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Author Topic: DEVOTIONAL COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPELS  (Read 30104 times)
nChrist
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« Reply #375 on: March 22, 2009, 03:52:03 PM »

___________________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
Free From Grace Gems
http://www.gracegems.org/
___________________________________


March 16

Christ forbids covetousness and double-mindedness
Matthew 6:19-23

Our Savior had exposed the apparently good actions of the Pharisees, as their prayers, fastings, almsgivings. He now reproves their wicked practices. The first thing he attacks is their covetousness, - their delight in laying up earthly treasures. In those days riches consisted partly in valuable clothes, and therefore He speaks of moth and rust corrupting.

The Lord shows, in the first place, the folly of covetousness. Riches make themselves wings, and fly away. How foolish, then, to set the heart upon them! But if we do not lose them, we must leave them. We brought nothing into this world, and we can carry nothing out; it is therefore evident to reason, that if there is another world in which we shall eternally dwell, we ought to be extremely anxious to lay up treasures there.

But how are we to lay up treasures in heaven? By good works. Paul, in his epistle to Timothy, says, "Charge those who are rich in this world that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute; willing to communicate, laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." But some may inquire, "Can we gain heaven by good works?" O no. Jesus Christ has gained heaven by his righteousness, and he freely bestows this heaven on all who believe in him. We cannot lay up treasures there, until we have believed in Him. We lay up treasures there, when we do things that please God. Good works are the fruits of faith. It is written, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord." It is added, "Their works do follow them." (Revelation 14:13.) These blessed dead had believed in Christ; therefore their works were accepted. The Pharisees could not please God; they could not lay up treasures in heaven. And why not? Because the eyes of their minds were shut; and they saw not the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus.

How great is the darkness of the unawakened mind! God alone, by his Holy Spirit, can enlighten this darkness. Jesus came to give sight to the blind. Has he given it to us? Our actions show whether he has or not. When we see a blind person, we are not always aware at first that he is blind; but if we watch him closely we soon discover his condition. If a mad dog pass near him, he does not try to avoid it; and if the most splendid illuminations be displayed, he does not stop to admire. The actions of men show clearly whether they are blind or not. Unawakened souls evince no dread of hell, no desire after heaven, no contempt for earth, no love for Christ. God frowns, but they are not alarmed; He stretches out his arms, but they perceive it not; He opens the gate of heaven, they do not strive to enter it; He points to the abyss of hell, they do not shrink back; He lifts up his crucified Son, they are not softened, or subdued.

There is an eye to the mind - if that eye be shut, we can do nothing right. This is what our Lord meant when he declared, "The light of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye be single, (or clear,) your whole body shall be full of light; but if your eye be evil, (or blind,) your whole body shall be full of darkness." When the eye of the mind is made clear, then we begin to act aright, and not until then.

Do we wish to know where our treasure is? Let us inquire where our heart is. They are in the same place. If our affections are set on things above, then we may know that we have treasures there; but if our heart is in our possessions, whether they be few or many, small or great, there our treasure is. Some unhappy people have shown in their last hours that their hearts were fixed upon some earthly trifles. A vain and foolish girl has been haunted in her expiring moments by the thoughts of her new dresses. A miser has been known eagerly to clench paper in his trembling hands, thinking it was his money. Had these dying people possessed treasures in heaven, they would not have clung so closely to their perishing property on earth.
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nChrist
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« Reply #376 on: March 22, 2009, 03:53:33 PM »

___________________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
Free From Grace Gems
http://www.gracegems.org/
___________________________________


March 17

Christ forbids worldly anxiety
Matthew 6:24-34

Our Savior had charged his disciples not to lay up treasures upon earth. In this passage He gives them another command that appears much more difficult to obey, that is, He forbids them to be anxious about needful food and clothing. We are naturally inclined to think it impossible not to be anxious about the means of our support; but God graciously offers many arguments to prevent our indulging in such cares.

Do we doubt God's power to provide for us? Who was it gave us life, and made our bodies? Is it not much easier to clothe, and to feed, than to create us? Do we doubt the kindness of the Lord? Does He not condescend to feed the ravens, and clothe the lilies? And are we not much better than they, that is, much more precious in his sight than birds or flowers? Therefore we see that we dishonor God by doubting whether He will provide for our needs.

It is also useless to be anxious about the future. By being anxious, we cannot add one inch to our height, nor one moment to our lives. We know from other parts of scripture, that God does not desire us to be idle or improvident - he only forbids useless tormenting fears about the future.

And why does He forbid such thoughts? Because there is a nobler object set before us, which requires all our thoughts - "The kingdom of God and his righteousness." This kingdom we must seek earnestly, or we shall not obtain it. If our thoughts are occupied about earthly things, we shall lose this earthly inheritance. Christ said, "You cannot serve God and mammon," (or the world.) Neither can we be intent upon what we shall eat, and drink, and wear, and at the same time be seeking God. Christ said, that the Gentiles thought of these things. The Gentiles at that time were ignorant heathens, they knew not God, therefore they were occupied with earthly cares; but we ought not to be like them.

If we wish to discover our state before God, let us examine with what subjects our thoughts are generally occupied. Of course, while we are engaged upon any business, our minds must be on that business; but after it is done, our thoughts fly to the objects we most delight in. If we are God's children, our thoughts will often fly to heaven, our Father's house; but if we are not born again they will grovel upon the earth. This is God's own rule, "Those who are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh; but those who are after the Spirit mind the things of the Spirit."

It may appear to us a trifling sin to be engrossed with earthly thoughts; but it is a sign that we are in the flesh, not born again of the Spirit. Now it is written, "Those who are in the flesh cannot please God." (Romans 8:8.) How dreadful it would be to die in this state!

How kindly God undertakes to keep us from need, while we are seeking spiritual blessings with all our hearts! "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."

How happy should we be even in this world, if we would obey this command! "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." It is much pleasanter to be thinking of heaven and Christ, than to be dwelling upon the evils of life; and O! how much safer is it! For though it is useless to take thought about earthly things, it is of the greatest use to take thought about spiritual things. By thinking of hell we shall be led to flee from it; by thinking of sin, to dread it; by thinking of righteousness, to implore God to bestow it upon us, even Christ's righteousness upon us His guilty creatures.
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nChrist
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« Reply #377 on: March 22, 2009, 03:55:25 PM »

___________________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
Free From Grace Gems
http://www.gracegems.org/
___________________________________


March 18

Christ forbids hypocritical judgment
Matthew 7:1-6

The Lord Jesus had been warning his disciples against many of the evil practices of the Pharisees. There was no sin to which they were more addicted than to "judging." They did not judge righteous judgment, according to the word of God; but they judged according to their own wicked passions. Because they hated Christ, they endeavored to find faults in his conduct, and accused him of breaking the Sabbath, of encouraging sinners, and of being a gluttonous man and a wine-bibber. The men of the world still walk in the steps of the Pharisees - they are continually looking with a malicious eye for faults in the children of God, and attributing wrong motives to all their actions.

We may be sure that such judgment is sinful, because it is passed in a spirit of hatred. In how different a spirit the Christian judges! He cannot but know that the world lies in wickedness; he sees it with grief, and exerts all his powers to persuade sinners to flee from the wrath to come. By this rule we may know whether we are judging righteously or unrighteously. Do we rejoice over the faults of others, or do we lament over them! If we are seeking for their faults, and watching for their halting, then we have the spirit of the Pharisees, who maliciously watched the conduct of Christ and his disciples; then we may be sure that we are offending God, that we shall be judged by him, and that with the same measure we judge others, will be measured to us; for "he shall have judgment without mercy that has shown no mercy." (James 2:13.) It is in this spirit that irreligious people judge those whom they call "evangelicals and saints." They accuse them of hypocrisy, and of pride; they watch their conduct with an eagle's eye, and triumph over their infirmities with a demon's joy. Such people have a beam in their own eye. This beam prevents them from seeing their own sins. We may be assured, that if we do not see ourselves to be very great and miserable sinners, there is a beam of unbelief in our eyes which prevents our seeing it. While we cannot see our own sins, we cannot see the sins of others aright. What we call sins in them, perhaps are not sins. We do not know how to reprove until we have discovered what sinners we ourselves are.

But when God, by his converting grace, takes the beam out of our eyes, then we may help our brother to overcome his sins. Then we shall warn him in a spirit of humility and love, feeling our own unworthiness, and anxious for his good.

But there are some characters, in dealing with whom great caution must be used. Hypocrites may be compared to dogs and swine. As these animals feed on carrion and the vilest garbage, so hypocrites delight in sin. It would be wrong to give holy food, such as the priests ate, to dogs; and it would be foolish to cast pearls, such as queens wear, to swine.

But is it wrong or foolish to declare the holy and precious word of God to wicked men? O no - for Jesus said to his apostles, "Preach the gospel to every creature." But when men, having heard the truth, trample it under foot by their blasphemies, and turn and rend by their revilings, those who speak it, then they must be left to themselves. In this manner the apostle Paul dealt with the wicked Jews of Corinth. "And when they opposed them and blasphemed, he shook his clothing." "Your blood be upon your own heads - I am clean - from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles!" (Acts 18:6.) Thus the apostle left the dogs and swine, that he might feed the sheep committed to his charge.
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nChrist
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« Reply #378 on: March 22, 2009, 03:59:13 PM »

___________________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
Free From Grace Gems
http://www.gracegems.org/
___________________________________


March 19

Christ promises that prayer shall be answered
Matthew 7:7-11

This is one of the most encouraging passages in the whole Scriptures. How many have been led by this invitation to approach the throne of grace! Here is not only an invitation which assures you of a welcome, but also a promise of success - your petition shall be granted, "for everyone who asks receives."

Christ knew how apt we are to doubt the love of our Heavenly Father. Therefore he appealed to all the parents present, and said, "What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread - will he give him a stone?" Every parent who heard this question must have felt that he could not treat his child in so unfeeling a manner - much less would he give his child a serpent instead of a fish, or a scorpion instead of an egg. There are in the East white scorpions, about the size of an egg; but no parent would deceive and mock his child by giving him that venomous animal instead of wholesome food.

There are few who cannot recollect the kindness their parents showed to them in their helpless days. There are few who have no recollection of a father's or a mother's love. In childhood we knew not its value, but in later years it melts our hearts to think of it. How readily our dear parents listened to our requests! They were not always able to grant them, and sometimes they saw it would not be well to give us what we desired. But they never denied us food when we needed it. They would rather have gone without it themselves, than have seen us suffering from hunger. How carefully they guarded us from everything that would injure us! They warned us not to approach too near the fire, or the water, and not to touch poisonous berries or dangerous animals. Far from giving us a scorpion, they would have been terrified, if they had seen it in our hands. And does God feel the same tenderness for his children? Hear what Jesus says, who came forth from the bosom of the Father - "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to those who ask him?"

But if any trembling soul should reply, "How can I be sure that He is my Father? He is not the Father of the wicked," let him know that none but the children of God ask him for good things. The little lamb is shown to belong to its own mother by running to her to be fed. The children of Satan do not desire to have those things which God has promised. They seek for an earthly portion. They never really pray. When they are miserable, they often complain, but these complaints are not prayers. God said of Israel, "They have not cried unto me with their hearts, when they howled upon their beds," (Hosea 7:14.) Sometimes in distress they make vows, as well as complaints. But are their vows prayers? God calls them flatteries, and lies. "Nevertheless they did but flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues, for their heart was not right with him," (Psalms 78:36.) How different from these were the prayers of David! He could say to God, "I entreated your favor with my whole heart." And he could also say, "Blessed be the Lord because He has heard the voice of my supplications." Every one who is now earnestly seeking God shall sooner or later say the same. Therefore, "let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord," (Psalms 105:3.)
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nChrist
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« Reply #379 on: March 22, 2009, 04:00:53 PM »

___________________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
Free From Grace Gems
http://www.gracegems.org/
___________________________________


March 20

Christ describes the wrong and the right way
Matthew 7:12-14

Who can hear our Savior's golden rule without approving it! And who can hear it without condemning himself! "Do for others what you would like them to do for you." He who has kept the same is a perfect man, and has done all the law and prophets taught. We must confess with sorrow that we have broken it a thousand times, and that we need pardon through the Savior's blood for these manifold transgressions. But though we have transgressed, yet if we desire to please God, we shall find this rule an admirable guide. God knows our ignorance, and has graciously furnished us with a rule that will apply to every circumstance in which we can be placed. On every occasion we should imagine ourselves to be in the place of our neighbor, and say, (for instance,) "If I were a parent, how would I expect my child to behave towards me; if I were a child, my parent; if I were a master, how would I require my servant to conduct himself; if I were a servant, how would I wish my master to deal with me; if I were suffering pain, what would I desire the healthy to do to alleviate my misery; if I were sunk in poverty, what would I think the rich ought to do, when they beheld my destitution?"

We may go further still, and say, "If I were a perishing heathen, now standing before the bar of God, what would I then think Christians ought to have done for me?" We must, however, ask these questions with this condition - "What would it be reasonable for me to expect another to do for me, if I were in his circumstances?"

How ill can we bear to be examined by this rule! And yet we have behaved far, far better to our fellow-creatures than we have to God.

Our Savior, by his next declaration, has often excited astonishment and anxiety. He declared that the gate of life was strait, and that the way was narrow; by which he meant that men find it difficult to be truly religious. The narrow way is not broader now than it was when these words were first spoken, and still there are but few who find it. And if there are but few who find it, let us never conclude that any practice is right, because many indulge in it. The way in which many walk must be wrong. If we would please God and save our souls, we must be singular.

In the broad way there are many travelers, and there are many paths in which those travelers walk. People of all sorts of character walk in it; the spend-thrift, and the miser; the pleasure-lover, and the self-righteous religionist - and each different kind of character condemns the other. Yet they are all alike in this respect, they do not love God, nor do his will; and they are all hastening (however little they may think it) to the same destruction.

Christians, on the contrary, all walk in the same path. They are all alike in spirit, though some are more excellent than others. They enter in at the same strait gate, that is, they believe in the same Savior. Though they come from the opposite ends of the world, yet they know each other's minds, and sympathize with each other's feelings. The greatest king and the lowest beggar have a sympathy with each other, if they both love Christ.

Yet this narrow way is little sought. The reason is, men cannot bear the sacrifices which they must make before they can enter in, they do not like to give up their pleasure and their pride. If they would walk in this narrow way, they would find it pleasant. In some places it is steep, and in others it is rough; but the blessed end makes it pleasant. It is a prospect that would make any path pleasant. It is a prospect that grows brighter as the traveler proceeds; it is the prospect of the everlasting hills, crowned with the golden city and the pearly gates. And the Companion makes it pleasant. He is at once the Guard, the Guide, the Friend of all who walk in the narrow way.

And though but few walk in it now, yet in the home to which it leads a multitude shall be found, yes, a multitude without number; for in every age, there have been some who traveled in this path, and in the ages yet to come there shall be many more. The broad road shall not be always thronged. When Satan, who now deceives the world, shall be shut up in prison, then the broad way shall be forsaken, the people shall be all righteous, and none shall say any more to his neighbor, "Know the Lord," for all shall "know Him from the greatest to the least." Our journey may be lonely, but our Father's house shall not be empty. There are many mansions in it, and not one of them shall lack a blessed inhabitant. Then will our divine Lord be satisfied, when he beholds gathered around Him his innumerable family.

And shall the straitness of the gate deter us from seeking to enter in? Or shall the narrowness of the way induce us to turn back? It would be well to go through fire and water to attain such an inheritance. But the sufferings of this way are far less than its consolations, and these cannot be compared with its end. "I reckon," said the apostle Paul, "that the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us," (Romans 8:18.)
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« Reply #380 on: March 22, 2009, 04:02:32 PM »

___________________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
Free From Grace Gems
http://www.gracegems.org/
___________________________________


March 21

Christ warns against false prophets
Matthew 7:15-20

Our Savior had been showing his disciples the necessity of walking in the narrow way to heaven. He knew that many false teachers would arise, who would point out an easier way; and the Pharisees at that very time encouraged people, by their instructions and example, to walk in the broad road which leads to destruction.

There have been false teachers in all ages. There were some among the Jews of old. Jeremiah and Ezekiel warned the people against prophets, who said, "Peace, peace, when there was no peace," and "healed the wound of the daughter of God's people slightly," and "daubed the wall with untempered mortar." (Ezekiel 13.) By these comparisons we are taught that the false prophets encouraged people to remain in sin. False ministers do so now; they do not teach the necessity of a living faith, and of an entire change of heart; therefore their hearers are not led to wash in the fountain of Christ's blood, or to pray that they may be truly converted.

It is quite necessary to warn people against such teachers; for many listen to their words, and follow their pernicious ways. These ministers are compared to wolves, because they destroy the souls of God's people. They are described as wearing sheep's clothing, because they often speak in a religious tone, and use Scripture language. When Lord Cobham was tried in London, in the year 1413, these hypocritical sentences were written by the Papists in his letter of condemnation and death - "Following Christ's example in all that we might, who wills not the death of a sinner, but rather that he be converted and live, we took upon us to correct him. . . . Pitying him of fatherly compassion, and entirely desiring the health of his soul, we appointed him an adequate time of deliberation. Christ we take unto witness, that nothing else we seek in this our whole enterprise but his glory."

This language was sheep's clothing. Those who used it were inwardly ravening wolves. They sought to kill a pious nobleman, because he would not believe the errors which they taught. At last they obtained their heart's desire; for Lord Cobham was sentenced by the English parliament to be hung in chains and roasted over a slow fire!

Christ has told us how we are to detect false teachers when disguised in a fleece - by their fruits. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. These heavenly qualities adorn every faithful minister, though in some they flourish more than in others. Love reigns in the heart of every true Christian, and shines forth in his actions. He may be known by his kindness to all the saints, by his patient behavior to his enemies, and by his unwearied efforts to save the souls of men. None but a converted person brings forth such fruits as these. There are many unconverted people who lead moral, respectable, and even benevolent lives, but their hearts do not overflow with this love that we have described; and as their apparently good actions do not proceed from the right motive, they are worthless in the sight of Him who searches the hearts. None but a good tree can bring forth good fruit. We are all bad trees by nature; but God can make us good trees by his Spirit.

How dreadful is the declaration - "Every tree which doesn't bring forth good fruit, is hewn down and cast into the fire!" Should not this terrible sentence lead us all anxiously to inquire, "Have I received a new nature? Have I become a good tree? Has the heavenly Husbandman found good fruit growing upon my branches?" The loving, the tender Savior would not have alarmed us, had there been no cause for alarm.
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« Reply #381 on: March 22, 2009, 04:04:17 PM »

___________________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
Free From Grace Gems
http://www.gracegems.org/
___________________________________


March 22

He predicts the rejection of the false profession
Matthew 7:21-23

In this passage, Jesus gave a solemn warning to his own disciples, to those who professed to believe in him, and to those who called him "Lord, Lord." At the beginning of this sermon, he had declared, that except their righteousness should exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, they could not be saved. He had shown that the righteousness of the Pharisees was a mere outward form of religion, and he had warned his own followers against being satisfied with a mere form also. He declared that many would be lost through this sad mistake. "Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name?" and I will profess unto them, "I never knew you." In these words Jesus revealed himself as the Judge of men - even as the Son of God.

Now let us hear what our Judge says. He declares that none shall enter heaven, but those who do the will of his Father. Does this make us tremble? Surely we must feel (if we know ourselves at all) that we often sin. But, "doing the Father's will," does not mean never being overtaken by a fault; for Christ declared to his Father in his last prayer for his disciples before his crucifixion, (John 17,) that they "had kept his word." Yet we know that they had often fallen into sin, such as disputing which should be the greatest, desiring to resent injuries, and sending away poor suppliants.

But what is it to do the will of God? It is sincerely to seek to please him from LOVE to his name. None do this but those who have received the Spirit of God, those who are born again. Jesus did not explain this subject fully in this sermon; but he said enough to show that we must seek for grace from God in order to be saved. Did he not say, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness?" and also, "Ask, and you shall receive; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you?" If we would do the will of God, we must seek for new hearts.

There is a passage in the epistles, which shows clearly that nothing short of the power of God working in our hearts can enable us to perform any action acceptable in his sight. (Hebrews 13:20-21.) "Now the God of peace which brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, (that great Shepherd of the sheep,) through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever. Amen." These verses show us that the power of that God who raised Christ from the dead, must work in our hearts to enable us to do his will. Neither can we do it, but through faith in Christ's blood, which was shed for us according to his everlasting promise or covenant.

Do we dread the idea of meeting with a repulse at the last day? Now is the time to examine whether we have been born again; whether the blood of Christ has washed away our sins; whether the Spirit has been shed abroad in our hearts; and whether we are doing the will of God. It is possible to depart out of this world, imagining we are going to heaven, and after all be disappointed. Many will suffer the severest of all disappointments. Will any of the lost spirits weep as bitterly as those who thought, until the very last, that they were going to be admitted into the mansions of bliss? Jesus would save us from receiving this agonizing refusal. He warns us beforehand not to be satisfied with a mere 'form of religion', but to seek for a new heart and a right spirit.
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« Reply #382 on: March 22, 2009, 04:05:45 PM »

___________________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
Free From Grace Gems
http://www.gracegems.org/
___________________________________


March 23

The parable of the house on the rock and the house on the sand
Matthew 7:24-29

Christ ended his sermon on the mount by warnings against the danger of an empty profession of religion. He first gave the warning in plain language, saying, "Not everyone who says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven." Then he related a parable on the subject. It is the first of his parables recorded. It resembles his last parable in this point - both of them convey a dreadful warning to false professors of religion. In the parable of the talents an unprofitable servant is described, who is cast into outer darkness. (Matthew 25:30.) And in this parable a foolish builder is spoken of, who, we have reason to believe, was crushed beneath the ruins of his own house. Why did Jesus thus begin and end his series of parables with warnings against the same sin? Was it not that he knew the great danger in which we stand, of being satisfied with a mere form of godliness?

Nothing is said about the sort of house the wise man built upon the rock. It may have been a large, or a small one; a splendid house, or a shabby one, we know not; but it was a safe one. The foundation was good. The foundation is the unseen part of a house, and yet the most important. So it is in religion. The unseen part is the most important. What is the state of the heart? that is the most important question. Has it been humbled before God? Has it believed in Christ, and been sprinkled with his blood? Has it been sanctified by the Holy Spirit? These are the important points; yet these are the invisible points. None do the sayings of Christ but those who are truly converted; they alone love him; and there is no obedience where there is no love.

The foolish man may have built a better house, in some respects, than the wise man did. The passers-by may have admired it more. He himself may have been much pleased with it. But it had one dominant fault, the foundation was bad. Instead of digging deep down in the solid rock, as the wise man did, he had been satisfied with a foundation in the sand. His house was unsafe; the higher it was, the greater would be its fall in the stormy day. As long as the weather continued fair, the house remained standing. As it was situated by the seaside, it was exposed to the fury of the waves as well as that of the winds. The tempest at length arose, and the house fell. How dreadful was the crash! how total the ruin! The waves would carry its beams and its planks to distant shores.

There is a day coming when the floods of great waters will try every building, and prove its strength. How strange it is that any should imagine themselves safe because they have heard the gospel! This is one of Satan's devices. If he cannot keep us from hearing the truth, he tries to persuade us to be satisfied with hearing; whereas, hearing should always be followed up by praying, and praying by doing. Yet, after all, it is not our own obedience that will save us, but the obedience of Him who bore the punishment of our sins upon the cross. If we believe in Jesus, we are built upon the rock of ages, and shall be able to endure the storm that will destroy the world, and all that is therein!
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« Reply #383 on: March 22, 2009, 04:07:49 PM »

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Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
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March 24

The believing Centurion
Luke 7:1-10

How interesting every character must be whom the Savior approved! He, who will be the Judge of each of us, has shown us beforehand what sort of people he approves. This centurion was highly commended by the heart-searching Redeemer. Yet we should not have expected to find pity in a centurion. For, in the first place, he was a soldier, and a warlike life is a great hindrance to the soul. In the second place, he was a man of rank - and rank, we know, is a temptation to be proud. He was placed over a hundred soldiers, who were themselves men of some consideration; so that this centurion was perhaps equal in importance to a general in our armies. Thirdly, he was a Gentile, and therefore a heathen by birth. He had been sent by the Romans, who had conquered the Jews, to reside in Canaan. There he must have heard the Old Testament, and become acquainted with the true God, and believed the promise of a Savior. The report of our Lord's miracles had reached him, and had convinced him that Jesus was the Son of God. Thus, though a soldier, a man of rank, and a Gentile, he was a true believer.

Now let us examine the character of him who was commended so highly by the Lord.

Observe his compassion. He was deeply interested in his poor servant's illness, for this servant was dear unto him. True religion binds the hearts of masters and servants together, and makes them brethren, beloved in the Lord. (See Philemon 1:16.)

Observe also his love to the people of God. He loved the Jews, because they were the peculiar people of God; and he did not love them in word only, but in deed and in truth, for he had built them a synagogue. Thus he had shown his love by his liberal actions.

Observe also his humility. Far from being puffed up with a conceit of his own merit, in having built a synagogue, he thought himself unworthy to come to the Savior, or to receive him beneath his roof. Matthew in his Gospel says the centurion came to Jesus; but, it is common to say people do things themselves when they cause others to do them. Luke gives a longer account of the circumstance, and mentions that some elders of the Jews were sent by the centurion. His respectful conduct was the more remarkable, because Jesus was poor and despised, but in the eyes of this honorable soldier, the lowly Nazarene was greater than the greatest of the sons of men. Being a Gentile, he thought he was less acceptable to Christ than the Jews, who were descended from the beloved Abraham, the friend of God. But in this he was mistaken, for Christ is no respecter of persons, and ever loved the children of Abraham in spirit above his children in the flesh. This Gentile resembled the Father of the Faithful, and was his son in spirit.

Lastly, let us consider his faith. It was in faith that he resembled Abraham. He had such faith, that he believed that if Jesus did but speak the word, all creatures must obey, even as his own soldiers and servants obeyed him. He thought that Christ's power was equal to that of God, who said, "Let there be light, and there was light." Nor was he mistaken; for all things were created by Jesus Christ, and are upheld by the word of his power. This faith was exceedingly pleasing to the Savior. Jesus loves faith. He plants it in the heart as the root of every other grace. Behold how he rewarded the centurion's faith! he healed his servant.

What peace we would enjoy, if in all our difficulties we felt that Jesus was able to deliver us! When our dear friends are sick, let us believe that He need only speak the word, and they would be well. Whatever anxiety presses on our hearts, let us bring it all to him, spread it before him, and trust him to do what will be best for us. If we act thus, we shall experience such mercies as will overwhelm us with gratitude.

Jesus declared that he had never met with such great faith in Israel, as he had found in this Gentile. He then took occasion to declare a very delightful and a very dreadful truth. It is recorded by Matthew, (Matthew 8:11-12,) "Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven; but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing."

By the "children of the kingdom," Jesus meant the Jews. They heard the sayings of Christ, and did them not; but many in distant lands would hear them and do them.

In our days the gospel has been preached in the North and South, the East and West; and already some in every part have believed. Esquimaux, known among his nation as "the man the Savior took to himself," shall he not come from the north to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Africanus, once a ferocious chief, afterwards the missionary's faithful friend, shall he not come from the south? Abdool, the proud Mohammedan, grown as humble as a little child, shall he not come from the East? and though poor and despised like her Lord, shall not Sarah, the Indian widow - the patient, the forgiving Sarah, come from the West to join the blessed company of patriarchs and prophets? God grant that none of us may be thrust with unbelieving Jews into outer darkness.
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« Reply #384 on: March 22, 2009, 04:09:33 PM »

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Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
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March 25

The raising of the widow's son
Luke 7:11-17

There are only three instances recorded of the Lord Jesus raising the dead, and in each instance was a case of aggravated sorrow.

The dead boy of Nain was the only son of a widow; he was the earthly all of his mother, the object of her fondest affections, and perhaps the support of her declining years.

If any of us have ever seen a widow who has sustained such a loss, what anguish of heart we have witnessed! How has she dwelt on the attractive qualities of the lost one; how has she lamented her own desolation, and said, in the bitterness of her soul, "Is there any sorrow like my sorrow?" No doubt we felt compassion for the bereaved parent, but not such as Jesus felt at the sight of the widow of Nain; for no heart was ever tender as the heart of the Redeemer.

What tenderness he showed in his manner of performing the miracle! He first addressed the sorrowful mother, saying, "Weep not." We would but mock the afflicted, if we were to say, "Weep not." We can only weep with those that weep. But Jesus could remove the cause of grief. Though himself a man of sorrows, he tasted the pure joy of comforting mourners. If the mother looked up, she beheld him through her tears approach the coffin. What a moment of expectation that was! We do not know whether the bearers had faith to believe that Jesus could raise the dead, but they stood still in his presence. Then the majestic command was heard, "I say unto you, Arise."

On what a scene that young man opened his eyes! There was his fond mother - but who was this wonderful person standing close beside him? He began to speak. By speaking he proved that he was really alive. What were his first words? We are not informed. Did he inquire who had restored him to life? He soon must have known, for he who had snatched him from the grasp of death, now delivered him into the arms of his mother. This sweet office the Lord would perform himself. It must have been a solace to his loving heart to behold the joyful meeting of the parent and the child.

But his chief reason for performing miracles was to confirm his word. By raising the widow's son, he showed that he could bestow life. He had declared, "All who are in the graves shall hear my voice, and shall come forth." Yet there will be a great difference between that resurrection, and this of the young man, because the dead will then be changed; whereas, this young man wore again his corruptible body. Jesus was the first who rose from the dead with a glorified body, no more to die.

Would we be partakers in the resurrection from the grave, we must now experience another - a resurrection from the death of trespasses and sins. This is the most wonderful of all; but Jesus can bestow it by his word. "The hour is coming, and now is," said the Lord of life, "when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and live." Yes, the hour now is when the dead hear the voice of the Son of God and live. The dead in trespasses and sins hear the voice of the Christ in his holy word; they believe, and live. As the apostle Paul said to the Ephesians, "You has he quickened, (or made alive,) who were dead in trespasses and sins." (Ephesians 2:1.) These very words that Jesus spoke to the widow's son, "Young man, I say unto you, Arise," have aroused some dead in sins, and caused them to live to God.
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« Reply #385 on: March 22, 2009, 04:11:06 PM »

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Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
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March 26

The visit of John the Baptist's disciples
Luke 7:18-23

We know that John at this time was shut up in prison. While there he was visited by his disciples. Though they had often been directed to look to Jesus as the Savior of the world, it appears they now doubted whether he was the true Messiah so long expected. They did well to come to their teacher to express their doubts. It is always well to confide such thoughts to those who are able to help us, for by hiding them in our own bosoms, we may often occasion ourselves much uneasiness, and expose ourselves to great danger. It would, indeed, be very wrong to express our doubts to ignorant, or unbelieving people, but it is wise to open our minds to experienced Christians.

The disciples of John must have heard reports of the miracles which Jesus did, but they did not believe these reports. Probably they were prejudiced against the Lord on account of his manner of life, which was very unlike that of John; for Jesus freely mixed with sinners, and ate and drank with them, while John had always led a solitary life, and had lived upon the plainest food. John took an excellent method to convince his unbelieving disciples. He sent them to Jesus.

We often find that the Lord refused to perform miracles to convince unbelievers. When the Pharisees asked him for a sign, he said they would have none but that of the prophet Jonah, (the sign of the resurrection.) But he did not refuse to perform miracles to convince these inquirers. What was the reason of this difference? No doubt he knew that they were desirous to believe, and he always treats those with great compassion who are anxious to know the truth.

If any doubt whether the Gospel is from heaven, let them go and witness its effects. Behold John Newton, the slave-dealer, transformed into a tender-hearted man, who delights in freeing the slaves of Satan. Behold thousands of blind idolaters throwing away their idols and abandoning their vicious practices. But time would fail us even to glance at the wonders the Gospel has wrought among all nations, from the days of Paul until now.

Yet still it is necessary to hearken to our Savior's warning - "Blessed is he, whoever shall not be offended in me." Blessed is he whoever shall believe in me in spite of all he sees in me to hinder his believing. By these words Jesus taught John's disciples, that notwithstanding his miracles, many would refuse to believe in him.

There are still many temptations not to believe in Jesus. The world does not believe in him - this is one temptation; there are so many hypocrites and inconsistent Christians - this is another temptation; the people of God are generally poor, lowly, and unlearned - this is another stumbling-block; and the doctrine of salvation by faith is unpleasant to proud and earthly hearts - this is the greatest stumbling-block of all. But those who believe, notwithstanding all these hindrances, shall receive this blessing. "Blessed is he, whoever shall not be offended by me."

We have reason to hope that John's disciples did believe in Jesus, because they appear to have been men of a right spirit. When they returned, according to the Savior's command, to their imprisoned master, and related the wonders they had seen, how great must have been the joy of that faithful man! His gloomy prison must have been enlightened by the tidings of his Savior's glory. Nothing cheers the servants of God so much as to hear of the triumphs of their Lord. They rejoice when they read of the success of missionaries in far distant lands, and they look forward to the day when every knee shall bow to the eternal Son of God. Are our hearts interested in these great and glorious subjects? are they wrapped up in the insignificant occurrences of the passing hour? We all have selfish hearts by nature; but God can enlarge them by his grace, and make them delight in those events which are the joy of saints and angels.
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« Reply #386 on: March 22, 2009, 04:12:47 PM »

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Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
Free From Grace Gems
http://www.gracegems.org/
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March 27

Jesus commends John the Baptist
Luke 7:24-28

God has said, "those who honor me I will honor." - (1 Samuel 2:30.) John the Baptist honored Christ much in his preaching, and now we hear how greatly Christ honored him. The Lord, who knows all men, declared that no prophet greater than John had ever appeared. Elijah, who raised the widow's son, was not greater; for though John had performed no miracle, he knew more of Christ than any who had come before him.

Jesus reminded the people of the time when John preached in the wilderness, and asked them why they had gone there. Was it to see one of the reeds, shaken by the wind? No! they had not gone to see a common sight, but to see an extraordinary sight. Was it a magnificent worldly sight that they had gone into the wilderness to see? No! if they had desired to behold splendor and magnificence they would not have gone into the wilderness to search for it. It is kings in their palaces who are arrayed in gorgeous dazzling garments; whereas John the Baptist was only clothed in skins, and a leather belt; there was nothing to please the eye in his appearance. Why then had they gone into the wilderness? To hear a prophet. Jesus reminded the people of this, to show them how much spiritual good they ought to have gained from their visits to the wilderness. But many had derived no benefit from these visits; if they had, they would have received Christ as the Son of God, for John had preached concerning him.

Jesus then declared that the least in the kingdom of heaven was greater even than John. The Lord had come to establish the kingdom of heaven upon earth. He had come to shed his blood for the sins of men. Those who believe in the crucified Savior are greater in knowledge than John the Baptist; for they know the way of salvation more fully than he did. We live in the latter days, and God has spoken to us by his Son, and by his apostles, the least of whom was a greater prophet than John. How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?

What did Jesus mean by the expression, "The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force?" By the violent, we believe, He meant those worldly people who persecute his servants. As John had suffered imprisonment, and would also suffer death, for preaching the truth, so from his days would all the faithful servants of the Lord be subjected to much suffering for their Master's sake. Violent men would endeavor to rob and destroy by force the kingdom of heaven.

Then the Lord made a declaration that must have surprised many of those who heard him. He said that John was the Elijah spoken of by Malachi in the last chapter of his prophecy. (Malachi 4:5.) "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and dreadful day of the Lord." John was not Elijah himself, but he had come in the spirit and power of Elijah, being fervent in spirit and great in power, turning sinners to the Lord. Yet Jesus knew that many would not believe what he was now declaring, for he said, "If you will receive it, this is Elijah that was for to come. He who has ears to hear let him hear."

We see from this passage, that Jesus knows what advantages we have enjoyed, and what use we have made of them. Have we heard faithful and impressive preachers? What effect have their sermons had upon our hearts? Have we been persuaded to strive earnestly to enter the kingdom of heaven? If we merely float down the stream, we shall at length be plunged into an abyss of misery. The tide is against us, and the wind is contrary. We must be anxious and earnest. The prayer of Jacob suits every perishing sinner, "I will not let you go, except you bless me."
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« Reply #387 on: March 22, 2009, 04:14:46 PM »

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Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
Free From Grace Gems
http://www.gracegems.org/
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March 28

Jesus reproves the Jews for their perverseness
Luke 7:29-35

We now refer to Luke's account of our Savior's discourse about John the Baptist, because it contains some particulars omitted by Matthew.

The Lord Jesus declared that the people, and even the publicans, believed John the Baptist's preaching, while the Pharisees despised it. The publicans were great sinners, most of them being notoriously dishonest in the collection of taxes. When John declared to them that their sins were great, and deserved punishment, they justified God, that is, they acknowledged that God's sentence was just, and they gladly received baptism as a sign of their need of being cleansed from their iniquities. But when John delivered the same truths to the Pharisees, telling them they were the children of the devil, and a generation of vipers, they were offended; they rejected the counsel of God against themselves, and did not desire to be baptized, because they thought they were already clean in heart and in life. Thus it often is now. Some who have committed open gross sins are brought to repentance; while others, who have led regular, and apparently religious lives, will not believe that on account of the secret sins of their hearts, they ought to humble themselves before God.

The Pharisees treated the Lord Jesus in the same way that they had treated John - with contempt. They had found fault with John, because he led so solitary and so strict a life, being clad in skins, feeding on locusts and honey, and refusing to taste wine or strong drink, therefore they had said that he was possessed with the devil. But they could not find the same fault with Jesus; for he led quite an opposite life, eating and drinking like men in general, and mingling with the vilest sinners, that he might win their souls to God. Yet the Pharisees were not better pleased with him than with John, and profanely called him a glutton, and a wine bibber, and a friend of sinners. But what was the reason that both John and the Lord Jesus were assaulted by the Pharisees' reproaches, when they were so different from each other in their manner of life? The reason was, that they both had declared the same unwelcome truths; they both had preached the necessity of repentance and faith.

Jesus related a short parable to describe the Pharisees' conduct. It was common for children in the market-place to play at rejoicing and at mourning. One party of children imitated the glad songs of the Jews at their marriages, and on other joyful occasions, (such as the return of a long-lost son,) while another party were expected to dance to the sound of their music. But sometimes sullen and wayward children would not join in the amusement. Then the other party would good-naturedly change the play and imitate the mournful music of funerals, (such as that made by the minstrels when Jairus' daughter lay dead,) expecting their companions to use sorrowful gestures and to appear to weep; but the same spoiled children would object to this play also. Thus the Pharisees liked neither the strict manners of John the Baptist, nor the condescending behavior of the Lord. This was a proof that they hated their words of wisdom, for Jesus declared, "Wisdom is justified by all her children." The children of wisdom, (or of God,) acknowledge his heavenly wisdom by whomsoever declared. If the Pharisees had been the children of God, they would have justified God both when John preached, and when the Lord himself preached.

People who hate the Gospel continue to excuse themselves for not attending to it, by accusing those who preach it of faults in their manner, or of errors in their life. These accusations proceed from enmity to the Gospel, and will not be received by God as excuses for neglecting it. If men could find fault with the Savior's conduct, how impossible it is for a true Christian to escape censure, especially as he is liable to commit real errors! But O how great is the guilt of those who thus oppose the servants of God! They are enemies to their own souls.

God tries every means to turn sinners to himself; in his holy word, sometimes using tender entreaties, and sometimes denouncing dreadful warnings - in his providence sometimes heaping mercies on our heads, and sometimes executing judgment. Should every means fail to melt, or to subdue our hearts, well may his wrath wax hot against us! Let us pray for an obedient and docile spirit, ready to listen to the word of the Lord, whether He speaks in thunder, or in a small still voice.
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« Reply #388 on: March 22, 2009, 04:16:59 PM »

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Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
Free From Grace Gems
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March 29

Christ upbraids three cities for their impenitence
Matthew 11:20-24

We find from this passage that the preaching of the Lord Jesus produced very little effect upon men's hearts. In order that people be converted, it is necessary, not only that the preaching be faithful, but that the hearts of the hearers be prepared - for otherwise the tongues of holy men, or of angels, or even of the Son of God, may speak in vain.

The cities in which our Savior most frequently preached were Chorazin, Bethsaida, and especially Capernaum. We are inclined to exclaim, "Blessed cities!" But Jesus says, "Woe unto you, Chorazin!" The preaching of the Son of God was not a blessing to that city, but a curse. And now the very place where it stood cannot be ascertained. Travelers may still visit Bethlehem and Nazareth, Jericho and Sychar, and many other ancient cities; but if they inquire for Capernaum, and Chorazin, and Bethsaida, they will get no certain answer.

There is a very wonderful truth contained in the words of Christ, just read by us. Jesus declared that Tyre and Sidon, two heathen cities, would have repented, if they had seen the miracles he had performed in Israel; and that Sodom, that most wicked city, would also have repented, and been spared the "vengeance of eternal fire." We see therefore that Jesus not only knows all that does happen, and all that will happen; but that he also knows all that would have happened, in every possible case. He knows how each heathen city would have received his word, had she heard it. He does not explain to us his reasons for not giving that light to Tyre and Sidon which he bestowed on the cities of Israel. He gives an account of none of his matters. The Judge of all the earth will do right, and none may dare to say, or even to think, "What are you doing?" At the last day his justice in his dealings with men will be seen and acknowledged by the assembled universe. The degree of every person's punishment will be exactly proportioned to his guilt; and that guilt will be measured by his advantages, and by the use he made of them. And can we hear this without reflecting upon our own case? How great are the privileges we enjoy!

There have been heathens, who, as soon as they were told of the love of Jesus in dying for their sins, began to repent. A Hindoo set out on a pilgrimage to Juggernaut, carrying with him a few tracts which he had not read. Being detained on the way by the illness of his wife, he had the opportunity of reading them attentively. Did he proceed to Juggernaut? No! he set out on a better pilgrimage. Desiring to persuade his countrymen to turn to the Lord, he often read aloud to little assemblies in the open air. While thus engaged, a poor native passed by, stopped to listen, was struck by what he heard, asked a few important questions, and immediately determined to give himself to Him who had bought him with his blood. (Report of the Religious Tract Society for 1845, p. 58.)

Are not those Hindoos a reproach to any who, having heard many sermons, and read many chapters, and received much instruction, have not repented yet? Surely if we repent not, we shall be thrust down to the lowest hell; far, far below the wickedest of the heathen!

But Jesus will himself bestow repentance on all who seek this precious grace. "Him has God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins," (Acts 5:31.)
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« Reply #389 on: March 22, 2009, 04:18:56 PM »

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Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
Free From Grace Gems
http://www.gracegems.org/
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March 30

Christ offers a thanksgiving to his Father, and invites the heavy laden to come to Him
Matthew 11:25-30

We have now read the end of our Savior's discourse to the people, after John the Baptist's messengers had departed. The beginning of the discourse contains warnings and reproofs, but the end is filled with thanksgivings, invitations, and entreaties. Jesus intermingled prayer to his Father with his addresses to the people. What a privilege we enjoy in being permitted to know what he said to his Father! He spoke aloud that men might be edified; for on one occasion he declared, when engaged in prayer, "because of the people who stand by, I said it," (John 11:42.)

Often our blessed Lord offered up prayer accompanied by tears, (Hebrews 5:7;) but on this occasion heavenly joy must have enlightened his countenance, for Luke informs us that "he rejoiced in spirit," (Luke 10:21.) And what was the cause of his joy? It was, that God had revealed these things to babes, though he had hid them from the wise and prudent. What things? Things respecting himself; the things about which John the Baptist's disciples had inquired - "Are you he who shall come, or look we for another?" (ver. 3.)

These things many babes knew. By babes ignorant people are meant, those who feel their ignorance, and desire to be taught of God. To such babes (whether learned or not in worldly things) God reveals his Son, while he leaves the wise and prudent in their own sight to blindness and darkness. Such were the Pharisees. Though really blind and dark, they thought they knew the way of salvation; for Satan had blinded their minds, as it is written in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4  - "The god of this world has blinded the minds of those who believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ (who is the image of God) should shine into them."

Let us pray to God to give us the spirit of a babe, a humble, teachable spirit, and then Christ will reveal to us that heavenly knowledge which can save our souls. It seemed good in the Father's sight that babes should be instructed. We need not, therefore, fear a repulse from our heavenly Father, if we come confessing our ignorance and desiring to be taught. And who is the Teacher that He has appointed? It is the meek and lowly Jesus. Hear him say, "Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart." Who would not delight in receiving instruction from such gracious lips? How sweetly he encourages sinners to approach! - "Come unto me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." And does not his invitation include every child of man? Every sinner is weary and heavy laden. Penitent sinners mourn for the guilt of sin; but those who are not penitent feel the misery of its bondage. They may not know what it is that interrupts their happiness; they may think it is the circumstances in which they are placed; but it is the sin that dwells in them, and holds them in captivity. Jesus alone can free the soul from the chain of its sins; he alone can bestow rest. Those who believe in him do enter into rest; they can say of their Shepherd, "He makes me to lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside the still waters."

How happy are they who early choose the Lord for their friend and master! They will find his yoke easy, and his burden light; they will find that, instead of binding burdens upon them, he himself bears their burdens. Ask those who have been long engaged in this service, whether they have not found his yoke easy and his burden light. They will tell you that in the brightest days of heedless youth, they never tasted that peace which they have found in the darkest nights of pious old age.
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