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This verse does not seem to belong to this place; for it evidently interrupts our Saviour's reasoning here, by introducing an idea which is foreign to the purpose of the rest of the discourse. It is found, word for word, in Chap. iii. 10. and, being inserted in the margin here, was probably introduced into the text, by the mistake of some transcriber, at a very early period; for it is found in all the present manuscripts and versions. Slight errors of a similar nature have been observed in other parts of the New Testament.
20. Wherefore by their fruits ye may know them.
Christ had laid it down as a maxim, that the characters of the teachers of religion might be known from their actions: after illustrating the truth of this declaration, by some familiar appearances in the natural world, he returns to his first assertion, in this last verse, which is to be regarded as the conclusion from the whole. The reason why our Lord takes so much care to caution his disciples against false teachers, is not because every thing which such men teach must necessarily be false and pernicious: for wicked men may teach true doctrines; but that they might be upon their guard, and receive every thing which they delivered with suspicion; for where men of profligate characters undertake to instruct others, we have no security that they will not attempt to propagate the most false and dangerous tenets. Such teachers ought as much as possible to be avoided: for there is reason to apprehend that, such as the masters are, so are their disciples likely to be.
21. Not every one that saith to me Lord, Lord, rather, “ Master, Master," shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Not every one is a Hebrew phrase which signifies the same as no man. The meaning of this verse then is, that no man for calling Christ, master, or acknowledging himself his disciple, and professing the greatest respect for him in that relation, shall enter into future happiness; but for doing the will of God who is in heaven. The kingdom of heaven generally signifies, in Matthew, the gospel-dispensation; but in this place it must necessarily mean the state of happiness after. death; for to call Christ, master, was sufficient to constitute any one a member of the kingdom of heaven in this world.
· 22. Many will say to me in that day, when men enter into the kingdom of heaven, Master, Master, have we not prophesied, “ taught,” in thy name, and in thy name have cast out dæmons, and in thy name done many wonderful works? " many miracles.”
To teach in the name of Christ, is to shew forth the doctrines of his religion, and to cast out dæmons in his name, was to remove those disorders which were, ignorantly, attributed to evil dæmons, but which were in reality natural distempers, accompanied with a profession that it was done to shew forth his power, or that power which attended the Christian revelation. Thus Paul said over the woman that had the spirit of divination, Acts xvi. 18. “I command thee, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come out of her:" after his example, and that of the other apostles, certain vagabond Jews took upon them to call over them which
adjure you by Jesus, whom Paul preacheth, Acts xix. 13. The reason why casting out dæmons is here particularly specified, is because this kind of miracles was more difficult to perform than any other; Christ himself saying to his disciples, “this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." As the power to work miracles was communicated, in order to give testimony to the truth, it is not surprising that it was sometimes bestowed upon those who made an open profession of that truth; although they did not frame their lives to the obedience of the truth, but were, as they are here described, workers of iniquity. What the Apostle Peter says, Acts v. S2. is not inconsistent with this intimation; "and we are his witnesses of these things, and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him ;" for the obedience here spoken of may not imply a general compliance with all the precepts of the gospel, but complying with the will of God so far as to embrace Christianity. To such persons the Holy Spirit was given, although their moral characters were sometimes highly exceptionable. Of this we have a memorable example in the case of Judas Iscariot, who wrought miracles, as well as the other eleven. Miracles were wrought, not so much to recommend the persons of those by whom they were performed, as to convince the spectators of the truth of their doctrine.
23. And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
I will openly declare unto them, I never esteemed you as my own. To know often signifies, in the Hebrew phraseology, the same thing as to approve. Ps. i. 6. “the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous."---Paul says, in the second Epistle to the Corinthians, vii. 3. “ but if any man love God, the same is known of him.” In the present instance, Christ declares that he never knew those who asked for admittance into the kingdom of heaven, because he never approved of their character. As the disciples of Christ were about to commence public teachers of religion, and to be endowed with miraculous gifts, the language of Jesus, upon this occasion, in which he shews them that they would not secure the future favour of their master,
unless their belief was accompanied with a good life, was particularly seasonable and proper.
24. Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, whosoever professeth to believe my sayings, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock, “ the
25. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon the rock..
26. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand;
27. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it.
The state of things in Judæa, as described by travellers into that country, will illustrate the meaning of the comparison which our Lord here uses. The land of Canaan is described as a hilly and extremely rocky country; but the rocks are frequently covered with a thin coat of earth or sand. The returns of rain in the winter season are not very frequent; but, when it does rain, the water pours down, with great violence, three or four days and nights together; so as to produce violent torrents in every part of the country. These violent rains in a hilly country must occasion inundations, endangering buildings which happen to be placed
within their reach, by washing away the soil from under them, and occasioning their fall. To events of this nature, which must frequently take place in a populous country, where houses were placed in every situation, our Lord here refers. This account shews us how we are to understand building on the sand, or loose soil, and the wise man's digging down to the rock, before he laid the foundation of his building.
By this comparison our divine master illustrates the difference between a speculative and practical faith.--To produce an active faith three things are principally required; that we diligently consider the way pointed out by Christ; that we ask ourselves, what internal or external difficulties we shall have to encounter by walking in it; and that we attentively weigh the greatness of that eternal glory which Christ promises, and fix in our minds a persuasion of the connection be. tween the prize and the road to it; so as to be satisfied that we may arrive at the prize by this road, but that it is impossible to reach it by any other. The mind that is thus disposed, is prepared for obeying the truth; he who has done this, builds upon a rock; he will maintain his speculative faith unshaken by the allurements of pleasure, by the fear of bodily pain, of poverty, banishment, ignominy and death, as well as by the new doctrines of a false teacher. On the contrary, those who approve of the Christian doctrine with the understanding, but have not taken care to lay a good foundation in the affections, by the means above mentioned, being tempted by the snares of sin, by the fear of impending evil, or the charm of novelty, are easily induced to wish that whatever opposes the gratification of their lusts may not be true; and, seeking anyhow to escape from it, they first begin to doubt, then waver in their profession, and last of all fall entirely away from it.
28. And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine;