Christ reproves rash judgment. (1-6) Encouragements to prayer.
(7-11) The broad and narrow way. (12-14) Against false prophets.
(15-20) To be doers of the word, not hearers only. (21-29)
We must judge ourselves, and judge of our own acts, but not
make our word a law to everybody. We must not judge rashly, nor
pass judgment upon our brother without any ground. We must not
make the worst of people. Here is a just reproof to those who
quarrel with their brethren for small faults, while they allow
themselves in greater ones. Some sins are as motes, while others
are as beams; some as a gnat, others as a camel. Not that there
is any sin little; if it be a mote, or splinter, it is in the
eye; if a gnat, it is in the throat; both are painful and
dangerous, and we cannot be easy or well till they are got out.
That which charity teaches us to call but a splinter in our
brother's eye, true repentance and godly sorrow will teach us to
call a beam in our own. It is as strange that a man can be in a
sinful, miserable condition, and not be aware of it, as that a
man should have a beam in his eye, and not consider it; but the
god of this world blinds their minds. Here is a good rule for
reprovers; first reform thyself.
Prayer is the appointed means for obtaining what we need.
Pray; pray often; make a business of prayer, and be serious and
earnest in it. Ask, as a beggar asks alms. Ask, as a traveller
asks the way. Seek, as for a thing of value that we have lost;
or as the merchantman that seeks goodly pearls. Knock, as he
that desires to enter into the house knocks at the door. Sin has
shut and barred the door against us; by prayer we knock.
Whatever you pray for, according to the promise, shall be given
you, if God see it fit for you, and what would you have more?
This is made to apply to all that pray aright; every one that
asketh receiveth, whether Jew or Gentile, young or old, rich or
poor, high or low, master or servant, learned or unlearned, all
are alike welcome to the throne of grace, if they come in faith.
It is explained by a comparison taken from earthly parents, and
their readiness to give their children what they ask. Parents
are often foolishly fond, but God is all-wise; he knows what we
need, what we desire, and what is fit for us. Let us never
suppose our heavenly Father would bid us pray, and then refuse
to hear, or give us what would be hurtful.
Christ came to teach us, not only what we are to know and
believe, but what we are to do; not only toward God, but toward
men; not only toward those of our party and persuasion, but
toward men in general, all with whom we have to do. We must do
that to our neighbour which we ourselves acknowledge to be fit
and reasonable. We must, in our dealings with men, suppose
ourselves in the same case and circumstances with those we have
to do with, and act accordingly. There are but two ways right
and wrong, good and evil; the way to heaven and the way to hell;
in the one or other of these all are walking: there is no middle
place hereafter, no middle way now. All the children of men are
saints or sinners, godly or ungodly. See concerning the way of
sin and sinners, that the gate is wide, and stands open. You may
go in at this gate with all your lusts about you; it gives no
check to appetites or passions. It is a broad way; there are
many paths in it; there is choice of sinful ways. There is a
large company in this way. But what profit is there in being
willing to go to hell with others, because they will not go to
heaven with us? The way to eternal life is narrow. We are not in
heaven as soon as we are got through the strait gate. Self must
be denied, the body kept under, and corruptions mortified. Daily
temptations must be resisted; duties must be done. We must watch
in all things, and walk with care; and we must go through much
tribulation. And yet this way should invite us all; it leads to
life: to present comfort in the favour of God, which is the life
of the soul; to eternal bliss, the hope of which at the end of
our way, should make all the difficulties of the road easy to
us. This plain declaration of Christ has been disregarded by
many who have taken pains to explain it away; but in all ages
the real disciple of Christ has been looked on as a singular,
unfashionable character; and all that have sided with the
greater number, have gone on in the broad road to destruction.
If we would serve God, we must be firm in our religion. Can we
often hear of the strait gate and the narrow way, and how few
there are that find it, without being in pain for ourselves, or
considering whether we are entered on the narrow way, and what
progress we are making in it?
Nothing so much prevents men from entering the strait
gate, and becoming true followers of Christ, as the carnal,
soothing, flattering doctrines of those who oppose the truth.
They may be known by the drift and effects of their doctrines.
Some part of their temper and conduct is contrary to the mind of
Christ. Those opinions come not from God that lead to sin.
Christ here shows that it will not be enough to own him
for our Master, only in word and tongue. It is necessary to our
happiness that we believe in Christ, that we repent of sin, that
we live a holy life, that we love one another. This is his will,
even our sanctification. Let us take heed of resting in outward
privileges and doings, lest we deceive ourselves, and perish
eternally, as multitudes do, with a lie in our right hand. Let
every one that names the name of Christ, depart from all sin.
There are others, whose religion rests in bare hearing, and it
goes no further; their heads are filled with empty notions.
These two sorts of hearers are represented as two builders. This
parable teaches us to hear and do the sayings of the Lord Jesus:
some may seem hard to flesh and blood, but they must be done.
Christ is laid for a foundation, and every thing besides Christ
is sand. Some build their hopes upon worldly prosperity; others
upon an outward profession of religion. Upon these they venture;
but they are all sand, too weak to bear such a fabric as our
hopes of heaven. There is a storm coming that will try every
man's work. When God takes away the soul, where is the hope of
the hypocrite? The house fell in the storm, when the builder had
most need of it, and expected it would be a shelter to him. It
fell when it was too late to build another. May the Lord make us
wise builders for eternity. Then nothing shall separate us from
the love of Christ Jesus. The multitudes were astonished at the
wisdom and power of Christ's doctrine. And this sermon, ever so
often read over, is always new. Every word proves its Author to
be Divine. Let us be more and more decided and earnest, making
some one or other of these blessednesses and Christian graces
the main subject of our thoughts, even for weeks together. Let
us not rest in general and confused desires after them, whereby
we grasp at all, but catch nothing.