righteous, and to become interested in his favour, and all necessary things will be added to you. God will give you that which he deems best for 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.
"Take no thought,' &c. That is, take no undue anxiety. Commit your way to God. It is wholly uncertain whether you may live to see to-morrow. If you do, it will bring its own trouble. And it will also bring the proper supply of your wants. God will be the same Father then as now. The morrow shall take thought.' The morrow shall have anxieties and cares of its own, but God will provide for them as they occur. Do not, therefore, increase the cares of this day by borrowing trouble respecting the future. Do your duty faithfully now, and depend on the mercy of God and his divine help as to the troubles which are yet to come.
1 JUDGE not, that ye be not judged.
This command refers to rash, censorious, and unjust judgment. See Rom. ii. 1. Luke vi. 37 explains it in the sense of condemning. Christ does not condemn our forming an opinion of the conduct of others, for it is impossible not to form an opinion of conduct that we know to be evil. But what he refers to, is a habit of forming a judgment hastily, harshly, and without candour, and of expressing such an opinion harshly and unnecessarily when formed.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
This was a proverb among the Jews. It expressed a truth; and Christ did not hesitate to adopt it as conveying his own sentiments. It refers no less to the way in which men will judge of us, than to the rule by which God will judge us. See 2 Sam. xxii. 27. Mark iv. 24. Janies ii. 13. 'Mete.' Measure. You shall be judged by the same rule which you apply to
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?
A mote signifies any light substance, as dry chaff, or fine spires of grass or grain. Beam.' This word here signifies a large piece of squared timber. The one is an exceedingly small object, the other a large one. The meaning is, that we are much more quick and acute in judging of the small offences of others, than of much larger offences in ourselves.
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.
Christ directs us to the proper way of forming an opinion of others, and of reproving and correcting them. The sentiment is, that the readiest way to judge of the imperfections of others is to be free from greater ones ourselves. This qualifies us for judg ing, makes us candid and consistent, and enables us to see things as they are, and to make proper allowances for frailty and imperfection.
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.
The word 'holy' means here any thing connected with religion; admonition, precept, or doctrine. 'Pearls' are precious stones found in shell-fish, chiefly in India, in the waters that surround Ceylon. They are used to denote any thing peculiarly precious, Rev. xvii. 4; xviii. 12-16. Matt. xiii. 45. In this place they, are used to denote the doctrine of the gospel. 'Dogs' signify men who spurn, oppose, and abuse that doctrine; men of peculiar sourness and malignity of temper, who meet it like growling and quarrelsome dogs, 2 Peter ii. 22. Rev. xxii. 15. 'Swine' denote those who would trample the precepts under feet; men of impurity of life; corrupt and polluted, profane, obscene, and sensual; who would not know the value of the gospel, and who would tread it down as swine would pearls, 2 Pet. ii. 22. Prov. xi. 22.
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?
'Ask, and it shall be given you,' &c. There are here three different forms presented of seeking the things which we need from God, asking, seeking, and knocking. The latter is taken from the act of knocking at a door for admittance. See Luke xiii. 45. Rev. iii. 20. The phrases signify to seek with earnestness, and diligence, and perseverance.
The promise is, that what we seek shall be given us. It is of course implied that we seek with a proper spirit, with humility, sincerity, and perseverance. It is implied, also, that we ask the things which it may be consistent for God to give-that is, things which he has promised to give, and which would be best for us and his kingdom, 1 John v. 14. Of that God is to be the judge. And here there is the utmost latitude which a creature can ask. God is willing to provide for us, to forgive our sins, to save our souls, to befriend us in trial, to comfort us in death, to extend the gospel through the world. Man can ask no higher things of God; and these he may ask, assured that God is willing to grant them.
Christ encourages us to do this by the conduct of parents. God is better and kinder than the most tender earthly parents; and with what confidence, therefore, may we come as his children, and ask what we need! Parents, he says, are evil; that is, are imperfect, often partial, blind, and sometimes passionate; but God is free from all this, and therefore is ready and willing to aid us. Every one that asketh receiveth.' That is, every one who asks aright, who prays in faith, and in submission to the will of God. He does not always give the very thing which we ask, but he gives what would be better. See 2 Cor. xii. 7-9. A fish.' There are fishes that have some resemblance to a serpent. Yet no parent would attempt to deceive his child in this. So God will not give to us that which might appear to be of use, but which would be injurious.
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.
This command has been usually called the Saviour's golden rule, a name given to it on account of its great value. All that you expect or desire of others in similar circumstances, do
to them. Act not from selfishness or injustice, but put yourself in the place of the other, and ask what you would expect of him then. It has been well said that this law is what the balance wheel is to machinery. It would prevent all irregularity of movement in the moral world, as that does in a steam-engine. It is easily applied, its justice is seen by all men, and all must acknowledge its force and value. This is the law and the prophets.' That is, this is the sum or explanation of the Old Testament. It is no where found in so many words, but it is a summary expression of all that the law required.
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.
Christ here compares the way to life to an entrance through a gate. The words 'straight,' and 'strait,' have very different meanings. The former means not crooked; the latter narrow, difficult to be entered. This is the word used here, and it means that the way to heaven is narrow, close, and not obviously entered. The way to death is open, broad, and thronged. Multitudes are in it. It is the great highway in which men go. They fall into it easily, and without effort, and go without thought. If they wished to leave that, and go by a narrow gate to the city, it would require effort and thought. So, says Christ, diligence is needed to enter into life. See Luke xiii. 24. None go of course. All must strive to obtain it; and so narrow, unfrequented, and solitary is it, that few find it.
15¶ Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
"False prophets. A false prophet is a teacher of incorrect doctrine, or one falsely and unjustly laying claims to divine inspiration. It probably had reference to the false teachers then among the Jews. Who come in sheep's clothing.' The sheep is an emblem of innocence, sincerity, and harmlessness. To come in sheep's clothing, is to assume the appearance of sanctity and innocence, when the heart is evil. 'Ravening wolves.' Rapacious; or disposed to plunder. Applied to the false teachers, it means that they assumed the appearance of holiness, in order that they might the more readily get the property of the people. They were full of extortion and excess. See Matt. xxiii. 25.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
The proper test of men's characters is here stated. Men do not judge of a tree by its leaves, or bark, or flowers, but by the fruit which it bears. The flowers may be handsome and fragrant; the foliage thick and green; but these are merely ornamental. It is the fruit that is of chief service to man; and he forms his opinion of the nature and value of the tree by that fruit. So of pretensions to religion. The profession may be fair; but the conduct-the fruit in the eye of the world-is to determine the nature of the principles.
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.,
The word 'corrupt' here does not signify, as our translation would indicate, that the tree had been good, but had become vitiated; but a tree of a useless character, of a nature that produces nothing beneficial.
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.
The power of working miracles, and distinguished talents, have no necessary connexion with piety. God may as well, if he chooses, give the power of raising the dead to a wicked man, as the skill of healing to a wicked physician. So of preaching, or prophesying. God may use the agency of a man of talents, though not truly pious, to carry forward his purposes. Saving power on the mind is the work of God; and he can convey it by any agency which he may choose. Accordingly, many may be found in that day who may have been endowed with powers of prophecy, or miracle; in the same way as many men of distinguished talents may be found, yet destitute of piety, and shut out of his kingdom. See Mark ix. 38. Luke ix. 49. 1 Cor. xiii. 1-3.
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?
'In that day.' That is, in the last day, the day of judgment; the time when the principles of all pretenders to prophecy and piety will be tried.