Matthew 6


Of alms-giving, 1-5.

Of prayer, 6-8.

The Lord's prayer, or model according to which Christians

should pray, 9-13.

Of forgiveness, 14, 15.

Of fasting, 16, 17.

Of laying up treasures, 18-21.

Of the single eye, 22, 23.

The impossibility of serving two masters, 24.

Of contentment and confidence in the Divine providence, 25-32.

Directions about seeking the kingdom of God, 33, 34.


Verse 1. That ye do not your alms] δικαιοσυνηνυμωνμη

ποιειν, perform not your acts of righteousness-such as

alms-giving, fasting, and prayer, mentioned immediately after.

Instead of δικαιοσυνην, righteousness, or acts of righteousness,

the reading in the text, that which has been commonly received is

ελεημοσυνην, alms. But the first reading has been inserted in

several editions, and is supported by the Codd. Vatican. and

Bezae, some others, and several versions, all the Itala except

one, and the Vulgate. The Latin fathers have justitiam, a word of

the same meaning. Mr. Gregory has amply proved, tsidekeh,

righteousness, was a common word for alms among the Jews. Works,

4to. p. 58, 1671. R. D. Kimchi says that tsidekeh,

Isa 59:14,

means alms-giving; and the phrase natan tsidekah, is

used by the Jews to signify the giving of alms. The following

passages from Dr. Lightfoot show that it was thus commonly used

among the Jewish writers:-

"It is questioned," says he, "whether Matthew writ ελεημοσυνην,

alms, or δικαιοσυνην, righteousness. I answer:-

"I. That, our Saviour certainly said tsidekah,

righteousness, (or, in Syriac zidkatha,) I make no doubt at

all; but, that that word could not be otherwise understood by the

common people than of alms, there is as little doubt to be made.

For although the word tsidekah, according to the idiom of the

Old Testament, signifies nothing else than righteousness; yet now,

when our Saviour spoke these words, it signified nothing so much

as alms.

"II. Christ used also the same word zidkatha,

righteousness, in time three verses next following, and Matthew

used the word ελεημοσυνην, alms; but by what right, I beseech you,

should he call it δικαιοσυνην, righteousness, in the first verse,

and ελεημοσυνην, alms, in the following; when Christ every where

used one and the same word? Matthew might not change in Greek,

where our Saviour had not changed in Syriac: therefore we must say

that the Lord Jesus used the word tsidekeh or

zidkatha, in these four first verses; but that, speaking in the

dialect of common people, he was understood by the common people

to speak of alms. Now they called alms by the name of

righteousness, for the fathers of the traditions taught, and the

common people believed, that alms contributed very much to

justification. Hear the Jewish chair in this matter-For one

farthing given to a poor man in alms, a man is made partaker of

the beatific vision: where it renders these words, Ps 17:15,

I shall behold thy face in righteousness, after this manner, I

shall behold thy face, BECAUSE of ALMS. Bava. Bathra.

"This money goeth for alms, that my sons may live, and that I

may obtain the world to come. Bab. Rosh. Hashshanah.

"A man's table now expiates by alms, as heretofore the altar did

by sacrifice. Beracoth.

"If you afford alms out of your purse, God will keep you from

all damage and harm. Hieros. Peah.

"MONOBAZES the king bestowed his goods liberally upon the poor,

and had these words spoken to him by his kinsmen and friends-'Your

ancestors increased both their own riches, and those that were

left them by their fathers; but you waste both your own and those

of your ancestors.' To whom he answered-'My fathers laid up their

wealth on earth: I lay up mine in heaven. As it is written, Truth

shall flourish out of the earth, but Righteousness shall look down

from heaven. My fathers laid up treasures that bear no fruit; but

I lay up such as bear fruit. As it is said, It shall be well with

the just, for they shall eat the fruit of their own works. My

fathers treasured up, when power was in their hands; but I where

it is not. As it is said, Justice and judgment is the habitation

of his throne. My fathers heaped up for others; I for myself. As

it is said, And this shall be to thee for righteousness. They

scraped together for this world. I for the world to come. As it

is said, Righteousness shall deliver from death.' Ibid. These

things are also recited in the Babylonian Talmud.

"You see plainly in what sense he understands righteousness,

namely, in the sense of alms: and that sense not so much framed in

his own imagination, as in that of the whole nation, and which the

royal catachumen had imbibed from the Pharisees his teachers.

"Behold the justifying and saving virtue of alms, from the very

work done according to the doctrine of the Pharisaical chair! And

hence, the opinion of this efficacy of alms so far prevailed with

the deceived people, that they pointed out alms by no other name

(confined within one single word) than tsidekah,

righteousness. Perhaps those words of our Saviour are spoken in

derision of this doctrine. Yea, give those things which ye have

in alms, and behold all things shall be clean to you, Lu 11:41.

With good reason indeed exhorting them to give alms; but yet

withal striking at the covetousness of the Pharisees, and

confuting their vain opinion of being clean by the washing of

their hands, from their own opinion of the efficacy of alms. As if

he had said, "Ye assert that alms justifies and saves, and

therefore ye call it by the name of righteousness; why therefore

do ye affect cleanliness by the washing of hands; and not rather

by the performance of charity?" LIGHTFOOT's Works, vol. ii.

p. 153.

Before men] Our Lord does not forbid public alms-giving,

fasting, and prayer, but simply censures those vain and

hypocritical persons who do these things publicly that they may be

seen of men, and receive from them the reputation of saints, &c.

Verse 2. Therefore when thou doest thine alms] In the first

verse the exhortation is general: Take YE heed. In this verse the

address is pointed-and THOU-man-woman-who readest-hearest.

Do not sound a trumpet] It is very likely that this was

literally practised among the Pharisees, who seemed to live on the

public esteem, and were excessively self-righteous and vain.

Having something to distribute by way of alms, it is very probable

they caused this to be published by blowing a trumpet or horn,

under pretence of collecting the poor; though with no other design

than to gratify their own ambition. There is a custom in the east

not much unlike this. "The derveeshes carry horns with them,

which they frequently blow, when any thing is given to them, in

honor of the donor. It is not impossible that some of the poor

Jews who begged alms might be furnished like the Persian

derveeshes, who are a sort of religious beggars, and that these

hypocrites might be disposed to confine their alms-giving to those

that they knew would pay them this honour." HARMER'S Observat.

vol. i. p. 474.

It must be granted, that in the Jewish writings there is no such

practice referred to as that which I have supposed above, viz.

blowing a trumpet to gather the poor, or the poor blowing a horn

when relieved. Hence some learned men have thought that the word

shopher, a trumpet, refers to the hole in the public alms

chest, into which the money was dropped which was allotted for

the service of the poor. Such holes, because they were wide at

one end and grew gradually narrow towards the other, were actually

termed shopheroth, trumpets, by the rabbins; of this

Schoettgen furnishes several examples. An ostentatious man, who

wished to attract the notice of those around him, would throw in

his money with some force into these trumpet-resembling holes, and

thus he might be said σαλπιζειν, to sound the trumpet.

The Jerusalem Gemara, tract Shekalim, describes these

shopheroth thus-These trumpet holes were crooked, narrow above and

wide below, in order to prevent fraud. As our Lord only uses the

words, μησαλπισης, it may be tantamount to our term jingle. Do

not make a public ostentatious jingle of that money which you give

to public charities. Pride and hypocrisy are the things here

reprehended. The Pharisees, no doubt, felt the weight of the

reproof. Still the words may be taken in their literal meaning,

as we know that the Moslimans, who nearly resemble the ancient

Pharisees in the ostentation, bigotry, and cruelty of their

character, are accustomed, in their festival of Muhurram, to erect

stages in the public streets, and, by the sound of a trumpet, call

the poor together to receive alms of rice, and other kinds of

food. See WARD.

Works of charity and mercy should be done as much in private as

is consistent with the advancement of the glory of God, and the

effectual relief of the poor.

In the synagogues and in the streets] That such chests or

boxes, for receiving the alms of well-disposed people, were placed

in the synagogues, we may readily believe; but what were the

streets? Schoettgen supposes that courts or avenues in the temple

and in the synagogues may be intended-places where the people were

accustomed to walk, for air, amusement, &c., for it is not to be

supposed that such chests were fixed in the public streets.

They have their reward.] That is, the honour and esteem of men

which they sought. God is under no obligation to them-they did

nothing with an eye to his glory, and from HIM they can expect no

recompense. They had their recompense in this life; and could

expect none in the world to come.

Verse 3. Let not thy left hand know] In many cases, works of

charity must be hidden from even our nearest relatives, who, if

they knew, would hinder us from doing what God has given us power

and inclination to perform. We must go even farther; and conceal

them as far as is possible from ourselves, by not thinking of

them, or eyeing them with complacency. They are given to GOD, and

should be hidden in HIM.

Verse 4. Which seeth in secret] We should ever remember that

the eye of the Lord is upon us, and that he sees not only the act,

but also every motive that led to it.

Shall reward thee openly.] Will give thee the fullest proofs of

his acceptance of thy work of faith, and labour of love, by

increasing that substance which, for his sake, thou sharest with

the poor; and will manifest his approbation in thy own heart, by

the witness of his Spirit.

Verse 5. And when thou prayest] οτανπροσευχηπροσευχη,

prayer, is compounded of προς with, and ευχη a vow,

because to pray right, a man binds himself to God, as by a vow, to

live to his glory, if he will grant him his grace, &c. ευχομαι

signifies to pour out prayers or vows, from ευ well, and

χεω, I pour out; probably alluding to the offerings or

libations which were poured out before, or on the altar. A proper

idea of prayer is, a pouring out of the soul unto God, as a

free-will offering, solemnly and eternally dedicated to him,

accompanied with the most earnest desire that it may know, love,

and serve him alone. He that comes thus to God will ever be heard

and blessed. Prayer is the language of dependence; he who prays

not, is endeavouring to live independently of God: this was the

first curse, and continues to be the great curse of mankind. In

the beginning, Satan said, Eat this fruit; ye shall then be as

God; i.e. ye shall be independent: the man hearkened to his

voice, sin entered into the world, and notwithstanding the full

manifestation of the deception, the ruinous system is still

pursued; man will, if possible, live independently of God; hence

he either prays not at all, or uses the language without the

spirit of prayer. The following verses contain so fine a view,

and so just a definition, of prayer, that I think the pious reader

will be glad to find them here.


Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,

Unuttered or expressed,

The motion of a hidden fire

That trembles in the breast:

Prayer is the burden of a sigh,

The falling of a tear,

The upward gleaming of an eye,

When none but God is near.

Prayer is the simplest form of speech

That infant lips can try;

Prayer, the sublimest strains that reach

The Majesty on high:

Prayer is the Christian's vital breath,

The Christian's native air,

His watch-word at the gates of death,

He enters heaven by prayer.

Prayer is the contrite sinner's voice,

Returning from his ways,

While angels in their songs rejoice,

And say, Behold he prays!

The saints in prayer appear as one,

In word, in deed, in mind,

When with the Father and the Son

Their fellowship they find.

Nor prayer is made on earth alone:

The Holy Spirit pleads;

And Jesus, on th' eternal throne,

For sinners intercedes.

"O Thou, by whom we come to God!

The Life, the Truth, the Way,

The path of prayer thyself hast trod,

Lord, teach us how to pray!"


Thou shalt not be as the hypocrites] υποκριται. From υπο

under, and κρινομαι to be judged, thought: properly a

stage-player, who acts under a mask, personating a character

different from his own; a counterfeit, a dissembler; one who would

be thought to be different from what he really is. A person who

wishes to be taken for a follower of God, but who has nothing of

religion except the outside.

Love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of

the streets] The Jewish phylacterical prayers were long, and

the canonical hours obliged them to repeat these prayers wherever

they happened to be; and the Pharisees, who were full of vain

glory, contrived to be overtaken in the streets by the canonical

hour, that they might be seen by the people, and applauded for

their great and conscientious piety. See Lightfoot. As they had

no piety but that which was outward, they endeavoured to let it

fully appear, that they might make the most of it among the

people. It would not have answered their end to kneel before God,

for then they might have been unnoticed by men; and consequently

have lost that reward which they had in view: viz. the esteem and

applause of the multitude. This hypocritical pretension to

devotion is common among the Asiatics. Both Hindoos and

Mohammedans love to pray in the most public places, at the landing

places of rivers, in the public streets, on the roofs of the

covered boats, without the least endeavour to conceal their

outside devotion, that they may be seen of men.

Verse 6. But thou, when thou prayest] This is a very

impressive and emphatic address. But THOU! whosoever thou art,

Jew, Pharisee, Christian-enter into thy closet. Prayer is the

most secret intercourse of the soul with God, and as it were the

conversation of one heart with another. The world is too profane

and treacherous to be of the secret. We must shut the door

against it: endeavour to forget it, with all the affairs which

busy and amuse it. Prayer requires retirement, at least of the

heart; for this may be fitly termed the closet in the house of

God, which house the body of every real Christian is, 1Co 3:16.

To this closet we ought to retire even in public prayer, and in

the midst of company.

Reward thee openly.] What goodness is there equal to this of

God to give, not only what we ask, and more than we ask, but to

reward even prayer itself! How great advantage is it to serve a

prince who places prayers in the number of services, and reckons

to his subjects' account, even their trust and confidence in

begging all things of him!

Verse 7. Use not vain repetitions] μηβαττολογησητε, Suidas

explains this word well: "πολυλογια, much speaking, from one

Battus, who made very prolix hymns, in which the same idea

frequently recurred." "A frequent repetition of awful and

striking words may often be the result of earnestness and fervour.

See Da 9:3-20;

but great length of prayer, which will of course involve much

sameness and idle repetition, naturally creates fatigue and

carelessness in the worshipper, and seems to suppose ignorance or

inattention in the Deity; a fault against which our Lord more

particularly wishes to secure them." See Clarke on Mt 6:8.

This judicious note is from the late Mr. Gilbert Wakefield, who

illustrates it with the following quotation from the

Heautontimorumenos of Terence:-

Ohe! jam decine Deos, uxor, gratulando OBTUNDERE,

Tuam esse inventam gnatam: nisi illos ex TUO INGENIO judicas,

Ut nil credas INTELLIGERE, nisi idem DICTUM SIT CENTIES.

"Pray thee, wife, cease from STUNNING the gods with

thanksgivings, because thy child is in safety; unless thou judgest

of them from thyself, that they cannot UNDERSTAND a thing, unless

they are told of it a HUNDRED TIMES." Heaut. ver. 880.

Prayer requires more of the heart than of the tongue. The

eloquence of prayer consists in the fervency of desire, and the

simplicity of faith. The abundance of fine thoughts, studied and

vehement motions, and the order and politeness of the expressions,

are things which compose a mere human harangue, not an humble and

Christian prayer. Our trust and confidence ought to proceed from

that which God is able to do in us, and not from that which we can

say to him. It is abominable, says the HEDAYAH, that a person

offering up prayers to God, should say, "I beseech thee, by the

glory of thy heavens!" or, "by the splendour of thy throne!" for a

style of this nature would lead to suspect that the Almighty

derived glory from the heavens; whereas the heavens are created,

but God with all his attributes is eternal and inimitable.

HEDAYAH, vol. iv. p. 121.

This is the sentiment of a Mohammedan; and yet for this vain

repetition the Mohammedans are peculiarly remarkable; they often

use such words as the following:-





O God, O God, O God, O God!-O Lord, O Lord, O Lord, O Lord!-O

living, O immortal, O living, O immortal, O living, O immortal, O

living, O immortal!-O Creator of the heavens and the earth!-O

thou who art endowed with majesty and authority! O wonderful, &c.

I have extracted the above from a form of prayer used by Tippo

Sahib, which I met with in a book of devotion in which there were

several prayers written with his own hand, and signed with his own


Of this vain repetition in civil matters, among the Jews, many

instances might be given, and not a few examples might be found

among Christians. The heathens abounded with them: see several

quoted by Lightfoot.-Let the parricide be dragged! We beseech

thee, Augustus, let the parricide be dragged! This is the thing

we ask, let the parricide be dragged! Hear us, Caesar; let the

false accusers be cast to the lion! Hear us, Caesar, let the

false accusers be condemned to the lion! Hear us, Caesar, &c. It

was a maxim among the Jews, that "he who multiplies prayer, must

be heard." This is correct, if it only imply perseverance in

supplication; but if it be used to signify the multiplying of

words, or even forms of prayer, it will necessarily produce the

evil which our Lord reprehends: Be not as the heathen-use not vain

repetition, &c. Even the Christian Churches in India have copied

this vain repetition work; and in it the Roman Catholic, the

Armenian, and the Greek Churches strive to excel.

As the heathen] The Vatican MS. reads υποκριται, like the

hypocrites. Unmeaning words, useless repetitions, and

complimentary phrases in prayer, are in general the result of

heathenism, hypocrisy, or ignorance.

Verse 8. Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of]

Prayer is not designed to inform God, but to give man a sight of

his misery; to humble his heart, to excite his desire, to inflame

his faith, to animate his hope, to raise his soul from earth to

heaven, and to put him in mind that THERE is his Father, his

country, and inheritance.

In the preceding verses we may see three faults, which our Lord

commands us to avoid in prayer:-

1st. HYPOCRISY. Be not as the hypocrites. Mt 6:5.

2ndly. DISSIPATION. Enter into thy closet. Mt 6:6.


heathens. Mt 6:7.

Verse 9. After this manner therefore pray ye] Forms of prayer

were frequent among the Jews; and every public teacher gave one to

his disciples. Some forms were drawn out to a considerable

length, and from these abridgments were made: to the latter sort

the following prayer properly belongs, and consequently, besides

its own very important use, it is a plan for a more extended

devotion. What satisfaction must it be to learn from God himself,

with what words, and in what manner, he would have us pray to him,

so as not to pray in vain! A king, who draws up the petition

which he allows to be presented to himself, has doubtless the

fullest determination to grant the request. We do not

sufficiently consider the value of this prayer; the respect and

attention which it requires; the preference to be given to it; its

fulness and perfection: the frequent use we should make of it; and

the spirit which we should bring with it. "Lord, teach us how to

pray!" is a prayer necessary to prayer; for unless we are divinely

instructed in the manner, and influenced by the spirit of true

devotion, even the prayer taught us by Jesus Christ may be

repeated without profit to our souls.

Our Father] It was a maxim of the Jews, that a man should not

pray alone, but join with the Church; by which they particularly

meant that he should, whether alone or with the synagogue, use the

plural number as comprehending all the followers of God. Hence,

they say, Let none pray the short prayer, i.e. as the gloss

expounds it, the prayer in the singular, but in the plural number.

See Lightfoot on this place.

This prayer was evidently made in a peculiar manner for the

children of God. And hence we are taught to say, not MY Father,

but OUR Father. The heart, says one, of a child of God, is a

brotherly heart, in respect of all other Christians: it asks

nothing but in the spirit of unity, fellowship, and Christian

charity; desiring that for its brethren which it desires for


The word Father, placed here at the beginning of this prayer,

includes two grand ideas, which should serve as a foundation to

all our petitions: 1st. That tender and respectful love which we

should feel for God, such as that which children feel for their

fathers. 2dly. That strong confidence in God's love to us, such

as fathers have for their children. Thus all the petitions in

this prayer stand in strictest reference to the word Father; the

first three referring to the love we have for God; and the three

last, to that confidence which we have in the love he bears to us.

The relation we stand in to this first and best of beings

dictates to us reverence for his person, zeal for his honour,

obedience to his will, submission to his dispensations and

chastisements, and resemblance to his nature.

Which art in heaven] The phrase , abinu

sheboshemayim, our Father who art in heaven, was very common among

the ancient Jews; and was used by them precisely in the same sense

as it is used here by our Lord.

This phrase in the Scriptures seems used to express:

1st. His OMNIPRESENCE. The heaven of heavens cannot contain

thee. 1Ki 8:27: that is, Thou fillest immensity.

2dly. His MAJESTY and DOMINION over his creatures. Art thou not

God in heaven, and rulest thou not over all the kingdoms of the

heathen? 2Ch 20:6.

3dly. His POWER and MIGHT. Art thou not God in heaven, and in

thy hand is there not power and might, so that no creature is able

to withstand thee! 2Ch 20:6.

Our God is in heaven, and hath done whatsoever he pleased.

Ps 115:3.

4thly. His OMNISCIENCE. The Lord's throne is in heaven, his

eyes behold, his eye-lids try the children of men. Ps 11:4.

The Lord looketh down from heaven, he beholdeth all the sons of

men. Ps 33:13-15.

5thly. His infinite PURITY and HOLINESS. Look down from thy holy

habitation, &c. De 26:15.

Thou art the high and lofty One, who inhabiteth eternity, whose

name is holy. Isa 57:15.

Hallowed] αγιασθητωαγιαζω. from a negative, and γη, the

earth, a thing separated from the earth, or from earthly purposes

and employments. As the word sanctified, or hallowed, in

Scripture, is frequently used for the consecration of a thing or

person to a holy use or office, as the Levites, first-born,

tabernacle, temple, and their utensils, which were all set apart

from every earthly, common, or profane use, and employed wholly in

the service of God, so the Divine Majesty may be said to be

sanctified by us, in analogy to those things, viz. when, we

separate him from, and in our conceptions and desires exalt him

above, earth and all things.

Thy name.] That is, GOD himself, with all the attributes of

his Divine nature-his power, wisdom, justice, mercy, &c.

We hallow God's name, 1st. With our lips, when all our

conversation is holy, and we speak of those things which are meet

to minister grace to the hearers.

2dly. In our thoughts, when we suppress every rising evil, and

have our tempers regulated by his grace and Spirit.

3dly. In our lives, when we begin, continue, and end our works

to his glory. If we have an eye to God in all we perform, then

every act of our common employment will be an act of religious


4thly. In our families, when we endeavour to bring up our

children in the discipline and admonition or the Lord; instructing

also our servants in the way of righteousness.

5thly. In a particular calling or business, when we separate

the falsity, deception, and lying, commonly practised, from it;

buying and selling as in the sight of the holy and just God.

Verse 10. Thy kingdom come.] The ancient Jews scrupled not to

say: He prays not at all, in whose prayers there is no mention of

the kingdom of God. Hence, they were accustomed to say, "Let him

cause his kingdom to reign, and his redemption to flourish: and

let the Messiah speedily come and deliver his people."

The universal sway of the sceptre of Christ:-God has promised

that the kingdom of Christ shall be exalted above all kingdoms.

Da 7:14-27. That it shall overcome all others, and be at last

the universal empire. Isa 9:7. Connect this with the

explanation given of this phrase, Mt 3:2.

Thy will be done] This petition is properly added to the

preceding; for when the kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy,

in the Holy Spirit, is established in the heart, there is then an

ample provision made for the fulfilment of the Divine will.

The will of God is infinitely good, wise, and holy; to have it

fulfilled in and among men, is to have infinite goodness, wisdom,

and holiness diffused throughout the universe; and earth made the

counterpart of heaven.

As it is in heaven.] The Jews maintained, that they were the

angels of God upon earth, as these pure spirits were angels of God

in heaven; hence they said, "As the angels sanctify the Divine

name in heaven, so the Israelites sanctify the Divine name, upon

earth." See Schoettgen.

Observe, 1st. The salvation of the soul is the result of two

wills conjoined: the will of God, and the will of man. If God

will not the salvation of man, he cannot be saved: If, man will

not the salvation God has prepared for him, he cannot be delivered

from his sins. 2dly. This petition certainly points out a

deliverance from all sin; for nothing that is unholy can consist

with the Divine will, and if this be fulfilled in man, surely sin

shall be banished from his soul. 3dly. This is farther evident

from these words, as it is in heaven; i.e. as the angels do it:

viz. with all zeal, diligence, love, delight, and perseverance.

4thly. Does not the petition plainly imply, we may live without

sinning against God? Surely the holy angels never mingle

iniquity with their loving obedience; and as our Lord teaches us

to pray, that we do his will here as they do it in heaven, can it

be thought he would put a petition in our mouths, the fulfilment

of which was impossible? 5thly. This certainly destroys the

assertion: "There is no such state of purification, to be attained

here, in which it may be said, the soul is redeemed from sinful

passions and desires;" for it is on EARTH that we are commanded to

pray that this will, which is our sanctification, may be done.

6thly. Our souls can never be truly happy, till our WILLS be

entirely subjected to, and become one with, the will of God.

7thly. How can any person offer this petition to his Maker, who

thinks of nothing less than the performance of the will of God,

and of nothing more than doing his own?

Some see the mystery of the Trinity in the three preceding

petitions. The first being, addressed to the Father, as the

source of all holiness. The second, to the Son, who establishes

the kingdom of God upon earth. The third, to the Holy Spirit, who

by his energy works in men to will and to perform.

To offer these three petitions with success at the throne of

God, three graces, essential to our salvation, must be brought

into exercise; and, indeed, the petitions themselves necessarily

suppose them. FAITH, Our Father-for he that cometh to God, must

believe that he is.

HOPE, Thy kingdom come-For this grace has for its object good

things to come.

LOVE, Thy will be done-For love is the incentive to and

principle of all obedience to God, and beneficence to man.

Verse 11. Give us this day our daily bread] The word επιουσιαν

has greatly perplexed critics and commentators. I find upwards of

thirty different explanations of it. It is found in no Greek

writer before the evangelists, and Origen says expressly, that it

was formed by them, αλλεοικεπεπλασθαιυποτωνευαγγελιστων.

The interpretation of Theophylact, one of the best of the Greek

fathers, has ever appeared to me to be the most correct, αρτοςεπι

τηουσιακαιαυστασειημωναυταρκης, Bread, sufficient for our

substance and support, i.e. That quantity of food which is

necessary to support our health and strength, by being changed

into the substance of our bodies. Its composition is of επι and

ουσια, proper or sufficient for support. Mr. Wakefield thinks

it probable, that the word was originally written επιουσιαν,

which coalesced by degrees, till they became the επιουσιον of the

MSS. There is probably an allusion here to the custom of

travellers in the east, who were wont to reserve a part of the

food given them the preceding evening to serve for their breakfast

or dinner the next day. But as this was not sufficient for the

whole day, they were therefore obliged to depend on the providence

of God for the additional supply. In Lu 15:12, 13, ουσια

signifies, what a person has to live on; and nothing can be more

natural than to understand the compound επιουσιος, of that

additional supply which the traveller needs, to complete the

provision necessary for a day's eating, over and above what he had

then in his possession. See Harmer.

The word is so very peculiar and expressive, and seems to have

been made on purpose by the evangelists, that more than mere

bodily nourishment seems to be intended by it. Indeed, many of

the primitive fathers understood it as comprehending that daily

supply of grace which the soul requires to keep it in health and

vigour: He who uses the petition would do well to keep both in

view. Observe 1. God is the author and dispenser of all temporal

as well as spiritual good. 2. We have merited no kind of good

from his hand, and therefore must receive it as a free gift: Give

us, &c. 3. We must depend on him daily for support; we are not

permitted to ask any thing for to-morrow: give us to-day. 4. That

petition of the ancient Jews is excellent: "Lord, the necessities

of thy people Israel are many, and their knowledge small, so that

they know not how to disclose their necessities: Let it be thy

good pleasure to give to every man, what sufficeth for food!"

Thus they expressed their dependence, and left it to God to

determine what was best and most suitable. We must ask only that

which is essential to our support, God having promised neither

luxuries nor superfluities.

Verse 12. And forgive us our debts] Sin is represented here

under the notion of a debt, and as our sins are many, they are

called here debts. God made man that he might live to his glory,

and gave him a law to walk by; and if, when he does any thing that

tends not to glorify God, he contracts a debt with Divine Justice,

how much more is he debtor when he breaks the law by actual

transgression! It has been justly observed, "All the attributes

of God are reasons of obedience to man; those attributes are

infinite; every sin is an act of ingratitude or rebellion against

all these attributes; therefore sin is infinitely sinful."

Forgive us.-Man has nothing to pay: if his debts are not

forgiven, they must stand charged against him for ever, as he is

absolutely insolvent. Forgiveness, therefore, must come from the

free mercy of God in Christ: and how strange is it we cannot have

the old debt cancelled, without (by that very means) contracting a

new one, as great as the old! but the credit is transferred from

Justice to Mercy. While sinners we are in debt to infinite

Justice; when pardoned, in debt to endless Mercy: and as a

continuance in a state of grace necessarily implies a continual

communication of mercy, so the debt goes on increasing ad

infinitum. Strange economy in the Divine procedure, which by

rendering a man an infinite debtor, keeps him eternally dependent

on his Creator! How good is God! And what does this state of

dependence imply? A union with, and participation of, the

fountain of eternal goodness and felicity!

As we forgive our debtors.] It was a maxim among the ancient

Jews, that no man should lie down in his bed, without forgiving

those who had offended him. That man condemns himself to suffer

eternal punishment, who makes use of this prayer with revenge and

hatred in his heart. He who will not attend to a condition so

advantageous to himself (remitting a hundred pence to his debtor,

that his own creditor may remit him 10,000 talents) is a madman,

who, to oblige his neighbour to suffer an hour, is himself

determined to suffer everlastingly! This condition of forgiving

our neighbour, though it cannot possibly merit any thing, yet it

is that condition without which God will pardon no man.

See Mt 6:14, 15.

Verse 13. And lead us not into temptation] That is, bring us

not in to sore trial. πειρασμον, which may be here rendered sore

trial, comes from πειρω, to pierce through, as with a spear,

or spit, used so by some of the best Greek writers. Several of

the primitive fathers understood it something in this way; and

have therefore added quam ferre non possimus, "which we cannot

bear." The word not only implies violent assaults from Satan, but

also sorely afflictive circumstances, none of which we have, as

yet, grace or fortitude sufficient to bear. Bring us not in, or

lead us not in. This is a mere Hebraism: God is said to do a

thing which he only permits or suffers to be done.

The process of temptation is often as follows: 1st. A simple

evil thought. 2ndly. A strong imagination, or impression made on

the imagination, by the thing to which we are tempted. 3dly.

Delight in viewing it. 4thly. Consent of the will to perform it.

Thus lust is conceived, sin is finished, and death brought forth.

Jas 1:15. See also on Mt 4:1. A man may be tempted without

entering into the temptation: entering into it implies giving way,

closing in with, and embracing it.

But deliver us from evil] αποτουπονηρου, from the wicked one.

Satan is expressly called οπονηρος, the wicked one.

Mt 13:19, 38, compare with Mr 4:15; Lu 8:12. This epithet of

Satan comes from πονος, labour, sorrow, misery, because of the

drudgery which is found in the way of sin, the sorrow that

accompanies the commission of it, and the misery which is entailed

upon it, and in which it ends.

It is said in the MISHNA, Tit. Beracoth, that Rabbi Judah was

wont to pray thus: "Let it be thy good pleasure to deliver us from

impudent men, and from impudence: from an evil man and an evil

chance; from an evil affection, an evil companion, and an evil

neighbour: from Satan the destroyer, from a hard judgment, and a

hard adversary." See Lightfoot.

Deliver us] ρυσαιημας-a very expressive word-break our chains,

and loose our bands-snatch, pluck us from the evil, and its

calamitous issue.

For thine is the kingdom, &c.] The whole of this doxology is

rejected by Wetstein, Griesbach, and the most eminent critics.

The authorities on which it is rejected may be seen in Griesbach

and, Wetstein, particularly in the second edition of Griesbach's

Testament, who is fully of opinion that it never made a part of

the sacred text. It is variously written in several MSS., and

omitted by most of the fathers, both Greek and Latin. As the

doxology is at least very ancient, and was in use among the Jews,

as well as all the other petitions of this excellent prayer, it

should not, in my opinion, be left out of the text, merely because

some MSS. have omitted it, and it has been variously written in

others. See various forms of this doxology, taken from the

ancient Jewish writers, in Lightfoot and Schoettgen.

By the kingdom, we may understand that mentioned Mt 6:10, and

explained Mt 3:2.

By power, that energy by which the kingdom is governed and


By glory, the honour that shall redound to God in consequence of

the maintenance of the kingdom of grace, in the salvation of men.

For ever and ever.] ειςτουςαιωνας, to the for evers. Well

expressed by our common translation-ever in our ancient use of the

word taking in the whole duration of time; the second ever, the

whole of eternity. May thy name have the glory both in this

world, and in that which is to come! The original word αιων comes

from αει always, and ων being, or existence. This is

Aristotle's definition of it. See Clarke on Ge 21:33. There

is no word in any language which more forcibly points out the

grand characteristic of eternity-that which always exists. It is

often used to signify a limited time, the end of which is not

known; but this use of it is only an accommodated one; and it is

the grammatical and proper sense of it which must be resorted to

in any controversy concerning the word. We sometimes use the

phrase for evermore: i.e. for ever and more, which signifies the

whole of time, and the more or interminable duration beyond it.

See Clarke on Mt 25:46.

Amen.] This word is Hebrew, , and signifies faithful or

true. Some suppose the word is formed from the initial letters of

adoni melech neetnan, My Lord, the faithful King.

The word itself implies a confident resting of the soul in God,

with the fullest assurance that all these petitions shall be

fulfilled to every one who prays according to the directions given

before by our blessed Lord.

The very learned Mr. Gregory has shown that our Lord collected

this prayer out of the Jewish Euchologies, and gives us the whole

form as follows:-

"Our Father who art in heaven, be gracious unto us! O Lord our

God, hallowed be thy name, and let the remembrance of Thee be

glorified in heaven above, and in the earth here below! Let thy

kingdom reign over us now, and for ever! The holy men of old

said, remit and forgive unto all men whatsoever they have done

against me! And lead us not into the hands of temptation, but

deliver us from the evil thing! For thine is the kingdom, and

thou shalt reign in glory for ever and for evermore." Gregory's

Works, 4to. 1671, p. 162. See this proved at large in the

collections of Lightfoot and Schoettgenius,

Verse 14. If ye forgive men] He who shows mercy to men

receives mercy from God. For a king to forgive his subjects a

hundred millions of treasons against his person and authority, on

this one condition, that they wilt henceforth live peaceably with

him and with each other, is what we shall never see; and yet this

is but the shadow of that which Christ promises on his Father's

part to all true penitents. A man can have little regard for his

salvation, who refuses to have it on such advantageous terms. See


Verse 15. But if ye forgive not] He who does not awake at the

sound of so loud a voice, is not asleep but dead. A vindictive

man excludes himself from all hope of eternal life, and himself

seals his own damnation.

Trespasses] παραπτωματα, from παρα and πιπτω, to fall

off. What a remarkable difference there is between this word and

οφειληματα, debts, in Mt 6:12!

Men's sins against us are only their stumblings, or fallings off

from the duties they owe us; but our's are debts to God's justice,

which we can never discharge. It can be no great difficulty to

forgive those, especially when we consider that in many respects

we have failed as much, in certain duties which we owed to others,

as they have done in those which they owed us. "But I have given

him no provocation." Perhaps thou art angry, and art not a proper

judge in the matter; but, however it may be, it is thy interest to

forgive, if thou expectest forgiveness from God. On this

important subject I will subjoin an extract from Mason's

Self-knowledge, page 248, 1755.

"Athenodorus, the philosopher by reason of his old age, begged

leave to retire from the court of Augustus, which the emperor

granted. In his compliments of leave, he said, 'Remember, Caesar,

whenever thou art angry, that thou say or do nothing before thou

hast distinctly repeated to thyself the twenty-four letters of the

alphabet.' On which Caesar caught him by the hand, and said, 'I

have need of thy presence still:' and kept him a year longer.

This was excellent advice from a heathen; but a Christian may

prescribe to himself a wiser rule. When thou art angry, answer

not till thou hast repeated the fifth petition of our Lord's

prayer-Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors: and our

Lord's comment upon it-For if ye forgive not men their trespasses,

neither will your heavenly father forgive your trespasses."

PRAYER to God is considered among the Mohammedans in a very

important point of view. It is declared by the Mosliman doctors

to be the corner stone of RELIGION, and the pillar of FAITH. It

is not, say they, a thing of mere form, but requires that the

heart and understanding should accompany it, without which they

pronounce it to be of no avail. They direct prayer to be

performed five times in the twenty-four hours. 1. Between

day-break and sun-rise; 2. Immediately after noon; 3. Immediately

before sun-set; 4. In the evening before dark; and 5. Before the

first watch of the night.

They hold the following points to be essentially requisite to

the efficacy of prayer:-1. That the person be free from every

species of defilement. 2. That all sumptuous and gaudy apparel be

laid aside. 3. That the attention accompany the act, and be not

suffered to wander to any other object. 4. That the prayer be

performed with the face toward the temple of MECCA.

HEDAYAH. Prel. Dis. pp. 53, 54.

There are few points here but the follower of Christ may

seriously consider and profitably practise.

Verse 16. When ye fast] A fast is termed by the Greeks νηστις,

from νη not, and εσθειν to eat; hence fast means, a total

abstinence from food for a certain time. Abstaining from flesh,

and living on fish, vegetables, &c., is no fast, or may be rather

considered a burlesque on fasting. Many pretend to take the true

definition of a fast from Isa 58:3,

and say that it means a fast from sin. This is a mistake; there

is no such term in the Bible as fasting from sin; the very idea is

ridiculous and absurd, as if sin were a part of our daily food.

In the fast mentioned by the prophet, the people were to divide

their bread with the hungry, Isa 58:7;

but could they eat their bread, and give it too? No man should

save by a fast: he should give all the food he might have eaten to

the poor. He who saves a day's expense by a fast, commits an

abomination before the Lord. See Clarke on Mt 9:15.

As the hypocrites-of a sad countenance] σκυθρωποι, either from

σκυθρος sour, crabbed, and ωψ the countenance; or from

σκυθης a Scythian, a morose, gloomy, austere phiz, like that of

a Scythian or Tartar. A hypocrite has always a difficult part to

act: when he wishes to appear as a penitent, not having any godly

sorrow at heart, he is obliged to counterfeit it the best way he

can, by a gloomy and austere look.

Verse 17. Anoint thine head and wash thy face] These were

forbidden in the Jewish canon on days of fasting and humiliation;

and hypocrites availed themselves of this ordinance, that they

might appear to fast. Our Lord, therefore, cautions us against

this: as if he had said, Affect nothing-dress in thy ordinary

manner, and let the whole of thy deportment prove that thou

desirest to recommend my soul to God, and not thy face to men.

That factitious mourning, which consists in putting on black

clothes, crapes, &c., is utterly inconsistent with the simplicity

of the Gospel of Christ; and if practised in reference to

spiritual matters, is certainly forbidden here: but sin is so

common, and so boldly persisted in, that not even a crape is put

on, as an evidence of deploring its influence, or of sorrow for

having committed it.

Verse 18. Thy father which seeth in secret] Let us not be

afraid that our hearts can be concealed from God; but let us fear

lest he perceive them to be more desirous of the praise of men

than they are of that glory which comes from Him.

Openly.] εντωφανερω. These words are omitted by nine MSS. in

uncial letters; and by more than one hundred others, by most of

the versions, and by several of the primitive fathers. As it is

supported by no adequate authority, Bengel, Wetstein, Griesbach,

and others, have left it out of the text.

Verse 19. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth] What

blindness is it for a man to lay up that as a treasure which must

necessarily perish! A heart designed for God and eternity is

terribly degraded by being fixed on those things which are subject

to corruption. "But may we not lay up treasure innocently?" Yes.

1st. If you can do it without setting your heart on it, which is

almost impossible: and 2dly. If there be neither widows nor

orphans, destitute nor distressed persons in the place where you

live. "But there is a portion which belongs to my children; shall

I distribute that among the poor?" If it belongs to your

children, it is not yours, and therefore you have no right to

dispose of it. "But I have a certain sum in stock, &c.; shall I

take that and divide it among the poor?" By no means; for, by

doing so, you would put it out of your power to do good after the

present division: keep your principal, and devote, if you possibly

can spare it, the product to the poor; and thus you shall have the

continual ability to do good. In the mean time take care not to

shut up your bowels of compassion against a brother in distress;

if you do, the love of God cannot dwell in you.

Rust] Or canker, βρωσις, from βρωσκω, I eat, consume.

This word cannot be properly applied to rust, but to any thing

that consumes or cankers clothes or metals. There is a saying

exactly similar to this in the Institutes of MENU: speaking of the

presents made to Brahmins, he says, "It is a gem which neither

thieves nor foes take away, and which never perishes." Chapter of

Government, Institute 83.

Where thieves do not break through] διορυσσουσι, literally dig

through, i.e. the wall, in order to get into the house. This was

not a difficult matter, as the house was generally made of mud and

straw, kneaded together like the cobb houses in Cornwall, and

other places. See Clarke on Mt 7:27.

Verse 20. Lay up-treasures in heaven] "The only way to render

perishing goods eternal, to secure stately furniture from moths,

and the richest metals from canker, and precious stones from

thieves, is to transmit them to heaven by acts of charity. This

is a kind of bill of exchange which cannot fail of acceptance, but

through our own fault." Quesnel.

It is certain we have not the smallest portion of temporal good,

but what we have received from the unmerited bounty of God: and if

we give back to him all we have received, yet still there is no

merit that can fairly attach to the act, as the goods were the

Lord's; for I am not to suppose that I can purchase any thing from

a man by his own property. On this ground the doctrine of human

merit is one of the most absurd that ever was published among men,

or credited by sinners. Yet he who supposes he can purchase

heaven by giving that meat which was left at his own table, and

that of his servants; or by giving a garment which he could no

longer in decency wear, must have a base ignorant soul, and a very

mean opinion of the heaven he hopes for. But shall not such works

as these be rewarded? Yes, yes, God will take care to give you

all that your refuse victuals and old clothes are worth. Yet he,

who through love to God and man, divides his bread with the

hungry, and covers the naked with a garment, shall not lose his

reward; a reward which the mercy of God appoints, but to which, in

strict justice, he can lay no claim.

Verse 21. Where your treasure is] If God be the treasure of

our souls, our hearts, i.e. our affections and desires will be

placed on things above. An earthly minded man proves that his

treasure is below; a heavenly minded man shows that his treasure

is above.

Verse 22. The light of the body is the eye] That is, the eye

is to the body what the sun is to the universe in the day time, or

a lamp or candle to a house at night.

If-thine eye be single] απλους, simple, uncompounded; i.e. so

perfect in its structure as to see objects distinctly and clearly,

and not confusedly, or in different places to what they are, as is

often the case in certain disorders of the eye; one object

appearing two or more-or else in a different situation, and of a

different colour to what it really is. This state of the eye is

termed, Mt 6:23,

πονηρος evil, i.e. diseased or defective. An evil eye

was a phrase in use, among the ancient Jews, to denote an envious,

covetous man or disposition; a man who repined at his neighbour's

prosperity, loved his own money, and would do nothing in the way

of charity for God's sake. Our blessed Lord, however, extends and

sublimes this meaning, and uses the sound eye as a metaphor to

point out that simplicity of intention, and purity of affection

with which men should pursue the supreme good. We cannot draw

more than one straight line between two indivisible points. We

aim at happiness: it is found only in one thing, the indivisible

and eternal GOD. It the line of simple intention be drawn

straight to him, and the soul walk by it, with purity of

affection, the whole man shall be light in the Lord; the rays of

that excellent glory shall irradiate the mind, and through the

whole spirit shall the Divine nature be transfused. But if a

person who enjoyed this heavenly treasure permit his simplicity of

intention to deviate from heavenly to earthly good; and his purity

of affection to be contaminated by worldly ambition, secular

profits, and animal gratifications; then, the light which was in

him becomes darkness, i.e. his spiritual discernment departs, and

his union with God is destroyed: all is only a palpable obscure;

and, like a man who has totally lost his sight, he walks without

direction, certainty, or comfort. This state is most forcibly

intimated in our Lord's exclamation, How great a darkness! Who

can adequately describe the misery and wretchedness of that soul

which has lost its union with the fountain of all good, and, in

losing this, has lost the possibility of happiness till the simple

eye be once more given, and the straight line once more drawn.

Verse 24. No man can serve two masters] The master of our

heart may be fitly termed the love that reigns in it. We serve

that only which we love supremely. A man cannot be in perfect

indifference betwixt two objects which are incompatible: he is

inclined to despise and hate whatever he does not love supremely,

when the necessity of a choice presents itself.

He will hate the one and love the other.] The word hate has the

same sense here as it has in many places of Scripture; it merely

signifies to love less-so Jacob loved Rachel, but hated Leah;

i.e. he loved Leah much less than he loved Rachel. God himself

uses it precisely in the same sense: Jacob have I loved, but Esau

have I hated; i.e. I have loved the posterity of Esau less than I

have loved the posterity of Jacob: which means no more than that

God, in the course of his providence, gave to the Jews greater

earthly privileges than he gave to the Edomites, and chose to make

them the progenitors of the Messiah, though they ultimately,

through their own obstinacy, derived no more benefit from this

privilege than the Edomites did. How strange is it, that with

such evidence before their eyes, men will apply this loving and

hating to degrees of inclusion and exclusion, in which neither the

justice nor mercy of God are honoured!

Ye cannot serve God and mammon.] mamon is used for

money in the Targum of Onkelos, Ex 18:21;

and in that of Jonathan, Jud 5:19; 1Sa 8:3. The

Syriac word mamona is used in the same sense, Ex 21:30.

Dr. Castel deduces these words from the Hebrew aman, to trust,

confide; because men are apt to trust in riches. Mammon may

therefore be considered any thing a man confides in. Augustine

observes, "that mammon, in the Punic or Carthaginian language,

signified gain." Lucrum Punic� mammon dicitur. The word plainly

denotes riches, Lu 16:9, 11, in which latter verse mention is

made not only of the deceitful mammon, (τωαδικω,) but also of the

true (τοαληθινον.) St. Luke's phrase, μαμωνοαδικιας, very

exactly answers to the Chaldee mamon dishekar, which is

often used in the Targums. See more in Wetstein and Parkhurst.

Some suppose there was an idol of this name, and Kircher

mentions such a one in his OEdip. Egyptiacus. See Castel.

Our blessed Lord shows here the utter impossibility of loving

the world and loving God at the same time; or, in other words,

that a man of the world cannot be a truly religious character. He

who gives his heart to the world robs God of it, and, in snatching

at the shadow of earthly good, loses substantial and eternal

blessedness. How dangerous is it to set our hearts upon riches,

seeing it is so easy to make them our God!

Verse 25. Therefore] διατουτο, on this account; viz., that

ye may not serve mammon, but have unshaken confidence in God,

I say unto you,-

Take no thought] Be not anxiously careful, μημεριμνατε; this

is the proper meaning of the word. μεριμνα anxious solicitude,

from μεριζειντοννουν dividing or distracting the mind. My old

MS. Bible renders it, be not bysy to your life. Prudent care is

never forbidden by our Lord, but only that anxious distracting

solicitude, which, by dividing the mind, and drawing it different

ways, renders it utterly incapable of attending to any solemn or

important concern. To be anxiously careful concerning the means

of subsistence is to lose all satisfaction and comfort in the

things which God gives, and to act as a mere infidel. On the

other hand, to rely so much upon providence as not to use the very

powers and faculties with which the Divine Being has endowed us,

is to tempt God. If we labour without placing our confidence in

our labour, but expect all from the blessing of God, we obey his

will, co-operate with his providence, set the springs of it

a-going on our behalf, and thus imitate Christ and his followers

by a sedate care and an industrious confidence.

In this and the following verses, our Lord lays down several

reasons why men should not disquiet themselves about the wants of

life, or concerning the future.

The first is, the experience of greater benefits already

received. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than

raiment? Can he who gave us our body, and breathed into it the

breath of life, before we could ask them from him, refuse us that

which is necessary to preserve both, and when we ask it in humble


The clause what ye must eat, is omitted by two MSS., most of the

ancient versions, and by many of the primitive fathers. Griesbach

has left it in the text with a note of doubtfulness. It occurs

again in Mt 6:31, and there is no variation in any of the MSS. in

that place. Instead of, Is not the life more than, &c., we should

read, Of more value; so the word πλειον is used in Nu 22:15,

and by the best Greek writers; and in the same sense it is used in

Mt 21:37. See the note there.

Verse 26. Behold the fowls of the air] The second reason why

we should not be anxiously concerned about the future, is the

example of the smaller animals, which the providence of God feeds

without their own labour; though he be not their father. We never

knew an earthly father take care of his fowls, and neglect his

children; and shall we fear this from our heavenly Father? God

forbid! That man is utterly unworthy to have God for his father,

who depends less upon his goodness, wisdom, and power, than upon a

crop of corn, which may be spoiled either in the field or in the

barn. If our great Creator have made us capable of knowing,

loving, and enjoying himself eternally, what may we not expect

from him, after so great a gift?

They sow not, neither do they reap] There is a saying among the

rabbins almost similar to this-"Hast thou ever seen a beast or a

fowl that had a workshop? yet they are fed without labour and

without anxiety. They were created for the service of man, and

man was created that he might serve his Creator. Man also would

have been supported without labour and anxiety, had he not

corrupted his ways. Hast thou ever seen a lion carrying burthens,

a stag gathering summer fruits, a fox selling merchandise, or a

wolf selling oil, that they might thus gain their support? And

yet they are fed without care or labour. Arguing therefore from

the less to the greater, if they which were created that they

might serve me, are nourished without labour and anxiety, how much

more I, who have been created that I might serve my Maker! What

therefore is the cause, why I should be obliged to labour in order

to get my daily bread? Answer, SIN." This is a curious and

important extract, and is highly worthy of the reader's attention.

See Schoettgen.

Verse 27. Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto

his stature?] The third reason against these carking cares is the

unprofitableness of human solicitude, unless God vouchsafe to

bless it. What can our uneasiness do but render us still more

unworthy of the Divine care? The passage from distrust to

apostasy is very short and easy; and a man is not far from

murmuring against Providence, who is dissatisfied with its

conduct. We should depend as fully upon God for the preservation

of his gifts as for the gifts themselves.

Cubit unto his stature?] I think ηλικιαν should be rendered age

here, and so our translators have rendered the word in Joh 9:21,

αυτοςηλικιανεχει he is of age. A very learned writer

observes, that no difficulty can arise from applying πηχυν a

cubit, a measure of extension, to time, and the age of man:

as place and time are both quantities, and capable of increase

and diminution, and, as no fixed material standard can be employed

in the mensuration of the fleeting particles of time, it was

natural and necessary, in the construction of language, to apply

parallel terms to the discrimination of time and place.

Accordingly, we find the same words indifferently used to denote

time and place in every known tongue. Lord, let me know the

MEASURE of my days! Thou hast made my days HAND-BREADTHS,

Ps 39:5.

Many examples might be adduced from the Greek and Roman writers.

Besides, it is evident that the phrase of adding one cubit is

proverbial, denoting something minute; and is therefore applicable

to the smallest possible portion of time; but, in a literal

acceptation, the addition of a cubit to the stature, would be a

great and extraordinary accession of height. See Wakefield.

Verse 28. And why take ye thought for raiment?] Or, why are ye

anxiously careful about raiment? The fourth reason against such

inquietudes is the example of inanimate creatures: The herbs and

flowers of the field have their being, nourishment, exquisite

flavours, and beautiful hues from God himself. They are not only

without anxious care, but also without care or thought of every

kind. Your being, its excellence and usefulness, do not depend on

your anxious concern: they spring as truly from the beneficence and

continual superintendence of God, as the flowers of the field do;

and were you brought into such a situation, as to be as utterly

incapable of contributing to your own preservation and support as

the lilies of the field are to theirs, your heavenly Father could

augment your substance, and preserve your being, when for his

glory and your own advantage.

Consider] Diligently consider this, καταμαθετε, lay it

earnestly to heart, and let your confidence be unshaken in the God

of infinite bounty and love.

Verse 29. Solomon in all his glory] Some suppose that as the

robes of state worn by the eastern kings were usually white, as

were those of the nobles among the Jews, that therefore the lily

was chosen for the comparison.

Verse 30. If God so clothe the grass of the field] Christ

confounds both the luxury of the rich in their superfluities, and

the distrust of the poor as to the necessaries of life. Let man,

who is made for God and eternity, learn from a flower of the field

how low the care of Providence stoops. All our inquietudes and

distrusts proceed from lack of faith: that supplies all wants.

The poor are not really such, but because they are destitute of


To-morrow is cast into the oven] The inhabitants of the east,

to this day, make use of dry straw, withered herbs, and stubble,

to heat their ovens. Some have translated the original word

κλιβανον, a still, and intimate that our Lord alludes to the

distillation of herbs for medicinal purposes; but this is

certainly contrary to the scope of our Lord's argument, which runs

thus: If God covers with so much glory things of no farther value

than to serve the meanest uses, will he not take care of his

servants, who are so precious in his sight, and designed for such

important services in the world? See Harmer's Observations.

Verse 31. What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? &c.]

These three inquiries engross the whole attention of those who are

living without God in the world. The belly and back of a

worldling are his compound god; and these he worships in the lust

of the flesh, in the lust of the eye, and in the pride of life.

Verse 32. For after all these things do the Gentiles seek] The

fifth reason against solicitude about the future is-that to

concern ourselves about these wants with anxiety, as if there was

no such thing as a providence in the world; with great affection

towards earthly enjoyments, as if we expected no other; and

without praying to God or consulting his will, as if we could do

any thing without him: this is to imitate the worst kind of

heathens, who live without hope, and without God in the world.

Seek] επιζητει from επι, intensive, and ζητεω, I seek,

to seek intensely, earnestly, again and again: the true

characteristic of the worldly man; his soul is never

satisfied-give! give! is the ceaseless language of his earth-born


Your heavenly Father knoweth, &c.] The sixth reason against

this anxiety about the future is-because God, our heavenly Father,

is infinite in wisdom, and knows all our wants. It is the

property of a wise and tender father to provide necessaries, and

not superfluities, for his children. Not to expect the former is

an offence to his goodness; to expect the latter is injurious to

his wisdom.

Verse 33. But seek ye first the kingdom of God]

See Clarke on Mt 3:7.

His righteousness] That holiness of heart and purity of life

which God requires of those who profess to be subjects of that

spiritual kingdom mentioned above. See Clarke on Mt 5:20.

The seventh reason against these worldly cares and fears

is-because the business of our salvation ought to engross us

entirely: hither all our desires, cares, and inquiries ought to

tend. Grace is the way to glory-holiness the way to


If men be not righteous, there is no heaven to be had: if they be,

they shall have heaven and earth too; for godliness has the

promise of both lives. 1Ti 6:3.

All these things shall be added unto you.] The very blunt note

of old Mr. Trapp, on this passage, is worthy of serious


All things shall be added. "They shall be cast in as an overplus,

or as small advantages to the main bargain; as paper and

pack-thread are given where we buy spice and fruit, or an inch of

measure to an ell of cloth." This was a very common saying among

the Jews: "Seek that, to which other things are necessarily

connected." "A king said to his particular friend, 'Ask what thou

wilt, and I will give it unto thee.' He thought within himself,

'If I ask to be made a general I shall readily obtain it. I will

ask something to which all these things shall be added:' he

therefore said, 'Give me thy daughter to wife.' This he did

knowing that all the dignities of the kingdom should be added unto

this gift." See in Schoettgen.

To this verse, probably, belong the following words, quoted

often by Clement, Origen, and \@Eusebius, as the words of


αιτειτεταμεγαλακαιταμικραυμινπροστεθησεται� \~kai


ταεπουρανιακαιταεπιγειαπροστεθησεταιυμιν. "Ask great

things, and little things shall be added unto you; ask heavenly

things, and earthly things shall be added unto you."

Verse 34. Take therefore no thought] That is, Be not therefore

anxiously careful.

The eighth and last reason, against this preposterous conduct,

is-that carking care is not only useless in itself, but renders us

miserable beforehand. The future falls under the cognizance of

God alone: we encroach, therefore, upon his rights, when we would

fain foresee all that may happen to us, and secure ourselves from

it by our cares. How much good is omitted, how many evils caused,

how many duties neglected, how many innocent persons deserted, how

many good works destroyed, how many truths suppressed, and how

many acts of injustice authorized by those timorous forecasts of

what may happen; and those faithless apprehensions concerning the

future! Let us do now what God requires of us, and trust the

consequences to him. The future time which God would have us

foresee and provide for is that of judgment and eternity: and it

is about this alone that we are careless!

Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof] αρκετοντηημεραη

κακιααυτης, Sufficient for each day is its own calamity. Each

day has its peculiar trials: we should meet them with confidence

in God. As we should live but a day at a time, so we should take

care to suffer no more evils in one day than are necessarily

attached to it. He who neglects the present for the future is

acting opposite to the order of God, his own interest, and to

every dictate of sound wisdom. Let us live for eternity, and we

shall secure all that is valuable in time.

There are many valuable reflections in the Abb� Quesnel's work,

on this chapter; and from it several of the preceding have been


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