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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. 21. 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 Mait. 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 bot 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 ne 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 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 te 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 Márk 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.
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
'Profess unto them.' Say unto them; plainly declare. 'I never knew you. That is, I never approved, loved, or regarded you as my friends. See Ps. i. 6. 2 Tim. ii. 19.' 1 Cor. viii. 3. This proves that, with all their pretensions, they had never been true followers of Christ.
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.
Jesus Cnrist closes the sermon on the mount by a beautiful comparison, illustrating the benefit of attending to his words. It was not sufficient to hear them; they must be obeyed. He compares the man who should hear, and obey him, to a man who should build his house on a rock.' Palestine was to a considerable extent a land of hills and mountains. Like other countries of that description, it was subject to sudden and violent rains. The Jordan, the principal stream, was annually swollen to a great extent, and became rapid and furious in its course. The streams which ran among the hills, whose channels might have been dry during some months of the year, became suddenly swollen with the rain, and would pour down impetuously into the plains below. Every thing in the way of these torrents would be swept off. Even a house erected within the reach of these sudden inundations, and especially if founded on sand, or any unsolid basis, would not stand before them. The rising, bursting stream would shake it to its foundation; the rapid torrent would gradually wash away its base; it would totter and fall, and be swept away. Rocks in that land were common, and it was easy to secure for their houses a solid foundation. No comparison could, to a Jew, have been more strikingly adapted to teach that tempests, and storms of affliction and persecution, beat around the soul. Suddenly, when we think we are in safety, the heavens may be overcast; the storm may lower; and calamity beat upon
In a moment, health, friends, comforts, may be gone. How desirable then to be possessed of something that the tempest can
not reach! Such is an interest in Christ, attention to his words, reliance on his promises, confidence in his protection, and a hope of heaven through his blood. Earthly calamities do not reach these: and, possessed of religion, all the storms and tempests of life may beat harmlessly around us.
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.
"His doctrine.' His teaching, ' As one having authority, and not as the scribes. The scribes were the learned men and teachers of the Jewish nation, and were principally pharisees. They consumed much of their time in useless disputes and vain jangling. Jesus was open, plain, grave, useful; delivering truth as became the oracles of God; not trifling; teaching as having power, as it is in the original, and not in the vain and foolish manner of the Jewish doctors. He came with authority such as no man could have, and it is therefore not surprising that his explanations astonished them.
CHAPTER VIII. 1 WHEN he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
No disease with which the human family has been afflicted, has been more dreadful than that which is often mentioned in the bible as the leprosy. It first exhibits itself on the surface of the skin, and commonly resembles the spot made by the puncture of a pin, or the pustules of a ringworm. The spots generally make their appearance very suddenly ; commonly exhibit themselves, at first, on the face, about the nose and eyes, and increase in size for a number of years, till they become as large as a pea or a bean; and though few at first, gradually spread till they cover the whole body.
But though the appearance of the disease is at first in the skin, yet it is deeply seated in the bones, and marrow, and joints of the body. We have reason to suppose that it is concealed in the system for a number of years, till at last it gives fearful indications on the skin of its having gained a deeply rooted and permanent existence. A leprous person may live twenty, or thirty, or even fifty years, if he received the disease at his birth, but they will be years of indescribable misery. The bones and marrow are pervaded with the disease. The malady advances from one stage to another with slow and certain ruin. "The joints, and hands, and
Seet, lose their power; and the body collapses, or falls together in a form hideous and awful.
This disease is contagious and hereditary. It is easily com. municated from one to another, and is transmitted to the third and fourth generation.
Moses gave particular directions by which the real leprosy was to be distinguished from other diseases. See Lev. xiii.' The leprous person was separated from the congregation. The inspection of the disease was committed to the priest; and a declaration on his part that the person was healed, was sufficient evidence to restore him to the congregation. It was required also that the leprous person should bring an offering to ihe priest. See Lev. xiv. In compliance with the laws of the land, Jesus directed the man whom he had healed to make the customary offering, and to obtain the testimony of the priest that he was healed. * Worshipped him. Bowed down before him, to show him respect. See note Matt. ii. 2. 'If thou wilt.' This was an exhibition of great faith, and also an acknowledgment of his dependence on the will of Jesus, in order to be healed. So every sinner
He must feel that Jesus can save him. He must also feel that he has no claim on Christ; that his salvation depends on his sovereign will; and must cast himself at his feet with the feeling of the leper. Happily, no one ever came to Jesus with this feeling, who was not received, and pardoned.
*Make me clean.' Heal me. The leprosy was regarded as an unclean and disgusting disease. To be healed, therefore, was expressed by being cleansed from it.
3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
It was an offence to the Jews to touch a leprous person. The act of putting forth his hand, and touching him, therefore, expressed the intention of Jesus to cure him, and was a pledge that he was, in fact, already cured.
4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
"See thou tell no man.' This command is to be understood as extending only to the time until he had made the proper representation to the priest. It was his duty to hasten to him immediately; not to delay by talking about it, but as the first thing, to obey the laws of God, and make proper acknowledgments to him by an offering. The place where this cure was wrought was in Galilee, a distance of forty or fifty miles from Jerusalem ; and