1Judge not, that ye be not judged.
1 CHAPTER VII.
NOTES ON CHAP. VII.
Verse 1. Judge not, that ye be not judged.] These
exhortations are pointed against rash, harsh, and uncharitable
judgments, the thinking evil, where no evil seems, and speaking of
it accordingly. The Jews were highly criminal here, and yet had
very excellent maxims against it, as may be seen in Schoettgen.
This is one of the most important exhortations in the whole of
this excellent sermon. By a secret and criminal disposition of
nature, man endeavours to elevate himself above others, and, to do
it more effectually, depresses them. His jealous and envious
heart wishes that there may be no good quality found but in
himself, that he alone may be esteemed. Such is the state of
every unconverted man; and it is from this criminal disposition,
that evil surmises, rash judgments, precipitate decisions, and all
other unjust procedures against our neighbour, flow.
2For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
2 Verse 2. For with what judgment] He who is severe on others
will naturally excite their severity against himself. The
censures and calumnies which we have suffered are probably the
just reward of those which we have dealt out to others.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
3 Verse 3. And why beholdest thou the mote] καρφος might be
translated the splinter: for splinter bears some analogy to beam,
but mote does not. I should prefer this word (which has been
adopted by some learned men) on the authority of Hesychius, who is
a host in such matters; καρφοςκεραιαξυλουλεπτη, Karphos is a
thin piece of wood, a splinter. It often happens that the faults
which we consider as of the first enormity in others are, to our
own iniquities, as a chip is, when compared to a large beam. On
one side, self-love blinds us to ourselves; and, on the other,
envy and malice give us piercing eyes in respect of others. When
we shall have as much zeal to correct ourselves, as we have
inclination to reprove and correct others, we shall know our own
defects better than now we know those of our neighbour. There is
a caution very similar to this of our Lord given by a heathen:-
Cum tua praevideas oculis mala lippus inunctis:
Cur in amicorum vitiis tam cernis acutum,
Quam aut aquila, aut serpens Epidaurius?
Hor. Sat. lib. 1. sat. 3. l. 25-27.
"When you can so readily overlook your own wickedness, why are
you more clear-sighted than the eagle or serpent of Epidaurus, in
spying out the failings of your friends?" But the saying was very
common among the Jews, as may be seen in Lightfoot.
4Or 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?
4 Verse 4. Or how wilt thou say] That man is utterly unfit to
show the way of life to others who is himself walking in the way
5Thou 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.
5 Verse 5. Thou hypocrite] A hypocrite, who professes to be what
he is not, (viz. a true Christian,) is obliged, for the support of
the character he has assumed, to imitate all the dispositions and
actions of a Christian; consequently he must reprove sin, and
endeavour to show an uncommon affection for the glory of God. Our
Lord unmasks this vile pretender to saintship, and shows him that
his hidden hypocrisy, covered with the garb of external sanctity,
is more abominable in the sight of God than the openly professed
and practised iniquity of the profligate.
In after times, the Jews made a very bad use of this saying: "I
wonder," said Rabbi Zarphon, "whether there be any in this age
that will suffer reproof? If one say to another, Cast out the
mote out of thine eye, he is immediately ready to answer, Cast out
the beam that is in thine own eye." This proverbial mode of
speech the Gloss interprets thus: "Cast out? kisim, the mote,
that is, the little sin, that is in thy hand: to which he
answered, Cast out the great sin that is in thine. So they could
not reprove, because all were sinners." See Lightfoot.
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.
6 Verse 6. Give not that which is holy] τοαγιον, the holy or
sacred thing; i.e. any thing, especially, of the sacrificial
kind, which had been consecrated to God. The members of this
sentence should be transposed thus:-
The propriety of this transposition is self-evident. There are
many such transpositions as these, both in sacred and profane
writers. The following is very remarkable:-
See many proofs of this sort of writing in Mr. WAKEFIELD'S
As a general meaning of this passage, we may just say: "The
sacrament of the Lord's supper, and other holy ordinances which
are only instituted for the genuine followers of Christ, are not
to be dispensed to those who are continually returning like the
snarling ill-natured dog to their easily predominant sins of rash
judgment, barking at and tearing the characters of others by evil
speaking, back biting and slandering; nor to him who, like the
swine, is frequently returning to wallow in the mud of sensual
gratifications and impurities."
7 ¶ Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
7 Verse 7. Ask-seek-knock] These three words include the ideas of
want, loss, and earnestness. Ask: turn, beggar at, the door of
mercy; thou art destitute of all spiritual good, and it is God
alone who can give it to thee; and thou hast no claim but what his
mercy has given thee on itself.
Seek: Thou hast lost thy God, thy paradise, thy soul.-Look about
thee-leave no stone unturned there is no peace, no final salvation
for thee till thou get thy soul restored to the favour and image
Knock: Be in earnest-be importunate: Eternity is at hand! and,
if thou die in thy sins, where God is thou shalt never come.
Ask with confidence and humility.
Seek with care and application.
Knock with earnestness and perseverance.
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
8 Verse 8. For every one that asketh receiveth] Prayer is always
heard after one manner or other. No soul can pray in vain that
prays as directed above. The truth and faithfulness of the Lord
Jesus are pledged for its success.-Ye SHALL receive-ye SHALL
find-it SHALL be opened. These words are as strongly binding on
the side of God, as thou shalt do no murder is on the side of man.
Bring Christ's word, and Christ's sacrifice with thee, and not one
of Heaven's blessings can be denied thee. See Clarke on Lu 11:9.
9Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
9 Verse 9. Or what man is there-whom if his son] Men are
exhorted to come unto God, with the persuasion that he is a most
gracious and compassionate Parent, who possesses all heavenly and
earthly good, knows what is necessary for each of his creatures,
and is infinitely ready to communicate that which they need most.
Will he give him a stone?] Will he not readily give him bread
if he have it? This was a proverb in other countries; a benefit
grudgingly given by an avaricious man is called by Seneca, panem
lapidosum, stony bread. Hence that saying in Plautus: Altera
manu, fert lapidem, panem ostentat altera.-In one hand he brings a
stone, and stretches out bread in the other.
10Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
11If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
11 Verse 11. If ye, then, being evil] πονηροιοντες, who are
radically and diabolically depraved, yet feel yourselves led, by
natural affection, to give those things to your children which are
necessary to support their lives, how much more will your Father
who is in heaven, whose nature is infinite goodness, mercy, and
grace, give good things-his grace and Spirit (πνευμααγτον, the
Holy Ghost, Lu 11:13,) to them who ask him? What a picture is
here given of the goodness of God! Reader, ask thy soul, could
this heavenly Father reprobate to unconditional eternal damnation
any creature he has made? He who can believe that he has, may
believe any thing: but still GOD IS LOVE.
12Therefore 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.
12 Verse 12. Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men].
This is a most sublime precept, and highly worthy of the grandeur
and beneficence of the just God who gave it. The general meaning
of it is this: "Guided by justice and mercy, do unto all men as
you would have them to do to you, were your circumstances and
theirs reversed." Yet this saying may be misunderstood. "If the
prisoner should ask the judge, 'whether he would be content to be
hanged, were he in his case,' he would answer, 'No.' Then, says
the prisoner, do as you would be done to.-Neither of them must do
as private men; but the judge must do by him as they have publicly
agreed: that is, both judge and prisoner have consented to a law,
that if either of them steal he shall be hanged."-Selden. None
but he whose heart is filled with love to God and all mankind can
keep this precept, either in its spirit or letter. Self-love will
feel itself sadly cramped when brought within the limits of this
precept; but God hath spoken it: it is the spirit and design of
the law and the prophets; the sum of all that is laid down in the
Sacred Writings, relative to men's conduct toward each other. It
seems as if God had written it upon the hearts of all men, for
sayings of this kind may be found among all nations, Jewish,
Christian, and Heathen. See many examples in Wetstein's notes.
13 ¶ Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
13 Verse 13. Enter ye in at the strait gate] Our Saviour seems to
allude here to the distinction between the public and private ways
mentioned by the Jewish lawyers. The public roads were allowed to
be sixteen cubits broad, the private ways only four. The words in
the original are very emphatic: Enter in (to the kingdom of
heaven) through THIS strait gate, διατηςστενηςπυλης, i.e. of
doing to every one as you would he should do unto you; for this
alone seems to be the strait gate which our Lord alludes to.
For wide is the gate] And very broad, ευρυχωρος, from
ευρυς, broad, and χωρος, a place, a spacious roomy place,
that leadeth forward, απαγουσα, into THAT destruction, ειςτην
απωλειαν, meaning eternal misery; intimating, that it is much more
congenial, to the revengeful, covetous heart of fallen man, to
take every advantage of another, and to enrich himself at his
expense, rather than to walk according to the rule laid down
before, by our blessed Lord, and that acting contrary to it is the
way to everlasting misery. With those who say it means
repentance, and forsaking sin, I can have no controversy. That is
certainly a gate, and a strait one too, through which every sinner
must turn to God, in order to find salvation. But the doing to
every one as we would they should do unto us, is a gate extremely
strait, and very difficult, to every unregenerate mind.
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
14 Verse 14. Because strait is the gate] Instead of οτι
because, I should prefer τι how, which reading is supported by a
great majority of the best MSS., versions, and fathers. How
strait is that gate! This mode of expression more forcibly points
out the difficulty of the way to the kingdom. How strange is it
that men should be unwilling to give up their worldly interests to
secure their everlasting salvation! And yet no interest need be
abandoned, but that which is produced by injustice and unkindness.
Reason, as well as God, says, such people should be excluded from
a place of blessedness. He who shows no mercy (and much more he
who shows no justice) shall have judgment without mercy.
Few there be that find it.] The strait gate, στενηπυλη,
signifies literally what we call a wicket, i.e. a little door in
a large gate. Gate, among the Jews, signifies, metaphorically,
the entrance, introduction, or means of acquiring any thing. So
they talk of the gate of repentance, the gate of prayers, and the
gate of tears. When God, say they, shut the gate of paradise
against Adam, He opened to him the gate of repentance. The way to
the kingdom of God is made sufficiently manifest-the completest
assistance is promised in the way, and the greatest encouragement
to persevere to the end is held out in the everlasting Gospel.
But men are so wedded to their own passions, and so determined to
follow the imaginations of their own hearts, that still it may be
said: There are few who find the way to heaven; fewer yet who
abide any time in it; fewer still who walk in it; and fewest of
all who persevere unto the end. Nothing renders this way either
narrow or difficult to any person, but sin. Let all the world
leave their sins, and all the world may walk abreast in this good
15 ¶ Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
15 Verse 15. Beware of false prophets] By false prophets we are
to understand teachers of erroneous doctrines, who come professing
a commission from God, but whose aim is not to bring the heavenly
treasure to the people, but rather to rob them of their earthly
good. Teachers who preach for hire, having no motive to enter
into the ministry but to get a living, as it is ominously called
by some, however they may bear the garb and appearance of the
innocent useful sheep, the true pastors commissioned by the Lord
Jesus, or to whatever name, class or party they may belong, are,
in the sight of the heart-searching God, no other than ravenous
wolves, whose design is to feed themselves with the fat, and
clothe themselves with the fleece, and thus ruin, instead of save,
16Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
16 Verse 16. Ye shall know them by their fruits.] Fruits, in the
Scripture and Jewish phraseology, are taken for works of any kind.
"A man's works," says one, "are the tongue of his heart, and tell
honestly whether he is inwardly corrupt or pure." By these works
you may distinguish (επιγνωσεσθε) these ravenous wolves from true
pastors. The judgment formed of a man by his general conduct is a
safe one: if the judgment be not favourable to the person, that is
his fault, as you have your opinion of him from his works, i.e.
the confession of his own heart.
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
17 Verse 17. So every good tree] As the thorn can only produce
thorns, not grapes; and the thistle, not figs, but
prickles; so an unregenerate heart will produce fruits of
degeneracy. As we perfectly know that a good tree will not
produce bad fruit, and the bad tree will not, cannot produce good
fruit, so we know that the profession of godliness, while the life
is ungodly, is imposture, hypocrisy, and deceit. A man cannot be
a saint and a sinner at the same time. Let us remember, that as
the good tree means a good heart, and the good fruit, a holy life,
and that every heart is naturally vicious; so there is none but
God who can pluck up the vicious tree, create a good heart, plant,
cultivate, water, and make it continually fruitful in
righteousness and true holiness.
18A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
18 Verse 18. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit] Love to
God and man is the root of the good tree; and from this principle
all its fruit is found. To teach, as some have done, that a state
of salvation may be consistent with the greatest crimes, (such as
murder and adultery in David,) or that the righteous necessarily
sin in all their best works, is really to make the good tree bring
forth bad fruit, and to give the lie to the Author of eternal
19Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
19 Verse 19. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit] What
a terrible sentence is this against Christless pastors, and
Christless hearers! Every tree that produceth not good fruit,
εκκοπτεται, is to be now cut down; the act of excision is now
taking place: the curse of the Lord is even now on the head and
the heart of every false teacher, and impenitent hearer.
20Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
20 Verse 20. Wherefore by their fruits, &c.] This truth is often
repeated, because our eternal interests depend so much upon it.
Not to have good fruit is to have evil: there can be no innocent
sterility in the invisible tree of the heart. He that brings
forth no fruit, and he that brings forth bad fruit, are both only
fit for the fire.
21 ¶ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
21 Verse 21. Not every one] ουπας, a Hebraism, say some, for
no person. It is a Graecism and a Latinism too: ουπαντων
θεων, not ALL of the gods, i.e. not ANY of the gods,
HOM. Odyss. Z. 240. So TERENCE Sine omni periclo, without ALL
danger, i.e. without ANY danger. And JUVENAL: Sine omni labe,
without ALL imperfection, i.e. without ANY. See more in Mr.
Wakefield. The sense of this verse seems to be this: No person,
by merely acknowledging my authority, believing in the Divinity of
my nature, professing faith in the perfection of my righteousness,
and infinite merit of my atonement, shall enter into the kingdom
of heaven-shall have any part with God in glory; but he who doeth
the will of my Father-he who gets the bad tree rooted up, the good
tree planted, and continues to bring forth fruit to the glory and
praise of God. There is a good saying among the rabbins on this
subject. "A man should be as vigorous as a panther, as swift as
an eagle, as fleet as a stag, and as strong as a lion,
to do the will of his Creator."
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
22 Verse 22. Many will say to me in that day] εκεινητηημερα, in
that very day, viz. the day of judgment-have we not prophesied,
taught, publicly preached, in thy name; acknowledging thee to be
the only Saviour, and proclaiming thee as such to others; cast out
demons, impure spirits, who had taken possession of the bodies of
men; done many miracles, being assisted by supernatural agency to
invert even the course of nature, and thus prove the truth of the
doctrine we preached?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
23 Verse 23. Will I profess] ομολογησω, I will fully and plainly
tell them, I never knew you-I never approved of you; for so the
word is used in many places, both in the Old and New Testaments.
You held the truth in unrighteousness, while you preached my pure
and holy doctrine; and for the sake of my own truth, and through
my love to the souls of men, I blessed your preaching; but
yourselves I could never esteem, because you were destitute of the
spirit of my Gospel, unholy in your hearts, and unrighteous in
your conduct. Alas! alas! how many preachers are there who appear
prophets in their pulpits; how many writers, and other evangelical
workmen, the miracles of whose labour, learning, and doctrine, we
admire, who are nothing, and worse than nothing, before God,
because they perform not his will, but their own? What an awful
consideration, that a man of eminent gifts, whose talents are a
source of public utility, should be only as a way-mark or
finger-post in the way to eternal bliss, pointing out the road to
others, without walking in it himself!
Depart from me] What a terrible word! What a dreadful
separation! Depart from ME! from the very Jesus whom you have
proclaimed in union with whom alone eternal life is to be found.
For, united to Christ, all is heaven; separated from him, all is
24 ¶ Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
24 Verse 24. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine]
That is, the excellent doctrines laid down before in this and the
two preceding chapters. There are several parables or similitudes
like to this in the rabbins. I shall quote but the two
Rabbi Eleasar said, "The man whose knowledge exceeds his works,
to whom is he like? He is like a tree which had many branches,
and only a few roots; and, when the stormy winds came, it was
plucked up and eradicated. But he whose good works are greater
than his knowledge, to what is he like? He is like a tree which
had few branches, and many roots; so that all the winds of heaven
could not move it from its place." Pirke Aboth.
Elisha, the son of Abuja, said, "The man who studies much in
the law, and maintains good works, is like to a man who built a
house, laying stones at the foundation, and building brick upon
them; and, though many waters come against it, they cannot move it
from its place. But the man who studies much in the law, and does
not maintain good words, is like to a man who, in building his
house, put brick at the foundation, and laid stones upon them, so
that even gentle waters shall overthrow that house." Aboth Rab.
Probably our Lord had this or some parable in his eye: but how
amazingly improved in passing through his hands! In our Lord's
parable there is dignity, majesty, and point, which we seek for in
vain in the Jewish archetype.
I will liken him unto a wise man] To a prudent man-ανδρι
φρονιμω, to a prudent man, a man of sense and understanding, who,
foreseeing the evil hideth himself, who proposes to himself the
best end, and makes use of the proper means to accomplish it.
True wisdom consists in getting the building of our salvation
completed: to this end we must build on the Rock, CHRIST JESUS,
and make the building firm, by keeping close to the maxims of his
Gospel, and having our tempers and lives conformed to its word and
spirit; and when, in order to this, we lean on nothing but the
grace of Christ, we then build upon a solid rock.
25And 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 a rock.
25 Verse 25. And the rain descended-floods came-winds blew] In
Judea, and in all countries in the neighbourhood of the tropics,
the rain sometimes falls in great torrents, producing rivers,
which sweep away the soil from the rocky hills; and the houses,
which are built of brick only dried in the sun, of which there are
whole villages in the east, literally melt away before those
rains, and the land-floods occasioned by them. There are three
general kinds of trials to which the followers of God are exposed;
and to which, some think, our Lord alludes here: First, those of
temporal afflictions, coming in the course of Divine Providence:
these may be likened to the torrents of rain. Secondly, those
which come from the passions of men, and which may be likened to
the impetuous rivers. Thirdly, those which come from Satan and
his angels, and which, like tempestuous whirlwinds, threaten to
carry every thing before them. He alone, whose soul is built on
the Rock of ages, stands all these shocks; and not only stands in,
but profits by them.
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:
26 Verse 26. And every one that heareth-and doeth them not] Was
there ever a stricter system of morality delivered by God to man,
than in this sermon? He who reads or hears it, and does not look
to God to conform his soul and life to it, and notwithstanding is
hoping to enter into the kingdom of heaven, is like the fool who
built his house on the sand. When the rain, the rivers, and
the winds come, his building must fall, and his soul be crushed
into the nethermost pit by its ruins. Talking about Christ, his
righteousness, merits, and atonement, while the person is not
conformed to his word and spirit, is no other than solemn
Let it be observed, that it is not the man who hears or believes
these sayings of Christ, whose building shall stand, when the
earth and its works are burnt up; but the man who DOES them.
Many suppose that the law of Moses is abolished, merely because
it is too strict, and impossible to be observed; and that the
Gospel was brought in to liberate us from its obligations; but let
all such know, that in the whole of the old covenant nothing can
be found so exceedingly strict and holy as this sermon, which
Christ lays down as the rule by which we are to walk. "Then, the
fulfilling of these precepts is the purchase of glory." No, it is
the WAY only to that glory which has already been purchased by the
blood of the Lamb. To him that believes, all things are possible.
27And 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.
27 Verse 27. And the rain descended, and the floods came, &c.] A
fine illustration of this may be seen in the case of the fishermen
in Bengal, who, in the dry season, build their huts on the beds of
sand from which the rivers had retired: but when the rain sets in
suddenly; as it often does, accompanied with violent northwest
winds, and the waters pour down in torrents from the mountains; in
one night, multitudes of these buildings are swept away, and the
place where they stood is on the next morning indiscoverable.
28And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:
28 Verse 28. The people were astonished] οιοχλοι, the
multitudes; for vast crowds attended the ministry of this most
popular and faithful of all preachers. They were astonished at
his doctrine. They heard the law defined in such a manner as they
had never thought of before; and this sacred system of morality
urged home on their consciences with such clearness and authority
as they had never felt under the teaching of their scribes and
Pharisees. Here is the grand difference between the teaching of
scribes and Pharisees, the self-created or men-made
ministers, and those whom GOD sends. The first may preach what is
called very good and very sound doctrine; but it comes with no
authority from God to the souls of the people: therefore, the
unholy is unholy still; because preaching can only be effectual to
the conversion of men, when the unction of the Holy Spirit is in
it; and as these are not sent by the Lord, therefore they shall
not profit the people at all. Jer 23:32.
From one of the royal household of George III., I have received
the following anecdote:-The late Bishop F. of Salisbury having
procured a young man of promising abilities to preach before the
king, and the young man having, to his lordship's apprehension,
acquitted himself well, the Bishop, in conversation with the king
afterwards, wishing to get the king's opinion, took the liberty to
say, "Does not your majesty think that the young man who had the
honour to preach before your majesty, is likely to make a good
clergyman, and has this morning delivered a very good sermon?" To
which the king, in his blunt manner, hastily replied, "It might
have been a good sermon, my lord, for aught I know; but I consider
no sermon good that has nothing of Christ in it!"
29For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
29 Verse 29. Having authority] They felt a commanding power and
authority in his word, i.e. his doctrine. His statements were
perspicuous; his exhortations persuasive; his doctrine sound and
rational; and his arguments irresistible. These they never felt
in the trifling teachings of their most celebrated doctors, who
consumed their own time, and that of their disciples and hearers,
with frivolous cases of conscience, ridiculous distinctions, and
puerile splittings of controversial hairs-questions not calculated
to minister grace to the hearers.
Several excellent MSS. and almost all the ancient versions read,
καιοιφαρισαιοι, and the Pharisees. He taught them as one having
authority, like the most eminent and distinguished teacher, and
not as the scribes and Pharisees, who had no part of that unction
which he in its plenitude possessed. Thus ends a sermon the most
strict, pure, holy, profound, and sublime, ever delivered to man;
and yet so amazingly simple is the whole that almost a child may
apprehend it! Lord! write all these thy sayings upon our hearts,
we beseech thee! Amen.