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the children of your heavenly Father; for he causeth his sun to
arise on the evil and the good, and showereth down rain on the 46 just and the unjust. For if you love them only that love you,
what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans do the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what extraordinary thing do 48 you practise ? Do not even the publicans do so ? Be ye therefore
perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect.
REFLECTIONS, Alas ! how may we blush to call God our Father, while we resemble him so little! And what reason is there, on a survey of these directions of our Lord, to acknowledge our deficiencies and our faults! Let us review the many advantages we enjoy as Christians, and the engagements we are under in the particular circumstances in which divine providence has placed us ; and blush to think that we do so little more than others ; perhaps in many instances falling short even of the virtues of heathens. Let us particularly be instructed by these lessons of our divine Master to recompense good for evil : lessons which come with peculiar grace from his mouth, as he was himself the kindest friend to his most inveterate enemies, and bore and forgave more than any but himself could possibly do.
Let us, who are his disciples, abhor contention and revenge. Let us not prosecute every little injury to the utmost, nor govern ourselves by those false maxims of prudence and honour, which pride and self-love have introduced on the ruins of real Christianity. Let us not, even in the most legal methods, seek the punishment of those who have wronged us, except in circumstances in which we are in our conscience persuaded it will, on the whole, be greater charity to animadvert on the offence than to pass it by ; and even then, let us act in a calm and dispassionate manner, pitying and loving the persons of the injurious, even while, for the sake of society, we prosecute their crimes.
If this be our duty towards our enemies, how inexcusable are we if we are cold and insensible to our friends! And how much worse than publicans themselves, if we do not loe them that love us, and do good to those from whom we have received it. Happy is that Christian to whom the God of nature hath given a heart so turned to sentiments of benevolence that, in all these instances, love is a law unto itself!
Yet let us remember, that the whole of our duty is not comprehended in these social regards. The great Author of our being, who hath endowed us with rational faculties, justiy requires that we assert their empire over the meaner powers of appetite and passion. We see that he forbids not only gross enormities, as adultery (which, though so unaccountably spared by the laws of many Christian countries, the heathens themselves have condemned as a capital crime, and which some of the most barbarous nations have esteemed infamous) but the unchastity of the eye, and the heart. Let us then carnestly pray that God would create in us a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within us ; and let us maintain a most resolute guard over VOL, I.
our senses and our thoughts, remembering that there is no other alternative, but that the dearest of our lusts must be mortified and subdued, or our whole persons be cast into hell.
Elevate our affections, O Lord, to nobler objects than those which are suited merely to animal nature ! Teach us to keep under the body, and bring it into subjection, that we may not finally be cast away from thy presence, and fall into that dreadful state where every drop of sinful pleasure will be recompensed with full vials of misery and despair!
Our Lord proceeds to caution his disciples against vain glory in alms
deeds, prayer, and fasting. Matt. vi. 1-18.
AKE heed that you practsie not your righteousness* before 2 ward from your heavenly Father. When therefore, thou per
formest (thine] alms deeds do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the public assemblies, and in the streets,
that they may be applauded of men: verily I say unto you, they 3 have their reward. But when thou art doing [thine] alms let not 4 thy left hand know what thy right hand is doing; that thine alms
may be in secret ; and thy Father who sees in secret, will himself
reward thee openly. 5 And, when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites;
for they love to pray standing in the public assemblies, and in the
corners of the streets, that they may be viewed by men: verily I 6 say unto you, That they have their reward. But thou, when thou
prayest, enter into thy closet; and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret, and thy Father who sees in
secret, will 7 reward thee openly. But when you pray, do not use a vain mul
tiplicity of words, as the heathens do ; for they think they shall 8 be heard for their speaking much. Be not ye therefore like
them: for your Father knows what you want before you ask him. 9 Thus therefore pray ye,
« Our Father, who art in heaven, may thy name be sanctified! 10 May thy kingdom come ; may thy will be done, as in heaven, so 11 likewise upon earth. Give us this day our daily bread. And 12 forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. And do not 13 bring us into temptation ; but rescue us from the evil one: for
thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. 34 Amen.” For if you forgive men their offences, your heavenly 15 Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their
offences, neither will your Father forgive your offences. 16 Again ; when you keep a Fast, be not like the hypocrites,
putting on a dismal air ; for they deform their countenances; that
* So some ancient copies and versions, which Beza follows. This prerents. a tautology.
they may appear to men to fast : verily I say unto you, That they 17 have their reward. But when thou kepeest a fast, anoint thy 18 head, and wash thy face ; that thou mayest not appear to men as
one that fasteth, but to thy father who is in secret; and thy Father who sees in secret will reward thee openly.
REFLECTIONS. Let us learn from these repeated admonitions of our blessed Redeemer what is the only acceptable principle of every religious action ; namely, a desire to approve ourselves to God in it : and let us particularly bring it into the instances in which it is here recommended. Our Lord takes it for granted that his disciples would be both charitable and devout. Let us cultivate both these branches of the Christian temper, and avoid ostentation in both; as remembering the day approaclies when every one of us must be made manifest in his true character before the tribunal of Christ. And, oh, what discoveries will then be opened upon the world! How many specious masks will be plucked off, that the hypocrite's character may appear in its native deformity! And, on the other hand, how many secret acts of piety and benevolence, which have been industriously concealed from human observation, will then shine forth in all their glory, celebrated and rewarded by God himself, who sees in secret, and whose eye penetrates all the recesses of our houses and our hearts ! There may our praise and our portion be! In the mean time let us with humble pleasure obey the call of our divine Master, and be often addressing our heavenly Father in such language as he hath taught us ; entering for secret exercise of devotion into our closet, and shutting our door, excluding (as far as possible) every thought which would interrupt us in these sacred and happy moments. From thence let our prayers daily come before the throne like incense, and the lifting up of our hands be as the morning and the evening sacrifice.
Christ himself has condescended to teach us to pray. Attentive to his precepts, animated by his example, and emboldened by his intercession, let us learn and practise the lesson. Shed abroad on our hearts, O Lord, thy Spirit of adoption, which may teach us to cry, Abba, Father ! to draw nigh to thee with filial reverence and confidence, and with fraternal charity for each other, even for the whole family, to whom thou graciously ownest the relation! Inspire us with that zeal for thy glory which may render the honour of thy name, the prosperity of thy kingdom, and the accomplishment of thy will, far dearer to us than any interest of our own! On thee may we maintain a cheerful dependence for our daily bread, and having food and raiment, be therewith content ! most solicitously seeking the pardon of our past sins, and the influences of thy grace to preserve us from future temptations, or to secure us in them! And may our sense of that need in which we stand of forgiveness from thee, dispose us cordially to forgive each other, especially as thou hast wisely and graciously made this the necessary means of receiving our own pardon ! Our corrupted hearts are too little disposed for these sentiments ; but may God's almighty power produce and cherish them in us and while the comfort is ours, may all the glory be his, through Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen.
Our Lord cautions his disciples against the love of the world, and anx
iety about the morrow. Matt. vi. 19, &c.
19 O not lay up for yourselves, treasures on earth, where the
moth and canker consume, and where thieves dig through 20 and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven ; where
neither moth nor canker can consume, and where thieves cannot 21 break in, ncr steal. For where your treasure is, there will your 22 heart also be. The eye is the lamp of the body ; therefore if 23 thine eye be clear, thy whole body will be full of light. But if thine
eye be distempered, thy whole body will be full of darkness : if therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how
great is that darkness ! 24 No man can serve two masters ; but will either hate the one,
and love the other; or will adhere to the one, and neglect the oth25 er.
You cannot serve God and Mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Be not anxious about your life, what you shall eat, and what you shall drink ; nor with respect to your body, what you shall put on.
Is not life more than food, and the body than raiment ? 26 Look on the birds of the air; for they neither sow nor reap, nor
gather into hoards ; and yet your heavenly Father feedeth them : 37 are not you much more valuable than they? Which of you can,
by [all his] anxiety add to his age one cubit ? 28
And as for raiment, why are ye anxious [about that ?] Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow ; they toil not, nor do 29 they spin : yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory 30 was not arrayed as one of these. And if God so clothe the grass
of the field, which is (flourishing] to day, and to-morrow is thrown
into the furnace, [will he] not much more (clothe] you, O ye of 31 little faith? Be not ye therefore anxious, saying, What shall we 32 eat ? or what shall we drink? or what shall we wear ?' (For the
heathen, seek after all these things ;) for your heavenly Father 33 knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom
of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be ad34'ded to you over and above. Therefore, be not anxious for the
morrow ; for the morrow shall provide for itself; sufficient to the present day [is] the evil of it.
REFLECTIONS. How kind are these precepts of our blessed Redeemer ! the substance of which is indeed but this, Do thyself no harm. Let us not be so ungrateful to him, and so injurious to ourselves, as to harrass and oppress our minds with that burden of anxiety which he has so graciously taken off. Every verse and clause we have been reading speaks at once to the understanding and the heart. We will not therefore indulge these unnecessary, these useless, these mischievous cares; we will not borrow the anxieties and distresses of the morrow to aggravate those of the present day : but rather will we cheerfully repose ourselves on that heavenly Father who knows that we need these things, and has given us life, which is more than meat; and the body, which is more than raiment; and thus instructed in the philosophy of our heavenly Master will learn a lesson of faith and cheerfulness from every bird of the air, and every flower of the field.
Let the Gentiles that know not God perplex their minds with unworthy suspicions, or bow them down to the ignoble servitude of Mammon, that base rival of our living Jehovah :' but we, far from desiring to share our hearts and our services between two such contrary masters, will cheerfully devote them to him, whose right to them is so infinitely beyond all room for any contest. Let us take heed and beware of covetousness, and make it our business not to hoard up earthly and corruptible treasures, but first seek the kingdom of God, and his righteousness : so shall other things be added for present subsistence; and so shall we lay up in store an incorruptible treasure in heaven, in which we shall be rich and hapr.y, when the riches of this world are consumed with their owners, and the whole fashion of it is passed away. While these divine maxims are spreading their light about us, let our eye be clear to behold them, and our heart open to receive them; and let us cautiously guard against those deceitful principles of action which would give a wrong bias to all our pursuits, and turn the light which is in us into a fatal and incurable darkness.
Our Lord cautions his disciples against rash judgment ; exhorts them
to impartiality, prudence, prayer, and resolution ; and warns them against seducers. Matt. vii. 1–20.
3 to your
O not judge, that you may not be judged. For according
to the judgment with which you judge others, you shall be judged"; and by that measure ye mete, it shall be measured back
But why dost thou look at a mote (or splinter] in thy brother's
while thou observest not the beam in thine own 4 eye? Or Low canst thou say to thy brother, Hold still and I will
take the mote out of thine eye ; while behold, there is] a beam in 5 thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first clear out the beam from
thine own eye ; and then wilt thou discern how to remove the mote out of thy brother's eye.
Give not holy [food] to dogs, nor cast your pearls before swine ; lest they trample them under their feet, and turning [upon you]
7 Ask and it shall be given you ; seek and you shall find; knock 8 and it shall be opened to you.
For every one that asketh receiv. eth ; and he that seeketh findeth ; and to him that knocketh (the 9 door] shall be opened. And indeed what one man is there among
yoli, who, if his son should ask him for bread, will give him