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they would come in the garb of innocence. Paul seeins to refer to such, in Rom. xvi. 18. “For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” That they might not trust in these false pretences, Jesus kindly pointed out to them the proper criterion by which they ought to judge of the professions of mankind. "Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Ver. 16. That is, as truly as you may know the kind of a tree by the fruit which it bears, so may you know the real character of these prophets by their works. “Do men gather grapes of thorns ? or figs of thistles ?” Certainly not. "Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit.” If these prophets are true teachers and good men, they will teach true doctrines and do good works. “But a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.” Ver. 17. On the other hand, if these prophets are false teachers, and bad men, they will teach false doctrines, and do evil works. It is impossible that it should be otherwise, for “a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” Ver. 18. See also Luke vi. 45. A terrible judgment awaits these false prophets, as well as all the unbelieving part of the Jewish nation. “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down and cast into the fire.” Ver. 19. The punishments which the house of Israel suffered, are represented under the figure of fire, in instances too numerous to be refered to in this place.
Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builder.
MATT. VII. 24–27-LUKE VI. 47–49.
" Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock : And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house ; and it fell : and great was the fall of it.”—Matt. vii. 24–27.
KENRICK very judiciously remarks concerning this passage, that the state of things in Judea, as described by travellers into that country, will illus
ate the meaning of the comparison which our Lord here uses. The land of Canaan is described as a hilly, and extremely rocky country ; but the rocks are frequently covered with a thin coat of earth or sand. The returns of rain in the winter season are not very frequent; but when it does rain, the water pours down with great violence, three or four days and nights together ; so as to produce violent torrents in every part of the country. These violent rains in a hilly country must occasion inundations, endangering buildings which happen to be placed within their reach, by washing away the soil from under them, and occasioning their fall. To events of this nature, which inust frequently take place in a populous country, where houses were placed in every situation, our Lord here refers. This account shows us how we are to understand building on the sand, or loose soil, and the wise man's digging down to the rock, before he laid the foundation of his building." The houses in the east being formed frequently of mud, were but ill calculated to resist the effects of the impetuous torrent which descended from the mountains of Palestine. It should be remembered also, that tornadoes or whirlwinds, followed by lightning, thunder and rains, were very frequent during the winter and cold seasons. Eastern travellers describe the whirlwinds they have observed, as truly terrific. They carry in their vortex, sand, branches, the stubble of the fields, and not unfrequently buildings which have not been well secured at the foundation.2
Jesus represented the man who heard his sayings, and did them, by him who built his house upon a rock, which the winds and floods could not carry away. He was wise; his morality was founded on just principles, and it had the firmest and the best support. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus had placed the foundation of all moral rectitude in the character of God. See Matt. y. 43 48 and vii. 11. Here the universal love of God to the human race is appealed to by Jesus, as the reason why men should love their enemies, bless those who curse them, and pray for such as despitefully use them and persecute them. That men should love such as loved them Jesus showed was not enough; he directed them to be perfect as their Father in heaven was perfect, viz. in loving their enemies. Thus he made the foundation of human rectitude to lie in the divine character. Now those who obeyed Christ's commands were like a man who built his house on a rock; they had a solid foundation for their morality, they had a good reason for what they did ; and in every period of human life this conduct would stand justified. Not so with the man who heard the sayings of Christ and did them not. Merely to hear these sayings, or to profess to believe them, would not suffice in the day of danger. Jesus instructed his followers, that their conduct must be right, and he had given them a rule by which they might always know when it was right. “Not every one,” said he, 66 that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.' Ver. 21. In the "day" of vengeance which came upon the Jews, many said “ Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils ? and in thy name done many wonderful works?": He represents himself as replying, “I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Vers. 22, 23. They were carried away by the torrent of divine judgments which were sent on that nation. They were loud in their professions of love to Christ, but they did not obey his injunctions. Of course their foundation was insecure, and the floods swept them away:
1 Kenrick's Expos. in loco. 2 See Horne's Introduction, iii. 31, 65, 378.
Parable of the Bruised Reed.
MATT. XII. 20.
G A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory."
We shall easily obtain the true application of this metaphor, if we take the context into consideration. Commencing at the 14th verse, we read as follows: " Then the Pharisees went out, and held council against him, how they might destroy him. But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence; and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all ; and charged them that they should not make it known ; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved in whom my soul is well pleased : I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles: He shall not strive, nor cry ; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory." In the true spirit of humility, Jesus charged those who were the happy subjects of his miraculous works, that they should not blazon abroad the wonders he performed : he preferred to do his good deeds in retirement, to pour out blessings unostentatiously upon mankind, and enjoy as his reward, not the praise of men, but the approbation of his conscience, and of him 6 who seeth in secret." With what satisfaction must every christian reflect on this trait in the character of his Master, when contrasted with the