Gospel Words

Table of Contents

1. Gospel Words: the Guests
2. Gospel Words: the Host
3. Gospel Words: the Great Supper
4. Gospel Words: the Lost Sheep
5. Gospel Words: the Lost Son
6. Gospel Words: the Prudent Steward
7. Gospel Words: the Rich Man and Lazarus
8. Gospel Words: Unprofitable Bondmen
9. Gospel Words: the Persistent Widow
10. Gospel Words: the Pharisee and the Tax Gatherer
11. Gospel Words: Christ's Returning to Reign
12. Gospel Words: the Door
13. Gospel Words: the Good Shepherd
14. Gospel Words: Feet Washing
15. Gospel Words: the Vine
16. Gospel Words: Christ the Bread of Life
17. Gospel Words: Eating Christ's Flesh and Drinking His Blood
18. Gospel Words: Christ the Corn of Wheat
19. Gospel Words: the Demoniac Mute
20. Gospel Words: the Withered Hand Healed
21. Gospel Words: Feeding of the Five Thousand
22. Gospel Words: Jesus Walking on the Sea
23. Gospel Words: the Canaanite Woman
24. Gospel Words: Feeding the Four Thousand
25. Gospel Words: the Transfiguration
26. Gospel Words: the Lunatic Son Healed
27. Gospel Words: Fish and the Temple Tax
28. Gospel Words: the Deaf and Stammering Man
29. Gospel Words: the Blind Man of Bethsaida
30. Gospel Words: the Widow's Son Raised
31. Gospel Words: the Unclean Demon Cast Out
32. Gospel Words: the Woman With a Spirit of Infirmity
33. Gospel Words: the Dropsical Man Cured
34. Gospel Words: the Ten Lepers
35. Gospel Words: the Lord at Bethesda
36. Gospel Words: the Blind at Siloam
37. Gospel Words: Lazarus Raised
38. Gospel Words: Blind Bartimaeus
39. Gospel Words: the Power and the Grace of the Name
40. Gospel Words: Malchus Healed
41. Gospel Words: Unbroken Net
42. Gospel Words: Two Masters
43. Gospel Words: Prudent Builder and the Foolish
44. Gospel Words: Narrow and Wide Ways
45. Gospel Words: the Salt and the Light
46. Gospel Words: the Beatitudes
47. Gospel Words: the Prayer of the Disciples
48. Gospel Words: Grace in Practice
49. Gospel Words: Treasures on Earth or in Heaven?
50. Gospel Words: Christ Came to Fulfill
51. Gospel Words: Thy Father in Secret
52. Gospel Words: Lamp of the Body Is the Eye
53. Gospel Words: Be Not Anxious
54. Gospel Words: the Kingdom of God
55. Gospel Words: Judge Not That Ye Be Not Judged
56. Gospel Words: Confidence in Our Father's Giving
57. Gospel Words: the Narrow Gate
58. Gospel Words: Fruits
59. Gospel Words: Bare Profession Worthless
60. Gospel Words: Christ and the Law
61. Gospel Words: Anger
62. Gospel Words: Brotherly Reconciliation
63. Gospel Words: Impurity
64. Gospel Words: Purity in Divorce
65. Gospel Words: Swear Not at All
66. Gospel Words: Resist Not Evil
67. Gospel Words: Giving
68. Gospel Words: Love Your Enemies
69. Gospel Words: Perfect, as Your Heavenly Father Is Perfect
70. Gospel Words: the Sermon on the Mount as a Whole
71. Gospel Words: Alms
72. Gospel Words: Prayer
73. Gospel Words: Vain Repetitions in Prayer
74. Gospel Words: Fasting
75. Gospel Words: the Salt of the Earth
76. Gospel Words: A Forgiving Spirit
77. Gospel Words: the Light of the World
78. Gospel Words: the Treasure and the Heart
79. Gospel Words: the Birds of the Sky
80. Gospel Words: the Birds of the Sky
81. Gospel Words: the Lilies of the Field
82. Gospel Words: the Morrow
83. Gospel Words: as Having Authority

Gospel Words: the Guests

It is beautiful and blessed to mark how our Lord turns the least things of daily life to everlasting account. This we find in all the Gospels, in none more than in that of Luke; whose design under the power of the Spirit was to contrast the God of grace with fallen selfish man, that through the faith of Christ and His work he might be saved and walk accordingly. Thus it is that the Lord spoke a parable unto those that were invited i.e. as guests, noticing how they chose out the first places (ver. 7).
" When thou art invited by anyone unto a wedding, recline not in the first place, lest perhaps a more honorable than thee be invited by him, and he that invited him and thee shall come and say to thee, Give this [man] place, and then thou begin with shame to take the last place. But when thou hast been invited, go, put thyself down in the last place, that when he who hath invited thee come, he may say to thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have glory in presence of all that recline with thee. For everyone that exalteth himself shall be humbled, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted " (vers. 8-11).
It is a world of evil, and man is fallen under sin and Satan, which gives occasion to grace and its ways, as God was then displaying in Christ. This tests the heart, which naturally seeks its own things, honor or power, ease or pleasure, money therefore as the means of gratifying self, whatever may be its direction. Here it was present honor that men coveted: and it is as true now as then. The true Light, coming into the world, laid every man bare.
But He has done infinitely more. He, the Lord of lords, and King of kings, was the faithful witness, the living exemplar of all He taught, of all that pleased the Father. Who ever took the last place as He? If born in Bethlehem David's city, to mark prophetically the " ruler in Israel," none the less was He the One " Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting." Yet was He to be smitten with a rod upon the cheek (Mic. 5:1, 2), as He was born in a manger, because there was no room for such in the inn (Luke 2:7). As the parents fled with Him into Egypt from the face of the destroying king, so did they return with Him to dwell, not only in Galilee the despised, but in its most despised Nazareth; so that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
So it was throughout the days of His flesh. Son of the highest, and subsisting in the form of God, He did not esteem it a thing to be grasped to be on equality with God, but emptied Himself. He did not and could not divest Himself of deity, but He did of glory, taking a bondman's form, having come in the likeness of men. And who ever humbled Himself as He did unswervingly? Who but He could say, and say with absolute truth, " Lo, I am come to do Thy will, O God? " Others, His servants may have done miracles as mighty, or, as He said, " Greater works than these; " but He and He alone never did His own will, always the Father's. And this is the perfect moral place of man which He took and kept to God's glory.
But more even than this had to be if God were to be glorified about sin, if men were to be saved through faith from their sins? Would He stoop down to a depth unfathomable and bear the divine judgment of evil, so that the guilty might by grace be freed? Therefore it was that having been found in figure as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, death of the cross. Him Who knew no sin God made sin for you, that you might be made God's righteousness in Christ. It was God's perfect way: no other could avail.
Do you believe this, poor soul, miserable in the sense of your guilt, weary under sin's intolerable load, despairing haply of efforts to do the law of God? Not thus, never thus, can you come to God. He waits to be gracious, He can save to the uttermost; He gives all you need without money and without price, but only through your believing on Jesus, Who only is the way, and the truth, and the life; and He is the propitiation for our sins. How could it be otherwise? Did not the prophet say (seeing the great prediction as though come, seven centuries before the great fulfillment), " All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and Jehovah hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all " (Isa. 53:6).
Believe God's call on you to doubt in yourself, to hear Christ's word (for the law can only condemn a sinner), and believe Him that sent Jesus in love as a Savior. And what is His message to you? " Verily, Verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath life eternal, and cometh not into judgment, but is passed out of death into life" (John 5:24). The bold unbeliever braves the word of God and refuses to humble himself; the serious unbeliever tries to do better, trusting himself and his powers. The true believer owns himself lost, and finds Christ a Savior in deed and in truth. Oh! look to Him and live.
To the believer Christ is life as well as propitiation; and because He lives, we shall live also. He is our life now while we are on earth. Thus only do we live to God; and we are called all through to have Him as our object, and way, our motive, strength, and end. The apostle knew, and, walking thus, could say, To me to live is Christ (Phil. 1:21). Obedience, as He obeyed, is what the believer is sanctified to, in that humility which is content to be nothing in the world as it is. Christ took the last place. Let us who love Him seek to be as near that place as grace enables each.
In the regeneration He will say to each of His own, Friend, go up higher. Then shall the poor and despised apostles sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Then shall they that are Christ's, risen from the dead, reign with Him. The Corinthians sought to reign now, as do most in Christendom. But they were humbled, and by grace humbled themselves. Profit by that lesson; and God will exalt you in due time.

Gospel Words: the Host

The Son of God was the true Light, Who, coming into the world, casts light on every man. It is not that all are enlightened by Him, but that He set each in the light. So here He lays bare alike guest and host. High and low, Jew or Gentile, Pharisee or Sadducee, priest or philosopher, were far from God; according as it is written, There is not a righteous man, not even one; nor he that understandeth; there is not one that seeketh after God: there is no fear of God before their eyes. If the law spoke thus of Israel, as it did, much more palpably did it apply to the heathen with their religious abominations and their unspeakable demoralizations; that every mouth might be stopped and all the world be under judgment to God.
Man seeks his own things and his own will; nor is anything pleasanter to the natural man than to exalt himself. The Lord Jesus brings before us from first to last a mind wholly different. " For ye know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, that ye through his poverty might become rich " (2 Cor. 8:9).
Such was the mind in Him and in all its perfection only there. But it is the mind God would have in His own now; and thus it was Christ spoke as we have here. It is an entire reversal of human thoughts generally, of Jewish feeling in particular. Settled down in the earth as it is, men seek present pleasure, worldly honor, earthly advantages. What did this age give Christ? A manger when born, nowhere to lay His head, and a cross to die on. What does Christ give to him that believes? Eternal life, and everlasting redemption. Life was in Him; and He gives it in Himself. Redemption He obtained by His death, and we have it in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of offenses. Hearing His word, and believing Him Who sent Jesus, we are thus doubly blessed. Our evil He takes away, and His good He freely imparts forever.
Thus believing we can profit by all He was and all He says. He has laid the ax to the root of the tree of self-seeking, and shown the blessing of humbling ourselves in a world quite out of course, in plain denial of a nature that seeks to be upper most. Here He opens out the beauty of unselfishness in faith, love being the spring, glory the recompence and rest.
" And he said also to him that had invited him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends nor thy brethren, nor thy kinsmen nor rich neighbors; lest haply they also invite thee in return, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, invite poor, crippled, lame, blind; and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee; for thou shalt be recompensed in the resurrection of the just " (vers. 12-14).
" It is more blessed to give than to receive," as He Himself not only said but acted on, Who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed by demons. If we have not that power, as things have long been, we are called to walk, as He walked, in love, and in distinct testimony of separateness to God from the pride of the world and the selfishness of the first man. Hence His exhortation would form our hearts for His path here below, instead of walking as men according to public opinion, which is just the spirit and course of the age. For if we are His, we are " heavenly " even now (1 Cor. 15:48, 49); as we are destined by grace to bear the image of the Heavenly at His coming.
Let our hearts then go forth to welcome the despised and suffering here below, and to show " the kindness of God " to poor, crippled, lame, blind. And the more too, in order to win their ear through the heart to hear of Him Who alone can take away the guilt and power of sin for eternity, Who alone brings through faith in Himself into the place of sons of God even now. Thus is the believer blessed himself; and those who, touched by unworldly love, receive the Savior by believing on His name. And both will have their portion, when He comes, " in the resurrection of the just."
For scripture never speaks of one common, simultaneous, and indiscriminate resurrection. There shall indeed be a resurrection of both just and unjust. But God's word is clear and positive that the resurrection of the just differs not more in character and consequence than in time from that of the unjust. Hence the Lord calls the former a resurrection of life, the latter a resurrection of judgment (John 5:29): the one for such as have believed on Him and done good; the other for those
that, dishonoring both the Son and the Father, only did ill, and are judged accordingly. In the great prophecy of the Revelation (20:4-15), we find the gap, which severs these two resurrections, to be that special reign with Christ which follows the resurrection of life before the resurrection of judgment.
How is it then with you, dear reader? Had you in your own person spiritually all the disabilities of the poor, crippled, lame, and blind, you are none the less welcome to God's feast, to the glad tidings of His grace. Listen not to the tempter, but to the Savior. Put not off His call. You are really worse than if yourself had all these bodily ailments together and with no means to alleviate them. For what state can be so awful as that of a lost sinner? And is not this actually yours? He Himself is express that He came to seek and save such. Oh, receive Him now! God's word warrants you. It is the only way a lost sinner can please Him. Doing good will follow here below, and the resurrection of the just at Christ's coming (1 Cor. 15:23). Fear not, but believe God, Who has no purpose so dear to Him as the honor of His Son. Oh, no longer dishonor Him, the Son of His love, the Savior of the lost

Gospel Words: the Great Supper

Luke 14:16-24
Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God, said one to the Lord. Far different is the real thought, as was shown in the parable. Grace is repulsive to nature; man shrinks from God and slights His call.
" A certain man was making a great supper, and bade many; and he sent forth his bondman at supper-time to say to those that were bidden, Come, for things are now ready. And they all at once began to excuse themselves. The first said to him, I bought land and must go out to see it; I pray thee, have me excused. And another said, I bought five yoke of oxen, and I am on my way to prove them; I pray thee, have me excused. And another said, I married a wife, and on this account cannot come. And the bondman when he came up reported these things to his master. Then the house-master in anger said to his bondman, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring here the poor and maimed and blind and lame. And the bondman said, Sir, What thou didst command is done, and yet there is room. And the lord said to the bondman, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel [them] to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say to you, that none of those men that were bidden shall taste of my supper " (vers. 16-24).
The corresponding, though scarcely the same, parable in Matt. 22:2-14 is a likeness of the kingdom of the heavens, which gives prominence to the wedding feast for the king's son, to the dispensational difference of the Jews, and to the judgment that befell their city. Here man's moral roots are more laid bare; and where sin abounded, grace surpassed.
There was no harm in buying land, in acquiring oxen, or in marrying a wife. The evil lay in pleading these things, or any else, to set aside the call of God. The heart is at fault, which makes present interests or even duties a reason for putting God off and neglecting so great salvation. Have you, my reader, no object or pursuit, which stands between you and the knowledge of God and His Son which is life eternal? Be not deceived. Sin gives Satan the means of blinding every soul to the light of God's glory in the face of Jesus Christ, as well as to his own ruin and exposure to the Gehenna of fire, where one's worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Your peril is extreme.
God in the gospel meets you in your need and guilt and danger. He asks nothing, He gives all things; and they are now ready. He provides a great supper; He invites freely. Oh, begin not once more to excuse yourself. Too long have you turned aside. Why should you die in your sins, lost forever? The Son of man expressly came to save the lost. But it is through faith..
Those who first had the invitation valued what was before them, forgot God's judgment for eternity. The Lord recorded their folly that you might fear God -the beginning of wisdom-that you might hear and live. He would give you another life, which is only in Himself, life eternal; and this life in Him loves the will of God, as it refuses the baits and bribes of the enemy. It begins with faith-obedience, and is sanctified by the Spirit to obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Thus one becomes a child of obedience instead of fashioning oneself according to the former lusts in one's ignorance. The call of God is paramount. He calls one to receive His grace in Christ. This is His commandment that we believe the name of His Son Jesus Christ. The first of rights is that God should have His rights; and He commands us to believe on the Lord Jesus.
See the activity of God's love. He is not content with gathering in the poor and maimed and blind and lame from the streets and lanes of the city. He will have His bondman go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them in importunate earnestness to come in. He insists that His house be filled. What a God is ours A just God and a Savior He is assuredly. Why then trifle, when all blessing is proffered in Christ, when all is and must be ruin where He is refused? For does He not say to you, that none of those that were bidden shall taste of His supper? Are you not bidden? Come, then; for He welcomes in the name of His Son. Come without delay-dangerous everywhere, most of all in presence of your sin and of God's everlasting judgment. Now it is all grace, grace reigning through righteousness unto life eternal by Jesus Christ our Lord. Practical love follows, and practical obedience. It is the. first step that weighs. That it might be open to you, it cost the Savior all in unfathomable humiliation and the sacrifice of Himself for you and your sins. Oh, put off no more, but believe and be blessed in and with Him!
In vain men talk of a larger hope. There is no Savior but Christ, nor any way to the Father but Himself by faith. For not to believe is to give very deep insult to God and to His Son. There is another evil yet worse; the abuse of His grace, the attaching of indulged lusts and passions, of unjudged pollution of flesh and spirit, to that worthy Name. Should such men taste of His supper?

Gospel Words: the Lost Sheep

Luke 15:3-7
Grace, the grace of God, is hateful to man's pride. The self-righteous take offense. What is the good of their decorous behavior, of their prayers at home, of their public devotions, if they be no better than loose and open sinners? Yet the Lord (Matt. 21:31) solemnly assured the chief priests and the elders of the people, who built on their religious character, that the tax-gatherers and the harlots go into the kingdom before them. They are ready to repent and believe. So here the tax-gatherers and the sinners draw near to hear the glad tidings, while the Pharisees and the scribes kept murmuring, He receiveth sinners and eateth with them.
Yes, it was true; nor was He ashamed of divine love to the lost, but gloried in it, and vindicates it against all cavilers. Is God to save nobody? If He save, it can only be by His grace through faith. Let us hear the Son plead His God and Father's title to save sinners.
" And he spoke this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having a hundred sheep and having lost one of them, doth not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after that which was lost until he find it? And having found he layeth [it] on his shoulders rejoicing, and, when come to the house, he calleth together the friends and the neighbors, saying to them, Rejoice with me, for I found my sheep that was lost. I say to you, that thus joy shall be in heaven over one sinner repenting, [more] than over ninety nine righteous, such as have no need of repentance " (vers. 3-7).
Man, selfish man, is not so indifferent about his lost sheep, as he thinks God to be about a sinner. A bad conscience makes him doubt God's love, still more does bad religion. The Lord Jesus alone represents God truly and perfectly. There He was in their midst the Savior of sinners, the Son of man come to seek and save that which was lost. Did He not proclaim it from the first in the synagogue at Nazareth? Did not the prophet Isaiah predict seven centuries before, that Jehovah's Spirit should be on Him Whom He` anointed to evangelize the poor, to preach deliverance to captives, and sight to blind? The miracles of His ministerial life were for the most part signs of His grace to the guilty and wretched; for this His death in atonement would give the ground of God's righteousness; as all proved His unfathomable love for us when powerless and ungodly.
He, the Lord of glory, pursued the wandering sheep till He found it. What did it not cost Him? Teaching the disciples, weaning them from Jewish elements, showing them heavenly things, forming their hearts according to God, exercising their perception to distinguish good and evil, were all blessed to the ninety nine in the wilderness; but what about the lost one? The Good Shepherd leaves the rest safe, in quest of the stray sheep. After it He goes in earnest love, as if He had none else; and having found it, He lays it on His shoulders rejoicing; and when come to the house He calls together the friends and the neighbors, that they may rejoice with Him over the lost one found. He bore our sins in His own body on the tree. By His stripes were we healed. For we were as sheep going astray. If we returned, as we can now say, it is only because the Shepherd and Bishop of souls came to seek and save us.
The mere idea never dawned on Pagans of old, north, south, east or west. They admitted sympathy between God and His faithful. worshippers; but what must befall the unfaithful? What would make and keep faithful? Their gods, on their own showing, had lusts and passions, evil demons self-evidently, and deserving punishment like their adorers. The true God declared Himself in Jesus, Who came to bring God truly known into the world, and to put sin out of it, as He surely will in its season. As God is light and love, so did the Lord prove Himself to be, Whom none could convict of sin, Who died for sinners, suffered for their sins, Just for unjust, that He might bring us to God. Yes, He is the true God, and life eternal.
Why then stay longer? Are you not away from God? Are you fit for His presence? If you know you are not, what is to fit you? Christ is the way, and the only way, to the Father. But what of your sins? He, Who came in love to reconcile you to God, took the load on Himself; He alone could bear it, and bear it away forever. And God in the scriptures calls you to believe on the Lord Jesus, His Son, your Savior. God raised from the dead Him Who died for sins and sinners: does not this give you confidence?
You hesitate. Why? Do you love darkness rather than light? Alas! is it not because your works are evil, and your heart is proud, and you therefore hate the light which makes all manifest? Hear then His warning word. You cannot escape the resurrection of the unjust; you cannot escape the Judge of quick and dead. Jesus, Whom you now refuse as Savior, will judge those works of which you now boast; Jesus will prove their worthlessness to your everlasting shame, when He sits on the great white throne. What thenceforward must be your portion, if you reject Him now? " He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" (John 3:36). May you now hear and live.
Many there are in all ages disposed to take account of nothing but deeds. Freedom in speech seems a necessary prerogative of a man, and its excess of all things most venial. Far different was our Lord's estimate of words (Matt. 12), which yet more than deeds express the feelings and bent of the inner man. And similar is the language of His servant here, couched in terse, severe, highly figurative, but all the more unsparing, terms. " So also the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. See how large a wood how little a fire kindleth! And the tongue is fire, the world of iniquity; the tongue cometh to be in our members that which defileth the whole body, and setteth in a blaze the course [lit. wheel] of nature, and is set in a blaze by gehenna " (vers. 5, 6).
That the tongue should be physically diminutive only gives the more vividness to its capacity for mischief beyond reckoning or measure. Who can conceive the destructive effects of an evil word? Yet the tongue, little as it is, boasts habitually and also great things; and is so much the more readily enticed to persevere and grow bolder, if sin is limited to deeds of the body. It may be observed that the word ὕλη (here as generally translated " wood " or " forest ") is often in philosophical writings used to express "matter," and by historians or others, like " materia " in Latin authors, the stuff or material of anything, timber, &c. The A. V. had ground for its rendering, even if the preponderance lean to that view which is presented here.
How energetic is the opening of ver. 6! " The tongue is fire." It is not only that a mighty conflagration ensues from an apparently trivial spark; but the tongue itself is " fire " morally. However free from open acts of unrighteousness he may be who gives it loose rein without God before his eyes, it is without going farther " the world of iniquity." He Whose ears are open to the cry of the righteous does not fail to mark unbridled license of speech, which shrinks not from any imputation, however unjust, that ill-will can dictate.
The best witnesses, both MSS. and Vv., omit the " thus " which smooths the way for the second time "the tongue" is introduced. It is most forcible as it stands simply. " The tongue cometh to be in our members that which defileth the whole body," and this is a sense which, prevailing in the best authors so that no detailed justification is necessary, seems to suit the clause, better than the bare " is " of the A. V. or " is constituted " as it frequently means. Here it is liable to give the erroneous notion of being divinely arranged to so evil an end; which is a thought impossible to a good conscience and wholly opposed to the truth. It is through the fall, and the self will or lawlessness which characterizes sin, that the tongue comes thus to be such a burning power of evil in the members. It is the defiler of the whole body, for there is no limit to its unrighteousness; "the world of iniquity," deeming itself to have immunity as long as it only injures in word.
But the latter clauses both enlarge the sphere of the evil, and deepen our sense of its source to the highest degree. For we are next told that " it setteth in a blaze the course of nature, and is set on a blaze by hell." The wheel or course of nature extends far beyond the whole body; and such is the inflammatory range for the malignant tongue. What then must be the spring? It is, as we lastly hear, " set on a blaze by hell." The evil one is a murderer as well as a liar; and unceasing antagonism to Christ in both respects is its flagrant proof.

Gospel Words: the Lost Son

Luke 15:11-32
The Savior adds a third parable to complete as well as confirm the truth of God's grace in saving the lost who repent. The first set out the heedless active straying of the sinner; the" second, his insensible dead state till the Spirit works through the living word; the third uses the figure, not of a sheep or a coin, but of a man to point the fact of an inward work in the conscience, and of the reception the returning soul finds in the Father's love and the privileges of grace.
" And he said, A certain man had two sons; and the younger of them said to the father, Father, give me the share of the property that falleth to me. And he divided to them the means of living. And after not many days the younger son gathered all together, and went abroad into a far country, and there wasted his property by dissolute living. And when he squandered all, there arose a mighty famine in that country; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine; and he longed to fill his belly with the husks which the swine were eating; and no one gave him. But coming unto himself he said, How many hirelings of my father's have abundance of bread, and I perish here with hunger 1 I will arise and go unto my father and will say to him, Father, I sinned against heaven and before thee; I am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hirelings. And he arose and came unto his father. But while he was yet a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him much. And the son said to him, Father, I sinned against heaven and before thee; I am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said unto his bondmen, Bring out the best robe and put [it] on him; and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fatted calf, kill [it], and let us eat and make merry; because this my son was dead and came to life again, he was lost and is found. And they began to be merry " (vers. 11-24).
Impossible to conceive a sketch more graphically true. The younger son indicates very emphatically the sinner's path from his start in self-will and independency to open profligacy and the depths of degradation. Such were " some of you " even very far; such were most in a measure. We shall hear of another form of sin at least as evil before we have done. But this " far country " knows what extreme famine is. " No one gave him." But as the wasteful feel the pressure of dire want, so that even swine's fare becomes desirable, God turns all for good in His grace.
O my reader, have you known such an experience? Have you ever tried to shake off parental authority, especially where pious? Have you, when you could, plunged into the pleasures of sin, the more eagerly because you were debarred under a father or a mother's eye? Have you fallen into the depths of immorality, and been " almost in all evil? " And in your misery have you learned what the world feels toward one who has lost all? " And no one gave him." What I none of those who helped to drain the once full purse? No, not one. So the Lord describes the lost son. Are you like him in sin and misery? May you be also in repentance. For coming to himself he saw the folly, evil, and ruin of his life. His mind is made up. He must clear his burdened conscience, and confess his iniquity. He will go to the One before Whom he had sinned, and have all out with Him, to His vindication and to his own shame.
The terror of the Lord may alarm, but the goodness of God leads to repentance as 'here and always. It produces true self-judgment in His sight. But whatever the hope of mercy that draws, spite of shame and self-loathing and grief at one's own sin, the grace of God much more exceeds. " While he was yet a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him much. And the son said to him, Father, I sinned against heaven and before thee; I am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his bondmen, Bring out the best robe and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fatted calf, kill it; and let us eat and make merry; because this my son was dead' and came to life again; he was lost and is found. And they began to be merry."
How incomparable is God's grace! With slow and sad steps came the prodigal, hope mingling with shame and many searchings of heart, in the rags that told the tale of ruin to the uttermost. Not so the father, who saw him a long way off, but moved with pity, ran, fell on his neck, and covered him with kisses just as he was. What was the impression made by such love? If ever such a vile son, certainly there never was such a father. The son speaks out his conscience, but not " make me as one of thy hirelings ": the father's love arrests this. Nor was it after all the humility of grace, but rather of law, drawing inferences from his past misconduct.
But in the gospel it is a question of God's love, giving Christ and resting on what is due to Him and His work, before which the sinner's evil vanishes. " Jesus was found alone," the ground of all blessing. Therefore is it God's righteousness, not man's. The best robe is brought out and put on the repentant prodigal, a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. Beyond all re-instatement, the lost son now found is blessed and honored as never before. He put on Christ, not Adam even unfallen; he became God's righteousness in Him. He feasts, and not he only but all that are of God on the fatted calf; yea God Himself rejoices in it with a joy proper to Himself and far deeper than that of all the rest put together.
In the elder son the Lord vividly portrays the self-righteous, the murmurers against grace such as the Pharisees and scribes; and they are many in every age, especially where scripture is current and men boast of religion. As he is represented returning from the fields and approaching the house, the music and dancing there struck his ear offensively, when he learned from a servant that it was his father's joy over his returned brother (25-27). He was angry and would not go in (28). And when his father went out and entreated (for what will not grace do?), he answers with self-complacency that insulted his father and the object of his compassion as much as it exalted himself. " Lo these many years do I slave for thee, and never transgressed thy commandments; yet never didst thou give me a kid to make merry with my friends. But when this thy son came that devoured thy living with harlots, thou killedst for him the fatted calf " (29, 30). What an answer of patient love the father's! " Child, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry and be glad; for this thy brother was dead and came to life again, was lost and is found " (31, 32). It is the day of grace, not judgment. He who despises grace will be judged another day.

Gospel Words: the Prudent Steward

Luke 16:1-13
Tills parable, though addressed by the Lord to His disciples, is a word of warning and instruction to all. It shows, not the way to the heavenly dwellings, but the character of those who get there.
" There was a certain rich man who had a steward; and he was accused to him as wasting his goods. And having called him, he said to him, What [is] this I hear of thee? Render the account of thy stewardship; for thou canst no longer be steward. And the steward said to himself, What shall I do? because my lord is taking the stewardship from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. I am resolved what I will do that when I have been removed from the stewardship, I may be received into their houses. And having called to him each one of the debtors of his own lord, he said to the first, How much owest thou to my lord? And he said, A hundred baths of oil. And he said to him, Take thy bill [writings], and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then he said to another And thou, how much owest thou? And he said, A hundred cors of wheat. He saith to him, Take thy bill [writings], and write eighty. And the lord praised the steward of unrighteousness, because he did prudently. For the sons of this age are for their own generation more prudent than the sons of light. And I say to you, Make to yourselves friends from the mammon of unrighteousness that, when it shall fail, ye may be received into the everlasting tabernacles. The faithful in a very little is faithful also in much, and the unrighteous in a very little is unrighteous also in much. If therefore ye were not faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will entrust to you the true? And if ye were not faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two lords; for he will either hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon " (vers. 1-13).
In a general way man, especially the Jew, has wasted the goods entrusted to him, and forfeited his place. But grace gives him the opportunity of turning these earthly things to everlasting account. It is sheer folly to hold fast the brief present, regardless of the unending future. The Lord praises not the past waste any more than the selfish unrighteousness, but the prudence that sacrifices time and its passing interests in view of the unseen eternity and heavenly glory.
Christ by His infinite sufferings for sin and sinners has made this possible. The first man brought in ruin by sin; Israel made bad worse and earned a curse by his transgression and apostasy. Grace and truth came not by law but by Jesus Christ Whom God made sin for us as He bore the curse, that the guiltiest might through the faith of Him go free. He Whose grace opens the way into blessing beyond all thought has been wronged and plundered without measure. It is not the aim of this parable to show the way in which He is vindicated, and the evils of the sinner are blotted out, and His own righteousness by faith takes the place of man's righteousness sought no matter how assiduously, but always in vain. Thus it comes to pass that no flesh can glory, but he that glories truly must glory in the Lord.
It is Christ alone Who, heard in faith, gives a divinely sound judgment of ourselves and of things around us. Conscience alone is powerless to cope with temptation and blinding wiles of the enemy, ever alluring by what is in sight, seemingly fair and desirable. Without faith it is impossible to please God. To believe in Christ, the Word become flesh and dying for us, the Propitiation for our sins, that we might live of His life, how blessed for us! and how worthy of God! This is grace, this is truth. It centers in Christ, the object of faith; Who gives new eyesight to discern, and decision to abandon the sin-stained present, for an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and unfading, reserved in the heavens for the faithful.
How is it then with you, dear reader? Are you setting your mind on earthly things? cleaving to the dust in quest of the unrighteous mammon, instead of making friends out of it that you may be received, when it shall have failed, into the everlasting tabernacles?
Everything like Judaism is on God's part now obsolete. It is no longer a system of earthly rewards or punishments, of a worldly sanctuary, of present ease, honor, or advantage. Heavenly things are revealed by Him Who was then rejected on earth and is now glorified on high. There alone are the true riches. The bait of Satan is the mammon of unrighteousness. This may procure the pleasures of sin for a season, and present results on the earth. But what will the end be? where must go those who in contempt of Christ lived only for that which is to fail?
The steward's prudence is a lesson for disciples. See the promptness of his course and his careful consideration of the debtors, the generosity too which gave right and left. This, and this alone in the unscrupulous steward, is commended for our imitation. What men call ours is really another's (ver. 12). It is easy to be generous with another's goods; and so faith would consider them. Such is Christ's yoke; and His yoke is easy, His burden light. To accumulate and keep or use for self is unbelief and covetousness. Faith gives freely, makes friends with what is but mammon, and turns it to everlasting account, when, faithful in a very little, we shall have much. The true riches then shall indeed be ours: for with Christ, His own Son, God will also freely give us all things. We are but stewards now, and are exhorted by the Master to the generosity of grace. It is vain, it is impossible, to serve God and mammon.
THE EPISTLE OF JAMES. James 3:11, 12.
In this portion follow fresh illustrations to impress on the readers the incongruity and the enormity of injurious speech, all the worse for utterances of piety and propriety interchanged with it, and beyond just question condemnatory of it, as indicating the lack of the fear of God and of regard for man. The inspired writer's sense of its evil kindles into glowingly indignant questions, to which expostulation he himself supplies the answer in a few pregnant words.
" Doth the fountain out of the same opening pour forth the sweet and the bitter? Can, my brethren, a fig tree produce olives, or a vine figs? Neither [can] salt water produce sweet " (vers. 11, 12).
Here as elsewhere, the homeliness of the examples lends the more force to the reproof. To take the first instance: who ever heard of the fountain from the same slit emitting sweet water and bitter? Nature itself rebukes so shameless a mixture, and issues so contradictory, in those who praise the Lord and the Father. The great apostle of the Gentiles drew weapons from the same armory in 1 Cor. 11:14, 16 for divine order, and in 2 Thess. 3:10 also; as he did repeatedly to his confidential fellow-laborer Timothy in his First Epistle (2:12-15, 4:3-5, 6:6-8). But nowhere have we more telling thrusts of this kind than in the Epistle before us; where the impossible in nature is made to expose and castigate the ethically inconsistent, especially aggravated as it was by the profession of relationship to God and by the claim to enjoyment of His favor. Is the new nature to be disgraced by that which the old universal nature repudiates even though fallen?
In the second the demand is still more peremptory. It is not, Does, but " Can a fig tree produce olives, or a vine figs? " And we have the repetition of " my brethren " in this second case, though so soon after its dignified affectionate introduction just before in verse 10, in order to send the appeal home to their bosoms. One of the learned men who, setting up to interpret the words, set at naught its spirit, dares to compare the figure with our Lord's in Matt. 7:16-20 in order to disparage His servant here. But it is only another sample of the ill-willed ignorance which so constantly appears where erudition is not subservient to faith; that is, where man assumes to judge God, instead of seeking to profit by His word. For the Lord was there laying down the error of expecting good fruit from a bad tree; whereas His servant in, order to rebuke the glaring inconsistency of calling on the Lord of glory and indulging evil speech, confronts it with the natural impossibility of a tree producing any but its own proper fruit. Both are plainly true, and each exquisitely adapted to its purpose. Unbelief blindly errs, but only betrays its sinful presumption to those that know God and bow to His word. It is possible that the first word of the last clause (οὔτε, neither) may have through hasty misapprehension given rise to the added οὔτως (" thus") of the Text. Rec. Then came an effort to make the phrase more pointed by reading οὐδεμία πηγή (no fountain). The Sinaitic Uncial has οὕτως οὐδέ. But even Tischendorf, and Westcott and Hort decline to follow; for they with Alford, Lachmann, Tregelles, and Wordsworth, read the text which yields the translation given above. There is, it would seem, a certain strangeness in reading οὄτε rather than οὐδέ. But this appears to be explicable by the writer's carrying on in his mind the preceding clause. The insertion of the conjunction (καἱ, "and") in the last clause is opposed to the weightiest of the ancient witnesses, both MSS. and Vv. and loses the point of the true text, which varies the figure by a negation which is indisputable.

Gospel Words: the Rich Man and Lazarus

Luke 16:19-31
In the second half of this chapter the Lord still makes known the truth which came into evidence through His rejection. The light of eternal and heavenly things is let in on the present state and life on earth. The first man is fallen, evil and lost. If the Jew pre-eminently had been God's steward, he was unjust, and his occupation gone. Prosperity was no test of divine favor. That which is exalted among men is abomination in the sight of God. Since John, the Kingdom of God is preached: it is therefore an urgent question of pressing into it, and this on the part of " every one "; for grace opens the door to any. His death was at hand, which gives the believer even from the tribe of Judah or of Levi righteous deliverance from the law; so that there is no adultery, when one belongs to Another raised up from the dead, in order to bear fruit unto God, as the apostle wrote to the Roman saints.
How solemn and momentous the issues in the unseen world!
" Now there was a certain rich man, and he was clothed in purple and fine linen, making good cheer splendidly day by day. And a certain pauper by name Lazarus was laid at his gate-way, full of sores and desiring to be filled with the things that fell from the table of the rich man; nay, even the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass that the pauper died and was carried away by the angels into the bosom of Abraham. And the rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades lifting up his eyes being in torments, he seeth Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom. And calling he said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame. But Abraham said, Child, remember that thou in thy lifetime didst fully receive thy good things, and Lazarus likewise evil things; but now here he is comforted and thou art in anguish. And besides all these things, between us and you a great chasm is fixed, so that those desiring to pass hence unto you cannot, nor those from that side may cross unto us. And he said, I beseech thee then, father, that thou wouldest send him unto the house of my father (for I have five brothers), that he may thoroughly testify to them, lest they too come into this place of torment. But Abraham saith [to him], They have Moses and the prophets: let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham; but if one from the dead go unto them, they will repent. And he said to him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, not even if one rise out of the dead will they be persuaded " (vers. 19-31),
The Savior depicts a man easy and luxurious in a world of misery, without faith in a world of sin, morally decent, outwardly religious, but living to self and practically infidel. Who did not know it in Israel? Who is not familiar with it in Christendom? Lazarus represents the contrast of the pious beggar laid hard by with none to pity his bodily sores but the dogs. The Conqueror of death lifts the veil. Then appears the truth for eternity: Lazarus in Abraham's bosom, the rich man that enjoyed himself in torments! What mattered the funeral pomp? or if the poor man had not even a grave? The angels carried the godly soul to the bosom of God's friend; the rich man left the vain and transient show of this world, and opened his eyes in the flame of Hades, aggravated by the sight of the blessed afar off—yea, of him there who on earth awakened only his disgust. Now he implores of his father Abraham that Lazarus might allay his burning tongue with the merciful touch of water at the tip of the finger!
It is not a picture of resurrection to come, but of what instantly follows death, though expressed in figures drawn from the body through which we now derive our sensations. The believer once wretched is comforted, the godless is in anguish. Like the parable before, it reveals not the means of salvation, but the character and end, whether of the saved or of the lost. Through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God. If we suffer with Christ, we shall also be glorified with Him. To try to reign now is a danger and delusion: if we endure, we shall also reign together. Even Christ is not reigning yet, but rejected by man He is waiting on the Father's throne.
The latter verses (27-31) bring out the all-importance of faith; as the Jew, long favored, is now the standing witness of ruin through unbelief. The testimony of God in His word, O.T. or N.T, is the ground of faith. Even a Lazarus sent from the grave would not avail to convince those who do not listen believingly to Moses and the prophets. In fact another Lazarus was raised by the Lord Jesus not long after; but instead of convincing the Jews, he only provoked the murderous nature of the chief priests and the Pharisees (John 11:47-53). The carnal mind is enmity against God, and rises, proudly and most of all, against His grace in Christ. Yet by grace only are any saved through faith. Hence it is by hearing the word of truth; and this is now in the richest form and fullness, the gospel of our salvation, as the apostle calls it. For God has gone beyond all thoughts and wishes of man in raising up Jesus our Lord from the dead, Who, as He was delivered for our offenses, was raised for our justification.
It is Christ's death and resurrection which alone could save. Therefore is it God's righteousness, not man's, that He might be just and the justifier of him that believeth on Jesus.
There is no other way, no other salvation. To the poor is the gospel preached; but it had not been God's gospel, unless it were equally open to and reliable for the rich. For the truth of Christ is mighty to make the lowly boast in his elevation, and the rich in his humiliation. To Him be the praise and the glory now and evermore. Amen.
Assuredly for you, my readers, no great gulf is fixed between God and you. Christ is still speaking from heaven as a Savior that you may believe; and as faith comes by a report, so the report is by the word of God. Your guilty conscience may well dread an impassable gulf; but there is a perfect way, a safe bridge fixed between God and you; and Christ is that way. Oh! take it now, this way to the Father in the Son; for the Holy Spirit deigns and loves to proclaim the glad news to you.

Gospel Words: Unprofitable Bondmen

Luke 17:7-10
One needs to be saved by Christ before one can serve Him. Salvation is of grace and by faith. It was Christ Who alone bore the burden. We contributed the sins, and nothing else; but awakened by the word and Spirit of God we repented and believed the gospel. How is it with you, dear reader? Beware of going on in dark uncertainty. The true light already shines since the Son of God came. Turn not your back on Him, lest the true character of yourself and your works should be shown as they are. Be honest Godward. Confess yourself a sinner, and your deeds evil. Receive Jesus as the one divine Savior, expressly sent by and from God to save the lost. We were indeed bondmen of sin; but set free from sin by the Savior, we would henceforth yield our members in bondage to righteousness unto holiness, each the Lord's freedman, now Christ's bondman.
We are in a world of snares, pitfalls, and evils. Christ is not only the Savior but the sole path of safety. Hence an exercised conscience, and a spirit of compassion become those who confess Christ and are saved by grace. Self-judgment is the fruit, a careful walk, and readiness to forgive. As we may not weary of well doing, so neither should we of pardoning. Stumbling-blocks abound and work mischief; woe to him through whom they come! A terrible death were better than to cause one to the least disciple. Our Lord's call is, " Take heed to yourselves." Let fidelity to God rebuke sin; let grace forgive it to the repentant, were it seven times in the day. Do we not know it without limit in Christ? It is the kingdom and patience now. By-and-by it will be power and glory, when He reigns.
No wonder that the apostles said, " Lord, increase our faith." All things are possible to him that believes. Were their faith minute as a grain of mustard, He would have it count on God's power that answers the call for His glory, which roots up a tree, say this mulberry, and plants it in the sea obediently. Man may be weakness itself; yet is it God's purpose in and through man to glorify Himself. Is not the Lord Jesus the sure pledge and the manifest proof of it?
Bought with a price (and what a price 1) we are here to obey in all lowliness and meekness. God loves to work in us, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. While faith is encouraged to the utmost, self-complacency is absolutely condemned and excluded. Brokenness of spirit is the fitting preparation for the energy of faith. The Christian here is simply witnessing Him Who is not here, his Lord and the Lord of all. We are not fellow-workers with God, but under Him. We are His fellow-workers, but in entire subjection to Him, in no way on a level with Him. The wording in the A. and R. Versions of 1 Cor. 3:9 and 2 Cor. 6:1 is equivocal and dangerous; if interpreted as it often has been to put God and His servants on a common plane, it is evil and presumptuous. This, scripture repudiates and the new nature surely resents. The parable which follows reduces such a claim to dust.
" But which of you, having a bondman plowing or keeping sheep, will say to him when come in from the field, Come in straightway and recline at meat? But will he not say to him, Make ready what I shall sup on, and gird thyself and serve me that I may eat and drink; and after that thou shalt eat and drink? Is he thankful to the bondman because he did what was ordered? I judge not. Thus ye also, when ye shall have done all the things ordered you, say, Unprofitable bondmen are we; we have done what we were bound to do " (vers. 7-10).
It is a shameful perversion of serving Christ to make it either a ground of acceptance with God, or a measure of ease or rank among men. Bring in the Master, and behold every such plea exposed as evil and vanishing away. Even Christ pleased not Himself, but according as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell on Me. And the great apostle of the Gentiles loved to style himself "bondman of Jesus Christ." What an overthrow of human feeling and worldly pride for him, the free-born citizen of Rome, so to introduce himself to all that were in Rome beloved of God, saints by calling So indeed to the utmost was it with the Lord of all, Who, subsisting in the form of God, did not esteem it robbery to be on equality with God, but emptied Himself, taking a bondman's form, becoming in likeness of men, and being found in figure as man, humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, yea, death of [the] cross.
Here the Lord lays down the servant's place, so readily slipping out of our light hearts. He had shown what faith ever so small can do through God's power. Here He would remind us that we are His bondmen. A great honor it is for us, yet a great reality. It is fellowship with Him in what His love led Him to become.
Time was when we were enemies of God. Death and judgment were then our sure and appointed lot. He interposed and by His sacrifice changed all for those that believe. His love that made Him a bondman constrains us to the same service of love. Whatever our privileges, this is our place: servants not only of Him but for His sake. Has not grace made us debtors to all, to saints and to sinners, to countrymen and to foreigners, to wise and to unintelligent? But pre-eminently and unalienably and always are we Christ's bondmen. In this let us not forget that he who loveth his life shall lose it, and that he who hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. Let us remember that the rule for anyone who may serve Christ is to follow Him, and the issue will be that where He is, there also shall His servant be, and honored of His Father.
Assuredly the Lord owes us no thanks. It is our privilege as our duty to serve Him in all things great or small, day and night, sick or well. We are His altogether and evermore. Is a master " thankful to the bondman because he did what was ordered? So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all the things ordered you, say, Unprofitable bond-men are we; we have done what we were bound to do." Never did man speak like this Man, our Master. Others without an exception have thought, that it was enough to confess ourselves unprofitable when we fail to do our duty; He teaches us to say it, when we shall have done all the things ordered us.
How completely His word destroys the vain and unbelieving dream of works of supererogation I Not a single saint was other than His bondman; not a single right work done by anyone of them but was his duty to do. They were God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God before prepared that they should walk in them. What short-coming themselves found in what others deemed the best! Whatever they were, they had only done what they owed to Him.

Gospel Words: the Persistent Widow

Luke 18:1-8
The closing verses of Luke 17 are occupied with the appearing of the Lord, when He comes in His kingdom and executes judgment on the quick. Hence the comparison is with the days of Noah and of Lot. It is not the heavenly hope dawning, as in Luke 12:32-38; but " the day that the Son of man is revealed " (2 Thess. 1), when the birds of prey are gathered together over the corpse.
In moral connection with His coming in personal judgment of the earth the Lord intimates the urgent value of prayer.
" And he spake also a parable to them that they must always pray and not faint, saying, There was in a certain city a certain judge, not fearing God and not regarding man; and there was a widow in that city and she kept coming unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he refused for a while; but afterward he said in himself, If even I fear not God and regard not man, yet because this widow is troublesome to me I will avenge her, that she by forever coming may not worry me. And the Lord said, Hear what the judge of unrighteousness speaketh. And shall God in no wise avenge his own elect that cry to him by day and night, and he is long suffering over them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Howbeit, when the Son of man cometh, shall he indeed find faith on the earth? " (vers. 1-8.)
As God's call is the warrant of faith, so faith is exercised in prayer, and rests always on the unseen in the midst of seen experience. And when things are most trying through the prevalence of evil, those that believe are encouraged the more to cry, How long, 0 Lord? He puts faith to the proof; He can never deny Himself, nor disappoint His people. But endurance is to have a perfect work, that they may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
The figures employed were the best possible to encourage: on the one hand a judge of unrighteousness neither fearing God nor respecting man, on the other a widow wronged by an adversary near enough to inflict so much the greater evil, because he should have been her protector. Yet her persevering cry wore out the judge's indifference. He could not stand her continual appeal, and, to escape the annoyance, he let her have justice. The Lord reveals the thoughts and motives of the judge's heart, and draws the believer's attention to the way in which even now God's providential ways act in the most reckless and unprincipled on behalf of the oppressed.
But how much more will it be when God rises up in judgment of the world, as He surely will in the person of the Lord Jesus at the end of the age. Then will He shine forth as the Judge of the earth, and the elect will have their cry by day and night at length heard, and the wicked triumph no more. They speak arrogantly now, they boast themselves. They will slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless. But Jehovah will not cut off His people, nor will He forsake His inheritance. For judgment, instead of diverging to the right or the left, shall return to righteousness, and all the upright in heart shall follow it. So it will be in the day of the Lord's appearing. She who had long played Him false and sought many lovers will take by repentance the place of the desolate widow, and shall forget the shame of her youth, and the reproach of her widowhood shall He remember no more. For her Maker is her husband in that bright day; and the Holy One of Israel is her Redeemer; the God of the whole earth shall He be called, as indeed He is, and she shall know. He may be long suffering over His own elect in their tribulation; but He will avenge them speedily in that day. For in His hand is a cup, and the wine foameth; it is full of mixture, and He poureth out of the same. Surely the dregs thereof all the wicked of the earth shall wring out, and drink them; and the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up when those of the wicked also shall be cut off. But it will be a dark hour, not only in the land but elsewhere, and faith seems then extinct as regards public profession up to that mighty intervention.
0 my reader, forget not that you still hear the gospel. Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. Him Who knew no sin God made sin for us, that we might become God's righteousness in Him. Such is His testimony to you. It is not a promise or a hope; it is the most wondrous of all facts in the grace of God; and you, if you have not already believed God as to it, are now called to believe on Christ Whom He gave and sent that you might be saved. To Him and His work of redemption does the Holy Spirit now bear witness in the gospel, which is God's glad tidings to every one that believes. Trifle not with grace so unparalleled. To put it off is to trifle with the will of the Father, the work of the Son, and the witness of the Holy Spirit. Can there be more glaring or. guilty unbelief?
Why do you now delay? The atoning work is done. Be it known to you therefore, that through Christ is preached to you forgiveness of sins; and in virtue of Him every one that believes is justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. This was no defect of His law, which indeed was God's law and must condemn, not justify, the sinner. But the gospel is from God the good news of Jesus the Lord His Son, the Son of man come to seek and to save that which was lost. Beware then, lest that come upon you which is spoken in the prophets, Behold, ye despisers, and wonder and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work which ye will in no wise believe if one declare it to you.

Gospel Words: the Pharisee and the Tax Gatherer

Luke 18:9-14
FROM the widow's pertinacity prevailing over the injustice of the wicked judge the Lord drew the assurance of God's avenging at length the cry of the elect. Here He turns to God's pitiful estimate of a contrite spirit despised by haughty self-righteousness. What an encouragement to the poor self-judging one! What a warning to such as presume on their own fancied superiority! Both parables illustrate the moral light here cast on man as he is by the Son of man. They are characteristic of Luke who alone gives them.
" And he spoke also this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and set all the rest at naught. Two men went up into the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee, the other a tax-gatherer. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus to himself, 0 God, I thank thee that I am not as the rest of men, rapacious, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax-gatherer. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I gain. And the tax-gatherer standing afar off would not lift up even his eyes unto heaven, but kept smiting his breast, saying, 0 God, be merciful to me, the sinner. I tell you, this [man] went down unto his house justified rather than that; because every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted " (vers. 9-14).
How deeply " Jesus Christ, the Righteous," resented the spuriousness of a sinner claiming righteousness! how He pitied the soul that really felt its sinfulness before God! He is the Savior of all that believe the gospel, the Judge of all that disbelieve. Simple yet graphic is the scene, and the sentence sound, sure, and conclusive. But in the haze that overhung the temple the Pharisee had as high a repute as the tax-gatherer had none.
There the Pharisee took a position and poured out his complacency in himself. " 0 God, I thank thee, that I am not as the rest of men." Not a word about his sins or even his need. Not a suspicion of his guilt and ruin. He is lifted up with the sense that he was not this or that, extortionate, unjust, adulterous, " or even as this tax-gatherer." Nor that only; for he boasts his religion. " I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I gain." It was another Cain. Oh, the many that go in the way of Cain! They come before God as they are; they offer their fasts and their tithes, as they feel assured they are better than the rest of men. What have they done to offend God? Why should they doubt His acceptance of them?
So it is that men still deceive themselves, or even make God a liar, as the apostle expresses it. They cloak their own sins; they denounce other people's sins; but God is not mocked. His word is that all sinned, and do come short of His glory. But Abel bowed and brought his sacrifice. Fruits of the ground man labored on could not avail for sin. Death must come between God and the sinner. So Cain righteous in his own eyes had no right sense of his ruin; Abel who was righteous duly felt and owned ruin in his offering, whereas Cain's denied it. In a word Cain trusted to self, Abel to Another. Sin or death was nothing to Cain, but great to Abel's faith that looked for the Savior.
And what of the tax-gatherer? He, standing afar off, would not lift up even his eyes to heaven, but kept smiting his breast, saying, 0 God, be merciful to me, the sinner. It was his evil that pressed on his spirit, as he cried to God. Not a thought had he of good deeds done, of bad ones avoided. He did not dream of hiding himself in a crowd of sinners or a vague confession. He singled himself as the sinner if ever there was one. What did he know of others? or, even if he had a slight knowledge, he knew himself far better and overwhelmingly. " 0 God, be merciful to me, the sinner." His light from God might be small, but it was real; and as it disclosed his own sinfulness, he owned himself the sinner. He looked out of himself to God about his condition, without a word of self-commendation, or of comparison with others, or of excuse. No, he was the sinner, and before God he lays himself as he is. On God, a God of grace, he relies in simple real acknowledgment of his ruin.
It was the fear of God, and the beginning of wisdom; and the Lord recognizes it accordingly. " I tell you, this man went down unto his house justified rather than that." Hence the general principle follows, " because every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
It was not "justified by faith '' so as to have peace with God. The Lord does not describe one who had heard and believed the word of truth, the gospel of salvation. There was not, nor could be yet, the presentation of the great work of grace, Christ's work. God's righteousness in Him had yet to be manifested. But the tax-gatherer was brought where all the godly in Israel had been before him, to look away from himself to God's mercy; he was believingly taught as a sinner, where the godly outside Israel were taught to renounce self-dependence. See a saint like Job thus broken through severe discipline for his greater blessing: " I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes " (Job 42:5, 6).
For sinners or saints repentance there is and must be. Even he whom Jehovah commended as a perfect and upright man, that feared God and eschewed evil, needed it, as He alone turned the fiery trial to that good end. For Job thought too well and much of what grace enabled him to do, and exalted himself in consequence. The enemy failed wholly to shake him. Jehovah touched the weak point through his friends (more ignorant of God and of themselves than Job), who at length humbled himself deeply and was exalted in due time. This was when he prayed in a spirit of grace for his proud and harshly judging friends. What a contrast with the Pharisee! There the tax-gatherer was led in his measure, a case of true repentance, if not so deep as that of Job both precious in the Lord's eyes. " I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than that."
In justification through Christ's blood are found no degrees. By Him all that believe are justified from all things (Acts 13:39). Here it was faith and repentance, and hence a state morally right before God (which the Pharisee's was not), though short of the clearance and liberty which faith in the gospel brings.

Gospel Words: Christ's Returning to Reign

Luke 19:12-27
The disciples, little knowing God's mind, were impatient for His kingdom. They thought it was immediately to be manifested. They forgot that " first must He suffer many things " and enter into His glory. They overlooked reconciliation by blood as the basis of all: how else could God be glorified or man be saved? The Lord said therefore,
" A certain man of high birth went unto a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. And having called his own ten bondmen, he gave them ten pounds (mince), and said to them, Trade till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent an embassy after him, saying, We will not that this [man] reign over us. And it came to pass on his coming back again, having received the kingdom, that he bade these bondmen to whom he gave the money to be called to him, in order that he might know what each gained by trading. • And the first came up, saying, Lord, thy pound made ten pounds more. And he said to him, Well [done], good bondman; because in a very little thou west faithful, be in authority over ten cities. And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound made five pounds. And he said also to him, And be thou over five cities. And the other came, saying, Lord, behold, thy pound, which I kept laid up in a napkin; for I feared thee, because thou art an austere man; thou takest up what thou didst not lay down, and reapest what thou didst not sow. He saith to him, Out of thy mouth will I judge thee, wicked bondman. Thou knewest that I am an austere man, taking up what I laid not down, and reaping what I did not sow; and why didst thou not give my money into a bank, and I on coming should have got it with interest? And to the bystanders he said, Take from him the pound and give [it] to him that bath the ten pounds. (And they said to him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) For I say to you, that to every one that hath shall be given; but from him that hath not even what he hath shall be taken from him. Howbeit those my enemies, that would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay before me " (versa 12-27).
Redemption by Christ's death must be first, and heaven be opened for the redeemed where He is exalted as its answer. He would receive the kingdom as all things not from man but from God. But He will surely return, having received the kingdom. Then will He take account of their service to whom He gave gifts for trading in responsibility to Him during His absence. For we are here in view, not of His receiving His own to Himself for the Father's house, but of His appearing and His kingdom. And they are rewarded according to their fidelity, one more, and another less. It is not gifts differing according to God's sovereignty, but all alike entering their Lord's joy as in Matt. 25; but here each receives alike a pound and is rewarded respectively according to the different result of their work. The two Gospels present the two sides, but are both true. Both show us also the "evil bondman," without a particle of faithfulness. And why? Because he had no faith in his Lord's grace. On the contrary, he insulted Him Who is full of grace and truth as " an austere man," selfish and dishonest as his own heart; and his end is accordingly.
There is reward then for work that pleases the Master, Who will be no man's debtor, but surely requites all in the coming day. Each bondman shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. But there is a foundation requisite for every one who thus builds; and other foundation can none lay than that laid, which is Jesus Christ. There is and must be faith in His grace for any one to serve Him truly. This the faithful bondmen had, and in the faith of Him they were devoted to His service. This faith the wicked bondman had not, and therefore he served not. He cared only for himself, he wronged his Master and gave the lie to His grace. But he could not escape righteous judgment, and out of his own mouth he was condemned: as those who believed in the Lord's grace receive a righteous reward in the kingdom of glory for their good works.
Take notice, my reader, that it is no question here of heathen but of professing Christians, of the service due to the absent Lord before He appears in His kingdom. Faith in Him, faith in His grace, can alone avail you Alike is the turning-point for every soul that hears His word; it is the spring of acceptable service, no less than of salvation. How could it be otherwise? The Lord is the Son of man Who came to save the lost at all cost for Himself. God will not tolerate slighting His own Son. Not to believe on Him at God's word is to dishonor both the Father and the Son; and as men thus receive not life eternal, they must come into judgment, and hence inevitably into the second death. " He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." 0 unbeliever, what bliss do you not lose? what woe do you not gain?
Then the Lord speaks of another guilty class; not the wicked servant, but His citizens sent an embassy after Him when He went on high, saying, We will not have this man reign over us. They are the Jews that hate Him, instead of professing to serve Him. When the true servants shine in the honors of the kingdom, what will be their portion, His open enemies that would not have Him, Messiah their king, reign over them? Those who. repent not will fall under His destructive judgment. Bring them hither, says He in the parable, and slay them before Me. For when He shall come to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at in all them that believed, there will also be the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven, rendering vengeance to those that know not God, and to those that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus. Jews that hate and Gentiles that despise the Savior must suffer the due reward of their rebellious unbelief and their evil deeds. How would it be, how is it, with you that read these words? Do not assume that God is indifferent, like you.

Gospel Words: the Door

John 10:7-10
IN the previous verses our Lord speaks of Himself as the Shepherd of the sheep entering the fold of Israel by the door or God-appointed means.
Here, for the best reasons and the fuller display of the grace and truth which came by Him, He presents Himself as the Door of the sheep, rather than of the fold.
" Jesus therefore said to them again, Verily, verily, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All as many as came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: through me if any one enter, he shall be saved, and he shall go in and shall go out, and he• shall find pasture. The thief cometh not but that he may steal and slay and destroy; I came that they might have life, and have [it] abundantly " (vers. 7-10).
The fold is here left aside. What could Judaism avail for the saints any more than sinners? Christ is the door of the sheep. They might be cast out like the blind man whom He caused to see. Where were they to turn, and whither go? " I am the door of the sheep." He is the entrance to the new and abiding blessings of God for His own, the entrance to the God that blessed them, yea, to the Father, as they learn in due time. He is the object of faith now more clearly than ever; as He had been truly, if dimly, since sin came into the world. All believers looked to Him that was coming, the Messiah; but now He is revealed as incomparably more.
Had any claimed the sheep? " All as many as came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not hear them." For God protects His own. They might boast and say that they were somebody, like Theudas; they might draw after them a people in revolt like Judas of Galilee. But they were thieves and robbers; and none followed whom the Son made free, only Abraham's seed but not his children.
In ver. 9 He describes Himself in fewer words which convey far more, " I am the door." It is not merely " of the sheep "; it is for any. " I am the door: through me if any one enter, he shall be saved, and he shall go in and shall go out, and he shall find pasture." Can words be more precise or more full? Can blessing for a needy soul be more suited, rich, and secure? He is the door absolutely, away from all evil into all good.
It is Christianity in contrast with Judaism or any other earthly religion. To enter through the door is to believe on Jesus the Son of God. He that does is on His word assured of salvation; " he shall be saved." This, mark it well, is given to him that enters through Christ. No such assurance attends another than the Son of God. He is the Savior, and none else. The church consists of the saved, but cannot save: only Christ can and does. A false church may set up to save; the true church repudiates such a pretension as a lie and a blasphemy. She is but the body, He is the Head; she is the bride, He the Bridegroom. She, being true, is jealous of His honor; she rejects with horror all thought of setting herself in His place as of Satan. She has the Spirit now, as He had when here; but the Spirit does not glorify her but Him. All her privileges are in virtue of Him, and are rightly turned but to His praise.
Salvation then, as it is of God's grace, is through Christ. " Through me if any one enter, he shall be saved." It is not for the Jew only but for the Gentile also; it is for " any one." But he must enter through Christ. Through Me if any one enter, he shall be saved. He may be baptized and be lost; he may take the Lord's Supper, and be lost. If any one enter through Christ, he shall be saved. This He declares; and His words shall endure when heaven and earth pass away.
O my reader, do you believe His words? Do you believe on Himself? Unless He were what He is, unless He were Who He is, neither you nor any other sinner could be saved. But being the Son and becoming the sacrifice for sin, salvation is now open to the poorest of sinners who believes on Him. " Through me if any one enter, he shall be saved." He is the door; and He tells you so. Have you heard Him and entered? Have you taken Him at His word? This is to believe. Do you then believe on the Son of God?
Nor is salvation all that He is now giving. He gives liberty: or as He says here of " any one " that enters through Him, " he shall go in and shall go out." It is in contrast with the penned-up condition of the sheep under Judaism. The law genders bondage; it could not confer freedom. Only the truth, the Son, makes free; and " if the Son therefore makes you free, ye shall be free indeed." So here " he shall go in and shall go out." This is divine emancipation, to us without money or price, to God at the cost of His Son.
There is yet more. For we need now, not salvation nor freedom only, but food; and this He next guarantees. He that enters through Christ " shall find pasture." As He had before taught, the best food is Himself not incarnate only, but dead for us, so that by faith we eat His flesh and drink His blood. This is what most nourishes_ the soul, communion with His death.
O my reader, turn not a deaf ear to God's glad tidings. Fear to treat such a Savior with indifference. Beware of putting off to a more convenient season. God is not mocked. To slight God's law was bad; to neglect His gospel is a great deal worse. The enemy is busy and near. " The thief cometh not but to steal and slay and destroy." This Satan loves, and his servants are many. " I came," says the Lord, " that they [believers] might have life, and have it abundantly." Here He makes a brief transition to His death and resurrection, that the saved might enjoy life, as they do now, in the power of His resurrection.

Gospel Words: the Good Shepherd

John 10:11-18
Very direct are these words of the Lord. What blessing to receive them in faith! what guilt and ruin to despise Him and them I
" I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep. But he that is a hireling, and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, beholdeth the wolf coming and leaveth the sheep and fleeth; and the wolf seizeth them and scattereth. Now the hireling fleeth because he is a hireling, and he hath no care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know mine own and mine own know me, even as the Father knoweth me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold: those also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and they shall be one flock, one shepherd. On this account doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again. No one taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it again: this commandment I received of my Father " (vers. 11-18).
In Isa. 40:11, of the Lord Jehovah it is said, " He shall feed his flock like a shepherd, he shall gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom-shall gently lead those that give suck." Here He Himself goes much farther. He proves Himself the Good Shepherd by laying down His life for the sheep: none other would, nor, if any other be conceived, could it avail with God or for man.
Rejected He was, with hatred for His love; but nothing turned Him from His purpose of grace. He was the Good Shepherd; and as such He lays down His life for the sheep. Such love bespoke itself divine; it characterized His person and God's nature, but in man, which alone made it possible. Beyond doubt only thus could they he, only thus were they, reconciled to God; but here His laying down His life is the evidence and acme of devoted love in Him Who acts freely and never was more consciously God than in His atoning death.
What a contrast with him who is a hireling and not a shepherd; whose own the sheep are not! Beholding the wolf coming, he leaves the sheep and flees, while the wolf seizes and scatters them; and so it is, because a hireling he is and careth not for the sheep.
But Jesus only is the Good Shepherd here. Others there have been who love the sheep in their measure, and so feed and tend them. But here where He is thus introduced, they have no mention but must vanish away. They were not entitled to call theirs the sheep, which in fact are " the flock of God." The sheep were Christ's own. Even if the wolf should catch any, not even the wolf shall catch them (the same word) out of Christ's hand. To kill the wolf would have been incomparably easier than to lay down life for them; and this He did, Who had no sin but love, no fear any more than selfish object, Who always did the things pleasing to His Father. And as the Good Shepherd He could say, " I know mine own, and mine own know me; even as my Father knoweth me, and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep." It is the fullest evidence of His devotedness in love for them. His knowledge of them, and theirs of Him, He compared with the Father's knowing Him and His knowing the Father. What can be conceived so satisfying and perfect?
Gracious and powerful is the love the O.T. reveals in Messiah for His flock, " His beautiful flock " as it will surely be. But what is even that to a loving and mutual knowledge of the Shepherd and the sheep, so intimate that it could only be matched by the Father's and the Son's knowledge of one another I In this case is absolute and intrinsic excellence beyond thought or question; in the other, oh I what and how many faults on our side I But love in Him never fails; and we are entitled to count on it in our knowledge of Him as in His of us. This is grace divine, superior to all that it finds, and everlasting.
Such is the depth of the Good Shepherd's love; but He intimates a width far beyond His disciples' thoughts. " And other sheep I have which are not of this fold: them also I must bring [or, lead], and they shall hear my voice; and they shall become [or, be] one flock, one shepherd."
Thus He points to the call of Gentiles by the gospel. If most of the Jews turned a deaf ear, many Gentiles have heard and do hear. For no criterion is truer than this. As He deigns to lead them also, " they shall hear my voice."
O my reader, how is this with you? His voice is not of one crying in the wilderness like His herald. He, when here, frequented not the wilderness only but the hillside, and the riverside, and the villages, and the towns, and the cities. He preached the gospel to the poor emphatically; and when His work here was done, He charged His servants to preach the gospel to all the nations, the whole creation. Had Jerusalem been most guilty? To all, said He, " beginning with Jerusalem."
Is not this glad tidings to you, whoever you are, whatever you may have been? Redemption depends on the Redeemer, not on the redeemed, save that they " hear His voice." Oh I then repent and believe the gospel. Never can you truly worship or serve Him, till you receive Him, believing on His name. In vain is every other resource; nay, to trust any ordinance, in order to reconciliation with God, dishonors both the Father and the Son. When you have Him as your life, they find their place.
Of one great added privilege the Savior speaks here. " They shall (Jews and Gentiles) be one flock, one Shepherd." It was a quite new thing from God: " one flock " (not " fold " as formerly), " one Shepherd." Oh, how sad the change man has made and how guilty the excuse to cloak it as one flock consisting of many folds! Why do Christians thus defraud the Lord, disguise or corrupt the word, and forfeit their own fidelity and their own fuller blessing? Not so. To set up a fold now is no better than Judaizing. There is, as the Lord's will and truth, but one flock, as there is but one Shepherd in the supreme sense. And every Christian is bound to own this One and no other rival. In Him all the fullness dwells.
But let us hear also His own wondrous words. " On this account doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again." Christ here omits " for the sheep " and presents His death as in itself furnishing a motive to the Father's love. None but He could; none but His divine person. As such He declares, " no one taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power [or, title] to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." None but the One Who is both God and man in one person could thus speak; and so while He speaks as divine, He does not fail to remember the place of sent One and servant He had taken. " This commandment I received from my Father."

Gospel Words: Feet Washing

John 13:1-15
The Lord was going on high. Of this He treats henceforth till the closing scenes on earth. It was an immense surprise to the disciples, who looked for His restoring the Kingdom to Israel at that time. His departure to the Father would begin that new order of things which we know as Christianity. " Now before the feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own that were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being come, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's [son] to betray him, [Jesus] knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he came from God and goeth unto God, riseth from supper, and layeth aside his garments, and having taken a towel girded himself; then he poureth water into the bacon, and began to wash the feet of the disciples, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded. He cometh therefore unto Simon Peter. He saith to him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and saith to him, What I do, thou knowest not now, but shalt come to know hereafter. Peter saith to him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith to him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is bathed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is wholly clean: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew him that should betray him; on this account he said, Ye are not all clean. When therefore he washed their feet and took his garments, reclining again he said to them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me the Teacher and the Lord; and ye say well, for I am. If I therefore the Lord and the Teacher washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I gave you an example, that ye should do even as I also did to you " (vers. 1-15).
It was a new and profound testimony to His love—love to the uttermost: not in His work on the cross in suffering once for their sins, but in His provision for His beloved ones against every defilement by the way. In this act of washing the disciples' feet we have mystically His advocacy with the Father if any one should have sinned. Was the devil then goading on the traitor? Our Lord Jesus shows what His love would do in heaven for His failing ones. He would fulfill all the meaning of stooping to wash their feet. The glory conferred on Him, the infinite purity that returned to God as unstained as when He came out from Him, only attested His grace and adequacy to their need and what was due to divine majesty. It was a question of restoring communion interrupted by defilement; and the Lord met it by a way as unfailing for the saint, as His atoning death for the sinner. " This is he that came by water and blood, Jesus Christ."
Here it is not blood but water. As His blood alone could cleanse us from all sin before God, so do we need what the water typifies. According to His mercy God saved us through washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. Thus are we bathed or washed all over, a new creation in Christ. But this does not dispense with the need of washing for the feet, soiled by walking through this miry world. Only Christ could effect either; and He does effect both through the Holy Spirit and the word. He is the Advocate with the Father.
Saints are apt to misunderstand this, as we see Peter did; and the Lord corrected his hasty thoughts. How much had Peter to learn how much have you? The Lord's gracious work in heaven is as indispensable as His work once for all on the cross. Not that regeneration is repeated. " He that is bathed needeth not save to wash his feet." Peter, who understood little as yet, soon learned what it is to defile his feet, and what it is for the Savior to wash them. For indeed He prayed that Peter's faith should not fail, though his faithfulness did deeply. But His grace restored him, and made him afterward such a strengthener of his brethren as he never was before. When Peter reached the lowest point of the mire, " the Lord turned and looked upon Peter; and Peter remembered the word of the Lord." What a witness to this service which the Lord now carries on above for His failing ones on earth 1 It is the washing of water by the word, which applies for our regeneration at the start, and for our restoration at every occasion of need. If it were not so, one could have no part with Christ; but this He secures by His constant love in washing our feet when defiled.
O my reader, are you then bathed? Are you regenerate and renewed by the Spirit? If not, there is but one door, but one way. Jesus alone can avail you. Believe God's word concerning Him. This is faith, without which it is impossible to please God. All things, says He, are possible to him that believes. Such are washed, sanctified, justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. Otherwise you are still in your sins. If you only profess the Lord's name, but believe not in your heart, so much the more awful is your case.
Abide no longer under the wrath of God, as you do if not subject but disobedient to His Son. He is as willing as He is able. Turn not from His grace. He refuses none, but accepts every one who comes to Him, and will raise him up at the last day. From first to last the Lord Jesus undertakes.for the believer. His sheep, as He declares, shall not perish, nor shall any one seize them out of His hand.
How wonderful it is that we who believe are called to like grace with one another 1 Christ would have us wash one another's feet. Is this our way, or our desire, before our God and Father? It is vain, unless we be spiritual. Such alone can restore a fallen brother in a spirit of meekness. Be it ours thus to seek grace from our God.

Gospel Words: the Vine

The disciples were used to regard Israel as the vine of Jehovah's planting. He brought it out of Egypt and planted it in the land on which His eyes rested. But the Psalm (80), which tells us so, mourns its actual devastation by the wild beasts of the field, and beseeches Him to visit this vine, as He will by the Son of man. Here the Lord meanwhile sets aside Israel altogether, and substitutes Himself for that empty vine. Christ is the True Vine, and His Father is the Husbandman. This is clearly, not His office in heaven as Advocate (chap. 13), nor His coming as our Hope to place us with Himself in the Father's house (chap. 16), but His relation to His own on earth for fruit-bearing. Christ is all.
Hence we see throughout that it is the responsibility of the disciple to depend on Christ, to cleave to Him, to refer all to Him. Thus only is fruit borne to His praise, and the Father glorified. Throughout our abiding has the first place, and it is a question of " if." The very reverse appears invariably where God presents salvation by grace.
" I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh it away; and every one that beareth fruit, he cleanseth it that it may bring forth more fruit. Already ye are clean on account of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you: even as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abide in the vine, so neither ye unless ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye the branches: he that abideth in me and I in him, he beareth much fruit; for apart from me ye can do nothing. Unless one abide in me, he is cast forth as the branch and is withered; and they gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask whatever ye will, and it shall come to pass for you. In this is my Father glorified that ye bear much fruit, and ye shall become disciples to me " (vers. 1-8).
Luminous as these words are, bias has misunderstood them, Calvinists and Arminians wresting them, each to his scheme. Both start with the assumption that the figurative language means union with Christ, or membership of His body. But His body is never taught in our Gospel nor indeed by any but the apostle Paul; and though union is elsewhere, it is not here, but communion. Union is a settled fact in the spiritual realm, on the basis of Christ's death (chap. 11:52) and by the given Spirit's power (17:11, 21, 22, 23). But communion is conditional, and hence may or may not be, as it depends on abiding in Christ.
For this reason it is not a question here of believing on Christ to life eternal, but of abiding in Him and bearing fruit. Man's will for this wholly fails; the chosen people have no power more than others; the law is in vain; and so is the church. Angels, saints living or departed, the Virgin, are but sinking sand. Christ is the True Vine, Christ only. The branch cannot bear fruit of itself; apart from Him it can do nothing.
It is the responsible position of all that call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. All such have left Gentilism or Judaism for Christ. It may be a heart or a lip confession of Christ; but those that confess Him are all branches in the Vine. He is the True Vine; but they may not be true branches. If they abide in Him, they bear fruit; if they do not, they are sooner or later taken away. They may leave Him, or, if put away, they may never be restored either inwardly or outwardly. So we read (chap. 6:66) that many of His disciples went back and walked no more with Him. So it was going to be manifest in Judas, one of the Twelve. They were branches in the Vine; they confessed His name. But if they did not abide, they hence bore no fruit for His Father. The truest branch needs pruning, or cleansing, by the Father, that it may bear more fruit; but every branch that is true bears fruit. Those that are untrue prove it by not abiding in Christ, and hence by bearing no fruit, self-confident and active though they may be.
The Lord Jesus is life eternal to those that believe on Him. This however is not the subject which is here treated of. It is rather how to bear fruit; and abiding in Christ is its source and way. He is not only life, but the rule of life; and as He is absolutely what He also speaks, His word expresses it fully. By His word were they begotten afresh; on account of it they were already clean. To abide in Him, and have His words abiding in them, draws out in suited prayer and ensures the answer. There is thus much fruit to the glory of the Father, and Christ is not ashamed of them as His disciples. Not to abide in Him, after knowing and confessing Him, is worse than never to have heard, and leaves those who abandon Him as dried up branches of the Vine, only fit for the" burning. Such souls never had life in the Son.
How is it then with you, dear reader? Do you yearn after fruit acceptable to God the Father? Is it in your heart to serve the Lord Jesus? You cannot, unless you abide in Him. If you strive to abide in Him in order to service and fruit-bearing, it will be a failure. And the Lord here solemnly warns of failure, as He explains the secret of realizing. Begin with taking the place of a guilty and lost sinner that you may be saved through grace by believing on Christ. Thus only is life eternal given. " Verily, verily I say to you, He that believeth hath life eternal." " Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of life eternal."
The responsibility of bearing fruit attaches to all who confess Christ. If you believe on Him at God's word, you have life in Him, and will respond to His call of abiding in Him; if it be but confessing Him on evidence satisfactory to your own mind, you will play fast and loose, and turn away on pressure or to please yourself. This is the reverse of abiding in Him, and it is the prelude to everlasting judgment.

Gospel Words: Christ the Bread of Life

John 6:35-51
From the sign of the miraculously multiplied bread the Lord turns those who sought Him to the true bread which the Father gives out of heaven. They had been of a mind by force to make him King; He would receive the kingdom only in due time from His Father. He therefore goes up on high meanwhile to pray. But now on the other side He explains that during Israel's unbelief it is no question of accomplishing their hope now, but of receiving life eternal for resurrection and the heaven to which He was going. It is Christianity in short, and not yet the kingdom restored to Israel.
" Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life. He that cometh unto me shall not hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said to you, that ye have both seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come unto me, and him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out; because I am come down from heaven, not to do my will but the will of him that sent me. And this is. the will of him that sent me that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father that everyone that beholdeth the Son and believeth on him should have life eternal; and I will raise him up at the last day" (35-40).
The Bread of life is not a rite or a sacrament, but the Incarnate Word. He is the object of faith presented, that needy, famishing, souls may have life eternal. The manna in the wilderness was a witness to Hire, little as they knew who ate of it and died there. The Lord Jesus is the Bread of God that comes down out of heaven and gives life not to Israel only but to the world. Him the Father God sealed. But so it was the right time to unfold a higher and larger work as the Son of man, rejected by the Jews. Faith receives in Him this rich gift, life eternal. The unbelief of man, yea of the chosen people, only brings out more grace from God the Father in the Son.
But the blessing is only to faith. " I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." Nothing but coming to Himself by faith can avail. Those who saw Him without believing were no better for it but the worse. Those who resort to images of Him find only a blind. Those who lean for life eternal on any ordinance, even of Him, setup a rival to their shame. He is the object of faith for life eternal. " He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father that sent Him." And the Father's will is that all honor the Son, even as they honor the Father: if they honor Him not by faith unto life eternal, they must in His judgment of them to everlasting perdition.
It is beautiful to see how perfectly the Son of the Highest becomes His Servant, now to save, as by-and-by to administer the glory. He chooses none for saving; He leaves all with Him Who sent Him. " All which the Father giveth me shall come unto me; and him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out." On the one hand is the security of the children; on the other is the free grace of the gospel. For this has Christ come down out of heaven, Who alone could give either effect according to the Father's will, that none of that He had given should be lost, and that every one who believeth on the Son should have life eternal, Christ raising all up in the last day. For He brings to view not the present power of the kingdom on earth, but life for the soul now, and for the body resurrection.
When the Jews murmured incredulously, the Lord urges the more the need of the Father's drawing those He Himself should raise in the last day, and cites the prophets accordingly. Then He sums up with His solemn asseveration. " Verily, verily, I say to you, He that believeth on me hath life eternal. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness, and died. This is the bread that cometh down out of heaven that one may eat thereof and not die. I am the living
bread that came down out of heaven: if one eat of this bread, he shall live forever " (vers. 47-51).
The Incarnate Savior thus stands before us, the food of faith in the wilderness world. Have you, dear reader, gone to Him? For He is thus revealed in the written word that you might come to Him and believe on Him. Life is in Him for sinful man, in Him only for him that believes on earth, in Him life eternal for the most guilty, untoward, and proud. So He assures us without hesitation or condition, save that we believe on Him. And this is the one thing the sinner does most of all pleasing to the Father, jealous as He is for His glory Whom man despised for His grace. " Whosoever denieth the Son, hath not the Father either; he that confesseth the Son hath the Father also." All that is good follows faith through grace.
May this be your present and everlasting portion!

Gospel Words: Eating Christ's Flesh and Drinking His Blood

John 6:53-58
There is a marked change in our Lord's discourse. He turns from His incarnation to His death. In both cases He speaks of eating. It is the well-known figure of scripture for appropriation or communion. He was not only the Living Bread that came down out of heaven, that one might eat and live forever. He would give H is flesh for the life not of Jews only but of mankind, or as He says " for the life of the world."
But not a trace of ordinances is in either. It is a question of Himself, first living, then dead. He only was entitled to speak of giving life to the world. He through Whom the world came into being, He could quicken the dead; and such was and is the moral condition of all through sin (John 5:24, 25). He, the new Man, is the object of faith giving life. And it is for any, for the Gentile as well as the Jew. Baptism and the Lord's supper have their place by the Lord's institution till He come; but scripture attributes quickening to Him, not to them. In Him, not in them, was life. It is a falsehood of Christendom to claim an attribute which is His for a rite in the hands of men who thereby arrogate a dignity not only unreal but profane. All through this discourse, as in all other scripture, notably in John's Gospel at large and in his great Epistle, life is in the Son; so that he who believes has the Son and has life, as he that has not the Son of God has not life.
Only now He insists on faith in Him dead. This was yet more repulsive to unbelief than faith in Him living. But the Lord did not soften the truth to make it more palatable. He presents it in pointedly strong terms, peremptorily demanding its reception. Did the Jews contend with one another, saying, How can a man give us his flesh to eat? " Jesus therefore said to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Except ye shall have eaten the flesh of the Son of man and drunk his blood, ye have no life in yourselves. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood bath life eternal, and I will raise him up at the last day; for my flesh is truly food, and my blood is truly drink. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, he also that eateth me, he too shall live because of me. This is the bread that came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died: he that eateth this bread shall live forever " (vers. 53-58).
Till His death there was no atonement. Sin was not yet judged in an adequate sacrifice, nor was God vindicated, still less glorified. In the cross He was; and remission of sins could be proclaimed in the name of Jesus Christ. Whosoever called on the name of the Lord should be saved. Hence faith in the Incarnate Word, wherever real, received the wondrous tidings of His death, as alone reconciling a sinful soul to God. Fallen man had no title to life eternal; and He Who was eternal life died for sin and to bear the sins of all who believed, that they might have that life without the sins blotted out by His blood. Therefore did all, who received Him incarnate from God, welcome the more deeply Him that died for sins and to sin, that every inconsistency with the new and divine life might be canceled. How thankfully did they eat His flesh and drink His blood! Those who stumbled at Him thus dead, refusing to eat His flesh and drink His blood, proved thereby that they had no due sense of His grace nor of their own ruin by sin. Their professed faith in Him incarnate was unreal; had it been true, they would have hailed with deeper satisfaction His going down into death to do away with every effect of sin. From this they revolted, because they had no such conviction of their own evil, no such assurance of His love, even God's love.
But the Lord intimates more, and lets us know that if one has eaten His flesh and drunk His blood, he will not be content with once partaking of Him; he will continue to find in Him that best food. " He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath life eternal, and I will raise him up at the last day." For His flesh is true food and His blood is true drink (as some of the best MSS. here say). " He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me, and I in him." To have thus partaken of Him dead is life eternal, but more than this: to make Him dead our habitual spiritual food is to ensure the communion of His love to the uttermost. Thus does one abide in Him and He in him; and one lives, not only through Him but on account of Him, as He lived on account of the Father, the motive and reason of being.
We may observe too how carefully the Lord in verse 58 binds together the incarnation and His death. This is quite inconsistent with a rite; it is His person living and dead, the one source of life eternal to the believer. If a rite be fancied here, it would involve the twofold and fatal error: that none who failed to partake of the Lord's supper could have life; and that he who does partake of His supper has life eternal and must rise in the resurrection of the just.
O my reader, be not deceived. The Lord's supper indeed refers to Christ's death, to which this portion of John 6 refers. But He speaks only of faith in Him Who died for sin and sinners, that they believing on Him may have life. Therefore not to the communicant as such, but to the believer is the Lord's assurance of life eternal. Turn away therefore from every substitute for Himself, Who is the only Savior, the one substitute for your sins. Sacraments are admirable signs, but ruinous when they displace Christ and faith in Him.

Gospel Words: Christ the Corn of Wheat

John 12:24
A very characteristic truth in the Gospel of John is the Son of God come, the Word become flesh, Who is life eternal and gives it to the believer. But nowhere have we a fuller witness to the efficacy of His death. His work is for us as necessary and as blessed in itself and in its effect as His person: God's glory is concerned most nearly in both (chaps. 1:29; 3:14, 15; 6:51-58; 8:28; 10:9-11, 15-18; 11:51, 52; 12:32).
At this point of the Gospel testimony is rendered to Him in three aspects: first, as marked out Son of God in power by resurrection, in chap. 11; secondly, as Messiah, King of Israel, David's Son and David's Lord, in chap. 12:12-16; and lastly, as Son of man with rights over all flesh, yet (as we see in our text) about to die to have others sharing His blessedness and glory. Let us consider this last particular a little more fully.
The Son of God was in the world which He had made; yet the world, boasting of its knowledge, knew Him not, the highest, best, most momentous of all knowledge. He came to His own things, for He was also Messiah, " the born King of the Jews "; yet His own people, if not so ignorant, were more guilty still than the world, and received Him not. Hence, when certain Greeks, of those coming up to worship at the feast of Passover, made known through disciples their desire to see Jesus, He answered, saying, " The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say to you, Except the corn of wheat falling into the earth die, itself abideth alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit." The entire vista of His humiliation unto death and of its blessed result opens before Him and receives suited expression in these wondrous words.
Have you then heard Him in faith? Are you not nearly and deeply concerned? The rejection of the Son, Who is also Messiah, leads in marvelous grace to the fulfillment and disclosure of God's counsels. The Jews and the world at large were verily evil, openly proved enemies. His speaking to them as He did left them without excuse for their sin; His working among them as none other had done made other sin as nothing in comparison: for, as things were, they had both seen and hated both Him and His Father. Did the Jews by hand of lawless Gentiles crucify and slay the Lord of glory? It was by the grace of God He tasted death for every one. The greatest wrong of man confronted the love of God; which triumphed over sin and Satan in effecting redemption by His blood. Then, in being raised from the dead, He only and now is the Second man and Last Adam, by Whom all that believe are justified. Thereon, when the Jews refused the gospel of Him dead and risen, the word of salvation was sent to the nations or Gentiles. It is here for you now. He came to do God's will in His death as the perfect offering and sacrifice, which sums up yet surpasses all others. And again it is God's will that the glad tidings of remission of sins and life eternal should come to you. " Hear, and your soul shall live." Did not God say, even of old looking onward to Him, " He! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters "? Be reconciled to God.
Where man saw in the cross shame, and the deepest shame, the Savior saw glory. If this was moral glory, heavenly glory is its answer: " Wherefore also God highly exalted Him." " The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified." So we read in Psa. 8 If the rejected Messiah of Psa. 2; 8 go down into death (compare Heb. 1; 2), He is the Son of man also crowned with glory and honor on high, though now we see not yet all things subjected to Him. But we by faith see Him in heaven, the pledge that they shall be. This will be when at His coming He raises those that are His to reign with Him, as 1 Cor. 15 declares. And it agrees with what He Himself here says, " Except the corn of wheat falling into the earth die, itself abideth alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit." That the victims of sin might be delivered, sin itself judged, Satan vanquished for eternity, God Himself glorified in man, and His love free to bless perfectly, He, the true grain of wheat, fell into the earth and died. Without that atoning death the glory had been His alone. But now what abundant " fruit"! They that are His are cleansed whiter than snow by His blood; they live of His life; they are children of God, and shall never perish. They are sealed by the Spirit. Through Christ they have the entry by one Spirit unto the Father; and if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.
The Greeks, like all Gentiles indeed, were apart from Christ, having no hope, and godless in the world; and it would soon be proved that the Jews, notwithstanding their great privileges, were no better but guiltier and therefore worse: all alike children of wrath. Neither living grace nor almighty power in Jesus could meet the desperate need. Nothing short of atoning death could avail. Without death He abode alone; but dying He bears much fruit in resurrection. And how scripture teems with testimony to this truth! Oh, is it not a great thing to be part of His " much fruit "? How blind, wretched, and sinful, to despise Him Who alone makes it good? What must it be to wake up to the awful evil of unbelief, when it is irretrievable?

Gospel Words: the Demoniac Mute

Matt. 9:32-34
This chapter as a whole shows us not only divine power in goodness displayed in Jesus as in chap. 8; but how it was received by those who had religious reputation among the Jews. The more He wrought in grace, the less acceptable was the Messiah. Did He forgive the sins of the paralytic? Scribes within themselves resented it as blasphemy. But He who read their hearts answered their wicked unbelief by bidding the man arise, take up his couch, and retire to his house.
So the call of the tax-gatherer to follow Him, and the defense of the disciples to the fault-finding followers of John and the Pharisees, vindicated God's grace. New wine needs new skins. The condition of God's ancient people was, like that of the ruler's daughter, one of death; but He Who went to raise her up, and at length did so, was open to the touch of faith which got healing at once. Two blind men that appealed to His mercy as Son of David received their sight at His hand and word. These were but samples of what He could and would do for Israel, if there had been faith; but the leaders were increasingly hostile, whatever might be the marvel of the crowds, and His fame spread in all that land.
There remained a final proof. " But as these were going out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed by a demon. And the demon having been cast out, the dumb spoke; and the crowds wondered, saying, It was never seen thus in Israel. But the Pharisees said, He casteth out the demons by [or, in the power of] the prince of the demons " (vers. 32-34).
Nothing slackened the gracious dealing of our Lord, so long as the door was open. The blind who now saw were no sooner going out, than men brought to him a man not only dumb but a demoniac. Luke 11:14 presents the awful peculiarity of the case yet more precisely: " And he was casting out a demon, and it was dumb." It was not simply the human infirmity: a dumb demon possessed the man. This made it altogether beyond ordinary resource. A spirit evil or good has power that man cannot resist. As with the unhappy man, so with the unhappy people and especially their religious chiefs. At length the people had not a true word to utter of their divine Messiah. His great grace, and their great need, drew out first from the leaders the imputation of blasphemy. Now it reaches a lower depth still opening to devour them. For what can be more heinous than to impute to the Holy One the power of the wicked one? Blasphemers themselves they charge blasphemy against Him, and under Satan's power they impute it to the energy of the prince of demons that He cast out the demons.
Before they were carried to Babylon, Israel had totally failed as Jehovah's servant. Their witness was not to Him but to graven and molten images, to which they said, Ye are our gods. Who so blind and deaf as they to whom Jehovah had laid bare His mighty arm and from the heavens made them hear His voice as no other people ever did? And therefore Jehovah gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers. Now they had Jehovah Messiah present in their midst in the power of beneficent goodness, and in a grace which anticipated the kingdom; and their alienation became yet more deadly. The same unbelief which sought after strange gods (only not nonentities because they were demons), rejected and blasphemed their Anointed, Who was in truth Jehovah. Where not thus active, the people were just as the demoniac mute. Under the power of the enemy they were dumb for Him Whose praise fills the heavens as it will the earth and all the creation.
How is it with you, dear reader? Are you confessing with your mouth the Lord Jesus? Blessed is it, when also the heart believes on Him to righteousness; for then, and not otherwise, is confession made to salvation. He Who created man is Lord and Redeemer. God calls you to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus shall you be saved—thus only; for there is none other name under heaven to save. Other refuge is vain. Other means are a snare and a lie. He is the true God, and eternal life. For the sinner, under Satan's power, only He can avail; but He avails at once and unfailingly. It is true that He is not here, but risen. It is true that the Jews slew Him, hanging Him on a tree; but God exalted Him by His right hand as Leader and Savior, accepting His death as sacrifice, the only efficacious sacrifice, for sins. The grace now shown exceeds; it reigns through righteousness unto life eternal through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Do you speak of your subjection to Satan's power? Looking to Jesus, life is given. He also Himself likewise took part in blood and flesh, that through death He might annul him that hath the might of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who in fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. In His name, then, resist the devil; and he will flee from you. He is a conquered enemy through Him Who bore your sins and brings you every spiritual good.
Believing in Him, how immense is the change! As living stones, you are being built up, a spiritual house, a holy priesthood (which Aaron's sons were only in outward form), to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. What is the worth to God now of sheep or oxen? of incense, or of first-fruits? All such things had their place before He came Who makes us to see that they are no more than the beggarly elements of the world, and that the body is of Christ. The Christian is a true worshipper, he only. They all can worship the Father in spirit and truth in the hour that now is. The multitude keeping holiday, without knowing the Father, without faith in the truth, without having the Spirit, are spurious and in the dark. The true worshippers the Father seeks at this time, who must worship God in spirit and truth, for they alone walk in the light as He is in the light. Assuredly they are no longer dumb. Does any among them suffer evil? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise. May this be your lot! Grace alone can make it yours, the saving grace of God which appeared in our Lord Jesus, and blesses through faith in Him.

Gospel Words: the Withered Hand Healed

Matt. 12:9-14
THE sabbath like everything else was turned by Jewish unbelief against the Messiah. But like
everything else the sabbath only told to His glory against man's sin, shame, selfishness, and pride. At that time (Matt. 12:1) the Lord went through the cornfields on the sabbath, and His disciples, being hungry, began to pluck and eat. Seeing this the Pharisees reproached Him, but He vindicated them by David's act in 1 Sam. 21 generally, and in particular by the priests who do their work in the temple blamelessly on the sabbaths. What value had the show-bread if the anointed of Jehovah and his men were hunted for their life? Yet says He, " a greater thing than the temple is here." Had they known too what Hos. 6:6 means, they would not have condemned the guiltless. " For the Son of man is lord of the sabbath." The rejected Christ is the Son of man about to come from heaven in judgment.. They were guilty not only of transgressing the law, but of refusing Jehovah's Anointed. So He enters on a higher and larger glory which supersedes their boasts and judges their sins.
On a subsequent sabbath he exposes their evil state, hypocritical and murderous.
" And when departed thence he went into their synagogue; and, behold, a man having a withered hand. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath? that they might accuse him. And he said to them, What man of you shall there be who shall have one sheep; and if this fall into a pit on- the sabbath, will he not lay hold and raise it up? How much then doth a man exceed a sheep! Wherefore it is lawful on the sabbath to do well. Then he saith to the man, Stretch out thy hand, and he stretched it out; and it was restored sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and took counsel against him, how they might destroy him " (vers. 9-14).
Here it is not the authority of His person in which He will judge not the Jews only but all the nations; it is the character of Him Who is good and doeth good, let His people be as false and faulty as they may to their ruin. In vain for His people to plead the sabbath against Him Who is lord of it; still more vain to forbid on that day His active goodness for needy suffering man. The poorest Jew was not debarred by the sabbath from extricating his sheep from the pit. God had compassion, if they had none, for their brother fallen under a worse calamity; and here was He anointed of Jehovah to bind up the broken-hearted, let Pharisees rage and plot as they might. " Lo, I am come to do thy will, 0 God."
Mark presents the scene yet more vividly; for he tells us that the Savior directed the man to "Stand up " before He uttered His fuller and withering questions: " Is it lawful on the sabbath to do good or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? " And when they held their peace but with malice to the uttermost, He looked round about on them with anger, distressed at the hardening of their heart. What right had selfish murderous men against God's grace? Such they showed themselves; for they went out of the synagogue to plot, Pharisees and Herodians, deadly enemies of each other, against the Son of God, His servant among sinful and suffering men, to minister as none else could, to save souls as well as life.
Oh! how is it with you who read these lines? Is not your case still more deplorable than his of the withered hand? Is not your heart withered Godward? Is it not active only as the source of uncleanness in every kind which defiles you? Do you love your own will and way? and what is this but sin, hateful to God and destructive to you? Yet for you Jesus, the Son of God, came; for you He died. And He died not for any imaginary good in you, but for your sins, too many and too real. Fear not then to commit yourself, just as you are to the Savior. Hide not anything of your evil from the eyes of your heart; let your conscience confess all out to God: Christ is the only meeting-place between the sinner and Him. He is all-embracing for such as come as sinners; and as surely a Savior as they are lost.
Therefore of God's word doubt not, but look to Jesus in your guilt and unworthiness. Seek only to be in the truth of your sins before God; and you will find Christ in the truth of divine grace toward your soul.
If it be so with you, this is true repentance toward God, and true faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. The merit, the grace, the efficacy, the power are in Him. The pardon and peace, the life and blessing, are yours on believing the glad tidings of God about His Son. Till you believe on Him for life and salvation, you have nothing to do with practical love and holiness, incumbent as they are on the Christian. First be settled in faith.

Gospel Words: Feeding of the Five Thousand

Matt. 14:14-21
Only one Gospel connects our Lord's retirement with tidings of John the Baptist's death. The herald's lot only precedes that of Jehovah-Messiah's Whose time was not yet come. In the Gospel of Mark (6:30, 31) He would give a little rest apart with Himself to His sent workmen. Those who serve Him need not look for better things. In Luke there is no such account, but the fact of John's execution alluded to, as the effect of the report which reached Herod of the Savior's gracious power.
But Jesus was the same in the desert as in the city, the compassionate healer of the sick. Nor this only; for when the disciples at evening would dismiss the crowd to buy themselves food, He says to them, They need not depart: give ye them to eat. But looking not to Him they were powerless.
" And they say to him, We have here but five loaves and two fishes. And he said, Bring them hither to me. And he commanded the crowd to recline on the grass, took the five loaves and the two fishes, looked up to heaven, and blessed; and having broken he gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples to the crowds. And they all ate and were filled; and they took up what was over of the fragments, twelve baskets full. And the eaters were about five thousand, apart from women and children " (17-21).
He was the true Solomon, though Israel did not yet sing the song of Ascent. Yet He was there, and not David's Son only, but Jehovah Who chose Zion and will there dwell. Was He not in their low estate giving the manifest testimony that He would abundantly bless her provision, and satisfy her poor with bread? Their unbelief might and did put off the kingdom; nevertheless He was there, the King, and no failure in Him of grace or power. How little those nearest to Him drew on either by faith! How promptly He met the need beyond all thought of men or saints!
This however is revealed for you, my reader, as it was then shown to the needy, that they and you might look to Him and be saved. Beyond doubt the soul is more than the food; and none ever pressed this so much as Himself. None warned as He to fear Him Who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. But who like Him assured guilty man that God so loved the world as to give His beloved Son, that whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have life eternal?
The day comes fast when He will make good every promise, as He will also inflict the judgment which in every form the Father committed to Him, because He is Son of man. As such He was despised and rejected; as such He suffered to the utmost and is exalted on high. But if His sufferings will bring vengeance on His foes, they do also bring salvation to those who believe, and none the less, because they like all others were lost till they believed.
It is not yet the day when He will ask nations for an inheritance, and break them with iron scepter, as a potter his vessel. Then shall His name be excellent in all the earth, as well as His majesty above the heavens. But it is given now among men, and none other under heaven, wherein we must be saved. He alone is worthy; He is God as well as Jesus Christ the righteous Man. The Word became flesh to glorify His Father and God, Son of man to save the lost. Such a sign as He then wrought was proper to show His compassion to the needy and distressed in Israel. Was it not meant to let you know who read or hear the word, that He pities your deeper need, and is no less ready to bless you with the bread of God, in order that you, believing on Him, may never hunger or thirst more?
This, His discourse to the crowd that followed after Him, as we read in John 6:1, clearly points out. It is His express application of it to you who read now as to those who then heard. Why then should you doubt that He will make good His word? He declares that the believer has life eternal; He declares elsewhere that His sheep shall never perish, and that none shall pluck them out of His hand. He and the Father are not more one in divine nature than in divine love, to keep His sheep, however exposed in this world to the enemy's malice.
The grace of Christ is sufficient for you, great as is your weakness; indeed it is made perfect in weakness. Fear not therefore to trust in Him. Believe God Who sent Him, that those who receive Him may live eternally, and that those who believe not may be judged everlastingly. He is the giver of life because He is Son of God; He is the executor of judgment because He is Son of man. One or other must be your portion. He gives you life if you believe; He will judge you if you reject Him. It is unwise, it is full of danger, it is in the highest degree sinful, to reject the gracious and saving message of God in Christ to your soul.

Gospel Words: Jesus Walking on the Sea

Matthew 14:23-33
Bright was the witness, as it is still, to the rejected Messiah. This glory is great, but He is greater still, Immanuel and Jehovah; and it shines out the more that men despise Him.
" And having dismissed the crowds, he went up into the mountain apart to pray: and when even was come, he was there alone. But the ship [or boat] was already in the midst of the sea, tossed by the waves for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them walking on the sea; and when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is an apparition; and they cried out for fear. But Jesus immediately spoke unto them. saying, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answering him said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come; and Peter, going down from the ship, walked on the water to come unto Jesus. But seeing the wind strong, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand and caught hold of him, and saith to him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they had gone up into the ship, the wind ceased. And those in the ship came and paid homage to him, saying, Truly thou art God's Son " (vers. 23-33).
Whatever His own title, and it was truly divine, our Lord had become man, and loyally maintained His dependence on God, of which prayer is a signal expression. It is peculiarly prominent in the Gospel of Luke where His humanity is most brought before us in all its lowliness and sympathy, in all its piety and obedience. And it has its due place in Mark's Gospel of His service. But the disciples on the tempest-tost sea were as distressed as their boat, and the wind was contrary, so that they toiled in vain at the oar. He waited long enough for them to realize their danger and their powerlessness, and came unto them, walking on the sea. Troubled at what they thought an apparition, they cried for fear, but immediately He bade them take courage. " It is I: be not afraid."
Reader, have you never heard His voice? It sounds in the written word in His own tones of love and compassion. It is for you to hear and live by believing them. The blessing is expressly for faith to receive. When you, judging yourself for your sins, look to Jesus at God's warrant, remission is yours. You are reconciled to God and justified by faith. You are called thenceforth to walk as a child of God and sealed by His Spirit till the day of redemption, when your bodies will have the power of Christ's life, as your souls have now (John 5). All other ways and means are a delusion. Baptism and the Lord's supper are His institutions, most expressive of His death, and of your blessing thereby. But faith is by hearing, and this by God's word. He is best honored in His Son's honor.
No doubt the enemy stirs up storms of every kind to alarm and endanger the disciples; but what of that, if the Lord sees all with watchful eye and fails not to give His guardian presence? This will be true and sure for His Jewish remnant in days to come as well as then when He was on earth; so is it assured to the Christian and the Christian assembly now, however few they may be. He, Who has His way in the whirlwind and in the tempest, with the clouds as the dust of His feet, was there in the person of Jesus walking the waves to say, Be courageous. It is I: fear not. They ought to have known already that winds and waves obey Him, their Creator.
Peter yields a little intimation of what was at hand. He quits the boat at the word of the Lord, and goes to meet Jesus on the sea; as the church did gathered to His name, apart from the Jews and the Gentiles (1 Cor. 10:32). But he quickly displays the instability of his faith. To the Christian also Christ is all. If we look away from Him, we begin to sink as he did. What, if the storm raged and the waves rose ever so high? Had the sea been smooth instead of rough, could Peter have walked across it? But he saw the wind strong and began to sink, with the cry, Lord, save me. And the Lord's outstretched hand was the answer, though there was the loving reproof, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? Such is He to us now, faithful, gracious, and superior to all circumstances. But we have to walk by faith, not by sight. Yet if our faith fail, He does not fail to deliver.
By-and-by He will rejoin His Jewish disciples in their unequaled trouble at the end of the age, bespeak a calm which is not the church's portion while on earth, and bring at once the old ship into the desired haven. For heaven and for the earth, for the church as for Israel, Jesus is the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever. “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth."

Gospel Words: the Canaanite Woman

Matthew 15:21-28
It is in the First Gospel we find this most instructive incident, which reveals the Lord, not merely as minister of circumcision for God's truth, but as the display of His sovereign grace where God's curse lay, and Satan's power.
" And Jesus going forth hence retired into the parts of Tire and Sidon; and, behold, a Canaanite woman coming" out from those borders cried out, saying, Pity me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is grievously possessed by a demon. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and asked him, saying, Dismiss her, for she crieth out after us. But he said in answer, I was not sent save to the lost sheep of Israel's house. And she came and paid him homage, saying, Lord, help me. But he said in answer, It is not good to take the children's bread and cast [it] to the dogs. But she said, Yea, Lord; for even the dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters. Then Jesus in answer said to her, O woman, great [is] thy faith: be it done to thee as thou wiliest. And her daughter was healed from that hour " (Matt. 15:21-28).
The Lord withdrew from the proud religionists of Jerusalem, who made void the law of God for the sake of their tradition. He also laid bare to the disciples that only the plants of His Father take root, while all that issues from man's heart is defiled and defiling. The sinner needs God's grace to save him. This is shown in the otherwise desperate case of the Canaanite, and her daughter sorely possessed of a demon.
Here may many a soul learns why the Lord does not accede to its appeal. Hers was deep and earnest; yet He answered her not a word. What claims on the Son of David had a Canaanite woman? When He reigns, there shall be no more a Canaanite in the house of Jehovah of hosts (Zech. 14:21). When the two blind cried early or late, saying, Pity us, Son of David, He touched their eyes, which were then opened according to their faith (Matt. 9:27-30; 20:30-34). But repentance has its place as truly as faith; and God will have the soul to judge itself aright. " Cursed be Canaan " is the word from of old; and yet was she not now asking His pity Who is to avenge and deliver Israeli How many to-day have said the words, " Father,... forgive us our sins "! Yet they too have received no answer; nor would they assert, any more than they believe, that their sins are forgiven. They have gone on ground wholly untenable. They are not His sons by faith in Christ. They are not born of water and Spirit. They stand on law, supplemented by ordinances. They are unrenewed, serving divers lusts and pleasures, a prey to the power of darkness. They do not cry to God in the truth of their estate, but imitate the language of disciples, which they might own they are not in heart. Have we not experienced it ourselves? Our state was below the Canaanite's.
The woman of Canaan evidently knew that no Israelite ever appealed to Christ in vain. She had faith in Him; but she had overlooked her own dismal position. Theirs were " the promises "; but what had she? Not promise, but curse. And He Who is the truth would have her feel it. Not so the disciples; they would have Him dismiss her. This was far from His heart. They disliked the discredit of her importunity, and wished to be rid of her. He meant to bless her; but it must be in the truth as well as the grace of God. For this He waited, and she as yet had no answer; but He answered them, " I was not sent save to the lost sheep of Israel's house."
Now faith where real perseveres; and the woman came and did Him homage, saying, " Lord, help me." He is indeed Lord of all: this is truth without assumption of privilege. To such an appeal He does reply, " It is not good to take the children's bread and cast it to the dogs."
Thus does His grace help her to see where she was lacking. The light of God shines into her heart; and she bows at once. For she said, "Yea, Lord; for even the dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters." She apprehends where and what she really was, and takes her true place before God. She had forgotten that she was not a "sheep" to claim the succor of Israel's Shepherd. She was truly a "dog" before Him, no better than a little dog or whelp. Yet while no longer hiding this from her soul but confessing it freely, she rejoins, " Yea, Lord; for even the whelps eat of the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters."
Oh what refreshment did such faith give to our Lord Jesus! She savored the things of God. She appreciated, believed, and enjoyed the grace of which she was the object. And the Lord owned her " great faith," and gave her all she wished.
How is it with you, dear reader? Have you learned that you are no better than a dog before Him? Or are you, while in your sins, claiming to be His sheep? Own yourself a sinner, and Him the only Savior, that you may be saved. He is the same Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon Him. Why should you stand without? A better voice than Laban's invites you to come in and be blessed. All depends on Him; but it is not yours save by repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Till then we have no known divine answer to our cry.

Gospel Words: Feeding the Four Thousand

Matt. 15:32-39
The miracle here does not merely attest again the divine Messiah's presence and power on behalf of His needy people. Each has its own characteristics for our instruction. Both prove His ready and almighty resources. El ad each miracle appeared in a different Gospel only, the skeptics would have insisted on discrepant accounts; but God has cut off such an objection, because Matthew and Mark record both, Luke and John only the first of them. The miracle wrought twice signifies, if one may apply Joseph's interpretation (Gen. 41:32), that the thing is established by God, whatever be man's unbelief. The distinctions are marked, but in no way favor those of old who imagined a reference in the former to the Jew, in the latter to the Gentile. Both express Messiah's grace to the chosen people.
What then is the true difference? It is defined in detail, as well as in broad features. There were five loaves and two fishes in the first, seven loaves and a few fishes in the last, five thousand fed in one, and four thousand in the other; the surplus then filled twelve baskets, now seven. The very baskets employed had in each instance a differing appellation, meaning respectively a hand-basket and a creel, as expressed without confusion in each account, and maintained in our Lord's recall of both in Matt. 16 The larger distinction will appear presently, though it may here be added that the first was in the spring when the grass was green, the second some months later; and that in the second the crowd had stayed three days, whereas in the first we do not hear of more than one day.
“And Jesus, having called his disciples unto him, said, I have compassion on the crowd, because they continue with me already three days and have nothing to eat; and I would not let them go fasting, lest they faint in the way. And his disciples say to him, Whence should we [have] in a wilderness so many loaves as to fill so great a crowd? And Jesus saith to them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few small fishes. And he commanded the crowds to lie down on the ground; and taking the seven loaves and the fishes he gave thanks and broke, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the crowd. And all ate and were filled, and they took up what was over of the broken pieces, seven baskets full. And those that ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. And having let go the crowds he went on board the ship and came over into the borders of Magadan " (vers. 32-39).
On the first occasion the disciples took the initiative, and proposed the dismissal of the crowds to buy themselves food in the villages. Their faith was weak indeed. How sad to overlook His presence who was pledged to satisfy Zion's poor with bread I Even His call that they should give them to eat failed to awaken any sense of His fullness. So He took the provision they despised, and abundantly blessed it to the five thousand, and more; yet there remained over of the broken pieces twelve baskets full. Now this answers to the twelve apostles, being the number of full administration by or in man. But it was only a sign in His rejected testimony to Israel; and sending His disciples to go before Him to the other side, on dismissal of the crowds, He went up into the mountain apart to pray, the figure of His priestly place on high. After this comes the wondrous scene of Peter leaving the ship to join Jesus on the water, which is peculiar to Matthew, as alone expressive of the divine design by that Gospel, and having nothing like it on the second occasion.
Hera it is the Messiah yearning over His famished people. They were guilty; but He commiserated their distressful state, and gave His disciples a fresh opportunity of drawing on Him by faith. Alas they were slow to learn. “Whence should we have in a wilderness so many loaves as to fill so great a crowd?” He was there, and full of compassion; but unbelief, even in believers, is ever blind. The seven loaves which He took and distributed through His disciples, and the surplus in the seven baskets here named, point to spiritual, not to administrative fullness. All was ordered of God, all is meant to teach man, if he has ears to hear. It is Jehovah-Messiah acting in His own perfection. Here there is no going on high to pray; nor is there a rejoining the disciples for the other side, when and where all who once rejected Him welcome Him and His beneficent power, as will be in the consummation of the age.
How is it with you, dear reader? Whatever engrosses you, whatever interests you, the first and deepest of all questions is, How are you treating Jesus? He is the Lord of glory, the Son of God Who became man to die for you. How do you regard Him? It concerns you now, and for all eternity. He died to save sinners; but the blessing is for those that believe. If you believe not who have heard His name, you are far more guilty than heathen who have not heard. God the Father resents all dishonor done to His beloved Son, and has given all judgment into His hands, because He is Son of man (John 5), to punish all men who despise Him. Is it not then of incalculable moment that you bow to Him Who will be your Judge by-and-by, if you refuse Him now as Savior? Remember that His judgment is eternal. Yet how righteous is it also For the unbeliever in the gospel is not impenitent only but despises God's grace. How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?

Gospel Words: the Transfiguration

Matt. 17:1-9
In the midst of His service of humiliation our Lord was for a little transfigured. It was not like Moses whose face shone from his nearness to the divine Presence. Our Lord was with His own here below. A week before He prepared them for seeing the Son of man coming in His kingdom. After it He takes with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and brings them up into a high mountain apart. " And His face did shine as the sun, and His garments became white as the light. And, behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah talking with them." It is a miniature of His kingdom wherein will be the risen and changed saints with others in their natural bodies, and the Lord the center of all.
Yet it would seem that the divine aim of Moses and Elijah being there was to mark the surpassing glory of the Lord before Whom the chief representative of the law and the most honored of the prophets gave place and vanished away. The personal glory of Jesus is most conspicuous as elsewhere in this Gospel. He is Son of God and Son of man.
Peter counted it a great thing to see His Master with saints so renowned and glorious. " Lord," said he to Jesus, " It is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, I will make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah." He made the natural but fatal mistake of equalizing all three. Yet he who had only so short a time before confessed His Master to be not only the Messiah, but the Son of the living God, ought not to have so erred. So easy is it to forget what flesh and blood never truly knows, what is revealed by the Father; just as then too he could not bear to think of His going to Jerusalem, suffering many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and being killed but raised the third day.
Here it was not the withering rebuke of the Lord Who knew that all blessing for man and glory for God, in a ruined world, hung on His rejection. It was the Father's voice out of the excellent glory. " While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and, behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son in Whom I found my delight: hear ye him." The Father then displayed His jealousy for the honor of His Son. He would not allow the law-giver or the law-restorer to be put on such a level. They were servants and to be honored in the place He set them. But His beloved Son I-there were His delights; and if Christ went down in love infinite to suffer as man, and as man to be exalted, the glory of the eternal Son was precious beyond all thought of man in His Father's eyes.
It is the Son Whom we are to hear. See how the great truth is attested in the Epistle to the Hebrews, both in chap. 1:2, and in chap. 7:25. Equally explicit is John 5:25 for quickening, and in John 10 for every day; and not only for the sheep led out of the Jewish fold but for other sheep, Gentiles, not of this fold. Dear reader, does not this reach to you? If the blessing is immense, what is the loss? And what must be the fierceness of fire which shall devour the adversaries and the indifferent? For Himself has said, " My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give to them life eternal; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand." On the other hand " he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him."
When the disciples heard the Father's voice, they fell on their faces and were sore afraid. They were far from knowing yet His love; but He, Who brought it in His own person, was at hand to strengthen their hearts. " And Jesus came and touched them and said, Arise, and be not afraid." Not less now but more does Jesus cause His word to come home in the power of redemption to those that believe. And the God Who sent Him would fill us with all joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in hope in the power of the Holy Spirit. Is it thus with your souls? Can you say that you have heard the voice of Jesus by faith, and that you are " not afraid "? This is His will, not only for the three who then heard, but for all that believe the gospel of God. Perfect love casts out the fear that has torment, and creates the fear of reverence. It is the effort of the enemy to work on the conscious guilt of man that he may distrust the words of Jesus; it is the work of the Spirit from the beginning to efface it all. The entrance of that word dispels darkness before the light of God to the soul, and enables the heart to receive " Be not afraid."
" Lifting up their eyes, they saw no one save Jesus only." Visions were always rare; such a vision is unique. But for the heart's comfort, and the right direction of the eye, there is nothing to compare with having Jesus the Son of God to hear. So has God the Father ruled: " hear Him." And He abides the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever, May we by faith look to " Jesus only." It is not only at first that the soul may be saved by faith, but for every day and hour after we do believe. For the only right Walk is by faith, and the fight of faith is the only good fight, in which Jesus is the one unfailing Captain. Other fights we may have to our shame, where flesh is not judged, and Satan gains advantage for the moment. To Jesus then may we ever look, to " Jesus only."

Gospel Words: the Lunatic Son Healed

Mark 9:17-27
What a contrast with the manifestation of the excellent glory on the mountain was the actual state of man even in the favored people here below! Jesus the Son of God was there; yet that the disciples knew not so by faith, as to avail themselves of His victory over the enemy!
" And one of the crowd answered and said, Teacher, I brought unto thee my son having a dumb spirit; and whensoever it taketh him, it teareth him, and he foameth and gnasheth his teeth, and is withering away. And I spoke to thy disciples that they should cast it out; and they were not able. And answering them He saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I bear with you? Bring him unto me. And they brought him unto Him; and when He saw him, straightway the spirit tore him, and falling on the ground he wallowed foaming. And He asked his father, How long time is it that this hath come to him? And he said, From a child. And often it cast him both into fire and into waters to destroy him; but if thou hast any power, help us in thy pitifulness toward us. But Jesus said to him, If thou hast power (is) to believe: all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out and said, I believe: help mine unbelief. And Jesus, seeing that a crowd was running up together, rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, Dumb and deaf spirit, I command thee, come out of him and enter no more into him. And having cried out and torn [him] much, it came out, and he became as if dead, so that the most said, He is dead. But Jesus laying hold of him by the hand raised him up; and he stood up " (vers. 17-27).
It was indeed a mighty deed: and so it fell to our Gospel above the others to give most details. There are differences in the evil spirits; and only to prayer and fasting did the kind in question yield. The lack in that respect was grievous in the Lord's eyes. The distressed parent did not despair, and turned from the failing disciples to Him Who never fails. How humbling when believers thus dishonor their Lord " O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I bear with you?" This was the overwhelming fact. That the crowd, that the scribes, should have no faith, was bad enough after such ample witness of the gracious power of God in His Son, servant of all need in man, marked out from the first in doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil. Did He not give the twelve, and more than the twelve, authority over the unclean spirits? How was it then that these put shame on His name by failing to draw on Him?
" Bring him unto Me" says the Savior. Even so, He lets all see the depth of the child's need, the malicious power of the enemy. He manifests His interest in all that dismays the heart of man. He inquires, not as if He did not know the reins and the heart, but that the tried soul may learn the reality of His compassion. He teaches the feeble suppliant that the question of power turns on faith; for faith God will have, whatever may be His own grace. What possible good morally could power insure without believing? On the other hand, all things are possible to him that believes. So even the disciples had to learn; and the father, through his necessities believing the lesson at once, tends to the right way under the Lord's guidance. " I believe: help mine unbelief." How wholesome for the believer to feel and own his unbelief!
How is it with you that read these words? Have you found out what a deadly thing is unbelief? Have you received the declaration from God that you till brought to Him live in the lusts of your flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and are by nature children of wrath, even as the rest of mankind? Judaism did not hinder this of old, whatever its great privileges; nor does Christendom now with its still greater advantages. And has Satan no power over such as are dead in trespasses and sins? Do not such walk according to the age of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience? If men but saw by faith, they would discern themselves thus in a plight more appalling than that of the lunatic child under the power of the dumb and deaf spirit. For in itself it was for the life that now is; whereas Eph. 2:1-3 describes for both time and eternity.
But the Lord, as He wrought in power then, is also the Deliverer according to the rich mercy of God and the great love wherewith He loves. God is now showing the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus, as He assures us He will in the ages to come. Let me, following the apostle, entreat that you receive not the grace of God in vain; for vain it undoubtedly is, if you have not faith in God through our Lord Jesus for your own soul as a guilty sinner, powerless in yourself before Him. But He hearkens to the cry of need and distress; yea He sends His word and works in manifold ways to make souls sensible of their ruin, that they may cry and He may answer in the glad tidings of His gospel. Now too it is a day of salvation; and the casting away of Israel is the world's reconciliation. For their fall is our wealth, their loss is our rich gain.
How awful then for men in Christendom to live only for present enjoyment, money, ease, honor, power, like the heathen who know not God I He Who for sins suffered unutterably, not from man only, but from God's judgment on the cross, is the Author of everlasting salvation to all those that obey Him; and faith in God's testimony to Him is the beginning of that blessing which shall never end. Oh, take heed, and put not off the call of grace, which you may not hear again! The spirits, now in prison and awaiting, not another deluge, but everlasting judgment in the resurrection of the unjust, once heard the Spirit of Christ in Noah's preaching while the ark was in preparation. Beware lest you, who have heard a far fuller expression of divine mercy in the gospel of Christ, frustrate the counsel of God against yourselves. For God is not mocked in the end, however men cheat themselves in thinking that He heeds not their words and ways now. To-day if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts as in the provocation, throughout the day of the temptation in the wilderness.

Gospel Words: Fish and the Temple Tax

Matt. 17:24-27
What had the Lord said in John 8? It is the Son only Who, being free in the highest sense, sets free those who are His disciples abiding in His word. All else, however boastful, are but slaves of sin, the lowest of all slavery. The slave passes; the son abides forever; but this he derives solely from the eternal Son, though not without faith in the truth which He in grace tells out, as indeed He was it and came that we might hear and receive it. " Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."
So here what ineffable grace " Lest we cause them to stumble, go unto the sea, and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and having opened its mouth, thou wilt find a shekel: that take and give to them for me and thee."
Now it is His omnipotence that is proved; for what else could make itself forthwith obeyed by a fish passing through the paths of the sea? Who but God in man could or would have caused it to rise to Peter's hook with a silverling in its mouth of the exact amount for the temple? Whom but the Son did it befit to say in His grace, lest we cause them to stumble "... give to them for me and for thee "? The grand truth is breaking through the clouds of a self-destroying Israel and Judaism, that the Son was emptying and humbling Himself, not only to rescue, but to associate with Himself every one that believes in Him. What grace 1
This association, as the gospel tells, is based not only on the divine glory of His person, but on the accomplishment of an everlasting redemption. This He found, as Heb. 9 declares, by His own blood. And as it is attested by His ascension glory, so it is the glad message sent to you, my dear reader, if you have not already received it unto salvation. This, and no less, it bears, and, on God's authority and in His love, assures to every sinner who repents and believes the gospel. God is thus honoring His Son, as well He may; for He and He alone perfectly glorified Him, even as to sin on the cross, as before in all respects.
Oh persevere not in that unbelief which is the most radical and hateful of all evils. Listen no more to the ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan: why die the second death? Christ is the way, the truth, and the life: are you so infatuated as to prefer the pleasures of sin for a season, and make shipwreck for eternity? Can it be that you turn a deaf ear to Him Who suffered once for all for sins, and will not come to Him that you may have life?
The New Testament presents no miracle more striking and instructive than the one before us. Its place too in the First Gospel and there only is precisely appropriate, if the Holy Spirit meant here to bring out the divine glory of Christ, along with His grace in associating the believer with Himself; when, rejected as He is by the Jews, the church and the kingdom of the heavens should replace the things even promised by new things.
" And when they came unto Capernaum, those that receive the half-shekels came to Peter and said, Doth not your teacher pay the half-shekels? He saith, Yea. And when he entered into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? The kings of the earth, from whom do they receive toll or tribute? from their sons or from other folk? He (or, Peter) saith to him, From other folk. Jesus said to him, Well then the sons are free. But lest we cause them to stumble, go unto the sea, and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and having opened its mouth, thou wilt find a shekel: that take and give to them for me and thee " (vers. 24-27).
Peter, like most disciples and like all naturally, was slow to distrust himself and to wait on the Lord and His word. He was quick, being zealous for the law, to assure those who took the redemption money (not the tax-gatherers so repulsive to Jewish feeling) that his Master was the same. He did not when questioned bear in mind, either what the Father had revealed to Him of the Lord's personal dignity (chap. 14), or of the glory conferred on Him for the coming kingdom (chap. 17): Jesus was too good an Israelite to neglect the heave-offering to Jehovah, the atonement for the soul! Peter forgot that Jesus was the true temple of God and the true God of the temple; he knew not yet that the visible temple was doomed, as ready to vanish away. He still savored the things that are of men.
The Lord therefore anticipated him on entering the house by the question, From whom do the kings of the earth take toll or tribute? from their sons, or from other folk? He could not but answer, From other folk; and the Lord rejoined that therefore the sons are free.
The Lord had just shown His omniscience, as He showed every creature subject to Him. He proved to Peter that He knew what had not reached His ear. He graciously corrects His servant's mistake and leads him once more into the truth. He was God, the Son, equally with the Father and the Holy Spirit; but He speaks and acts in perfect grace; as indeed otherwise where could Peter or we be? He says, Then are the sons free. On Him, Who alone is the Son eternally in personal right and title, depends the blessedness of the sons. We are by grace sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus, not Peter only but now, once Jews or Gentiles, all God's sons, all one in Christ Jesus; and because sons, God sent out the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father. So that each can hear, Thou art no longer a slave but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

Gospel Words: the Deaf and Stammering Man

Mark 7:32-37
This is one of the two miracles peculiar to the gospel of Mark, the other being the cure of the blind man of Bethsaida (chap. 8:22). They both illustrate the prophetic service of the Son of God. He had come to the lake of Galilee.
" And they bring to him [one] deaf and hardly speaking, and they beseech him to lay his hand on him. And having taken him away from the crowd apart, he put his fingers to his ears; and he spit and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven he groaned, and saith to him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the bond of his tongue was loosed, and be spoke aright. And he charged them that they should tell no one; but the more he charged them, the more abundantly were they publishing [it]. And they were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well; he maketh both the deaf to hear and the speechless to speak " (vers. 32-37).
The minute accuracy of the Holy Spirit in recounting Christ's miracles is admirable. This case differs from others, in that the sufferer is not said to have been absolutely mute, but to have had an impediment of speech, or speaking with difficulty, as well as deaf. Nevertheless the Lord takes especial pains with him. The manner reveals the divine Servant's grace. There was no question of His power. Ordinarily He healed all that needed it in a moment, no matter how extreme, as when an unclean spirit was the cause of the dumbness rather than physical inability or defect. Here He was pleased to manifest His tender interest in detail, and His compassionate love no less than His power to heal. He does much more than what those besought who brought the patient to Him. Putting the hand on the needy one was the usual sign of blessing; and less than this, a word, would have been enough, if so the obedient Lord had seen fit to God's glory.
But He took him aside from the crowd apart. For here it is not the crowd He thinks of, any more than the haughty scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem. Just before He had met the desperate need of the Syro-Phoenician on behalf of her demoniac daughter on the borders of Tire and Sidon. Now He had come through the midst of the borders of Decapolis, where, as the prophet had long before predicted, light was to shine for a despised remnant when darkness brooded over the mass with city and temple dead to the rejected Messiah (Isa. 9:1, 2). So apart from the crowd He took the deaf man, and put His fingers unto, if not into (as the preposition may mean according to the sense required), his ears. But more than this; having spit, He touched the tongue of the stammerer.
He marked in both acts how all depended on bringing Himself personally to bear on the actual wants. He who wrought was man, but no less was He God, the Son incarnate and on earth, in His pitiful love serving God and man. It was not only that He applied what came from within Himself to the man's tongue, but looking up to heaven He groaned, and saith to him, Ephphatha, that is,
Be opened. Power truly went out of Him, and love was its spring in devotedness to God Who is as truly light in His nature as love is the character of its energy, which His own service was manifesting. And thus, if He deigned to touch the man so intimately, He looked up to heaven whence He came in a love that abides unchanging and above all evil, yet groaned in deep sense of it, whilst He said to him, Be opened.
The afflicted man was but an emblem of the state of Israel, unwilling alas! and unable through unbelief to hear God, or to speak out their own misery and His praise. But as brought to Him he set forth the remnant on whom light dawned in a region and shadow of death. And " straightway " (a word so characteristic in the Gospel of His service) his ears were opened, and the bond or tie of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke aright. If the unbelief of the people and its chiefs made their blessing impossible, the poor of the flock prove the all-suffering of His gracious power, and reap the great blessing of faith, be it ever so small. And the love which so wrought will encourage a remnant in a future day, who will re-commence the Jewish history in the land, till it become a strong nation in that faithfulness which is unwearied and will never forget the promise.
For the present all was vain; and He charged them to tell no one, but the more He did, the more a great deal were they its publishers. Yet, true as it might be in word, it was not faith in the heart, but rather extreme astonishment. Even so what a comment on Christ's service " He hath done all things well; He maketh both the deaf to hear and speechless to speak."
But how is it with you who now read God's testimony to Jesus His Son? Have you heard His voice? For He still speaks in His word; and they live who hear Him; and they follow Him, for they know His voice. Amidst the Babel tongues of Christendom they know it, and there is none like it; for it reveals to their souls God, and God as Father in quite a new way proper not to man even innocent but to the Son already come Who has given us understanding that we may know Him that is true. Truth is in none other; but He is not only the truth, but the way and the life. " Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house." His word cannot deceive, His word only; and what He has done is according to the same perfection: above all is that work which He wrought on the cross, by which we that believe have now received the reconciliation.

Gospel Words: the Blind Man of Bethsaida

Mark 8:22-26
This is the later of the two miracles peculiar to the Gospel of Mark. As in the former the Lord led away the deaf man, who could not speak aright, from the crowd apart, so here He took hold of the blind man's hand and conducted him out of the village. The mass of the Jews had already had ample signs in testimony of Who and what He was. It was but for greater hardening of their hearts to see more. They might get their sick healed, they might eat of the loaves He made and be filled; but even the most orthodox sought from Him a sign from heaven, tempting Him; so that He could only groan in His spirit and say, Why doth this generation seek a sign? Had He not given them countless signs? In the sense of their unbelief, which a Syro-Phoenician woman's faith rebuked, the Lord leads aside from the multitude, though He still acts in compassionate grace. This could not fail where they bring distressful need before Him, the Servant not more righteous than gracious.
" And they bring him a blind man, and beseech him that he might touch him. And taking hold of the blind man's hand, he led him forth out of the village, and having spit on his eyes, he laid his hands on him, and asked him if he beheld anything. And having looked up he said, I behold men, for I see [them] as trees, walking. Then he laid his hands again on his eyes, and he saw distinctly, and was restored, and saw all things clearly. And he sent him to his house, saying, Neither enter into the village, nor tell [it] to any one in the village " (vers. 22-26).
It is the gospel of His service; and here, as throughout, we are made to behold the perfect manner in which His mighty works were done. It is not only the power of God ever ready to heal the sick and those oppressed by the devil. The way in which He answered every such appeal was worthy of the Son of God become servant to glorify God and win man. He put His fingers to the deaf man's ears, He touched the ill-speaking tongue. He laid His hands upon the blind man outside Bethsaida. There was no necessity for any such actions. He had but to speak, and it was done. But love is far beyond power; and when man has power to wield it in ever so limited a range, how little he thinks of love! Least of all does he, conscious however scantily of his sinfulness, look for love from the God he slights and dreads. The Lord in the way He wields divine power manifests divine love, and as Man in the midst of men. Nor is there the smallest ostentation but its marked absence: all is done in genuine simplicity as well as tenderness.
We may notice too that in the two miracles the Lord uses His own spittle, as He did also in the cure of the man born blind (told us in John 9). Whatever the reality and lowliness of the humanity He had taken up in His grace, there was divine efficacy in His person; and the sign of this He applies in all three cases, each having its own distinction. When He touched the tongue, He looked up to heaven with a groan, and says to the man, Be opened; and immediately the happy result follows. When He mixed clay with what came of Himself and anointed the born-blind man's eyes, He told him to go to Siloam and wash; and only then did he come seeing. Here the very intent was to mark by the twofold act of laying His hands on his eyes that the Lord would not have the cure partial. It was much to behold men, like trees, but walking. Yet the Lord would not let him go thus; He would give him to see distinctly. He therefore laid His hands upon his eyes, so that he was restored and saw all things distinctly. It was simply the way of love that the blind man might know the deep interest of His heart Who might have dispensed with any or all of these circumstances, and have effected the perfect cure with a word. But what a blank for the man and for our hearts, if it had been only so!
Indeed the instruction was great for the disciples who were then in a measure learning of His ways with Whom they were, and learned far more when He was gone and the Holy Spirit come. The former was no unmeet emblem of Israel's state, and had a sample of the powers of the world to come when the weak remnant shall become a strong nation, with ears opened and tongue loosed to speak Jehovah's praise. The latter in the partial cure might well remind the disciples that they during His earthly ministry did not see more clearly than the man when His hands were laid on him. once. How different when God raised Him up from the dead whereof they were witnesses! Then, He being exalted by the right hand of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Spirit, how great the blessing! Faith needs to have its perfect work, as well as patience. How often men stop short!
How is it with you who read these words? How are you treating Him, His words, and His works? You have to do with Him, whether you will or not. For the hour now is, when the dead have the voice of the Son of God sounding in their ears, and they that hear live. For this He when here prepared men. If He be the rejected Messiah, He is the Son of man and thus the destined Judge of mankind. How would it be with you if the hour of His judgment were come? Could you stand unabashed and unscathed before Him Whose eyes will be then as a flame of fire? Who searches the reins and hearts? Who will reward each according to his works?
What thanks shall one render, when one believes that the same Jesus is the Son of God, not only the true God but eternal life, ready and willing to give life eternal to you who can find it no where else? This is the way, the best way for a saint, the only way for a sinner, to honor the Son. It is to believe on Him; for indeed He is the way, the truth, and the life. Thus believing you do not come into condemnation, but even now have passed from death unto life. So He declares; so may you believe, and never be confounded.

Gospel Words: the Widow's Son Raised

Luke 7:11-17
As this is a miracle peculiar to the Gospel of Luke, it strikingly illustrates God's design therein. Luke alone tells us of the penitent woman sent away in peace, of the good Samaritan, of the tax-gatherer in the parable self-judging and contrasted with the self-righteous Pharisee, of the prodigal son, of Zacchaeus, of the converted robber: all of them cases of overflowing grace. So it is here where the gracious power of God manifested itself, and this in the man Christ Jesus, and with marked commiseration of human grief. All this and more was in the Savior, as God would have all men know.
" And it came to pass the day after that he went to a city called Nain, and there went with him his disciples, and a great crowd. Now, as he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, there was carried out dead, an only son of his mother, and she a widow, and a considerable crowd of the city was with her, And the Lord seeing her had compassion' on her, and said to her, Weep not. And coming up he touched the bier (or, open coffin), and the bearers stopped. And he said, Youth, I say to thee, Awake. And the dead sat up and began to speak; and he gave him to his mother. And fear visited all; and they were glorifying God, saying, A great prophet is arisen among us, and God visited his people. And this report about him went out in the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding country " (vers. 11-17).
The power in which the grace of Christ acted was not limited to sickness, even so extreme as leprosy or paralysis. It was not confined to Israel: faith drew it out mightily in answer to Gentile appeal. Here without an appeal we see it supreme over the ravages of death, and with exquisite tenderness toward sorrow otherwise hopeless. Outside the gate of Nain, still called Nein, and mounting the steep declivity of Jebel Duhy, or Little Hermon, with its many sepulchral caves, the Lord and His disciples, with a great crowd following, met another great crowd drawn together by the funeral of a young man, a widow's only son. With a heart full of pity He said to the mother, " Weep not." They were words in vain from other lips. To men it is appointed once to die; and the young man was really dead, as the inspired physician attests. Man born of woman is of few days, and full of trouble. There is hope of a tree, even if it wax old and the stock die in the ground; through the scent of water it will bud and put forth boughs. But man dies and is prostrate; yea, man expires, and where is he? The waters retire from the lake, and the river water dries up; so man lies down and rises not: till the heavens be no more, they awake not, nor are raised out of their sleep.
But now the Second Man was here, the last Adam. The Kinsman-Redeemer was hard by, and uttered words of hope to the widowed mother, stricken afresh and without hope. The strong one fully armed, who had the might of death, thought to keep his own credit and his goods in peace; but a stronger than he had come upon him and overcome him, and would take from him his whole armor wherein he trusted and divide his spoils. As a sample of this the Lord touched the bier, and the bearers stood still; and His voice was again heard. This time He spoke to the corpse, Youth, I say to thee, Awake.
Never was such a call uttered or heard before. The great prophet Elijah prayed and stretched himself over and over again on another widow's child; and Jehovah hearkened to Elijah's importunate supplication (1 Kings 17). He too that asked and received a double portion of Elijah's spirit with no less prayer and urgent effort labored for another dead child, and was heard for his faith. So in later N. T. days Peter ventured not to say to the body of the deceased disciple, Tabitha, Arise, till he had knelt down and prayed, any more than Paul when he fell on the dead Eutychus and enfolded him in his arms.
How different His bearing Who alone is the Resurrection and the Life! " Youth, I say to thee, Awake." Yet He Who by the act thus done was marked out Son of God in power by resurrection of a dead man, habitually called Himself the Son of man, as it is carefully shown in chap. 3 of this Gospel. And He Who subsisting in the form of God counted it not rapine (or, prize to be clutched) to he on equality with God, in the perfection of human affection gave the youth (no longer dead but sitting up and speaking) to his mother. How able, how willing, is He to help the tried! How suited and ready to sympathize with our infirmities!
Do you, my reader, answer that this was a miracle, and therefore exceptional? Learn then that, though true miracles, His miracles, like His words were written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you might have life in His name. Be assured then of a love in a human heart infinitely beyond man's, even the love of God shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us. His voice now appeals to you in the gospel. For the hour now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live. O you that read, hear Him and live. Why should you die? Why despise grace and truth in not hearing them? Listen to Him again: "Verily, verily, I say to you, He that heareth My word, and believeth Him that sent Me, hath life eternal, and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life " (John 5:24).

Gospel Words: the Unclean Demon Cast Out

Mark 1:23-28; Luke 4:33-36
This miracle which Mark records as well as Luke may be noticed as the first wrought publicly on one a demoniac. Indeed it has a striking place in the opening of our Lord's service in the second Gospel, which is devoted to that display of its exercise. What truths are more needful for man to hear than that he is in one way or another under the thraldom of Satan? and that the name of Jesus alone avails to deliver him? Only it is as beautiful as it is blessed to see that the third Gospel depicts from the vision of Isaiah the grace and power in which He came, before manifesting man's wretched subjection to the enemy. It was given to Luke only to tell us of that matchless scene in the synagogue at Nazareth, before the solemn lesson that soon followed at Capernaum. How quickly men turn from wonder at grace in God and His Son to the wrath and hatred of their own offended pride I How slow to allow that their own will opens the door for their slavery to Satan!
"And there was in the synagogue a man having a spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried with a loud voice, Eh I what have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth? Didst thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out from him. And the demon, having thrown him down in the midst, came out from him, without injuring him. And amazement came upon all, and they spoke together one with another, saying, What [is] this word? because with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out " (vers. 33-36).
No doubt this case like others in the Gospels exhibits the aggravated fact of possession. It was not derangement here, but Satan's command of mind and body. Yet it is also observable that what is ordinary and presents none of the humiliating horrors of possession may be really more ruinous eternally. So we may infer from the Gadarenes, who were not drawn to Jesus by the deliverance of him that had the legion, but on the contrary besought Him to depart from their borders. In any way, how awful is the subjection! How gladly should men hail the true tidings God sends of a Deliverer in Jesus I Only believe on Him; believe God about His Son. Do you not need Him desperately? None less, none other, than Jesus can defeat Satan or save your soul.
Think of the fearful identification of the unclean spirit with the man, which his language reveals. " Eh I what have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth? Didst Thou come to destroy us? " There is no creature in the universe which affords a lair so congenial for a demon as a sinful human heart. As long as you are far from the Lord, you are near and open to the power or wiles of the spirit of evil. He is your great enemy; the Lord Jesus is your greater friend. Reject not the Savior to your ruin. Be assured that He will receive you; if you cast your soul on Him, He will in no wise reject you. He came to seek and save the lost. If you own yourself lost, as indeed you are, He is just the Savior for you.
There is another notable word. " I know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God." Yes, He was and is " holy," even as God is, the Holy One of Israel. And this most appalls these unclean spirits, a Man, yet the Holy One of God No wonder that they believe and shudder. How portentous that sinful man when he hears neither believes nor shudders! yea, yet worse, that he believes after a sort without a shudder even at his own state and sure doom, if he abides as he is in his sins, neglecting so great salvation.
But " Jesus rebuked him," refusing a demon's testimony; as the apostle did at a later day. God testifies by His word, as He was then testifying in Jesus, His Son and Servant; and the Holy Spirit is now sent forth to bear witness of Jesus, that you may believe on Him and be saved.
Not content with rebuking the demon, He commanded him to hold his peace and come out from the man he had made his prey. And the demon was compelled to obey. If he threw the man in the midst, as evidence of the powerful spirit, he came out from the man without doing him hurt, to the praise of the Lord Jesus. It was not " word " only, to which they were used; but this word was with authority and power in Jehovah's servant, His chosen. Amazement came on all then; but for a sinner to believe is far better still.
Oh! is not this the Savior that you want? He that died to annul him that had the power of death, He died for you, that your sins might be blotted out and yourself justified by faith in His name. " For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." Such was the due time with God: why is it not your due time 2 What could God do more to meet your danger and your need? How could He better assure you of His deep compassion? No other sign could match what He has already given in the Crucified? Why should you ask or look for any other? Be sure God gave the very best.

Gospel Words: the Woman With a Spirit of Infirmity

Luke 13:10-17
This is a miracle which fell to Luke alone to record; and it sets before us the Man Who was Jehovah's fellow accomplishing His mission of grace in the midst of a race not only indifferent or hostile to God but hypocritical. Their perverse iniquity leads on those who ought to be intercessors to become adversaries.
" And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, a woman having a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and she was bowed together and wholly unable to hold her head up. And Jesus, seeing her, addressed and said to her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands upon her; and immediately she was made straight, and was glorifying God. But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus healed on the sabbath, said in answer to the crowd, There are six days in which one ought to work; in these therefore come and be healed, and not on the day of the sabbath. The Lord therefore answered him and said, Hypocrites! doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall and leading it away water [it]? And this [woman], Abraham's daughter as she is, whom Satan bound, behold, eighteen years, ought she not to be loosed from this bond on the day of the sabbath? And as he said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed; and all the crowd rejoiced at all the glorious things that were being done by him " (vers 10-17).
The sabbath had often furnished occasion to prove the evil state of the people, especially of those in repute among men, as in Luke 6:2, 7, and 11. Here the Holy Spirit introduces the grace of our Lord, where the context tells of God's moral judgment of Israel, tested and aggravated by His presence, Who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil. But what was God and His grace to such as sought no glory but their own? They were only provoked by a love which condemned their ungodly self-seeking. Their heart was far from Him, and its deceits were veiled from themselves by religious forms. It is not the righteous, still less the self-righteous, but sinners whom our Savior calls.
While teaching in a synagogue one sabbath, the Lord beheld a woman, so long bowed down that she could not look up, and yet coming to hear God's word. Without an appeal from her or any other, He addressed her with words of wonder-working compassion. " Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity." Not content with what had fully sufficed, " He laid his hands upon her; and immediately she was made straight, and was glorifying God." He had vanquished the strong one, and would take from him all his panoply wherein he trusted, and would divide his spoils. The Lord was entitled to proclaim release to the captives, and to set at liberty those who were bound.
The ruler of the synagogue, instead of owning and blessing God for His manifested goodness and power, was " indignant," hating the grace which he could not deny, and thus proving himself to be under a deeper slavery to Satan than the delivered woman. His wickedness was all the worse for the zeal, in his answer to the crowd, he affected for the sabbath. " There are six days in which one ought to work; in these therefore come and be healed, and not on the day of the sabbath." It was God Who had wrought in and by His Son; and would he shut one out from His mercy on that day? to say nothing of her lying in the bitter bondage of the enemy so many years.
" The Lord therefore answered him and said, Ye hypocrites! [for he had not a few who shared his half-hearted unbelief] doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead it off to watering? and this [woman], Abraham's daughter as she is, whom Satan bound, behold, eighteen years, ought she not to be loosed from this bond on the day of the sabbath?" It was irresistible for the conscience; and hearts were gladdened by grace as evident as the truth. " All his adversaries were ashamed; and all the crowd rejoiced at all the glorious things that were being done by him."
He, the Lord, has done a far greater and more enduring work. He has given His life a ransom for many. He has suffered once for sins, Just for unjust, to bring you to God, Who points you to Him for a greater deliverance, even redemption for the body with glory on high. Acknowledge then your desperate need; for you too are so bowed down by Satan through your iniquities, that you cannot truly look up. To your guilt and misery add not the hypocrisy of pleading religious obligations, when God proclaims in your ears the glad tidings of His Son, the Rescuer from the wrath to come. Neither working on the six days, nor rest on the seventh, can efface your sins; nor can the synagogue avail, nor saints or Virgin more than yourself, but " Jesus only." He is the " one Mediator between God and men " (1 Tim. 2:5). " Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house " (Acts 16:31). " In none other is there salvation; for neither is there any other name under heaven that is given among men, wherein we must be saved." So said Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit to the rulers of the people and 'elders (Acts 4:12). So say not those who falsely claim to be his successors or their abettors.

Gospel Words: the Dropsical Man Cured

Luke 14:1-6
It is plain that the Spirit is in this context setting out the moral ruin of men who flattered themselves, as far as possible from believing that the kingdom of God was to be taken from them, and given to such as should bring forth the fruits thereof. The various incidents of the chapter bring to light man in his evil confronted by the grace of God in Christ. So it is in the opening scene.
" And it came to pass, when he went into the house of a certain one of the rulers of the Pharisees to eat bread on a sabbath, that they were watching him. And, behold, there was a certain dropsical man before him. And Jesus answering spoke unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath, or not? But they were quiet. And he took, healed, and let him go. And [answering] he said unto them, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fall into a well, and will not straightway draw him up on the sabbath day? And they were unable to answer again unto these things" (Luke 14:1-6).
Neither love nor truth animated these religious chiefs. Under the cover of hospitality, they were hostile. They sought evil, but only proved it in their own The dropsical man there present gave the Lord occasion to assert God's title to do good.
Had not Jehovah said before the law, " If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of Jehovah thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his eyes, wilt give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put upon the Egyptians; for I am Jehovah that healeth thee " (Ex. 15:26). Yet what was the witness of the dropsical man before the Lord and before them? And what meant all manner of disease and of sickness in the land of Israel, as it were crowding round Him to be healed? And why from all Syria brought they all that were sick, suffering under various distempers and torments, and those possessed by demons, with lunatics and paralytics It was not Jehovah-Rophi who had failed, but man generally and Israel in particular. If the sabbath was a sign between Him and them, how came it, in shining, to disclose such misery and suffering? Why with an object before all eyes to draw out pity and humiliation, were these chiefs, Pharisees, doctors of the law, blind to His glory Who was the Son of God, blind to His grace Who went about doing good and healing all that were overpowered by the devil, for God was with Him? Yea, God was in Him, reconciling the world to Himself, not reckoning to them their offenses; and they were watching Him with eyes fuller of hatred to Him than to the Gentiles they most despised! Was this then their sabbath honor?
The sabbath was a precious sign from the beginning, and, filling the very center of the law, the sure pledge of what God would accomplish in due time. But what of man's ways before the law, and under the law? What had he been to God during all the six days? What were his works before Him, and what his life? Did he love Jehovah with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might? Did not the presence of His Son, a man among men, prove the very reverse? Alas! man, sinful man, cannot enter God's rest. His works are evil. There is judgment, not rest, for him; death, and judgment.
The Lord therefore made a special point of healing on a sabbath. All the Gospels attest it, and repeatedly (Matt. 12:9; Mark 1:21; 3:1; Luke 13:10; John 5:9; 9:14). Here, as in chap. 8 cases are special to Luke as displaying divine grace, hateful to the self-righteous. The incurably sick man was the true testimony to man's state. Christ answers the selfish and unbelieving rancor of their hearts by His question. They were abashed and afraid to speak; but their will remained unbroken. And He laid hold of the man, who had not even appealed to Him (that the grace of God might all the more appear), healed him, and let him go. But He added a withering word to those hard and self-complacent sinners, " Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fall into a well, and will not straightway draw him up on the sabbath day "? This was notorious. And had God no interest in healing a sufferer or in saving a sinner? This they virtually denied, and hated Him Who came to give it effect.
And you, dear reader, if you believe not on Him, are in worse case than the dropsical man. Are you not a lost soul? Face your actual state before God; do not palliate; do not forget. In vain the medicine-man; in vain yourself or others; in vain, the saints, the angels, or the virgin. But " the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost." So He said Who is the truth. It is God's word; believe Him, and receive the blessing, even peace and joy in believing. Own the truth of your sins: this is repentance. Own the truth of His grace; this is faith. It is the way of Christ to the Father; and there is no other way from God and to God for a sinner.

Gospel Words: the Ten Lepers

Luke 17:11-19
The Lord in this miracle sets forth the grace, which was soon to supersede the law publicly, as even faith might in a measure enjoy personally. So this Gospel shows the Lord preparing the way in word and deed for the Christianity that was at hand, when Judaism died in His death.
The miracle was striking in its breadth and in its originality, if one may so say. It was not now a single leper prostrate at His feet, and His hand touching him in gracious power as Jehovah-Messiah. Ten leprous men together appealed as they stood afar off, calling aloud for His compassion, and not in vain before Him who came to save that which was lost. But let us hear the instructive account of divine pity and much more here only recorded.
" And it came to pass as He was on the way into Jerusalem, that He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. And as He entered into a certain village, there met Him ten leprous men who stood afar off; and they lifted up their voices, saying, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And on seeing He said to them, Go your way, show yourselves to the priests. And it came to pass, as they departed they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back with a loud voice glorifying God; and he fell on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks; and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus in answer, said, Were not the ten cleansed? but where [are] the nine? Were none found to return and give glory to God save this stranger? And He said to him, Arise, go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole " (vers. 11-19).
Faith was put to the test. While still uncleansed, they were told to go and show themselves to the priests. The solitary leper in earlier days was first cleansed, and then sent; but the ten were to go as they were. Assured of His power and unfailing compassion Who never wrecked the hope of the wretched, they acted on His word; and as they withdrew they were cleansed. What could the priests do but pronounce on the cure by the Master, and perform their prescribed ritual? One infinitely greater and better than they had wrought on ruined men to God's glory.
And this truth had spoken in growing faith to one heart among them where it might least have been expected; for be was a Samaritan. How apt even believers are to settle down contented with the needed blessing, and stop short of the Blesser! But one rose above letter and self; but one of them recognized the new responsibility created by grace; but one of the ten felt the immediate and paramount duty of returning to give glory to God, and of honoring the Man, His image and Son, even as the Father is honored.
Yes, the despised Samaritan alone turned back when he saw that he was healed. The nine might argue and blame the faith that outgrew theirs. " What! you going back to Jesus! Did He not tell us all to go and show ourselves to the priests? " It was plausible to reason, which cleaves to letter; but above letter is spirit, which cannot be satisfied with aught but God's mind; and He is not truly honored apart from Jesus. The nine remained Jews as they were, relieved bodily by divine power, but the heart in the old precincts of law, neither purified by faith nor enlarged by grace. Not so the Samaritan who turned to the Source and honored with the deepest homage Him Who is the Channel too of divine goodness.
It was indeed a living sample of Judaism, the refuge now of mere lettered ritual, soon to give place to grace and truth in and by Jesus, the Christianity of the gospel, and the church, believing man being brought to God reconciled and rejoicing. The first becomes last, and the last first. How the Lord fathomed and felt it all! " Were not the ten cleansed? but where the nine? Were none found to return and give glory to God save this stranger?" Truly their loss is the riches of the Gentiles; their casting away is the world's reconciling, as the apostle announced in Rom. 11
Nor is this all. The Lord instantly proclaims to the grateful Samaritan that liberty which is so essential to the Christian and is now preached to all that believe the gospel. " Arise, go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole (or, saved thee)." The cleansing, marvelous as it was, was but a figure of a deeper cure, even of soul-salvation. God in Christ came out to man in his sins, and man justified can now go in to God, even in the holiest. Earthly priests and temple, sacrifices and rites of law, are all gone in presence of Jesus dead, risen, and ascended.
But how is it with you, my reader? Many Jewish and more Gentile eyes that scan these pages know how true is the gospel to their present and everlasting deliverance. Are you one of those who say that to believe on Christ is one thing, but to realize and appropriate to yourself is another? God says not so; only your human dogma, or your unjudged unbelief, cherishes these churlish thoughts of God. He is better than the strongest faith apprehends; He has declared himself to you in Jesus, full of grace and truth. Believe Him about His Son given for you and testified to you, that you too by grace may be saved through faith.

Gospel Words: the Lord at Bethesda

John 5
Throughout this Gospel, and especially these early chapters the Lord is shown eclipsing and superseding all the old objects of honor and trust. The Pool of Bethesda bore witness even then to Jehovah as healing Israel (Ex. 15). Not merely was it occasional only, but incomplete and conditional; like the law, it required strength enough to avail oneself of it. He that was quite powerless lay there in vain. Another stepped in before he could be put into the water when troubled by the angel. To will was present with him, but not to do. " O wretched man that I am! " was all he could feel. He needed the only One Who could speak the effectual word, " Arise, take up thy couch, and walk "; then he did so immediately, sabbath as it was. What was an angel's act in comparison?
Such a sight aroused Jewish enmity; for with seared conscience they exaggerated and idolized every form. They disliked the healing power of the True God on a sabbath. The man did not profit by the warning given him of worse than sickness, but learning who it was that healed him, went and told it to the Jews, who persecuted Jesus. His answer was, " My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." How overwhelming for their evil and pride! how glorifying to God l how full of blessing to every man who truly owns his sin and misery!
It is the revelation of the Father and the Son, Who works as man in the midst of men. This is the truth, yea grace and truth come through Jesus Christ. Let the Jews vainly boast of the law given by Moses, which they kept not, it could not but be a ministration of death and condemnation. But the veil of unbelief was lying on their heart; and they neither judged themselves nor believed on Him Who did indeed say that God was His own Father, making Himself equal with God. And therefore those blindly religious yet wicked men sought the more to kill Him.
O my reader, flatter not yourself. You were not so tried. You are no less guilty and lost. You may pay homage with the lip; but are you in heart and life slighting Him Who came and died for you? Are you not neglecting so great salvation? Do you not annul the gospel, as if God's proclamation were but a fair and kindly form, and not a message of life and peace to the believer? Does not God pronounce His wrath to abide on him who is not subject to the Son? If you are believing on Him, God's word is that you have life eternal in His Son.
So the Lord then declared that the Son loyally takes as man the place of entire subjection, and does nothing of Himself, save what He saw the Father doing. He emptied Himself of glory, taking the form of a bondman; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even death of a cross. From what a height, and to what a depth, that God might be perfectly and at all cost glorified even about sin and ruin I And so He is. Wherefore also God highly exalted Him.
Here the Lord opens the great truth, starting from the sign on the sick man, and going on to His giving life eternal to those who believe, and His executing judgment on those who, not believing, do evil. Thus it is that all may honor the Son even as they honor the Father. The Son quickens whom He will, in communion with the Father who raises the dead and quickens. But He alone of Godhead became man, and suffered man's contempt and hatred even to the Cross. He therefore has all judgment given to Him, for in that full and final sense He alone judges. Bodily healing was but a sign. The real question is between life eternal and future judgment.
Hence we have the solemnly blessed message: " Verily, verily, I say to you, He that heareth my word and believeth him that sent me hath life eternal and cometh not into judgment, but hath (or, is) passed out of death into life " (ver. 24). All turns on hearing Christ's word and believing Him that sent the Savior Son of God. If one hear and believe, he has life eternal, and does not come into judgment which is no less everlasting, but has passed out of death as it was into life as now given in Him. Life eternal is in contrast with judgment which awaits those who here below only dishonored the Son, but must honor Him to their own perdition in that judgment.
Next is shown on one side man's real state, not infirm only but " dead " before God; and even now the voice of His Son for men that have heard to live. " Verily, verily, I say to you, An hour cometh and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that heard shall live " (ver. 25). For the Son was come, and as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself. Being man, He receives all from the Father, jealous to honor Him alone, as man's only right place. Thus He quickens now, as at the end He will execute judgment, according to the authority given Him, because He is Son of man.
None should wonder at this. An hour cometh which will demonstrate both His giving life as Son of God, and His executing judgment as Son of man. It is an hour, " when all that are in the tombs [distinguishing these from the spiritually dead of ver. 25] shall hear his voice, and shall go forth: they that wrought the good things unto a resurrection of life; and they that committed the worthless unto a resurrection of judgment " (vers. 28, 29). There are thus two resurrections of opposed character (not a general one as the unbelief of Christendom feigns). They answer to life and good fruit now had by faith in God's Son, and to the unbelief with its unremoved death and corrupt ways. The Revelation which the Lord gave John adds the fresh light of the kingdom over the earth and all things, in which the changed saints reign with Him for a thousand years, and a little more, before the judgment of the wicked dead and their consignment to the lake of fire. It is a book of times and seasons, which the Gospel of John is not: but both thoroughly agree as to a resurrection of life, and a resurrection of judgment.
O my reader, can any words of man add to the Lord's solemn call? Hear the voice of God's Son now, that you may have life in Him and may not come into that judgment which is woe forever.

Gospel Words: the Blind at Siloam

John 9
On no healing of the blind has the Holy Spirit dwelt so long and impressively as on this. But it is evidently in furtherance of His design in the Gospel of John: to set forth the Son's person as incarnate, but rejected in His work here, as in His word just before (chap. 8). How blind are all who can now read or hear God's written testimony, and fail to recognize His signature in the address to their souls, that believing in the name of Jesus they may have life eternal 1
It was indeed a desperate case, " And as he passed on, he saw a man blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind? Jesus answered, Neither did this man sin nor his parents, but that the works of God should be manifested in him. I must work the works of him that sent me while it is day: night cometh when none can work. When I am in the world, I am light of the world. Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam (which is interpreted, Sent). He went off therefore, and washed, and came seeing. The neighbors therefore, and those that used to see him before that he was a beggar said, Is not this he that used to sit and beg? Some said, It is he, and others said, No, but he is like him. He said, I am [he]. They said therefore to him, How then were thine eyes opened? He answered and said, A man called Jesus made clay, and smeared mine eyes, and said to me, Go to Siloam and wash; and having gone off and washed, I received sight. And they said to him, Where is he? He saith, I know not "1 (vers. 1-12).
The Lord put aside questions, and presents God's working in grace by Himself here, as Light of the world to give it effect. In an action which figured His incarnation in Whom was life, He besmeared the blind man's eyes with that which would have hindered sight, till he washed in the pool (Sent). The humiliation of Christ enables none to see, unless by the word and Spirit they apprehend Him sent of God the Father to do His will; by which will (as Heb. 10 tells us) we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. The word was thus mixed with faith in him who heard.
To confess Jesus Christ come in flesh is by the Spirit of God. Thus only do we, blind by nature, receive the Light of life. Christ becomes all to us, who before had nothing but sins and darkness and death. Till then uncertainty reigns, as we see here among the neighbors. The man is clear as to himself and confesses the Lord more as he learns more. The self-righteous oppose, and seize on the sabbath when the sign was wrought, as proof against the Savior. The Jews believe not and summon the parents in vain to set it aside. But the great fact remains: Jesus gave the blind to see. Human affection may shirk the confession of the truth. Human religion may frown, revile, and persecute. But grace and truth only shine the more brightly. " One thing I know," the beggar that was answers, " that whereas I was blind, now I see" (ver. 25).
Is not this characteristic of the gospel? It is the glad tidings, not only proclaimed in the name of Jesus, but known and enjoyed by the believer. " I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake" (1 John 2:12). So it is not only that the believer has life eternal, but " these things I write to you, that ye may know that ye have life eternal, to you that believe on the name of the Son of God" (1 John 5:13). Christendom in its unbelief falls back behind the veil of Judaism, and denies to the Christian the happy certainty of what grace has wrought and now gives freely. The priest and his rites would cloud all peace and joy in believing. They may be disciples of Moses; they are not disciples of Jesus. They claim a sacrifice forever, continuously offered, instead of confessing that He sat down in perpetuity, because His one accepted sacrifice is so efficacious that God will remember our sins and iniquities no more. To unbelief it is always a-doing, never done.
Faith made the seeing man bold. To the perverse reasoning of unbelief, which refused the evidence of God's gracious power and rejected Him Who alone makes the Father truly known, he replies, " Since the world began it was never heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man [Jesus] were not from God, he could do nothing." Impotent and incensed, they could only hiss in answer, " Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out " (ver. 34).
" Jesus finding him said, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, And who is he, Lord, that I may believe on him? Jesus said to him, Thou hast both seen Him, and He it is that speaketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe; and he worshipped Him " (vers. 35-37). May this be your portion, dear reader. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; and the one means of receiving Him is faith. Believe God's testimony to Him; and He is yours. This will enable you to judge yourself truly and confess your sins honestly; without it, you will only render a fair show in flesh. All other things, important as they may be, are subordinate to receiving Jesus. But He once received makes all else an easy yoke and a light burden.

Gospel Words: Lazarus Raised

John 11
The Lord Jesus manifested His glory by His "'signs "; for such they were, and not wonders only or powers. Here the signs which He did reached a climax in testifying to Him as Son of God, For as the Father raises the dead and quickens them, so the Son also quickens whom He will. This testimony He gave in raising the young daughter of Jairus (as recorded in the three synoptic Gospels), and in raising the widow's son of Nain whilst being carried out for burial. But now, quite close to Jerusalem, a still more glorious sign was seen in raising up Lazarus not only dead but buried. It is also in exact keeping with the special design of the fourth Gospel, and divinely seasonable too at that moment.
The Lord did not come to the sick man at the appeal of the sisters, however truly He loved them all, but abode two days where He was. " This sickness is not unto death (said He) but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby." He waited as ever for divine direction. After this He goes, though the disciples warn of danger, and He intimates that Lazarus was dead, as they failed to catch the meaning of His words. He knew the end from the beginning.
Martha went and met Him, but Mary sat still in the house. Yet the faith of Martha rose no higher than that He was Messiah, and that God would give Him whatsoever He should ask. When Jesus said, Thy brother shall rise again, she only speaks of the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth on Me, though he have died, shall live; and every one that liveth and believeth on Me shall never die. Believest thou this? Martha's answer was quite vague and not to the purpose: " I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, that cometh into the world." And having said this, she went and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is here, and calleth thee. And she, when she heard it, rises quickly and comes to Him. Yet when she arrived and fell at His feet, she says like her sister, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
The power of death lay on both, on all their hearts; and Mary wept, and the Jews that came with her. Jesus was deeply pained in His spirit, and was troubled, and wept. It was not only sympathy in love, but profoundly feeling trouble at death's power over not man only but saints. At the grave He speaks and acts in divine power over death, in communion with the Father. Martha's unbelief only draws out the expression of it. He is the resurrection and the life; and with His eyes lifted on high, He says, I thank Thee that Thou hearest Me. And I knew that Thou hearest Me always; but for the sake of the crowd that standeth around I said it, that they may believe that Thou didst send Me. And having thus said, He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And the dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes; and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith to them, Loose him and let him go.
With this Lord and Savior you, my reader, have to do now. You are called on by God to honor Him whom man rejected and crucified. You are enjoined to believe on Him. You need Him as much as Lazarus, nay even more; for Lazarus already believed on Him and was beloved by Him. Can you say that you believe on Him? Do you receive Him as the Lord and Savior sent by God that you may have in Him life eternal? To receive Him thus on God's testimony is to believe on His name. His coming again will prove the power and blessedness of life in Him; for then it is that the sleeping saints shall be raised, and the living saints shall not sleep but be changed. It is the full result of His being the resurrection and the life, of which the raising of Lazarus was the pledge on a small scale. It accords with Christ's own words to Martha, " he that believeth on me, though he should have died, shall live; and every one that liveth and believeth on me shall never die."
Martha did not enter into this blessed truth, though she believed on Him. She thought she knew all of moment in believing Him to be the Christ, the Son of God, that was to come into the world. And there are many saints who lose much joy and power by like vagueness. But she did believe on Him. And this let me press on you who read these lines, and yet cannot say that you believe on Him. Oh, if He is, as He says, the resurrection and the life, why do you hesitate to rest on such a revelation of Himself? It goes far beyond raising up the dead and buried man to renewed life in this world. It suffices for heaven and for eternity. It was not said only for that occasion; it is written by the Holy Spirit for you, and for every other who reads or hears these wondrous words now.
Do not then aggravate your guilt and state of spiritual death by slighting either the grace of God that appeals to you in the words of the Lord Jesus, or the wrath of God revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men that hold fast the truth in unrighteousness. Such may differ greatly in outward seeming; neither class have life, because they believe not on Him. They are both alike in that they will not come unto Christ, that they may have life. But without Christ, as life and propitiation also, happiness is as impossible as holiness. Life is the first want of one dead in sins. Christ is the only giver of life; and He gives it to all that believe on Him.

Gospel Words: Blind Bartimaeus

No sight was more characteristic of our Lord's ministry than His grace to the blind. It has the first place given to it in the answer to John the Baptist's message. A special case is presented in Matt. 9:27, another in Mark 8:22, and the more general fact in Luke 7:21 with other cures, but the most marked of all in John 9 Yet there is this striking circumstance common to the three earlier Gospels, that the final testimony which the Lord offers to the Jews in or near Jerusalem opens with the healing of the blind man near Jericho. Only Matthew, as his manner is, tells us of two (compare 8 28, 9 27). Mark and Luke were led to dwell on what was for other reasons the more remarkable of them. It is idle to conceive separate occasions, one on entering and the other in quitting Jericho. For Matthew and Mark are express that the miracle was wrought on going out from the town. The phrase of Luke is so indeterminate as to fall in with that statement. He does not say, "as he drew nigh " or " when he came near" to Jericho; but while in the neighborhood. This was as true when He went out as when He came in.
" And they come to Jericho, and as he was going out from Jericho and his disciples and a considerable crowd, the son of Timmus, Bartimaeus the blind, was sitting by the wayside begging. And having heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, O Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me. And many were rebuking him that he might be silent, but he cried out so much the more, Son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood still and said that he should be called. And they call the blind, saying to him, Be of good courage, rise: he calleth thee. And, throwing away his garment, he sprang up and came unto Jesus. And Jesus in answer said to him, What wilt thou that I should do to thee? And the blind said, Teacher (Rabboni), that I may receive sight. And Jesus said to him, Go thy way; thy faith hath healed (saved) thee. And immediately he received sight, and followed him in the way " (vers. 46-52).
Observe how the blind Israelites at the beginning of our Lord's ministry appeal to Him as Son of David. It was a matter of revealed promise that Messiah should open their eyes; and as they believed with their heart, they confessed with their mouth, and got the blessing. It was not so with the Canaanite, though she too believed, and with rare faith. But like many a believer, she at first applied on a wrong ground; from which the Lord led her into the right and true, that she might all the better enjoy the grace that awaited her. Here the call on the Son of David exactly suits the ways of God, when Christ finally presented Himself to the people, about to consummate His rejection to their own utter ruin for the present. It is the starting-point for His last Messianic offer to Jerusalem, where the blind that cried in faith were made to see, and those who said they saw were made blind for their unbelief and enmity.
O my reader, call on the Lord, like the once blind Bartimaeus. Hitherto you have been blind, and have followed blind leaders into the ditch. But Jesus still waits to heal and extricate you. Fear not. Be of good courage, if now you feel your need, and believe that all authority and power are His. Does He not call you as truly as He did the son of Timmus? Read not His words so unbelievingly. These things are written that you may believe unto life and salvation. Profit by the lesson of his earnest importunity. Many, who felt not their own need any more than his, kept rebuking him It was not decorum-in their view who were traveling at ease to perdition. Such cries might be well on the sabbath perhaps, and no doubt on a dying bed; but they were wholly objectionable by the wayside and before a crowd.
The Lord heard as He ever does the call of distress and of faith, took His stand, and bade him be brought before Him. And how graphic the sketch, and instructive the eagerness of the blind man casting away his cloak that he might get to the Lord! Poor as he was, he must lay aside every hindrance and go to Him at once. And Jesus answered his heart, and drew out its desire: "Great Teacher, that I may receive sight." And immediately was it given; he also followed Jesus in the way. For this His sheep do. It is their instinct of life in Him; as it is His word to them, that they may be kept in a world of evil, snares, and danger. But the Lord Jesus guides and guards His own, yet not without their hearing His voice and following Him all the way through. And a stranger will they not follow, as the rule (the only right and safe rule), but will flee from him; for they know not the voice of strangers.
Can you say, dear reader, that you have received sight from Jesus? If not, be assured that you are blind as well as in your sins. You are trusting baptism or religious observances or your clergyman in vain, if you suppose that any or all these can give you sight, or life, or propitiation for your sins. Only Jesus avails in answer to your faith, and even Jesus can give you all only by His death for you a guilty sinner. Look to Him, and be saved.

Gospel Words: the Power and the Grace of the Name

John 18:1-9
How strikingly the divine design of the Fourth Gospel differs from the three Synoptics, as seen in their reports of Gethsemane on the night of the betrayal! Who left to his own feelings would have so dwelt on his Master's agony as the beloved disciple? Yet he says not one word about it, though he alone of the Evangelists was chosen to be near the Lord in that affecting and mysterious scene, when He repaired again and again to them and found them sleeping. It fell to the others to record His exceeding sorrow in realizing the depths into which He was just about to enter; because it bore directly on the rejection of the Messiah, on the work the Righteous Servant had in hand, and on the Son of man, as perfectly dependent on His Father in the hour of woe as in all the activities of power in loving service.
Here shines out the glory of His person. Had we only the witness of John, rich as it is, what should we know of His anguish in anticipation of all before Him as He prayed to His Father, and of His entire submission whatever it cost? If most appropriately Luke alone mentions an angel strengthening Him and His sweat as clots of blood, here we see and hear the Son of the Father, to Whom He had commended His own in chap. 17
" Jesus having said these things went out with his disciples over the winter-torrent Kidron, where was a garden into which he entered, he and his disciples. And Judas also that betrayed him knew the place; because Jesus often resorted thither with his disciples. Judas therefore, having received the band and officials from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that were coming upon him, went forth and said to them, Whom seek ye They answered, Jesus the Nazarene. He said to them, I am [he]. And Judas that betrayed him stood with them. When therefore he said, I am [he], they went backward, and fell to the ground. Again therefore he asked them, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus the Nazarene. Jesus answered, I told you that I am [he]: if therefore ye seek me, let these go away; that the word might be fulfilled which he said, Of those whom thou halt given me, I lost not one " (vers. 1-9).
What communion with the Father, what prayer, what intercession, what tender care for the feeble disciples, what self-sacrificing interest on their behalf, what vigilant love of the good Shepherd, what pity for Israel, what outgoing of heart for the sheep not of this fold, had not been known in that garden! Yes, Judas knew it, and took his measures accordingly under Satan to gratify the chief priests and Pharisees. Thither he led the band with lanterns and torches and weapons.
Men who do not know the Lord talk of His " limitations," and forget that He is God, the Word become flesh, but no more ceasing to be God than a man can cease to be man. Jesus knew all things that were coming on Him, the same Jesus Who had gone through all in the profoundest grief yet dependence on the Father, for He was as truly man, the perfect man. Now when horrors began to thicken, what calm pervaded His every word and act! He went forth and said to them, Whom seek ye? They answered, Jesus the Nazarene; and on His reply, I am [He], they went backward and fell to the ground.
God indeed attested what was due to that Name; for He too was God no less than the Father and the Holy Spirit. Nor was there ever a moment more befitting. So Judas the betrayer stood with them, and he too with them fell to the ground. What a testimony to their conscience, as well as to His glory!
When the wicked Ahaziah sent a captain with his fifty to take the Tishbite prophet as he sat alone on a hill, again and again came fire down from heaven to consume the captains and their fifties. Jesus full of grace and truth came to save the lost. Not a word more did He utter. He owned Himself Jesus the Nazarene. It was enough. In His name shall bow all beings heavenly, earthly, and infernal, and every tongue confess Him Lord to God the Father's glory. It was but a witness then to that glory; but how blessed and suited and eloquent, if they had not had deaf ears, seared consciences, and hearts harder than stone! He Whose name laid them prostrate could have in a moment consigned them to death for everlasting judgment. But no! He came that God might be glorified in His death for sin, to set free every sinner that believes in Him.
And so it was of His grace that, after the manifestation of power, He asked them again, Whom seek ye? As they gave the same reply, He answered, I told you that I am [He]; if therefore ye seek Me, let these go away. O what grace now manifested on behalf of His own, so unworthy of His love, yet loved unto the end, loved though He knew all would forsake Him and flee, and that one who ventured nearer in that night of desertion would there thrice deny that he knew Him! It was a fulfillment of chap. 17:12; but great as it was, how little compared with all that those words mean and guarantee! And indeed such is His love that it covers all things great and small.
How are you who read these lines treating Him and His love? He, the Son of God and Lord of glory, was nothing to Judas and the Jews, but for the one to sell and the other to buy; and He submitted to be the willing prisoner, and the willing sacrifice, that you might hear and live. You have heard, but cannot live without faith in Him Who is the life eternal-life now that you may live of Him now-life evermore that you may have Him your life for the body and heaven as well as now for your soul on earth. But forget not that to hear and not believe on Him leaves you worse unspeakably than if you had never heard. Oh then hear, believe, and live.

Gospel Words: Malchus Healed

Luke 22:50, 51; John 18:10, 11
The moral perfection of the Lord shone only the more brightly in His new and last trial. Satan, foiled in his effort to tempt Him out of His path of obedience, came now to kill Him in it. But nothing moved Him out of that way, nothing provoked Him, even when the disciples slept instead of praying, unable (even Peter and James and John) to watch one hour with Him.
When the crowd of men with swords and staves laid hold on and seized Him, Peter (too hasty to await the answer to the appeal, Lord, shall we smite with sword?) drew his, and smote the high priest's bondman, and took off his ear. This the Lord rebuked: " Return thy sword to its place; for all that take the sword shall perish by the sword. Or thinkest thou, that I cannot now call on my Father, and he will furnish me more than twelve legions of angels? How then should the scriptures be fulfilled that thus it must be?"
He abides the righteous Servant. He came to suffer for sins, Just for unjust, that He might bring us to God, and fit the children of God to share His glory on high when He takes all the creation heavenly and earthly, and reigns over Israel and the nations on earth in His day. Those who believe now are called to suffer with Him, as the Lord had taught His own when correcting their thoughts and desires about His kingdom. " Ye know that the rulers of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and the great exercise authority over them. But it shall not be thus among you; but whosoever will be great among you, he shall be your servant; and whosoever will be first among you, let him be your bondman; as indeed the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many " (Matt. 20:25-28).
But Peter, ever rash as yet, thought of nothing but his Master's danger; and, in fleshly zeal seeking to defend Him, he stood reproved. It was human nature, but contrary to Christ and His word. If carried out, it would have made redemption impossible, like his warm and hasty error in Matt. 16:22, for which the Lord bade him, Get away behind me, Satan, and added, Thou art an offense to me; for thy mind is not on the things of God but on the things of men. Peter failed not only to appreciate Christ's death, but to apprehend that the Christian must deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Him. He did in his measure and spirit what the Lord told Pilate was not for His servants to do, because His kingdom is not of this world. It is of heaven, and of no worldly source.
In the Gospel of Luke (22:51) we first hear that Jesus said in answer, Suffer ye thus far, and with a touch He healed the cut-off ear. Even at such a crisis as this He is thus presented as the gracious Son of man, anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power. If He was no longer going about doing good and healing all that were under the devil's power, because God was with Him, He was just as ready to heal one wounded by His thoughtless follower.
John lets us know particularly the names, not only of His follower but of the wounded man. And here the healing has its significance, like every other word and fact in this Gospel as illustrating His personal dignity. As the mention of His name hurled to the ground the band which came to capture Him, and to which He thereon gave Himself up, with the words, Let these go away; so now the answer to Peter spoke His glory and His grace in a way peculiar to the last Gospel. " Put the sword into the sheath: the cup which the Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? "
Blessed Savior, as Thou in Thy love and light and lowliness art alone in Thy perfection, so art Thou in the ineffable sufferings which were in that cup for Thee to drink And Thou Bidst drain it, that God might be glorified, and we who believe might be saved worthily of God. Yet do we rejoice also that as God was glorified in Thee, and in Thy death especially and infinitely, so did He glorify Thee in Himself, and this immediately in heaven, before the world-kingdom of our Lord and His Christ come, who shall reign unto the ages of the ages.
Nor need poor souls who are in their sins wait for that displayed kingdom. While Jesus is glorified on high is just the time during which the Holy Spirit is sent forth, not only to dwell in the church, but to proclaim the gospel, the glad tidings of God to guilty and perishing man. Doubt not then but believe the witness God bears to the Lord Jesus, His Only-begotten Son. Great as is your need, many as are your sins, His grace is far greater. It is as infinite as His person. Come as you are that you may find Him as He is, full of grace and truth. Does not this suit you who have nothing but sins? Receive of His fullness: it is open to all who believe. Then will you live to Him.

Gospel Words: Unbroken Net

We have seen in Luke 5 the remarkable manner in which the Lord called Simon Peter and his companions, already disciples, to be fishers of men. There was then a miracle wrought, which acted powerfully not on the mind only or the affections, but on the conscience. After a night's toil in which they caught nothing, the Master spoke, and at His word they let down the nets. This done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes; but their nets were breaking, and their partners came to help them, and filled both their boats, so that they began to sink. It was the beautiful picture of the gospel work to which they were thenceforward called, where they apart from Him could do nothing, and His power wrought. But yet He allowed the weakness of human responsibility to be felt; for the nets were breaking and the boats sinking under the weight of the very blessing given.
Here at the sea of Tiberias after His resurrection we see them at Peter's instance again fishing; and this night too they took nothing. " But when morn was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach. The disciples however knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus therefore saith to them, Children, have ye aught to eat? They answered him, No. And he said to them, Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved saith to Peter, It is the Lord. Simon Peter there fore, having heard that it was the Lord, girded his overcoat about him (for he was naked), and cast himself into the sea; and the other disciples came in the small boat (for they were not far from the land, but about two hundred cubits off), dragging the net of fishes. When therefore they went out on the land, they see a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. Jesus saith to them, Bring of the fishes ye have now taken. Simon Peter therefore went up, and drew the net to the land full of great fishes a hundred and fifty-three; and though they were so many, the net was not rent. Jesus saith to them, Come, dine. But none of the disciples dared inquire of him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus cometh and taketh the bread and giveth it to them, and the fish in like manner. This is already the third time that Jesus had been manifested to the disciples, being risen from the dead " (vers. 4-14).
This was not a miracle only but a sign, as indeed is ever the case in the fourth Gospel, and in special connection with the two fore-going manifestations of the risen Lord, which give the key to what has just been cited. The first was when the Lord made Himself known to the disciples gathered on the first day of the week, His own very resurrection day, when He breathed on them, and said, Receive the Holy Spirit. It was His risen life communicated in the power and character of His resurrection, His blood already shed, peace now given, and themselves sent on a mission of peace. It is the type of the Christian and the church.
Eight days after was the second manifestation, when Thomas, who had been absent before but was now present, was convicted of unbelief; as the Lord took up his words of doubt and bade him reach here his finger and see His hands, and put his hand into His side, and be not faithless but believing. The slow disciple could only answer, My Lord and my God! just as the converted Jews will say at the end of this age. Indeed the Lord intimated the same thing when He said to him, " Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed [as Israel will do by-and-by]: blessed are they who have not seen and believed "; which is the proper faith of the Christian now.
The third manifestation is equally notable. " After these things Jesus was manifested again to his disciples " in Galilee of the Gentiles. It is not said to be on the first day of the week, nor eight days after; but simply after what foreshadowed His work in bringing Israel out of their unbelief. Now He sets forth Himself for their millennial work of bringing to Him from the sea of the nations, in which converted Israel will be honored by His grace. Here there is no breaking of the nets, no sinking of the boats. The net is drawn to land full of great fishes, as becomes the type of that vast ingathering. Whatever be the ruin of the Gentiles deceived by Satan at the end, there will be no failure among the blessed among the nations any more than in Israel. This is no small contrast with all that has been seen since Pentecost. And it is not without a bearing on that new day for the earth, that they found a fire of coals already there, and fish on it and bread. Those, who are used of grace for bringing in of the Gentiles on a great scale, learn that the Lord has wrought a work before them, and that they are invited to enter into the communion of His love in that previously hidden work; for eating here as elsewhere is its well-known figure. They partook of the fish ashore before what they had just caught on a larger scale.
Is not Jesus a wondrous and unwearied Savior? Think of it in all these three manifestations of Himself after He rose. What was it to the disciples who forsook Him and fled? What was it to Thomas so gloomily denying the good tidings? What will it be to a Gentile remnant, and to all the nations in the future day? And are you, my reader, to be left out of the blessing? It can only be because you harden your soul against casting yourself on Him now. If you are poor, He is rich; if you have no merit, and sins only, He is All-worthy, and died for you. Is not His death all that God values on your behalf? Believing on Him, you are justified. His work claims it, and God delights to prove that it is not in vain. Therein is His righteousness. He owes it to the cross of Christ; and it is yours if you believe. But beware of slighting the divine message. Put not His word of grace from you, nor thus judge yourselves unworthy of life eternal. God is not mocked in the end. Despise Him not now to your own ruin both now and forever. It is " the hour when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live." Is any case too desperate?

Gospel Words: Two Masters

When man fell, he abandoned God as Master; he gained by sin another master, even Satan, the great rebel against the true God. The race followed the fallen parents. " Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned " (Rom. 5:12). Such is the moral history of man, recorded in Genesis, there summarized, here reasoned on by the apostle. So vain, so blind, is every man, that he is apt to go no higher than himself in accounting for sin. But it is not so: neither Jew nor Gentile originated sin. It began with the head of the race, long before those distinctions. It was an innocent man too, though Adam was not deceived, but the woman being quite deceived was involved in transgression (1 Tim. 2:14). Sin became the state of all, while each added his own sins also. Satan thus became master in fact of the race; and from the first the guilty pair hid away from God's presence, before " He drove out the man."
Henceforth all for good turned on another, the Second man, the Last Adam. Sinful man can neither atone for sins nor get rid of sin. And from the fall Jehovah Elohim clearly intimated the great truth that deliverance can come only from the woman's Seed, who, Himself bruised, should bruise the Serpent's head, that is, destroy the mysterious enemy. Jesus, the Son of God, born of the virgin, alone answers to this earliest oracle, and to every other in scripture. How many besides His incarnation converge in Him and can apply to no other, in His life, death, resurrection, and ascension Above all He was to suffer once for sins, Just for unjust, that He might bring us who believe to God. For no external rite could adequately meet the dire need. It was not purifying only, but atonement there must be by One who, being God and man in one person, suited and alone could suit God and man, the Holy One whom God made sin for us, that we might become His righteousness in Christ. Hence repentance toward God, and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ, must be in man.
There is thus faith-obedience, the root of all other obedience in practice. It is not mere outward separateness by circumcision or anything akin. The sanctification of the Spirit is thereby secured in a new life imparted to the believer for Christ's obedience as well as His blood-sprinkling. We thenceforth obey as He did, not as slaves under law like Israel with the solemn sanction of the victim's blood on them and on the book of the law, threatening death on disobedience; we obey as sons, on whom grace rests, and as we are begotten of God, so have we Christ's blood that cleanseth from every sin. As we were in baptism buried with Christ unto His death (for nothing short could suffice even as a starting-point), so we also, as He was raised from the dead, should walk in newness of life. What then? Shall we sin because, even if once Jews, we are no longer under law but under grace? Away with it. Know we not that to whom we yield ourselves bondmen for obedience, we are bondmen to him whom we obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? Through Christ and His work set free from sin, and become bondmen to God, we have our fruit unto holiness and the end life eternal.
Thus it is that sin shall not have dominion over us. Not law but grace gives power; and grace and truth came through Jesus, as John 1 expressly declares in contrast with law, which however good in itself could only slay one in whom sin was and worked. For sinful man salvation hangs on Him. Without His blood is no remission; in virtue of it He washed us from our sins, and in newness of life (His life as risen from among the dead), we are fitted to walk worthily and please God.
But Satan ever seeks to mislead. And no one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to the one and despise the other. " Ye cannot," said our Lord, " serve God and mammon." This tests those who bear His name. Never was mammon more widely sought in Christendom than now. How is it with your own soul? Are you, a professing Christian, a slave to mammon? A divided heart is a disloyal one. No one can serve two masters. Think of the young ruler who in sorrow turned away from following Christ, because he loved his possessions. Think of the apostle who for a paltry sum sold his Master. How true it is that, hating the one, we love the other, or holding to the one, we despise the other! Mammon commands the world; and if we love the world, or the things in the world, we serve mammon. But what does a man profit if he should gain the whole world, and lose his soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Ye cannot serve two masters, God and mammon.

Gospel Words: Prudent Builder and the Foolish

" Other foundation can no one lay than what is laid, which is Jesus Christ," says the apostle (1 Cor. 3:11). Have you Him as your foundation, dear reader? If it be of faith, you will not doubt of His sufficiency. " He is the Rock; His work is perfect; for all His ways are righteousness." So an Israelite could say of Jehovah; and Jesus is Jehovah. But He is more, and now more is revealed, especially since He the Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us, full of grace and truth. Nor this only: " Behold, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world."
He is the One for your soul, for your guilt, for your sins. If the Son of God became the Lamb of God, and you believe on Him, surely you need not, you cannot rightly, question that He avails perfectly for you. Yea, you are bound, if you believe Who He is, to receive without hesitation what God's word declares He undertook and has done. The atoning work is done; it is not future for you; nor is it a-doing either, but is done; and its efficacy is perfect for every soul that believes God about Jesus, His Son. His blood cleanseth from all sin. You who say that you believe do God wrong, if you receive not His word and rest not with confidence on the foundation that is laid. There is none other: Jesus is the one foundation for lost sinners.
God commends His love to us, in that, we being still sinners, Christ died for us. Do we ask more? We being still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. We had nothing but sins: He gives all the good we want, having suffered for all the bad that was in us. Such is the Savior of sinners. None that is pretended even resembles Him. The Virgin mother needed Him for her soul, as did every other saint. All men need grace to save them through faith; for all are sinners. Neither angels nor the archangel can avail in any degree; they are but upheld by the word of His power. Nor will God save a sinner but through faith in His Son Who humbled Himself unto death, even the death of the cross, to glorify God and to suffer for sins, Just for unjust. Whoever denieth the Son hath not the Father either; he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also (1 John 2).
But in our text, which closes the sermon on the Mount, it is another truth: not redemption (which was not there the object) but the absolute necessity of obedience in all who call Jesus Lord. To say Lord, Lord, without doing His Father's will, is worthless. Many shall say in the future day of account, Have we not prophesied through Thy name, and through Thy name cast out demons, and through Thy name done many works of power? But He will answer, I never knew you: depart from Me, workers of lawlessness. It was hollow profession, whatever the works of power, which only aggravated the guilt and will add to the endless remorse. There was no life possessed in Christ, and consequently no obedience, to which every believer is sanctified (1 Peter 1:2). Without holiness none shall see the Lord (Heb. 12:14). The point is here that obedience is indispensable from each one that bears His name.
Hence the Lord concludes, " Whoever therefore heareth these my words and doeth them, I will liken him to a prudent man which built his house upon the rock; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and fell upon that house, and it fell not; for it had been founded upon the rock. And every one that heareth these my words, and doeth them not, shall be likened to a foolish man which built his house upon the sand; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and fell upon that house, and it fell, and its fall was great " (Matt. 7:24-27).
It is not redemption only that sinful man needs, but life eternal. In Jesus only are both found, and the believer receives both. Many there are who profess His name, and boast of redemption in Him, the forgiveness of offenses, but never think of present life in Him. Alas they deceive themselves. To the defiled and unbelieving, whatever they profess, nothing is pure; but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but in works deny Him. They say, Lord, Lord; but they are false to His name. Had they believed, they would have had life in His game, and brought forth fruit of righteousness. But not having Christ as their life, they had no fruit unto holiness, and never grew because they had no true knowledge of God. Life, life eternal, as a present ground for serving God in obedience, is as essential as redemption. Woe is to such as have neither. Still more bitter is the woe of such as deny either: they are enemies of the truth.

Gospel Words: Narrow and Wide Ways

The Lord sets before those who heard Him the energy requisite for entering the kingdom.
When man was unfallen, he had only to abide where Jehovah Elohim set him. A single restriction was laid on him as a test of the obedience that was due. He might freely eat of every other tree in paradise, pleasant to the sight and good for food; but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was forbidden on pain of death. The divine Creator was also the moral Governor; and man, to abide blessed, must bow to His word in grateful subjection, assured that His will was good no less than wise. That He forbade was enough. To disobey Him was sin and death. And so man learned to his sorrow, shame, and ruin, when following the woman deceived by the serpent, he violated the plain commandment and fell.
Since then the race broke more and more into sin. Lawlessness prevailed; till at length Jehovah saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The end of all flesh came before God; for it was not only that all flesh had corrupted its way here below, but that the earth was filled with violence. Nor was it only Noah finding grace in Jehovah's eyes through faith, but a deliverance from the deluge was granted to him and his house, and a preservation of enough of the creatures in the ark to renew the post-diluvian earth. There the dispensed ways of God were to be displayed, man fully convicted after the most patient trial, and Himself revealed in His Son, but first on the ground of responsibility, till sovereign grace displace all evil, and righteousness reign to His glory; finally, when the kingdom closes, dwelling in holy power and peace and goodness when God is all in all.
Meanwhile, as the course of the world has ever been and is now more than ever man doing his own will and pleasing himself, the path of faith is ever in separation to God and His word. Christ is the One revealed by God and revealing Him in order to make this knowledge good in all who believe. All saints since sin came into the world looked to Him, and were lightened, and their faces shall never be confounded.
Since the Word became flesh and wrought redemption, grace abounds more exceedingly. Nor is it grace only, but this reigning through righteousness unto life eternal through Jesus Christ our Lord. Remission of sins, yea, peace made through the blood of His cross, is preached to every creature; that whosoever believes may know himself made nigh in virtue of Christ's blood, God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God before prepared that we should walk in them.
Still there are difficulties, dangers, and enemies which each soul that heeds the call of God must face. He who is quickened is sanctified unto the obedience of Jesus Christ (1 Peter). The mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can it be: and they that are in the flesh cannot please God. Such is man's moral bent in his very nature fallen as it is. Nor is this by any means all; for the friendship of the world (and what man has not sought it?) is enmity with God; and this so surely that whosoever would be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Then the power of Satan, the liar and murderer, is the most directly destructive of all. Who is sufficient for these things? It is, and must only be, of God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ.
But every natural influence here below is in Satan's hands, and as hostile to man as to God. Therefore the Lord says, " Come in through the narrow gate; because wide [is] the gate and broad the way that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that come in through it; because narrow [is] the gate and straitened the way, that leadeth to life, and few are they that find it " (Matt. 7:13, 14).
Follow the multitude, as it follows the wise according to the flesh, the mighty, and the noble, and you are lost. Public opinion may be well enough for things of this life; but it is never founded on God's word. This sets forth Christ and Him crucified, which to the perishing is foolishness, but to those that are saved the power of God, and His wisdom. So faith receives, and enjoys now, and is blessed forever. It hears Christ's word and believes God that sent Him. It distrusts and turns away from the world which cast Him out and crucified Him. It seeks not ease or pleasure for the flesh, but follows Him who was despised by the vain, and abhorred by the self-righteous, and loathed by such as sought their carnal desires. Hence it is and must be the narrow gate and the straitened way that leads unto life, and few there be that find it.
Those who trust self and the world naturally prefer the wide gate and the broad way. But beware, poor soul! Such is the way that leads to destruction. It may look fair now, yet what solace will it be then that many come in through that wide but fatal gate? The proud and the mean, the haughty and the servile, the highest and the lowest, the dissolute and the violent, the superstitious and the skeptical, the self-satisfied and the hypocritical enter through it into the broad road whose end is perdition. 0 my, fellow-sinners, hear Him who is Himself the way, ay the sole and sure way to the Father. Never did He refuse one that cast himself as a lost one on His grace and truth; never does He fail to guide aright each that calls on His name. He is the Savior of all that believe. His sheep hear His voice, and as He knows them, they follow Him; and He gives them life eternal, and they shall never perish, nor shall any one seize them out of His hand (John 10:27, 28).

Gospel Words: the Salt and the Light

In the preceding verses the Lord lays down the character of such as belong to the kingdom of the heavens. Now He states their position here below. Is it truly applicable to you? Do you in unbelief treat it as impracticable or indifferent?
If I own myself a lost sinner, and in me, that is in my flesh, no good thing dwells, neither salt nor light is mine, but sin dwells in me. It would be sheer presumption to claim that I am born either the one or the other. Naturally I am corrupt, and as to God and His things dark as night. Important as baptism is, it in no case according to scripture produces so mighty a change; but life in Christ does, which the believer receives through the Spirit and the word of God. As its fullness and perfection were in the Son, so of His fullness did all we receive, and grace for grace. It is no presumption to believe God, nor what He declares He gives to those who receive Christ.
Let me beseech you, fellow-believer, not to slur over nor shirk the position in which the Lord sets you here below. These are His words:-" Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing save to be cast out and to be trodden down by men. Ye are the light of the world: a city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do they light a lamp, and put it under the bushel but upon the stand, and it shineth for all that are in the house. Thus let your light shine before men, that they may see your comely works, and glorify your Father that is in the heavens." Let us earnestly seek to make this good, instead of slipping it through or shoving it on to a Jewish remnant.
As there were two broad characteristics among the foregoing " blessed," righteousness and grace, both displayed in Christ and in Christianity, so is it with the position of the disciples. In vers. 3 to 6 are the righteous characters: in 7 to 9 the gracious: followed by the blessing of the persecuted for righteousness' sake in 10, and by those persecuted yet worse for Christ (i.e. grace) in 11, and their joy, exultation, and reward above in 12. The position too is presented accordingly. In ver. 13 we have the righteous side; in 14 and the rest the side of grace, but both to be verified in our practice.
Salt is the righteously preservative principle. It is sharp rather than sweet, but guards from impurity and decomposition. It gives fixity to what is good and wholesome. It proves all things, and holds fast the right. It keeps aloof from every form of wickedness. When then the disciples are called the salt of the earth, the Lord designates them as set apart to God the Father, and in patient continuance of good work seeking for glory and honor and incorruptibility at Christ's coming. They obey the truth, and are to hold fast what they have till then. If they lose the good savor, it is fatal. Saltless salt (and such a change was familiar in those lands) cannot be restored. It is not fit for anything but to be trodden down on the streets, as it often was.
How has it fared with the holy deposit in Christendom? Has the salt there retained its virtue? Did the favored Gentile abide in goodness, any more than the Jew under law? If not, cutting off is the sentence of God (Rom. 11:21, 22). All the more should every faithful soul humble himself, repent, and look to the Lord who is as willing as He is able to make Him stand.
But are we not responsible as " the light of the world "? If it is not the property or power of salt to cure corruption, it is for light to illuminate the dark. It goes out and around. And we may notice it is to " the world " at large here in this appropriate diffusion by grace, as the salt is " of the earth," the ordered scene of privileges. As being the light, it is compared to a city set on a hill and not to be hid; and not this only, but as penetrating the home, it is as a lamp (not absurdly under the bushel as its extinguisher, but) upon its stand, that all in the house may enjoy its brightness.
Only let us not forget the Lord's momentous caution as to this. " Thus let your light (your living profession of Him, Who is the true Light and made you light in Him) shine before men, that they may see (not your inconsistencies, but) your comely works, and glorify your Father that is in the heavens." He means the very reverse of men displaying their benevolent works before their fellows, so as to bring glory to themselves. He would have His own let their confession of Him, the one source of their light, shine, so that men may see the goodly fruits, and therefore glorify not the disciples but our Father in the heavens, the Father of lights, of whom is every good giving, and whence comes down every perfect gift from above.

Gospel Words: the Beatitudes

In what is called the Sermon on the Mount the Lord does not treat either of new birth or of redemption. He addresses His disciples that came unto Him, and begins with pronouncing who are the blessed in the kingdom. It is a solemn test whereby every disciple may try himself.
"Blessed the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens.
Blessed they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.
Blessed the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed they that hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.
Blessed the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed the pure in heart; for they shall see God.
Blessed the peace-makers; for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed they that have been persecuted for righteousness' sake; for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens.
Blessed are ye when they shall reproach and persecute you, and falsely say every wicked word against you for my sake. Rejoice and exult; for your reward is great in the heavens; for thus persecuted they the prophets that were before you."
Such are the qualities, said the Lord, which suit the kingdom. They are not those of man fallen nor even unfallen. The first man in Paradise had none of them any more than the outcast race. " Ye must be born anew," and even then have your new character formed and impressed by the Lord Jesus. None other He owns (vii. 21-23), nor can others have to do with the Kingdom save for judgment. Those only do the will of His Father that is in the heavens. But the Savior Son of God elsewhere shows, and is, the unfailing way. "As many as received Him, to them gave He authority to become children of God " (John 1:12). Who are they? " Those that believe on His name." They are born of God. They have life eternal, and can each say, " I live, no longer I, but Christ liveth in me; and that which I now live in flesh I live by faith in the Son of God that loved me and gave Himself up for me " (Gal. 2:20). O, believe Him in Whom is life producing every quality God values! There is none other in His sight. Believe, and it is yours now; and with an evil nature in an evil world as is the fact, here it is indispensable as well as for heaven.
You, my brethren, may not have noticed that there are seven characters, all blessed in vers. 3-9, divided as after into four and three. Four righteous qualities are first, three gracious follow; and they rise respectively in each class. Christ manifested each and all in perfection. Those that follow Him, having Him as their life, must have His qualities reproduced and manifested in them.
Poor in spirit is the first named. It is just the opposite of fallen man's aspiring spirit. Outward forms of poverty will not do. Under that garb what pride may lurk, what self-seeking, what party-spirit! " It shall not thus be among you, but whoever would be great among you, let him be your servant; and whoever would be first among you, let him be your slave " in this evil age and rebel world. Such was the Son of man in life and I death. He is the disciple's example; for his is not a present place of honor but the kingdom of the heavens whether to faith now or displayed by-and-by.
And who was such a mourner where His Father I was unknown, and His own light and love scorned?' Here too the disciple treads in His steps and looks for the comfort wherewith He was comforted and comforts.
Next, as He was meek and lowly in heart, so must he be who takes His yoke and learns from Him, assured of inheriting that earth where the hard and haughty have now their brief portion.
The last of these are such as hunger and thirst after righteousness, which marks not only persevering energy but this in inward personal desire, and they shall have satisfying fruition in and like " Jesus Christ the Righteous."
After this, we have the higher characters of grace, but with righteousness preceding. As Jesus was full of grace and truth, so His followers not only exceed in their righteousness that of scribes and Pharisees, but show mercy not known to these. And truly they shall find mercy, as they have found it plenteously.
Theirs too is purity in heart, and as by faith they see God now, so shall they beyond others by-and-by (Rev. 22:4).
In fine, they are the blessed peace-makers who now represent the God of peace; and His sons shall such be called as they are.
But observe that the Lord reveals a supplemental blessedness for each of the two great classes. " Blessed they that have been persecuted for righteousness' sake" answers to the opening class in 3-6, and so fitly repeats the opening blessing, " for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens." The last of the two rises to the highest, and leaves the abstract for direct personal words of love: " Blessed are ye when they shall reproach and persecute you, and falsely say every wicked word against you for my sake." This was suffering for grace in full. " Rejoice," says the Lord therefore, " and exult, for your reward is great in the heavens; for thus they persecuted the prophets that were before you."
As Christ only is all-sufficient now for evil and lost man, if he believe, so in His day shall the poor in spirit have the true and abiding riches. What then must be the lot of all who despise Him?

Gospel Words: the Prayer of the Disciples

Are you a disciple of the Lord Jesus? Are you born of the Spirit? Are you a child of God entitled to say Abba, Father? Such were they, and no others, whom the Lord taught to pray thus: Our Father that art in the heavens, Sanctified be thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done as in heaven also on the earth, Give us to-day our sufficient bread, and forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors, and bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. If you are a disciple as they were, you too can pray thus, even if like them you could not say that you have in Christ redemption, the forgiveness of your trespasses (Eph. 1:7). Such too was necessarily their state then, for Christ had not yet suffered for sins. But it ought not to be yours now; for the atoning work is done. If then you believe on the Lord Jesus, be it known to you, that through Him is (not promised, but) proclaimed to you remission of sins, and in Him is every believer justified from all things (Acts 13:38, 39). You have not appreciated the alphabet of the gospel, if you know not that once purged you have no more conscience of sins.
While in this unformed condition, born of the Spirit but not resting on redemption known as yours (and therefore not yet having the Spirit of adoption, Gal. 4:4-6, Eph. 1:13), you do well to pray as the Lord taught His disciples waiting for the Spirit (Luke 11:1-3). When the Paraclete was given, they entered into peace and liberty, far beyond their then state (Rom. 5:2, 1-11 Cor. 17, 18); and so may you prove when thus subject and obedient to God (Acts 5:32). Nevertheless, though the standing of a Christian will lead you to pray in the Spirit according to the new relationships, how blessed ever is that which the Lord here taught! Do you really know what He meant? Many fail in this. Let us weigh His words.
It is in the First Gospel we hear of the Father who is in the heavens. The aim was to raise the eyes on high of Jews who were used to wait for God to display His glorious power on earth (Isa. 25:9; 31:4; 35:4. &c.), as He did in measure since the day of redemption from the old house of bondage. Now He is made known as the One who makes His sun rise on evil and good, and sends rain on just and unjust, yet with special favor to His sons.
The petitions are seven, and divide into two classes; the first three are of righteousness, as the last four are of grace. This is an order intrinsically due to God, and proper for saints. If lost sinners as such were contemplated, all must begin with sovereign grace. But of this we hear not in the so-called sermon on the Mount, but such grace shines appropriately elsewhere.
1. And how right, even our hearts feel, is the opening petition, Sanctified be thy name! It is the foremost desire of the renewed, however young in faith. Without this made good, there can be nothing good.
2. Thy (not My) Kingdom come, the Father's Kingdom (Matt. 13:43) where the heavenly saints shine forth as the sun in risen glory, the dearest object of His love here as Father, Who will have them there with and as Christ, through Whom alone it could be.
3. Thy will be done as in heaven also on the earth. This is at the same time the Son of man's Kingdom, Who will send His angels to gather out of it all offenses and all that work lawlessness (Matt. 13:41). It is the earthly things of God's Kingdom, as the other the heavenly (John 3:12), Christ being Head of the church and over all things (Eph. 1:10, 22).
Then come the petitions of grace.
4. Give us to-day our sufficient (or, necessary) bread. Thus are they taught to begin with confessing dependence for ordinary wants, as the apostle called us to be content with food and raiment.
5. And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. For indeed all saints are bound to judge self and confess sins; as an antecedent spirit of forgiveness is imperative. See Matt. 18:35, Luke 17:3, 4.
6. And bring us not into temptation. So the Lord impresses on the disciples; for He ever knew their weakness as none else did yet. Luke 22:46. To " endure " temptation is as blessed, as " entering into " it is full of danger.
7. But deliver us from evil in general, if not from the evil one in particular. This was not the sifting, or temptation, deprecated in the clause before, which grace may put us through for good, as we see in Peter; but the power of the enemy in drawing into sin against God. The proper desire was to be kept from the evil, or, if one fell, to be restored from it. Grace in no case fails, if a disciple alas! did. Deliver us from evil.
The doxology is an ecclesiastical accretion and therefore uninspired. Luke was led by the Holy Spirit to omit the special title (2), the earthly Kingdom (3), and the final clause (7), as not so much called for in the case of Gentiles.
Reader, can your state admit of your adopting the prayer for a disciple of Jesus? How sad to use it lightly and untruly?

Gospel Words: Grace in Practice

There is nothing that comes before the eyes of men which strikes them more than the meek, lowly, thankful spirit which endures a wrong. The natural man resents, and, if he can, avenges everything of the sort. You might as well tell him to feel otherwise, as to walk in the air a mile or a foot above the ground. To the disciple such grace is a principle of his new life. It is what in its perfection he has beheld in Christ, and what suits his Father who is in the heavens and looks for the reproduction of His own character in His sons. Retaliation is here reversed and uprooted.
" Ye have heard that it was said, Eye for eye, and tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, Resist not evil; but whoever shall strike thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And to him that would go to law with thee and take thy coat, leave him to take thy cloak also. And whoever will impress thee one mile, go with him two. To him that asketh thee give, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not away.
" Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies, and pray for those that persecute you, that ye may be sons of your Father that is in the heavens; for he maketh his sun rise on evil and good, and sendeth rain on just and unjust. For if ye should love those that love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the tax-gatherers the same? And if ye should salute your brethren only, what beyond do ye? Do not even the Gentiles the same? Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
It may be personal lawlessness, an unjust suit, or a hard law; but the disciple of Christ is taught by the Master to bow. What is a brutal insult compared with truly representing Him? Consistency with Him is far more than one's coat, and cloak to boot. Instead of begrudging the service pressed for one mile, add another to please Him who would have us walk by faith, not by sight, still less selfishly. Luke, who was led to note not the legal side but unauthorized violence only, omits the impressment, and inverts the stripping by letting the plunderer take the inner garment as well as the outer, the Lord no doubt exhorting to both. Nor did He end here, but bade the disciple give habitually to him that asked; for what had not he himself received from the divine Giver beyond all he asked? The object of countless and rich mercies, was he to turn away from one that would ask or borrow?
But the Lord goes farther in His next utterance. Whatever was said of loving one's neighbor and hating one's enemy, His word to His disciples was and is, Love your enemies, and pray for those that persecute you. So too the Epistles insist on those that bear His name. In the Gospel of Luke rightly stand the clauses, Bless those that curse you, do good to those that hate you, and pray also for those that use you despitefully. These enlarge the grace which disciples are exhorted to show to hostile men of the world; and from thence they were imported into the copies of Matthew by scribes who were prone to assimilate. The inspiring Spirit was pleased through him to urge loving our enemies, and praying for our persecutors, which last pertained to Jews pre-eminently, because of their hot and proud religious prejudice in the flesh.
Such love and piety, to be of value, must be no mere form but a living reality, that they might be sons of their Father in the heavens; for such is their place of dignity. And what a pattern He sets! For He makes His sun rise on evil and good, and sends rain on just and unjust. What rich grace in the first comparison, and what faithful goodness in the second!
Nor was the Lord content with the pointed reference to His Father and our Father, to His God and our God. He would make them ashamed, as His disciples, of not rising above the practice of Jews and Gentiles. If they loved those that loved them, did pot the odious tax-gatherers the same? If they greeted their brethren only, the scorned Gentiles did also the same. This was altogether beneath the Christian according to Christ. "Ye shall be therefore perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." A lower standard of feeling and conduct was to the Savior intolerable.
Have we such confidence by grace toward God? Assuredly we have no competency as of ourselves: but our competency is of God, according to the spirit of the new covenant, not of the old. The grace of Christ alone suffices the believer. If you reject Him, you are lost. Flee to this the only refuge, if you would be saved; flee to Jesus now, ere the House-master shuts the door, when " Lord, open to us " will be in vain. Then will He judge strictly, instead of saving as He does now in all grace; then will He say, I know not whence ye are: depart from Me, all ye workers of iniquity.

Gospel Words: Treasures on Earth or in Heaven?

Christ beyond all others knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man, for He Himself knew what was in man. He seeks treasures on the earth. It may not be gold or property. It may be pleasure or power or position. Some set their heart on fame in letters or learning, in science or art. Some court poetry, oratory, or philosophy. The bar and the bench, the army or the navy, civil government or politics, philanthropy or even the pulpit ordinarily, fire the ambition of others. These objects and all akin which attract the heart of man are treasures on the earth, and beneath the faith to which the Christian is called-faith in God unseen and eternal. " Love not the world," wrote His inspired servant," nor the things that are in the world. If any one loveth the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the vain-glory of life, is not of the Father but is of the world, And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever " (1 John 2:15-17). Listen to the Savior's words on the more prevailing snare " Lay not up for you treasures on the earth where moth and rust consume, and where thieves dig through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust corrupteth, and where thieves dig not through nor steal. For where thy treasure is, there will be thy heart also." The treasures in heaven are the things that are above, where Christ is seated on the right hand of God. On these things we are to set our mind, not on things that are on the earth. For we died with Christ from its best things, the rudiments of the world which Israel had as their religion; and our life is hid with Christ in God. His cross closed all such shadows and ordinances; and therefore is the world crucified to the Christian, and he to the world. If he is truly Christ's, he is heavenly as united to Christ, though he is still on earth, and bears the image of Adam the earthy till He comes. Be not moved by the unbelieving sneers of those who try to lower as other-worldliness your true objects. These are far above the world, or the habitable earth to come, blessed as it will be when Christ and His saints reign over it. Our proper portion is in heaven and with Christ there. Be not cheated out of that which is revealed to you by the Holy Spirit sent forth from heaven, on which the Epistles enlarge beyond what the disciples could bear when their Master was here, as. He Himself tells us (John 16:12). The wisest of mankind is no judge of what God wills for His children now. The New Testament is as clear as possible that He would have His own not of the world; indeed our Lord declares that they are not, even as He is not. And as it is written, Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, and which entered not into the heart of man, whatever things God prepared for those that love Him: them God revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. These are treasures which the Lord calls us to lay up for us in heaven. And nothing can harm them, like earthly treasures by corruption or violence. Do not say that such an aim is beyond the believer. It would be assuredly, if there were not the grace of God to enable. But we have Christ as Head above, from Whom all the body, ministered to and united together by the joints and bands, increases with the increase of God. His grace suffices one in the most crushing circumstances. And if we have such an Advocate on high, we have One no less divine to work in us here below that we may be strengthened in the inner man. Thus could one of old boast of weaknesses, never of sins, that the power of Christ might tabernacle upon him.
If you urge that you have doubts about your soul, how can you pass this day without settling that question before God? He sent His Son for you, that you might live through Him, and that He, the Lord Jesus, might die for you-yea, for your sins. Let it be your need, your guilt, your ruin, looking to God in the name of the crucified Savior. Jesus never said Nay to one that, feeling his sins, appealed to Him. God the Father would have you thus honor the Son, who declares solemnly: Verily, Verily, I say to you, He that heareth My word, and believeth Him that sent Me, hath life eternal, and cometh not into judgment, but is passed out of death into life. Verily, verily, I say to you, The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that heard shall live." Be not faithless then, but believing; trust His grace that all else you lack, as you surely do, will be given in the like love. It is His joy to bless the believer.

Gospel Words: Christ Came to Fulfill

From the outset of His ministry our Lord was careful to affirm that He came not to dissolve but to make good divine authority in the law or the prophets. In both He was predicted as the One on whom all blessing depended. He only could deliver sinful and seduced man. He was to be the sacrifice which would justify all previous offerings to God, and render their just interpretation, and furnish their efficacy. Fulfillment of a prophecy is the same word; but the context here points to a larger scope.
The law and the prophets testified to man's, unrighteousness and to God's righteousness (Rom. 3:21). But they could not do more. Christ came, not to enfeeble or undo them as His blind enemies thought, but to make good that divine testimony which left the sinner without excuse and gave what God only in His grace could supply. It was far more than even pious men conceived, a mere making up, by His obedience of the law, what men failed in. This had merely been man's righteousness accomplished by Him for the unrighteous. Here too He has done incomparably more and better. He laid the basis in His obedience unto death. for God's righteousness, that God might be just and justify him that believes on Jesus. For He who knew no sin glorified God in being made sin for us, that we might become God's righteousness in Him. Hence God's grace is enhanced, not frustrated; for if righteousness is through law, then Christ died gratuitously. But it is not so: never was anything else contemplated or revealed but that the believers rest their hope on His death.
God took care therefore that promise should long precede and exist independently of it, as the apostle argues in Gal. 3 This at Sinai Israel in their self-confidence overlooked. Instead of asking for the unconditional promise of grace they undertook to stand on their own obedience. As no sinful man can subsist on such a condition, the law written on stones, even when brought down a second time with types of mercy accompanying, could not but be a ministry of death and condemnation (2 Cor. 3:7-9). For them it is said in the reading of the old covenant the veil remains unremoved; and the veil is more than on the face, being upon their heart. They did and do not look to Christ, law's end for righteousness to everyone that believes. They strove to stand on a mixture of law and grace, which only adds to the sinner's condemnation, because the added grace increases his guilt if disobedient. But we look on the glory of the Lord with unveiled face and are transformed to the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit, Who testifies to Him in the glory of God as the fruit not only of His person but of His work. And so the apostle preached the gospel of God's grace and of Christ's glory, as he had been converted.
The Epistle to the Hebrews told the Christian Jews that the " new" covenant of which Jeremiah bore witness held out under Christ a better covenant. It did not, like the old at Sinai, depend on Israel as the party on whose fidelity blessing depended. All hung for the new covenant on the Lord's sovereign grace. " Because this is the covenant that I will covenant for the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord: giving my laws into their mind, I will also inscribe them on their hearts; and I will be to them for God, and they shall be to me for people. And they shall in no wise teach, each his fellow-citizen and each his brother, saying, Know the Lord; because all shall consciously know from little of them unto great of them; because I will be merciful to their unrighteousnesses and their sins, and their lawlessnesses I will remember no more " (Heb. 8:10-12).
This was no real way to set aside the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them to God's glory and for man's salvation and blessing. Christ filled up the gap between God and the sinner for him who believes on Him. The law pointed to Him as the coming One who alone could restore the balance which the creature's evil had disturbed by weight overwhelming to all but the Savior. He alone could by redemption win and give the blessing which God's nature loved to bestow and God's counsels assured in due time. But all this and more Christ was by His word and Spirit bringing in a new and divine life by faith into the soul, before the day arrives when He will transform our body of humiliation into conformity with His body of glory according to the working of His power even to subdue all things to Himself. It was not mere addition, as if the law and the prophets were not intrinsically complete and perfect for the end God proposed; but He is throughout assumed and predicted as essential to give the blessed result. " For verily I say to you, Till the heaven and the earth pass, one iota or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all come to pass " (vers. 18).
So even the N. T. speaks of filling up the gap otherwise left in it by the revelation of the mystery of Christ's headship on high and the church united to Him as His body. And the apostle in Col. 1:25 tells us of the stewardship of God given Him thereby to complete His word. For this was a secret hidden from ages and generations, and quite distinct from the kingdom, the new covenant, or the inheritance of Abraham's promise. It was a promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel and God's eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph. 3:6, 10).
O dear reader, look you by faith to Jesus, the sole accomplisher of what you most want and of infinitely more-what glorifies God and gives the believer a wondrous part in it all. Look not to yourself save to condemn yourself; look to Him who secures from all condemnation which you must otherwise dread. May your heart learn how truly Christ is all. This no man is willing to do, until he is brought to the decided conviction before God, that he is lost, and that in him (that is, in his flesh) good does not dwell.

Gospel Words: Thy Father in Secret

Here is a Christian principle, which our Lord puts in contrast with acting so as to be seen. What so suited to exercise and strengthen faith day by day, or to guard from that hypocrisy to which man is prone?
He first lays down the general principle, it would seem, in verse 1, and then applies it to alms in 2-4; to prayer in 5-15; and lastly to fasting in 16-18. Some ancients and moderns have been disposed to regard " righteousness " in verse 1, as equivalent to " alms," as Rabbis and others were prone to do. But the better text and sense point to retaining the inclusive term " righteousness " in verse 1, under which fall the three duties that follow. For if 'applied there to " alms," it is hard to conceive why the proper term for " alms" should be given in 2, 3, and 4. The different word in verse 1 points to the more comprehensive sense of " righteousness" or consistency in practice with our relationship. This is then shown to embrace three varied forms in which the disciple is called to do the Father's will in the pious course of life here below. Dan. 4:27 distinguishes mercy to the poor from righteousness; and I am not aware of any confusion of the two in scripture.
Verse 1 calls the disciple to righteousness surpassing that of the scribes and Pharisees, without which none can enter into the Kingdom of the heavens. " Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men to be seen of them; otherwise ye have no reward with your Father that is in the heavens." Here is the large principle for Christian practice. Knowing Him as Christ has revealed Him to us, all acceptable service refers to Him. He is a living and true God whom we serve, and He refuses to share His glory with others. We walk by faith, not by sight. Can anything be more opposite to the ways of Christendom?
1. " When therefore thou doest alms, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be glorified by men: Verily I say to you, They do get their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right doeth, that thine alms may be in secret, and thy Father that seeth in secret will repay to thee " (2-4). If men walk in a vain show religiously quite as much as in the world, the Lord calls His own to shun publicity, and not merely this, but in His vigorous figure, that our own left hand may not know what the right does. The simple and essential aim is to do what we do to Him and His glory.
2. So it is with the prayer here enjoined. " And when ye pray, ye shall not be as the hypocrites; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they should appear to men. Verily I say to you,
They do get their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father that is in secret, and thy Father that seeth in secret will repay to thee. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions as those of the nations; for they think they shall be heard through their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like them; for your Father knoweth of what things ye have need before ye beg of him.... For if ye forgive men their offenses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you [yours]; but if ye forgive not men their offenses, neither will your Father forgive your offenses " (5-15).
Here the same show before men in prayer is reprehended; nor this only, but the heathen folly of vain repetitions, and of much speaking. Lastly the Lord warns that an unforgiving spirit cannot hope to have its own offenses forgiven.
3. "And when ye fast, be not as the hypocrites, downcast in countenance; for they disfigure their faces that they may appear fasting to men. Verily I say to you, They do get their reward. But thou, when fasting, anoint thy head and wash thy face, that thou mayest not appear fasting to men, but to thy Father that is in secret; and •thy Father that seeth in secret shalt repay thee " (16-18).
In fasting there is even more sedulous care to guard from any display of that self-humiliation before God which forms so great a part of it. The Lord would form in His own a spirit of living faith in having to do with their Father. Fasting is for His eyes, just like their prayer and their alms. Faith in Him that is in secret is thus in each way exercised. What a contrast with all that hitherto characterized a Jew 1

Gospel Words: Lamp of the Body Is the Eye

That Christ is the Light, and the True Light, is a truth dear to every Christian. He coming into the world manifests every man. Rich or poor, simple or sage, false or faithful, not one escapes His all-searching light. Nor is there the least circumstance in the course of every day, any more than in what pertains to God, and truth, and morals, not for this life only but for eternity, that He does not set in the light of God. Only through Him do we see fully what God is, Satan, mail, the sinner, the saint, heaven, hell, everything.
The disciples, as the Lord told them in Matt. 5:14, are the light of the world, as they are also the salt of the earth (13). They could be neither apart from Christ. It is He who thus assimilates them to Himself; the latter in His character of righteousness, the former in the quality of His grace, as already explained in Series xi. 4. In receiving Him by faith they receive a new nature, being born of God; hence there is both righteousness and love in their ways.
But here there is a further though connected truth of great value.
" The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body will be light; but if thine eye be wicked, thy whole body will be dark. If therefore the light that is in thee is darkness, how great the darkness "
It is a question not of the light, which is perfect but of " the eye." Spiritual condition has an immense deal to do with the disciples seeing aright. Our recipiency and discernment, our actual judgment and our practice, depend on the state of our affections. The Lord presents the ready and effectual test. " If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body will be light; but if thine eye be wicked, thy whole body will be dark."
Christ truly the object before one gives singleness of eye; and where He is simply and exclusively the " one thing " before the soul, the whole body is light. Difficulties vanish. The will of God becomes quite clear. I am surprised and ashamed to have had doubts here and uncertainty there. I recognize to my humiliation that I had been asleep in my ways and had to rise up from among the dead, and then only have Christ shining upon me. -
Prayer alone does not ensure singleness of eye, nor yet suffices searching the word accompanied by prayer. There may be a fleshly film that dims the eye. We are too apt to think ourselves of importance for God when it is all of grace that He uses us in this way or that. We fail to appreciate our Lord's waiting on His Father, without taking a single step till He gets the word. Yet it is to His obedience that we are sanctified by the Spirit.
We are not like Jews with every point great or small religiously and in ordinary life, in peace or in war, personal, domestic, or social, all ruled by the statutes and ordinances, prohibitions and injunctions of law. Christ brought in the fuller and deeper obedience of a Son, and makes it by grace the believer's by the gift of life eternal and eternal redemption, with the Holy Spirit indwelling as power and personally also in us. But though thus blessed, there are still the three great enemies, the flesh, the world, and the devil, in the face of which we are responsible to please God as His children. We need therefore to pray, as the apostle did for the Colossians, to be filled with the right knowledge of His will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, to walk worthily of the Lord unto all well-pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work, and growing by the right knowledge of God (Col. 1:9, 10).
For this we need the eye single and the whole body light. How is this to be? The Lord tells us in John 15:7: " If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done to you." Habitual dependence on Him with confidence in His love is to abide in Him: without this all else is vain. But where we abide by grace, His words are needed to direct: for who is sufficient otherwise? and His Spirit is given to guide us thus. Only thus are we sure that we have His mind; for thus the eye is single and the whole body light. Then when we ask, we have our petition. 0 that so it may be and that we may be content with nothing less!
What is the issue, where other objects are allowed? The alternative is, " If thine eye be wicked, thy whole body will be dark." How solemn the sentence, and how true 1 " If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great the darkness!" O look to God that it be not so with you, a disciple of the Lord I
See too the impossibility of the Light yours, of the eye single, save by genuine repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus. Doubt yourself, not God; and receive Him who in His grace came to receive you by faith, if you have not already done so.

Gospel Words: Be Not Anxious

As the Lord charges His own to lay up for themselves treasures, not on earth, but in heaven, so does He forbid anxiety about their life here below, as His servant did about anything. He lifts our eyes above the seen present to the things unseen and eternal, whence He came and whither He was going, as He is coming to take us shortly. Here He deals with the believer's heart, and the snare of seeking to serve God and mammon which He pronounces morally impossible.
"For this reason I say to you, Be not anxious for your life what ye should eat and what ye should drink, nor yet for your body what ye should put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body more than the raiment? Look at the birds of the heavens, that they sow not, nor reap, nor gather into barns, and your heavenly Father nourisheth them. Are ye not more excellent than they? And which of you by anxiety can add to his stature one cubit? And why are ye anxious about raiment? Consider the lilies of the field how they grow: they toil not, nor yet spin; yet I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory put on like one of these. But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, being to-day and tomorrow cast into the oven, how much more you, O ye of little faith? Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or what shall we drink? or what shall we put on? For all these things the Gentiles seek after; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things " (vi. 25-32).
Anxiety as to the things which the present life needs is natural. All these things the nations of the earth seek after. In God they have no faith, as the Jews professed loudly, but in works denied. But the disciples had the heavenly Father's name now set before them as the One who is perfect in grace, making His sun shine on evil and good, and sending rain on just and unjust. How true this is I Yet who had affirmed it as a living principle but the Lord on earth, who also set it forth as a model for His own practically, that they might be sons indeed: an astonishing doctrine, especially for those, as they were, trained up in the legal ideas of the Jews. So their righteousness was to be, whether alms, prayer, and fasting, not before men but to their Father that sees in secret.
The name of their Father made anxiety about earthly and bodily wants a painful incongruity, and in particular about what kind the supply should be. From Himself the birds read them one lesson, and the lilies another. He nourishes each fleeting creature, He gives the passing flower its beauty. How much more did He care for His children 2 It was a touching appeal and carrying with it to every believer the conviction of irresistible truth. They were, they are, called to believe in His sustaining goodness. He never fails in His love: they ought not to fail in resting and counting on it day by day. If tried as to it, let them not doubt that it is for their good. It is impossible for God to lie. Are they to doubt His love Whom the Lord reveals as their Father? He who embraces the least objects of His care will act worthily of His love to the nearest.
Nor does the Lord spare them the humbling proof how little the anxiety of man avails. " Which of you by anxiety can add to his stature one cubit? " It was a very small thing if some would count it a very great addition. Yet even for this how powerless is man! Why then be anxious about a garment? The herbage of the field rebukes the vanity of a child of God; for as the Lord called their attention to the lilies, he pointed the moral by the plain fact that God clothed even these transient creatures, lower in the scale than the birds, with a beauty far beyond Solomon's array in all his glory.
Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or what shall we drink? or what shall we put on? Here the Lord urges two considerations which we do well to heed. One is to guard us against sharing the unbelief of those who do not even know God, How compromising to share the thoughts and feelings of the Gentiles 1 " For all these things the nations seek after." The other is to assure the doubting heart. " For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." Not one sparrow falls to the ground without Him: but of you even the hairs of the head are all numbered " (Matt. 10:29, 30).
Now are you, who read these words, a child of God by grace? Believe not such as say that all mankind are so. They deny the fall; they ignore sin; they oppose the solemn testimony of scripture, that, however favored by privileges, we are by nature children of wrath, even as others (Eph. 2:3). Believe not others who say that baptism quickens those dead in trespasses and sins. Christ quickens by faith of His word and the working of the Spirit. He is the Life, as He is the Way and the Truth. You have His words, not merely to instruct His own, but to show how the dead may live, yea have eternal life; for this it is He gives to those who believe. " Verily, verily, I say to you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life " (John 6:47). Why wonder? Is He not the Son, the I am? " He that believeth on the Son hath life eternal (or, everlasting): and he that is unsubject to the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him " (John 3:36). O sinner, beware lest this be your portion,

Gospel Words: the Kingdom of God

The kingdom of the heavens is an expression derived apparently from Dan. 4:26. Its inauguration also is foreshewn in Dan. 7:13, 14; in 22 not only the Heir of all but the heavenly joint-heirs, and in 27 the " people " under the whole heaven to whom the chief dominion is given. Such will be the manifested kingdom when the Son of man comes with power and glory; and there will be earthly things and heavenly (John 3:12). But He came first as the great moral test in humiliation; and His rejection and cross brought out higher than earth through redemption therein accomplished. This too, refused by the unbelieving people, left the door open for the mystery of that kingdom and its mysteries while the rejected King is on high, and the gospel of indiscriminate grace, till the church is complete. Then all Israel shall be saved on their repentance, and the blessing of all the nations as such shall fully come.
Plainly, " the kingdom of the heavens " is a dispensational phrase peculiar to the first Gospel, as in contrast with the incredulity of the Jews who looked only for an earthly one. Mark and Luke use " the kingdom of God " for it, and in a general sense; John exclusively for what is real. But Matthew, for that very reason, when he does say " the kingdom of God," does not mean the dispensational view, either in future manifestation or in present mystery, but the power of God ruling in Christ when here, or now in the Spirit's action morally in those that are His. Hence the same term which is so comprehensive elsewhere has here this force all the more marked because of Matthew's general employment of the dispensational phrase.
Here occurs the first instance; the others are 12:28, 19:24, 21:31, 43, of which this is not the place to speak more particularly.
" But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Be not careful (or, anxious) for the morrow for the morrow will be careful about itself: sufficient for the day is the evil thereof."
Throughout the discourses on the Mount the Lord is not preaching the glad tidings to the lost but instructing His disciples who already believed. Earthly care is a great bane and unworthy of faith. " Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness." Where could they find that kingdom and righteousness most truly, plainly, and fully set out before their souls? Surely nowhere as in Himself. It was even more wondrously by God's Spirit in His moral power than by His casting out demons. " Lo, I am come to do thy will, O God," was far beyond all the miracles together that ever had been wrought. Who but He was the "man that lived by every word of God " unswervingly?
Nor is it too much to ask of such as were born of God. Indeed the principle was always true. Jehovah's people were to be holy because He is holy. And this applies all the more strongly now that we have the relationship of sons, with redemption through Christ's blood, and the gift of the Spirit. For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking; nor yet abstinence from flesh or wine; but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Making God's kingdom and righteousness our first concern, we are entitled to expect that all the things needful and good will be added to us. For our God and Father never overlooks our wants. If faithful in the greatest and deepest things, He loves that we should confide in Him as to our least things. Do we believe the Lord, that " all these things [about which unbelief worries] shall be added unto us?" Let us not forget the condition: " seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness." What can be more due to God, or more comely for us as His sons? The Lord's yoke is easy, and His burden is light.
It is unbelief, accompanied by loving the world or the things in the world, which produces anxiety, darkness, and doubt, as in the Gentiles who knew not God. If we know Him, and the blessedness of His kingdom, and the perfection of His righteousness, why be careful for the morrow? For the morrow, says the Lord, shall be careful for itself. Has He failed us to-day, or in the past? What evil has He ever done us, what good thing withheld from us? Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof. Even if the hardest trials come, do we not know that all things work together for good to those that love God, to those called according to purpose?
Do you, my reader, say that you love Him not, but dread Him because of your sins? Then why do you not flee for refuge to Him that stretches out to you His strong and gracious arms? Come unto Me, He cries, all ye that labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. " Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out." He is full of grace and truth. Is not this the only Savior for a sinner? What does " grace " mean but unmerited favor? You are justly condemned if you refuse to come at God's word.

Gospel Words: Judge Not That Ye Be Not Judged

There ought to be no question of the Lord's meaning here. No fault was more prevalent then or now. Censoriousness is not only the habitual bane of religious professors, but the snare to which true disciples are too prone. Gracious men who set their face in general against detraction are often bitter against what they themselves dislike, and thus slip into judging motives wrongly like others. He who is Judge of quick and dead discerns every heart, and enjoins what is comely and just on His followers. For this sin tends to hypocrisy; and what saint would regard such a thing lightly?
"Judge not that ye be not judged; for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye measure, it shall be measured to you. And why lookest thou on the mote that [is] in the eye of thy brother, but observest not the beam in thine eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote from thine eye; and, behold, the beam [is] in thine eye? Hypocrite, pull out first the beam out of thine eye, and then wilt thou see clearly to pull out the mote out of the eye of thy brother."
The indulgence in a hasty, severe, and suspicious spirit provokes reprisals, and such as wantonly impute evil to others in ignorance or unkindness do not fail to bring on themselves unsparing imputation. For here the Lord turns from the lack of confiding in our Father's care and love, and warns of our danger from many an unkind impression and expression. To surmise wrong motives is itself a wrong. It is natural for such as live in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another; and such once were we ourselves. But since the kindness and love to man of our Savior God appeared (no premium for our deserts), but according to His own mercy He saved us through washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, which He poured on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, are we not bound by the family character, the new life relationship as children of God, sons of such a Father? Since redemption and the gift of the Spirit, more can be added now to what the Lord uttered then.
But He reminds us of what we easily forget. If others are a trial to us, are not we a trial to them? Are we not, unless walking according to the light, as dull to see our own faults as we are sharp to notice, and even imagine, wrongs in our brethren? How pungently the Lord puts the case that we may loathe ourselves! " And why lookest thou on the mote in the eye of thy brother, but observest not the beam in thine eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote from thine eye, and, behold, the beam is in thine eye?" The Shepherd and Bishop of our souls thus holily strips us of the mask which failure in self-judgment puts on. For if before God we discern not our own grievous shortcomings and sins, we do not know our brethren with anything like the same certainty and clearness. Love therefore and the fear of God call us each to deem others better than ourselves, judging ourselves for what we do know instead of others for what we know not and ought not to think. " Hypocrite," says the Lord with severe reproof, " pull out first the beam out of thine eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote out of thy brother's eye."
Yet it is well to beware of the too common misuse of our Lord's warning. How often pious persons thereby deprecate any censure of their own position and any care against false doctrine, or evil associations, or responsibility for such discipline as scripture requires 1 But this is to fail in godliness; which assuredly covers not only personal conduct, but also public walk as members of Christ. The Corinthians were careless in this way and others, which grace has turned to the profit, not only of them, but of " all that in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both theirs and ours." The apostle allows no excuse for carelessness congregationally any more than individually. There is no call to exercise discipline on the evildoers of the world; but Christians have the obligation of dealing with offenders in God's assembly. Paul, though absent, could not but judge that the wicked person should be excluded. It was due to Christ and His sacrifice. God must be vindicated Whose is the assembly. The saints were bound to clear themselves in the matter, taking up the offender's sin as their own; yet even here his ultimate good was sought, " that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." "Do not ye judge those that are within? But those without God judgeth. Put away the wicked [man] from among yourselves " (1 Cor. 5:3-13). Here we are commanded to judge.
The selfsame principle expressly applies to sins far less gross. Our thoughts and reasonings are to be discarded on the one hand; and on the other God's authority to be recognized and conclusive. Scripture too is plain, that, important as is right judgment of moral evil, the truth is yet more momentous; and this both because to slight and oppose it offends against the Giver, and it ruins those who thus err, whilst they have a fair appearance, instead of shocking men like immorality or unrighteousness.
Express injunction is also laid down, when the evil is of a more general and public character, as in 2 Tim. 2 " Howbeit the firm foundation of God standeth, having this seal, The Lord knoweth those that are his; and, Let everyone that nameth the Lord's name depart from unrighteousness. Now in a great house are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some for honor and some for dishonor. If one therefore purge himself out from these, he shall be a vessel for honor, sanctified, serviceable to the Master, prepared for every good work." There is thus no license to join in what God disapproves and demands us to judge. Conscience, a purged conscience, is exercised, and the heart all the more free to love fervently according to God.
But how is it with you, dear reader? If you are of the world and only bear the outward badge of Christianity, take the place of truth for your soul in God's sight. Jesus is the all-sufficient Savior of sinners, and He, the Lord of all, is rich and near to all that call upon Him. For whosoever shall call on the Lord's name shall be saved. Righteousness and salvation are the portion assured by God to each that believes and confesses Him. If you received Christ, say not that you cannot tell who are His. How then can you love God's children, as Christ charged you to do? Even the unconverted know in a general way who are His, and who are not; how much more does every sober believer? He owns that, till born anew and brought to God by Christ's work, he was as evil as anyone; and, without pretending to judge the heart, he accepts those who confess the Lord and follow Him, as he himself does. Such is the judgment of true charity, not the indifference of unbelief which is of Satan.
The verse that follows itself shows whom we ought to judge. For we are to prove all things, holding fast the right. " Dogs " and "Swine" we are bound to discern and disown. " Give not the holy thing to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before the swine lest• they trample them with their feet, and turn and rend you." Nabal's family is not extinct, sons of Belial with whom a disciple cannot speak with impunity. Shamelessness and filth plainly tell what they are, and the folly of treating them as sheep of God's pasture. No doubt the grace of God can save such: but in all this discourse is not a word about redemption or saving sinners. ' All throughout consists of the characters which suit God, and must really be for His Kingdom. This is its design: and it is worthy of Christ, as the gospel is where this was the question.

Gospel Words: Confidence in Our Father's Giving

Our Lord here encourages His disciples to count on the goodness of their Father for every want consistent with His will.
" Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, who, if his son shall ask of him for a loaf, will give him a stone; and if he ask for a fish, will give him a serpent? If therefore ye, being wicked, know to give good gifts to your children, how much rather shall your Father that is in the heavens give good things to those that ask him? Therefore all things whatsoever ye desire that men should do to you, thus do ye also to them; for this is the law and the prophets " (Matt. 7:7-12).
It is not a shiner needing life and forgiveness of his sins, but saints directed to appeal to God and assured of their Father's answer of love, whatever their wants be. The Lord had already taught them to pray in chap. 6 as with alms and fasting, parts of saintly righteousness and due to His name and glory. Here He enforces it as the way in which all they need from above is to be given them. Hence perseverance and earnestness are incumbent. Asking will ensure receiving, yea to every one that asks; seeking will not be fruitless but shall find; and to the still more importunate the door will be opened, which is but shut to exercise faith. For there may be a matter of importance for the applicant to learn before the request can be granted, as with the Syrophenician woman, so earnest in supplicating the Lord to have pity on her, whose daughter was grievously possessed by a demon. Yet at first the Lord answered her not a word. She pleaded like a lost sheep of Israel's house; whereas she was a Greek, and had no right of promise with the Messiah; indeed she was a Canaanite, and thus under the curse. But when she drops His title as Son of David, and gathered from His answer to the disciples wherein her mistake lay, she did Him homage, saying, Lord, help me. On this He speaks out, It is not good to take the bread of the children, and cast it to the whelps. This did help her soul, for it led her to the secret of sovereign grace on which she at once threw herself, saying, Yea, Lord; for even the whelps eat of the crumbs which fall from the table of their masters. Then Jesus answering said to her, O woman, great is thy faith; be it done to thee as thou wilt. The door opened to her knock. She was deepened and cleared in her faith, as her daughter was healed from that hour.
The Lord also encourages His disciples through the affection which is implanted in a parent's heart. If their Father makes His sun rise on evil and good, and sends rain on just and unjust, how does He feel toward His sons? His love surely goes out to them in every request that is for their good, and withholds only what their foolishness asked that must do them harm. Hence He says, Or what man of you, whom his son shall ask for a loaf, will he give him a stone? and if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? Who would not repudiate such mockery of a. son's hunger? Thence He draws the conclusive words for their hearts, If ye then, being wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father that is in the heavens give good things to those that ask Him?
The last verse goes into that which becomes the disciple with men, and lays down the simple but evidently sound principle, to do to others as we would have others do to us; and this too on no ground of human rights or natural benevolence, but of consistency with God's revealed will. "All things therefore whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, thus also do ye to them; for this is the law and the prophets."
Now let me ask you, dear reader, if you have not by faith the Son of God as your Savior, are you not conscious that these words are altogether beyond you? What is your state then now, and what must the end be? I call on you in the Lord's name that you perish not in your sins. The same Lord, who thus cheers His disciples and bids them ask freely, warns you that he who disbelieves (who is unsubject to) the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides upon him. Go to God as you are, a poor sinner, in the Savior's name, and own your ruin and His grace, that you may be saved, and know it to your exceeding and everlasting joy; and then serve Him as your Lord, awaiting Him from heaven, for He is coming.

Gospel Words: the Narrow Gate

The Lord here gives a warning of great practical value. Public opinion weighs much with the natural mind. It may be and often is right in material things: there men judge fairly well, and are awake to their interests. For the spirit of man that is in him knows the things of man. But it is not so in the things of God, where the carnal mind does not fail to display its inveterate enmity against Him to man's certain ruin if it sway. Therefore is it elsewhere written, There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none that understandeth, none that seeketh after God. All turned aside, together they become unprofitable, there is none doing good, no, not one (Rom. 3:10-12).
Hence the Lord says here, "Enter ye through the narrow gate; because wide [is] the gate, and broad the way that leadeth off unto destruction, and many are they that enter through it. Because narrow [is] the gate, and straitened the way that leadeth off unto life, and few are they that find it " (Matt. 7:13, 14).
Reader, how is it with you? Have you entered through the narrow gate of conversion to God? Have you repented toward God and believed on our Lord Jesus Christ? _Baptism is the divine and admirable sign of salvation; yet it never gave life, but rather represented remission of sins and death to sin for such as had life: if they had not life in Christ, its true meaning, as far as they were concerned, was their guilty and wretched inconsistency, to their utter condemnation far worse than if they had not been baptized to that excellent Name. Deceive not your own soul; be not deceived by others. The great apostle warned that in the last days grievous times should come, and evil men and impostors wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But this trust in an ordinance is one of the oldest of errors, and revived of late with fresh audacity and large success, though the same apostle expressly denounced its vanity and danger in early days (1 Corinthians 10:1-11). For " our fathers," said he, "were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink... Howbeit with most of them God was not well pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness.... Now all these things happened to them as types, and were written for our admonition on whom the ends of the ages are come."
O unbeliever, will it assuage the horrors of everlasting fire that you followed the multitude in despising the word of the Lord and neglecting His great salvation? You cannot deny that what He says here is very plain; your conscience must own that it is true. It is of no avail to talk about the fate of Thibet sealed up against the light of the gospel, or to inquire what is to become of the heathen millions in darkest Africa, or in haughtier India and China, or anywhere else. You at any rate have the Bible, and may outwardly profess the Lord's name. You have often heard and perhaps read these words of Him who will surely judge living and dead; and the time hastens for it. When you stand and are manifested before Him, will you not be speechless, like him who might be christened but had no wedding garment? The numberless crowds of the lost will verify His words, but yield not a drop of water to cool your tongue in the torments of that day without an end, or even when you die impenitent now before it come. Masses and classes alike perish in their unbelief of Him and His word.
In fact it will only add unspeakably to your bitter self-reproach that the Lord gave you so distinct a signal of danger for time and eternity. You refused the narrow gate, because it admitted neither self-will, nor fleshly lust. You loved the wide gate and the broad way, because you set your heart on what you called liberty, seeking and doing what you liked in defiance of God's will. You stifled the conviction of your moral folly and incredulous madness by the abundance of your company high and low. The narrow gate was repulsive to you, because it compelled you to stoop to God, which your pride and your passions alike resented. You had in entering through it to meet God singly, and to face Him alone about your sins. Had you been in earnest, you would have seen that He is our Savior God, who desires that all men should be saved and come to acknowledgment of truth. And this is solely in Christ Who is the one Mediator of God and men, and gave Himself a ransom for all.
Therefore are you without excuse. And you are lost and must be condemned forever, above all your sins for this crowning sin that you reject Christ Who died for you, losing the ransom so precious to God and efficacious for man. 0 bethink yourself: believe the words of Him Who cannot lie, and in love uttered this warning that you might hear and live. For both gates are clearly set before you, and both ways, one unto life and the other unto perdition. Many are they that enter through the wide gate and tread the broad way. O beware; for I too was once your fellow-sinner, as infatuated as any other. But the Shepherd's voice reached my ear, my soul. May it pierce yours, that you may turn off from the broad way, as from a serpent, yea the old Serpent the Devil, and enter the narrow gate of Christ, the straitened way that leads off unto life. Few are they that find it. May you know this happiness now and evermore in the Savior.

Gospel Words: Fruits

The disciple is here cautioned. It is not only against trusting himself, that he may be dependent on his Father, and earnest in prayer that looks for an answer of grace. He has to pass through a scene haunted by the subtle emissaries of the unseen enemy; and the greater their pretension, the more are they to be shunned. The Lord would not have His own deceived and led astray.
" But beware of false prophets, which come unto you in sheep's clothing but within are ravening wolves. By their fruits ye shall them recognize. Do they gather from thorns a grape bunch or from thistles figs? So every good tree produceth good fruits, but the worthless tree produceth bad fruits. A good tree cannot produce bad fruits, nor a worthless tree produce good fruits. Every tree that produceth not good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire. Therefore at least by their fruits ye shall recognize them well "
Every reader of the o. t. may learn the destructive part by the false prophets who followed like a dark shadow the holy men whom the Holy Spirit inspired, and took up popular cries to oppose the warnings of God as evil became more rampant. There is no less danger now, as Peter particularly insists under the gospel; not to say that there is so much the more when good men pretend not to inspiration and are no longer invested with miraculous vouchers, but press only the word. in the Spirit. And so it will be again for the godly remnant in the last days when, the heavenly ones being caught up, it becomes a question of that land and people.
But the Lord's warning is of living value now also, as we hear in the worst and deceptive form (1 John 2:18-23; 4:1-6 John 7-11). What believer does not know of the boldest antagonism to the truth? What Christian has not tasted bitter grief in seeing saints of God deluded by the sheerest clap-trap? Yea, even conniving, for alleged peace, unity, or testimony, at the denial of Christ's Person?
They who love Christ do well to beware of false prophets, who are such as come unto them in the garb of sheep, but within are ravening wolves. They may cultivate sanctimoniousness and pretend to devotion, but are under the dominion of a mightier foe than themselves, and filled with the keenest zeal to deprive the Christian of a true Christ, of life eternal possessed, of present standing as God's righteousness in Christ, of association with Him in and for heavenly glory. Are not such truly ravening wolves? What remains, if the disciple lose all the treasure distinctive of Christianity?
" By their fruits ye shall recognize them." Do they exalt Him who humbled Himself? Do they confess His incomprehensible being, God and man in one Person? Do they proclaim His grace and truth? Do they follow Christ in absolute subjection to scripture? Do they own it, as the invaluable standard, and the sure communication, of God's mind by His Spirit? Is the believer established? Is the sinner won and delivered? Or are minds filled with ideas which but inflate the spirit, inspire self-complacency, and end in death? For these are practical effects which test what men teach, and which are legible enough to simple souls little versed in scriptural truth, and still less in human subtleties. And thus the Lord safeguards the sheep in various ways.
There is another class of false prophets who more openly contradict the Lord, count scripture obsolete, or deny that it was ever more than Hebrew sages moralizing or romancing according to their genius. Hence they dare to say that the wide gate is all right, and the broad way safe; that the few are only sour, proud, and narrow, and that the many cannot but be welcome to the universal Father, Jehovah, Jove, or Lord, too good to be severe to His erring children. Here again for all who receive scripture as the expression of divine revelation and authority there is no lack of evidence for any one to recognize these false prophets from their fruits. For their love of the world, or indulgence of the flesh, is as plain as their apology for sin, slight of the Savior, and ignorance of the true God.
Good fruits are produced by neither the religious misbeliever or the profane unbeliever. How could it be? Do people gather a bunch of grapes from thorns or figs from thistles? Those who utter false oracles are trees which the Father never planted. It is the worthless tree producing bad fruits: whereas every good tree produces good fruits. Christ is the true vine; and they only who abide in Him are branches that bear good fruit.
O then, sinner, renounce yourself, and heed none who point to another than Christ. Were He not set forth openly, and did He not welcome you in perfect grace, your lot would be dismal indeed. But He Himself declares, " I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all unto myself " (John 12:32). On earth He, the Messiah, was not sent save to the lost sheep of Israel, though he and she who by grace discerned a higher glory were blessed according to their faith. But lifted up on the cross He is seen as the Son of man come to seek and save the lost, whoever and whatever they might be. He is the attractive center to draw all, however dark or distant, who own Him as Savior and themselves as guilty and ruined sinners. For on the cross He through death annulled him that has the might of death; on the cross He bore the judgment of sin and effected propitiation; on the cross His blood was shed that brings the defiled one perfectly cleansed nigh to God. O sinner, no longer hold out against a work thus provided and commended to you just as you are. Christ is the true God, and eternal life; and it is written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you might have life in His name.
Made a true and living branch of the Vine, you will bear the good fruits of that only good tree. Be humbled, but not in despair, if through allowance of flesh you bear unworthily. For you have still the flesh in you, but no excuse to let it out. For if you are Christ's, you died to sin, not to sins merely, but to that source of lust and will, the flesh; and such is the virtue of His death to law too, that even if a Jew you were made dead to that old husband and free to belong to Another, Who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit to God. The Holy Spirit directs your eye and heart to Christ; and He, as He produces nothing but good fruit, never fails him that looks to Himself. He is the way, the only way of life and holiness; and if you live by faith, it is now yours to say, "not I, but Christ that liveth in me." Then and then only, can you produce good fruits; as surely as " every tree that produceth not good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire."
Be not deceived then. Look to Christ believingly; and all will be well with your soul now, and evermore. Therefore at least by their fruits ye shall know those that uphold the ways of the Lord, and those that pervert.

Gospel Words: Bare Profession Worthless

The Lord here delivers a most salutary warning, to which the new things of the kingdom gave occasion. For while the truth which came through Him is as precious as it is characteristic, it of necessity left the door open for mental activity and spurious profession in ways which could not under the law be addressed to Israel. " Now we know that, whatsoever things the law saith, it speaketh to those in (or, under) the law." The truth, Christ, on His coming into the world which knew Him not, casts His light upon every man, and places all that have it under deep and direct responsibility. But it is also capable of being abused widely and variously by a false pretension more or less willing, yet ever inexcusable.
This the Lord meets in these verses with emphatic clearness and solemnity.
" Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but he that doeth the will of my Father that is in the heavens. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many works of power? And then will I avow to them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work lawlessness " (Matt. 7:21-23).
The sense of entering into the kingdom of the heavens here is fixed to its glorious estate, not only by " in that day " in the following verse, but by the Lord's application of it in chap. viii. 11, where its citizens sit in it with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. It is the more important to note; because His rejection (which soon began to appear) brought in its " mysteries " as in Matt. 13, during which He sits on high upon the Father's throne, and the kingdom applies to the anomalous state, as in the field or world wherein He sowed wheat and the devil darnel to ruin as a whole. This is the present mixture of Christendom while the Lord is absent above, during which any one can say " Lord " in vain, and wheat and darnel grow together till the harvest time, and the glory come by judgment.
The essential thing is doing the will of His Father which Christ was revealing. As He said in John 5:24, where life eternal was in question, " Verily, verily, I say to you, He that heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath life eternal." These are the persons who, having done the good things as possessed of life now, rise for the resurrection of life (ver. 28). Equally peremptory is the Lord's word here. No profession without corresponding course of life can avail; nothing less or other than doing His heavenly Father's will. And who so competent to reveal as the Son, who left (as He tells us in John 16:12, 13) many things, beyond hearing then, for the Holy Spirit to announce when He came?
It is clear that, as in the entire discourse, not a word is said about the new birth, still less redemption. The Lord is not here preaching to sinners how they were to be saved; He is teaching His disciples how to walk before the Father that is in the heavens. How does He view that vague and multitudinous profession, which is a burlesque of Christianity, though now so popular, on the one hand through histrionic ceremonies and gaudy shows and religious fables, and on the other through appeals to the intellect and to the imagination by oratory or reasoning. There may be seeming devoutness and profuse earnestness; but without living faith in Christ, neither is God known nor is self judged. The Lord insists on true obedience.
O my fellow-sinner, how can you obey a far fuller standard than the law, as long as you are dead in your offenses and sins? Are you not by nature children of wrath (Eph. 2)? For we are saved (nobody else), as the apostle adds, by grace through faith. A rite is wholly unavailing. And faith is God's gift; it is not of works, as rash men pretend: else man could and would boast. Faithful is the word, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). O then repent and believe the gospel.
How overwhelming is the Lord's warning! " Many shall say to Me in that day (and it is at hand), Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by Thy name, and by Thy name cast out demons, and by Thy name do many works of power? And I will say (not even you once knew Me, but) " I never knew you." Compare Heb. 6:4-8. No gift of power is a sign of life eternal, not even the edifying gift of prophesying. A man might be an apostle of Christ, but not a child of God. " Ye must be born anew," begotten by the word of truth; which Judas never was. Outwardly near, he was really far off, not only a stranger in heart but an enemy. And so we read here of crowds not like Judas, deceived as well as deceivers, " Then will I avow to them, I never knew you."
So indeed it is and must he, where men enjoy the greatest outward privileges, and remain without faith working through love. But it is faith, not founded on evidence, nor on tradition, nor dependent on a dying priest or a dead ordinance or a self-asserting church, but given of God's grace that you may become God's son and Christ's bondman, though just as surely a member of His body. Thus only can you walk in obedience of the Father's word and will, till Christ comes or you depart to be with Him, waiting with Him as well as for Him till then.
And those who do not so believe, whatever their claims now, whatever their pretension to order, office, Tower or authority, must assuredly hear in that day the just and irrevocable sentence, " Depart from Me, ye that work lawlessness." May grace work and win now, giving an ear to hear the voice of Jesus to the saving of the soul, and delivering from the delusion that christening quickens souls, or exempts them from the condition of being lost and the need of being born anew.

Gospel Words: Christ and the Law

We have already seen how certainly and clearly laid down is Christ's position in ver. 17. He maintained the authority of the Old Testament. " Think ye not that I came to destroy the law and the prophets; I came not to destroy but to fulfill." He came to make good God's mind therein. This He confirms in ver. 18. " For verily I say to you, Till the heaven and the earth pass, one iota or one point shall in no wise pass from the law till all things come to pass. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of the heavens; but whosoever shall do and teach [them], he shall be called great in the kingdom of the heavens. For I say to you that, except your righteousness surpass [that] of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of the heavens " (18-20).
That the Lord obeyed the law is beyond doubt. This is not the meaning of fulfilling. He gave the full scope of the law and the prophets; and He did yet more, for He revealed God in Himself both by words and ways, and disclosed those secrets of the kingdom which were absolutely hidden of old. For His rejection and departure to heaven would and did give it a quite new form; and beyond this the great mystery as to Christ and as to the church had to be made known, involving things still higher and deeper. But nothing in the new could weaken the authority of God in the old. " Till the heaven and the earth pass, one iota or one point shall in no wise pass from the law till all things come to pass."
Christ should be glorified in heaven, and the Holy Spirit sent down to baptize the believing Jews and Greeks into one body, the body of Christ, the temple destroyed, the city trodden down by Gentiles, and the Jews scattered over the earth for their sin against Messiah. But even these woes on the chosen race fulfilled the law and the prophets, and in a special way Christ's word; yet more remains, and darkness still, before the law and the prophets are fulfilled in the salvation of Israel coming to and out of Zion. Then shall the earth yield her increase, and God shall bless to the full His long unblest people, and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him. O haste the day! Assuredly Christ came not to make void but to fulfill.
But the Lord is here addressing His disciples who were still under the law. He is not yet even predicting His death on the cross and the redemption through His blood to which grace turned it in the justifying righteousness of God by faith to be revealed in the gospel. Indeed, as we have often noticed and might through the entire Sermon on the Mount, not one word says He here of this work of sovereign love. He first sets out the characteristics that are proper to the kingdom in verses 3-12; then position in 13,14; and now the relation, like His own in their measure, to the revelation God had given to His ancient people, however unbelieving and unworthy as a whole. He does not foretell what their rejection of Himself must entail on the Jewish nation, or what God would then do for them or others who believe.
Hence in ver. 19 He still speaks to them as the godly remnant that heard His voice and clung to Him, born of God, but under law, and on this side of the cross and its blessed results to faith. Obedience first and last is insisted on. Here He begins with the law; but even in this chapter He goes on to what He is saying to them, which the ancients never heard. He brings in rich additions in chap. 6 as declaring the Father's name from the close of chap. v., guards them from inward and outward snares in chap.7, and ends the discourse there with hearing and doing His words as the rock of wisdom and safety.
As undoing the word justly sunk one to be " least " in the kingdom, faithfulness to it raised to a great place therein. Evidently therefore the righteousness of such as entered must exceed and excel that of the Pharisee (ver. 20) who honored tradition, the word of man, to the necessary disparagement of God's word.
It was the perfection of giving His disciples their food in due season. Many prophets and kings, some even inspired, desired to see the things which the disciples saw, and saw them not; and to hear the things which they were hearing, and heard them not. And greater things were at hand, even that most wondrous of all wonders, God's work in the cross and the resurrection and the heavenly glory of His Son. But if heaven and earth shall pass, as they are, and not the least tittle of the law and the prophets, how far above these to God's glory and man's blessing rise the words of the Lord Jesus
And these are words of His which deeply concern my reader, who is not a disciple of His, but a slave of sin and Satan. If you are indeed His disciple, let me rejoice with you in the grace God has shown you. If you are not, but only a guilty and wretched sinner, I beseech you to hear His words meant for you to heed before God that you may live forever. " Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Doubt Him not: He is able, He is willing. " I came to call, not righteous men, but sinners: " why despair, or turn away? Even His enemies cried, " This man receiveth sinners." What does He Himself say, even when His hearers sought to kill Him, and when He sought those who had not a pulse of life toward God? " Verily, verily I say to you, He that heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath life eternal, and cometh not into judgment [out of which no unbeliever can emerge, nor yet believer if he entered], but passed out of death into life."
For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him may not perish, but have life eternal. What love in God Who hates the sins and pities the sinner! What infinite love, when you think, first of His Son, then of yourself But O my fellow-sinner, what a doom must be yours according to His word if you disbelieve the Son, are un-subject to Him, and neglect so great salvation

Gospel Words: Anger

The Scribes and Pharisees were especially ritualist and external. This was letter, not spirit. Our Lord not only condemns a righteousness of mere outward acts, but insists on inward reality as indispensable for the kingdom of the heavens. He does not explain at this time how the requisite practical righteousness is possible and actually made good in sinful men. He had already let Nicodemus know of the necessity for a Jew no less than a Greek to be born anew, as well as to have redemption by His cross. Here to His disciples He expounds _ the absolute need of realizing the varied spiritual qualities brought before them in order to enter the kingdom. As the Pharisees fatally narrowed the scope of scripture, the Lord gave its fullness as none but He could. The first of these references is to the law of murder. But the Lord goes immeasurably farther for the kingdom.
" Ye have heard that it was said to those of old, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be subject to the judgment. But I say to you, that everyone that is [lightly] angry with his brother shall be subject to the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be subject to the council; and whosoever shall say, Fool, shall be subject to the hell of fire " (Matt. 5:21, 22). The law and the prophets He had vindicated. All must come to pass. Yet the law made nothing perfect. He speaks Who is above the law and gave fullness to all on His own authority.
Thus is the commandment made exceeding broad and deep. The ax is laid to the root of the evil tree. All violent feelings are judged as in God's sight, and every evil word of malice and contempt shown to be of sinful and dangerous consequence. As He said later in the same Gospel (12:37), "By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." Here He warns, not so much of every light word, but of wrath, hatred, and contempt. The Judge of all the earth, Himself despised by man and abhorred by the nation, as was soon proved, could not fail to discern aright.
The danger He denounced is the burning sense of self, of the old man set on fire of hell. Circumstances might hinder its expression; but it stays in the heart it ruled, and makes itself at length felt in its malignity. He that formed the heart knows it, as He detects a feeling so contrary to His own nature, not only unbecoming in man, but wholly inconsistent with the peacemakers, the pure in heart, the merciful, as well as the poor in spirit, the mourning, the meek, and those hungering and thirsting after righteousness, the blessed ones that suit the kingdom of the heavens. How too could it agree with being persecuted for righteousness' sake? how with being reproached, and having all manner of evil said and done against one falsely for Christ's sake, yet, rejoicing and being exceeding glad to be thus defamed and ill-used for His name?
But we know that very recently (Mark 3:1-6) the Holy and the True looked round with anger in the synagogue on those who watched with murderous hate, if He would heal a poor sufferer on the sabbath. Instead of shrinking from the issue, He bade the man rise up into the midst. They (the high and the broad) were silent; but the fire of their anger burned to destroy Him, after He also bade the man stretch out his palsied hand, restored on the instant. His holy anger was distressed at the hardening of their hearts who, in the vain confidence of tradition (ever spurious), were thus maddened against the active and blessed goodness of God as a reality among men here below.
Again, John the baptist said to the Sadducees coming to his baptism, Viper brood, who forewarned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce therefore fruit worthy of repentance; and think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham for father. These were scathing words; but if anger dictated a word, it was unselfish and holy. It was indignation at men who sought a religious form to cover their unbelief and wickedness. And He, whose sandal-thong John counted himself unworthy to untie, pronounced woe after woe on these Scribes and Pharisees, albeit standing highest in Jewish estimation. Blind guides He called them, fools too and hypocrites and serpents; how should they escape the judgment of hell? Was not the blessed Lord fully justified in His words, overwhelming as they were to the highest degree? It was not enmity to tell an evil-doer the truth, that he might repent. Flesh hates fidelity.
If it be objected that so the Lord was entitled righteously to denounce, but no one else may, what are we to learn from one of like passions with ourselves? He on just occasion could say in the Spirit, to an erring saint at Corinth with questions about the resurrection, Fool! as he said before, Wake up righteously, and sin not; for some are ignorant of God: I speak to your shame. So in the next chapter he declares that if anyone love not the Lord, let him be Anathema Maranatha (accursed at the Lord's coming), 1 Cor. 15:16. The same apostle tells the saints (Eph. 4:26), Be angry and sin not. If one truly follow the Lord and the apostle, anger then is a duty, not a sin; yet one surely has to watch and pray withal.
The source, motive, and aim decide. If of God and for Him by the Spirit, anger has His sanction; if for self, it is evil that exposes to judgment: and so the Lord denounces on its various degrees expressed in a form familiar to Jews.
O my fellow-sinner, whose words have been habitually sinful, violent and ungodly, how can you, as you are, enter the kingdom? And if you cannot, what must be your end without end? The Judge tells you plainly. But He is now the Savior, the only perfect Savior. Flee, flee for refuge, for pardon, and a new nature, to Him Who alone can give all you need. The resource of God's grace is Christ. And if we believe on Him, His love constrains us to live, not to self, but to Him Who for our sakes died and rose again. Then only do we cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Gospel Words: Brotherly Reconciliation

The Lord was not content, with authority peculiarly and emphatically His own, to lay down the hateful evil of anger in heart and word, even if not in violent deed. He proceeds to carry out the revealed mind of God for the kingdom by requiring reconciliation if any had stumbled one's brother. Throughout, disciples are in view, not mankind in general. Sin in disciples is exceeding sinful: good is peremptory (surely not evil) for the kingdom of the heavens.
" If therefore thou be offering thy gift at the altar, and there remember that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Make friends (or, be of good-will) with thine adversary quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the official, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say to thee, Thou shalt in no wise come out thence till thou have paid the last farthing " (Matt. 5:23-26).
It is no less evident that Jewish disciples as yet under the law are those addressed. This is as plain in vers. 20, 21 as in those we are now considering. In fact it is the rule in this Gospel as a whole and in the others; and it must be so, till in the death of Christ the middle wall of partition was broken down, and thus the way was opened to reconcile both Jew and Gentile that believed in one body to God, the enmity being slain. The discourse of our Lord anticipates no such unity, nor even the call of the Gentiles, in any one clause. But it is a profound mistake that this indisputable fact takes away the profit of a single word from the Christian, though we stand now in a position of grace which could not be then. There is the richest instruction morally for every one who honors Him who spake as never man spake; a spiritual estimate of unequaled depth for those who know redemption and have the indwelling Spirit to enter in far more fully than those who heard His words of divine truth at the time He uttered them.
Thus the Lord enjoins the disciple who was bringing his gift to the altar, if he remembered that his brother had anything against him, to stop short of his devoted purpose as to God Himself, and be reconciled to his brother, before returning to offer his gift. What tenderness of conscience was looked for, brotherly affection, lowliness of mind, readiness to own wrong, and desire to win an offended brother! It was the very reverse of anger, contempt, or hatred, which He had just treated, as His servant in measure re-echoed at a much later day (1 John 3:11-15). And that reverse was the Jews' case. For absorbed in bringing their offering to the altar, they were blind to their wrong against Him who deigned to be their brother, with far more than brother's love, born for adversity as they knew not. But they refused to be reconciled, and persisted in their offering, however offensive to God. It was presumptuous sin, and high-handed self-will under cloak of religion.
What follows points to a still more solemn consideration. Who that weighs scripture can doubt that the Lord in vers. 25, 26 refers to the position in which the Jew then stood with God? This was a far deeper consideration than any other brother aggrieved: their Lord became their brother. The awful truth is that He who loved Israel and would die for them, Jehovah-Messiah, was made their adversary by their perverse disobedience and blind unbelief; and His presence, which had been their salvation and best blessing if received, must bring on the inevitable crisis by their utter rejection and hatred of Him. The Lord at this point avails Himself of the occasion in His infinite grace to urge their agreeing, or making friends, with their adversary quickly, whilst in the way with him. How His heart yearned over them, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings! But they would not. Their deadliest aversion was to their loving Messiah.
Hence the case was just about to come before the Judge, and the Judge would deliver to the official the convicted one, and he must be cast into prison till the last farthing be paid. It is no question here of eternal judgment, but of divine government morally on the earth; but all is plainly true of His people found guilty and consigned to suffer long. In that prison still lies the guilty debtor, till his heart turns to the One he despised. Then the word shall go forth, Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye -to the heart of Jerusalem, and cry to her, that her time of sorrow (or, suffering) is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received of Jehovah's hand double for all her sins (Isa. 40:1, 2). Who is a God like unto Thee, that forgiveth iniquity and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? (Mic. 7:18.) Is not this the true unforced hearing of our Lord's words? One may apply it to Christian use or unchristian warning. But it is an evil to twist scripture or to complain of those who bow to its full force. Such ignorance has led men into the fable of purgatory.
But let me appeal to you, my reader, who may excuse yourself because you do not profess to be a disciple. How will this avail when you stand before the great white throne? By your own plea to escape responsibility you incur certain and everlasting perdition. You know that your works are evil, and that dying as you live, you are utterly unfit to be in heaven with the Holy One of God. He whom you refuse as Savior now will then be your Judge. You turn away from the Lord, you neglect so great salvation; your name is not in the book of life; your works are selfish, vain, proud, willful; addicted to lustful passion, rebellious against God, you serve Satan, and therefore must your portion be with the enemy of God and of His Son, as you have been here and are now.
O be warned in time. For the end of all things is at hand, even if you live; and your life at best is but a vapor. You know not what a day may bring forth. God was in Christ reconciling, not only embittered, or self-righteous Jews, but a world to Himself, not imputing their offenses to them. But all was vain for either: they hated both the Son and the Father. A great king, a mighty conqueror, would have been to their taste. How would that have blotted out their sins, or given them a nature to serve God on earth and enjoy Him in heaven? In divine wisdom and grace their hatred was allowed to culminate in His cross; and thereby sin was judged, themselves who believe cleansed from their iniquities, and made God's righteousness in Christ. O harden not yourself for hell-fire. God as it were beseeching by us, we pray for Christ, on His behalf who died for you: be reconciled to God. The work is done, according to His will, to save you forever. Repent and believe the gospel. What could be done to compare with that which God has done?

Gospel Words: Impurity

Throughout it is not mere acts the Lord demands, but state; the spiritual condition suitable for the kingdom of the heavens. As in the verses immediately preceding the Lord insists on a spirit of lowly grace, going immeasurably beyond Thou shalt not kill, so now on a purity as far beyond the non-commission of adultery.
It is plain also that here, as everywhere in the so-called Sermon on the Mount, it is not the grace which saves the lost sinner who repents and believes the gospel. The state of soul that befits entrance into the kingdom of the heavens exclusively occupies the Lord: He is teaching the disciples what suited the Father's name which He made known to them. All that He laid down therefore manifestly presupposes that one is born of God, as the essential requisite for His kingdom, not acts merely if they could be good, but renewal of heart. Christ Himself was the blessed pattern of perfection.
" Ye heard that it was said, Thou shalt not commit adultery; but I say unto you that every one that looketh at a woman to lust after her committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye stumbleth (or, ensnareth) thee, pluck out and cast it from thee; for it profiteth thee that one of thy members perish, and not thy whole body be cast into hell. And if thy right hand stumbleth thee, cut off and cast it from thee; for it profiteth thee, that one of thy members perish, and not thy whole body be cast into hell."
Violence and corruption are the sad characteristics of man's fallen estate. We see them marked in the antediluvian world, at least as the general signs of a ruined state, whatever the specific evil which aroused divine indignation and unsparing judgment. Throughout man's history as traced in the Bible, and particularly in the favored circle of Israel under the law, they are ever before us. Christ came, and grace and truth through Him, and redemption through His blood, everlasting redemption, to say nothing now of heavenly counsels made good in His person and place, and communications to the Christian and to the church. But man is essentially unchanged, and even avails himself of grace to become the worse. " Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set to do evil." " But when thy judgments are in the earth," says the prophet, " the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness." Showing favor to the wicked, who believe not, emboldens them to persevere. And as the Jew was no exception who dealt wrongfully in the land of uprightness and would not behold the majesty of Jehovah, so will the Gentile reject the gospel to his perdition, and be cut off irretrievably. The time also hastens.
But as of old, so now are the faithful men, of whom the world is not worthy, who lived and suffered as seeing Him who is invisible. And the Lord did not lower the standard but raised it, clearing it of letter and of all accretions or diminutions. He has the godly remnant in view, still Jewish as He spoke, who not only entered the kingdom, but had higher relations intimated as His rejection set in, till His session at God's right hand and mission of the Spirit gave all necessary to reveal and make good in the saints what had been ever hidden heretofore.
As violence then was judged and excluded in any shape for the disciples, so was impurity. The avoidance of the extreme act might satisfy a Pharisee or Scribe; but the Lord could not dispense with anything short of truth in the inward parts. To look at a woman lustfully was to commit adultery with her already in his heart; and it is not the outside only that God regards but the heart above all. It is only a new nature that delights in holiness; and he who has it by grace answers to the will of God his Father; and abhors himself if he slip even into a wrong look, as unworthy of his calling and hateful to Him who loves him.
But the Lord follows up His stringent condemnation by the call to deal promptly and unreservedly with anything that acted as an incentive. Therefore He specifies that which is part of ourselves, and when rightly used of the greatest value. Not even the right eye, or the right foot, can be allowed in presence of His displeasure which the saint fears, because he is a believer and God's child; as the Lord said elsewhere, " Be not afraid of those that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will tell you whom ye shall fear. Fear him who, after he hath killed the body, hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say to you, Fear him." It is not the highest motive, but it is an imperative and most solemn and urgent appeal.
Therefore says He now, " And if thy right eye stumbleth thee, pluck out and cast it from thee; for it profiteth thee that one of thy members perish, and not thy whole body be cast into hell. And if thy right hand stumbleth thee, cut off and cast it from thee; for it profiteth thee, that one of thy members perish, and not thy whole body be cast into hell." The right eye and the right hand present forcibly the mortifying of our members that are on the earth, to hinder sin against God. At all cost must the believer deny self; as we find elsewhere he must hate father, mother, wife, children, brethren, sisters, yea and his own life also, or he cannot be Christ's disciple.
O my fellow-sinner, you know that this is wholly beyond you. You do not, will not, make any such sacrifices. Nothing but Christ, the new life, can so feel and act; and you have only your depraved life of sin and self. Are you then to despair? Yes, despair of yourself. You are truly lost, as the Lord says. But He came to seek and to save the lost. Tell God of your guilt and ruin, but plead the name of Jesus whom He has sent. He is a present and everlasting Savior. Doubt not, but believe what God declares of His Son. Life in Him answers to the appeal of Jesus, when you rest on His redemption; and the Holy Spirit will strengthen you accordingly.

Gospel Words: Purity in Divorce

In connection with the light of heaven on the lusts of the heart, the Lord adds His word on the permission of divorce in Deut. 24 It is here the woman protected against hard-hearted man. Positive sin in violation of the marriage tie alone calls for divorce. Men abused the license beyond measure, as if the permission were a precept; and any vexation sufficed. But Jehovah hates putting away, as the last prophet testified to the Jews in their evil day.
In chap. 19 of this Gospel the question distinctly proposed to Him by the Pharisees, Is it lawful to put away one's wife for every cause? And He answered and said, Have ye not read that He that made from the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be united to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh? So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God joined together, let not man put asunder. They say to Him, Why then did Moses command to give a bill of divorce and to put away? He saith to them, Moses for your hardness of heart allowed you to put away your wives; but from the beginning it hath not been thus. But I say to you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, not for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery, and he that marrieth one put away committeth adultery. His disciples say to Him, If the case of man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. And He said to them, All cannot receive this word, but those to whom it hath been given.
Thus was the mind of God made clear. The indulgence of lust is incompatible with entering the kingdom of the heavens. The law forbade the act of adultery; the Lord condemns even the looking licentiously as adultery committed already in the heart. He insisted therefore on the most unsparing decision with all that gave occasion. Was it not better to pluck out the right eye or cut off the right hand, rather than the whole body be cast into hell? Here (as in all the chapters of the first Gospel before chapter xiii. where He begins as the Sower), it is not seeking sinners in sovereign grace, but saints, as He enjoins on the twelve in chap. x. " Into whatsoever city or village ye enter, inquire who in it is worthy " (ver. 11). So the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount (chap. v.) describes what spiritual characters suit the kingdom, as the end (chap. vii.) declares that none shall enter but he that does the will of His Father that is in the heavens. Not even prophesying or miraculous powers, were it casting out demons through the Lord's name, could be a passport to the workers of lawlessness. Practical obedience of His words alone should stand. The rock here is spiritual reality. His word was incomparably more withering to self-righteousness than the law of Moses.
There is power of God given exceptionally to be above marriage, and live only to Christ here below. But, to far the most, marriage is God's order for man on earth. And the monkish rule with high pretension leads into horrible evasion, hypocrisy, and corruption even contrary to nature and abominable. God's mind is clear from the first; adultery alone justifies divorce.
Hence the necessity would be felt urgently and absolutely of receiving a new nature and an everlasting redemption in the Savior. No interpretation of our Lord's words here or elsewhere is more radically false than that He puts believers under the law as their rule of life. He is really condemning unbelievers and hypocrites far more stringently than the law did, and those sayings of the elders which took advantage of a legal permission for carnal indulgence and unfairness to a wife who through any cause became less attractive to her selfish husband. Such souls were inadmissible to the kingdom. Only the godly remnant are here contemplated, who abhor corruption as they do violence. The presence of Christ, not of the law given by Moses, was the suited moment for defining the character and conduct proper to the new thing He would set up. He was the standard of what pleased God, and must mark those who are His. " The law made nothing perfect " was a hard lesson for Jews; it seems quite as hard for those who inherit the traditions of fallen Christendom, and not less for Protestants than Papists.
To be content with being nobody in the world, and despised by its religion, is impossible to human nature; to be mourners as Christ was, feeling for God's will and majesty where lawlessness pervades; to be meek now, waiting for the glorious inheritance in God's time, instead of clamorous for our rights; to hunger and thirst after (not ease or wealth, or power or honor, but) righteousness, cannot be without partaking of a divine nature. Harder still was the actively gracious spirit of mercifulness, purity in heart, and peace-making according to God, with the persecutions which such righteousness entails, and especially such maintenance of Christ's name as effaces ours.
Our Lord accordingly singles out of the Decalogue the two great prohibitions of murder on the one hand and of adultery on the other. Assuredly He came not to make void the law or the prophets, but to give their fullness. He not only went farther than either, but declared that a righteousness surpassing that of the Scribes and Pharisees was indispensable for entering the kingdom of the heavens. He most pointedly sets His word with divine authority, so as to contrast what He laid down far beyond the claims of the law. In the case before us, as looking lustfully convicts of adultery before God, so whosoever put away his wife, save for cause of fornication, made her commit adultery, as well as him who married her. Thus He established a moral basis, not for a nation of mixed character, but fit for God's family and kingdom, which judged the heart's evil and allowed no concession to hardheartedness. And what can be plainer than on this later occasion (chap. 19) His going up to the beginning, long before the law, to God's instituted order and word in Gen. 2? There again His own word is full and final authority, for the Messiah was the Jehovah God of Israel. Whatever had been allowed by Moses, He is Mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. It is God speaking in Him who is Son: " But I say to you."
Now, I appeal to your conscience, my reader. Can you face the light of God, which our Lord is, on these evils of man's fallen nature? Are you not utterly convicted by every saying of His, who is the Judge of living and dead? And if such be the truth, 0 spread it out, and yourself as verily guilty before God. Presume no more to stand on your own foundation. You are lost: own it truly and humbly and in earnest. The Lord Jesus is not Judge only; He is the real and the only and the present Savior of the lost. But you must be in the truth of your guilt in God's sight, if He is to act toward you in the truth of His salvation. That is repentance toward God; this is faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
There is for faith the blood of Jesus that cleanses from all, from every, sin. There is also life in Him, the Son, for every believer in Him. The one is as indispensable as the other. That life is the spring of the new nature which produces every good fruit and detests every evil work, word, and feeling; and now that one rests on His work of redemption, the Holy Ghost is given as divine power to strengthen the new man and mortify the old. It is true, that dependence on Christ, abiding in Him, is needed all the way through, and His words to abide in one, and prayer suitably and with confidence in divine love. But this is just practical Christianity so far; and we are sanctified by the Spirit, not to independence which is sin, but to obedience, the same blessed filial obedience as Christ's, our blessed Lord.

Gospel Words: Swear Not at All

Here again the teaching of our Lord far transcends what was said of old. His presence brought in the light of God, and it was addressed to a new and divine nature in those who believe. It dealt with the root of every question, not merely with the fruit or overt acts.
" Again ye heard that it was said to the ancients, Thou shalt not swear falsely, but shalt render to the Lord thine oaths. But I say to you, Swear not at all; neither by (in) the heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is his feet's footstool; nor by (toward) Jerusalem, for it is the great King's city. Nor shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your word be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay; but what exceedeth these is of evil (or, the evil one)."
Thus the Lord goes far beyond perjury or breaking a vow. He prohibits swearing altogether in the intercourse of daily life. Our word therein is to be, Yea, yea, or Nay, nay. That which is more than these has no sanction from God, and is therefore of evil, or the evil one, the enemy of God and man. All such asseveration as the Lord illustrates from the facts of Jewish habit arose from the constant experience of men in deceiving or evading. They therefore resorted to such means of insuring the truth. But these efforts defeated themselves; for we know from a reliable Jewish contemporary of the N.T. inspired writers that oaths by earth, heaven, sun, stars, and the entire universe, were not counted binding. Only those obliged the conscience which were by God's name direct and express; nay others might be transgressed. As the Lord supposed in those He addresses poverty of spirit and purity of heart, He proscribed absolutely all such swearing as offensive to God and incompatible with the place of His sons.
Nor is it only Jews then, but professing Christians now, that show themselves as indifferent to the Lord's authority as if He had never thus solemnly uttered His mind. Among Protestants there is some little care to avoid profanity by adopting light and foolish exclamations, or by repeating heathen terms derived from their Greek or Latin reading, forgetting that if the idols are nothing, the demons behind them are real and evil. Romanists are much less scrupulous. It is sad to think how perverts go farther in excuse for their blasphemous phrases than those born and bred in their vain superstitions.
Take the following proof from the late Cardinal Newman's " Lectures on certain Difficulties felt by Anglicans in Submitting to the Catholic Church ": " Listen to their conversation; listen to the conversation of any multitude, or any private party; what strange oaths mingle with it I God's heart, and God's eyes, and God's wounds, and God's blood: you cry out, How profane! ' Doubtless; but do you not see that the special profaneness above Protestant oaths lies, not in the words but simply in the speaker, and is the necessary result of that insight into the invisible world which you have not? You use the vague words, Providence,' or the Deity,' or good luck,' or nature'; where we, whether now or of old, realize the Creator in His living works, instruments, and personal manifestations, and speak of the Sacred Heart,' or the Mother of Mercies,' or our Lady of Walsingham,' or St. George for Merry England,' or loving St. Francis,' or dear St. Philip.' Your people would be as varied and fertile in their adjurations and invocations as a Catholic populace, if they believed as we " (Ninth Lecture, p. 232).
It is grace alone which delivers from Popery and even Protestantism, and makes it a divine joy to be a Christian, neither more nor less. Irreverence of every sort, worldly or superstitious, becomes intolerably evil in one'e eyes; and it is the first of duties for the believer to hear these words of Christ and reduce them to practice. But is it not an awful instance of Satan's blinding power, that while none but the vilest of Protestants would think of excusing his own ungodly badinage, a grave clergyman in his new born (or at least early open) apology for the shameless fooling of Papists should plead so barefacedly, not only for such ebullitions in word, but for turning the Last Judgment into a play of fireworks, and argue for it that " they are making one continuous and intense act of faith " (p. 237)?
But we must carefully remember, that our Lord in no way forbids an oath before the magistrate or judge. This is not of evil; but of good, being of divine authority. For men swear by a greater, and the oath is a term to all dispute as making matters sure. To refuse it is to deny God's authority in any who represent Him in earthly things, and hence called by His name and translated " judges," as in Ex. 21:6; 22:8, 9, 28. See also Psa. 82:1, 6. The principle is asserted in Lev. 5:1, to which the Lord, far from setting aside on the mount, bowed when adjured by the high priest (Matt. 26:63, 64), though silent before.
In like manner James 5:12 with marked earnestness forbids swearing either by heaven or by earth.
These were not judicial adjuration, which does not fall under people's swearing. It was rather being sworn in God's name. Nor did our Lord any more than His servant prohibit such appeals to God as in Rom. 1:9, 1 Cor. 15:31, 2 Cor. 1:23, Gal. 1:20, or the like. The scruple of Friends or Separatists has no foundation in scripture. But how and where do you stand, my reader? Have you owned yourself a lost sinner, and the Lord Jesus the only, the willing, and the perfect Savior? Believe in Him, and thou shalt be saved. So said Paul and Silas to the Philippian jailer, suddenly arrested, and not to him only, but also to his house. And the same night he was baptized, and all his straightway. Why not you too? The same Lord is open to you. May you exult as he did, having believed with all his house in God, the God of all grace.

Gospel Words: Resist Not Evil

The Lord here advances beyond all Jewish and indeed human thought, when He enjoins on His disciples patient grace on all kinds of inflicted wrong. To resist it is forbidden. He cites from the law the principle of talion, as it is styled, or retaliation, expressly to abandon it. It was particularly open to abuse; but even when applied with the strictest justice, and acting as a powerful check on human vindictiveness, how far was it from the mind of heaven which Christ was manifesting on earth, and laying down as the only conduct proper to the sons of His Father! Can we conceive a greater shock to Jewish feeling?
" Ye heard that it was said, Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. But I say to you not to resist evil; but whoever striketh (or shall strike) thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And to him that would go to law with thee and take thy vest (or tunic), leave him thy coat (or mantle) also. And whoever shall impress thee for one mile, go with him two."
No doubt that on such a ground the world could not enter. To the natural man the rule of the heavens is impossible. Yet it is a favorite theme for such persons as believe neither in the Deity of the Lord nor in His atoning worth to descant on the Sermon of the Mount as the perfect ideal of Christian legislation. It is no more than an academic recitation. Nor is it that they have the most distant notion of obeying it themselves, nor do they expect others to exhibit such unworldly traits. If wrong were done them in person or property, as the Lord describes, they utterly object to its applying as a living authority. Even pious men help their unbelief by crying out against understanding His words as they read, and argue for spirit against letter.
Now it is true that here as everywhere mere letter fails. One might imitate the outward acts described and come short of what the Lord aims at throughout His entire discourse. The most rigid obedience of His sayings in order to life and the Father's love would in such a case prove a more fiery law than that of Sinai. For the Lord begins with spiritual qualities in His own, in vain sought in fallen man, and such as characterize a divine nature of which grace gives the believer to partake. Blessed indeed are such, as He pronounced them, and the more, not less, when persecuted on account of righteousness in a world of lawlessness; and if reviled and persecuted for Christ's sake, called to rejoice and exult, because their reward was great in the heavens. What can man do to hurt those who are happier the worse they are treated? The secret is that they are more than conquerors through Him that loved them, and abjure all merit of their own. But they have a new life (and it is the life of the Second man, not of the first) whose internal marks were displayed practically, as the Lord described in the opening verses of the Sermon (Matt. 5:1-12), and their separate position before men follows (vers. 13-16). In all that thence is given us the Lord enlarges the law and the prophets, so far as to rise above them immensely in scope till, as here, we have grace in suffering from evil instead of punishing it as the law provided.
It was what God had sent His Son to manifest here below, and none fully follow. But suffering for His sake might be our portion as it often has been of our brethren. Thus all our meetness for God's presence depends on His death and resurrection, as our pardon on His blood; and we own our absolute indebtedness to His grace for both. It is our duty and joy to follow and imitate, as indeed He is our life; and He is the standard in not resisting evil.
But cavilers who would pare down and fritter away His words are not ashamed to argue that He meant them not literally, because when struck on the face for His answer to the high priest, He calmly remonstrated, while bowing to the insult. Was this paying evil back in its own coin? On the contrary it was One who did no sin nor was guile found in His mouth, who when reviled, reviled not again, and when suffering threatened not. In fact He presented far mole than the other cheek, for they spit in His face, and buffeted Him; and struck Him with the palms of their hands with the utmost contempt. No! the Lord yielded to wrong instead of resisting it; and such is the true calling of the Christian.
Here we may if need be follow Him in spirit and letter. As man is tenacious of his little goods, the Lord puts the case, not of offering personal violence only, but of depriving him of what attaches to man by a legal suit. What then does He call for? " To him that would go to law with thee, and take thy vest, leave him thy coat." How much better to lose one's clothes than consistency with Christ? The spirit of the injunction goes farther than the one cheek or the outer coat. What men seek is to evade all suffering and hold their human rights in defiance of His words, thus losing the reality of Christianity and retaining not even its semblance.
There was another claim in those days of which the Jews were prone to complain as an intolerable hardship. The imperial government authorized its officials, on their errands, in certain cases to require personal attendance, and with their beasts of burden too. How men are apt to be vexed with what after all is no great burden, and none so much as a people like the Jews under their heathen lords! The Lord would raise His disciples above all such self-will. " Whoever shall impress thee for one mile, go with him two!" With what simplicity and force He provides His own with a spirit to carry them in meek dignity above the squabbles of the world 1 How unworthy of Him would be the letter of refusing to go four or five miles, if such were the requisition, because the Lord had said, " Go with him two!" The real mind of the Lord is that he should willingly exceed what he was asked. It is grace in patience.
Can anything convince you, my reader, that you can neither be nor do what is essential to enter the kingdom of the heavens? There is but one way, Christ; and this way you can only get ' by renouncing yourself. So inseparable are faith and repentance. He saves by giving not redemption only, but a new and divine nature which hates self-will, and which loves and does God's will. Hence you obey according to the law of liberty, as contrasted with the Jew under the law of bondage.

Gospel Words: Giving

In this verse we have a grand principle for the Christian. It comes in at the close of the exhortation to resist not evil, but rather to suffer it, privately, by perversions of law, or from public demand. Christ is the pattern for the disciple; and no sound exposition can explain His word away, however distasteful to flesh and blood. The new nature goes along with it loyally as the perfect law of liberty. Only the fleshly mind seeks evasion by every disingenuous means.
" To him that asketh thee give, and from him that desireth to borrow of thee turn not away."
The disciple learns from God that he is a debtor to grace, not only in the outward mercies of every day which he shares with all mankind, but in that still deeper love which quickened him from moral death, death in offenses and sins, when a child of wrath by nature. Here a Jew or a Gentile made no difference: as far as we all were concerned, it was a hopeless case of irremediable evil. But God who is rich in mercy, because of His great love wherewith He loved us, quickened us together with Christ, raised us up together, and made us sit down together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus; that He might display in the coming ages the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness upon us in Christ Jesus.
Those whom the Christ then addresses had tasted already that the Lord is good; but they were soon to be brought into its full compass when He died, rose, and ascended on high, and sent fog th the Holy Spirit in glorifying Him to guide them into all the truth. The Lord, having before Him such fullness of grace which we were to receive, looks for our appreciation of it by faith and the action of the Holy Spirit on our souls correspondingly. As He said elsewhere, Freely ye received, freely give. It is the mind of heaven reproduced on that earth which was full of sordid selfishness. None were more characterized by covetousness than the Jews, who, having for the time lost their place as Jehovah's witnesses, sought a vent and excuse for their energy in heaping up wealth; to which end cheating their Gentile masters only gave a greater zest. No wonder that souls so blessed by grace should be called to an entirely new walk and an equally new worship, unintelligible to such as do not enter into the Christian calling and hope. Yet the apostle says plainly that we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God before ordained that we should walk in them.
But Christ came to save not only from wrath but ruin, not only from penalty but from sin, and to form a new character in those that hear His voice and follow Him. It was and could only be His own character. For what was that of Socrates, or of Antoninus Pius, of Gautama Buddha or of Confutse? Shades of vanity or pride, in comparison with Him who never did His own will but that of God the Father who sent Him, His only-begotten. It was His to come into this world of sin and self to give Himself up as a sacrifice, thus bringing God into it to put sin out of it, as He assuredly will in power as the glorious issue of what He has already done and suffered.
Therefore, as a part of the spiritual process, He would impress on His own the character of grace, and not mere law like a Jew, in which He was the constant witness and blessed perfection. Was there ever a need, a want, a suffering presented to Him without an answer of divine grace and power, and in all human tenderness? He that was about to give Himself up to God for us, what of good did He ever withhold? Money was too small and mean to give, save as meeting the temple-tax. " Take that [from a strange bank! j, and give it to them for Me and thee." Hence the words in Luke 6:38, " Give, and it shall be given you, good measure, pressed down, and shaken together and running over, shall be given into your bosom; for with the same measure with which ye mete it shall be measured to you again." It is literally " they shall give," but so often in Luke impersonally stated, and really pointing to God. Thus as His grace produces its like, so will He never forget it, however man may.
Now, my dear reader, you know that this is far beyond your heart and life; and that, if you strove to emulate such giving, you would soon weary, and find it a law more fiery than the ten words of Sinai. Only Christ set the example; only Christ gives the power. But you must first be at His feet as a lost sinner, casting your soul with all your sins on Him for life, for pardon through His blood, and peace. It is in vain for you to think of giving of your means, till you have come to Him as the neediest of all to receive of His fullness. Only then, when you have Him as your unfailing treasure, will you have the faith and love to make to yourself friends with the mammon of unrighteousness. Only then will you, with single eye and liberal heart, " give to him that asketh of you, and not turn away from him that would borrow of you," be he of the world, or of the household of faith; only then not grievingly, nor of necessity, for God loveth a cheerful giver. And He is able to make every grace abound toward you, that, having in every way always all sufficiency, you may abound to every good work. When grace has saved you by Christ to God's glory, then it will be your joy to follow Christ; and you will shun and hate what is inconsistent with Him, both from your new nature, and in obedience to the word of God.

Gospel Words: Love Your Enemies

This word of our Lord demands our earnest heed; for it is as foreign to the feelings of men in Christendom as to Jewish disciples. But here is nothing that goes beyond the word of the beginning of Christ, nothing that supposes the work of redemption accomplished, or the Holy Spirit given to the believer. Yet the presence of the Lord brought in no little change.
" Ye heard that it was said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies, and pray for those that persecute you, that ye may be sons of your Father that is in [the] heavens; for he maketh his sun to rise on evil and good, and sendeth rain on just and unjust " (vers. 43-45).
In vain some essay to impress those words of Christ on men in general, on such as are not born of God. Now the language assumes that those addressed did believe in Christ, and had a new life of the Spirit as being born anew. But this is not so in our country or any other, even if as favored in the possession of an open Bible. Yet the divine speaker takes for granted, what was true then and is still, that the mass of men, the nations (and the Jews are at least as bad), seek after what pertains to this life, eating, 'drinking, clothing, money, ease, honor: baptism, or the profession of Christ, in no way delivers from or lessens it. Therefore He warns that wide is the gate and broad the way that leads unto destruction, and many are they that enter through it; that narrow is the gate and straitened the way that leads unto life, and few are they that find it. It is therefore a total and dangerous misconception thus to overlook man's existing state of ruin.
But others, who seem aware of human inability to obey the law of God, and are accustomed to regard even believers still, as like Israel of old, doomed to failure under law, naturally conclude, that such requirements as the Lord urged on the mount are to man impossible and more condemnatory than the Ten Words of Sinai. They therefore settle down, like the believer in Rom. 7, overwhelmed as he sees himself struggling against the evils of his old nature, and ignorant of emancipating grace in the power of a dead and risen Christ, who can only cry, O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of this body of death? Hence the tendency to tone down our Lord's words in these three chapters, or even to deny that they have a living claim on the saint now. Others again contend that they are Jewish and had only to do with the disciples when the Lord was here in the days of His sojourn. They are really His words to men taught of God, and with a new life which desires and delights to walk according to His revealed will.
To love our enemies, to pray for those that persecute, is wholly above the law or the duty of a people in the flesh. An Edomite or an Egyptian was not to be abhorred, and their children might enter into the congregation of Jehovah in the third generation; an Ammonite or a Moabite only in the tenth generation, like a bastard. But Christ brought in grace and truth. In the light of the Son of man all were lost, even the sheep of Israel. As He was come to seek and to save that which was lost, those that were His were to love their enemies and to pray for their persecutors. It was the mind of heaven for His saints on earth, applicable to them and to none but them. They receive life, His life, in receiving Him, and are called to show it thus. It is as incumbent now as when the Lord thus spoke; and His resurrection made it clearer and stronger, as the Holy Spirit when given made it of power. Thus were the disciples to be sons of their Father in the heavens.
What renegades, if not from Christ, at least from His words and will, if any bearing His name seek to fritter away so plain a call! This they cannot avoid, if they justify the ways of Christendom, where the world rules and the language is of Ashdod, where men fail to show their Father's name, and boast of their comprehending all the mixed multitude. For it is now a question of a far higher than Israel and of a separation deeper and nearer to God. It is a true and present calling of grace, inalienable from the Christian if loyal to the Lord. For we are all God's sons by faith in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:26). If we have the relationship and title, we cannot be absolved from the responsibility. Yea, it would be violence done to our new and divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4).
Let us therefore be in earnest to keep up the family character. Does not our Father that is in the heavens make His sun to rise on evil and good? does He not send rain on just and unjust? If His sons, it is not presumption to cherish feelings above human nature; it is our new status, and should be our delight. Grace alone can make it good. But Christ has procured all that is needful and efficacious to this end; and the Holy Spirit is here to see to it and guide us to Christ's glory.
Be not deceived, brethren beloved in the Lord. The enemy is sleeplessly active, and only too successful. This is My beloved Son, says the Father: hear ye Him. What is the chaff to the wheat? It is not enough to have life in Him, and our sins forgiven through His blood. We are called to hear His voice and to follow Him, separate from the world that crucified the Lord of glory.

Gospel Words: Perfect, as Your Heavenly Father Is Perfect

It is God, not man, whom the Lord makes the criterion; the heavenly Father, not the dread moral governor as made known to Israel, but our Father. What are His affections, what His will about us? Nothing is more foreign here than the delusion of our being freed now from the indwelling evil of our nature.
" For if ye love those that love you, what reward have ye? do not even the tax-gatherers the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye much more? do not even the Gentiles the same? Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
Herein was manifested the love of God in our case, because God hath sent His only-begotten Son, that we might live through Him. For we were dead Godward, and in Him only was the life that could serve God, which we wholly lacked. The love of God has met this, otherwise insuperable lack, and this by sending His only-begotten Son who is that life to impart it to those that believe. They have life eternal for their souls now, as they await it for their bodies when He comes again for us. But even this possession of life in Him suffices not to satisfy His love, any more than it fits us to enjoy, serve, and worship Him. There is a burden which nothing on our part could remove. Therefore it follows, Herein is love, not because we loved God, but because He loved us, and sent His Son as propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:9, 10). But there is also, flowing hence, the Spirit, His Spirit, dwelling in us, as of love no less than of power and sobriety, so that we love one another after a divine sort.
This, no doubt, is Christianity in its full privileges, going far beyond the state of the disciples before redemption and the gift of the Spirit. But the divine nature was already there, which would be active when all obstacles were gone through the work of Christ. Hence, even in the time that preceded the cross, the Lord insisted on a love wholly above mere human nature with its likes and its dislikes. The detested tax-gatherers had natural affection, and loved those that loved them. The Gentiles saluted tenderly those bound up with themselves in mere ties of flesh and blood. The disciples were enjoined to love far beyond Jew or Greek. The family were to love as their heavenly Father did. Though this could not be in degree, it was the kind of love, which must be in God's children by divine grace, rising above all question of desert or ulterior aim.
" Ye therefore shall be perfect," says the Lord, " as your heavenly Father is perfect." His is love, because He is love; it is the energy of His nature going out in goodness where there is need, and above all reference to merit, or congruity with what He loves and is. And this in all its perfection He was then showing in the Lord Jesus, image of the invisible God. What did He ever seek for Himself, as He went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people; lunatics, demon-possessed, paralytics, dead men or women? It was love irrespective of self, in compassion to the most wretched of men; it was love rising above all the unworthiness, ingratitude, or hostility on the part of its objects. He was doing not His own will in any case, but the will of God, and for His Father's glory. What is the altruism of men's talk, or of any man's performance, in comparison?
This love we too share as His children. So the Lord taught then; so the Holy Spirit confirmed afterward. Be ye therefore imitators of God, as children beloved; and walk in love, even as Christ also loved us and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor. The blessings of Christianity and of the church of God ought only to accentuate the duty and increase its spring and power.
As the heavenly Father's love is shown in absolute superiority to good or evil, right or wrong, whom He blesses from grace in Himself, so is the Christian now called to walk as made partaker of a divine nature (not merely of Adam's), and in the place of sons. If noblesse oblige, as men say, how much more divine grace and such a relationship?
But, my fellow-sinner, what ignorance, and madness for you, ungodly, enemy, and spiritually powerless as you are, to imagine you can so walk, or so win your way to God! Not so: as lost ones cast yourselves in repentance and faith on the Savior and His redemption. If you look away to Him from your guilty selves, He will give you life everlasting in Him, and the remission of sins through His blood. Then, and thus only, can you follow Him in the path, His path, which He points out to His own.

Gospel Words: the Sermon on the Mount as a Whole

As the different parts of our Lord's wondrous instructions have been before us from time to time, though not in the orderly form, it seems not without interest to survey it comprehensively. Also it is well to take note of the striking difference between the task assigned to the First Gospel as compared with the Third. In the latter we have various portions dealing with the persons or things to which the instruction applies; whereas the former presents all in an unbroken fullness. Hence if we had not Luke's Gospel, we should not have known the interruptions, which in fact did occur, on the occasions for drawing out the teaching applicable.
It is known that many excellent persons have tried to make out, for the clearing up of what enemies treat as discrepancies, that our Lord repeated the same or very similar instruction under different circumstances. Assuredly on the one hand no one would affirm that the same truth may not have been often reiterated in the course of His service here below. But on the other there is no proper ground for doubting that the Spirit of God has in a remarkable and deeply interesting way presented the same teaching in a differing connection and with distinguishable shades, according to the divine design of the books which incorporate it. Thus there is no need to conceive a new rehearsal, in order to reconcile (as it is called) the writings, or to vindicate the credit of the writers. It is on the contrary the wisdom of God in which the Holy Spirit acted when He thus directed the so called Evangelists. For we must not assume that Matthew and Luke entered fully into His reasons for so inspiring them. What is certain is that they were so led of Him as to give us the truth of God, the more perfectly to fulfill His purpose in each.
Take, as the first instance in fact, the account of Luke 6:12-49, and compare it with the chapters of Matthew; as also Luke 11:1-13. and 33-36. Quite aware that pious men have argued from "the plain " in Luke 6:17, opposed to the " mountain " in Matt. 5:1, one is constrained from the clear evidence of both to reject such a solution of the difficulty felt as to the identity of the discourse at the same place and time. For Luke's language does not mean " a plain," but rather a level place or plateau on the mountain, up to which the Lord went to pray all night, before calling the chosen twelve, and then coming down with them, so far as to meet a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of the people out of all Judea and Jerusalem. It was clearly the same discourse; but the Spirit acted, not as a mere reporter (which is not the manner of inspiration) but as an infallible editor, as it were, for the distinctive design of each Gospel.
Hence we may observe that Matthew does not relate here the apostolic institution, as Luke does at this time and place, like Mark, who omits the sermon as being occupied with His work rather than His words. Matthew was led to reserve that call as its fitting place to the mission to Israel in his chap. 10. which corresponds with the beginning of Luke's chap. 9. Ignorance or error is out of the question for the Evangelists, but too true of those who carp at what they do not understand. The first striking distinction in the discourse is, that in the briefer sketch Luke was given the address personal, " ye," not the abstract " the " as in Matthew before the final benediction of verse 11; while Matthew was led to reserve his far fuller woes till chapter 23 which was a later time.
The Kingdom has no such place in Luke as in Matthew. It is those that gather to Christ and follow Him truly who are blessed; and thus for man as he is, outside and despising Him. The contrast of what Messiah authoritatively said with what was said to the ancients is peculiar to Matthew. Luke gives fully the great and new morality of loving our enemies, being merciful as our Father also is, not judging or condemning, but remitting according to the divine pattern; as Matthew gives the pointed teaching on practical righteousness in acts and words, prayer and fasting, as directed against hypocrisy; and the prayer for disciples comes in here in his chap. 6:9-13. In Luke it is not only reserved for a moral connection with heeding the word as the appropriate exercise of life according to God, but we learn too that it was the Lord's answer to a disciple's request. To record this in Luke's Gospel was as suitable, as to leave it out in Matthew's who presents the Lord in all meekness but full of authority, without taking notice of any such human circumstances.
This too explains why the First Gospel gives it not only as an unbroken whole, but in immediate sequence of a very broad and general view of His service and the wide impression produced (Matt. 4:23-25). In a similar way His teaching next follows, though historic detail was given later.
But not to see that these ways of the inspiring Spirit are perfect for the adequate revealing of Christ's various grace and glory, and in no less admirable adaptation to man's condition and wants-to conceive that they are blemishes of human infirmity, is indeed to be dim-sighted if not blind. Such are those who, if they do not altogether deny God's word, " Just hint a fault and hesitate dislike; Willing to wound, but yet afraid to strike." But if we are to be kept in these difficult and dangerous times, if we are not to be carried away by superstition or by skepticism, we need uncompromising adherence to scripture and dependence on His guidance who inspired every word from God but through man, and to be now characteristically (I do not say absolutely) able to say, as could not be of old, " we know," as we read in the Epistles of Paul and John particularly, not said of themselves only but of Christians their brethren, who have God's Spirit dwelling in them.
As to the sermon, it is instruction in the righteousness proper to all that enter the Kingdom of the heavens. Those born of the Spirit alone can meet the state of soul blessed in the Lord's eyes. It is not a requirement as on Sinai, but Christ's description of such as suit the Kingdom. Not a word of grace to sinners is uttered. It is not the gospel of God's grace to the lost, but His words for His disciples; and personal obedience is the rock at its close. To misrepresent this is mere error; and it is evangelical men who find most difficulty. Others no doubt are wholly wrong; but we must not confound it with redemption or saving grace.
Chapter 5 is not only a sketch of what the blessed ones are, but with the authority of Law and Prophets fulfilled, not weakened, the higher conduct suited to the Kingdom, in contrast with what God of old forbore with, now that the Father's name is revealed, and relationship with Him.
Chapter 6 speaks of the inner life or ways as seen of the Father, distinct from the world, and its cares apt otherwise to be absorbing.
Chapter 7 shows their due attitude to others, saints or sinners, with counting on God encouraged, and avoidance of false prophets (no matter what their gifts), and practical submission to Christ's words.
Now, my reader, if you have not judged yourself as lost and found by grace, salvation in Christ and His work, how can you face the Sermon on the Mount? It is far more to be dreaded by you than the Ten Words of Sinai with all the terrific sights and sounds which accompanied them. Jesus invites and urges you to come to Him, and even assures that " him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out." Have you ever so come? Come now. Delay here is most dangerous.

Gospel Words: Alms

The Lord takes for granted that His disciples would walk righteously before God in alms, prayer, and fasting. He is not satisfied with bidding such give to him that asks, as in the preceding chapter (42), and from him that would borrow not to turn away. It is by the grace of Christ in contrast with legal narrowness. Here we have the single motive of pleasing our Father that is in the heavens. Thus would their light shine in Christ as believed and confessed by them, not their righteousness be done before men to be seen of them, which is the object expressly forbidden. As in alms we have the needy and distressed of mankind directly brought before us, we have this followed up by prayer to our Father in the closet, fasting subjoined to set aside self-indulgence for the body and leave room for humiliation before Him: thus dealing with man, apostles, self and God, in ways suited to the Father revealed by the Son.
" When therefore thou doest alms, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be glorified by men. Verily I say to you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth; so that thine alms may be secret, and thy Father that seeth in secret will repay thee."
It is not the habit of giving or lending in liberality of heart, unstintedly and unselfishly, but that merciful consideration of the wretched and suffering, which becomes those who serve God in a fallen world (James 1:27). Each duty has its place. Both adorn the teaching that is of our Savior God, as we are called to do in all things. Prudence may question, common sense hesitate; but faith acts on His word, and without faith it is impossible to please Him. It is no question of doing another's will, but of Christ's will.
In all cases the snare is ostentatious, doing our righteousness before men to be seen of them. Otherwise, says our Lord, ye have no reward of your Father that is in the heavens. He lays the utmost stress on the manner and the motive with which the act is done. Display in the doing of alms He compares to sounding a trumpet before the doer, and denounces it as what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, within and without where people meet and pass. Can anything be conceived baser than a son of God playing a part to win the notice and approbation of men? How solemnly He adds, Verily I say to you, They have got their reward!
How elevating it is for the soul, in having to do with the relief of distress among men, to act in secret, and in the sight of the Father that seeth in secret as the One to repay! It is not enough to exclude other men. To bring Him in and in secret is essential to the purity of the case. It is He who is above all, and through all, and in us all; and the least of His gifts to us is what enables us to help the suffering and the needy. To leave Him out is the essence of unbelief. To bring Him in is what we as His children owe Him in love and honor, the witness of our dependence, of our gratitude, and of our loyal service.
We have only to look at the ways of men in Christendom, in order to learn where neglect of the Savior's teaching leads His disciples, and the influence of self, not only on the world but on the godly swayed by the spirit of the age. What notoriety! What emulation! What boasting or pride, and even ambition! What a contrast with Him who being rich for our sake became poor, that we by His poverty might be enriched And how striking that not in rich Corinth but in the poor churches of Macedonia, scripture tells us of the grace of God bestowed in this way; how in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded to the riches of their free-hearted liberality It was not even according as the apostle hoped, but beyond; and the secret of it was, that they gave themselves first to the Lord, and to us by God's will. Thus is genuineness of love proved.
But there is another invaluable word of the Lord as to this which calls for our heed. " But thou when thou dost alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth; so that thine alms may be in secret, and thy Father that seeth in secret will repay thee." It is not only from others but from ourselves 'that such doings should be hidden. Self is a subtler evil than men. The action of grace is defiled and becomes a poison to me and a dishonor to God when I think of it with complacency. If rightly done, it was passed to our Father for His remembrance, not ours.
Here lay Job's failure, which no inflictions of Satan, nor unsympathy, nor yet suspicion, of friends even touched. He was a most gracious man, but he thought of it, and not of God only who wrought in Him. To this he must be and was brought: to boast only in God, judge himself, and submit with all his heart. Part of the lesson was that his left hand should not know what his right hand did. This on the contrary, up to the end of his appeal (Job 31), he knew only too well. But all was changed when, instead of looking at fruits of grace in himself, he saw God in very faithfulness withering up all self-satisfaction. " I had heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee: wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes " (Job 42:6).
Thus we hear that even in alms the Father in secret must be the motive in order to make it acceptable to Him. The Lord insists on inward truth. O my fellow-sinner, how can this be while you are dead in trespasses and sins? "Ye must be born anew;" and life, this new life, is in Christ only. But He is the object of faith set for this purpose by God. "He that believeth hath life eternal;" and as Christ is the source, so is He the strength of that life. " I live; no longer I, but Christ liveth in me."

Gospel Words: Prayer

It is the same principle with prayer as with alms. The disciple of Christ has nothing in common with the hypocrites, whatever they say or do, or do not. The Son has made known the Father's name to us, and made it known still more intimately and deeply, in association with Himself, on and since He rose from the dead. It was not only the wondrous message through Mary of Magdala, " I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and my God and your God; " but that resurrection day at evening the Lord came and stood in the midst, and said to the disciples, Peace to you, showing them His hands and His side. Again He said " Peace to you: as the Father sent me forth, I also send you," and having said this He says to them, Receive [the] Holy Spirit; whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted to them; whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.
Such is the added Christian privilege, even before the Pentecostal gift was conferred, and the special gift the apostles had as such, like prophets, teachers, &c. in their place. O what responsibility, not only to rejoice but to pray unceasingly, flows from such a relationship! and how apt are we to relax or forger! But if we are thus blessed and have in our measure and way such a mission, we have no place to covet; for we have Christ's. And we as His epistles know that we are called to walk in the faith of His grace that we may not shame Him before men. Having received His word, it is our constant call to pray, that, living in the Spirit, we may walk in the Spirit. And the Lord, alone perfect here and everywhere, impresses His principles on His own followers. He is their life in order that there might be an inward living relationship.
" But when ye pray, ye shall not be as the hypocrites; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may appear to men. Verily I say to you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy chamber, and having shut thy door pray to thy Father that is in secret, and thy Father that seeth in secret will recompense thee."
This secrecy is still easier, and no less essential in prayer, the most constant of all relative duties. Many saints find a great incentive with others in supplication; and this has its suited and weighty place, as the Lord elsewhere urges. But here as the habitual privilege and claim of relationship to our Father, how careful He is in bidding saints like us to " enter into thy chamber, and having shut thy door pray to thy Father that is in secret, and thy Father that seeth in secret will requite thee." How delightfully simple, yet how deep and wise! It is just between the soul and God, and now His Father and our Father, as Christ knew Him and declared Him to us. Solemn and holy it is to meet our Father alone and expressly, as to everything of need, sorrow, or joy.
What a contrast with the arrangements that have prevailed in Christendom, which press formal prayers in a public building once, twice, or oftener in the day! When the Lord enjoined the united petitions as giving ground for an answer from above, it was a specific need as the context in Matt. 18 makes plain. But nothing superseded the normal habit of individual secrecy in prayer to our Father. And it will be the comforting resource of the godly remnant in days to come, as we may trust, when things arrive at such a pass that joint public prayer is impracticable. But now, when the world's feeling is too indifferent to punish or hinder open prayer, can anything give more weight when we come together in assembly than the cherishing of individual prayer in the shut chamber to our Father that sees in secret, as He will surely requite?
Now what can you say to this, dear friend as yet not born of God, but only God's offspring like the heathen Athenians or men of the world generally? Will you not own frankly that it sounds the most irksome bondage to you, and that you in no way pretend thus to live to God? Till you are sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus, knowing your sins blotted out by His blood, and yourselves brought nigh to God, you cannot freely cry, Abba Father. For mere profession, however requisite in the renewed soul, is offensive to God in those dead in sins, as we all were till we found life in Christ by faith. Then such prayer as this suits both our need and our blessing. For, though redeemed in soul, we as to our bodies await redemption at His coming, and meanwhile have to do with an evil world and a subtle foe on the watch to ensnare and defile us. Therefore do we need so to pray without ceasing.

Gospel Words: Vain Repetitions in Prayer

Having laid on the individual secrecy in prayer to the Father, the Lord widens here His injunction, and warns His disciples against a habit unworthy of Him, and of them too in so blessed a relationship, though it had to be still more deepened and elevated on His resurrection day, and in view of His ascension to heaven. It might be, as it was, a natural feeling which thus wrought even in heathen. The Lord looks for and inculcates what is supernatural.
" But when praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles; for they think that they shall be heard by their much speaking. Be not therefore likened to them; for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye beg of him." It is not a warning against a hypocritical spirit. Of this He spoke first, as they were Jews, a people responsible to observe God's law, but faithless for the most part, and the orthodox among them prone to high pretensions, moral as well as ceremonial, with a heart far from Him. Therefore He inculcated the value and duty of prayer to the Father in secret, as the contrast with the hollowness of prayer to be seen of men.
Notwithstanding His words, the evil grew till in the fifth century it reached its height of folly in Simeon a Syrian who at the last erected a pillar on which he might stand, elevated at first six cubits and at last forty. On the top was a space three feet in diameter, surrounded with a balustrade, and here he stood day and night in all weathers. During the night and till 9 a.m. he was supposed to be constantly in prayer, after stretching out his hands, and bowing so low as to touch his toes with his forehead. Someone who attempted to reckon these prostrations counted up no less than 1244. At nine he began to address the superstitious crowd below; for, strange to say, this religious mountebank not only heard and answered to such as were present, and wrote to the absent, but took on him the care of the churches and corresponded with the highest dignities in both church and state. As evening approached, he dropped these activities and resumed his repeated prayers as before. It is recorded that he partook of food but once a week, and never slept, thus spending with a coat and cap of sheepskin some seven and thirty years, and dying in the attitude of prayer in his sixty-ninth year. His scholar and chronicler Antony tells us that he went up after three days and that his dead body gave forth a sweet odor. So naturally allied is deceit to these quasi-spiritual shows.
But here our Lord reprehends a far more prevalent snare. " When praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles." The words occur no where else in the New Testament, nor did the Seventy employ them in the Greek version of the O.T. Nor is par. found in any writing independently of ver. 7 till 500 years after Christ. There is therefore divergence of views as to its precise meaning. This is not the occasion for such a discussion; and though it has been sought to derive what is peculiar from the Hebrew for " unadvisedly " or " rashly babbling," the context tends to support the Authorized Version.
It is quite unworthy of the Father, and even of His children thus to trifle in prayer. There are no doubt occasions for long persistence, as well as earnest repetition, in prayer. Our Lord Himself is the example of thus spending the night through, and of praying over and over again the same words. Neither of these special supplications could be reprehended in others where they are seasonable and requisite. But there is scarce any habit more common, even among believers, than lengthy utterances which are not prayers at all. For they express the individual's views sometimes of the discourse preceding, his own or some other's, sometimes of all he can muster of the varied circumstances of the church, or at least his own party, and of all the world outside. Occasionally if not often the one in the attitude and form of prayer forgets that he is speaking to his Father, and slips unwittingly into what sounds like teaching Him the doctrines which delight himself.
These things ought surely not to be. What reverence becomes one by grace entitled to say, Abba, Father I What deep sense of His majesty and holiness who has shown infinite mercy to such as deserved everlasting judgment! How often do we not fail, however favored we may be, in judging self and grieving the Holy Spirit! The royal preacher could say of old, " Be not rash with thy mouth, and set not thy heart to utter anything before God; for God is in the heavens, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. For a dream cometh through a multitude of business, and a fool's voice through a multitude of words." How much deeper should be our humility whom, notwithstanding a far fuller sense of our evil and of His grace, He calls His children 1 How sad the inconsistency, if kept from Pharisaic hypocrisy, to drop into the inconsiderate foolish verbiage of Gentiles!
We are brought to God at an infinite cost. We are taught our utter vileness as well as our shameful sins. When we draw near to pray, ought we not to have the hallowing solemnizing effect in weighing our words, whatever the love that invites us into His presence? Then we may be without anxiety as to anything, but in everything make our requests known to Him by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. He loves that we should confide in dependence on Him. Let us never forget that " our Father knoweth what things we have need of, before we beg of Him." To think that we shall gain a hearing by our much speaking is a dishonor to Him and even to us.

Gospel Words: Fasting

It remains for us to weigh our Lord's words on fasting, as the third part of His teaching on " righteousness " (not " alms ") in the first verse of the chapter. Prayer holds the intermediate place between alms and fasting, the pious and holy basis to guard the other two, binding them up with faith against formality.
" And when ye fast, be not gloomy-faced as the hypocrites; for they disguise their faces, so that they may appear to men fasting. Verily, I say to you, They have their reward. But thou while fasting anoint thy head, and wash thy face, so that thou mayest not appear to men fasting, but to thy Father that [is] in secret; and thy Father that seeth in secret will recompense thee."
The Lord does not so much enjoin fasting as bring it like prayer under the Christian principle of having to do with our Father in secret. It falls under the individual life of faith. Yet He undoubtedly sanctions and approves of it when so practiced; and this independently of the more open and united aim, such as we find in Acts 13:2, 3; 14:23. He also intimates its value for spiritual power. Pious men have ever felt and must feel its appropriateness in chastening the soul before God, where public or private need called for humiliation. But even in Mark 9:29 it is well to note that the two most ancient copies ignore " and fasting," as they with other authorities also the entire verse 21 of Matt. 17, nor is there a word corresponding in Luke 9 The apostle however who more than others was given to stand for liberty in Christ speaks (in 2 Cor. 6:5; 11:27) simply and piously of " fastings " and " fastings often " in his service, to the rebuke of that levity which the Corinthian assembly betrayed, and which characterizes modern Christianity, save where superstition and self-righteousness give it an artificial moment in very different eyes.
In Matt. 9:14, etc. the Lord shows its true place and time in answer to the disciples of John saying, " Why do we and the Pharisees often fast, but Thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said to them, Can the sons of the bride-chamber mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them; but days shall come when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then will they fast." Neither those who were only disciples of John had any real appreciation of the Bridegroom's presence, nor still less the Pharisees filled with forms and self-righteousness. It was joy to the believing disciples of Jesus. Feeble as they were, they had left their all for Him, and they tasted a divine bliss in Him wholly unknown to the others, who were wholly unprepared for the awful purport to them and the Jews of His being taken away, little as the true disciples as yet comprehended that solemn approaching fact with its immense consequence. The joy of Messiah's presence made fasting altogether inappropriate. Those who tasted none of it were blind to Him whom God's grace had given and sent. Greater still would be their darkness, when the Bridegroom should be taken away. Then would those that believed and loved Him fast, both spiritually and literally.
It might not be like Jews accompanied by rending of garments or with sackcloth and ashes, but deeper communion with God's mind than could be known before the Holy Spirit came to make it good. And fasting among Christians is all the more striking because of the peace, joy, and boundless delight they have in the love of Christ, and fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. Still if loyal to Christ we cannot but have the constant sense of His rejection, and of the judgment ever impending and certain to fall on the guilty world, and all the more because it pays Him the hollowest of lip homage. Yes, days are come when the Bridegroom thus ignominiously taken away is still absent, and fasting lends itself to mourners, whatever their even enhanced joy in being united to Him as members of His body, a privilege never dreamed of before, and the joy of grace in the revelation and active working of a Savior God to lost sinners, Gentile no less than Jew.
But Christendom perverted fasting, through vain philosophy, into a reflection on the creative glory of God. And abstinence from meats, which He created for thanksgiving, was early turned into human merit, and the lie of inherent evil in matter. Grace and truth through Jesus Christ were thus denied; and days of fasting were imposed, as ecclesiastical history records, first by custom, and afterward by legal sanction. In the second century, if not in the first, the fatal error also drawn from philosophy was in full swing not for their life and complete cleansing by His blood, but of a twofold rule, the one for the despised flock of God, the other for the spiritual superior; the one the Precepts for all sorts, the other the Counsels of Perfection for those who aspired to a higher life, which issued in asceticism and grew into monasticism. Who can wonder that God poured contempt on these unbelieving efforts to improve the first man, by letting the flesh with all this inflation break out into the grossest immorality on one side, and legendary falsehood against God on the other? But this too was just what was found with older Platonists and Pythagoreans, who taught that it was not only lawful but commendable to deceive and lie, for the sake of truth and piety. Hence, even in those early days the large harvest of forgeries which are coming to light in our days, the witness of the rapid departure from the Christianity taught by the inspired apostles, long before the papal system systematized it and enforced it on pain of death.

Gospel Words: the Salt of the Earth

The Lord had laid down in vers. 5-9 the distinctive moral qualities suited to the kingdom of the heavens, with the supplemental blessednesses in sufferings (10-12). He now proceeds to state definitely their position here below according to His mind. The first is given in ver. 13, answering to righteousness, as we saw in the earlier qualities He endorses; the second in 14-16, answering to the outgoing energy of grace, remains for its separate notice in due season.
" Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt lose its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It availeth for nothing any more but to be cast without and trodden under foot of men " (ver. 13).
The disciples were familiar with salt not only in ordinary life but in the oblation to Jehovah,
" the salt of the covenant of thy God ": " with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt " (Lev. 2:13). And so we read of " a covenant of salt ": as expressive figuratively of what was to be preserved inviolate and unchanging (Num. 18:19; 2 Chron. 13:5). Accordingly the Lord, in Matt. ix. 49,50, declares that " every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt [is] good; but if the salt become saltless wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace one with another."
If fire represents God's avenging judgment of evil, salt does no less clearly His preserving power in relation with Himself. For, as the Lord lets us know, the figures of the law are now by and in Him translated from the past shadows into present and everlasting realities. There is therefore a necessary dealing with " everyone " because all are ruined by sin. Faith bows to this now, as unbelief braves the warning to find it solemnly true and too late vindicated for eternity before the great white throne, and the unquenchable fire that follows. But as grace sent the Savior to bear God's unsparing judgment when He made Jesus on the cross sin for us, so the believer judges himself all the more when he recognizes in Him that suffered without the gate the true and divine sin-offering, consumed to ashes without the camp; Whose blood enters in all its value the holy of holies, and entitles himself boldly to approach even there, with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having the heart sprinkled from a wicked conscience, and the body washed with pure water.
He then, there, and thus was salted with fire in a way of absolute perfection as none other could be, as those who reject Him must be in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. But all who believe enjoy the full efficacy of that fire of God which He endured for our sins, whilst given to judge ourselves as in the sight of God and to reckon ourselves dead with Him to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus; for he that died is justified from sin as well as sins. We have also the privilege of " every sacrifice salted with salt." It is not only that " our God is a consuming fire " against every evil thing, every inconsistency with relationship to Him and with His nature; but as offered to God, our bodies even as a living sacrifice, we know and have the seasoning with salt that we may be kept pure and incorrupt, abhorring any working of flesh as vile and condemned in Christ's death.
The disciples had yet to learn that wondrous and mighty sacrifice of His; but here they find themselves set in the only position which suited Him, and them too associated with Him. Its moral nature, not only inwardly but publicly, is here conveyed by the words. " Ye are the salt of the earth." To the Son as to the Father anything but this pure and purifying or at least preservative savor was intolerable for the kingdom of the heavens which they were to enter on the earth. The law, as we are told, made nothing perfect. And Moses, in view of Israel's hardheartedness, allowed what could not be when God was revealed in a Son. In that divine light He looks for suitability to His holiness. How it was to be made good in them they did not yet know; for the discourses on the mount did not unfold redemption nor yet the new birth. But there could be no doubt that this was the plain and certain expression of the place in which the Lord set His own.
Let it be noticed that they, and only they, and they emphatically, were " the salt of the earth." The Lord does not say the salt " of the world." This will come for fuller elucidation when we consider what was meant by their being " the light of the world," not of the earth. But when thus distinguished as here, we may remark now in pointing out the force of our text, that " the earth " means that ordered scene where God had dealings beyond other parts. It was then as of old where Israel was set; as it was about to be enlarged by the outward profession of His name far beyond the land of Palestine. The Lord accordingly begins with that position of conserving purity, alike privilege and responsibility. " Ye are the salt of the earth." Less or other than this was unrecognizable since He, the Son, came and called into association with Himself. The life He communicated to the believer, and the redemption He would accomplish for his sins, would be explained fully in its season. But here He shows what consisted with the Father, as well as the kingdom He would establish.
But He adds words-most grave words—" If the salt lose its savor, wherewith shall it be salted?" Profession there would be, and an excellent thing it is, if it be a heart testimony to God, true not only in word but in deed. Here, at the beginning and still more clearly at the end of His communications the Lord prepares us to expect what soon and increasingly became evident how hollow and false it was to become; and He intimated by His question and comment that the true and holy savor if once lost would be irreparable. Whatever grace might work individually, or with a few here and there, the pure position cannot be restored. Salt is itself. Nothing outside can give the saltness that disappears. Wherewith shall it be salted?
He goes farther, and pronounces its unfitness even for the useful purpose of fertilizing supplied by that which is most offensive. Saltless salt is unavailing even to manure the earth. It is only fit to be thrown outside, and trodden under foot of men. And so it will be, as it has been. When Christianity vanishes and only a savorless Christendom remains, men have trodden it down as more worthless than Judaism or even Gentilism, and the more insufferable as so much prouder and more persecuting. And so it will be when the final blows come for Babylon; and the powers which once had their illicit commerce with her shall hate the harlot, and make her desolate and naked, and eat her flesh and burn her with fire. Not only is God strong in judging her, but she shall be trodden under foot of indignant men.

Gospel Words: A Forgiving Spirit

The Lord was not content with this impressive call for practical grace in the prayer prescribed to His disciples: " Forgive us our debts, as we also forgave our debtors." He immediately after follows it up with emphasis.
" For if ye forgive men their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you [yours]; but if ye forgive not men their offenses, neither will your Father forgive your offenses."
There is such confusion in Christendom as to the forgiveness of sins that the true force of the Lord's solemn words is lost for the most part. The vast majority have so hazy a view of eternal redemption that they fear to believe in the full and abiding efficacy of Christ's work. The glad news, or the gospel, of God is thus for them shorn of its power. They are no better off than a Jew who brought his offering, confessed his sin, and went away with the comfort that it was forgiven. As he had to offer often, so the ill-taught Christian talks of his need to be resprinkled again and again with that blood, though expressly said to be shed once for all.
What blindness, if we adduce nothing else, to the testimony of Heb. 10:1 The perfect sacrifice has caused the imperfect to cease. The worshippers once purged have no more conscience of sins; in plain contrast with the Levitical sacrifices, wherein is made year by year remembrance, as the Christian is entitled to remission of sins. Christ came to take away the temporary, and to establish the everlasting. Therefore, when He offered one sacrifice for sins, He forever [in continuity] sat down on God's right hand. He had done all perfectly to blot out the guilt of His friends (once His foes); and took His seat as its triumphant proof, from henceforth waiting till His enemies who reject Him and His work be set as footstool of His feet. Then He will come forth and tread them down in their open rebellion at the consummation of the age. But to the Christian the Holy Spirit testifies that their sins and their lawlessnesses God remembers no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no longer an offering for sin: everything of the kind is superseded and more than fulfilled in that of Christ.
But here faith fails, because God's word is not received in its own divine and conclusive authority; and thus are souls defrauded of peace and joy in believing; and entire devotedness to God is curtailed, bought as we are with a price so incalculable. This unbelief is helped on by confounding things that differ, like our text with that complete redemption which rests solely on Christ's cross. Still more when such blessed institutions of Christianity as baptism and the Lord's supper were made saving ordinances, not figuratively but intrinsically; and a clerical class was made necessary and of divine right to apply them with due effect to the laity: a figment which outdid the highest claims of Jewish priesthood, and in principle denies the gospel.
But while the Lord does not, here or in any part of His teaching on the Mount, refer to that redemption which He was to accomplish, He has a weighty lesson to enforce on His disciples in cultivating a spirit of grace. If the Jew in general could not rise above the law in its distance from God, the fear which made the very mediator full of trembling, and the readiness to denounce and curse which it engendered, grace is the atmosphere in which the Christian lives and flourishes. No doubt it is through righteousness; but withal it is grace reigning.
What was it that drew to the Lord Jesus even from John the Baptist? What was it that in spite of a legal environment at length blossomed and bore fruit so sweet in Peter and John and James and a noble army of martyrs and confessors? What was it that melted Paul's heart of steel and made him the most ardent and suffering witness to the world of Jesus Christ and Him crucified? What else could begin with the proudest, most self-satisfied, stiffnecked, and rebellious race, and transform them into the poor in spirit, the mourning, the meek, the hungering and thirsting after righteousness, yea the merciful, the pure in heart, the peace-makers, persecuted for righteousness' sake, and even for His sake, for whom the nation and its high priest judged crucifixion only His due, and so fulfilled the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets?
As it was the grace and truth which gave the disciples life, and would give it abundantly in the power of Christ's resurrection, so would follow that full and abiding remission which only His blood secures, and this uninterruptedly. But sin indulged does interrupt communion with our God and Father, and needs the advocacy of Christ to cleanse the feet thus defiled, by the washing of water by word. His blood retains intact its atoning virtue; but the word is applied by the Spirit in answer to Christ on high, and he that sinned repents in dust and ashes. For this is He that came through water and blood. We need and have both, and cannot do without the water from first to last, as we have had the blood once for all. Whoever ignores, or (still worse) denies, the twofold provision of grace, undermines redemption and muddles the truth of God.
Now the Lord specifies an unforgiving spirit as intolerable to our Father in His daily government of His sons. And no wonder. It is to go back from grace to law, from Christ to wretched self. Hence, as in the prayer, He urges grace toward those who may offend us ever so painfully, and love which He commends to our loyal and tender warning of its lack practically as hateful in His eyes. " For if ye forgive men their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your offenses."
O you who keep up your resentment, and brood over the offenses (often exaggerated if not imaginary) of others, beware. You, a Christian, if so, are in utter default of this characteristic duty, as unlike Christ as you can be. Need one say that you are as unhappy as you are hard? Is it nothing to your high spirit, degrading as this is to a Christian, that " your heavenly Father will not forgive you your offenses " Trifle not with so bad and proud a state, and no longer grieve the Holy Spirit of God who sealed you. Let not the sun set upon your wrath, nor give room for the devil.

Gospel Words: the Light of the World

Here the character of the position for the disciples goes beyond " the salt of the earth." For this was expressive of righteousness; a righteousness not outward like that of the scribes and Pharisees (which sought reputation of man, and was little beyond the pride of a Stoic), but lowly and real as in God's sight. Whereas " the light of the world " is the shining forth of grace, and inseparable from the confession of Christ in that respect. Salt preserves, but does not make everything manifest as the light does.
"Ye are the light of the world: a city set upon a hill-top cannot be hid. Nor do they light a lamp, and put it under the dry measure but on the lamp-stand, and it shineth unto all that are in the house. Thus let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father that is in the heavens (vers. 14-16).
" The world " had no such special dealing of God as " the earth." There moral darkness had reigned, which the light was to dispel as far as He gave it scope and power. Redemption, Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension, would give the light a penetrating energy unknown before. For such was the deadly pall which overhung the favored land during our Lord's earthly sojourn that, contrary to nature, the darkness resisted the light, and " comprehended not " even the True Light in His person. But when He rose victorious over all the power of the wicked one, the old commandment became the new, and was true not in Him only but in us, Christians, because the darkness is quite passing and the true light already shines.
This is confirmed by the figure which follows and carries the truth out farther. " A city set, or situated, upon a hill-top cannot be hid." The sphere is no longer the circumscribed area of the earth or land, but, as for another aspect we read, " the field is the world." The God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ would make Himself known at least in testimony, before power effectuates His will far and wide. As perfect love He came down in Christ to man; but the world knew Him not, and His own people received Him not, yea insisted that He should be crucified. Now He sets Christ in the heavenlies above every principality and authority and power and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that to come, and put all things under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church which is His body, the fullness of Him that fills all in all. And they, His disciples, are the light of the world: a city set upon a hill-top cannot be hid. Once darkness, they are now light in the Lord, and responsible to walk as children of light, corporately as well as individually. For the fruit of light is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth. They are to prove what is agreeable to the Lord, and to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather to reprove them.
Men treat their light more fairly than Christendom does the light of which our Lord spoke. Men shrink from natural darkness, its inconveniences, and its dangers; and when they light a lamp, they do not put it under the dry measure (which of course would quite hide it) but on the lampstand, and it shines to all that are in the house. But Christendom fears the light that exposes its neglect of scripture, and of the Holy Spirit's guidance, and of Christ who is and ought to be the all. Therefore, Christianity and the church being sadly misrepresented, all the privileges and duties suffer in the same proportion; as the Lord and the apostles prepare us to expect. But the faithful are bound with humility yet in courage of faith to let the light shine; for it is not of self, but the confession of Christ in everything going forth as God has taught them, whether men hear or forbear. It is meant by our Lord to shine to all that are in the house, and beyond too.
Do we want to make known God as He is? Christ is His image and alone perfectly represents Him. Would we show Him as Father? He the Son declares Him and is the way to Him. Would we see man as he ought to be? It is not on the first man we must look but on the Second. Would we measure the true wickedness of Satan? It is in his direct, constant, personal hatred of and antagonism to Jesus the Son of God. Do you crave the sight of life eternal in the midst of this evil and guilty world? There it is in word and deed fully revealed in the same Lord Jesus. Would you consider death in all its solemn nature? It is He who manifests it. Would you look at life in risen power? Jesus alone and perfectly discloses it. Do you wish a true sight of the highest heaven? It is where the Father received Him with the fullest love and glory. Would we warn of hell? It is the everlasting fire, in which all that despise, hate and reject Him must have their portion with the devil and his angels. Christ is the light that makes everything and one manifest.
So it might be shown in the whole 'range of privilege and duty and from the least thing to the greatest. He is the measure of love and holiness, of service and worship, of devotedness, of suffering, and of communion. He is the standard of sin and of judgment no less than of righteousness. And as the Father is only known through and in Him, so the Spirit acts to make all good in the believer, that we might be delivered from all our thoughts and imaginations, and be led into all truth and kept.
" Thus let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good (or, comely, KaX«) works, and glorify your Father that is in the heavens." This is practical Christianity in its outgoing, as the salt is the preservative power of purity which we always need to have in ourselves. It is to confess and live Christ, not only in secret which is essential and so pressed elsewhere before Him who sees there, but also truly and unflinchingly before men. Benevolent works are no test, and are not what Christ looked for and here expresses. He spoke of works excellent in the sense of what suits the Father and the Son, and of which the Holy Spirit is the sole power in us. It is not His mind to let our good works shine before men, but our light, or confession of Himself in word and deed.
Nor can anything other or short of this secure the end He proposes. For I might dole out all my goods in what men call charity, or deliver up my body to be burned without confessing Christ, and therefore without in any way glorifying the Father. There is neither light nor love without the faith and the confession of Christ; and self might thereby be honored, but not the Father. Whereas let the light of Christ shine in your confession; and when men see right works in accordance with the will of God, they glorify not you but the Father who is the spring and aim of what you do.

Gospel Words: the Treasure and the Heart

The moral principle here laid down by our Lord calls for our deep and constant heed; and the more, because the flesh ever deceives, and struggles against it, to indulge itself under fair disguise and for reasons seemingly strong and excellent. But we walk by faith, not by sight, and only so rightly.
" For where thy treasure is, there thy heart will also be."
Where faith is not, a present object engages the heart, and becomes the treasure. It is self in one shape or another, whereby Satan is the master, and not God: what then must be the end for eternity? The most prevalent is what our Lord calls " filthy lucre "; for money is the readiest means of gain for gratifying carnal lusts. It may be the heart abandoned to the pleasures of sin for a season. Power again is the ambition of some, as fame is of others. Also it may take a religious direction as readily and more dangerously than a literary one, or for worldly honor. In such ways men perish, even where no grossness appears, but the nicest refinement.
Christ alone delivers and preserves from all such snares. He is given and sent by God to win the heart by His ineffable grace, adapting itself to our guilt and misery and worthlessness through sin, to save the vilest from his evil, to reconcile unto God, to be life as well as righteousness to him who had neither, to associate with heaven, and thus separate from the world not only in all that is evidently bad but in all that claims to be good or its best, that we should no longer live to ourselves, but to Him who for our sakes died and rose again. And as this is for the Father's glory, so is it by the Spirit's power who is here, sent forth now from heaven on and since Pentecost, to glorify Him who never sought His own will but at all cost that of God.
Christ is therefore the true treasure, and in and by Him the riches of God's grace, yea and far beyond all question of need, to the praise of the glory of His grace which will make us like Himself before Him, not only in nature but in relationship as far as this can be. But we have this treasure meanwhile in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves. " Wherefore we faint not; but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction worketh for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
Hence our Lord urges our not laying up for ourselves treasures upon the earth where moth and rust spoil, and where thieves dig through and steal; but to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust spoils, and where thieves do not dig through nor steal. " For where thy treasure is, there thy heart also will be " I The heart follows necessarily the object of its affection; and Christ, the treasure of the Christian, was not of the earth but comes from above, from heaven, and above all. " What He hath seen and heard, this He testifieth; and none receiveth His testimony. He that received His testimony set to his seal that God is true. For He whom God sent speaketh the words of God; for He giveth not the Spirit by measure. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things [to be] in His hand. He that believeth on the Son hath life eternal, but he that obeyeth not (or, is not subject to) the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him " (John 3:32-36).
It is not only then what the treasure is, but where that the Lord presses on our heed. And this truth of the treasure in heaven derives great accession and force from our Lord's ascending where He was before (John 6:62), no longer Son of God only as He came down, but Son of man as He is now also in heavenly glory. For this is the proper and full way in which the Christian knows Him. Wherefore we henceforth know no one according to flesh; but if even we have known Christ according to flesh, yet now we know [Him] no longer. So if any one [be] in Christ, [it is] a new creation.
To Christ glorified is the Christian united by the Spirit, now that he rests on redemption accomplished. He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit. Only then and there could it be. Hence having died with Christ and being raised together with Him, we are exhorted to seek the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God, to set our mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. For we died, and our life is hid with Christ in God. And we wait that, when Christ our life shall be manifested, we too shall then be manifested with Him in glory.
We may notice that in Luke 12 the connection of this truth expressed more broadly (" For where your treasure is, there your heart also will be "), is not only with the warning of the precariousness of all save a treasure in the heavens, but with the Lord's coming as a proximate hope. " Let your loins be girded about, and your lamps burning; and ye like men waiting for their own lord whenever he may leave the wedding, that when he cometh and knocketh they may open to him immediately." It would be scarce possible to conceive words more clearly indicating the call to be constantly looking out for Him.
Altogether the aim is unmistakable if we are walking in the Spirit. We are now " heavenly " in title (1 Cor. 15:48, 49), and we expect on the surest authority to realize it even for our bodies at His coming. Let us see to it meanwhile to live, serve, walk, and worship, consistently with our faith and our hope. Nothing short of this is the Christianity of the N.T. when the many things were known which the disciples could not bear till they had redemption through His blood and the gift of the Spirit. When the Spirit was come from Him on high, He did not fail to guide them into all the truth.
Reader, beware of being deceived. If you are not a disciple of Christ, if not born of the Spirit, the Lord's exhortations are inapplicable to you: you are not yet one of His. Own your evil and guilty state before God. Own Him the only efficacious Savior, the Son of man come to seek and to save the lost. Then indeed such words as His to the disciples will be precious and blessed by grace to your soul. But you must be born anew, born of God, to receive and understand them. Beware of those who deify ordinances to Christ's disparagement, and their own vain pride of a baseless office.

Gospel Words: the Birds of the Sky

How beyond measure sad is the state which our Lord here describes! How solemn the contrast with the eye being single, and the whole body full of light!
" But if thine eye be wicked, thy whole body will be dark. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great the darkness!"
We perceive that the Lord, as throughout all His words on the Mount, is not here occupied in any way with redemption, but with the need of a new nature and its proper internal effect on the one hand, or on the other with the moral evil, where one is not born of God. There is no possible apprehension of God's mind or will; where there is only the natural man. Such a one does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But the spiritual one discerns all things, and he is discerned by no one. Mental capacity and learning avail nothing save to conceal the awful void from oneself or from others who are carnal.
The " eye " is the index of the nature, not outwardly alone but inwardly. " But if thine eye be wicked, thy whole body will be dark," This is man's condition unless renewed by grace. In this all important respect the Jew, judged by the light in our Lord Jesus, was no better off than the Gentile. They loved not the disciples whom they saw, still less the God whom they saw not. Had they really loved Him that begot, they had also loved him that was begotten by Him. The Lord made this certain and manifest; for in Him was no sin, yet they reviled Him. Grace and truth came through Him, yet they east Him out as an eater and wine-bibber, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners, instead of recognizing the Son of man come to seek and to save that which was lost.
Hence said He to His disciples when nearing the end of His earthly course, " If the world hate you, ye know that it hath hated me before you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world, and I chose you out of the world, on this account the world hath hated you. Remember the word that I said to you, A bondman is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep your's also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. He that hateth me, hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no other did, they had not had sin; but now they have both seen and hated both me and my Father. But that the word written in their law might be glorified. They hated me without a cause " (John 15:18-25).
What comment could be more direct and simple on the wicked eye, and the whole body dark It is the awful and unremoved evil of the natural man; the mind of the flesh, which is not only death morally, but enmity against God, whose grace is unintelligible to it, no less than His righteousness by virtue of Christ's atoning death to justify the ungodly, if he believe on Him. The natural man's faith, if faith it is to be called, is to believe in himself, utterly blind to his iniquity and lawlessness and his total ruin before God.
The very fact that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not reckoning to them their offenses, adds, as the words of the Lord Himself prove, immeasurably to man's guilt.
Who so pitiful to failure, who so ready to forgive sins, if they be felt and confessed to Him? But the demonstration of the world's irremediable evil lies in the undeniable truth that, when God was in Christ reconciling it, it refused all reconciliation; when God rose above all offenses, it scorned the boon, buffeted the one who proffered and pressed it on their acceptance, spit a His face and crucified Him.
It was no use to make overtures to man. Who could conceive any so great as God had made in Christ. Man was irretrievably ruined. If the Jew boasted that he only was a light of those in darkness, could he deny that he was leader of the blind against the true light, and did his utmost to extinguish what condemned himself no less than the despised Gentile? If therefore the light that was in Israel was thus proved to be darkness, "how great the darkness "!
The only hope for lost man lay in the rejected and crucified Christ; and such was the unfailing grace of God, that His best came out when man did his worst. For Him who knew no sin He made sin for us (who believe), that we might become God's righteousness in Him. It is solely a question of the second man, the last Adam, who once for all—it was enough—suffered for sins, just for unjust, that He might bring us to God, cleansed from every sin by the blood of Jesus Christ His Son. It is God that justifies the believer, as He made Christ sin for us, that we might become His righteousness. What grace! what a salvation!

Gospel Words: the Birds of the Sky

The Lord appeals to the disciples, in view of the creature subjected to man, against personal anxiety. It is humbling but wholesome for them to draw lessons of dependence thence. And first, He points to the winged class, familiar everywhere to human eyes, as objects of divine care and dependent on His beneficent provision. How much more are not His own in their incomparably higher and nearer relationship to Him and how powerless too is their anxiety to effect relief!
" Look at the birds of the heavens, that they sow not, nor reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his stature? " (vers. 26, 27.)
The birds are of a large class and of immense variety; so much so that the famous Cuvier had to confess his dissent from all the scientific systems he had seen. Can any competent naturalist since deny that an adequately true arrangement still awaits its discoverer? He in his " Règne Animal " proposed six orders with far more numerous genera; Temminck, sixteen orders; Latreille, seven, with 252 genera. Though some few excellent observers as Willughby and Ray preceded and have followed since these distinguished French writers, there is no end as yet to that controversy.
But our Lord drew His invaluable lessons, not from the recondite secrets, still less from the uncertainties of the science, but from the patent and undeniable facts of God's creation and providence, which none but the perverse can cavil at even in this age when the whole creation groans together, but not without hope that deliverance shall come from on high. All disciples can therefore understand and feel what He meant, and they need. The birds neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your (not their) heavenly Father feeds them. They may share the consequences of a fallen world, as other animals, and man more than any, as being their head, a moral creature, and deeply to blame directly and indirectly. Nevertheless without means and without the least carking care, our heavenly Father feeds the birds, as the plain and beautiful and instructive rule.
Hence of old the Psalmist (104) celebrated Him that sent forth springs into the valleys, that run among the mountains, and not for man only, or for every beast of the field, and the wildest of them, but for the birds that utter their voices among the branches where a dead silence prevails, broken now and then by loud shrieks of anguish so different from their cheerful strains. The stately spreading cedars were planted not for man's use only, not for taste or pride, but for the birds also to make their nests, unless the taller firs suit some better still. Nor are the creatures of the sea great and wide overlooked. These all look unto Thee, that Thou mayest give them their food in its season: that Thou givest they gather. Thou openest Thy hand: they are filled with good. Thou hidest Thy face: they are troubled. Thou takest away their breath: they expire and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit: they are created; and Thou renewest the face of the earth.
But here the Lord guards His own from anxious thoughts in their daily life. Sparrows, as He taught later, are cheap enough; yet as not one of them shall fall to the ground without our Father, so He preserves them and other birds great or small without foresight of their own.
If such creatures, the unclean as surely as the clean, are the habitual recipients of His beneficence, how much must His sons be?' It is an argument from the comparatively mean and distant to those whom grace deigns to bring into the nearest relationship with Himself. And the Lord's aim is to impress on His disciples, so favored, the obligation of confiding in the love of their Father without a doubt or a fear. Why should they not, instead of yielding to the anxiety natural to such as either know not God at all like Gentiles, or own Him in an altogether lower way like the Jews?
It seems almost needless to say that the words afford not the least ground for those who alleged a discrepancy with Prov. 6:6-8. For the latter impresses the common duty of industry, and therefore reproves the sluggard from the text of the laborious ant. The former calls the believer to cherish faith's reliance on the Father's care, without an anxious thought. The one is as true as the other; but the latter goes deeper and rises higher because of the revelation of the Father's name to those who believe on the Son.
Then again a strange set of fanatics, both in rather early and in later days of Christendom, made abstinence from labor a counsel of perfection. They claimed to be in a peculiar degree men of prayer, and were called Euchites by those who condemned them. Their boast was neither to sow nor reap; but they could not escape the reproach that they liked the barn and to have it well filled. The germ of this selfishness showed itself among the Thessalonian saints. But it did not fail to receive immediate discouragement and a heavy blow from the apostle, who could appeal to his own work with his hands where it made for the Lord's glory. But he also ruled such a claim as unworthy of Him, and a dishonor to such as were ensnared in cheat. " Now we enjoin you, brethren, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw from every brother [not rising to superior spirituality but] walking disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. For yourselves know that ye ought to imitate us, because we were not disorderly among you, nor did we eat bread of any one for naught, but with labor and toil working night and day, that we might not burden any of you. Not because we have not authority, but that we might give ourselves an example to you, that ye should imitate us. For even when we were with you, this we enjoined you that, if any one will not work, neither let him eat. For we hear of some walking among you disorderly, working not at all, but busy-bodies. Now such as those we enjoin and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ that working quietly they eat their own bread" (2 Thess. 3:6-12).
The question in ver. 27 exposes impressively the impotence of anxiety to add to our stature the familiar unit of measure. Yet many moderns incline to length of life, instead of " stature." But this is hardly the place to discuss such a question. The general sense at all events is clear to the simplest.

Gospel Words: the Lilies of the Field

From the birds of the sky in vers. 26, 27, the Lord turns to the lilies of the field in vers. 28-30: a lesson against anxiety, the former in eating and drinking; the latter in raiment. Notoriously they comprise the two branches of ordinary living which so test the masses, not of mankind only, but of disciples, to whom He addressed Himself throughout His teaching on the mount. His disciples ought not to forget or distrust their heavenly Father by such doubts of His loving care over their daily wants.
" And why be anxious about a garment? Consider the lilies of the field how they grow: they toil not nor spin; but I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these. But if God so clothe the herbage of the field, that is to-day, and to-morrow is cast into an oven, [shall he] not much more [clothe] you, O little of faith? "
Here as He points, not to birds but to the flowers, He does not speak of sowing or reaping or storage, but of toiling and spinning: God cares for the birds without the one, and for the lilies without the other. Were not His children far more to their heavenly Father than either? Not only were they God's offspring as mankind universally are, but His children by grace through faith. It is not that sowing or reaping, toiling or spinning, might not be a duty, if they had to provide for themselves and their household, and could earn their supplies by these labors more readily than otherwise. Even in an unfallen world, Jehovah put Adam whom He had formed into the garden of Eden to till it and to guard it, when there was none to hire for the needful work, and he himself might happily employ his own hands.
Sin brought in sad change, not only for man's soul and body, but for the very ground on which he trod, as scripture plainly tells us. It was no longer easy and delightful work, but in toil or sorrow he must eat of it all the days of his life. And no wonder; since thorns also and thistles it should yield to him, only to be overcome by the sweat of his face in order to eat bread. If self will kick against the goad, it only aggravates the case; if the yoke (and it is not here grievous) be accepted, it is all the better for murmuring men. There is no deliverance from guilt and sin but through faith in Christ, to whom the Holy Spirit bears witness, and by whom He gives power to the believer. But for children as yet unconverted as well as adults in the same state, occupation is a merciful help, against the dangers of idleness and indulgence of lust and passion. Even for the faithful it is good, as declining to work where the person is without means is bad: so much so, that the apostle curtly lays it down, that if a man likes not to work, neither let him eat. This prescription, if duly administered, would in general prove a salutary medicine, and without fail.
Such idlers, apt to be busy-bodies too, are comparatively rare; but not so those who trouble themselves about their clothes. What after being born of God, and now having redemption as well as life everlasting, and the Holy Spirit to take up our every need and difficulty, not only the Lord interceding for us, but the Father blessing who sent His only begotten Son to and for us when we had nothing but sins? And do souls so favored distress themselves perhaps about clothes, and possibly fine clothes, beyond what becomes a Christian man, woman, or child?
What a rebuke from the herbage of the field, as our Lord interprets it Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these lilies which, the more they are inspected and by the most powerful means, only the more eclipse the splendor of Israel's richest king. Yet that lavish beauty of form and color was but a carpet spread for the feet of the poorest Israelite on one day, and on another was fuel for an oven. And this end of its glory was far from being an offense to the Lord. He, who was above all jealous for His Father's honor in His work uses the double fact to judge nature's anxiety about earthly things (were they as the lilies ever so beautiful to the eye, yet utterly evanescent too), to banish doubts and distress and unworthy desires, and to establish the heart in confidence of His Father's present, perfect, and loving care.
It was not the least in His mind to occupy the disciples with the birds of the sky or the lilies of the field as objects of their care, though not a few may abuse His allusions. Nor did He mean by His calling their attention to them, that they should treat cynically what evinces His interest in all the works of God's hand and the creatures of His will. His aim is that the disciples, under His holy notice of the incomparable goodness of God toward that which is so little in His eyes, should rise up to the Father above them all, and be assured of the considerate and constant love He bears to His own. Are they not peculiar objects of His counsels before a world was founded, now of infinite grace in Himself who for them died and rose, and at His crowning of glory, above not only the mightiest potentates of earth but also the highest principalities in the heavens? Are we to share the anxiety of those who know not God? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things? No one was such a sufferer as Christ here below; yet who ever heard a complaint? and who can forget that, when rejected more and more where His mighty acts of goodness and His words of grace and truth still more wondrous were alike despised, and even He had to say, Woe, woe, at that season our Lord Jesus answering said, " I thank thee, Father,"... and " even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight"? So the prophetic Psa. 16 attributes to Him the confession, " The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places; yea I have a goodly heritage." And so the apostle, who had the fellowship of His sufferings, and knew afflictions, persecutions, and want of all things beyond any other, is the very one who rises superior to all circumstances, and declares that God affords us all things richly for enjoyment. May we follow, though alas! how distantly, in like faith!

Gospel Words: the Morrow

There is another fear that is apt to cause trouble, forecasting the trials of the morrow. How fertile is the heart, in creating difficulties, and forgetting our Father as a real and constant resource!
" Be not anxious therefore for the morrow; for the morrow will be anxious about itself: sufficient for the day [is] its evil."
The morrow is in God's hands, not in ours. And He gives us the place of sons, as well as of children, on a firmer ground than could be even when the Lord here addressed His disciples. As He said to the Father before His suffering, " I made known to them thy name and will make it known "; so too He did in the fullest way in His message through the Magdalene, " Go to my brethren, and say to them, I ascend to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God." The relationship rested now on the definite ground of His death and resurrection, wherein their sins were blotted out, and themselves in the same nearness to His Father and God, as well as to Himself, the Firstborn of many brethren.
The one awful difficulty, sin, was not only removed by His cross for the believer, but made in His death the occasion of glorifying God as He never was before and never needs to be again. His love and man's hatred met there for the triumph of good over evil to faith, as it shall be to sight when Christ takes His great power and reigns before every eye. There Satan was vanquished to faith, where he seemed to the natural eye absolute victor. There not only the outward, but yet more the religious, world disclosed to faith its hateful unrighteousness and its utter infamy. There the very disciples prove their worse than nothingness. There the righteous One suffered to the utmost that God might be just and justify all that believe, and that grace might send out the glad tidings even to all that do not believe. For God thereby clothes with the best robe the guilty, bankrupt, ragged prodigal who turns to Him in the faith of the Name, the name of Jesus.
Thus the work of Christ, and the present indwelling of the Holy Spirit consequent on it, set the new relationship in the clearest light and on the most solid footing which even God in Christ could give it. O what dependence on Him becomes such as know themselves thus blessed! What confidence in His love to us to-day and forever I Why then allow the least worry about to-morrow?
That men of the world should be troubled is natural. They know not God. Still less do they cry, Abba, Father. Their satisfaction is in their substance, their position, their pleasure. Their uneasiness is because all in this life hangs on a trembling balance, between their fellows whom they cannot trust, a life as uncertain as the wind, and a God whom they dread as their Judge, and with too good reason as they are.
But the child of God, why should he give way to anxiety about the morrow? He is entitled to happy boldness on his own part and assured love on His Father's to do His will today, whatever the trial. God is equally above tomorrow's anxiety, which he can cast on Him, if it come. Sufficient for the day is its evil. Christ is our burden-bearer. Through Him we more than conquer. If God be for us, who against us?
Some who read these words may be still in their sins, and not reconciled to God. If you cannot be contemplated in a warning to believers, you have an especial danger in putting off to the morrow the call of the gospel which God makes to you to-day. "Behold, now is an acceptable season, behold, now is a day of salvation." Delay will only increase your sins, and harden your heart to resist the Spirit to your imminent danger. Be not like the naughty and foolish child, so quick to say, I will never do it again; I will be good tomorrow. Be honest with God to-day, and own the sin, and yourself a life-long sinner, and confess the Lord Jesus the only Savior, counting on God's grace to save you in His name. How many have put off to a morrow that never came So perilous is it not to own the sins to-day to Him who waits to be gracious, and can keep as truly as He forgives.
We can see from the use made of the prophet Isaiah respecting the temple, what an advance was made by Stephen, beyond the Twelve even as the spiritual precursor of the apostle Paul (dead in sins as he was then, and the avowed antagonist of Stephen). But how he speaks directly to the conscience of the Jews, exasperated by his trenchant application of the O. T.
"Stiffneckcd and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers, ye too. Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand concerning the coming of the Righteous One; of whom ye now became betrayers and murderers, being such as received the law at angels' ordinances (or, injunctions), and kept [it] not " (vers. 51-53).
Loving and devoted even to death that his Jewish brethren might judge their sins and receive the grace of God in Christ, he thus delivered the most scathing summary of the people's sins from first to last. Yet he did not go beyond what all in whom God spoke, from Moses to Malachi, had testified here and there in their pleadings with them for the glory of Jehovah. With all their self-complacency they were " stiff-necked " in heart and ears. The outward sign in the flesh only made their total lack of its spiritual meaning more glaring. The flesh was strong instead of being judged as evil.
It was themselves who were resisting the Holy Spirit, " ye " pre-eminently. Without doubt, as already proved from Holy Writ, their fathers had so done: this ought to have been a warning to them. Alas! they also followed the same baneful course; and they did so " always." They had no just sense of God's grace in calling out Abram. They were like their ancestors who opposed Joseph and Moses. They broke the law, before it was deposited. They resembled the generation which had the tent of the testimony in the wilderness, but did homage to false gods. They boasted of the temple of Solomon, but rebelled against the Most High who is far above all that the hand makes. They killed the prophets who announced the Messiah; and in their own day they did worse than all before them by delivering up and murdering the Righteous One Himself.
It was no exceptional outbreak, but their habit. And so the Lord had told them in Matt. 12:31, 32. " Every sin and injurious speaking shall be forgiven to men; but speaking injuriously of the Spirit shall not be forgiven to men. And whosoever shall have spoken a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this age nor in that which is to come." The evil and adulterous generation only waxed worse, after Christ's atoning work; so that when they spurned the gospel, nothing but judgment could be their portion; partially when the Romans under Titus took away both their place and their nation; fully under Antichrist, when the mass perish, and a believing remnant becomes a strong nation, the generation to come.
God's faithful grace had raised up true prophets in face of the many false, and those were persecuted by their fathers as faithless as themselves. Could they mention one who escaped that lot? And if any were more than usually gifted and privileged to announce beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, they were killed by their unrighteous ancestors who could not endure His coming to destroy them and their idols, with the corruptions in their train. Their rebellion against Jehovah and His anointed had only very recently culminated in their becoming, not those who say, Blessed be He that cometh in the name of Jehovah, but Crucify, Crucify Him, "of whom ye now became betrayers and murderers." Yet He was the Holy One who, as He drew near and saw the city just before, wept over it, saying, " If thou hadst known in this day, even thou, the things which belong to thy peace! but now they are shut out from thine eyes. For days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall make a palisaded mound round about thee, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children in thee, and shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone, because thou knewest not the season of thy visitation."
And what was their glorying in the law but a vain and empty boast? They received it no doubt with the most solemn inauguration at Sinai. He shone forth from Paran, and He came from the holy myriads: from His right hand went forth a fiery law to them; or as Stephen said of their characteristic position, ye "received the law at angels' ordinances, and kept it not." A law that is not kept must only condemn the guilty. What blindness to brag of a law which they did not obey! But so it ever is, where man without faith in the Savior pretends to honor God.

Gospel Words: as Having Authority

From first to last of the word of righteousness on the mountain, the Lord had spoken as none but a divine person was entitled to do.
" And it came to pass, when Jesus concluded these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his doctrine, for he was teaching them as having authority, and not as their scribes."
The Lord, alone on earth, was qualified to speak with authority peculiar to Himself. Beyond all others He knew what was in man (John 2:25): He alone here below knew what was in God (John 3:11). On one side He is the Man whom God raised from out of dead men, marked out by God as judge of living and dead, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and make manifest the counsels of the hearts. On the other hand no one hath seen God at any time, the Only-begotten Son that is in the bosom of the Father—He declared Him. He is thus in every way qualified to speak with authority; yet who so lowly?
But the Jews were used, now that the Prophets of Jehovah for four centuries had ceased, to lean on their rabbis. Indeed they had shown the same unbelief in the days of prophets of the highest character; as Isaiah bears witness (29:13). It was with them in Israel, as afterward in Christendom, a sea of uncertainty, and a conflict of learned or rash opinions. How could it be otherwise when they were thus cheated to give up God's word for man's ideas? So our Lord cites this very oracle in His day, " In vain they do worship me, teaching as doctrines men's precepts."
But not so the Lord Himself as He sat on the mount, and taught the disciples, within the hearing of the crowds. This Matthew was inspired to present continuously and in orderly relation for permanent use. He began with the characters, the blessed characters, of such as enter the kingdom of the heavens. Four are righteous, three gracious, each class with its consequent persecution, as being in the age where evil still runs on (chap. 5:3-12). Their position follows, righteous and gracious, toward those outside (13-16).
Then from ver. 17 to the end of the chapter He proceeds to show that far from coming to make void the law or the prophets, He was here to give the fullness of God's mind therein, the light of the kingdom before it is established in any for those who bow to Him. The unbelieving and unsubject shall not enter on the new privileges. Not a tittle should in any way pass from the law till all come to pass. To enter the kingdom a real and inward righteousness, of which Christ is the perfection, must be, far exceeding that of the scribes and Pharisees.
Next He goes farther, not merely " for verily I say to you " (18) and " for I say to you " (20) but with all the emphasis of superior divine light, worthy of God's Son, " Ye heard that it was said to the ancients, Thou shalt not kill... But I say to you" (21-26), and "ye heard that it was said, Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say to you " (27 -30); and incomparably more searching commandments are applied to the law's prohibition of violence and corruption only in their extreme forms.
After that the Lord deals with divorce, and oath in ordinary converse (not judicial), putting all in the same highest place of God's light, with no allowance of human weakness (vers. 31-37). These were matters of righteousness.
In what follows He looks at the higher and deeper claims of grace. Instead of retaliation as in the law of " eye for eye and tooth for tooth," we hear "But I say to you, not to resist evil," &c. (38-42); and instead of " Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy," He urges "But I say to you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that ye may be sons of your Father that is in the heavens," to the point of your being perfect (i.e. in grace), as your heavenly Father is to evil and good, just and unjust (43-48).
In chap. 6 He points out the true spirit of the life in alms, prayer, and fasting toward God (their Father that is seen in secret before them) (1-10); again in calm confidence above the world's anxiety in ordinary things (19-34): righteousness and grace are here also.
Lastly, in chap. 7 He guards against evil thoughts of brethren, and communion with the unclean world; and He counsels confiding dependence on their Father, acting toward others as they desired from them, and holding to the narrow gate and the straitened way (1-14). He solemnly warns against false prophets, whose fruits betray them notwithstanding their fair speech (15-20). The vanity of profession without vital reality is pressed even where service and gift are pleaded. It is finally compared to the folly of building on the sand, instead of on the rock of genuine obedience to Christ's words (21-27).
To any anxious soul let me say, Do not mistake. The Lord is not here showing how the sinner is to get pardon and peace. He is teaching His disciples how they are to walk and please their Father. Confusion here denies salvation by grace, is itself mere error, and can only endanger and ruin souls.
Courtesy of BibleTruthPublishers.com. Most likely this text has not been proofread. Any suggestions for spelling or punctuation corrections would be warmly received. Please email them to: BTPmail@bibletruthpublishers.com.