ness, whatever may have been the outward profession, that tree shall be hewn down by the Great Husbandman and cast into the fire. It is an unprofitable tree in the Lord's vineyard, and therefore it will be cut down as a cumberer of the ground. The same figure is used by John the Baptist in reference to the whole Jewish nation, Matt. iii. 10; "And now the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire." Our Lord having shown the invariable end of every unfruitful minister and professor in the Church of Christ, draws the conclusion—

V. 20. "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." It is plain from the whole strain of our Lord's remarks in this searching passage, that we must carry about with us the constant impression that Christianity, if it exist in the soul, will influence the life. Religion is a living, operative principle. Wherever it is found the heart has been changed, a new creation has sprung up in the soul, instead of the thorn has come up the fir-tree, and instead of the briar has come up the myrtle tree, and it shall be to the Lord for a sign, for an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. In such a case the fruit shall assuredly be unto holiness, and the end shall be everlasting life.



MAT. VII. 21-29.

THE Conclusion of this remarkable Sermon on the Mount is peculiarly solemn. Jesus calls upon His hearers to press with all earnestness into the kingdom of God. He warns them that the gate is strait and the road narrow, but still the difficulty of finding access is with Him a powerful argument for diligence, and perseverance, and earnestness on the part of all who would wish to become partakers of the privileges of the kingdom on earth, and to enjoy the eternal blessedness of the kingdom in heaven. The Redeemer next proceeds to remind His hearers of the real character of those who shall at last appear before God in Zion.

V. 21. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."

The plain meaning of this passage is, that true acceptable religion does not consist in hypocritical professions of attachment to Christ, but of a sincere and cheerful obedience to His holy will. Jesus must not. be understood as here disclaiming the title of Lord, for on another occasion we find Him saying to His disciples, " ye call me Master and Lord, and ye say well; for so I am." And for this very purpose hath Jesus been exalted to the right hand of the Father, "that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Nor is it a mere human attainment thus to call Jesus Lord, for an apostle expressly tell us that "no man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost." But saying in the text is obviously opposed to doing. It is not with the heart that confession is made in such a case, but with the lips only. So that the question of Christ in the parallel passage of Luke vi. 46, is quite appropriate; "Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" The use of the word Lord implies submission and dependence, and in the mouth of a true disciple supposes a heart subdued under the power of Christ, and sweetly constrained by His grace. And the repetition of the term Lord, Lord, is intended to denote that the hypocrisy of which Jesus speaks in this passage is of the most aggravated kind. It is no ordinary profession of attachment to His person, and acknowledgment of His authority.

The man who uses this language avows himself to be a loving child, an obedient subject, a devoted friend. He cries Lord, Lord. He has a form of godliness, and that to a remarkable extent; and yet he is totally destitute of its power. He cannot call Jesus Lord by the Holy Ghost, for he has never received" the Spirit of Christ," and therefore "he is none of His.”

It follows, then, from the words of the Lord Jesus, that "they are not all Israel who are of Israel. The true disciple of Christ "loves not in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth." “If ye love me,” says Jesus, "keep my commandments." His own life, while He dwelt upon the earth, was one uniform expression of obedience to the Divine will. “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me.' ." This will was to Him supreme;" Not my will, but thine be done." And the will of His Father, which was to Him so dear, He lays down as the only rule of true acceptable obedience, the unerring test of true submission to His own authority. The will of Christ and the will of the Father are one and the same; "Whatsoever the Father doeth, that doeth the Son likewise." Obedience, therefore, to the will of the Father Jesus regards as the badge of true subjection to His own supremacy as Lord of all.

What havoc does such a passage as this make in the visible Church of Christ! It is as if the Great Husbandman had come forth with His fan in His hand

to purge His thrashing-floor, separating the chaff from the wheat. The nominal professor, the formalist, the hypocrite, all disappear in turn, and the true disciples, few in number but strong in faith, enter into the kingdom. Living Christians are a little flock, yet they are heirs of the eternal inheritance. They walk with Christ on earth, and they shall walk with Him in glory. It is only in the great harvest of the world that the true state of multitudes will be known. Jesus, accordingly, points forward to that solemn season:

Vv. 22 and 23. "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me ye that work iniquity."

The language in which Christ speaks of the judgment day is peculiar. He terms it "that day," appealing, as it were, to the conscience of every man to explain to what day he particularly referred. It is not a day which can be likened to any other. It stands by itself. "That day." The day of solemn reckoning, when we must all stand before the tribunal of the Great Judge.

Nor does Jesus hesitate to declare Himself the


judge of all. Many will say to me in that day:

"Then will I profess unto them I never knew you.”

« VorigeDoorgaan »