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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator
Matthew 6

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

Matthew 6:1

Alms before men.

Almsgiving

I. The duty to which our lord refers. The word in the first verse rendered “alms” is in some ancient copies rendered righteousness; in the second verse it means charitable gifts. Our duty to give of our goods. The gift of alms a deed of justice as well as of mercy; the poor have a just claim on the abundance of the rich.

II. The evils to be avoided in its discharge,

1. We are to avoid the desire of human applause.

2. We are to avoid giving an ostentatious notoriety to deeds of beneficence. It is the empty vessel that cannot be touched without telling it.

III. The manner in which deeds of righteousness and charity are to be performed.

1. Modesty.

2. With a cheerful respect to the Divine precepts.

3. We must aim at the advancement of the honour of God.

4. Act from Christian compassion and fellowship.

5. We must depend on Divine assistance, and ascribe the praise of all to Him who enables us to live to His glory.

IV. The argument stated by our Lord.

1. The futility of ostentatious displays of piety.

2. The promise annexed to their right performance.

3. How jealous should we be of the principle from which we act.

4. Never presume on eternal life from the works of the law. (J. E. Good.)

Purity of motive in religion

When Mrs. Judson read the Lord’s “ Sermon on the Mount “ to the first Burman convert, he was deeply affected. “These words,” said he, “take hold on my very heart; they make me tremble. Here God commands us to do everything that is good in secret; not to be seen of men. How unlike our religion is this! When Burmans make offerings they make a great noise with drums and cymbals, that others may see how good they are. (Anecdotes of the Aborigines.)

Secret philanthropy

Loud, ostentatious, and unprofitable, it was like the brawling, noisy, foaming, frothy torrent, which, with a rock for its bed and barrenness on its banks, makes itself seen and heard. How different genuine, gracious piety! Affluent in blessings but retiring from observation, it has its symbol in the stream that pursues a silent course, and, flashing out in the light of day but here and there, but now and then, is not known but by the good it does-the flowers that bloom on its banks, and the evergreen verdure which it gives to the pastures through which it winds on its quiet path. (Dr. Guthrie.)

Silent philanthropy

Alms should be like oil, which, though it swim aloft when it is fallen, yet makes no noise in the falling; not like water, that sounds when it lights. (Hall.)


Verses 1-34

Verse 2

Matthew 6:2

Their reward.

Having one’s reward

I. A profound truth about human nature-man works for reward.

II. There is a suggested contrast-“their reward.” In God all the noblest aspirations of men are met.

III. A sentence which the Divine Speaker passes upon some of the men of the time. “They have their reward.” They have it altogether. Irony, pathos. Their reward was transient, worthless. It does not necessarily follow that all good works done publicly forfeit God’s approval hereafter. (Canon Liddon.)

Their reward

Ostentatious piety has its own remuneration. There is real happiness in other things besides goodness. There is pleasure in wrong-doing; quarrelsome, destructive, lazy, gluttonous men find a certain kind of enjoyment in these. There is pleasure in the love of praise and pride. But that is all their reward. The gospel points out the great life that lies beyond; it charges man to use himself in this life that he may gain the higher. (Beecher.)


Verse 5

Matthew 6:5

And when thou prayest.

Nine things pertain to the knowledge of true prayer

I. To know what prayer is.

II. How many sorts of prayer there be.

III. The necessity of prayer. Four things provoke us to pray.

1. God’s commandment.

2. Sin in us.

3. Our weak nature.

4. Subtilty of the enemy.

IV. To whom we ought to pay.

V. By whom we should pray.

VI. Where to pray.

VII. What to pray.

VIII. The excellency of prayer.

IX. What we must do that our prayers may be heard. (John Bradford.)

Secret prayer

I. Let us notice the improper, manner in which the pharisees presented their supplication to Genesis

1. They were presented in an improper place.

2. It was sinful in its object.

3. It was worthless as to its issue.

II. The opposite method we are commanded to adopt.

1. The hallowed work in which we are to engage.

2. The place to which we are to retire.

3. The approbation which shall be given.

III. A few considerations to engage you to the discharge of this important duty.

1. The Divine command.

2. The example with which we are furnished in the sacred writings.

3. The necessity of secret prayer.

4. The advantages of private devotion.

5. The vital connection with our public usefulness. (J. E. Good.)

Private prayer

1. It is a test of a man, what he is when alone with God.

2. Observe the personal words, so endearing.

3. It implies that you go to the closet for the purpose of prayer, you are to separate yourself from all outer things.

4. Take with you Fatherly views of God.

5. A Father likes to hear everything; He never refuses a secret. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)


Verse 6

Matthew 6:6

Enter into thy closet.

Private prayer.

I. The nature of prayer.

II. The kind of prayer prescribed-“Enter into thy closet.”

III. The object of prayer” Thy Father.”

IV. The reward promised-“Reward thee openly.” (J. Pollock.)

Closet prayer

I. The duty.

II. The place.

III. The Spirit.

IV. The object.

V. The profit of prayer. (T. Whitelaw, M. A.)

The duty of secret prayer

To press this I offer the following motives:-

1. It is expressly commanded of God.

2. Are not the vows of God upon you for the performance of it?

3. Were ye not baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to worship them, and that in all parts of worship, of which prayer is a principal one?

4. Have not some of you been admitted to the Lord’s table, when ye professed to renew your baptismal engagements?

5. Have ye not secret sins, secret wants, and secret temptations? And shall ye not have secret prayers adapted to each? (Thomas Boston.)

Secret prayer

I. The duty of secret prayer. All the force of a command. It is more by example than by precept that this duty is enforced in Scripture. Is essential, because we have wants which can be presented before God in no other way. No times are specified for the performance of this duty.

II. The proper Mode and season’s of secret prayer. If possible, a place to which we may retire and be alone with God. Set times. The appropriate seasons-early morning, evening, times of perplexity, etc.

III. The rewards and advantages of secret prayer. Furnishes the best test of piety. What is the “open reward”? Are you obeying the command? (Dr. A. Barnes.)

Secret prayer

I. Directions.

1. The place. As solitary as possible.

2. The Being. He is in secret-invisible-omniscient. Realization of the Divine presence.

3. The spirit-filial.

II. Encouragements.

1. From the relation which He sustains.

2. From the prerogative which He exerts. He sees the suppliant.

3. From the reward which He bestows, present and future. (Various.)

I. The duty and necessity.

II. The employments and enjoyments.

III. The many advantages.

IV. The lamentable consequences of neglecting secret devotion. (Studies.)

Secret prayer

I. It is a duty.

1. Because it is commanded.

2. Because indispensable to the religious life of the soul.

II. It is a privilege.

1. Because it is communion with God.

2. Because it is priceless and seasonable. It is not like the Roman Porta Santa, which is opened but once in twenty-five years, with grand ceremonies, conducted by the highest dignitaries of the Church.

III. Its practice is commended to us.

1. By example of Christ.

2. By the observance of eminent saints.

IV. Its object.

1. TO be alone with God.

2. To cultivate heart-religion.

3. To obtain needed supplies of grace.

V. Its benefits.

1. Its privacy promotes meditation and heart-scrutiny.

2. It favours the confession of such sins as are individual.

VI. Applications.

1. A command all followers of Christ will obey.

2. Some local “inner chamber not necessary.” Every man can build a chapel in his breast. (American Homiletic Monthly.)

The secret life of the Christian the most important

The root that produces the beautiful and flourishing tree, with all its spreading branches, verdant leaves, and refreshing fruit, that which gains for it sap, life, vigour, and fruitfulness, is all unseen; and the farther and deeper the roots spread beneath, the more the tree expands above. Christians! if you wish to prosper, if you long to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit, strike your roots wide in private prayer. (Salter.)

The silent influences of secret prayer the most productive

As the tender dew that falls in the silent night makes the grass and herbs and flowers to flourish and grow more abundantly than great showers of rain that fall in the day, so secret prayer will more abundantly cause the sweet herbs of grace and holiness to grow and flourish in the soul, than all those more open, public and visible duties of religion, which too, too often are mingled and mixed with the sun and wind of pride and hypocrisy. (Brooks,)

Closet prayer secret in mode as well as in place

Not like the hen who goes into a secret place to lay her egg, but by her cackling tells all the house where she is, and what she is doing. (Gurnall.)


Verse 7-8

Matthew 6:7-8

But when ye pray.

Prayer forbidden

I. Let us endeavour to explain the nature of the evils here forbidden.

1. Vain repetitions.

2. Much speaking.

3. Undue length.

II. The reason on which the admonition is founded.

1. The condition supposed-a needy one-hence they pray.

2. The privilege afforded-we may ask for supplies.

3. The omniscience declared.

4. The argument which this perfection of the Almighty supplies. Hence prayer like the heathen unnecessary. (J. E. Good.)

Brief prayers best

Precious things lie in small compass … Not length but strength is desirable. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

A vial made of gold is more precious than a brazen urn, or an earthenware pitcher.. (T. Stevenson.)

On prayer

Let all examine themselves as to whether they have prayed aright, and whether their prayers have done them good.

I. Are your minds made more spiritual by your prayers to God, the Father of Spirits?

1. Are you raised above the petty concerns of this world?

2. Do you feel your souls enlarged in universal love and charity?

3. Can you trust God more confidently?

4. Do your prayers make you more just and merciful?

II. Closely examine yourselves, every one of you, as to whether your prayers give you a taste of such pleasure in God, and in holiness and goodness, as to make you desire to be better acquainted with them.

1. Is your care for this world daily suppressed and deadened?

2. Are your thoughts at rest in God, and in His love?

3. Are your hearts set upon rectifying all disorders in your souls?

4. Is it the highest boon we can ask of God, that we may be thoroughly and universally good? Then it is certain our prayers have been truly devout, and highly acceptable to God; which if we do not yet feel, let it not discourage but quicken our spirits to more frequent and fervent prayer. (Symon Patrick, D. D.)


Verse 9

Matthew 6:9

Our Father which art in heaven.

The Divine Father

I. In what sense God is a father.

1. With relation to Christ, as the Son of God: so the first Person is called the Father, as He is the fountain of the Deity.

2. With respect to us: for the first Person is not only the Father of Christ, but our Father. We share with Christ in all His relations: as God was His God by covenant, so He is our God.

II. By creation God is a Father. To establish the relation of a Father, there must be a communication of life and likeness. A painter that makes an image or picture like himself, he is not the father of it; for though there be likeness, yet no life.

III. What advantage have we in prayer from this common interest, or general respect of God’s being a Father by virtue of creation?

1. This common relation binds us to pray to Him. All things which God hath made, by a secret instinct they are carried to God for their supply.

2. It draweth common benefits after it. Christ saith where God hath given a life, He will give food.

3. It giveth us confidence in the power of God. The Creator who made you out of-nothing can keep and preserve life when you have nothing.

IV. How will God Perform the parts of a father?

1. In allowing us full leave to come to Him in all our necessities.

2. In supplying all our wants (Isaiah 49:16).

3. In pitying our miseries. Many times we forget the duty of children, but God will not forget the mercy of a Father.

4. In disciplining us, and treating us with much indulgence, wisdom, and care. A father takes a great deal of pains in forming his child, fashioning its manners and behaviour: so God doth with His children.

5. In providing able guardians for His children. None so attended as God’s children are. They have a guard of angels to watch over them.

6. In laying up an inheritance for them. (Thomas Manton, D. D.)

Our Father

I. That we should in our prayers consider and acknowledge the universality of God’s power and goodness.

II. That we should not in our conceit proudly and vainly appropriate or engross the regard of God unto ourselves, but remember that our brethren have an equal share with us therein.

III. That in all our devotions we should be mindful of those common bands which knit us together as men and Christians.

IV. That we should bear such hearty goodwill and charitable affection toward others as not only to seek and desire our own private and particular good, but that of all men.

Lessons of the Paternoster

I. The Divine Fatherhood.

II. Christian sonship.

III. Human brotherhood. What great lessons in such little compass. (T. Spencer.)

Our Father which art in heaven

1. In prayer we address One who sustains the relationship of Father to us.

2. In prayer we direct our thoughts to One who is above us.

3. In prayer we confess that we form members of one family.

4. In prayer we depend upon and confide in God as children. (F. Edwards, B. A.)

God a Father

I. The character in which God is represented as approachable in prayer. The common Parent of all men, the bountiful supplier of their wants, His people’s covenant God and Father in Christ.

II. The privilege which this title imports, Relationship, access, protection, direction, expectations.

III. The duty connected with this privilege. To pray to Him, to glorify Him, reverence, trust, submit, love Him, and look for His coming. (Dr. Cope.)

The Invocation

I. The divine fatherhood.

II. The Fatherhood of God by creation.

III. The Fatherhood of God by redemption.

IV. The blessings involved in the Divine Fatherhood.

1. Love.

2. Sustenance.

3. Protection.

4. Education.

5. Discipline.

6. Consolation.

7. Intercourse.

8. Inheritance.

V. Universal brotherhood in the Divine Fatherhood. We pray for others; we share in the prayers of others. This brotherhood extends to the various conditions of social life. It embraces nations. What a bond to our otherwise dissevered humanity is this word “ our.”

VI. The majesty of the Father. These were added that there may not be anything earthly in our conception of the heavenly majesty of God. “In heaven”:-

VII. Practical lessons:

1. Filial confidence.

2. Reverence.

3. Gratitude.

4. Resemblance.

5. Assurance.

6. Hope.

7. Prayerfulness. (Newman Hall, LL. B.)

The Paternity of God

In our nature are quenchless affections. These call for something more than God the Creator, the Ruler.

1. We should recognize that God is our Father, in order that we may have right views of religion.

2. It is important to realize the truth of God’s paternity, because of its consolations.

3. This truth furnishes us with the profoundest motives to obedience. (E. H. Chaplin.)

The invocation

I. From the title father we know that God is a Person.

II. OUR Father belongs to God as the Father of all mankind.

III. God is our Father through Jesus Christ.

IV. In teaching us to pray “Our:Father,” Jesus would remind us of our brotherhood.

1. The fellowship that knits together God’s elect.

2. It is a word of love that takes in all men.

V. Which art in heaven, means Father in perfection.

1. Perfection of love.

2. Perfection of help.

3. Perfection of nearness and observation.

4. Perfection of homeliness. (Dr. Stanford.)

The doctrine of the invocation

1. God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in Him the Father of all who believe in the Saviour.

2. Jesus is the firstborn among many brethren, Head of the Church, the centre of union. In Him we say “Our Father.”

3. Jesus has opened to us heaven; and, risen with Christ, we seek the things which are above, we pray to our Father in heaven.

4. “We say Our Father, because the Holy Ghost is given unto us, as the Spirit of adoption. (Dr. Saphir.)

The spirit of the invocation

I. The filial spirit.

1. It rests upon the Fatherhood of God as the source of all blessings.

2. It is a childlike spirit, earnest, unsuspicious, submits to discipline in faith.

3. As a spirit of dignity and perfection.

4. A spirit of separation from the world.

II. The brotherly spirit.

III. The heavenly spirit. All spiritual blessings are treasured up for us in :heaven. Our storehouse can never fail. (Dr. Saphir.)

In heaven

1. Power.

2. Authority.

3. Omnipresence.

4. Wisdom unsearchable.

5. Mercy unspeakable. (Downame.)

Our Father

1. A revelation.

2. When faith says “Father,” love says “Our.”

3. Contrast between earth and heaven.

4. We can speak to our Father in heaven, and yet be audible. (Dr. C. J. Vaughan.)

The opening address

I. The views here furnished of the character of God.

1. The title “Father” belongs to God essentially: as part of His nature He must be the Parent of all being. We are indebted to Him not only for life, but for likeness; He made ’us partakers of a spiritual nature.

II. The affections and emotions these views of the Divine character are fitted to inspire.

1. Admiring gratitude.

2. Confidence and trust.

3. Submission.

4. Contentment.

5. Reverent awe.

6. Purity and elevation in our desires.

7. We should remember that our inheritance is “in heaven.” (D. Moore, M. A.)

The filial spirit of the Lord’s Prayer

1. Christ confirms the fact of God’s Paternity.

2. Christ was also the personal and visible representation of the Father.

3. Christ also reveals the Paternal character of God.

4. Christ also revealed the Paternal heart of God.

Father:-

1. It is the language of the believing heart.

2. It is the language of filial love.

3. It is the language of the spirit of adoption in prayer.

4. The filial spirit exhibited not less in times of trial than in seasons of communion. (Dr. O. Winslow.)

“Our Father”

The catholic spirit of the Lord’s Prayer. The Paternal relation involves the fraternal; no engagement so uniting as prayer. Considerations for fraternal union:-

1. The equality of love with which the Father regards all His family.

2. The same spirit of adoption dwells alike in all the children of God.

3. That our Father is bringing us all to one parental and eternal home.

4. This topic belongs essentially to practical Christianity.

5. How uniting this truth upon the family institution. (Dr. O. Winslow.)

“Which art in heaven.” The celestial spirit of the Lord’s Prayer

In ascribing locality to God we must not forget that He is everywhere. How appropriate heaven as the dwelling-place of God.

1. Heaven is a glorious place.

2. It is a holy place.

3. It is a happy place.

4. It is a prepared place.

Practical lessons:

1. We are instructed to look up, the whole soul should be in the ascent.

2. To seek heavenly blessings. (Dr. O. Winslow.)

The Fatherhood of God, and the brotherhood of man

Prayer a most exalted privilege-connected with the richest blessings; but is liable to abuse.

1. Christ admonishes His disciples to avoid the ostentatious formalities of the Pharisees.

2. To avoid the vain tautologies of the heathen.

This is to be our model prayer:-

1. Simplicity.

2. Brevity.

I. The fatherhood of God.

1. By an act of creation.

2. By an act of adoption.

3. God is in heaven.

II. The brotherhood of men.

1. The whole human race constitutes one family. They belong to different classes, climes, ages; all sprung from one Father.

2. All Christians constitute one family. (J. Morgan.)

The Paternal relationship of God to us

1. It confers noble privileges (1 John 3:1; Romans 13:7; Psalms 113:5; 1 Samuel 2:8).

2. Such a name and title we could never have dared to take upon us had not God permitted.

3. This is no barren title (Romans 1:21; Isaiah 49:14-15; Isaiah 63:16).

4. This first word of the Lord’s Prayer is designed to give us access with confidence to God (Ephesians 3:12; Psalms 81:10).

5. This sonship has its duties. (F. C. Blyth, M. A.)

Children worthy of the Divine Father

It is recorded of Alexander the Great that to one who bore his name he gave this admonition, “Remember thy name is Alexander;” implying that such a remembrance would keep him from doing anything that would stain and tarnish, and so render him unworthy to hold it.

The title of Father enables us to understand God

Luther was one day catechising some country people in a village in Saxony. When one of the men had repeated these words, “I believe in God the Father Almighty,” Luther asked him what was the meaning of “Almighty”? The countryman honestly replied, “I do not know.” “Nor do I know,” said the catechist, “nor do all the learned men in the world know; however, you may safely believe that God is your Father, and that He is both able and willing to save and protect yourself and all your neighbours.”

Fatherhood indicative of Personality

You never say Father, to a force; Father, to a law; Father, to a mist; Father, to a mile, nor to infinite millions of miles in a line; “Father “ is not the name for Thought apart from the Thinker, nor for Friendship apart from the Friend; nor for a Link, though the first link in a long chain of grand phenomena. If we mean more than a figurative father, we mean by that word a living Person. (Dr. Stanford.)

The Lord’s Prayer an intercession for others as well as for ourselves

It was a law among the Romans that no one should approach the Emperor’s tent at night, under penalty of death. One night, however, a soldier was found near the royal tent, holding in his hand a petition which he meant to present to his master and thereupon he was sentenced to death. But the Emperor, hearing voices, and asking what was amiss, and hearing that a soldier had intruded within the forbidden bounds to present a petition, and that they were about to deal with him according to the law, said-“If the petition be for himself, let him die; but if for another, spare his life.” It was found that it was for two of his fellow-soldiers that he had come to intercede, who had been taken asleep while they were posted on the watch. The Emperor, well pleased, commanded that he should escape death, and that they also should escape punishment.

The look of the soul ever toward its heavenly home

It is related of Cicero when he was banished from Italy, end of Demosthenes when he was banished from Athens, that they wept every time they looked towards their own country, so great was their love for their fatherland, and so keen their desire to return thither: so should our soul long after our home above.

Which art in heaven

I. The residence of God. Heaven is the seat of His government; the region of holiness and enjoyment; the abode of angels and saints.

II. His stupendous concerns. Arranging all the affairs of the universe; receiving the homage of the celestial inhabitants (Revelation 4:2); issuing His commands and executing His threatenings; attending to the supplication of His people; protecting His Church” (Zechariah 2:5).

III. The influence of the subject upon our mind. Humility, reverence, spiritual desires, confidence, expectation, joy. (Dr. Cope.)

Looking up to God

“in heaven,” showeth us:-

Which art in heaven

I. Our Saviour, to oppose narrowness of opinion, requires us to pray to our Father which art in heaven, showing by this, that our petitions have equal access to Him from all places.

II. This acknowledgment of our Father in heaven, shows His great kindness in suffering us to approach Him. Though distant in station, and unprofitable in our service.

III. By calling God our Father we express the greatness of those blessings we have received; and by professing this our Father to be in heaven, we own the great dignity of the person that hath conferred them upon us; and the sense of both these together will naturally prepare our hope, reverence, and attention, to send up the following prayer. (Thomas Mangey.)

Hallowed be Thy name.-

How and when may God’s name be sanctified?-

1. Be holy.

2. Study His name if ye would sanctify it.

3. Submit to His providence without murmuring.

4. Live to public ends. Allure others, and recommend God to them.

5. Be fully sensible when God’s name is dishonoured by yourselves and others; not enduring the least profanation of it. (Thomas Manton, D. D.)

Hallowed be Thy name

As to the substance of this particular, we may consider, that sanctity implying-

I. A Discrimination;

II. A distance;

III. An exaltment in nature or use of the thing which is denominated thereby. (Isaac Barrow, D. D.)

The Sanctification of Jehovah’s name

I. The objects of the petition. The name of God denotes His titles, perfections, etc. To hallow His name denotes-A reverential acknowledgment of God; profound veneration for His Being, attributes, ordinances, word, etc.; sanctification of Him in thought, word, and action; the diffusion of His name through the world; removal of the causes which prevent His name from being hallowed.

II. The sins deprecated. A thoughtless and irreverent use of His name; appeals to God in common conversation; perjury.

III. The grounds on which this petition rests. God is jealous of the glory of His name; He has commanded it to be reverenced; punishment is annexed to a violation of that command. (Dr. Cope.)

Hallowed be Thy name

1. This prayer is a confession of our ignorance.

2. It is a supplication for knowledge.

3. It is an acknowledgment of our sin.

4. It is an entreaty for holiness in ourselves.

5. It ought to be increasingly comprehensive. (F. Edwards, B. A.)

The first petition

I. The place of this petition.

II. The meaning of the petition.

III. What is involved in this petition.

1. Honour to Jesus, as revealing the name of the Father.

2. Appropriate thoughts of God.

3. Suitable emotions towards God.

4. Reverential use of the name.

5. Confession of the name.

6. Private and public worship of the name.

7. Observance of special institutions: sacraments.

8. Subjection to the name.

9. Making known the name.

IV. Reasons for offering this petition.

1. The welfare of the world.

2. For the good of ourselves.

3. For the glory of God. (Newman Hall, LL. B.)

The first petition

I. What do we mean by the name of the father.

1. His name is the expression of Himself through the language of nature.

2. It includes the further expression of Himself through the medium of inspired words.

3. His name is perfectly expressed in the language of the Incarnation.

II. How can we hallow it?

1. In the language of the Old Testament to hallow a thing is to set it apart ceremonially, as a thing sacred.

2. Hallowed be Thy name by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in us.

3. By our trust.

4. In the spirit of our prayers.

5. In our lives.

6. In our language.

7. In Thy Church by the ascription to Thee alone of honours due.

8. In the overthrow of idolatry. (Dr. Stanford.)

Hallowed be Thy name

I. In breathing this prayer we ask that God would hallow his own name, or cause it to be hallowed. It is not the tribute which we pay to mere power and magnitude. Nature appears in forms of greatness; we do not reverence her. Nor do we reverence mere kindness. A full knowledge of God is necessary in order to hallow His name. To avoid superstition. Terror is not reverence. Some view the Divine Being as too good-natured to punish; the guilt of sin is not felt. By this theory God’s name is acknowledged, but not hallowed.

II. We can also pray that we and all men may hallow the name of God. We should consecrate His name-

1. On our lips.

2. In our lives.

3. In our hearts. (E. H. Chaplin.)

The fundamental petition

I. What is meant by the name of God? God has revealed His name-

1. In creation.

2. In Israel.

3. In His Law.

4. In the sacrifices.

5. In the names of His servants. Elijah means, Jehovah is my strength.

6. In the face of Jesus.

II. Halllowed be Thy name. All the works of God glorify His name. The petition implies-

The reverential spirit of the Lord’s prayer

This petition takes precedence in the Lord’s prayer: all things must resolve themselves into a manifestation of the Divine glory.

1. God’s name is Holy (Leviticus 22:2).

2. He is jealous of it (Ezekiel 39:25).

3. God notices the hallowing of His name by His people (Matthew 2:5).

4. God has hallowed His own name

We cannot make it more holy, yet may hallow it

The first petition

This prayer directory for the matter and order of our desires.

I. What we should include in this prayer.

1. Just and worthy apprehensions of the Divine character and attributes.

2. That fresh accessions of glory may be constantly accruing to that name from the Person and work of Christ.

3. That in everything which pertains to God, due regard may be had to the sanctities of His holy nature.

4. To emphasize the utterance of the sacred name by some act of mental worship.

5. A reverent observance of His ordinances.

II. What we may learn from this petition.

1. That in all our prayers, regard must be had to certain fixed principles of moral government.

2. The law of subordination according to which we are to frame our desires.

3. He may not allow praise to be given to any other name. (D. Moore, M. A.)

The Holy name

I. The name.

II. The holy name. Who so worthy of honour:

III. How can we honour Jesus?

1. By giving Him the first place in our thoughts and affections.

2. By a reverential use of all the appellations by which He is distinguished from all other beings.

3. By solemn and grateful acts of worship.

4. By keeping holy the Sabbath day.

5. By living holily before our fellow men.

6. By praising, and recommending Him to all who dwell around us. (J. Morgan.)


Verse 10

Matthew 6:10

Thy kingdom come.

The coming of Christ’s kingdom

1. Greater than all the kingdoms of the world is the kingdom of God.

2. Amidst all the breaking up of human kingdoms men seek one that wilt abide.

3. This is a kingdom founded not by external might but by moral goodness.

4. The kingdom of God is God’s first primeval thought.

5. The kingdom of God has made out a history.

6. The way of its coming is an inner, a spiritual, a moral one.

7. His kingdom comes in time till it will one day come gloriously in eternity. (Dr. Luthardt.)

Importance of prayer for the conversion of the world

I. In the fact that Christ directs His disciples to make it.

II. In the good influence it exerts over those who offer it in sincerity and in earnest,

III. In the encouragement it affords those who have consecrated themselves to labour in person for that object.

IV. Prayer is the only means of bringing down God’s blessing upon us. (J. Doolittle.)

Thy kingdom, come

1. This prayer reminds us that there is another kingdom besides God’s kingdom established in the world.

2. It suggests difficulties in the way of the establishment of God’s kingdom.

3. It expresses our acquiescence in all things by which the desired result may be secured.

4. It leads us to anticipate that the ascendancy desired will be gained only slowly.

5. It impregnates the future with hopefulness.

6. It necessitates the cultivation of a missionary spirit. (F. Edwards, B. A.)

Christ’s kingdom

I. Describe this kingdom. This kingdom supposes-

1. A kingdom, and who is the King of this kingdom.

2. The kingdom of Christ is wholly Divine in its rise and progress.

3. This kingdom supposes a sceptre of dominion. It is a sceptre of invincible strength.

4. This kingdom is destined to be universal.

II. What is included in the prayer of the church for its advancement.

1. It is not yet fully come.

2. That this kingdom may come in the world, we ought to pray that this kingdom may come in the Church.

4. We ought to pray that this kingdom may come in our hearts.

III. But if we pray for it, this intimates that we must desire its coming.

1. And can it be otherwise than an object of desire to you, if you love Christ.

2. This prayer intimates that you should labour for its advancement.

3. You should hope for the universal coming of this kingdom. (J. Brown.)

I. The nature of the kingdom.

1. Spiritual in its nature.

2. Tranquil in its government.

3. Abundant in its immunities.

4. Perpetual in its duration.

II. The immediate consequences of its being come.

III. The means to effectuate it. (The Pulpit.)

The arrival of Christ’s reign

I. Revelation favours largeness of views. It unfolds a sphere composed of vast circles. It attempts to extend our contemplations over the whole earth. God’s kingdom is everywhere.

II. We should let our religious contemplations expand to the limits of the earth. What a mortifying diminutiveness in our widest views of the same.

III. There there some consolatory truths to relieve this awful view of the world. What revealed religion has done and is doing. The prophetic vision of its future achievements. The absolute certainty that Christianity is the grand expedient for renovating the state of man.

IV. Considerations to induce the active co-operation of all Christians. The good designed to be diffused is heavenly. Its progress is at present most marvellous, God looks with greatest complacency upon the missionary toil. (The Evangelist.)

Thy kingdom come

I. This kingdom shows the church of Christ. It is always used in the singular number, showing that there is but one Church, wheresoever dispersed through the world.

II. The kingdom of God is not yet fully come from the narrow extent of Christianity.

III. This kingdom is not yet come, from the want of due obedience in the members.

IV. The kingdom of God cannot be said to come-till the true members of it receive their reward;

V. This petition should dispose us to unity. We pray not here for this or that particular Church, but for that diffusive universal one that makes up Christ’s kingdom. (Thomas Mangey.)

The second petition

I. The kingdom.

II. The way this kingdom will come.

1. It will come by the mediation of Jesus Christ.

2. It will come through the instrumentality of the cross.

3. It comes by the power of the Spirit.

III. How we should pray for this.

1. Each one of us should pray that the kingdom may come in his own heart.

2. That it may come in the world. (Dr. Stanford.)

The second petition

I. The kingdom of God spiritual. Once this kingdom was undisputed: angels.

II. Essential difference between the kingdom of god and kingdoms of the world.

1. In their ruler.

2. The laws.

3. The subjects.

4. The objects.

5. The methods.

6. The extent.

III. The coming of this kingdom.

IV. The millennial reign.

V. Prayer for the coming of the kingdom.

1. Not unnecessary.

2. What the prayer includes.

3. A test of character.

4. Personal concurrence.

5. Missionary zeal. (Newman, Hall, LL. B.)

The kingdom of grace within us

1. If the kingdom has to come to us, we must be by nature outside it.

2. We cannot go to the kingdom; it must come to us.

3. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, bring with them righteousness, peace, and joy.

4. In this kingdom there is dignity and liberty.

5. The extent and comprehensiveness of this kingdom; the whole heart, body, mind.

6. Antagonistic: in opposition to sin within and around us. (Dr. Saphir.)

The Messianic kingdom

I. Who is the King?

1. Christ as Son of man.

2. As the Son of David.

3. By virtue of His sufferings and death.

4. Associated in His reign are glorified saints.

II. When will this kingdom be established.

III. The character of this kingdom.

1. In manifested power on earth.

2. It is spiritual. (Dr. Saphir.)

The second petition

I. The nature of the kingdom spoken of. The Jews always expected a ruling Messiah. Pray for-

1. The reign of grace in the heart.

2. The reign of truth in the world.

3. The reign of holiness and joy in the life of the world to come.

1. We pray against all divided loyalties. (D. Moore, M. A.)

The prophetical spirit of the Lord’s prayer

I. God is a great king.

1. The kingdom of nature is His.

2. The kingdom of providence is His.

3. God’s higher kingdom of grace.

II. The kingdom of Christ in the world.

1. It is spiritual.

2. It is prophetical. (Dr. O. Winslow.)

Thy kingdom come

I. Let us observe the fact that the consummate blessing is To come. There is a better era for men to come. I refer to this prospective attitude of Christianity because it exhibits two characteristics worthy of notice.

1. It is in accordance with the general working of God. Progress is His law. Christianity is not a fixed system.

2. The wise benevolence of such a position. By proclaiming a better era it gives individuals and the race the loftiest inspiration of hope.

II. Consider some indications of that coming.

1. AS its coming is gradual we cannot expect to discover great advancement within any narrow scope of time.

2. That the kingdom of God is coming is indicated by the fact that the most civilized communities of the world are in a far better condition now than before the advent of Jesus, especially in point of morality.

III. The essential nature of this kingdom.

1. Considered externally, it is an historical fact, and has an organized form.

2. This kingdom is also internal, it is spiritual.

3. As to the advancement of that kingdom do not let us cherish conceptions which are calculated to discourage our exertions. (E. H. Chaplin.)

Thy kingdom come

God’s kingdom is a kingdom of many provinces. They are divided by narrow isthmuses; but over the whole there is a unity of system and design, and the same law pervades. There is the kingdom of nature, providence, of grace in the heart of man, in the world, and in the eternal glory.

I. What is the kingdom of the heart for which we pray.

1. It does not consist with the glory and show of this present life-“My kingdom is not of this world.”

2. The kingdom of God is not meat and drink.

3. Neither does the kingdom of God come with observation.

But it is-

1. Spiritual.

2. It is free. No one knows liberty who does not know the kingdom.

3. It is comprehensive. It gathers up the whole range of things into a system.

4. It is exclusive. The heart grows so full of God that it can hold nothing else.

II. Have you considered what you really mean when you offer this prayer. God hears and answers, perhaps by loss, bereavement, isolation: thus the kingdom comes into the heart. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

The Divine kingdom

I. The kingdom itself. We should have known nothing of it but for revelation.

1. It is not a worldly kingdom.

2. It is constituted in the Person of the King Himself.

3. It is a peaceable kingdom.

4. The subsidiary and collateral blessings which flow from this kingdom.

5. It admits of unlimited extension.

6. It will be of long duration.

7. Its brightness is perpetually increasing.

II. Some grounds on which the pious may pray and expect the diffusion of this kingdom.

1. We may expect it from analogy.

2. We may expect it from the symbolical events of Jewish history. Moses was victorious over Egypt; Elijah over the priests of Baal; Dagon over the ark.

3. The figures and representations of the New Testament.

4. The moral properties require that the kingdom of God should become glorious. Providence produces great results by small means. So large an agency as are involved in the cross and Christianity requires the result to be vast.

5. When we think of the energy employed in the diffusion of the kingdom our hopes arise.

III. Point out some of the encouraging intimations which we have of the coming of this kingdom.

1. The facilities which there are for it.

2. The union of effort.

3. The success of effort. (Dr. Beaumont.)

Nature, a prophecy of the unlimited diffusion of the gospel

We are warranted in such an expectation, I may say, almost from analogy. Why does the moon spread her horns? Why, it is to fill them. Why does the sun rise above the horizon? It is that he may go on his march upward and onward, till he gains his meridian altitude, and pours his vertical glory on the world below. Why is the corn deposited in the soil? It is that it may unwrap, that it may unfold itself-that, of that single seed there may come a tree, the branches of which are for a lodgment of the birds, and a shadow for the beasts of the earth. Why does the rill steal silently from under the sod, wend its way among the grass and the pebbles, following its course onward and onward, enlarging its channel, rendering the fissure wider and wider for itself-till at last that little rill becomes a mighty river, bearing on its bosom the riches of a nation and feeding a nation’s agriculture. (Dr. Beaumont.)

The missionary prayer

I. The import of this petition.

1. What kingdom is this? It cannot refer to God’s natural kingdom; all such are His already. It refers to His spiritual.

2. What we are to understand by the coming of it?

II. The need that exists for still offering this prayer.

1. It is lamentably far from being fully come.

2. Look at the professing Church.

III. Some of the encouragements we have to continue presenting this petition,

1. Past success.

2. The character of our weapons of warfare. Truth has power over the conscience.

3. The predictions of the Bible. (J. Morgan.)

Men generally feel more interested in the earthly than the heavenly kingdom

It is very sad to see how excited and absorbed men can be about the politics of this world; how, on any subject of national interest, such as the progress of a war or the annexation of a territory, the pulse of the nation will beat fast with excitement; how, not only in the council-chambers of kings and the legislative assemblies of nations, but at every street-corner and in every little tavern, men will discuss the matter with eager interest; while it is almost impossible to gather a roomful of people to listen to the records of the gospel difficulties, or of the triumphs of the kingdom of Christ. (F. C. Blythe, M. A.)

Subjects made by voluntary submission, not by geographical limitation

Earthly kingdoms claim all who dwell within territorial limits. A river, a chain of hills, an imaginary line, may determine the question who are the subjects of its rule. But in this kingdom all are enrolled as subjects who voluntarily submit to it, and none else. (Newman Hall, LL. B.)

Tile gradual progress of the Divine kingdom

If it had seemed good in His sight, He could have overturned the power of Satan in a short period; but His wisdom saw fit to accomplish it by degrees. Like the commander of an invading army, He first takes possession of one post, then of another, then of a third, and so on, till by and by the whole country falls into His hands. And as the progress of a conqueror would be more rapid after a few of the strongest fortresses had surrendered (inasmuch as things would then approach fast to a crisis, to a breaking up, as it were, of the powers of the enemy), so it has been with the kingdom of Christ, and such will be its progress before the end of time. (A. Fuller.)

Thy will be done in earth.-

Doing God’s will

I. What is the petition. There is the secret will of God; the providential will of God; the revealed will of God-our sanctification.

II. The measure. How do they do the will of God.

1. From love to God.

2. Cheerful alacrity.

3. With zeal and energy.

4. With humility and reverence.

5. With perseverance. (J. Hambleton, M. A.)

Thy will be done

1. We are here taught to pray that God’s will may become the standard and rule of our actions.

2. That God’s will may become the regulator of our wishes and pleasures.

3. That God’s will may become ours, and not that it may destroy ours.

4. That God’s will may be ours, not fitfully and in part, but constantly and perfectly. (F. Edwards, B. A.)

The reign of grace viewed in relation to the work of righteousness

I. A fact assumed, that the will of God is done by all the inhabitants of heaven as he himself requires. The place, the parties, the practice, must receive consideration.

1. To determine the locality of heaven will for ever exceed the ability of man on earth.

2. We can, however, describe its inhabitants.

3. We have to consider how they act.

II. Establish the doctrine implied. God has, and will exercise, the same authority over men on earth and angels in heaven.

1. Our first proof is from the dictates of conscience.

2. Confirmed from the deductions of reason.

3. Clear from scripture.

III. Enforce the duty.

1. That obedience to the will of the Creator is essential to the welfare of every intelligent creature.

2. It is obvious if there had been no sin there would have been no suffering.

3. It is therefore evident that in order to be happy we must be in a state of acceptance with God. (Congregational Pulpit.)

Thy will be done

God’s will is to be the guide and measure of ours. These two standards of God’s will-reason and revelation-however they may promote the same end, yet they are very different in their extent.

I. The laws of Nature seem to regard only

II. The laws of the gospel require

The necessity of a cheerful obedience to the Divine will

I. Humility, which corrects every arrogant thought,

II. Contentment.

III. Patience.

1. Cheerful submission to whatever pains and afflictions we are at any time called upon to suffer.

2. Any troubles and trials we may be called upon to endure.

IV. Quiet subjection to the

These are virtues of so close an affinity and connection, that one of them can hardly subsist without the other. All of them are necessary to form and perfect that resignation to the will of God, for which we are taught here to pray. (John Rogers, D. D.)

Our Father’s will

1. The Divine will is more than mere power,-it is righteousness, wisdom, tenderness. It does not fulfil itself by simple force.

2. We should ascribe the sweet as well as the bitter experiences of life to the will of God.

3. We shall find in the Father’s will being as well as doing. It will be in all our doings and desires.

4. In doing the Father’s will it is manifest that many things we have loved will have to be laid aside.

5. The day when this prayer has its answer will be the day of God’s revenge and victory, the revenge and victory of righteousness and love. (W. Hubbard.)

The obedience of angels

1. An angel, by his very nature, is a servant doing God’s behest. It is a law of his being; with us it is an occasional thing.

2. They go from the immediate presence of God, hence their power and joy.

3. An angel’s obedience is the obedience of a happy being. Obedience is the fruit of happiness.

4. It matters nothing to an angel what the work is which is given him to do.

5. The response to an order is always instant.

6. It is always primarily to Christ. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Angelic obedience universal

You would do well to notice that it matters nothing to an angel what the work is which is given him to do. It may be for a babe, or it may be for a king; it may be for a prophet, or it may be for a country; it may be for one, or it may be for multitudes; it may be for the holiest, or it may be for the vilest; it may be to comfort, or it may be to reprove; it may be to carry a promise, or it may be to execute a judgment; it may be to deliver, or it may be to smite; it may be to restrain, or it may be to lead on. It is just the same to him. It cannot be too menial or too lofty; it cannot be too little or too much. His-Who has given him to do it. It is simple obedience. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

The third petition

I. The will of God.

II. God’s potential will.

III. God’s perceptive will in relation to the human will.

IV. Why should God’s will be done? Because it is God’s. Besides the benefits resulting, there is the joy in the very act of performing His will. It dignifies the humblest lot.

V. Angelic nature. The resemblance of obedience suggests resemblance of nature; angels only a higher species of man.

VI. Angelic obedience.

1. Angels do the will of God lovingly.

2. They do it intelligently.

3. They do it prayerfully.

4. They do all God’s will.

5. They do it always.

6. They all do it, and do it altogether.

7. They do it in the presence of God.

VII. Passive obedience. (Newman Hall, LL. D.)

The third petition

I. What do we mean by this petition?

1. That the will of God may be done by the will of man.

2. This is the prayer of a renovated will.

3. In this prayer to our Father we say with emphasis, Thy will be done.

II. How shall we use this petition?

1. Thy will be done in obedience to orders.

2. Thy will be done in submission under trials.

3. Thy will be done by surrender to Thy guidance.

4. Thy will be done in the use of means for Thy reign to come. (Dr. Stanford.)

Let us pray this prayer

1. Not in a spirit of indolent acquiescense.

2. God has a will concerning our actions.

3. God looks on the heart.

4. Three points revealed concerning the life of angels.

Their angelic obedience is distinguished by holiness, diligence, love.

The submissive spirit of the Lord’s prayer

I. Look at God’s will, in two or three of its essential properties.

1. It is universal.

2. It is wise.

3. It is supreme.

II. Three things contained in this petition.

1. God’s will done in the fulfilment of duty.

2. In the endurance of trial.

3. In the universal prevalence of holiness.

III. How is God’s will done in heaven?

1. Harmoniously.

2. Cheerfully.

3. Promptly.

IV. The blessings that flow from acquiescence with the mill of God are innumerable.

1. It secures our happiness.

2. It secures our safety.

3. It secures our satisfaction. (Dr. O. Winslow.)

The third petition

I. As it illustrates the great rule of moral obligation. The fitness of taking the will of God as the great rule of human conduct; this was brought out in the first sin.

II. Its application to the circumstances of our Christian life and character.

1. AS the will of God embraces all beings, we as a unit-world in this moral system, must have our allotted part to sustain.

2. We are to say “ Thy will,” as opposed to the will of any other master.

3. The revealed will of God is to be the paramount, exclusive, all-determining law of human conduct. This conformity to the will of God will be exhibited

III. The pattern of all acceptable obedience.

1. In the way of probation our compliance with the will of God is limited to the present state.

2. How are we to do the will of God?

Thy will be done on earth

The same principle which renders an angel a willing servant in glory would make him a willing servant in this wicked state. He who gets his copy most into his eye, and takes it into his mind, will draw the straightest lines. In material things it is the glory of heaven, where God looks He sees Himself. The crystal sea, sheets of gold, gates of pearl, are made to reflect the glory that shines upon them. As we pass from the material to the intelligent inhabitants, the pattern becomes higher.

1. When we look upon ourselves, what a very disobedient thing obedience is. How men struggle to obey, and often to escape obedience. But turn to the angels.

1. Mark the entire submission of their intellect.

2. The absorption of their will.

3. The pliability with which they adapt themselves exactly to God’s varying purposes.

4. Or pass from the act to the spirit-“They are beholding the Father’s face.”

5. God’s will must be done in the way God wills it. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Angelic obedience the model for ours

1. It is worthy of remark that our Lord teaches us to think a good deal about the angels.

2. Proposing the angels as a model of obedience gives us a most exalted notion of them and their performance of God’s will.

3. In what way are they our models?

Resignation to the Divine will

I. Devotion to God’s will the true principle of human life. Subjection to the Divine will has made the heroes of the past great.

1. Obedience to God takes its rise in God’s revelation of Himself.

2. It is through acquaintance with the revelation of God we grow into knowledge of His will, and are guided in our desire for its accomplishment.

3. The revelation of God supplies the means for the accomplishment of the Divine will. It gives the power of obedience.

II. The example. (J. Pillars.)

Constant obedience to God

Let our obedience resemble theirs; let it not be characterized by fits and starts, with intervening relapses into indolence; not needing revivals out of apathy; not dependent on novelty which must soon lose its charm, but patient and persevering under all changes and circumstances; not as a mountain torrent, whose rocky channel is bare and sunburnt when snows are not melting and rains do not fall, but as a deep, broad river, ever flowing with fertilizing tide. (Newman Hall, LL. B.)

The will of God

1. The secret will of God.

2. The revealed will of God.

3. The determining will of God.

4. The prescribing will of God.

5. The providential will of God. (F. C. Blythe, M. A.)

Thy will

1. Not Satan’s.

2. Not my will. (F. C. Blythe, M. A.)

In earth as in heaven

1. Thankful that we are not yet under the earth, but permitted to toil at the work God has given us.

2. We should deem it a great privilege to be allowed to do God’s will, inasmuch that we are not only on the earth, but “ of the earth earthy.”

3. We are not to wait till we get to heaven to do God’s will.

4. We are not to take any earthly standard as our aim.

5. The angels do God’s will zealously, perfectly, orderly, constantly, cheerfully. (F. C. Blythe, M. A.)

Imitating angels

I. Some characteristics of the obedience rendered to God in heaven.

1. Angelic obedience is thorough.

2. It is continuous.

3. Prompt and lively.

4. Cheerful and loving.

5. Universal.

II. Reasons why we should seek to imitate the obedience of angels.

1. It will be a positive self-injury not to submit to Him.

2. God ever wills our present and everlasting welfare.

3. Perfect submission to the will of God is essential to our present happiness.

4. It is right.

III. What must be done before the prayer of the text can be fully answered.

1. The Scriptures must be circulated over the entire globe.

2. We also need an unction from the Holy One. (J. Morgan.)

As it is in heaven

1. The will of God is perfectly done in heaven because it is done with the unbroken, uninterrupted sense of the presence of God. We must try to took on things as God looks at them.

2. There is in the celestial world a wide diversity of gifts and operations. The seraph’s fire is combined with the cherub’s strength.

3. There is war even in heaven to carry out the will of God in casting out evil from the world. “Michael and his angels fought against the dragon.” Courage, self-denial, discipline, are the gifts by which victories are won.

4. It is a world of spirits-the spiritual unites and vivifies the whole. The hosts which really govern the world are the thoughts and consciences of men.

5. It is beneficial. (Dean Stanley.)


Verse 11

Matthew 6:11

Our dally bread.

Daily bread

1. That even the wants of our bodies are to be subordinated to the purposes of religion.

2. That our dependence upon God for the supply of our bodily wants ought to be recognized.

3. That a sufficiency and not a superabundance of the supplies of life ought to be solicited.

4. That unneedful anxiety about the future ought to be condemned.

5. That all selfish grasping, and all unfair living upon others ought to be avoided. (F. Edwards, B. A.)

I. What is here asked. The poor of God’s flock have special interest in this prayer, and the rich have need of it.

1. That what they have may be preserved.

2. That they may have true enjoyment.

3. That they may suitably improve what they have.

II. The spiritual bread.

1. God alone can break this bread to you.

2. You shall eat bread in the kingdom of heaven. (W. Wilkinson, M. A.)

This is the language of-personal need, conscious dependence, quiet contentment, childlike trust, and fraternal sympathy. (F. J. A.)

“Give us this day our daily bread”

I. We begin as nature prompteth, with the preservation of our beings and lives; whereby we become capable of receiving and enjoying other good things.

II. By doing so, we also imply the sense we have of our total dependence upon God; avowing ourselves to subsist by His care and bounty.

III. We are taught our duty of being willing continually to rely upon God.

IV. We must esteem

V. We learn to ask only for so much as shall be fit to maintain us, not for

“Give us this day our daily bread”

Bread, by a common and natural figure, signifies the necessaries of life.

I. We are to make that the only subject of our prayers, which religion allows us to desire.

II. This petition for daily bread shows the true measure of Christian philosophy.

1. It requires us to restrain our wishes by our wants, which are both few and easily supplied.

2. God allows us to ask nothing of Him, but what we may with purity desire, and with innocence enjoy.

3. Religion makes us truly rich in making us temperate, content, and independent. True happiness of man consists not in the extent of possession, but in the restraint of desire. (Thomas Mangey.)

Daily bread

I. We may ask for temporal things if we ask for them lawfully. It is true, prayers to God for spiritual things are more acceptable. As your child pleaseth you better when it comes to you to be taught its book, rather than when it comes for an apple. But we may ask for other things.

1. For they are good and useful to us in the course of our service.

2. Without them we are exposed to many temptations. Prayer easeth you of a deal of carking about them.

II. We must ask for them lawfully.

1. Not preferring these temporal things before His favour, and the graces of His Spirit.

2. In moderate proportion.

III. We must ask them with humility and submission to the will of God.

1. Not for ostentation and riot, that we may live at large and at ease, but that Thy name may be glorified, and that we may be supported in service.

2. We must not come and challenge it, as if it were our due.

3. We must not use the plea of merit, but of mercy. (Thomas. Manton, D. D.)

The fourth petition

I. We put the emphasis on “daily bread.”

1. Bread means that which is needful to support the life of the body.

2. That which is needful to support all our life in this world.

3. Is prayer that we may have enough.

II. We would now separate the phrase “give us” that we may think over its special meaning.

1. It implies acknowledgment of dependence.

2. We know that giving is His delight.

3. We mean, give this, for thou art our Father.

4. We mean, through a blessing on our own right use of means.

5. When common means are not within our power, by means of Thine own.

III. Place the emphasis on “our.” We do not ask for the bread belonging to others.

IV. We next dwell on “this day.”

V. This petition suggests A higher petition-for heavenly broad. (Dr. Stanford.)

The fourth petition

I. The meaning, place, and reasonableness of this petition.

II. The Giver, “our father.” God is the universal giver. Giving implies personality, thought, emotion.

III. The gift-“daily bread.” Religion sanctifies common life.

IV. The community of the gift.

V. The conditions of the gift.

1. Honesty.

2. Industry.

VI. The period of the gift. A warning against covetousness. VII. Prayer for the gift.

1. It teaches humility.

2. It encourages filial confidence in little things.

3. It prompts to daily gratitude. (Newman Hall, LL. B.)

The daily gift

I. The giver, God is the only giver. He gives constantly and quietly. He gives simply. He delights in giving.

II. The gift. All bread comes from God. Bread has an eternal meaning.

III. The expansion of the gift.

1. This little word “our” excludes every calling which is injurious to the interests of our fellow men.

2. We are to think of the poor and needy.

IV. The limitation of the gift-“To-day.”

1. Christ would have us free from anxious care.

2. It teaches moderation and contentment.

3. Sometimes God tries the faith of His people, and they are in difficulties about their daily bread. (Dr. Saphir.)

Daily bread

1. These words show that earthly interests and animal wants have an appropriate place in our prayers.

2. Our intimate dependence upon God.

3. We virtually ask for ability and opportunity to obtain our daily bread. The blessing involved in the very effort for acquisition.

4. The relative dependence of others upon us.

5. Our wants are always new “ daily.” (E. H. Chaplin.)

The dependent spirit of the Lord’s prayer

I. The source of the supply.

II. How the supply is granted. He grants strength of body for toil; by the wonder-working of His providence.

III. God’s blessings are gifts.

IV. God will have us live upon His bounty day by day.

V. The unselfishness and sympathy of the petition-“give us.”

VI. Contentment with God’s measure supplied is taught by this petition: not what we wish, but what we need. (Dr. O. Winslow.)

The fourth petition

I. Certain suppositions appear to be made in this petition.

1. That temporal blessings are necessary for our happiness.

2. That we can look for them only as they are the free gift of God.

3. It supposes our right to this form of good to be forfeited and lost.

II. The forms of desired good which are to be commended under this clause.

1. Bread the representative of all forms of temporal blessings; a healthy mind, continued energy, for the duties of our calling.

2. The Divine blessing on the gifts we have. Let us never ask for bread without the blessing.

III. Practical lessons.

1. A protest against our sumptuous and luxurious living.

2. Against all covetous and inordinate desires.

3. Against carefulness.

4. An admonition to mercifulness and brotherly love.

5. Prayer must be a “daily” exercise of the Christian life. (D. Moore, M. A.)

Daily bread

1. It is the believer’s piety that he seeks all his daily portion at the hand of God.

2. The faith of the prayer. Hard to trust God for temporals.

3. The moderation of the prayer

A train of holy contemplation awakened by a morsel of bread

Did the corn wave freely in its beauty in the summer field? Just so was Christ once in the brightness and the expansion of His father’s glory. Did the reaper put in the sickle, and the free corn fall before the scythe: So, in the ripeness of time did the iron enter into the soul of Jesus, and He laid prostrate in the dust. Was the wheat ground within the mill? So was Jesus ground under the tremendous pressure of the world’s sin. Is the one bread broken into many parts? So is Jesus the one life of the whole Church. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Prayer for daily bread

I. The meaning.

1. The principle of dependence is developed in it.

2. The principle of moderation.

3. The principle of tenderness towards others.

II. The encouragement to go to God for the bread that perisheth.

1. It is to His Father He goes.

2. It is to the Father who gave us His Son.

III. The still higher encouragements to pray for the bread eternal.

1. From considering the Bread itself. Here no moderation is needed.

2. Here are absolute promises.

3. Covet larger portions of the Bread. (J. H. Evans.)

Men recognize secondary causes rather than the Divine Being in the gift of their daily bread

The Rev. J. H. Wilson of Edinburgh relates: “One day I asked the children in our infant school, ‘ Who gives you the bread you get to your dinner?’ Almost every voice answered, ‘My mother.’ ‘But who gave it to your mother?’ ‘The baker.’ ‘And who gave it to the baker?’ ‘The miller.’ ‘And who gave it to the miller?’ ‘The farmer.’ And who gave it to the farmer?’ ‘The ground.’ And only when I asked, ‘Who gave it to the ground?’ did I get the answer, ‘It was God.’” How many children of a larger growth, like these infants, attribute their blessings to any second cause rather than to the gift of their Father!

It is suitableness, not superabundance, that gives enjoyment

A dress that fits is more useful to the wearer than one which is too large, though more costly. A shoe that pinches the foot is no easier for all the gold lace upon it. (Newman Hall, LL. D.)

The cry of the needy

I. It is an utterance of felt need.

II. It is an acknowledgment of entire and constant dependence on God.

III. It is the language, of moderation.

IV. It breathes a spirit of trustfulness.

V. The language implies personal effort to gain the bread.

VI. It is the language of brotherly anxiety and love. VII. The great end for which all bread, temporal and spiritual, should be sought and used-the promotion of God’s glory. (J. Morgan.)

All good things from God are gifts

One sharp winter day, so runs a nursery tale, a poor woman stood at the window of a king’s conservatory, looking at a cluster of grapes, which she longed to have for her sick child. She went home to her spinning-wheel, earned half-a-crown, and offered it to the gardener for the grapes, He waved his hand, and ordered her away. She returned to her cottage, snatched the blanket from her bed, pawned it, and once more asked the gardener to sell her the grapes, offering him five shillings. He spoke furiously to her and was turning her out, when the princess came in, heard the man’s passion, saw the woman’s tears, and asked what was wrong. When the story was told she said, “My dear woman, you have made a mistake. My father is not a merchant, but a king; his business is not to sell but to give;” so saying, she plucked the cluster from the vine and dropped it into the woman’s apron. (Dr. Stanford.)

Daily bread

1. Fastidiousness about food is condemned by this petition, so also is sumptuousness of apparel.

2. And as moderation in our desires is here commanded, so is thankfulness for ordinary benefits. (F. C. Blyth, M. A.)

Bread

1. The bread of righteousness.

2. The Word of God (Matthew 4:4).

3. God the Word (John 6:35).

4. The Holy Eucharist. (F. C. Blyth, M. A.)

“Our”

1Such food as is suitable for us.

2. Diligence in our calling. 3, Necessities for us, superfluities for our brethren. (F. C. Blyth, M. A.)

“Us”

1. Excludes selfishness and incites to charity.

2. As we eat with our households so we should pray with them. (F. C. Blyth, M. A.)

This day

1. Uncertainty about the future no excuse for recklessness.

2. Each new day is a special gift from God, in which are contained all the possibilities of His grace.

3. What is our whole lifetime but a day!

4. To any earthly friend we should be ashamed thus frequently to ask a favour. (F. C. Blyth, M. A.)

Contentment

“Contentment is a jewel which turns all into gold, yea, want into wealth.” Covetousness is a canker which eats into the richest robes and the costliest treasures; a dropsy which, the more it drinks, the more it thirsts. (F. C. Blyth, M. A.)

The wise man, as he looks forth upon the riches and luxuries with which the worldling loves to surround himself, learns to say with Socrates, “How many things there are that I do not want!”


Verse 12

Matthew 6:12

Forgive us our debts.

Forgive us our debts

There is a twofold debt which man oweth to God.

I. A debt of duty, worship, and obedience;

II. A debt of punishment. (Thomas Manton, D. D.)

Our Debts

1. By this prayer we are reminded of our constant liability to sin.

2. We are led to separate between the fact and theory of forgiveness.

3. We are led to regard forgiveness as a favour, and not as a claim.

4. We are reminded of the only condition upon which forgiveness can be extended to us.

5. We are taught to comply with the condition which is required. (F. Edwards, B. A.)

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us”

I. We must here take notice that we are obliged to go to our devotions with charity and good-will towards others.

II. It is implied on God’s part, that He vouchsafes pardon only upon these terms; yea, more, that He doth truly promise pardon upon our performing this condition.

The fifth petition

I. Observe how it begins-“and forgive,” etc. It follows prayer for daily bread. Life without forgiveness would not be worth having.

II. It is a prayer for the forgiving of our sins As the children of God.

III. Sin is described as a debt.

IV. This is a prayer for grace.

V. In this prayer for forgiveness we must fall in with the divine plan for its bestowment.

VI. The declaration connected with the prayer. (Dr. Stanford.)

The fifth petition

I. Sin considered as a debt to God.

1. A debt is what we owe.

2. We have failed to discharge it.

3. Let us glance at some items in the account.

4. Sins as debts

II. The debts of God’s pardoned children.

III. Our father’s forgiveness.

1. Absolute.

2. Immediate.

3. Complete.

IV. Prayer for pardon. Includes-

1. Conviction of guilt.

2. Contrition.

3. Confession.

4. Purpose of reformation.

V. Forgiveness of one another.

1. Human forgiveness.

2. Human forgiveness a condition of the Divine.

There can be no genuine prayer for pardon unless we cultivate a forgiving spirit:-

1. Pardon is always linked with repentance of sins, and these include an unforgiving spirit.

2. Faith in God’s mercy is incompatible with unmercifulness in ourselves.

3. Gratitude to God for pardon received or expected prompts forgiveness of others.

4. This prayer includes those who wrong us.

5. It is the prayer of a child of God. (Newman Hall, LL. B.)

Mercy in heaven and on earth

1. He who has not received the spirit of forgiveness has not truly received the gift of pardon.

2. Without this loving spirit we cannot truly worship God.

3. He who does not for give forsakes the spirit of the gospel, and returns to the spirit of legalism.

4. He who does not forgive will soon lose the sense and enjoyment of God’s pardon.

5. He who does not forgive lacks one of the great evidences and confirmations of faith. (Dr. Saphir.)

The penitential spirit of the Lord’s prayer

What is mere bread to a man under sentence of death?-forgiveness necessary.

I. Man is God’s debtor.

1. As regards his being.

2. His moral debtor.

3. Christ the real paymaster of His people.

II. The import of the petition.

1. It at once confronts us with the sin forgiving God.

2. There is unselfishness in the petition-“us.” (Dr. O. Winslow.)

The forgiving spirit of the Lord’s prayer

Forgiven, I am to forgive.

I. There exists a great necessity for the exercise of this godlike precept of forgiveness.

1. In the family circle.

2. God’s forgiveness of us the rule and measure of our forgiveness of others.

The fifth petition

I. Consider man as a sinner in need of Divine forgiveness. How could guilt be remitted? Through death of Christ. How can a righteous lawgiver who insists upon a righteous equivalent be said to forgive? Forgiveness and payment of price often combined by sacred writers-“In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”

II. A reference to our own moral condition and circumstances.

1. These words presuppose in us some failure of moral obligation.

2. That sin unremitred has an indelible place in the Divine remembrance. Debts are registered.

3. The need of an individual interest in the provided atonement for transgression.

III. The scriptural connection between the forgiveness we seek of God, and the forgiveness we may show to our fellow man.

1. The words suppose us to have sacred or relative rights which, as appertaining to our station, every other person is under obligation to acknowledge. This prayer implies that in the case of invaded rights we seek only such restitutions as are necessary to social security; not resentment.

2. The exact force of the connecting particle “as” in this petition. The word has various meanings, ground or reason-this would attribute to man the meritorious initiative in obtaining his own pardon. Sometimes the word is used in the sense of similitude-God infinitely above man in the way and measure of His forgiveness. It is used both as an ordained condition and as a ground of hope. This connection between our mercy and what we expect is one of unalterable necessity.

IV. The motives which concur to enforce the duty.

1. What kindness is it to ourselves to forgive.

2. What a victory is it over our enemy to forgive. (D. Moore, M. A.)

As we forgive our debts

The debtfulness of sin should be remembered. It implies the wrongful possession of what belongs to another. Say that sin occupied a moment: that moment was God’s. Sin has diminished the glory of God: therefore we owe God glory. “Trespass” implies the same thought; it is when you go on ground where you have no right to go. Forgiveness follows our request for daily bread, and is quite as necessary. Only they who show mercy can expect mercy. We must be careful to draw no parallel of degree between God’s forgiveness and ours, though there is a resemblance in kind. What is the nature of the forgiveness you expect from God?

1. Absolute in character.

2. Immediate in time.

3. Universal in extent.

4. It is an easy thing to use a result, while we are totally unobservant of the great processes by which that result has been produced.

If God had forgiven without this process He would not have manifested any great abhorrence of sin. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Concomitants of debts

1. A sense of burden.

2. A sense of fear.

3. A sense of perplexity.

4. A feeling of hatred. (F. C. Blyth, M. A.)

The condition of forgiveness

1. Let us think whose children we are (Matthew 5:44-45).

2. Whose disciples we are (1 Peter 2:23).

3. How often our Lord has forgiven us.

4. How small is the debt our fellow servants owe to us compared to the stun we owe to our Lord.

5. An unforgiving spirit towards others disqualifies us for forgiveness.

6. If we forgive our brethren their wrongs we turn those wrongs into blessings.

“As we”

1. As a plea with God.

2. As an argument.

3. As an example. (F. C. Blyth, M. A.)

The prayer of the penitent

I. The general petition.

1. An humble confession of sin.

2. True penitence.

3. Filial confidence in God.

II. The added clause.

1. This language as preceptive. It has the force of a precept.

2. It is solemnly admonitory. God will not forgive us unless we forgive.

3. It is promissory. I have forgiven, do Thou, Lord, forgive, as ‘Thou hast promised.

4. It is abundantly consolatory. (J. Morgan)

Sin a debt

I. How is sin a debt?

1. It supposes obligation.

2. It supposes obligation undischarged.

3. It is an obligation that cannot be denied.

4. It is an obligation that cannot be ignored.

5. It is an obligation that cannot be transferred.

6. It is an obligation that cannot be run away from.

II. How this debt may be cancelled.

1. Not by repentance.

2. Not by good works.

3. Not by any amount of seeking and striving.

4. But solely by the grace of God forgiving the debt for the sake of Jesus Christ. (Amer. Hom. Rev.)

A secret record kept of all our sin-debts

A record is being kept unobserved by us. As a traveller calls for what he needs at his hotel and no demand is made at the time for payment, though every item is carefully recorded, so it is with our daily incurred debts against God. Sins record themselves. As a multitude entering some place of resort pass individually through the turnstile, and a record is unerringly made out of sight of the visitor, and as mechanical contrivances in factories register every beat of the piston and every fraction of the result produced, so, by the law of God impressed on our own nature, all our actions are registered, all our debts recorded. (Newman Hall, LL. B.)

Forgiveness of injuries a self-improving act

When thou forgivest, the man who has pierced thy heart stands to thee in the relation of the sea-worm that perforates the shell of the mussel, which straightway closes the wound with a pearl. Bishop Andrewes observes, “David compares his enemies, not to wasps, but to bees (Psalms 118:12), inasmuch as, if they have a sting, yet they have honey also, as ministering to his comfort before God.”


Verse 13

Matthew 6:13

And lead us not into temptation.

I. God permits us to be tempted for his own glory, to discover the freeness and riches of His grace, that men may be driven the more earnestly to sue out their place in the name of Jesus Christ. We keep off from the throne of grace till temptations drive us thither. As when the sheep wander, the shepherd lets loose his dog upon them, not to worry them, but to bring them back again to the fold: so God lets loose Satan to drive us to Himself.

II. For the trial of that grace which he hath wrought in us. Grace doth appear better in temptation than out of it. A great tempest discovereth the goodness of a ship and skill of the pilot; so these great trials discover the soundness of our hearts and the fruit of that grace which God hath wrought in us. Gold is most tried in the fire, and discovered to be pure and perfect. Stars that lie hidden in the day shine in the night. The valour and worth of a soldier is not known in times of peace, but when he is out in action. When we are put to some difficulty and straits, then is faith seen.

III. To humble us. That we may never be proud of what we have, nor conceited of what we have not. Spiritual evils need a spiritual cure. Outward afflictions humble, but not so much as temptations do.

IV. To conform us to Christ. We must pledge Him in His own cup; it must go round; He Himself was tempted.

V. To mortify sin. When men have smarted they grow more cautious.

VI. To make us more meek to others. We are very apt to be severe upon the failings of others. But now, when we are tempted ourselves, we learn more pity to them.

VII. To give us experience of the care and providence of God, and the comforts of His promises. A man doth not know what the comforts of faith mean till he be exercised by temptation. (Thomas Manton, D. D.)

Temptation

1. This prayer recognizes temptation as part of the discipline of life.

2. It traces temptation to the source whence it originates.

3. It intimates that temptation generally results in sin.

4. It expresses on our part a shrinking from temptation through a sense of weakness.

5. It is a joyful acknowledgment of God’s power and strength to rescue us. (F. Edwards, B. A.)

The temptations of those who are unhappy

I. Those temptations that are related to God himself.

1. Persons who are unhappy often murmur against the government of God.

2. To “withhold prayer before Him.

II. Those temptations respecting mankind.

1. They are tempted to hate their race.

2. A determination to change their position.

3. A temptation to destroy their enemies.

III. The temptation that comes upon ‘the unhappy themselves.

1. To obtain unlawful information respecting their destiny.

2. To secure an oblivion of their wretchedness.

3. To seek to obtain relief by suicide. (J. Blackburn.)

I. If God, provoked thereto by our careless-hess, doth justly bring us into, or doth let us enter into temptation, we shall infallibly run into many grievous sins and mischief.

II. We continually need God’s instruction to guide us, God’s hand to uphold us, God’s care to guard us.

“Lead us not into temptation”

I. In praying thus, we desire not to be absolutely freed from that reluctance of flesh against the spirit, but from those additional trials that surprise, forgetfulness, or public affairs may bring upon us more at one time than another.

II. The petition is not the effect of sloth, but a wise provision for our safety, and we thereby only desire to be discharged from such trials as make our perseverance not only difficult, but doubtful.

III. We, in this petition, desire God to excite our own care and watchfulness. Humility, caution, and charity are the several lessons which we are taught in the right use of this prayer. (Thomas Mangey.)

The sixth petition

I. This is an appeal to our leader.

1. It implies that our Father is our Leader.

2. We make this appeal to our Father with a sense of His nearness.

II. This petition comes from the fear that when, in answer to the last petition, our sins are forgiven, we shall be tempted to sin again.

III. We thus pray because we know that our path abounds with instruments and occasions of temptation.

1. In business.

2. By the habits of society.

3. We may be led into temptation by retiring from the world.

4. We may be so led even when we feel most secure from it by communion with God.

IV. It implies a sense of our own temptableness.

V. That we have no will to go into temptation unless it be the will of God to lead us into it. (Dr. Stanford.)

The sixth petition

I. What is meant by temptation? The primary idea is test, or trial for discovery. The test may be applied with various motives-by friend or foe.

1. Inducement to sin.

2. Afflictions or trials are temptations in the sense of being tests of faith.

3. Temptation for the distinct purpose of testing (Genesis 22:1).

II. What is meant by asking God not to lead us into temptation.

III. Consolation for the tempted.

1. Temptation is not sin.

2. Temptation is not peculiar to the individual.

3. Christ Himself was tempted.

4. The prayer is presented to our Father.

IV. Practical lessons:

1. We should not go into temptation.

2. We must resist temptation in the way Christ Himself has appointed.

3. We should specially guard weak places in our defence.

4. Turn stumbling-blocks into stepping-stones.

5. We should not bring others into temptation. (Newman Hall, LL. B.)

Believers tempted, yet safe

1. The universality of temptation.

2. We are concerned about the safety of others as well as our own.

3. When you notice the sins and failings of your fellow-Christians, remember they were tempted.

4. The special temptations of the believer.

5. The most gifted, perhaps the most tempted.

6. The safety of the believer.

7. Jesus protects us by His loving sympathy, faithful intercession, and by the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Dr. Saphir.)

Lead us not into temptation

I. God’s people are exposed to much temptation. In the old dispensation they were a tempted people. It is exemplified in the varied experiences of the saints. The world is a great temptation. The outward plague of sin: Satan. There are peculiar seasons of temptation: Abraham.

II. What is to be understood by this petition. It does not imply exemption from temptation. The Lord likes to know the reality of the grace of His people. Leads them to watchfulness. God does not entice men to sin. A wise prayer. A holy prayer. (J. H. Evans.)

The watchful spirit of the Lord’s prayer

I. The present scene of the christian one of temptation.

1. There are temptations that arise from the power of Satan.

2. From the world.

3. From within the Christian.

II. The petition.

1. The entire exemption of the believer from temptation would be exemption from some of the greatest blessings of his life.

2. We are not to infer that God can solicit men to evil.

3. The prayer is that God would, by His providence, keep His child out of the way of temptation.

4. That God would either weaken the power or remove entirely all existing temptation.

5. It is a petition that God would not withdraw His restraining check from the believer.

6. It asks to be preserved from the great tempter.

III. Practical conclusions:

1. While praying not to be led into temptation, we should be watchful against voluntarily running into it

2. The unselfishness of the petition-“us.”

3. It is offered in the name of the Tempted One. (Dr. O. Winslow.)

The sixth petition

Pardon for past is followed by implored grace for the future.

I. Temptation generally, as belonging of necessity to the condition of moral agents. The word temptation suggests moral experiment for good or evil. It has come to mean invitation to sin. Exposure to illusory suggestions is only what the analogy of natural government would lead us to expect. In our ordinary worldly interests what attractiveness appears to hang about a wrong course of conduct, whilst difficulty seems ever to dissuade us from what is right. We find that men are free to stand or fall.

II. In what sense God can be said to lead us into temptation,

1. When God brings us providentially into the neighbourhood of hurtful influences.

2. When He allows temptations to come upon us with all their unmitigated force without restraining influences. God never leads us into temptation to make us fall.

III. How much of the leading into temptation is due to ourselves.

1. The blame is our own when we without cause expose ourselves to any moral hazzard.

2. When we allow ourselves to be carried away by sinful conformity to the world.

3. When we do not habitually restrain those tendencies and appetites, without which any temptation would be powerless.

IV. The beneficial ends for which our temptations may be permitted.

1. In order to the trial of our religious sincerity.

2. In order that God may get honour to Himself by our successful resistance.

3. The mercifulness of those permitted trials, in that our very failures may conduce to our greater spiritual humility. We should never separate the prayer for deliverance from the pledge to keep ourselves. (D. Moore, M. A.)

Lead us not into temptation

No man should go into the future with God till he has a clear past. When the soul has tasted forgiveness, it has the fear of sinning again. Shall a man recovered from a malignant fever, go and breathe infection? Temptation is the precincts of sin. Admire the anticipatory character of God’s care for us. Preventatives of temptation. Prevention may be effected in three ways. The occasion may not be presented. Every sinful inclination may be taken away and overruled, or the power of Satan to deal with one or the other may be abridged or withdrawn. Temptation depends mainly upon the bias of the natural character. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

The Divine guidance in the midst of dangers

A guide on the mountains leads the Alpine climber where dangers exist. The summit cannot otherwise be reached. In avoiding or conquering the danger, the traveller’s skill, courage, and endurance are both tested and improved. His health and manhood, as well as his enjoyment, are secured by his being thus led where dangers abound. But the leader knows what path is practicable, what perils should be shunned, and is ever ready to lend a helping hand. Thus our Heavenly Guide leads us by His Providence even when we are beset by snares. (Newman Hall, LL. D.)

Men should avoid circumstances favourable to the development of evil tendencies

It would be a great misfortune to a man with weak lungs to call him to live in a cold, bleak air. So would it be to a man with weak eyes, to fix him in a situation which required much study by candle.light. Now it is to the full as dangerous for the soul of the ambitious man to be put into the road which leads to high stations, as it can be for the lungs of the consumptive man to give him a house on a bleak hill. (Newman Hall, LL. D.)

Men must not unnecessarily expose themselves to temptation

It is said that at the battle of Waterloo, a wealthy merchant of Brussels, who had been allowed access to headquarters, asked Wellington whether he was not exposing his person to great danger, as shot and shell were falling around. The general replied, “You have no business here, but I am performing my duty.” So let us never go into spiritual danger from idle curiosity, but only when duty calls: then, and then alone, may we expect to be safe. (Newman Hall, LL. D.)

There are certain temptations which our natural constitution and temperament should lead us to avoid

There is in old Arabic fable the story of a great rock that was a great magnet, drawing ships, so that they were dashed into splinters on it. If I have been magnetized by a certain sin, I would not be led near the loadstone that might draw me into destruction by its malignant potency. If I carry in me the gunpowder of some slumbering badness, I would not be led where sparks are flying. If I am “Little Faith” bearing precious jewels, I would not be led through “Dead Man’s Lane,” where robbers lurk. If I am short-sighted, I would not be led into “the land of pits.” If I am timid and fear “ the power of the dog,” I would not be led near his chain, but far as may be beyond the reach of his spring. (Dr. Stanford.)

In the moment of defeat temptation may gather new force

But sin seems to be strongest when it has had its death blow. The eagle, when down, strikes at you with a beak like a bolt of iron, and may flap you dead with its wing. The red deer, when down, may fell you with its antlers. The dying horse may, in the plunge of its agony, break a man’s limb. A harpooned whale may dash a boat over. Sin is like that. Speared through by its conqueror, it may grasp us in its last convulsions, and seem to be stronger dying than living; but we shall soon spring out from it, and cry, “Deliverance!” (Dr. Stanford.)

Lead us not into temptation

1. There is no evil in temptation unless complied with.

2. Temptation is a necessary element in a life of probation, such as our life on earth is.

3. It is a useful discipline to brace our energies and increase our strength.

4. If successfully overcome they confirm our graces and become helps in the way to heaven.

God may be said to lead us into temptation-

1. By the dispensations of His providence.

2. By giving Satan permission to tempt us.

3. When He leaves us to ourselves.

Lessons:

1. To know and acknowledge our own weakness.

2. Temptation not a thing to be courted, but feared.

3. Cannot be avoided by the saintliest.

4. Are under God’s control.

5. We must pray against temptations, especially such aa we feel we are most likely to fall under.

6. To prayer we must add watchfulness.

7. We must avoid the seducing opportunities of evil.

8. How many lead themselves into temptation.

9. We must be content to deny ourselves some things that are lawful if we would not be lead to the commission of what is unlawful,

10. We mast be jealous about the approaches of temptation.

11. We must beware of little temptations.

12. We must listen to the slightest whispers of conscience.

13. We must remember “the devil varies his temptations to suit the changing circumstances of our life.

14. The consciousness of our own individual danger must not make us insensible to the need of our brethren.

Us We are not fighting alone. (F. C. Blyth, M. A.)

Keep far from danger

He who has no mind to trade with the devil should be so wise as to keep away from his shop. (South.)

If you would not be drowned, what do you so near the waterside. (Baxter.)

Let us not tempt the devil to tempt us

The lion may cross our path, or leap upon us from the thicket, but we have nothing “to do with hunting him. (C. H. Surgeon.)

Temptation

1. The source, of temptation may be divided into three: those within ourselves, those that surround us, those from the spirit-world.

2. This petition does not mean that we should ask God to give us an easy time.

3. Temptations are just as liable to come to men from things that are good as from things that are bad. What is nobler than industry well applied-property-regulated anger? These are full of temptations to avarice, etc. The Divine conception of life is that it is a conflict.

4. Modes of resisting temptation. Many of them are to be forestalled. We are to watch against weak hours. A safeguard against temptation is the strengthening of the natural antagonisms of the passions; over against cruelty lies benevolence, etc. (Beecher.)

Deliver us from evil.

Deliver us from evil

I. That is, if we be led into temptation, let us be kept from the evil of it. It is a more wonderful providence to be kept from the evil, than from temptation. If a garrison be never assaulted it is no wonder that it standeth exempt from the calamity of war.

II. The evil of sin is greater than the evil of temptation.

1. Because it separateth us from God. Poverty, sickness, blindness, loss of goods-let a man be never so low, yet, if in a state of grace, the Lord taketh pleasure in him.

2. Because it depriveth us of God, who is the fountain of our comfort.

3. It reproveth our folly. We complain of other things, but do not complain of sin, which is the greatest evil. The evil of affliction is but for a moment; like rain, it drieth up of its own accord; but the evil of sin is for ever, unless it be pardoned and taken away. Sin is the cause of all the evils of affliction; therefore, when we complain, we should complain not so much of the smart, as of the cause of it. (Thomas Manton, D. D.)

Deliver us from evil

1. This prayer looks upon evil as something separate from ourselves.

2. It regards our personal deliverance from evil as our great need.

3. It leaves with God the decision as to what is evil.

4. It leaves with God both the mode and time of the desired deliverance.

5. It recognizes our dependence on God for this desired deliverance. (F. Edwards, B. A.)

Deliver us from evil

I. That is principally from sin, or evil,

II. We absolutely request of God that He, in His mercy, would also deliver and free us from

III. We are hereby taught not to be studiously punctual and particular in oar prayers, as if God needed our information, or were apt to neglect the particulars concerning our good. (Isaac Barrow, D. D.)

Our supplication for deliverance

1. This petition is supported by the authority of human experience and history. We are led into situations of trial.

2. It is the natural language of the human heart. It is the utterance of fear.

3. It is the prayer of wise self-distrust.

4. It must always be a prayer springing from our trust in God.

5. The prayer now beet)rues an aspiration, a prophecy. It gathers up all the great hopes and faiths of the gospel. (W. Hubbard.)

This prayer implies-

I. That we are living in a world in which is the presence of evil.

II. That those who use it are under a sense of being in bondage to evil.

III. Nothing less than the omnipotent arm of God can deliver us from this evil.

IV. That nothing can be satisfying to the Christian but the entire expulsion of evil from the world.

V. Let our petition be presented in fervent faith of an answer. (W. Dodsworth.)

The devotional spirit of the Lord’s prayer

Deliverance from evil. This the cry of humanity.

1. From the evil of sin.

2. From the evil of the world.

3. From evil men.

4. From the Evil One.

5. A daily prayer: what evil one day may expose us to. (Dr. O. Winslow.)

The seventh petition

I. The agency of satan.

1. The existence of orders of beings superior to the human race is antecedently probable; as those below us, so some above. Scripture confirms this.

2. What are the limits of this agency, and how are the personal attributes requisite for its success to be reconciled with our notions of a finite being? Satan has some form of access to the heart, he has insight into our ruling mental tendencies.

II. The means used by Satan for the carrying on of his designs.

1. Our enemy is personal.

2. He avails himself of outward accidents to stir up motions to evil.

3. When he cannot find, he seeks to make, occasions of sin.

4. He turns our permitted enjoyments into evil; our friendship, our religious feelings.

III. The provisions made for our deliverance from this adversary,

1. The restraints constantly put upon the tempter in the exercise of his own power.

2. A gracious Father has provided many forms of unseen and unknown deliverance.

3. God more generally delivers His children from the adversary by enabling them to deliver themselves. We must resist

The last petition

It stands last because all previous petitions are summed up in it.

I. Evil is around and within us.

II. Evil has a central unity-“the evil.”

III. Who delivers. God delivers in Christ.

IV. The promise involved in the petition. In the resurrection delivered from evil. (Dr. Saphir.)

But deliver us from evil

It surrounds the purest, clings to the holiest, shadows the brightest, embitters the happiest.

1. The true suppliant will try to see evil from the point of view from which God sees it.

2. There is no good which has not in its constitution some evil, so there is no evil that is not mingled with some good.

3. An enlightened man will leave the time and way of deliverance to God.

4. God’s plan is by ransom; He delivered Christ to evil that He might deliver you from it.

5. The believer’s liberty, sanctity, and rest. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

The seventh petition

I. The evil one.

II. The evil caused by yielding to the evil one-the result of sin.

III. The evil in ourselves. (Newman Hall, LL. B.)

The seventh petition

I. Identify the evil.

1. Not the world.

2. Not affliction.

3. Not death.

4. But sin.

II. Notes on the petition.

1. In offering this petition we have to keep in mind the whole connection-connect it with the prayer for forgiveness, with the prayer against temptation.

2. We offer this prayer in that Jesus is the medium of deliverance.

3. This prayer fits the lips of Christians in a time when old sins seem to recover new power.

4. Our thoughts rush forward to the day when this prayer for deliverance from evil will have its finished and perfect answer. (Dr. Stanford.)

Evil may be productive of good

Like the merchant who lost his all in a storm, and was thus driven to learn philosophy at Athens, many who have been deprived of earthly comforts, have learned that Wisdom is better than Wealth. (F. C. Blyth, M. A.)

The universal prayer-cry

1. The evidence of all all-pervading and ever-present evil is irresistible.

2. If we cry for deliverance it is because we have a lingering recollection of a promise that there will be a Deliverer.

3. But God’s children intelligently offer this prayer to the Divine Father; they feel that He is not the Author of evil.

4. As brethren we pray this petition: the successive generations have used it.

5. Estimate the price paid for deliverance; not silver and gold. (Dr. Cumming.)

Afflictions not necessarily evil

Only as you call a flail evil that separates the grain from the chaff; a wheel evil that grinds jewels to shine ins crown; a knife evil that prunes a tree; a tree evil that bears good fruit; a plough evil whose coulter crashes through the hard soil, opens it to the chemistry of nature, and makes it a soft, porous, receptive seed-plot for the harvest; the medicine evil that brings back the colour of health to the white face, and the flash of gladness to the dim eye; the hand evil that snatches back a heedless child from the nest of the serpent, or the lip of the river, just in time to save its life-only in this qualified sense can you call an affliction an evil. Out of our greatest sorrows grow our greatest joys. (Dr. Stanford.)

Suitable that this should be the last petition in the pra

yer:-

1. If this be granted all other blessings are comprehended in it.

2. It will grant us the gift of perseverance.

3. It presupposes all that has gone before. (F. C. Blyth, M. A.)

For Thine is the kingdom.-

Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory

I. The kingdom.

1. God’s kingdom is universal over all men or things, over all persons in the world.

2. It is special. Which notes His relation to the saints. It is the duty of a king to defend his subjects and provide for their welfare.

II. The power. Titles without power make authority ridiculous. We can ask nothing but what God is able to give-yea, above our asking.

III. The glory. The honour and glory of all will redound to God, the comfort accrueth to us.

IV. The duration. For ever. All excellencies which are in God, are eternally in God. (Thomas Manton, D. D.)

Thine is the kingdom

That is:

I. Thou hast a perpetual and unmoveable authority whereby justly to dispose of all things; an indefectible and irresistible power, whereby Thou canst effect whatever seems just and good to Thee.

II. Therefore we profess only to rely upon, and seek help from, Thee; with hope and confidence we address ourselves to Thee for the supply of our needs.

III. Thine is the glory; all honour and reverence, all love and thankfulness, are due unto Thee, therefore we render our adorations and acknowledgments to Thee. (Isaac Barrow, D. D.)

I. The kingdom-“Thine.”

1. By eternal right.

2. By assuaging wrath.

3. By infinite purchase.

II. Thine is the power.

1. Upon the intellectual world.

2. Upon the political world.

3. Upon the ecclesiastical world.

4. Upon the invisible world.

III. Thine is the glory. (T. Mortimer, M. A.)

The doxology

1.Our confidence in the acceptableness of our prayers is derived from God and not from ourselves.

2. That the power by which our desires are brought about is Divine, and not human.

3. That our certainty of success is based upon our faith in God.

4. That our confidence in our prayers ought not to waver.

5. That our prayers ought always to be confirmed and ratified by ourselves. (F. Edwards, B. A.)

I. What is here ascribed to God. The kingdom. The glory.

II. The advantages arising from this ascription of praise. We shall feel that we have presented to God the strongest arguments to ensure an answer to our prayers. We should be encouraged to expect great things in answer to our prayers. We shall feel how eternal and unchangeable is the basis upon which our expectation rests. We shall feel calm and hopeful after prayer, whatever the circumstances in which we are placed, or our views of the world around us, (W. O. Lilley.)

The ordering spirit of the Lord’s prayer

There is the kingdom:-

1. Of nature.

2. Providence.

3. Grace.

4. Glory. (Dr. O. Winslow.)

The doxology

I. The offering of praise as a necessary part of religious worship.

1. Praise is the most disinterested form of religious worship.

2. It is a divinely appointed type of devotion because of its inspiring and elevating influence upon the mind of the worshipper himself.

3. Praise comes nearest to the worship of heaven.

II. Those characteristics of His holy nature and ground for which we are here taught to show forth His praise.

1. We ascribe to the object of our adoration boundless and universal sovereignty.

2. We are instructed to make grateful mention of His omnipotence.

3. His glory.

4. But our doxology rises in the majesty of its ascriptions-dominion, power, glory-for ever. (D. Moore, M. A.)

The doxology

I. A sevenfold view of praise.

1. Prayer ends in praise. Our God who sees the end from the beginning, sees praise in every petition.

2. Praise is the language of the soul in communion with God.

3. It is the culminating point of prayer.

4. The doxology is an argument.

5. Praise is faith and more than faith, it is an anticipation of heaven.

6. The great bond of union is praise.

7. Praise is God’s gift.

II. The threefold ascription of praise.

1. There is the kingdom.

2. The power.

3. The glory.

III. The kingdom, power, and glory, as belonging to the triune God.

IV. For ever. (Dr. Saphir.)

The doxology

I. The doxology a confession of faith.

II. An argument in prayer.

III. An ascription of praise. (Newman Hall, LL. B.)

For Thine is the kingdom

I. Doxology.

1. All prayer should gather itself up and crown itself in praise.

2. Praise should not be for gifts and graces, but for what God is in Himself.

`II. An argumentative doxology. “For thine,” etc. It establishes a plea for every petition.

III. The virtue and sufficiency of prayer lie in a threefold recognition of God.

1. His kingdom-perfect, sovereign, regal.

2. True prayer never stops to ask how.

3. It fixes itself on the glory of God. (T. Vaughan, M. A.)

Amen

1. It is a word of veritable history in Israel and in the Church.

2. It announces God’s truth and faithfulness.

3. It is the name of Christ.

4. It is the seal of prayer.

5. It is the voice of faith.

6. It is the answer of a good conscience.

7. It is a renewal of our dedication to God. (Dr. Saphir.)

The “Amen” of Christ

1. Christ is the amen of the Father’s love.

2. Christ is the amen of the Father’s holiness.

3. Christ is the amen of the Father’s sovereignty.

4. Christ is the amen of the Father’s will.

5. Christ is the amen of the Father’s bestowment.

6. Christ is the amen of the Father’s forgiveness.

7. Christ is the amen of the Father’s guidance.

8. Christ is the amen of the Father’s deliverance.

9. Christ is the amen of the Father’s eternal kingdom and power and glory. (R. W. Percival, M. A.)


Verse 14

Matthew 6:14

If ye forgive men.

Mutual forgiveness

I. All mankind as transgressors are deeply indebted to God’s law.

II. That if ever man be saved it must be by an act of pure mercy.

III. That the Scriptural character of the Almighty encourages us to confide in him for forgiveness.

1. Because the love of God has laid such a foundation for its exercise.

2. It is seen in the earnestness of His invitations.

3. In the promises of His word.

4. In the persons whom He has saved;

IV. That however free the mercy of God is to man, A merciful disposition towards our fellow-creatures is necessary to its enjoyment.

1. It cannot, according to the general tenour of Scripture, condemn self-defence by lawful means.

2. There is a connection between forgiving and being forgiven.

3. Reason establishes this connection. (J. E. Good.)

Those who do not forgive others should never sin themselves

The Rev. J. Wesley, in the course of his voyage to America, hearing an unusual noise in the cabin of General Oglethorpe, the Governor of Georgia, with whom he sailed, stepped in to inquire the cause of it. The General addressed him: “Mr. Wesley, you must excuse me; I have met with a provocation too great for man to bear. You know, the only wine I drink is Cyprus wine; I therefore provided myself with several dozens of it, and this villain, Grimaldi” (his foreign valet, who was present, and almost dead with fear) “has drunk up the whole of it: but I will be revenged on him. I have ordered him to be tied hand and foot, and be carried to the man-of-war which sails with us. The rascal should have taken care how he used me so, for I never forgive.” “Then I hope, sir,” said Wesley, looking calmly at him, “you never sin.” The General was quite confounded at the reproof; and putting his hand into his pocket, took out a bunch of keys, which he threw at Grimaldi. “There, villain,” said he, “take my keys and behave better for the future.”


Verse 16

Matthew 6:16

When ye fast.

I. A few remarks on the practice of fasting at the time of our Lord.

II. The sinful and unprofitable manner in which the Jews observed it.

1. Their ostentation.

2. Its futility-“They have their reward.”

III. The directions given us for its observance.

1. The propriety of private fasting.

2. The manner of its observance.

3. The prosperity of personal religion may be promoted by it. (J. K. Good.)

Fasting

I. The nature, design, and importance of fasting. Not only abstinence from sin, but abstinence from food for a time, longer or shorter, as health and duty will allow. Scripture testimony, etc. What is the design of fasting?

1. To manifest and promote sorrow for sin, etc. (Isaiah 58:5).

2. Self-denial, and a means of mortification.

3. That it may help to prayer and other holy duties. These things manifest the reasonableness and importance of fasting.

II. How the hypocrites fasted. Partial, insincere, selfish, self-righteous, external, etc. How much reason is there to think that thousands among us fast in this way!

III. How the true people of God observe this duty. They are sincere and deeply affected with their own sins, etc. (Joel 2:12-17; Exodus 9:4; Daniel 9:3; James 4:9-10). They intend the glory of God (Matthew 6:18), and the mortification of sin in themselves and others, and the reformation of the nation (Romans 13:14; Romans 8:13; Galatians 5:16-24). They are humble, spiritual, consistent, practical (Joel 2:14; Isaiah 1:16; Isaiah 55:6-7; Matthew 3:7-10; Luke 3:7; Luke 3:9; Luke 13:1-9; James 4:8; Isaiah 1:17; Isaiah 58:7; Psalms_17:25; Luke 3:11). (J. Benson.)


Verse 19

Matthew 6:19

Treasures upon earth.
-This does not discourage diligent endeavour for the body which is necessary; industry, which is one part of duty. We are not to over-value even these valuable possessions.

I. Here is an exhortation to duty.

1. What are these treasures?

2. What is implied by laying up treasures in heaven?

II. The encouragements reenforce the duty of laying up treasure in heaven.

1. No thieves deprive them of their property.

2. Are you trading for that better world? (Dr. Fisher.)

Treasures in heaven

The love of accumulation is a principle in our nature; no man free from its fascination. The only true investment for an immortal being must be in eternity. Everything done for God’s grace and glory is like something planted out of this world into the soil of another state. It is a deposit which will appear again. Take an instance of the way in which Christians may lay up treasures in heaven.

1. By selecting for our friends and companions those who are children of God, so that each departing one is an actual increase of the holy treasure which is awaiting us in another state. To Christian man, death only sweeps the field to house the harvest. The treasures of his heart are only locked up from him for a little while, to be opened presently, in greater loveliness, where everything is real, and every reality is for ever. It will be our greatest joy to meet in heaven those to whom we have been useful in this life.

2. The motive of any action will carry it higher than its present and visible scope. Every man has his time, talents, influence, and money, as working materials. If he so use these that he is constantly considering their value for eternity, he is putting treasure in God’s bank.

3. It is the power of faith to appropriate everything it grasps. You send on your affection to occupy heaven; you have a present enjoyment of your reversion. You increase your treasure in heaven by continued acts of faith in Jesus Christ.

4. By thus throwing yourself into another world this life will appear an impoverishment thing. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Earthly and heavenly treasures

I. The treasures referred to.

1. The treasures of earth are evanescent.

2. The lawful possession of earthly treasures is no sin.

3. The text does not object to your getting rich in a righteous way.

II. Lay up treasures in heaven.

1. Because its bank is strong in its independence. Banks and firms are much like ninepins with which children play; when one pin falls the others fall also. But as for the bank of heaven, it is strictly independent; it is the only bank of its kind in the universe.

2. Because the omniscience of the Banker is the very best security. Could men foresee financial disaster they would avoid it.

3. Because this bank can never be broken into.

4. It is the only bank that can help you at death. You cannot very well trade in France with English money. You must change it into French money. But no earthly bank can change its coin so as to ferry you across Jordan.

5. Bank not with evil any longer. (J. O. Davis.)

Toys must not be counted treasures

A lady once asked two little boys who were amusing themselves with some beautiful playthings, “Well, boys, these are your treasures, I suppose-your greatest treasures.” “No, ma’am,” said the elder boy, “these are not our treasures, they are our playthings; our treasures are in heaven.” A noble answer from a child. Oh, my congregation, let us treat gold and silver and precious stones as toys, and let us treat moral goodness, spiritual beauty, righteousness of heart, Christlikeness, Godlikeness, as our only treasures worthy the name! (J. O. Davis.)

Treasures in heaven

Have a deposit on earth, if you must or can; but let your chief banking be in heaven. (H. W. Beecher.)

Heavenly mindedness

I. The conduct prohibited.

1. The heart of man is the governing principle of his actions.

2. This too high estimation of the things of the world leads to an undue degree of solicitude for their acquisition, which the precept under consideration is designed to repress.

II. The opposite duty which we are required to discharge.

1. The objects exhibited to our attention-“Treasures in heaven.”

2. The exhortation to secure an interest in this felicity.

III. The satisfactory reasons on which these directions are founded.

1. The uncertainty of earthly good.

2. The reality of that which is Divine.

3. And the powerful influence which our possessions have over our affections. Learn:

1. The folly of the worldly-minded man.

2. The wisdom of true piety. (J. E. Good.)

Our treasures to be raised higher

The Rev. Ashton Oxenden quotes from an old writer an illustration of this precept. He says, “We need not lose our riches, but change their place. Suppose a friend should enter thy house, and should find that thou hadst lodged thy fruits on a damp floor; and suppose he knew the likelihood of those fruits to spoil, and should therefore give thee some such advice as this-‘Brother, thou art likely to lose the things which thou hast gathered with great labour. Thou hast placed them on a damp floor. In a few days they will corrupt.’ You would inquire, ‘What shall I do?’ And he would answer, ‘Raise them to a higher room.’ If wise, you would instantly act upon this advice. So Christ advises us to raise our riches from earth to heaven.”

No man ever went to heaven whose heart was not there before

These words.

I. As an entire proposition in themselves.

1. Every man has something which he accounts his treasure or chief good. This is apparent-

2. Whatsoever a man places his treasure in, upon that he places his heart also.

II. As an argument. Two rivals for the affections; man cannot fix on both.

1. Consider how far inferior the world is to man’s heart. Its enjoyments are


Verse 22

Matthew 6:22

The light of the body is the eye.

Singleness of eye

The man whose only object is to make good his eternity moves forward in an element of clearness, without the doubts which harass other men.

I. That which we most desire we most wish to know about. Let a man be actuated by strong desire for salvation and he will never cease to inquire till he has found it. In proportion to the laboriousness of the search is the largeness of the discovery; the “whole body” is “full of light.”

II. He that hath singled out eternity as the object of his pursuith proves that he has a just estimate of its importance as compared with time. To our optics magnitude is reversed; but let it be seen in its just proportions and all the prospects of futurity are altered. This will bring justice and order into the whole perspective of being. What a view do we get of time if we measure it on the scale of eternity. This sweeps away a multitude of errors, and the whole body becomes “full of light.” One principle will often throw light over the whole field of contemplation. We must not try to unite the interests of both worlds; this has more than a distracting, it would have a darkening, effect. Another mode in which singleness of eye entails light is by the reflex influence of obedience on faith. The more we prepare for heaven and the further we get on the way to it, the light grows brighter and brighter. Every accession of grace brings new light. The path of the just is as the shining light. (Dr. Chalmers.)

Religion the ruling, though not the only, object of life.

The “eye” is “single,” not because it sees one thing, but because it looks in one direction. It is a simplicity, not of the intellectual, but of the moral regards. It marks one ruling passion to which all others are pressed into subservience. A navigator may set his mind on the discovery of some distant region, and may repel all the temptations he meets with in his way; not allowing the luxury of one place, or the gain of another, to detain him. Here is singleness of eye; but yet he attends to the waters below, and to the firmament above, and to the compass by which he steers his course. Here the object is one, but its pursuit is illuminated by the light of many sciences. (Dr. Chalmers)

The single eye

I. What is meant by “the single eye?”

1. It; implies the contemplation of one object. “One thing have I desired of the Lord.” “One thing is needful.”

2. Clearness of perception is implied.

3. Undeviating attention to the object of our view.

II. What is to be understood by the fulness of light which is said to attend its vision? Light is an emblem of knowledge, happiness, usefulness.

1. Then Divine knowledge springs from the contemplation of God.

2. Light is an emblem of happiness.

3. Light is an emblem of usefulness. (J. Curwen.)

The single eye

1. Naturally: It is by means of the eye the body is directed in its avoidance of evil.

2. Metaphorically: Light is the emblem of happiness and joy.

3. Morally: Light applied often to the conscience. (J. E. Good.)

The darkness of unbelief

I. The body has eyes to see with.

II. We have light to see by, as well as eyes to see with; the light is as necessary as the organ of sight. Vision is the result of a two-fold agency-Man’s and God’s.

III. The eyes are subject to disease. Sometimes the eyes are intolerant of the light; sometimes they distort it so as to narrow or lengthen objects, and thus misrepresent them.

These three things are true of the mind

1. The mind has eyes-organs to see truth, to know realities in the world of thought; these eyes are understanding and reason. Furthermore, our natural eyes perceive the colour of objects as well as the objects themselves, so the mind has perception of the quality of action as just and beautiful, or the opposite.

2. But as the eyes are dependent upon light, so are our minds dependent upon the light God sheds upon us. Reason, conscience, need light. It is folly for a man to say he has no need of light, that his eyes are enough for him!

3. The mind’s organ of vision is subject to disease.

How great the darkness

1. As to the kind of it. To be in a room hung with pictures and not to be able to see them is grief; to be in a world filled with expressions of the Creator’s power and love, and not see them is unutterable loss.

2. It is great in respect of guilt.

3. It is hopeless. (W. I. Budington, D. D.)

I. There is in every man a conscience or practical judgment, A spiritual eye or light within him. Conscience is God’s deputy.

1. Acts by His commission.

2. Dictates in His name.

3. Censures by His authority.

4. Refers us to His sentence.

5. Assigns us over to answer for all our actions at the bar of the Supreme Judge of heaven and earth.

II. Conscience is a light to direct and guide us. It manifests and demonstrates itself in all the circumstances of human life by universal regard to present, past, and future action.

1. When temptation assaults and inclines to evil action, conscience is ready to interpose, admonish, and dissuade us from it.

2. When temptation prevails upon us, conscience resists, regrets, checks, and upbraids the undertaking, after the commission.

3. It objects, convicts, reproves, accuses, condemns, and afflicts us for it.

4. When occasion of doing good is offered, conscience incites, persuades, and encourages us to do it.

5. After it is done, it defends, approves, and applauds the action.

III. Conscience may abuse its office, mistake its measures. This eye may be evil, this light may be darkness.

1. Conscience may be perverted by false principles, prejudice, dangerous errors, and evil practices.

2. May err in its notions of truth.

IV. Four principles generally influence human life.

1. Chance;

2. Sense;

3. Custom;

4. Temporal interest.

V. The greatest misery and misfortune that can befall, us, is to have our consciences depraved and corrupted. If the light within us be darkness, how great, how mischievous, is that darkness? (Samuel Fuller, D. D.)

Singleness of eye, its meaning and consequences

I. What is here meant by singleness of eye? It is being wholly decided for Christ alone.

II. The consequences of having the eye single.

1. There will be light in regard to God and His dealings.

2. There is light in regard to our own position and character.

3. There will be light in regard to revelation.

4. There will be light in regard to our own experience. (W. Park.)

The mental eye fixed on one object

We are told that rope dancers, in order to steady themselves during their perilous feats, are in the habit of fixing their gaze steadily on some distant object, and that, if once they permit themselves to look upon the rope, or upon the sea of upturned faces beneath them, then they become dizzy and fail. If you ever tried to cross a stream on a log, you will remember that, by looking steadily at some object on the opposite bank, you were quite safe; but, no sooner did you begin to look at the log, or upon the foaming, dashing waters beneath, than you lost your balance and came to grief. And, in order that our conduct may be right, that in this world, so full of snares, and temptations, and pitfalls, we may walk aright, it is absolutely necessary that we fix our affections upon one object, and that object is Christ. (W. Park.)

Singleness of eye conducive to assurance of salvation

Why is it, my friends, that you have any doubt in telling which way the wind is blowing? or in what direction a river is running? Is it not because the wind is scarcely blowing at all, or always changing? and because the river is scarcely running, or running in opposite currents? Let the wind blow steadily in one direction, and you do not require to look at the vane in order to tell what is its point; and when the stream, swollen and turbid with mountain torrents, rushes down to the sea, bearing everything before it, you do not require to stand on its banks and think whether it is going this way or that. So let a man have thoughts, and feelings, and desires decidedly heavenward, let him be wholly decided for Christ, and he can have no doubt as to his own state; but, if he is today with Christ, and to-morrow on the side of the world, I should not at all be surprised if that man had many doubts and misgivings as to his acceptance with God. (W. Park.)

A single eye and simple faith

I. The eye of our faith. Faith the eye of the believer’s soul. This eye must look to Jesus alone, not to Christ and our own merits. If thou ernst be saved by these things the glory is divided. No!

II. The eye of our obedience. There are professors whose eye of obedience is not single, they are for the world as for Christ. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Look and live in the same spiritual direction

An old Puritan said, “A hypocrite is like the hawk; the hawk flies upward, but he always keeps his eye down on the prey; let him get up as high as he will, he is always looking on the ground. Whereas, the Christian is like the lark, he turns his eye up to heaven, and as he mounts and sings he looks upward and he mounts upward.” (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Pure motives the light of the soul

The human eye is the most striking feature in the human constitution; is closest to the soul; gleams with ethereal fire. As the eye must not see double, but must be single in order that the body may be full of light, so there must be no double mind if the Christian would not walk in darkness. Pure motives are the light of the soul.

I. It is the light of the soul because it relieves the mind of doubts concerning the path of duty. If the soul be full of pure affection for God it will guide in the path of duty.

II. Because it relieves the mind of doubts concerning religious doctrine. Does its adoption glorify God? (W. G. T. Shedd, D. D.)

The causes and danger of self-deceit

I. Explain the meaning of the text. There is a disparity between external light and the judgment of the mind; the former does not depend on choice. Obstruction in the eyesight may be a man’s infelicity, it is not his fault. The evil eye is the disease of the mind, malignant and dangerous. We are to lay up treasure in heaven; we are in danger of such darkness or ignorance as shall make us insensible of our highest interest. We are liable to this self-deceit.

1. It is evident from the plain intimations of Scripture (Proverbs 16:2; Isaiah 5:20).

2. Instances within the compass of our own acquaintance.

II. The most general cause of self-deceit in the affairs of religion is some prevailing, corrupt passion. This leads to unfairness in these inquiries concerning duty.

III. The means whereby this fatal disease of the mind is confirmed.

1. False imaginaties.

2. Superstition.

3. Self-flattery.

4. Feeble, ineffectual purposes of future amendment.

IV. The extent of this self-deceit. Learn:

1. To be watchful.

2. What is right will generally appear to our first thoughts.

3. Implore the aid of Divine grace. (J. Abernethy, M. A.)


Verse 24

Matthew 6:24

Serve two masters.

Neutrality in religion exposed

I. No man can serve two masters.

1. There are many who contrive to elude the force of this maxim, or make awful experiments to try the certainty of it.

2. Nor are these persons wanting in excuses to palliate, if not to justify their practice.

3. There are, however, four cases in which you may serve two masters, but the exceptions only render the general rule more remarkable.

II. One of these you will unavoidably serve.

1. It is impossible for a man to be without some master.

2. The advocates of independence are greatest slaves.

3. The service of religion does not demand greater privations than that of sin.

III. You ought to serve God. Remind you-

1. Of His various and undeniable claims.

2. Of His designs in employing you in His service; our own good, not His need.

3. Make the right choice. (W. Jay.)

The impossibility of serving God and mammon

I. The meaning and truth of the maxim here laid down. The man who serves his master serves him with faithfulness and singleness of heart, with a mind wholly given to his service. It is impossible thus to serve two. He may appear to serve both: but let contrary interests arise and it will be seen to which he really belongs.

II. Our Lord’s application of this maxim. God and mammon are two masters: cannot serve both.

1. You must follow your worldly business from right motives.

2. You must follow it by right rules.

3. You must use your worldly gain in a right manner.

Two motives weigh with a man in selecting masters, interest or gratitude. On these grounds God claims your service above the world.

1. God can do more for you than mammon can do. God claims your service on the ground of what He has done for you. (E. Cooper.)

I. The necessity of decision in religion.

1. From the impracticability of uniting the two services.

2. From the misery which is an attendant on the attempt to unite these services.

3. The fatal consequences in another world.

4. The happy consequences from a uniform attachment to the right master.

II. Application of the subject.

1. Decision of character, it is evident, is totally distinct from party spirit.

2. We do not intend anything like indifference.

3. But are not some decided on the other side? (J. Fell.)

No man can serve two masters

1. It is a moral impossibility. He will love the one, etc. Men who love the world hate religion; and those who hate the world love Christ.

2. A divided service is making a divided life, the world comes into the religion, and religion comes into the world; both are spoilt.

3. The luxury, repose, and strength of a heart quite made up. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

God and mammon

I. The service that cannot be divided.

II. Why cannot both be served.

1. Because God claims a whole service.

2. Because God claims a heart-service.

III. The grounds of a reasonable choice.

1. Justice-God claims our service as His due; not upon contract, but natural relationship.

2. Gratitude-God has redeemed us.

3. Interest. Here mammon rests his whole case. His claim is that he offers

Concerning the advantages of mammon three inquiries have to be answered.

1. Are they certain?

2. Are they real?

3. Will they last? (T. M. Macdonald, M. A.)

The service of the heart supreme

When a statute was made in Queen Elizabeth’s reign that all should come to church, the Papists sent to Rome to know the Pope’s pleasure; he returned them this answer, it is said: “Bid the Catholics in England give me their hearts, and let the Queen take the rest.” (Gurnall.)

You cannot sail under two flags.

The impossibility of serving God and mammon, and the propriety of giving God the preference

I. The impossibility of serving both.

1. Because of their opposite interests.

2. From the different objects they have to advance.

3. From the nature of the flesh and the spirit.

II. The propriety of giving God the preference.

1. He has the first claim upon you. He your Creator.

2. Consider the relative character of the service. One your life and joy, the other servitude and death.

III. Improvement.

1. The infinite importance of having singleness of heart in matters of religion.

2. How necessary to examine our hearts that we may know whom we serve.

3. What an awful idea the subject gives us of worldly-minded possessors. (J. E. Good.)

The inconsistency of the love of God and love of the world

I. What is it to serve God?

1. A visible profession, a steady belief, and awful sentiments of a Supreme Being.

2. To ascribe that worship that is strictly due to Him, as an acknowledgment of His almighty power, and a testimony of our submission.

3. Regard to His sacred laws.

4. A ready and cheerful obedience to His will, and a resignation under afflictions.

II. What is it to serve mammon?

1. It implies a persuasion of mind that riches and grandeur are the true seat of human happiness.

2. It is to attribute that worship to the creature which is only due to the Creator.

3. It is to be so much devoted to the world, as to fret at every disappointment, and repine at the least obstruction to our growing rich.

III. To show wherein the service of God and mammon is inconsistent. Their commands are contrary and irreconcilable. God commands us to seek Him first; mammon tempts us with kingdoms. God asks for our time; mammon takes it.

2. Annex a consideration to enforce what has been said.


Verse 25

Matthew 6:25

Take no thought.

Take no thought for the morrow

1. The question arises, Is not the Christian character a provident one?

2. All this is done to drive us to live by the day: to let the day’s affairs fill the day’s thoughts. See the benefit of this.

3. We should have only to do with the sins of the current day. As with our sins so with our cares.

4. The trouble which comes is very often not the trouble which we expected. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

No thought for the morrow

1. The Christian should live in quiet confidence in God.

2. This quiet dependence upon God is our happiness, usefulness, strength, security.

3. If this were wrought in our hearts as a principle, how energetic we should be in the exercise of faith in God.

4. The secret of getting through work is to take the work of the day and leave all that does not belong to it.

5. Although a man leaves all to God, and is happy in Christ, he is not therefore exempt from evil. (J. W. Reeve.)

Undue anxiety reproved

I. The prohibition. If the text prohibits anxiety about gaining sustenance itself, it must much more condemn such a disposition of mind in reference to the luxuries or show of life, what a world of uneasiness is created by inordinate desire about trifles.

II. The reasons or motives for doing so.

1. The first is derived from a view of the conduct of the Gentiles.

2. Another lesson for avoiding anxiety is this, “that our heavenly Father knoweth we have need of these things.”

3. There is no advantage in excessive carefulness.

Learn:

1. Christianity is calculated to make men happy.

2. Let Christians guard against a distrustful spirit. (R. Robinson.)

The word “ thought “ is here used in the antiquated sense of anxiety. In this sense it occurs in Bacon and Shakespeare, “Queen Catherine Parr died of thought.” “The pale cast of thought.”

Evils of anxious forethought

1. From the intrinsic superiority of the spirit or the soul to its material surroundings.

2. It is needless, as all men stand in an order of nature that they are sure to be supplied by a moderate exertion of their powers. A man ought to be ashamed if a bird can get a living and he cannot.

3. Anxiety does no good. The mind works more wisely when it works pleasantly. Anxiety distorts the future.

4. It brings men under the power of the imagination and phantoms, which they fight without pause, and upon which they spend their strength for nothing.

5. If a man is constantly looking to the future in despondency, where is faith in his God? (Beecher.)

Anxious thought incapacitates for a wise ordering of life

The whole success of life depends upon the wholesomeness of a man’s mind. The ship-master that navigates the sea beyond the sight of land is dependent upon the correctness of his chronometer and his compass. If the instruments of navigation fail him, everything fails him. And what these are to navigation on the sea and in a ship, the human mind is to our navigation of life. And anything that disturbs the balance of the mind so far invalidates the whole voyage of life. (Beecher.)

Anxiety for the Future often arises from some unholy passion

Fear still sits in the window. “What seest thou? “ says Vanity. “Whisperings are abroad,” says Fear. “Men are pointing at you-or they will, as soon as you come to a point of observation.” “O my good name!” says a man. “All that I have done; all that I have laid up-what will become of that? Where is my reputation going? What will become of me when I lose it, and when folks turn away from me? O trouble I trouble fit is coming!” What is it? Fear is sitting in the window of the soul, and looking into the future, and interpreting the signs thereof to the love of approbation in its coarsest and lowest condition. Fear still sits looking into the future, and pride, coming up, says, “What is it that you see? I see,” says Fear, “your castle robbed. I see you toppled down from your eminence. I see you under base men’s feet. I see you weakened. I see you disesteemed. I see your power scattered and gone.” “O Lord; what a world is this!” says Pride. Now, that man has not had a particle of trouble. Fear sat in the window and lied. And Pride cried, and Vanity cried, and Avarice cried-and ought to cry. Fear sat and told lies to them all. For there was not one of those things, probably, done there. Did Fear see them? Yes. But Fear has a kaleidoscope in his eye, and every time it turns it takes a new form. It is filled with broken glass, and it gives false pictures continually. Fear does not see right. It is for ever seeing wrong. And it is stimulated by other feelings. Pride stimulates it; and Vanity stimulates it; and Lust stimulates it; and Love itself finds, sometimes, no better business than to send Fear on its bad errands. For love cries at the cradle, “Oh, the child will die!” It will not die. It will get well. And then you will not be ashamed that you prophesied that it would die. You put on mourning in advance. (Beecher.)

A dissuasive from anxiety

I. The evil which we are directed to avoid.

II. The powerful considerations by which the saviour enforces the precept.

1. The power of God as displayed in our creation and preservation.

2. The care of Divine providence.

3. The futility of excessive anxiety.

4. The beauty of nature.

III. There reflections.

1. The connection of Divine agency with the existence of all things.

2. This subject reminds us of Him through whom we have access to the Father.

3. Let us learn lessons of spiritual wisdom from everything around us. (J. E. Good.)

Appears to use a variety of arguments against over-anxiety.

I. He that gave the lesser gift will surely give the greater.

II. God cares for the lower creation.

III. Over-anxiety is useless.

IV. To be over-anxious is to arraign the Divine foresight.

V. To be over-anxious is to sink from the level of the Christian disciple to that of the heathen. (Gordon Calthrop, M. A.)

Fretfulness

Arguments against an unquiet spirit.

1. The general course of nature is in favour of men.

2. That there is a Divine providence which employs the course of nature and gives it direction.

3. Fretting does no good, but uses up the nerve force needlessly.

4. It begets a habit of looking at the dark side of things.

5. The things we fear seldom happen.

The folly of looking only at the ills of life

Now, what if a man should go round searching for a more familiar acquaintance with thistles and nettles and thorns, and everything sharp, up and down the highways, over the hills, and through the fields, and insist on putting his hand on everything that could give him a scratch? What if a man should insist upon finding out whatever was sour and bitter, and should go about tasting, and tasting, and tasting for that purpose. What if a man should insist upon smelling every disagreeable odour, and should see no gaspipe open that he did not go and look at it? When doves fly in the heavens, and go swinging round in their flight, we know what they see the grassy field, the luxuriant grain, or the inviting perch where they may rest; but when buzzards fly through the air they see no green fields, no pleasant gardens, but carrion, if there be any in sight; and if there is none to be seen, there is discontent in the buzzard heart. (Beecher.)

One fretful person a pleasure spoiler

It does not take more than one smoky chimney in a room to make it intolerable. (Beecher.)

Over-anxiety forbidden

I. Anxiety is useless about things not under our own control. Duration of life, etc.

II. Anxiety is useless in matters under our own management. Anxiety will not furnish the opportunity of earning bread, or arm us with power-but the reverse.

III. Anxiety does not attract us to the notice of God. He cares for us irrespective of our carefulness. No promise is made to anxiety, etc.

IV. Anxiety is useless because Jesus bids you get rid of it. Trust Him and let the spirit rest, and be strong and glad. (S. Martin.)

I. There is no wise man who will lay out his time and thoughts about things he cannot bring to pass; no one debates but of things possible and probable, lying within the sphere of his activity.

II. That our food and maintenance nourishes us, and augments and enlarges the proportion of every limb, is not the product of our own care, but of God’s blessing.

III. So it is with all outward concerns. From the Divine benediction which accompanies them, they prove good and useful to us. Not from our own care. (Adam Littleton, D. D.)


Verse 28

Matthew 6:28

Consider the lilies.

I. God puts on the lilies and tulips such gorgeous apparel for one day’s wearing, spun by providence, as far surpasseth the tracery of the most splendid court, that Solomon himself, with all his wisdom and magnificence, could not match them.

II. These are but inconsiderable creatures in comparison with men, and such as God has infinitely less obligations to take care of than He has for us, who are by adoption through His Son so nearly related to Him, that He is our heavenly Father.

III. Therefore be sure He will not fail in looking after us, who are creatures of so much greater excellence in ourselves, and of so much nearer relation to Himself; insomuch that he who distrusts God in these outward things, shows want of faith, by not depending upon God according to the dignity of His nature, as well as to the obligations of His grace. (Adam Littleton, D. D.)

Consider the lilies

I. The objects to which he directs us for the lesson he would teach.

II. The lesson itself. God takes care of the lilies; the inference

III. The rebuke to unbelief and call for faith. (C. M. Merry.)

Consider the lilies

1. For the sake of their tender associations. The life of flowers has all the vicissitudes of human life.

2. Consider their growth.

3. Their beauty.

4. Their unselfishness.

5. Their death. (W. E. Shalders, B. A.)

Christ and the lilies

1. Lily-life and growth teach us freedom from care.

2. The lily grows everywhere, the Oriental lily.

3. The special utility of the lily.

4. A word on this question of raiment. Life first, then clothing. (A. J. Griffiths.)

The lilies’ witness

or, God will take care of you.

I. So, then, there is a gospel in nature. Under pretence of exalting what God has said in His Word we must not depreciate what He has done in His works. There is a gospel in nature, not the gospel. Christ comes as the interpreter of nature’s gospel. This gospel of nature is especially for the poor.

II. This gospel must be mused on. Nature’s text must be studied-“consider.” Multitudes are blind and deaf, not through misfortune, but from disposition. Nature’s gospel has no vision for those who consider not.

III. This gospel is very convincing and consolatory as explained by jesus christ.

1. God takes care of the lilies and the grass. They do not grow by chance.

2. From these specimens of nature Jesus preaches the good news of faith in providence. Men are better than birds, and more useful. (J. Stoughton, D. D.)

Lessons from the lilies

The lily as an emblem of our blessed Lord (Song of Solomon 2:1).

1. Purity.

2. Admiration at the amazing power of God.

3. The unceasing watchfulness the Almighty One extends over all His works.

4. Humility. It delights in the valleys.

5. Contentment. Other flowers may boast that they grow in more conspicuous places, that their colours are more gay; but the lily is content to be as God made it.

6. Beauty.

7. A reminder of immortality. (J. Norton.)

The preaching of nature

1. The first lesson which these silent preachers would have us learn is the unfailing care of God for His creatures.

2. They indicate a resurrection.

3. The flowers teach us a lesson of usefulness.

4. The flowers teach us to be a comfort to our neighbours. (Wilmot Buxton.)

The good life a ministry to the barren life

In the highest part of the Peak of Teneriffe, far above the clouds, and in dry and burning waste, there grows a plant which, in the spring time, fills the air with delicious fragrance. There are some of us who may be condemned to live in a barren and dry land of hard work and lonely trouble. But loving natures and gentle words can make that desert blossom as the rose. (Wilmot Buxton.)

Consider the lilies

Contentment without distrust.

I. They are clothed with beauty (1 Peter 3:3-4).

II. They grow without anxiety. They never fret because of the heat, drought, rain, or cold. They pass through changes; are of different growth.

III. They are watched, although soon to pall. (Canon Titcomb, M. A.)

True contentment found in God

If the sun of God’s countenance shine upon me I may well be content to be wet with some rain of affliction. (Bishop Hall.)

Lessons from the lily

I. It has its root hidden. Secret trust, etc. No pure white lily could live without the hidden root to draw up moisture from the soil.

II. Consider how pure and sweet the lily is, and how innocent. Everybody loves them. What a picture of the Child Jesus!

III. Consider the lilies as A lesson about dress. This the special lesson of text. He clothes the lilies in white. Some children always fretting about dress. Vain about dress. Sinfully careless about dress,

IV. Consider the lily in the evening. When sun sets, close up. Don’t stare at darkness, hang the head and sleep. Children should do the same.

V. Even lilies must die. (C. R. Wynne, M. A.)

The lilies of the field

We learn from the lilies something con-cerning-

I. Our father’s power. Our heavenly Father is almighty. Variety in colour, size, and form of the lily, an indication of God’s power. God’s resources are so boundless. This power will punish or save us.

II. Our father’s care. Describe the beauty and delicacy of all the parts, etc. Note concerning lilies. They are comparatively insignificant. They are perishing. They often grow amongst thorns, yet are cared for.

III. Our faith. Our weakness and liability to sickness and death. Lilies not more frail than our lives.

IV. Our future life. When stem and flower wither, root does not die, etc.

V. Jesus Christ. He is called the “Lily of the valley.” There are spots and flaws in the character of all others, none in His. (W. H. Booth.)

Lily lessons

I. A lesson of wonder and delight in contemplating the works of God. They are God’s workmanship.

II. Admire and love what is beautiful. Some people take no account of beauty; they want only the useful. The beauty of heaven, the beauty of holiness.

III. Diligence.

IV. Patience and punctuality. Every blossom has its season.

V. Tolerance. Lilies and roses and oaks all grow in obedience to same laws; but each after its own pattern.

VI. A lesson of faith. (E. R. Conder, D. D.)

God’s workmanship combines regality and beauty

One of the most noticeable things concerning the beauty of God’s works is this-that it is never stuck on as mere outside show, but grows out of their nature. Men often make a thing ugly first, and then cover it up with paint, or plaster, or gilding, to make it beautiful. God never does so. You will find no sham ornaments on His works. The shape He gives to each creature is just that which is fitted for it; and the colour with which He adorns it will never wash off. In His great workshop, truth and beauty go together. (E. R. Conder, D. D.)


Verse 30

Matthew 6:30

Much more clothe you.

Therefore

I. We should from hence be excited to magnify and adore the goodness of God, who, as a common Father, provides for the maintenance of all His creatures.

II. We should never be tempted to do anything unjust, in order to increase our substance or gain a livelihood. We may improve our circumstances, but within the bounds of strict honesty. Whenever we find it impossible to mend our condition without deceitful and unrighteous dealing, we ought to conclude that it is the will of God we should remain as we are.

III. We should be filled with resignation and contentment, being fully convinced that He who thus constantly provides for the substance of such inferior beings will never suffer us to want anything which is truly needful. (Nicolas Carter, D. D.)

Particular providence

I. Explain what we understand by a particular providence. Many deny that God exercises a particular providence over the world. They acknowledge that God rules by general rules, but deny that these leave room for contingencies.

II. Offer some considerations in favour of a particular providence.

1. That it appears from the nature of providence that it must be particular. We can no more conceive that one creature can uphold itself than another. It is absurd to suppose that a created object is independent of its Creator.

2. The supreme and ultimate end of Divine providence proves it to be particular. If God exercises a government over the world it is to some definite end; hence, providence must be particular over the parts as much as the whole.

3. The goodness of God requires Him to exercise a particular providence over His creatures. This leads Him to care for every member of His family.

4. The Scriptures represent God as exercising a particular providence over every part of creation. He telleth the number of the stars.

Learn:

1. Then there can be no such thing as chance.

2. Then God will certainly accomplish His ultimate end in creation.

3. A particular providence displays the perfections of God in a glorious light.

4. The whole world is under obligations to Him for the favours it enjoys. (Y. Emmons, D. D.)


Verse 32

Matthew 6:32

Your heavenly Father knoweth.

The antidote to anxiety

I. Reasons against anxiety.

1. Anxiety is a part of indecision of character and partakes of its harmfulness. “No man can serve two masters.”

2. An argument from the greater to the less; God takes care of fowls, He will of men.

3. The impossibilities in the case-“Which of you,” etc.

4. The analogies of nature-“Consider the lilies,” etc.

5. It puts the Christian to shame by showing that he is anxious like the heathen.

6. The character of God-“Your heavenly Father,” etc.

7. The folly of the thing.

II. The magnitude of the sin” of anxiety.

1. It makes you unhappy, which is matter for blame rather than pity.

2. It is a positive wrong done to God; it distrusts him.

3. Do not speak of your anxieties as something for which you are to be commiserated.

4. Never place yourself willingly in a position of worldly anxiety; it is a great hindrance to spiritual life. (A. Vaughan, M. A.)

God’s individual care of His children

A father does not deal with all his children by one and the same universal rule, but with each child individually. For he is acquainted with their separate, especial wants; he knows them as no one else knows them. Therefore, not only have all their portions, but every one the portion he requires. The delicate one is the most shielded,-the timid one is the most encouraged,-the infirm one is the most helped,-the dull one is the most taught,-the tempted one is the most prayed for,-the returning one is the most rejoiced over. And it is the speciality and the appropriateness of the care which makes the great characteristics of paternal government. (A. Vaughan, M. A)


Verse 33

Matthew 6:33

Seek ye first the kingdom of God.

The profitable pursuit

I. What we are to seek.

II. How we are to seek.

1. First in time.

2. First in attention.

3. What are your desires?

4. What are your exertions? These last two will reveal the object of your search.

III. Why we are thus to seek these blessings.

1. Though destitute, as we naturally are, of His kingdom and righteousness, if we seek them in the manner here required, we shall obtain them.

2. Besides gaining this kingdom and righteousness, all other things shall be added unto us.

Religion has a friendly influence over secular affairs; other things occupy too much of your time and attention.

1. This undue solicitude injures your spiritual welfare.

2. It is hurtful even to your temporal welfare. (W. Jay.)

Religion our chief concern

1. From the excellence of the objects which it proposes.

2. From the certainty of its rewards. (W. Fleming, D. D.)

The care of the body transferred to the soul

I. The conclusion” to which the Saviour arrives.

1. The carefulness forbidden.

2. The grounds on which the prohibition is founded.

II. The duty commanded us.

1. The objects we are to pursue-“The kingdom of God.”

2. The precept given us respecting them-“Seek first.”

3. The promise annexed to the pursuit.

III. Three reflections.

1. What a friend to man is Christianity!

2. What an enemy to our peace is a worldly spirit:

3. What a reproof does this administer to multitudes of the hearers of the gospel! (J. E. Good.)

The first object in life

Suppose a man should be religious for the sake of temporal advantage. Whatever a man’s motive, that is the first thing. Therefore this man is not seeking first the kingdom of God, but the temporal advantages to which his religion is subservient. Do not let a poor man be tempted to think that because he is not richer, either he is not a seeker, or God is not a faithful promiser. Occasions on which we may especially urge this text:-

1. Upon the young man just entering into life.

2. The man who is passing under some temptation to compromise a principle for the sake of some worldly interest-in friendship or business. Whatever be your engagements in life, remember that you have a prior one. And in whatever relation you stand to man, never forget that you have a higher one.

Keep your eye on the eternal.

1. Remember that there is a kingdom within, in which the spiritual is to reign over the carnal.

2. That there is a kingdom around you, which is God’s Church, which is your foremost duty to extend.

3. That there is a kingdom coming which shall put to shame all the riches of this present world. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

The first concern

The word “seek” is contrasted with the same word used in the thirty-second verse: “After these things do the Gentiles seek.” With what activity, zeal, are these things attended to!

I. We need no argument to convince you that the things after which the gentiles seek occupy a great place in men’s minds and necessarily so. Religious ordinances not merely for enjoyment, but to strengthen for the toil of life. But men postpone their salvation. This is against God’s ordinance, “Seek first.”

II. The assurance connected with this command. This is a positive assurance; the fulfilment depends upon the faithfulness of God.

1. He argues from the less to the greater-“Is not the life more than meat?”

2. He takes us to God’s providential care over the lower creatures.

3. If men indulge in disquieting care, what benefit do they derive?

4. Disquieting care is as unnecessary as it is unprofitable. “Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.” A common objection is, “How is it that so many good people are in want?” Have they been seeking God first? (W. Cadman, M. A.)

Seeking first the kingdom of God

I. What is the kingdom of god?

1. To have the whole of one’s heart in subjugation to God.

2. To extend the Church.

3. To pray for and help on the Second Advent.

II. What is his righteousness?

1. There was the righteousness in which man was first made.

2. There is a righteousness which is a part of the character of God.

3. There is a righteousness composed of all the perfections of the life of Christ.

Now this is the righteousness which every good man seeks.

1. That it will justify him before God.

2. Then something that will justify him before his own conscience.

3. The comfort of the thought that it is not to attainers, but to seekers.

4. There is one God in providence and in grace. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Man’s first duty

I. His first duty.

1. In priority of time.

2. In excellence of value.

3. It implies diligence.

4. It implies consideration. How the unjust steward planned his conduct.

5. Seek a personal interest in the kingdom of God.

6. Seek the extension of the Redeemer’s kingdom.

7. Seek the glory of the kingdom.

II. His reward.” Godliness hath promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come.” God is revealed as love; will He allow His servants to starve? He has given a positive pledge” He spared not His own Son; shall He not with Him freely give us all things?” (H. M. Villiers, M. A.)

I. The extent to which the precept of the text is neglected.

1. By the busy, anxious, laborious class of the community.

2. By the lovers of pleasure.

3. By the lovers of worldly honours and sordid applause.

4. By the professors of religion.

II. The duty of a stricter regard to the precept.

1. The kingdom of God is entitled to this deference.

2. If not sought first, will never be found at all.

3. In this search, all other essential throes will be granted. (J. W. Cunningham, M. A.)

I. What are we to understand by the kingdom of God? The reign of God, the ascendency of God. Self is the great usurper. The righteousness named is the Christian character in all the details of practical religion. To seek them, is to desire these above all other things.

II. All these things shall be added unto you. Temporal necessities. The kingdom of God, etc.

1. It will guard a man against those vain, ostentatious habits above his real income, which bring so many into difficulties, and eventually ruin.

2. It will preserve from those lax and slovenly habits of management which bring so many into ruin.

3. It will preserve from all dishonesty. (Hugh McNeile, M. A.)

Man’s first duty, and God’s promise

Jacob’s blessing has the preference over Esau’s. It is well to obtain first “the dew of heaven,” then the fatness of the earth. Things are only of value as God blesses them; God’s gifts are better than His permissions. The promises of prosperity in the New Testament are small.

I. How far may our text be used as a motive to godliness? Suppose a family with whom everything goes wrong, their best pains useless. No religion in the family. If I could work a moral change, I feel that the only way of avoiding want. No matter what means used, so long as the man is brought to God. But we must not make secular good the motive; this would not be seeking first the kingdom.

II. What restrictions does our text impose upon human carefulness? It gives no sanction to those enthusiasts who would renounce all worldly provision. Anxiety they ought to dismiss, but not attention; lay aside distrust, but not industry. Not to seek only the kingdom, but first; this implies a second. The text gives no promise of superfluities. (H. Melvill, B. D.)

What t is meant by seeking the kingdom of God?

1. A fixed design and resolution to that end. Like the term and end of a man’s journey, towards which the traveller is continually tending, and hath it always habitually in his intention, though he doth not always think of it every step that he takes.

2. Care and diligence as to the means. That we make religion our business, and exercise ourselves in the duties of it, both in public and private. With the same seriousness and application of mind as men do in their callings and professions.

3. Zeal and earnestness in the pursuit of it. The greatness of the design, and the excellency of’ what we seek after, will justify the highest degree of discreet zeal and fervour in the prosecution of 2:4. Patience and perseverance in our endeavours after the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Notwithstanding all the difficulties, discouragements, the opposition and persecution we may meet with, for righteousness’ sake. (John Tillotson, D. D.)

I. Constantly and sincerely make use of all means such as He hath prescribed whereby to obtain and practise true grace.

II. Consult and study the Word of God, wherein He hath revealed His will to you.

III. Make it daily your prayer to God, that He, for His Son’s sake, will assist you with His grace and Holy Spirit in doing this. (William Beveridge, D. D.)

Providence leaves no excuse for indolence

Take the flowers of the field. They do not reap nor plant; and yet God clothes them with beauty. Very good; the flower has to develop. There is not a single flower in all the wilderness, nor in all gardens, whether of the Orient or here on our continent, that does not work for a living. It sprouts from the seed. It sends down its roots, and every one of these roots is a purveyor hunting underground here, there, and everywhere; developing, spreading out, sucking within and sucking without, dissolving the mineral, pumping here for the juices that are to run up, and searching for water yonder. The willow finds moisture, even though you should not be able to. In darkness the long vine reaches out to the light, seeks it, and at last finds it. Every plant that lives and comes to perfect plant-life is a worker, only on the plane to which he belongs with his limited development, and with his limited organization. It works for a living; and what does it find’? What does the bird find? He finds that God so orders the affairs of this world that when ha works according to his nature he is provided for. The plant, when it works and develops itself according to the laws of its nature, finds that providence has provided for it. When a man works and develops according to his nature, he finds a providence that makes it possible for him to live and to thrive. (Beecher.)

Unfitness a great occasion of anxiety

Men are mistaking all the time what they are fit for. Shall a weak man go into the ring to wrestle? Shall a dell and heavy man go on the road to race? Shall an unskilled man undertake to carry on the most skilful shop? Men are all the time miscarrying and miscarrying; it is the collision between impotence and desire that is all the time putting them back; and they are worrying and fretting and anxious. (Beecher.)

1. Because nothing can happen to any without God’s general permission.

2. Because nothing shall happen to His people without God’s special direction.

3. Because in what does happen, the terms good and evil, as we are accustomed to employ them, are often misunderstood and misapplied.

4. Because sufficient will be afforded by every passing day to exercise oar powers and occupy our thoughts, without extending our views beyond. (T. Dale, M. A.)

Forecasting sorrow

1. It renders us insensible to present good.

2. It unfits for the activities of to-day. Anxiety depresses.

4. It gives a practical denial of the Christian creed.

5. It has a saddening influence upon others. (T. Jackson, B. A.)

Anxiety depresses

Men are worn out, enfeebled, aged more by corroding care than by hard labour. Look at a housemaid; if she be bright, cheerful, high-spirited, her toil is performed efficiently and speedily, to the satisfaction of herself and her mistress. How different if she is cheerless and gloomy! “A merry heart goes all the day: a sad tires in a mile,” observes our great dramatist; while the Chelsea philosopher says, “Give us, oh, give us the cheerful man that sings at his work. He will do more in the same time; he will do it better; he will persevere longer. One is scarcely sensible to fatigue when marching to music.” (T. Jackson, B. A.)

It renders insensible to present good

A young lady once expressed to Hogarth, the great satirist, a wish to learn to draw caricature. “Alas!” said he, “it is not a faculty to be envied. Take my advice, and never draw caricature. By the long practice of it I have lost the enjoyment of beauty; I never see a face but distorted, and have never the satisfaction to behold the human face divine.” So, by constantly looking at the dark side of their life, its distorted and unpleasant aspect-evils at hand and those looming in the distance-men lose the power to appreciate the blessings which are theirs, and make them an object of envy to their neighbours. (T. Jackson, B. A.)

I. Folly to be wholly taken up with the accessories, and neglect the principal.

II. Trouble not yourselves about futurity.

1. Do not anticipate your cares.

2. Do not add vexation to your life by forecasting and designing uncertainties.

3. Leave events to God’s infinite, all-wise disposal.

4. Look after your present duty.

5. Reserve all your strength about you, to bear you up against present difficulties and temptations.

III. Tomorrow is a new day.

1. Brings care of its own.

2. Brings new duties.

3. Fresh troubles.

4. Both its hands are full. Today has enough to do of its own; to-morrow brings its own harvest. (Adam Littleton, D. D.)

The evil here is

I. The evil of punishment.

1. Afflictions.

2. Troubles.

3. Incumbrances and turmoils of life. Every day finds us enough to do. Every year brings us enough to suffer.

II. The evils of sin.

1. Temptations and lapses.

2. Allurements.

3. Suggestions of Satan.

4. Enticements of the world.

As if the load of cares each day lays upon our shoulders were not heavy enough, we ourselves do fetch in more grist, and heap more bags still upon ourselves, by bringing future cares upon us. (T. Jackson, B. A.)

Taking no thought for the morrow

We must regard this injunction as Christ here regards it, as flowing from faith.

1. Faith may be intuitive. It springs at once from love. You have experienced hours when the Presence of a heavenly Friend seems most real; doubt was impossible. Such a faith is a defiance of life’s evils, dares all futurity. The faith of love soars above all the sorrows of time, and gazes on the glory of immortality.

2. Faith arises from reflection on the revelation of God. The belief springing from love does not always live; it is fitful. In nature we find a Fatherly care extending to the least of God’s creatures. Is it possible that faith in this Father can exist with anxious care for the morrow?

3. Faith rises from the conscious feebleness of man. The more we are conscious of our own ignorance and powerlessness, the more utterly can we leave the future in God’s hands. (E. L. Hull, B. A.)

The future does not belong to fear

The past belongs to gratitude and regret; the present to contentment and work; the future to hope and trust. (Beecher.)

Meeting sorrow

1. This meeting trouble half way is both a sin and an act of folly. God watches over us as individuals. We are doubting God’s love and care for us.

2. This habit of looking out for sorrows makes us forget our past and present blessings.

3. It is a sin to meet sorrow half way, because our present troubles are sufficient without seeking for others.

4. It is a sin because it is a want of faith in God.

5. It makes us melancholy, suspicious, and unfit for duty. (Wilmot Buxton.)

Anxiety produces an unhealthy habit of mind

A man once planted two rose trees, one on either side of his house. The trees were equally strong and healthy, but after a time the one grew and prospered, the other withered and died. Then the man discovered that the living rose tree was on the sunny side of the house. Brethren, we must have the sunshine of faith and hope on our lives, or we cannot live. I have read of a little child who was often observed playing by itself, and laughing and singing with delight. They asked the child what it was playing with, and the little one answered, “I am playing with sunbeams.” It would be better for some of us who are too apt to look on the dark side to imitate that happy child. If we allow ourselves to be always haunted by the shadow of fancied misfortune, we shall lose faith in prayer, since the black shadow will have eclipsed the face of God. (Wilmot Buxton.)

The future should not embitter the present

Will you shudder at winter’s snow whilst the flowers of summer are growing around you? (Wilmot Buxton.)

By fighting with fancied ills, we shall be too exhausted to struggle with real misfortunes

Your feet will become so tender from treading on imaginary thorns, that they will not endure the true thorny path, and there is such a path for all to tread. (Wilmot Buxton.)

Sorrows to be borne single

John Newton says: “Sometimes I compare the troubles we have to undergo in the course of a year to a great bundle of fagots, far too large for us to lift. But God does not require us to carry the whole at once. He mercifully unties the bundle, and gives us first one stick, which we are to carry to-day, and then another, which we are to carry to-morrow, and so on. This we might easily manage if we would only take the burden appointed for us each day; but we choose to increase our trouble by carrying yesterday’s stick over again to-day, and adding to-morrow’s burden to our load before we are required to bear it.” “Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.”

Foreboding

I. Its nature. It is a painful, growing, contagious, discouraging habit.

II. The causes of this unhappy disposition. Constitutional. Bad health. Lack of faith in God.

III. The remedy for this evil habit or disposition of mind. If the result of physical causes must be treated accordingly. If the result of constitutional melancholy must be borne patiently, etc. If from defective faith can only be remedied by an increase of faith. (Dr. O. P. Fitzgerald.)

Live one day in the day

We may consider the year before us as a desk containing 365 letters addressed to us; one for every day, announcing its trials and prescribing its employments, with an order to open daily no letter but the letter for the day. Now, we may be strongly tempted to unseal, beforehand, some of the remainder. This, however, would serve only to embarrass us, while we should violate the rule which our Owner and Master has laid down for us. (Jay.)

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Matthew 6:4". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/matthew-6.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, December 9th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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