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47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others do not even the publicans so ?
' And if ye salute your brethren,' &c. The word ‘salute' here means to show the customary tokens of civility, or to treat with the common marks of friendship. See note, Luke x. 4. He says the worst men, the very publicans, would this. Christians should do more; they should show that they had a different spirit; they should treat their enemies as well as wicked men did their friends.
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father whicn is in heaven is perfect.
'Be ye therefore perfect. This word commonly means finished, complete, pure, holy. Originally it is applied to a machine that is complete in its parts. Applied to men, it refers to completeness of parts, or perfection, where no part is defective or wanting. Thus Job, i. 1, is said to be perfect; that is, not holy as God, or sinless; for fault is afterwards found with him, Job ix. 20; xlii. 6; but his piety was consistent and regular, as a prince, a father, an individual, a benefactor of the poor. He was consistent every where. Be not obedient merely in loving your friends and neighbours, but let your piety be shown in loving your enemies; be perfect; imitate God ; let your piety be complete, and proportionate, and regular. This every christian may be this every christian should be.
CHAPTER VI. 1 TAKE heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them; otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
Alms. Liberality to the poor and needy. Any thing given to them to supply their wants. It is the nature of religion to help those who are really poor and needy; and a real christian does not wait to be commanded to do it, but only asks the opportunity.. See Gal. ii. 10; James i. 27 ; Luke xix. 8. Before men, &c. Our Lord does not forbid us to give alms before men always, but only forbids our doing it to be seen of them, for ostentation, and to seek their praise. To a person who is disposed to do good from a right motive, it matters little whether it be in public or in private. The only thing that renders it even desirable that our good deeds should be seen is, that God may be glorified. See ch. v. 16. • Otherwise. If your motive for doing it is to be seen of men, God will not reward
you. 2 Therefore, when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do, in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily, I say unto you, They have their reward.
Do not sound a trumpet before thee as the hypocrites do.' The word 'hypocrite' is taken from stage-players, who act the part of others, or speak not their own sentiments, but the sentiments of others. It means here, and in the New Testament generally, those who dissemble or hide their real sentiments, and assume or express other feclings than their own. Those who, for purposes of ostentation, or gain, or applause, put on the appearance of religion. It is probable that such persons, when about to bestow alms, caused a trumpet to be sounded, professedly to call the poor together to receive it, but really to call the people to notice their alms. “They have their reward.'. That is, they obtain the applause they seek, the reputation of being charitable; and as this applause was all they wished, there is of course no further reward to be looked for or obtained.
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth; 4 That thine alms may be in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly.
‘Let not thy left hand know,' &c. This is a proverbial expression, signifying that the action should be done as secretly as possible. The Hebrews often attribute actions to bodily members which properly belong to persons. See ch. v. 29, 30. The encouragement for doing this is, that it will be pleasing to God; that he will see the act, however secret it may be, and will openly reward it. Rarely, perhaps never, has it been found that the man who is liberal to the poor, has ever suffered by it in his worldly circumstances, Prov. xix. 17.
5 | And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are ; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues, and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily, I say unto you, They have their reward.
And when thou prayest,' &c. Hypocrites manifested the same spirit about prayer as alms-giving; it was performed in public places. The Jews were much in the habit of praying in public places. At certain times of the day they always offered their prayers. Wherever they were, they suspended their employment, and paid their devotions. This is also practised now every where by the Mohammedans, and in many places by the Roman Catholics. It seems, also, that they sought publicity, and regarded it as a proof of great piety.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father, which is in secret; and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
'Enter into thy closet.' Every Jewish house had a place for secret devotion. The roofs of their houses were flat places, for walking, conversation, and meditation, in the cool of the evening. See note, Matt. ix. 2. Over the porch, or entrance of the house, was, however, a small room of the size of the porch, raised a story above the rest of the house, expressly ap; propriated for the place of retirement. Here, in secresy and solitude, the pious Jew might offer his prayers, unseen by any but the searcher of hearts. In secret.' *Who is unseen. Who seeth in secret.' Who sees what the human eye cannot see; who sees the secret real designs and desires of the heart. Prayer should always be offered remembering that God is acquainted with our real desires; and that it is those real desires, and not the words of prayer, that he will answer.
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
Use not vain repetitions. The original word -means to repeat a thing often, to say the same thing in different wo to repeat the same words, as though God did not hear at first. An example of this we have in 1 Kings xviii. 26.
8 Be not ye, therefore, like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him. 9 After this manner, therefore, pray ye : Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy
The Lord's prayer is a composition unequalled for comprehensiveness and for beauty. This prayer is given as a model. It is designed to express the manner in which we are to pray, evidently not the precise words or petitions which we are always to use. "The substance of the prayer is recorded by Luke, ch. xi. 2-4.
*Our Father.' God is called a Father, as he is the Creator of all; the Proprietor and Preserver of those whom he has made; and in a peculiar sense of those who are adopted into his family, those who put confidence in him, who are true followers of Christ, and made heirs of life, Rom. viii. 14–17. 'Hallowed be thy name! God's name is essentially holy; and the meaning of this petition is, Let thy name be celebrated, and venerated, and esteemed as holy, every where, and receive of all men proper honours.
10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.
“Thy kingdom come.' The word 'kingdom' here means reign. Note Matt. iii. 2. The petition is the expression of a wish that God may reign every where; that his laws may be obeyed; and especially that the gospel of Christ may be advanced every where, till the world shall be filled with his glory. Thy will be done. The will of God is, that men should obey his law, and be holy. To pray, then, that his will may be done on earth as in heaven, is to pray that his law, his revealed will, may be obeyed and loved. His law is perfectly obeyed in heaven, and his true children most ardently desire and pray that it may also be done on the earth.
The object of these three first petitions is, that God's name should be glorified, and his kingdom established; and by being placed first, we learn that his glory and kingdom are of more consequence than our wants, and that these should be first in our hearts and petitions before a throne of grace.
11 Give us this day our daily bread. The word 'bread,' here, denotes, doubtless, every thing necessary to sustain life, Matt. iv. 4. Deut. viii. 3. This petition implies our dependence on God for the supply of our wants. As we are dependent on him one day as much as another, it was evidently the intention of our Saviour that prayer should be offered every day. This is, moreover, expressed in the plural number—'Give us.' It is therefore evident that this prayer is a strong implied command for daily family prayer.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
We have not met the claims of God's law. We have violated its obligations. We are exposed to its penalty. We are guilty. And God only can forgive in the same way as none but a creditor can forgive a debtor. "Debts' here, therefore, mean sins, or offences against God-offences which none but God can forgive. The measure by which we may expect forgiveness is that which we use in reference to others. See Ps. xviii. 25, 26. Matt. xviii. 23. Mark xi. 25. This is the invariable rule by which God dispenses pardon. He that comes before him unwilling to forgive, harbouring dark and revengeful thoughts, how can he expect that God will show him that mercy which he is unwilling to show to others ? If we cannot from the heart forgive them, we have no reason to expect that God will ever forgive us.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
And lead us not into temptation. A petition similar to this is offered by David, Ps. cxli. 4. God tempts no man. See James i. 13. This phrase, then, must be used in the sense of permitting: Do not suffer
us, or permit us, to be tempted to sin. In this it is implied that God has such control over us and the temipter, as to save us from it if we call upon him. Deliver us from evil. The original, in this place, has the article-deliver us from the evil; that is, the evil one, or Satan. He is elsewhere called, by way of eminence, the evil one, Matt. xiii. 19. 1 John ii. 13, 14; iii. 12. Deliver us from his power, his snares, his arts, his temptations. He is supposed to be the great parent of evil, and to be delivered from him is to be safe. Thine is the kingdom. That is, Thine is the reign or dominion. Thou hast control over all these things, and canst so order them as to answer these petitions. “Thine is the power.' Thou hast power to accomplish what we ask.. Thou art Almighty, and all things are possible with thee. “Thine is the glory That is, Thine is the honour or praise. Not our honour; but thy glory, thy goodness, will be displayed in providing for our wants; thy power, in defending us; ihy praise, in causing thy kingdom to spread through the earth.
This doxology, or ascription of praise, is connected with the prayer by the word 'for, to signify that all these things-the reign, power, and glory of God—will be manifested by granting these petitions. His glory is, then, the first and principal thing which we are to seek when we approach him. We are to suffer our concerns to be sunk and lost sight of in the superior glory and honour of his name and dominion. We are to seek temporal and eternal life chiefly because the honour of our Maker will be promoted: and his name be more illustriously displayed to his creatures. Approaching him with these feelings, our prayers will be answered, our devotions will rise like incense, and the listing up our hands will be like the evening sacrifice.
* Amen. This is a word of Hebrew origin, from a verb sig. nifying to be firm, secure, to be true and faithful. It is a wora expressing consent or strong approbation, a word of strong asseveration. It means verily, certainly, so be it.
14 For, if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
“Trespasses.' Offences, faults. To forgive others when they offend or injure us. This is constantly required in the bible. Our Saviour says we should forgive even if the offence be committed seventy times seven times, Matt. xviii. 22.
16 | Moreover, when ye fast, be not as the hypo