In this chapter we have Christ's exposition of the moral law, which he
came not to destroy, but to fulfil, and to fill up, by his gospel.
I. Here is a proof of the lawfulness of works of necessity and mercy
on the sabbath day, the former in vindication of his disciples'
plucking the ears of corn, the latter in vindication of himself healing
the withered hand on that day,
II. His retirement for secret prayer,
III. His calling his twelve apostles,
IV. His curing the multitudes of those under various diseases who made
their application to him,
V. The sermon that he preached to his disciples and the multitude,
instructing them in their duty both to God and man,
|Works of Mercy Suited to the Sabbath.
1 And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first,
that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked
the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.
2 And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that
which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days?
3 And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as
this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which
were with him;
4 How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the
showbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is
not lawful to eat but for the priests alone?
5 And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of
6 And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered
into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right
hand was withered.
7 And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would
heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation
8 But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the
withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he
arose and stood forth.
9 Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it
lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save
life, or to destroy it?
10 And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man,
Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored
whole as the other.
11 And they were filled with madness; and communed one with
another what they might do to Jesus.
These two passages of story we had both in Matthew and Mark, and they
were there laid together
because, though happening at some distance of time from each other,
both were designed to rectify the mistakes of the scribes and Pharisees
concerning the sabbath day, on the bodily rest of which they
laid greater stress and required greater strictness than the Law-giver
I. Christ justifies his disciples in a work of necessity for
themselves on that day, and that was plucking the ears of corn,
when they were hungry on that day. This story here has a date, which we
had not in the other evangelists; it was on the second sabbath after
that is, as Dr. Whitby thinks is pretty clear, the first sabbath
after the second day of unleavened bread, from which day they
reckoned the seven weeks to the feast of pentecost; the first of
which they called Sabbaton deuteroproton, the second
deuterodeuteron, and so on. Blessed be God we need not be
critical in this matter. Whether this circumstance be mentioned to
intimate that this sabbath was thought to have some peculiar honour
upon it, which aggravated the offence of the disciples, or only to
intimate that, being the first sabbath after the offering of the first
fruits, it was the time of the year when the corn was nearly ripe, is
not material. We may observe,
1. Christ's disciples ought not to be nice and curious in their diet,
at any time, especially on sabbath days, but take up with what is
easiest got, and be thankful. These disciples plucked the ears of
corn, and did eat
a little served them, and that which had no delicacy in it.
2. Many that are themselves guilty of the greatest crimes are forward
to censure others for the most innocent and inoffensive actions,
The Pharisees quarrelled with them as doing that which it was not
lawful to do on the sabbath days, when it was their own practice to
feed deliciously on sabbath days, more than on all other days.
3. Jesus Christ will justify his disciples when they are unjustly
censured, and will own and accept of them in many a thing which men
tell them it is not lawful for them to do. How well is it for us
that men are not to be our judges, and that Christ will be our
4. Ceremonial appointments may be dispensed with, in cases of
necessity; as the appropriating of the showbread to the priests was
dispensed with, when David was by Providence brought into such a strait
that he must have either that or none,
And, if God's own appointments might be thus set aside for a greater
good, much more may the traditions of men.
5. Works of necessity are particularly allowable on the sabbath day;
but we must take heed that we turn not this liberty into
licentiousness, and abuse God's favourable concessions and
condescensions to the prejudice of the work of the day.
6. Jesus Christ, though he allowed works of necessity on the sabbath
day, will notwithstanding have us to know and remember that it is his
day, and therefore is to be spent in his service and to his honour
The Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath. In the kingdom of
the Redeemer, the sabbath day is to be turned into a Lord's day;
the property of it is, in some respects, to be altered, and it is to be
observed chiefly in honour of the Redeemer, as it had been before in
honour of the Creator,
In token of this, it shall not only have a new name, the Lord's
day (yet not forgetting the old, for it is a sabbath of rest still)
but shall be transferred to a new day, the first day of the week.
II. He justifies himself in doing works of mercy for others on
the sabbath day. Observe in this,
1. Christ on the sabbath day entered into the synagogue. Note,
It is our duty, as we have opportunity, to sanctify sabbaths in
religious assemblies. On the sabbath there ought to be a holy
convocation; and our place must not be empty without very good
2. In the synagogue, on the sabbath day, he taught. Giving and
receiving instruction from Christ is very proper work for a sabbath
day, and for a synagogue. Christ took all opportunities to
teach, not only his disciples, but the multitude.
3. Christ's patient was one of his hearers. A man whose right hand
was withered came to learn from Christ. Whether he had any
expectation to be healed by him does not appear. But those that would
be cured by the grace of Christ must be willing to learn
the doctrine of Christ.
4. Among those who were the hearers of Christ's excellent doctrine,
and the eye-witnesses of his glorious miracles, there were some who
came with no other design than to pick quarrels with him,
The scribes and Pharisees would not, as became generous
adversaries, give him fair warning that, if he did heal on the
sabbath day, they would construe it into a violation of the fourth
commandment, which they ought in honour and justice to have done,
because it was a case without precedent (none having ever cured
as he did), but they basely watched him, as the lion does his
prey, whether he would heal on the sabbath day, that they might find
an accusation against him, and surprise him with a prosecution.
5. Jesus Christ was neither ashamed nor afraid to own
the purposes of his grace, in the face of those who, he knew,
He knew their faults, and what they designed, and he bade the
man rise, and stand forth, hereby to try the patient's faith and
6. He appealed to his adversaries themselves, and to the convictions of
natural conscience, whether it was the design of the fourth commandment
to restrain men from doing good on the sabbath day, that good which
their hand finds to do, which they have an opportunity for, and which
cannot so well be put off to another time
Is it lawful to do good, or evil, on the sabbath days? No wicked
men are such absurd and unreasonable men as
persecutors are, who study to do evil to men for doing
7. He healed the poor man, and restored him to the present use of his
right hand, with a word's speaking, though he knew that his enemies
would not only take offence at it, but take advantage against him for
Let not us be drawn off, either from our duty or usefulness, by the
oppression we meet with in it.
8. His adversaries were hereby enraged so much the more against him,
Instead of being convinced by this miracle, as they ought to have been,
that he was a teacher come from God,--instead of being brought to be in
love with him as a benefactor to mankind,--they were filled with
madness, vexed that they could not frighten him from doing good, or
hinder the growth of his interest in the affections of the people. They
were mad at Christ, mad at the people, mad at
themselves. Anger is a short madness, malice is a long
one; impotent malice, especially disappointed malice;
such was theirs. When they could not prevent his working this miracle,
they communed one with another what they might do to Jesus, what
other way they might take to run him down. We may well stand amazed at
it that the sons of men should be so wicked as to do thus, and that the
Son of God should be so patient as to suffer it.
|The Twelve Apostles Chosen.
12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a
mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.
13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and
of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;
14 Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother,
James and John, Philip and Bartholomew,
15 Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphæus, and Simon
16 And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which
also was the traitor.
17 And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the
company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of
all Judæa and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and
Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their
18 And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were
19 And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went
virtue out of him, and healed them all.
In these verses, we have our Lord Jesus in secret, in his
family, and in public; and in all three acting like
I. In secret we have him praying to God,
This evangelist takes frequent notice of Christ's retirements, to give
us an example of secret prayer, by which we must keep up our communion
with God daily, and without which it is impossible that the soul should
prosper. In those days, when his enemies were filled with
madness against him, and were contriving what to do to him, he went out
to pray; that he might answer the type of David
For my love, they are my adversaries; but I give myself unto
1. He was alone with God; he went out into a mountain, to
pray, where he might have no disturbance or interruption given him;
we are never less alone than when we are thus alone. Whether
there was any convenient place built upon this mountain, for devout
people to retire to for their private devotions, as some think, and
that that oratory, or place of prayer, is meant here by
he proseuche tou theou, to me seems very uncertain. He
went into a mountain for privacy, and therefore, probably, would not go
to a place frequented by others.
2. He was long alone with God: He continued all night in
prayer. We think one half hour a great deal to spend in the
duties of the closet; but Christ continued a whole night
in meditation and secret prayer. We have a great deal of
business at the throne of grace, and we should take a great
delight in communion with God, and by both these we may be kept
sometimes long at prayer.
II. In his family we have him nominating his immediate
attendants, that should be the constant auditors of his doctrine and
eye-witnesses of his miracles, that hereafter they might be sent forth
as apostles, his messengers to the world, to preach his
gospel to it, and plant his church in it,
After he had continued all night in prayer, one would have
thought that, when it was day, he should have reposed himself,
and got some sleep. No, as soon as any body was stirring, he called
unto him his disciples. In serving God, our great care should be,
not to lose time, but to make the end of one good duty the
beginning of another. Ministers are to be ordained with prayer
more than ordinarily solemn. The number of the apostles was
twelve. Their names are here recorded; it is the third
time that we have met with them, and in each of the three
places the order of them differs, to teach both ministers and
Christians not to be nice in precedency, not in giving it, much
less in taking it, but to look upon it as a thing not worth
taking notice of; let it be as it lights. He that in Mark was called
Thaddeus, in Matthew Lebbeus, whose surname was
Thaddeus, is here called Judas the brother of James, the
same that wrote the epistle of Jude. Simon, who in Matthew and Mark was
called the Canaanite, is here called Simon Zelotes,
perhaps for his great zeal in religion. Concerning these twelve here
named we have reason to say, as the queen of Sheba did of Solomon's
servants, Happy are thy men, and happy are these thy servants, that
stand continually before thee, and hear thy wisdom; never were men
so privileged, and yet one of them had a devil, and proved a traitor
yet Christ, when he chose him, was not deceived in him.
III. In public we have him preaching and healing,
the two great works between which he divided his time,
He came down with the twelve from the mountain, and stood in the
plain, ready to receive those that resorted to him; and there were
presently gathered about him, not only the company of his
disciples, who used to attend him, but also a great multitude of
people, a mixed multitude out of all Judea and Jerusalem.
Though it was some scores of miles from Jerusalem to that part of
Galilee where Christ now was,--though at Jerusalem they had abundance
of famous rabbin, that had great names, and bore a mighty sway,--yet
they came to hear Christ. They came also from the sea-coast of Tyre
and Sidon. Though they who lived there were generally men of
business, and though they bordered upon Canaanites, yet there were some
well affected to Christ; such there were dispersed in all parts, here
and there one.
1. They came to hear him and he preached to them. Those
that have not good preaching near them had better travel far for it
than be without it. It is worth while to go a great way to hear the
word of Christ, and to go out of the way of other business for it.
2. They came to be cured by him, and he healed them.
Some were troubled in body, and some in mind; some had
diseases, some had devils; but both the one and the
other, upon their application to Christ, were healed, for he has
power over diseases and devils
over the effects and over the causes. Nay, it should seem, those who
had no particular diseases to complain of yet found it a great
confirmation and renovation to their bodily health and
vigour to partake of the virtue that went out of him; for
the whole multitude sought to touch him, those that were in
health as well as those that were sick, and they were all, one way or
other, the better for him: he healed them all; and who is there
that doth not need, upon some account or other, to be healed?
There is a fulness of grace in Christ, and healing virtue in
him, and ready to go out from him, that is enough for all, enough for
20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said,
Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled.
Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.
22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall
separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and
cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.
23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your
reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their
fathers unto the prophets.
24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your
25 Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto
you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.
26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so
did their fathers to the false prophets.
Here begins a practical discourse of Christ, which is continued to the
end of the chapter, most of which is found in the sermon upon the
Some think that this was preached at some other time and place, and
there are other instances of Christ's preaching the same things, or to
the same purport, at different times; but it is probable that this is
only the evangelist's abridgment of that sermon, and perhaps that in
Matthew too is but an abridgment; the beginning and the conclusion are
much the same; and the story of the cure of the centurion's servant
follows presently upon it, both there and here, but it is not material.
In these verses, we have,
I. Blessings pronounced upon suffering saints, as happy
people, though the world pities them
He lifted up his eyes upon his disciples, not only the
twelve, but the whole company of them
and directed his discourse to them; for, when he had healed the sick in
the plain, he went up again to the mountain, to preach.
There he sat, as one having authority; thither they come to
and to them he directed his discourse, to them he applied it, and
taught them to apply it to themselves. When he had laid it down for a
truth, Blessed are the poor in spirit, he added, Blessed are
ye poor. All believers, that take the precepts of the gospel to
themselves, and live by them may take the promises of the gospel
to themselves and live upon them. And the application, as it is
here, seems especially designed to encourage the disciples, with
reference to the hardships and difficulties they were likely to meet
with, in following Christ.
1. "You are poor, you have left all to follow me, are
content to live upon alms with me, are never to expect any worldly
preferment in my service. You must work hard, and fare hard, as poor
people do; but you are blessed in your poverty, it shall be no
prejudice at all to your happiness; nay, you are blessed for it,
all your losses shall be abundantly made up to you, for yours is the
kingdom of God, all the comforts and graces of his kingdom here and
all the glories and joys of his kingdom hereafter; yours it shall
be, nay, yours it is." Christ's poor are rich in
2. "You hunger now
you are not fed to the full as others are, you often rise
hungry, your commons are so short; or you are so intent
upon your work that you have not time to eat bread, you are glad of a
few ears of corn for a meal's meat; thus you hunger now in this
world, but in the other world you shall be filled, shall
hunger no more, nor thirst any more."
3. "You weep now, are often in tears, tears of repentance, tears
of sympathy; you are of them that mourn in Zion. But blessed are
you; your present sorrows are no prejudices to your future
joy, but preparatories for it: You shall laugh. You have
triumphs in reserve; you are but sowing in tears, and shall
shortly reap in joy,"
They that now sorrow after a godly sort are treasuring up
comforts for themselves, or, rather, God is treasuring up comforts for
them; and the day is coming when their mouth shall be filled with
laughing and their lips with rejoicing,
4. "You now undergo the world's ill will. You must expect all
the base treatment that a spiteful world can give you for Christ's
sake, because you serve him and his interests; you must expect that
wicked men will hate you, because your doctrine and life convict
and condemn them; and those that have church-power in their hands will
separate you, will force you to separate yourselves, and then
excommunicate you for so doing, and lay you under the most ignominious
censures. They will pronounce anathemas against you, as scandalous and
incorrigible offenders. They will do this with all possible gravity and
solemnity, and pomp and pageantry of appeals to Heaven, to make the
world believe, and almost you yourselves too, that it is ratified in
heaven. Thus will they endeavour to make you odious to others and a
terror to yourselves." This is supposed to be the proper notion of
aphorisosin hymas--they shall cast you out of their
synagogues. "And they that have not this power will not fail to
show their malice, to the utmost of their power; for they will
reproach you, will charge you with the blackest crimes, which you
are perfectly innocent of, will fasten upon you the blackest
characters, which you do not deserve; they will cast out your name
as evil, your name as Christians, as apostles; they will do all
they can to render these names odious." This is the application of the
"Such usage as this seems hard; but blessed are you when you are
so used. It is so far from depriving you of your happiness that it will
greatly add to it. It is an honour to you, as it is to a brave hero to
be employed in the wars, in the service of his prince; and therefore
rejoice you in that day, and leap for joy,
Do not only bear it, but triumph in it. For,"
(1.) "You are hereby highly dignified in the kingdom of
grace, for you are treated as the prophets were before you, and
therefore not only need not be ashamed of it, but may justly rejoice in
it, for it will be an evidence for you that you walk in the same
spirit, and in the same steps, are engaged in the same
cause, and employed in the same service, with them."
(2.) "You will for this be abundantly recompensed in the
kingdom of glory; not only your services for Christ, but your
sufferings will come into the account: Your reward is great in
heaven. Venture upon your sufferings, in a full belief that the
glory of heaven will abundantly countervail all these hardships; so
that, though you may be losers for Christ, you shall not be losers by
him in the end."
II. Woes denounced against prospering sinners as miserable
people, though the world envies them. These we had not in
Matthew. It should seem, the best exposition of these woes,
compared with the foregoing blessings, is the parable of the
rich man and Lazarus. Lazarus had the blessedness of those that
are poor, and hunger, and weep, now, for in
Abraham's bosom all the promises made to them who did so were made
good to him; but the rich man had the woes that follow here,
as he had the character of those on whom these woes are entailed.
1. Here is a woe to them that are rich, that is, that
trust in riches, that have abundance of this world's wealth,
and, instead of serving God with it, serve their lusts with it; woe to
them, for they have received their consolation, that which they
placed their happiness in, and were willing to take up with for a
They in their life-time received their good things, which, in
their account, were the best things, and all the good things
they are ever likely to receive from God. "You that are rich are
in temptation to set your hearts upon a smiling world,
and to say, Soul, take thine ease in the embraces of it, This
is my rest for ever, here will I dwell; and then woe unto
(1.) It is the folly of carnal worldlings that they make the
things of this world their consolation, which were intended only
for their convenience. They please themselves with them, pride
themselves in them, and make them their heaven upon earth; and to them
the consolations of God are small, and of no account.
(2.) It is their misery that they are put off with them as
their consolation. Let them know it, to their terror, when they
are parted from these things, there is an end of all their comfort, a
final end of it, and nothing remains to them but everlasting misery and
2. Here is a woe to them that are full
that are fed to the full, and have more than heart could
that have their bellies filled with the hid treasures of this
that, when they have abundance of these, are full, and think
they have enough, they need no more, they desire no
Now ye are full, now ye are rich,
1 Corinthians 4:8.
They are full of themselves, without God and Christ. Woe to
such, for they shall hunger, they shall shortly be
stripped and emptied of all the things they are so proud
of; and, when they shall have left behind them in the world all
those things which are their fulness, they shall carry away with
them such appetites and desires as the world they remove to will
afford them no gratifications of; for all the delights of sense, which
they are now so full of, will in hell be denied, and in heaven
3. Here is a woe to them that laugh now, that have always
a disposition to be merry, and always something to make merry
with; that know no other joy than that which is carnal and sensual,
and know no other use of this world's good than purely to indulge that
carnal sensual joy that banishes sorrow, even godly sorrow, from their
minds, and are always entertaining themselves with the laughter of the
fool. Woe unto such, for it is but now, for a little
time, that they laugh; they shall mourn and weep shortly,
shall mourn and weep eternally, in a world where there is
nothing but weeping and wailing, endless, easeless, and
4. Here is a woe to them whom all men speak well of, that
is, who make it their great and only care to gain the praise and
applause of men, who value themselves upon that more than upon the
favour of God and his acceptance
"Woe unto you; that is, it would be a bad sign that you were not
faithful to your trust, and to the souls of men, if you preached so as
that nobody would be disgusted; for your business is to tell people of
their faults, and, if you do that as you ought, you will get that
ill will which never speaks well. The false prophets
indeed, that flattered your father in their wicked ways, that
prophesied smooth things to them, were caressed and spoken well
of; and, if you be in like manner cried up, you will be justly
suspected to deal deceitfully as they did." We should desire to have
the approbation of those that are wise and good, and not be indifferent
to what people say of us; but, as we should despise the reproaches, so
we should also despise the praises, of the fools in Israel.
|Exhortations to Justice and Mercy.
27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to
them which hate you,
28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which
despitefully use you.
29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also
the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take
thy coat also.
30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that
taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to
32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for
sinners also love those that love them.
33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank
have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what
thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as
35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for
nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be
the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful
and to the evil.
36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
These verses agree with
to the end of that chapter: I say unto you that hear
to all you that hear, and not to disciples only, for these are lessons
of universal concern. He that has an ear, let him hear. Those
that diligently hearken to Christ shall find he has something to say to
them well worth their hearing. Now the lessons Christ here teacheth us
I. That we must render to all their due, and be honest and just in all
As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them
likewise; for this is loving your neighbour as yourselves.
What we should expect, in reason, to be done to us, either in justice
or charity, by others, if they were in our condition and we in theirs,
that, as the matter stands, we must do to them. We must put our
souls into their souls' stead, and then pity and succour them, as
we should desire and justly expect to be ourselves pitied and
II. That we must be free in giving to them that need
"Give to every man that asketh of thee, to every one that is a
proper object of charity, that wants necessaries, which thou hast
wherewithal to supply out of thy superfluities. Give to those that are
not able to help themselves, to those that have not relations in a
capacity to help them." Christ would have his disciples ready to
distribute, and willing to communicate, to their power in
ordinary cases, and beyond their power in extraordinary.
III. That we must be generous in forgiving those that have been
any way injurious to us.
1. We must not be extreme in demanding our right, when it
is denied us: "Him that taketh away thy cloak, either forcibly
or fraudulently, forbid him not by any violent means to take
thy coat also,
Let him have that too, rather than fight for it. And
of him that taketh thy goods" (so Dr. Hammond thinks it should
be read), "that borrows them, or that takes them up from thee
upon trust, of such do not exact them; if Providence have made
such insolvent, do not take the advantage of the law against them, but
rather lose it than take them by the throat,
If a man run away in thy debt, and take away thy goods with him,
do not perplex thyself, nor be incensed against him."
2. We must not be rigorous in revenging a wrong when it is done us:
"Unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek, instead of
bringing an action against him, or sending for a writ for him, or
bringing him before a justice, offer also the other;" that is,
"pass it by, though thereby thou shouldest be in danger of bringing
upon thyself another like in dignity, which is commonly pretended in
excuse of taking the advantage of the law in such a case. If any one
smite thee on the cheek, rather than give another blow to him,
be ready to receive another from him;" that is, "leave it to God to
plead thy cause, and do thou sit down silent under the affront." When
we do thus, God will smite our enemies, as far as they are his,
upon the cheek bone, so as to break the teeth of the
for he hath said, Vengeance is mine, and he will make it appear
that it is so when we leave it to him to take vengeance.
3. Nay, we must do good to them that do evil to us. This is that
which our Saviour, in
chiefly designs to teach us, as a law peculiar to his religion, and a
branch of the perfection of it.
(1.) We must be kind to those from whom we have received
injuries. We must not only love our enemies, and bear a good
will to them, but we must do good to them, be as ready to do any
good office to them as to any other person, if their case call for it,
and it be in the power of our hands to do it. We must study to make it
appear, by positive acts, if there be an opportunity for them, that we
bear them no malice, nor see revenge. Do they curse us, speak
ill of us, and wish ill to us? Do they despitefully use us, in
word or deed? Do they endeavour to make us contemptible or odious? Let
us bless them, and pray for them, speak well of them, the
best we can, wish well to them, especially to their souls, and be
intercessors with God for them. This is repeated,
love your enemies, and do them good. To recommend this
difficult duty to us, it is represented as a generous thing, and an
attainment few arrive at. To love those that love us has nothing
uncommon in it, nothing peculiar to Christ's disciples, for
sinners will love those that love them. There is nothing
self-denying in that; it is but following nature, even in its corrupt
state, and puts no force at all upon it
it is no thanks to us to love those that say and do just as we would
have them. "And
if you do good to them that do good to you, and return their
kindnesses, it is from a common principle of custom, honour, and
gratitude; and therefore what thanks have you? What credit are
you to the name of Christ, or what reputation do you bring to it? for
sinners also, that know nothing of Christ and his doctrine,
do even the same. But it becomes you to do something more
excellent and eminent, herein to out-do your neighbours, to do that
which sinners will not do, and which no principle of theirs can pretend
to reach to: you must render good for evil;" not that any thanks
are due to us, but then we are to our God for a name and a
praise and he will have the thanks.
(2.) We must be kind to those from whom we expect no manner of
Lend, hoping for nothing again. It is meant of the rich lending
to the poor a little money for their necessity, to buy daily bread for
themselves and their families, or to keep them out of prison. In such a
case, we must lend, with a resolution not to demand interest for
what we lend, as we may most justly from those that borrow money to
make purchases withal, or to trade with. But that is not all; we must
lend though we have reason to suspect that what we lend
we lose, lend to those who are so poor that it is not probable
they will be able to pay us again. This precept will be best
illustrated by that law of Moses
which obliges them to lend to a poor brother as much as he
needed, though the year of release was at hand. Here are
two motives to this generous charity.
[1.] It will redound to our profit; for our reward shall be
What is given, or laid out, or lent and lost on earth, from a true
principle of charity, will be made up to us in the other world,
unspeakably to our advantage. "You shall not only be repaid, but
rewarded, greatly rewarded; it will be said to you, Come, ye
blessed, inherit the kingdom."
[2.] It will redound to our honour; for herein we shall resemble God in
his goodness, which is the greatest glory: "Ye shall be the children
of the Highest, shall be owned by him as his children, being like
him." It is the glory of God that he is kind to the unthankful and
to the evil, bestows the gifts of common providence even upon the
worst of men, who are every day provoking him, and rebelling against
him, and using those very gifts to his dishonour. Hence he infers
Be merciful, as your Father is merciful; this explains
"Be perfect, as our Father is perfect. Imitate your Father in
those things that are his brightest perfections." Those that are
merciful as God is merciful, even to the evil and the
unthankful, are perfect as God is perfect; so he is
pleased graciously to accept it, though infinitely falling short.
Charity is called the bond of perfectness,
This should strongly engage us to be merciful to our brethren, even
such as have been injurious to us, not only that God is so to others,
but that he is so to us, though we have been, and are, evil and
unthankful; it is of his mercies that we are not consumed.
|Exhortations to Justice and Sincerity.
37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye
shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed
down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into
your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it
shall be measured to you again.
39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the
blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?
40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is
perfect shall be as his master.
41 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's
eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
42 Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me
pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself
beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite,
cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou
see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.
43 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither
doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men
do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth
forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil
treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of
the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which
47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth
them, I will show you to whom he is like:
48 He is like a man which built a house, and digged deep, and
laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the
stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it:
for it was founded upon a rock.
49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that
without a foundation built a house upon the earth; against which
the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the
ruin of that house was great.
All these sayings of Christ we had before in Matthew; some of them in
others in other places. They were sayings that Christ often used; they
needed only to be mentioned, it was easy to apply them. Grotius thinks
that we need not be critical here in seeking for the coherence: they
are golden sentences, like Solomon's proverbs or parables. Let us
I. We ought to be very candid in our censures of others, because we
need grains of allowance ourselves: "Therefore judge not others,
because then you yourselves shall not be judged;
therefore condemn not others, because then you yourselves
shall not be condemned,
Exercise towards others that charity which thinks no evil, which
bears all things, believes and hopes all things; and then
others will exercise that charity towards you. God will not
judge and condemn you, men will not." They that are
merciful to other people's names shall find others merciful to
II. If we are of a giving and a forgiving spirit, we
shall ourselves reap the benefit of it: Forgive and you shall be
forgiven. If we forgive the injuries done to us by others, others
will forgive our inadvertencies. If we forgive others' trespasses
against us, God will forgive our trespasses against him.
And he will be no less mindful of the liberal that devise
Give, and it shall be given to you. God, in his providence, will
recompense it to you; it is lent to him, and he is not
unrighteous to forget it
but he will pay it again. Men shall return it into
your bosom; for God often makes use of men as instruments,
not only of his avenging, but of his rewarding justice.
If we in a right manner give to others when they need, God will incline
the hearts of others to give to us when we need, and to give liberally,
good measure pressed down and shaken together. They that sow
plentifully shall reap plentifully. Whom God recompenses he
III. We must expect to be dealt with ourselves as we deal with others:
With the same measure that ye mete it shall be measured to you
again. Those that deal hardly with others must acknowledge,
as Adoni-bezek did
that God is righteous, if others deal hardly with them, and they may
expect to be paid in their own coin; but they that deal kindly
with others have reason to hope that, when they have occasion, God will
raise them up friends who will deal kindly with them. Though
Providence does not always go by this rule, because the full and exact
retributions are reserved for another world, yet, ordinarily, it
observes a proportion sufficient to deter us from all acts of rigour
and to encourage us in all acts of beneficence.
IV. Those who put themselves under the guidance of the ignorant and
erroneous are likely to perish with them
Can the blind lead the blind? Can the Pharisees, who are blinded
with pride, prejudice, and bigotry, lead the blind people into
the right way? Shall not both fall together into the
ditch? How can they expect any other? Those that are led by the
common opinion, course, and custom, of this world, are themselves
blind, and are led by the blind, and will perish with the world that
sits in darkness. Those that ignorantly, and at a venture,
follow the multitude to do evil, follow the blind in the broad
way that leads the many to destruction.
V. Christ's followers cannot expect better treatment in the world than
their Master had,
Let them not promise themselves more honour or pleasure in the world
than Christ had, nor aim at the worldly pomp and grandeur which he was
never ambitious of, but always declined, nor affect that power in
secular things which he would not assume; but every one that would show
himself perfect, an established disciple, let him be as his
Master--dead to the world, and every thing in it, as his Master is;
let him live a life of labour and self-denial as his Master doth, and
make himself a servant of all; let him stoop, and let him toil, and do
all the good he can, and then he will be a complete disciple.
VI. Those who take upon them to rebuke and reform others are concerned
to look to it that they be themselves blameless, and harmless, and
1. Those with a very ill grace censure the faults of others who are not
aware of their own faults. It is very absurd for any to pretend to be
so quick-sighted as to spy small faults in others, like a mote in the
eye, when they are themselves so perfectly past feeling as not to
perceive a beam in their own eye.
2. Those are altogether unfit to help to reform others whose reforming
charity does not begin at home. How canst thou offer thy service to thy
brother, to pull out the mote from his eye, which requires a
good eye as well as a good hand, when thou thyself hast a beam in
thine own eye, and makest no complaint of it?
3. Those therefore who would be serviceable to the souls of others must
first make it appear that they are solicitous about their own souls. To
help to pull the mote out of our brother's eye is a good work, but then
we must qualify ourselves for it by beginning with ourselves; and our
reforming our own lives may, by the influence of example, contribute to
others reforming theirs.
VII. We may expect that men's words and actions will be according as
they are, according as their hearts are, and according as their
1. The heart is the tree, and the words and actions are fruit
according to the nature of the tree,
If a man be really a good man, if he have a principle of grace
in his heart, and the prevailing bent and bias of the soul be towards
God and heaven, though perhaps he may not abound in fruit, though some
of his fruits be blasted, and though he may be sometimes like a tree in
winter, yet he does not bring forth corrupt fruit; though he may
not do you all the good he should, yet he will not in any material
instance do you hurt. If he cannot reform ill manners, he will not
corrupt good manners. If the fruit that a man brings forth be
corrupt, if a man's devotion tend to debauch the mind and
conversation, if a man's conversation be vicious, if he be a drunkard
or fornicator, if he be a swearer or liar, if he be in any instance
unjust or unnatural, his fruit is corrupt, and you may be
sure that he is not a good tree. On the other hand, a corrupt
tree doth not bring forth good fruit, though it may bring forth
green leaves; for of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble
do they gather grapes. You may, if you please, stick figs upon
thorns, and hang a bunch of grapes upon a bramble, but they neither
are, nor can be, the natural product of the trees; so neither can you
expect any good conduct from those who have justly a bad
character. If the fruit be good, you may conclude that the tree is
so; if the conversation be holy, heavenly, and regular, though you
cannot infallibly know the heart, yet you may charitably hope that it
is upright with God; for every tree is known by its fruit. But
the vile person will speak villany
and the experience of the moderns herein agrees with the proverb of
the ancients, that wickedness proceedeth from the wicked,
1 Samuel 24:13.
2. The heart is the treasure, and the words and actions are the
expenses or produce from that treasure,
This we had,
The reigning love of God and Christ in the heart denominates a man a
good man; and it is a good treasure a man may bring forth
that which is good. But where the love of the world and the flesh reign
there is an evil treasure in the heart, out of which an evil
man is continually bringing forth that which is evil; and by
what is brought forth you may know what is in the heart, as you may
know what is in the vessel, water or wine, by what is drawn out from
Of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks; what the mouth
ordinarily speaks, speaks with relish and delight, generally agrees
with what is innermost and uppermost in the heart: He that speaks of
the earth is earthly,
Not but that a good man may possibly drop a bad word, and a wicked man
make use of a good word to serve a bad turn; but, for the most part,
the heart is as the words are, vain or serious; it
therefore concerns us to get our hearts filled, not only with
good, but with abundance of it.
VIII. It is not enough to hear the sayings of Christ, but we
must do them; not enough to profess relation to him, as his
servants, but we must make conscience of obeying him.
1. It is putting an affront upon him to call him Lord,
Lord, as if we were wholly at his command, and had devoted
ourselves to his service, if we do not make conscience of conforming to
his will and serving the interests of his kingdom. We do but mock
Christ, as they that in scorn said, Hail, King of the Jews, if
we call him ever so often Lord, Lord, and yet walk in the way of
our own hearts and in the sight of our own eyes. Why do we call him
Lord, Lord, in prayer (compare
if we do not obey his commands? He that turns away his ear from
hearing the law, his prayer shall be an abomination.
2. It is putting a cheat upon ourselves if we think that a bare
profession of religion will save us, that hearing the sayings of
Christ will bring us to heaven, without doing them. This he
illustrates by a similitude
(1.) That those only make sure work for their souls and eternity, and
take the course that will stand them in stead in a trying time, who do
not only come to Christ as his scholars, and hear his
sayings but do them, who think, and speak, and act, in every thing
according to the established rules of his holy religion. They are like
a house built on a rock. These are they that take pains
in religion, as they do,--that dig deep, that found their hope
upon Christ, who is the Rock of ages (and other foundation can no man
lay); these are they who provide for hereafter, who get ready
for the worst, who lay up in store a good foundation for the time to
come, for the eternity to come,
1 Timothy 6:19.
They who do thus do well for themselves; for,
[1.] They shall keep their integrity, in times of temptation and
persecution; when others fall from their own stedfastness, as the seed
on the stony ground, they shall stand fast in the Lord.
[2.] They shall keep their comfort, and peace, and hope, and joy, in
the midst of the greatest distresses. The storms and
streams of affliction shall not shock them, for their feet are
set upon a rock, a rock higher than they.
[3.] Their everlasting welfare is secured. In death and judgment they
are safe. Obedient believers are kept by the power of Christ,
through faith, unto salvation, and shall never perish.
(2.) That those who rest in a bare hearing of the sayings of Christ,
and do not live up to them, are but preparing for a fatal
disappointment: He that heareth and doeth not (that knows his
duty, but lives in the neglect of it), he is like a man that built a
house without a foundation. He pleases himself with hopes that he
has no ground for, and his hopes will fail him when he most needs the
comfort of them, and when he expects the crowning of
them; when the stream beats vehemently upon his house, it is
gone, the sand it is built upon is washed away, and immediately it
falls, Such is the hope of the hypocrite, though he has gained,
when God takes away his soul; it is as the spider's web, and the
giving up of the ghost.