1 Judge not, that ye be not judged
Whole Chapter cited.
See Chapter V., whole chapter cited. E. 785.
See Chapter V., whole chapter cited. D. P., Page 37.
The angels charged those things (fornication) upon some as evils of sin, and upon others as not evils, and declared the latter guiltless, but the former guilty. On being questioned why they did so, when the deeds were alike, they replied that they regard all from purposes, intention, or end, and distinguish accordingly. On this account they excuse or condemn those whom the end excuses or condemns, since all in heaven are influenced by a good end, and all in hell by an evil end, and that this, and nothing else, is meant by the Lord’s words in Matthew vii. i. M. 453.
This cannot in any wise mean judgment respecting any one’s moral and civil life in the world, but respecting his spiritual and celestial life. Who does not see, that unless a man was allowed to judge respecting the moral life of those who live with him in the world, society would perish? But to judge what is the quality of the interior mind or soul, thus what is the quality of any one’s spiritual state, and thence what is his lot after death, is forbidden, for that is known only to the Lord : neither does the Lord reveal it till after the person’s decease. M. 523.
No inference is to be drawn concerning any one from appearances of marriages, or of adulteries, whereby to decide whether he has conjugial love, or not. M. 531. 1,2. This, without doctrine, might be adduced to confirm a notion that it is not to be said of evil that it is evil, thus, that it is not to be judged that a wicked man is wicked, yet, according to doctrine it is lawful to judge, but justly (see John vii. 24). S. 51.
It is a very common thing with those who have conceived an opinion respecting any truth of faith, to judge of others, that they cannot be saved, but by believing as they do, which nevertheless the Lord forbids. A. 2284.
See Chapter V., 21, 22. A. 9857.
He who condemns them (the two witnesses Revela-lation xi. 3-5), shall in like manner be condemned. R. 495.
Without doctrine a person might here be led to this conclusion, that he ought not to judge in regard to an evil man that he is evil, whereas from doctrine it appears that it is lawful to judge, if it be done righteously. T. 226.
In these words is described charity toward our neighbour, or the spiritual affection of truth and good, namely, that in proportion as any one is principled in such charity or affection in the world, in the same proportion he comes into it after death. That evil is not to be thought concerning good and truth, is understood by, Judge not, that ye be not judged, condemn not, that ye be not condemned. E. 629.
It is also not prohibited to judge our associates and neighbours in regard to their natural life, which indeed concerns the community, but it is prohibited to judge as to their spiritual life, which indeed is only known to the Lord. D. V. 5.
1-20. See Chapter III., 8, 9. A. 1017.
1 In continuing his sublime discourse the Lord comes to treat of judgment as exercised by men upon one another; and of the consequences of the judgement pronounced, not upon the person judged, but upon the person who judges. Judge not, that ye be not judged. It is almost unnecessary to say that the Lord does not here intend to interdict all judgment. We know too well that society could not exist without the exercise of private judgement and of public judicature. Our Lord himself authorized judgment when he laid down a rule for its exercise: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” But we are to reflect that our Lord always spoke with reference, not merely to the moral, but the spiritual states of men; and not to temporal, but eternal retribution. In this respect his words, “judge not,” express a direct and positive prohibition. While it is necessary to judge men as to their moral character, it is not allowable to judge them as to their spiritual state; and while it is lawful and necessary to inflict temporal punishment for moral crimes, it is neither lawful nor necessary to punish for religious opinions, much less to pronounce upon “heretics” an eternal malediction. Both society and the church may judge, and in their own modes inflict penalties upon unworthy members; for their conduct lies open to public view, and to pass over immoral conduct would relax the bonds of civil and ecclesiastical law. But this is entirely different from judging the internal states of men. No eye but His which “looks upon the heart,” can see the state of the interior mind, and none but the Judge of all the earth can pronounce upon the eternal condition of the soul a righteous judgment. It is a law of Divine Providence that the essential spiritual state of no one shall be known with certainty by another during his abode in the present world. Every human being is left in a state of freedom to form for himself the character and destiny, which are to be truly and eternally his own. To judge the outward conduct, and even the proximate motive, does not interfere with internal and essential freedom, but rather assists it, by keeping the external in some degree of order; but if the internal itself could be interfered with, spiritual reformation would be prevented, because human would usurp the place of divine authority. But although it is not permitted us to judge of the spiritual state of others absolutely, it is permitted us to judge of them conditionally. We may say of or to any one, that if he really is what he appears to be, he will be lost or saved but we may not say that he is what he seems to be, therefore he will be lost or saved. There is a sense in which our Lord may be understood as unconditionally prohibiting judgment. That against which he warns us is condemnatory judgment. This appears more clearly from his words, as given by Luke – “Judge not, that ye be not judged condemn not, that ye be not condemned.” The judgment which is interdicted is the judgment of truth without good, or that of in enlightened understanding without a regenerated will. It is the function of the understanding to judge, and truths are the laws according to which judgment should proceed; but the judgments of the understanding are influenced by the inclinations of the will, and its decisions are just or unjust according as the higher faculty is under the influence of charity or uncharitableness, The judgment therefore which the Lord prohibits is that of justice without mercy. There is one other lesson we may learn from this solemn injunction. We are but too ready not only to judge, but to prejudge. One bad consequence is likely to follow from this. Having an interest in the success of our prejudgment, which is a sort of prediction, we may be either actively or passively instrumental in procuring its fulfilment. We should be careful, therefore, to avoid judging unfavourably of the future of any one; we should ever desire and hope the best; and then we shall have every motive to second our hopes by our prayers and efforts. In the higher sense, or abstractly considered, we are prohibited from judging, not persons but principles – as all judgment in fact, resolves itself’ into this. We are required to “judge not,” and therefore to “condemn not,” the principles of goodness and truth , either as they are revealed in the Word or as they are acknowledged in the church and among men. It is lawful and necessary for us to judge for ourselves as to what is, or is not, the truth; but our judgment in this important matter cannot be just unless it be influenced by a sincere love of truth. And here it is necessary for us to “judge not according to the appearance, but to judge righteous judgment.” Judge not, that ye be not judged. This teaches us at once both the nature of the judgement interdicted and its consequence.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
2-4. See Chapter V., 22—24. A. 2360.
3-5- Here to behold a mote in a brother’s eye means anything erroneous in regard to the understanding of truth. A. 9051.
Here also the term brother is used, because the subject treated of is concerning charity, for by casting out the mote out of a brother’s eye, is signified to obtain knowledge of what is false and evil, and to reform. The reason why it is said by the Lord, a mote out of thy brother’s eye, and a beam out of thine own eye, is on account of the spiritual sense contained in every particular which the Lord spake. By the mote is signified a slight false of evil, and by the beam a great false of evil. By the eye is signified the understanding,- and also faith. Wood signifies good, and in the opposite sense evil. E. 746.
2 Our judgment, whatever it is, returns upon ourselves. With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again. This is of the same character, and is determined by the same law, as “the merciful shall obtain mercy”. Those who judge, shall also be judged, without mercy. It is unnecessary to explain again the law by which this result is determined. It is enough to say, that it is not by any arbitrary or sovereign appointment of the Almighty, but flows from the law, of eternal order, which the Creator introduced into all his works, and which rule in all his dominions. It is not the Lord who judges without mercy; as men are judged, not by what is without, but by what is within them, they who have no mercy must be judged without any. But the measure of retribution is that which our Lord here speaks of. The measure of our reward, whether for good or evil, is determined by the capacity we have acquired in the world for happiness or misery. Goodness is the capacity for happiness, evil is the capacity for misery; and the measure of happiness or misery received in the other life is determined by the measure of good or evil we have acquired in this. God does not, by any sovereign appointment, fix either the nature or extent of our bliss or woe. This is fixed by a law of order, by which certain causes produce certain effects, and which measures our experience by our state and conduct. Every one who is either condemned or saved has a certain measure which is capable of being filled. This measure is filled in the other life; but with some it is more, with some less. It is procured in the world by the affections which are of love; for the more any one has loved what is evil and false, or what is good and true, so much the greater a measure has he procured for himself. That measure cannot in the other life be transcended, but may be filled. With those who have been in the affection of what is good and true, it is filled with goodnesses and truths; and with those who have been in the affection of what is evil and false, it is filled with evil and falsity. And as in heaven the apostolic principle of a community of goods is carried out in all its perfection, he who is raised into one of the mansions of the blest comes into the enjoyment of the common good by which its inhabitants are distinguished; so that the happiness of all becomes the happiness of each. And on the same principle, evil is strengthened and its misery is increased by the wicked assembling with their like in the kingdom of darkness.
3 Proceeding with his teaching as to the wrong and the right mode of dealing with our neighbour, the Lord says, And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? The idea which our Lord here presents is similar to that which he expressed when he told the Jewish moralists that they strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel. On that occasion the conduct he censured was that which the Pharisees practised in regard to themselves. The same principle is here exemplified in relation to the neighbour – the hypocrite sees not the beam that is in his own eye, but detects the mote that is in his brother’s. The Lord here introduces the term brother, because the subject relates to charity, which a brother denotes. A mote in the eye of a brother is a trifling error or false persuasion in the understanding of one who is, nevertheless, in the life of charity; while the beam in our own eye is an evil in the will intellectually confirmed, which perverts our vision. How just and necessary is the reproof conveyed in our Lord’s words? Naturally and habitually we are too blind to our own faults, and too keenly perceptive of the faults of others. If we need anything beyond our own conscience and experience to convince us of this fact, we shall find it too abundantly exemplified in the world in which we live. The evil are the readiest to detect evil, the severest to judge it, the most unrelenting to punish it. The spiritual sense reveals the origin of this seeming inconsistency. The eye is the emblem of the understanding, the perceptive faculty of the mind; the mote is a symbol of error and the beam of evil. When the understanding is under the dominion of an evil will, it is blind to its own evil, but is keenly perceptive of error or falsity in another, when these do not favour its own desires. The difference between the spiritual and the natural man supplies an answer to the Lord’s question, “Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, and considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” The natural man looks outwards, and marks the faults of others; the spiritual man looks inwards, and observes his own. And he who examines himself and discerns his own evils and imperfections, will be less disposed to drag those of his neighbours into the light, or to judge them severely.
4, 5. Our Lord continues, – Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and behold, a beam is in thine own eye? To see the mote is one thing, to cast it out is another. It is no doubt an act of charity to point out and assist in removing error from the mind of another. But this office cannot be performed by those who look at their neighbour’s errors and failings with an evil eye, and with whom there can be no true regard for their neighbour’s welfare. How can one remove error from another’s mind who has not even discovered the root of error in his own? What is to be expected from the labours of one who strives to convict his brother of error, rather than to convince him of the truth? To correct what is wrong in another requires moral principle as well as intellectual discernment. Take the case of a parent, who so often has occasion to correct faults in his child. It requires no great amount of intelligence to see a child’s faults, but it requires great moral wisdom rightly to correct them. Gentleness, kindness, patience, with firmness, are essentially necessary to be possessed and exemplified by the parent who would be the real improver of his child. The parent whose temper is irritable or violent, who is harsh, unkind, impatient, infirm of purpose – how can he draw out from the young mind, delicate and sensitive as the eye in which is the mote, the errors and evils that are incident to it as that of a fallen and imperfect being? Just so is it in all the relations of life. The same qualities are required in the brother, the friend, the teacher, the pastor. Not only a clear sight, but a kind heart – not truth only, but goodness must be employed in the work of correction and reformation. To cast the beam of evil out of our own eye is therefore the first and principal duty we have to perform, and is the only means of enabling us to remove the mote from our brother’s eye.
6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
6 Dogs stand for those who within the church are in the lowest place, who prate much about the things of the church and understand little, and in an opposite sense, those who treat with contumacy the things of faith. A. 7784.
Good falsified and thus made unclean, is signified by dogs. A. 9231.
Pearls signify the knowledges of good and truth which are of the Word. Swine signify they who only love worldly riches, and not spiritual riches, which are the knowledges of good and truth derived from the Word. R. 727.
By dogs are signified lusts and appetites, by swine filthy loves, such as are in the hells of adulterers. To trample with their feet signifies rejecting them altogether as dirt, and to turn and rend signifies the treating them with contumacy and ignominy. By pearls are signified the knowledges of good and truth. E. 1044.
6 While the Divine Teacher warns us against acting from truth without goodness, he warns us also against acting from goodness without truth. Of these two opposite states one is about as defective in itself and about as faulty in its consequences, as the other. As truth alone is all light and severity, good alone is all feeling and tenderness. So far as men are in good without truth, they give evil men the fruit of the tree of life for food, without applying its leaves to them for medicine. They would present the pure goods and truths of the Holy Word to the lustful and the sensual, who are disposed to profane and destroy them. Against this the Lord warns us when he says, Give not that which is holy unto the dogs neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. Those are compared to dogs and swine who are the slaves of their passions and panderers to their senses. The goods of charity and the truths of faith, which are holy things, and the knowledge of truth and good from the Word, which are pearls, are not to be cast before such characters. These heavenly things, cast injudiciously before the grossly sensual, are more likely to exasperate and provoke than to reprove and repress their evil lusts and appetites. They trample them under their feet – they scoff at them, degrade them beneath the very lowest of their own low thoughts and impure affections, and trample upon the holy principles they inculcate and having subjected the spiritual principals of the Word to this treatment, they turn again and rend those who have dispensed them. The disciples whom they rend are, abstractly, the living principles of the Word which constitute the church, the dissipation and destruction of which is meant by rending. Our Lord was a pattern to all teachers. He accommodated himself not only to the capacities, but to the states of his hearers. To those who were without, he delivered his truth in parables; and he condescended to adapt his instruction to the infirmities of the disciples themselves, leading them by visions of glory suited to their external states, as when he promised as a reward for following him in the regeneration, that they should sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. In a more abstract sense these words teach us, that if the external man remains sensual, holy things that flow down from the internal, where they may have been received, into the sensual external, will there be perverted and profaned, and will only be the occasion of the external turning more fiercely against and rending the internal, and so destroying all spiritual life in both.
7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
11 If ye 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 them that ask him?
7 These words describe the power of those who are in the Lord. They do not will anything, and so do not seek anything, save from the Lord, and whatsoever they will and seek of the Lord is done. R. 951.
Verse quoted in Memorable relation. T. 459.
7, 8. Without doctrine it might be supposed that everyone would receive whatsoever he asks, but from doctrine it is believed, that whatsoever a man asks, not from himself, but from the Lord, that is given. S. 51.
We frequently read in the Word, that the Lord gives when asked, and yet the Lord gives them to ask, and what to ask, so that He knows before. Still the Lord wills that man should ask first, to the end that he may do it from himself, and thus that it should be appropriated to him. Otherwise, if the petition were not from the Lord, it would not be said in those places that they should receive whatever they asked. R. 376.
Without doctrine it might be supposed from these words that everyone would certainly receive what he requests, but doctrine teaches that whatever a man asks of the Lord, and under His influence is granted him. T. 226.
Verses quoted. D. P., Page 76.
7-11. See Chapter V., 45. P. 330.
8 If they ask from the faith of charity, they do not then ask from themselves, but from the Lord, for whatever a man asks from the Lord, and not from himself, he receives. E. 411.
9 See Chapter V., 44, 45. E. 254.
7 From the subject of giving, the Lord turns to that of asking. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. We are constantly taught that the grace of God, though freely offered, must yet be earnestly and actively sought to be obtained. There is a philosophy that harmonizes these seemingly discordant facts. Our prayers are not to induce God to give, but to fit us to receive. And to fit us to receive the gifts of God, all our faculties must be brought into activity. We must ask with the heart, seek with the understanding, knock with the life. All these are to be employed, and their operation continued, in order that we may receive. God delights to give. He waits to be gracious. All that is required on our part is to be earnest in our desire and efforts to receive.
8 The promise of receiving is as certain as the duty of asking is imperative, and is as significantly expressed. Every one that asketh, receiveth: for asking and receiving, which are the briefest and directest modes of communication, express the desire for good from God, and its reception by the will. And he that seeketh findeth: for the understanding searches and seeks for the means of salvation, and finds the object of its search in the riches of wisdom and knowledge. And to him that knocketh it shall be opened: for the bringing of the principles of the will and the understanding into the life and conversation opens the door of communication between the Lord and man, and between the spiritual and natural degrees of man’s own mind, and not only brings them into communion, but into conjunction with each other.
9-11. It is worthy of remark that in teaching us the character of our Father in heaven, and his dealings with his children, the Lord does not employ abstract terms or use the arguments of reason, but simply appeals to those affections of our nature which he himself has implanted, and which, being possessed alike by all, are the ground of universal perception. He appeals to our instincts rather than to our reason, in proof of his Fatherly tenderness and beneficence. And this appeal will be seen to be the more appropriate when we reflect that the love of parents for their children is an offshoot from his own love for his children of the human race, and is implanted in all human hearts, notwithstanding their hereditary corruption, as it is in the nature of all the inferior creatures, the fiercest as well as the gentlest. The Lord does not therefore refer us to those parents who are regenerate and holy, and in whom the image of their Father has been restored, but to the fallen race of men without distinction. If, this simple fact had been always kept in view, how much obscurity would have been avoided and controversy prevented respecting the character and dealings of God. The universality and unchangeableness of the Divine Love could not have been for a moment doubted. What encouragement does this give us to come to the Lord in all our necessities, in the confidence that he will listen to us not only with all a father’s love, but that he will supply our wants with all a father’s wisdom. Let us see what his language involves.
9, 10. What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? What parent, indeed, would thus mock the wants and abuse the confidence of his hungering and pleading child? The force of this appeal as a comparison, consists in the fact, that natural affection is sufficient to prompt a father to supply the natural wants of his son, when those wants are expressed. But these words have a spiritual meaning. Like the loaves and fishes with which the Lord fed the multitude, the bread and fish are symbolical of the two essential principles of goodness and truth, which sustain the voluntary and intellectual life of the soul. So we read in the Word of “bread that strengtheneth man’s heart” (Ps. civ. 14); for the heart is the symbol of the will, and good, which is specifically meant by bread, is that principle by which the life of the will is sustained. The will, thus sustained, is called a heart of flesh, which is the living goodness into which the appropriated bread of life is turned. But while in the Word we read of a heart of flesh, we read also of a heart of stone (Ezek. xi. 19). These are not mere figures to express penitence and impenitence of heart, but are real correspondences. And as the heart of flesh denotes a will renewed by the reception of principles of goodness, the stony heart is the unrenewed will, hardened by unbelief and its resulting evil, as is expressed in Zechariah, – “They have made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law” (vii. 12). To give a stone to a son who asks bread would therefore be to give him a false good for a true one, and so turn the will into a heart of stone. So in regard to the fish, which signifies truth that nourishes the understanding and forms a true faith. A serpent is the emblem of sensual truth. But these things are here evidently to be understood in a sense opposite to that of their genuine meaning – the stone of what is false grounded in evil, and the serpent of self-derived prudence These given for bread and fish torment and destroy spiritual life. But before a son can desire, and a father can give spiritual food, which is the knowledge of spiritual things, they must themselves be to some extent spiritually-minded: and then they are the emblems of the Lord and his children. We are the children of our heavenly Father when we desire that he will feed our hungering souls with heavenly goodness and truth, as while on earth he fed the bodies of the fainting multitude with loaves and fishes.
11 If ye 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 them that ask him? It is the result and evidence of a merciful Providence that, notwithstanding man’s state of moral evil, he is endowed with natural affection for his offspring, which prompts him to love them tenderly, and anxiously supply their natural wants, and in every possible way to provide for their temporal welfare. This, it is true, is an affection common to man and animals; yet it is inspired by the Author of nature, and is given alike to the mild and ferocious among animals, and to the best and worst among men. The fact, therefore, that men, being evil, yet know how to give good gifts to their children – gifts that are good as natural means for a natural end – is a proof and assurance to us that God will much more give good things to them that ask him. It is not possible that he who is goodness itself can withhold a good thing from any one who sincerely asks him. As he has implanted natural affection in all human hearts, both good and evil, so has he bountifully provided for all men’s natural wants, without respect of persons, and without solicitation. Those things which God requires to be asked before he gives are spiritual things such as are necessary for sustaining the life of good in the soul, and securing its spiritual and eternal welfare. These are not given unasked – that is, undesired and unsought for; because desire is to the soul what hunger is to the body, and the desire for heavenly good must exist before that good can be supplied. The mind has an inherent desire for food as well as the body; but here the moral condition of the mind determines the nature of the desire, and consequently of the kind of good which is craved. Those who have become conscious of their spiritual wants, and desire the spiritual good which is necessary to supply them, will find the Lord, as their heavenly Father, infinitely more ready to give the good things which are necessary for sustaining the true life of the soul than any earthly parent can be to give temporal gifts unto his children.
12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
12 The whole of the law has relation to the single commandment, that men should love God above all things and the neighbour as themselves, for on these hang the law and the prophets. A. 922.
This law has its origin in the universal law, that no one should do to another, what he would not wish another to do to him. A. 1011.
He who acts from this precept, does good indeed to others, but then he does good because it is so commanded, and not from affection of heart. As often as he does it he begins from himself, and also in doing good he thinks of merit, but he who does not act from precept, but from a principle of charity, that is from affection, acts from the heart, and thus from freedom. A. 3463.
The Word is here distinguished into the law and the prophets, and because the Word is distinguished into the historical and prophetical, it follows, that by the law is meant the historical Word, and by the prophets the prophetical Word. A. 6752.
See Chapter V., 18. A. 7463.
Those who do good from good, or from the heart, receive good from others. On the other hand, likewise, those who do evil from evil, or from the heart, receive evil from others. Hence it is that every good has its recompense joined to it, and every evil its punishment. A. 8214.
From this law which in the spiritual world is constant and perpetual, have originated the laws of retaliation, which were enacted in the representative church. A. 8223.
Thou shalt so do to a neighbour as thou art willing that another should do to thee. A. 9048.
By Moses and the prophets, and also by the law and the prophets, are signified all things which are written in the books of Moses, and in those of the prophets. S. 9.
The Lord teaches that evil must not be done. Life 73.
This law in heaven is the law of mutual love or charity, from which it becomes the opposite in hell, which is that to everyone it is done as he had done to another : not that they who are in heaven do this, but that they do it ,io themselves, for the recompense of retaliation is from oppositions to that law of life in heaven, as if inscribed on their evils. R. 762.
This is the law of charity laid down and given by the Lord Himself. So do they love the neighbour who are in the love of heaven ; while they who are in the love of the world love the neighbour from the world and for its sake ; and they who are in the love of self love the neighbour from self and for the sake of self. T. 411, The same law is the universal law of moral life. T. 444.
As this is the law in heaven and from heaven in the church, hence also every evil has with itself a corresponding punishment, which is called the punishment of evil, being in the evil and as it were conjoined with it. From this flows the punishment of retaliation, which was dictated to the children of Israel, because they were external men, and not internal. E. 556.
See Chapter V., 43-48. E.785.
12-14. It is manifest that the gate of heaven is where angels are with man, that is, where there is influx of good and truth from the Lord, and thus that there are two gates. Concerning these two gates the Lord speaks thus in Matthew. A. 2851.
12 The Lord concludes this series of lessons on mutual benefits between man and man by laying down this grand principle, – Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. This has been called the “Golden rule;” yet it belongs rather to the silver than to the golden age. The celestial principle prompts men to love others better than themselves; the spiritual principle prompts them to love others as themselves. Even in these days we see the higher principle emulated, if not exemplified, by parental and filial love, and imitated in the forms of ordinary politeness. But this may be done from natural affection and conventional usage, without any of the spirit of religion. Such acts may proceed from selfish as well as from disinterested affection. The principle which our Lord lays down does not require disinterested love for its recognition and application. It is to be considered in connection with what the Lord had just said, that men, being evil, knew how to give good gifts unto their children. The law which he now lays down is for the natural man as well as for the spiritual. It appeals not only to every man’s sense of right, but to his self-love, and requires only to be honestly applied to make every one a law of equity unto himself. What God has revealed through Moses and the prophets is intended, therefore, to change a natural law into a religious obligation, in order to give men a conscience to do what their own judgment may tell them is their duty. Every man can see, and can be brought to admit, that he ought to do to another as he would that another should do to him. Before he acts towards another, he has only to consider how he would wish or expect another to act towards him under the circumstances. In all our intercourse and transactions with others – in all the duties and relations of life, we have only to reverse the position in which we stand to another, to know what we ought to render to him, and what we ought to expect from him. And what we would consider it right to do or expect, if our case were his, we must see it is our duty to do. It is not necessary to cite instances, for no case is exempt from the law. Its application is universal and invariable. “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” But although there is no need for illustration, there is some need for explanation. It is thought by some that the law requires not only that you put yourself in the other’s place, but that you must put yourself also in his state. This would be to change not your place only, but your identity with another, which would make things precisely as they were. If such could be done, every one would of course act precisely as the other acts, and judge as he judges.
The law requires us only to take another’s place, and to consider what our principles would require us to do under the other’s circumstances. If one is a seller, he is to consider what, if he were a buyer, he would consider it right that a seller should do. If he is a master, what, if a servant, he would expect a master to do. By thus placing ourselves in the position of those with whom we have to do, we learn to be more just and merciful – to demand less and give more – in a word, to be more equitable. What a different world it would be if this great law were, in any considerable measure, the rule of conduct! And not only would it affect the state and condition of men and nations in this world, but, what is of infinitely more consequence, it would affect the state and condition of men in the world to come. The law of equity is the practical form of the law of love to the neighbour: practically to love our neighbour as ourselves is to do to him as we would that he should do to us. This is the law of heaven. In heaven, therefore, all are united in the bond of mutual love and service. Unless we cultivate love to the neighbour, how can we live in that kingdom where this law universally prevails?
13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
14 That the way is narrow which leads to life, is not because it is difficult, but because there are few who find it, as is here said. H. 534.
That there are many who love themselves and the world, and few who love God, the Lord also teaches in these words. P. 250.
A garment signifies truth. R. 166.
Spiritual hypocrites — who are such as walk in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves — appear to the angels of heaven like soothsayers walking on the palms of their hands and praying; who with their mouth and from the heart cry to demons and kiss them, but they clap in the air with their shoes and so they make sound to God. But when they stand on their feet, their eyes look like those of a leopard, they step like wolves, as to the mouth they are like the fox, as to the teeth like crocodiles, and as to faith like vultures. T. 381.
The false prophets who come in sheep’s clothing and inwardly are ravening wolves, are they who teach falsities as if they were truths, and who in appearance live morally, but who when they are left to themselves think of nothing but themselves and the world, and study to deprive others of truths. E. 195.
Sheep signifying the goods of charity. E. 1154.
13 Our Lord proceeds to show how this law of equity is to be carried out, and how we are to act, so as to bring ourselves under its government. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. The strait gate can only be entered by self-denial, and the narrow way can only be walked in by circumspection and perseverance. In Luke, therefore, we read, “Strive to enter.” The gate of life has become strait by natural aversion to that which has made the gate of death wide – our natural aversion to good and our natural aptitude for evil. That which is delightful is easy; that which is undelightful is difficult. And that which is difficult is strait, and that which is easy is wide. Straitness, in a moral sense, is anxiety, anguish, difficulty. The gate of life can only be entered through straitness of spirit; striving with the devil, the world, and the flesh, being the agonistic conflict through which the passage lies to victory. On the other hand, the gate of destruction is wide, because no striving is required to enter it. So far from self-resistance being necessary for entrance into the way that leads to destruction, self-indulgence opens the gate; and the more we indulge, the wider the gate and the broader the way become. But where and what are these gates and ways? They are in our own minds. In that rational faculty that stands midway between the spiritual and the natural mind there is a gate that opens and a way that leads upward to heaven, and another gate that opens and a way that, leads downwards to the world and hell. During the early part of life these gates are not open, and yet are not shut. That is to say, the thoughts and affections are not determinately bent in either direction previous to the mind’s deliberately and practically choosing good or evil as a principle of life. There is in every one a hereditary tendency to the downward road; but the Lord in his mercy provides that the gate that leads to destruction shall not be actually opened, nor the gate that leads to life be actually closed, till man, as a free agent, shall knowingly and deliberately open one and close the other. To open and enter into the gate that leads to destruction is easy, because congenial to man’s fallen nature; but the Lord gives him aids and means, and inspires him with motives, and supplies grace to enable him, if he is willing, to enter the strait gate and walk in the narrow way which lead to life. We enter the gate of life by repentance, and advance in the way of life by persistent holiness. We enter the gate of death by impenitence, and walk in the road to destruction by persistent sinfulness. If there are literally many that enter the wide, and few that find the strait gate, it is not from necessity, but from choice. All walk more or less in the downward road. While the Lord provides against our being betrayed unwarily into any confirmed state of evil, his grace so abounds, that whenever we sincerely desire to return from our evil ways, and enter into the right path, all things will work together in our favour. But although it may be literally true that at the time our Lord spoke, and even now, more may enter the wide than the strait gate, the Lord’s declaration does not teach that it is a necessary state of things. On the principle that numbers in the Word spiritually express quality, and not quantity, few signify those who are in the faith of charity; and many signify those who are in faith without charity.
15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
15, 16. Therefore, my friends, know a man not from his mouth but from his heart, that is, not from his words but from his deeds. T. 590.
16 Because charity toward the neighbour is treated of in these passages, it is said that they should be known by their fruits, which are the goods of charity; the internal goods of charity being grapes, and the external figs. A. 5117.
To gather grapes of thorns signifies the goods of faith and charity from the falses of lusts. A. 9144.
The fig here stands for the good of the external or natural man, and the grape for the good of the internal or spiritual man, the thorn and the bramble-bush signify the evils opposed to them. E. 403.
According to the quality of the life, such is the man. E. 797.
16-18. That a man cannot do good which in itself is good, before evil has been removed, the Lord teaches in many places. See Isaiah i. 16-18. T. 435.
16-20. He who adopts the principle that faith alone is saving, without goods of charity — can he not weave a whole system of doctrine out of the Word? and this without in the least caring for, or considering, or even seeing what the Lord says, that the tree is known by its fruit. A. 794.
See Chapter III., 8, 9. A. 7690.
See Chapter III., 10. R. 400.
See Chapter III., 10. R. 934.
See Chapter III., 10. T. 468.
See Chapter III., 10. E. 109.
16-20, 24-27. See Chapter III., 8, 9. A. 2371.
15 That we may enter into the strait, and avoid the wide gate, we must be careful what counsel we take or listen to. We must beware of false prophets. Personally, these are false teachers; abstractly, they are false principles. Care to avoid these last is the more necessary, because we may be our own teachers; and prejudice or inclination may lead us to adopt and follow the false, as if it were the true. We ought, indeed, to cultivate the faculty of distinguishing between the false and the true, without respect of the persons who utter them; to accept truth and reject error, whoever may teach them. It is the more necessary to beware of false prophets since they come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. False prophets are hypocritical teachers, who conceal a devouring selfishness under an appearance of disinterested kindness. But abstractly they are false principles that seem outwardly to teach charity but inwardly are as destructive of it as the wolf is of the sheep. All errors in religion avow as their object, “Glory to God in the highest, good will towards men” for no one teaches or adopts what is false as falsehood, but as truth, much less as leading to evil, but to good. It is important, therefore, to beware of false prophets; for though they come under the aspect of charity, they in their very nature are cruel and destructive.
16 But the question comes, How are we to know false prophets? Our Lord gives the answer, – Ye shall know them by their fruits. This is the moral test. The Word gives another, – To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them.” It may be difficult to detect, individual teachers of falsity, or hypocritical teachers of truth, by their outward lives. As a general test it is an entirely true and certain one. The natural, and therefore the general, result of falsity is evil, and the natural and general result of truth is goodness. Life is, without doubt, the great test; and it is one that every person may apply and judge by. Yet it is more important to be able to test principles, than persons. And the question with each of us is, What fruits do certain principles produce in ourselves? We can know our own principles by their fruits, because we can see our inward as well as our outward life. The inward life is more especially meant by the grapes, and the outward life by the figs; for grapes are the goods of charity proceeding from the internal man, and figs are the goods of obedience. But, do men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles? If the falsities of concupiscence, which are the thorn and the thistle, are rooted in the mind, there can be no genuine good produced in the life. The appearance may be put on, as the wolf may appear in sheep’s clothing, but the reality cannot be there. Such principles cannot produce the inward fruit of peace and goodwill to our neighbour, nor the outward fruit of consistent and disinterested goodness.
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
17, 18. Verses quoted. C., Page 26.
17-20. All good, which will bear any fruit, is from the
Lord, and unless it be from Him, it is not good. A. 9258.
19 See Chapter III., 10. Life 93.
See Chapter III., 8, Life 104.
19, 20. See Chapter V., 19, 20. Life 2.
Who does not know from the Word that a life is allotted to every one after death according to his deeds? Open the Word, read it, and you will see this clearly, but while doing this, remove the thoughts from faith, and justification by it alone. That the Lord teaches this everywhere in His Word, take a few examples to testify. Luke vi. 46-49 : John v. 29 ; xv. 14, 16. P. 128.
After the acknowledgment of God, charity is the second means which fits a man to approach the Holy Supper worthily. It appears from the Word in these passages, Matthew xxii. 34-39 : Luke x. 25—28, also from Mat thew vii. 19, 20, and Luke iii. 8, 9. T. 722.
19, 21. That charity and faith do not profit a man while they inhere only in one hemisphere of his body, that is, in his head, and are not grounded in works, is evident from a thousand passages in the Word. T. 376.
19-23. Who and of what quality those are who are in faith separate from charity, and who are meant by goats, may be evident from this passage and from Luke xiii. 25-27. A. 4769.
19—27. In this passage are described those who are in faith derived from charity, and those who are in faith but not in charity. They who are in faith derived from charity, by the tree bearing good fruit, and by the house which was built upon a rock. Fruits in the Word also signify the works of charity, and a rock faith from charity. But they who are in faith separate from charity are understood by the tree not bearing good fruit, and by the house built upon the sand. Evil fruits also in the Word signify evil works, and sand faith separate from charity. E. 212.
See Chapter V., 19. E. 250.
17, 18. But whatever outward similarity there may be between the actions of a good and those of an evil man, their deeds, viewed from within, by means of spiritual light, are essentially different. Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. This is absolutely true. The fruit must correspond to the tree. Good principles cannot produce bad practice; and evil principles cannot produce good practice. A good man, it is true, may do some evil, and an evil man may do some good; but the reason of this is, that, in this world, there is no man so good as to be entirely free from evil or error, and no man so evil as to be entirely destitute of goodness and truth. But good itself, as a principle in the mind, must of necessity produce good; and evil, as a principle, must produce evil. This is as much a law of mind as that a vine must produce grapes is a law of nature. Our Lord declares this to be the case. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. “To will evil and to do good are in their nature opposite to each other, for evil is derived from hatred towards our neighbour, and good from love towards him; in other words, evil is our neighbour’s enemy, and good is his friend, which two cannot possibly exist together in the same mind: evil cannot exist in the internal and good in the external. In such circumstances man is like a tree whose root is decayed through age but which yet produces fruit, that appears outwardly like fruit rich in flavour and fit for use, but which inwardly is unsavoury and useless.” The good which a man does from evil – that is, from a selfish motive – is not good, but evil; for the end determines the quality of the deed. This may not be seen clearly by men in this world; but when men enter the spiritual world, the quality of men’s works is obvious to all. And as our Lord spoke eternal, and therefore spiritual, truth – truth for the spiritual world – this is the essential truth which he taught in these words.
19 The lesson we may derive from the necessary connection between the internal and the external is most important. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. On this declaration, which is a repetition of one made by John the Baptist (ch. iii. 10), it is sufficient here to remark, that if we allow evil and false principles to take root in our hearts while we live in this world, the tree which has grown up and produced its evil fruits cannot be changed in the other life, but must be hewn down and cast into the fire. The evil man himself is such a tree: for such as a man’s ruling principles are, such is his whole being. The good which a man does in the body proceeds from his spirit, or from the internal man, this being his spirit which lives after death; consequently, when man casts off his body, which constituted his external man, he is then wholly immersed in the evils of his life, and takes delight in them; while he holds good in aversion, as being offensive to his life.
20 Our Lord concludes by repeating the principle he had already laid down. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. To know the fruit is to know its quality, not merely its appearance. If we thus know the fruit, we know the tree. It is our duty therefore, to look to results, and as far as we can know these truly, we shall be able to judge correctly of the principles that produce them. We may regard this exhortation of our Lord as designed to correct the tendency to judge our brother by his opinions, and look at the mote in his eye rather than at the blemish in his life.
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
21 See Chapter V., 45, 48. A. 8328.
See Chapter V., 19, 20. Life 2.
See Chapter V., 44, 45. E. 254.
See Chapter VI., 10. E. 295.
21, 22. Spirits who are in knowledge of the doctrinals of faith, without love, are in such frigid life and obscure light, that they cannot even approach the threshold of the outer court of the heavens, but flee away. Some of them say that they have believed in the Lord, but they have not lived as He teaches. Of such the Lord thus speaks in Matthew vii. 21 to the end. A. 34.
See Chapter III., 2. R. 553.
21-23. See Chapter V., 16, 19. A. 3934.
That man will be judged and recompensed according to his deeds and works is said in many passages of the Word. See Revelation xiv. 13 ; ii. 23 ; xx. 13-15. H. 471.
That no one is saved by good that he does from self, because it is not good, is manifest. See Luke xiii. 25-27. Life 30.
21-24. When they who are of such a character (faith separate from charity) come into another life, they desire to go to heaven, saying that they have faith, and that they have read the Word, have heard sermons, have received the holy supper, and that by these things they expect to be saved. But when their life is explored, it appears altogether infernal, namely, that they have made no account of enmities, of hatred, of revenges, of craftiness, of deceitful stratagems ; that when they did what was right, sincere, and just, it was only in the external form, for the sake of appearing such to the world, whilst inwardly, or in their spirit, they thought other things, things contrary to what is right, sincere and just, believing that thoughts and intentions are of no account, provided they do not openly appear before the world. These are they who are understood by the words in Matthew. E. 231.
21-24, 26. When it is said to them that these things (persuasive faith and a life of evil) are contrary to the Lord’s words in Matthew, and in Luke xiii. 25-27, they answer, that by those are meant no others than such as have been in faith from miracles, but not in the faith of the church. A. 7317.
21, 22. The Divine Speaker brings this subject of sinning and living home to us most powerfully by carrying us by anticipation into the scene of our final judgment. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. The time of decision will indeed show the difference between saying and doing, between profession and practice. It is plain that the contrast the Lord here makes is between those who have lived in the mere profession and those who have lived in the practice of his religion. Nor are the professed disciples those only who have named themselves by the name of Christ, but those who have been zealous in his cause – for they say, Have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? What more, apparently, could they have done to commend themselves to his favour? One thing have they lacked – sincerity. All these things have they done for to be seen of men. They have not done the will of their Father who is in heaven. The Father’s will is, that they should be perfect even as he is perfect: that they should love him above all things, and their neighbour as themselves, manifesting that love in all manner of good works. Instead of this, they have rendered to the Lord a lip service, in formal and ostentatious prayers, thus saying, Lord, Lord: they have taught the Word and the doctrines derived from it, and it may be with eloquent persuasiveness, thus prophesying in the name of Christ: they have liberated other minds from errors of religion, thus casting out demons they have effected numerous conversions, thus doing many wonderful works. But this they have done, not for the Lord’s sake, nor for the salvation of souls, but for the sake of themselves and the world. Those who are of this character are in what may be called persuasive faith. They have, no inward perception of truth, and no inward faith in it, or love for it, but adopt a creed, and confirm it by reasons grounded in self-interest, as a means by which they may obtain reputation, wealth, and honours. The worst of men may have this persuasive faith, and maintain it with zeal, condemning all who differ from them without regard to the good which they exhibit in their lives. Many of the wonderful works of party zeal have no doubt this origin and character.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
22 It is manifest that to prophesy is to teach. A. 2534.
In the Word by the name of God is signified God with all the Divine that is in Him and that proceeds from Him ; and as the Word is the proceeding Divine, it is the name of God ; and as all the Divine things which are called the spiritual things of the church are from the Word, they are also the name of God. P. 230.
By asking the Father in His name is meant to go to the Lord, and to the Father through Him, because the Father is in the Son, and they are one, as He teaches. That is what In His name signifies. R. 618.
Hallowed be Thy name, is to approach the Lord and worship Him. Where the name of the Lord is mentioned, He is meant Himself as to His Human. R. 839.
22, 23. It is evident that they who place worship in a name, as the Jews in the name of Jehovah, and Christians in the name of the Lord, are not on that account the more worthy, because the name avails nothing; but that they should be such as the Lord commanded, for this is to believe on His name ; and further that its being said that there is no salvation in any other name than the Lord’s, means that there is none in any other doctrine, that is, in no other than mutual love, which is the true doctrine of faith ; and thus in no other than the Lord, because all love and thence all faith are from Him alone. A. 2009.
Some of them are among those who say that they have laboured in the Lord’s vineyard, whereas they have had at the same time continually in mind their own pre-eminence, glory, and honours, as well as gain . . . but of whom it is said, I knew you not. A. 2027.
With the same persons it also becomes apparent that they have given no attention at all to the things which the Lord Himself so often taught concerning the good of love and charity, but that these things were like passing clouds, or like things seen in the night. A. 2371.
But they who worship a name only, without love and faith, are thus spoken of in Matthew. A. 2724.
They who are in internal truths know that by the learned, the wise, and the intelligent, are signified those who are in good, whether they be in any human wisdom and intelligence or not, and that these shall shine as the stars, and that they who labour in the Lord’s vineyard shall receive a reward, each according to the affection of good and truth from which he labours. And that they who labour for the sake of themselves and the world, that is, for the sake of self-exaltation and opulence, have their reward in the life of the body, but in the other life have their lot with the wicked. A. 3820.
The persuasion of truth when man is in a life of evilr is such that he persuades himself that truth is truth, not for the sake of good as an end, but for the sake of evil as an end — that is, that he may gain honours, reputation, and wealth thereby. These are they of whom the Lord speaks in Matthew. A. 3895.
Those who are in truth in which there is no good, in the other life, more than others, make merit of all that they have done which appears as good in outward form, though in inward form it was evil — according to what the Lord says in Matthew. A. 4638.
Of those who are in evil, the Lord says that He does not know them. A. 6806.
Those truths, as long as they serve as means, are loved for the sake of the end, which is evil, but when they are no longer so serviceable, they are relinquished, yea they are regarded as falsities. This persuasion is what is called persuasive faith, and is what is meant by the words of the Lord in Matthew. A. 7778.
It has been further said, that they who are learned as to doctrine, but evil as to life, are those who are meant by the Lord. A. 9192.
They who are in persuasive faith, are meant by these described in Matthew. Also in Luke xiii. 26, 27. They are also meant by the five foolish virgins who had no oil in their lamps. A. 9369.
They who are in persuasive faith, are meant by these persons in Matthew. N. 119.
See Chapter V., 19, 20. Life 2.
See Chapter VII., 19, 20. P. 128.
Who does not see that they will not say that they have prophesied, but that they knew the doctrine of the church, and have taught it. R. 8.
Do you know any sin in which you are? Have you in any wise examined yourselves? Have you on that account shunned any evil as a sin against God? And he that does not shun it, is in it. Is not sin the devil? Wherefore you are they of whom the Lord speaks in Matthew, and in Luke xiii. 26, 27. R. 531.
In hypocritical worship like this are they who have confirmed in themselves the faith of the present day, that the Lord by the passion of the cross took away all the sins of the world, meaning by this the sins of every one, provided men only pray according to the formularies about propitiation and mediation. T. 518.
See Chapter VII., 22, 23 under R. 531, repeated in T. 567.
In a word, the name of a Christian, that is that one is of Christ, without acknowledging Him and following Him, that is living according to His commandments, is a thing as empty as a shadow, as smoke and as a blackened picture, for the Lord says in Matthew vii. 22, 23 and Luke vi. 46 and subsequent verses. T. 681.
See Chapter VII., 22, 23 under R. 531, repeated in B. 114
The subject here treated of is salvation, namely, that no one is saved by knowing the Word and teaching it, but by doing it. E. 624.
Several have been there (in the spiritual world) seen and heard, who said that they had taught, and written, and reformed, but when the end or love of their will was laid open, it appeared that they had done all things for the sake of themselves and the world, and nothing for the sake of God and their neighbour, yea, that they cursed God and cursed their neighbour. They are such as are understood in Matthew vii. and in Luke xiii. 26, 27. E. 1187.
I have spoken with several after death, when they become spirits, who have been in this kind of affection of use (mere natural affection) and who then were urgent to be admitted into heaven from a claim of merit, but as they had performed uses from natural affection alone, thus for the sake of themselves and of the world, and not for the sake of God and the neighbour, they received a reply similar to what is written in Matthew.
D. L. xvii.
Those uses which are done either under a show of charity, or under a show of piety are described in the Word. Those which are done under a show of charity are thus described in Matthew. They who have done them under a show of piety are described in Luke xiii. 26, 27. D. Wis. xi. 6.
23 The Lord therefore says, Then will I profess unto them, I never knew you. He never knew them as his own. His saving knowledge was not in them. They are not his children. He knows them not. He never knew them: their whole life, has been a deception. Can any other conclusion be expected from such a life of hollow pretence than that expressed in the Lord’s words, Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity? They have, wrought iniquity. Whatever good they may have done for others, they have done none for themselves. Their motive has been evil, because selfish; and an evil tree cannot produce good fruit. The Lord’s sentence upon them to depart expresses the necessary result of their real state. His love is not in them; there is no mutual sympathy between him and them: his truth is not in them; there is no mutual knowledge. Separation is the inevitable consequence. The evil and the false must depart from him who is goodness itself and truth itself. This is the cause of removal from the presence and exclusion from the kingdom of God. He does not cast them out. Their own state of contrariety to his holy nature excludes them. They gravitate to their own centre, which is the kingdom of evil, and fall into the abyss, not because justice demands, but because mercy cannot prevent their ruin.
24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
24 See Chapter III., 8. Life 104.
24, 25. By the rock the Lord as to the Divine truth of the Word is signified. R. 915.
Here by the house founded upon a rock is signified both the church in general, and every individual member of the church who founds his doctrine and life upon Divine truth which is from the Lord, thus upon those things which are in the Word. Consequently it signifies those who are in truths grounded in good from the Lord. E. 411.
24-27. See Chapter V., 20. A. 9282.
That to do good is to worship the Lord, appears from the Lord’s words. N. 127.
An inundating rain stands for the devastation of truth, and for temptation. R. 496.
See Chapter III., 8, 9. A. 2371.
He who heareth the words of the Lord and doeth them is the wise man, but he who heareth them and doeth them not is the foolish man. E. 624.
By the shower and by the floods are here understood temptations, in which man either conquers or falls, by waters the falses which usually flow in in temptations. By the floods are signified temptations, by the winds which also flow and rush in, the thoughts thence emerging, for temptations exist by the breaking out of falses injected by evil spirits into the thoughts. By the house, into which they rush or break in, is signified the man, properly his mind. E. 644.
24, 26. To hear the Word and not do it, is to say that one believes and yet not lives accordingly. Such a man separates hearing and doing, and divides his mind, and is called by the Lord foolish. A. 44.
They that hear are those who have faith, they that do are those who have charity. A. 367.
See Chapter V., 16, 19. A. 3934.
He who is in good, that is, he who does according to the precepts, is called wise, and he who is in knowledges of truths and does them not is called foolish. A. 4638. That to do good is to worship the Lord is evident from the Lord’s words. A. 8255.
The hearkening to the voice signifies obedience, but when, as here, mention is also made of doing, then hearkening signifies faith, and doing signifies life. A. 8361.
They who are truly Christians both know and do, thus believe in God ; but they who are not truly Christians, know and do not. These latter however are called by the Lord foolish, but the former wise. A. 9239.
To hear words or discourses signifies to learn and know the precepts of faith which are from the Lord ; to do means to live according to them. A. 9311.
See Chapter VII., 21-23. H. 471.
See Chapter V., 19, 20. Life 2.
See Chapter VII., 19, 20. P. 128.
He who learns truths and does not do them, is like one who scatters seed about in a field, and does not harrow it in, and so the seeds become swollen by the rains and are spoiled ; but he who learns truths and does them, is like one who sows his seed and covers it, and so the rain causes the seed to grow, even to the harvest, to be used as food. T. 347.
Who cannot see that such things take place when men merely know some things from the Word about charity and faith, and do not do them. T. 375.
To know and understand truths Divine, does not constitute the church arid form heaven with man, but to know, to understand, and to do. E. 108.
Those who are in faith derived from love, and those who are in faith without love, are signified by the wise and the foolish. E. 252.
They who are truly Christians know, will, and do ; but they who are not such, only know. These latter are called by the Lord foolish, but the former are called wise. E. 349.
See Chapter V., 19. E. 785.
24 Having in his sermon enunciated the great principles of his church and kingdom, the Lord concludes his sublime discourse by a most striking description of the two opposite results which his teaching would have with the multitude whom he addressed, and with all future generations of men, according as they use or abuse the mercies of the gospel of righteousness and peace. Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man; and every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, I will liken him unto a foolish man. The whole difference between the wise and the foolish, and between the eternal consequences of wisdom and folly, consists in one thing, and is described by one word, and that one word is DOETH. This word holds a most prominent place in the whole of the Scriptures of truth, and an all-important place in the economy of the religious life. To do or not to do decides the question of order and disorder, of weakness and power, of salvation and condemnation of life and death. Doing is the use and end of religion. Hearing the Lord’s sayings which includes knowing and understanding them, is but a means to an end, and that end is to do them. To do what we hear is wisdom; to hear and not do is folly. Wisdom and folly in Scripture do not mean intellectual, but moral states. Wisdom is not knowledge, but the right use of it; folly is not the absence of knowledge, but its abuse. He that heareth those sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him to a wise man. Let us see what this man did as an evidence of his wisdom. He built his house upon a rock. The expressive word edification means building up, and has been borrowed to express the idea of practical education, is a building up of the mind in knowledge and virtue. In this sense it is used in Scripture. The only difference is, that the materials here are spiritual, and the building is not for time but for eternity. Every one builds in this world the house in which he shall live for ever. The materials of this house are the truths of the Word, and these may be built up by practical wisdom into a holy habitation, in which grace and truth may dwell together – yea, in which the Lord himself, by his love and wisdom, may take up his abode, according to his own divine promise: “If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” But the stability of the house depends on the foundation on which it is built. The wise man builds his house upon a rock. This rock is eminently the Lord himself. A rock, in Scripture is the symbol of truth, and the Lord is called a rock, as being the truth itself; and he is especially the Rock of Ages as the truth manifested – the Word made flesh. Faith in this Truth – or this Truth held in faith – is the rock on which the wise man builds his house. It is that of which the Lord declared to Peter, – after his ever-memorable confession, “Thou art the Christ,” – “On this rock I will build my church.” And the house which the Christian builds upon this foundation is the church in him.
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:
29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
25 Here, by the rains descending and the winds bloAV-ing are signified temptations, and thence also falsities rushing in. E. 419.
25, 27. As all spiritual temptations are caused by falsities breaking into the thoughts, and infesting the interior mind, thus by reasonings from them, temptations are also signified by inundations of water. E. 518.
Here also the floods stand for falsities in abundance, because the Lord as to Divine truth is signified by the rock. R. 409.
26 Whoever, therefore, holds the opinion that the way to be saved is to believe this or that which the church teaches, and is still such in character (murderer, adulterer, thief, and false witness) cannot but be foolish, according to the Lord’s words. Life 91.
They are among the foolish ones who hear the Lord, that is, read the Word, and do not do it. R. 433.
25 The advantage of building the house upon a rock our Lord describes by expressive figures. And the rain descended, and the floods came and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. The power of resisting trials and temptations is the great advantage which results from a faith which rests on the foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no regeneration without temptation. Temptation is the trial of our faith. Temptation confirms a true faith and overturns a false one. A true faith is not only a faith in the truth, but a faith that is true – sincere. A true faith is one that is of the thought from affection, and a false faith is one that is of the thought without affection. A true faith, therefore, not only resists in temptation, but is increased and confirmed by it. The temptations to which faith is subjected are described by the storm that fell upon the house. And no images could more expressively depict the danger to which the mind is exposed by the trials and temptations of life than that which threatens the house by the combined action upon it of the rain, the flood, and the wind. The temptation arising from false suggestions is meant by the rain; for rain when it falls upon the earth in gentle and fructifying showers, is the expressive symbol of truth; when it beats upon the house, and threatens it with destruction, it is the equally expressive, symbol of falsity. And as the subject of the Lord’s words is the foundation of a true faith, the temptations come from what is opposite to, and tends directly to invalidate the truth, and destroy faith in it. But not only does the rain descend, but the floods come. Rain is that kind of temptation that comes in gradually-increasing torrents of false suggestions; but floods are those temptations that arise from the accumulation of such false suggestions, and when they come in a body, like an inundation of waters, bear down everything that is not capable of the greatest resistance. The wind indicates that kind of temptation that flows into the thoughts – for wind is more subtle than water – and is, the stormy wind that sweeps over the mind like a tornado, and threatens to root up and cast down everything before it. But there is one object that resists them all – the house that is founded upon a rock. The church of the Lord that is built in the human mind upon the rock of a living faith against it the very gates of hell shall not prevail. And these temptations of which our Lord here speaks are induced by the powers of darkness, and are the means which the spirits of darkness employ for the purpose of effecting their purpose of destroying the soul by pulling down what the Saviour has built up. But the assurance which the Saviour gives to his faithful ones is, that having built their faith upon him as its foundation, all the combined powers of the kingdom of darkness, in the severest temptations, will not be able to overturn it. And it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26 The Divine Speaker contrasts with these wise ones the persons who build on an unstable foundation. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand. The description of these is simply the reverse of the others. The mere hearer of the Lord’s words builds a house, but he builds it on the sand. We commonly speak of those building in the air who place their hopes of happiness on visionary or unpractical schemes. Answering to them are those who build their hopes of eternal happiness on their being hearers of the words of Jesus Christ. They build upon the sand. Considered simply as a figure, it is sufficiently suggestive of the baselessness of the fabric of a mere verbal and persuasive faith.
But the sense obtained by correspondence is more specific and instructive. While a rock and a stone signify truth as a principle, sand signifies knowledge as a simple acquirement. The sand is to the rock as the dry bones that lay scattered in the valley of Jehoshaphat were to the exceeding great army that the prophet’s voice raised up from them. Religious facts and opinions laid up in the memory, or even in the natural understanding, are mere shifting sands, on which no rational hope can be placed. A faith of the intellect, which is not at the same time of the heart, is dead, and can avail nothing in the day of trial. Our Lord tells us, therefore, that when the storms assailed the house built upon the sand it fell, and great was the fall of it. The house which the religious professor builds becomes a ruin, however fair it may have been. So will the faith of every hearer of the Word who does it not; and a ruin complete, according to the pains that have been taken, to make it great and admirable in the eyes of men. The fall of those who have known and professed the truth is great compared with that of those who have known and assumed less. We may learn from this similitude how important it is to be doers of the words of Divine Wisdom, and especially of those heavenly principles which our blessed Lord delivered in his ever-memorable sermon on the mount.
28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine. Those who had been accustomed to the superficial, trifling and lifeless addresses of the Jewish scribes might well be astonished at the doctrine which they had just heard from the lips of Jesus. But the word expresses something more, or rather something other than astonishment: it means that the people were inwardly moved or affected. The teaching of Jesus did not play upon the outside, but penetrated into the inmost depths of their beings. He taught them as one having authority – more properly, as one having power, not the power of authority only, but the power of convincing the understanding and moving the heart. Supposing the law had been taught by the scribes in its original simplicity and purity, the spirituality which Jesus showed it to possess, and which he so clearly and practically set forth, must have presented it to every well-disposed mind in a new light of unspeakable beauty, and with a force that must have brought it home to every conscience. But when we reflect that the Jewish teachers had made the commandments of none effect by their traditions, the Lord’s enforcement and exposition of the law must have produced on the minds of his sincere and earnest hearers a wonderful impression indeed, such as that which led his mercenary hearers to exclaim, “Never man spake like this man.”
AUTHOR: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (COMPILED BY ROBERT S. FISCHER AND LOUIS G. HOECK 1906)
COMMENTARY AUTHOR: WILLIAM BRUCE (1866)
PICTURES: JAMES TISSOT Courtesy of Brooklyn Museum