Page images

providence of God. The first is stated in the 25th verse : “Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment ?' God will take care of these. He has given lile, a far greater blessing than meat; he has created the body, of far more consequence than raiment. Shall not He, who has conferred the greater blessing, be willing to give the less ? Shall not He, who has formed the body so curiously, and made such a display of power and goodness, see that it is properly protected and clothed? No thought. No undue thought. Be not over anxious. The word used here often denotes anxious cares and improper solicitude. See Luke viii. 14; xxi. 31. Phil. iv. 6. There is a degree of anxiety and industry about the things of this life which is proper. See 1 Tim, v. 8. 2 Thess. iii. 10. Rom. xii. ll. But it should not be our supreme concern: it should not lead to improper anxiety; it should not take time that ought to be devoted to religion. For your life. For what will support your life. 'Meat. This word here means food in general. This was the old English meaning of the word.

26 Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they ?

The second argument for confidence in the providence of God is derived from a beautiful reference to the fowls of heaven. See, said the Saviour, see the fowls of the air; they have no anxiety about the supply of their wants; they do not sow or reap: in innumerable flocks they fill the air; they perch at ease on every spray: yet how few die with hunger ! how regularly are they fed from the hand of God! how he ministers to their unnumbered wants! He sees their young open wide their mouths, and seek their meat at his hand, and how regularly are their necessities supplied ! You, said the Saviour to his disciples, you are of more consequence than they are; and shall God feed them in such numbers, and suffer you to want? It cannot be. ' Better than they. Of more consequence. Your lives are of more importance than theirs, and God will therefore provide for them.

27 Which of you, by taking thought, can add one cubit unto his stature ?

The third argument is taken from their extreme weakness and helplessness. With all your care you cannot increase your stature a single cubit. God, by his providence, orders and arranges the circumstances of your life. Beyond that appointment of his providence, beyond his care for you, your efforts avail nothing. How obvious is the duty of depending on him, and of beginning all your efforts, feeling that he only can grant you the means of preserving life! ‘By taking thought' By care or anxiety. One cubit.' The cubit of the scriptures is not far from twenty-two inches. Terms of length are often applied to life. Thus, it is said, “Thou hast made my days as a handbreadth,' Ps. xxxix. 5 ; Teach me the measure of my days,' Ps. xxxix. 4. In this place it is used to denote a small length. You cannot increase your stature even a cubit, or in the smallest degree. Compare Luke xii. 26.

28 And why take ye thought for raiment ? Consider the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin : 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

The fourth consideration is taken from the lilies of the valley. Watch the growing of the lily. It toils not, and it spins not. Yet night and day it grows and spreads out its beauty, expands its blossom and fills the air with fragrance, and meets the eye with perfect loveliness. Yet soon it will fade, and the beau. tiful flower will be cut down and burned. God so little regards the bestowment of beauty and ornament as to give the highest adorning to this which is soon to perish. When he thus clothes a lily-a fair flower, soon to perish-will he be unmindful of his children? Shall they-dear to his heart and endowed with immortality-shall they lack that which is proper for them, and shall they in vain trust the God that decks the lily of the valley ? He will much more clothe you.

30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

The most common kind of ovens were made by excavating the earth two and a half feet in diameter, and from five to six feet deep. This kind of ovens is still used in Persia. The bottom was paved with stones. It was heated by putting wood or dry grass into the oven; and when heated, the ashes were renoved, and the bread was placed on the heated stones.

31 Therefore, take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed ? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek ;) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

*For after all these things do the Gentiles seek.' Thai 19. tnose destitute of the true doctrines of religion, make it their

chief anxiety thus to seek food and raiment. But you, who have a knowledge of your father in heaven, who know that he will provide for your wants, should not be unduly anxious.

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Seek first his kingdom; seek first to be righteous, and to become interested in his favour, and all necessary things will be added to you. God will give you that which he deems best for you.

34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow : for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

“Take no thought,' &c. That is, take no undue anxiety. Com. mit your way to God. It is wholly uncertain whether you may live to see to-morrow. If you do, it will bring its own trouble. And it will also bring the proper supply of your wants. God

e same Father then as now. The morrow shall take thought.' The morrow shall have anxieties and cares of its own, but God will provide for them as they occur. Do not, therefore, increase the cares of this day by borrowing trouble respecting the future. Do your duty faithfully now, and depend on the mercy of God and his divine help as to the troubles which are yet to come.

CHAPTER VII. 1 JUDGE not, that ye be not judged.

This command refers to rash, censorious, and unjust judgment. See Rom. ii. 1. Luke vi. 37 explains it in the sense of condemning. Christ does not condemn our forming an opinion of the conduct of others, for it is impossible not to form an opinion of conduct that we know to be evil. But whai he refers to, is a habit of forming a judgment hastily, harshly, and without candour, and of expressing such an opinion harshly and unneces. sarily when formed.

2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

This was a proverb among the Jews. It expressed a truth; and Christ did not hesitate to adopt it as conveying his own sentiments. It refers no less to the way in which men will judge of us, than to the rule by which God will judge us. See 2 Sam. xxii. 27. Mark iv, 21. Janies ii. 13. 'Mete. Measure. You shall he judged by the same rule which you apply to others.

3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thg brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye ?

A mote signifies any light substance, as dry chaff, or fine spires of grass or grain. 'Beam. This word here signifies a large piece of squared timber. The one is an exceedingly small object, the other a large one. The meaning is, that we are much more quick and acute in judging of the small offences of others, than of much larger offences in ourselves.

5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

Christ directs us to the proper way of forming an opinion of others, and of reproving and correcting them. The sentiment is, that the readiest way to judge of the imperfections of others is to be free from greater ones ourselves. This qualifies us for judging, makes us candid and consistent, and enables us to see things as they are, and to make proper allowances for frailty and imperfection.

6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

The word 'holy means here any thing connected with religion ; admonition, precept, or doctrine. "Pearls' are precious stones found in shell-fish, chiefly in India, in the waters that surround Ceylon. They are used to denote any thing peculiarly precious, Rev. xvii. 4; xviii, 12-16. Matt. xiii. 45. In this place they are used to denote the doctrine of the gospel. 'Dogs' signify men who spurn, oppose, and abuse that doctrine; men of peculiar sourness and malignity of temper, who meet it like growling and quarrelsome dogs, 2 Peter ii. 22. Rev. xxii, 15. «Swine' denote those who would trample the precepts under feet; men of impurity of life; corrupt and polluted, profane, obscene, and sensual; who would not know the value of the gospel, and who would tread it down as swine would pearls, 2 Pet. ii. 22. Prov. xi. 22.

17 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that

seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shail your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him ?

Ask, and it shall be given you,' &c. There are here three different forms presented of seeking the things which we need from God, asking, seeking, and knocking. The latter is taken from the act of knocking at a door for admittance. See Luke xiii. 45. Rev. iii. 20. The phrases signify to seek with earnestness, and diligence, and perseverance.

The promise is, that what we seek shall be given us. It is of course implied that we seek with a proper spirit, with humility, sincerity, and perseverance. It is implied, also, that we ask the things which it may be consistent for God to give—that is, things which he has promised to give, and which would be best for us . and his kingdom, 1 John v. 14. Of that God is to be the judge.

And here there is the utmost latitude which a creature can ask. God is willing to provide for us, to forgive our sins, to save our souls, to befriend us in trial, to comfort us in death, to extend the gospel through the world. Man can ask no higher things of God; and these he may ask, assured that God is willing to grant them.

Christ encourages us to do this by the conduct of parents. God is better and kinder than the most tender earthly parents; and with what confidence, therefore, may we come as his children, and ask what we need ! Parents, he says, are evil ; that is, are imperfect, often partial, blind, and sometimes passionate; but God is free from all this, and therefore is ready and willing to aid us. 'Every one that asketh receiveth. That is, every one who asks aright, who prays in faith, and in submission to the will of God. He does not always give the very thing which we ask, but he gives what would be better. See 2 Cor. xii. 7–9. 'A fish. There are fishes that have some resemblance to a ser. pent. Yet no parent would attempt to deceive his child in this. So God will not give to us that which might appear to be of use, but which would be injurious.

12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

This command has been usually called the Saviour's golden rule, a name given to it on account of its great value. All that you expect or desire of others in similar circumstances, do

« PreviousContinue »