When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His
Kai egeneto (3SAMI) hote
etelesen (3SAAI) o Iesous tous logous toutous exeplessonto (3PIPI) oi
ochloi epi te didache autou
(Mt 13:54; Ps 45:2; Mk 1:22; 6:2; Lk
4:22,32; 19:48; Jn 7:15,46)
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The Wise and Foolish Builder
When Jesus had finished - More
literally this reads "And it came to pass, when Jesus ended...."
from telos = end, goal) means to complete something
and bring to an end. The idea of teleo is not merely to end
it, but to bring it to perfection or its destined goal. The Sermon on
the Mount had been achieved His goal, not only terminating His discourse
but carrying it out to the full.
Teleo means to accomplish
an obligation or demand in the sense of to bring about a result by
effort. The idea is to achieve a goal or to conclude it successfully.
This meaning is especially poignant in the context of Jesus' life
purpose which was to die on the Cross, the purpose He pointed to and
which He accomplished ("It is finished" John 19:30). This same meaning
of fulfilling or bringing about the completion or achievement of a goal
or objective is also a prominent meaning in the Revelation (e.g. Re
The crowds were amazed - John
records a parallel incident with the temple soldiers who had been sent
to arrest Jesus but returned empty handed...
John 7:43 So there arose a
division in the multitude because of Him (Jesus). 44 And some of them
wanted to seize Him, but no one laid hands on Him. 45 The officers
therefore came to the chief priests and Pharisees, and they said to
them, "Why did you not bring Him?" 46 The officers answered, "Never
did a man speak the way this man speaks."
I Stand Amazed in the Presence
by Charles H Gabriel
I stand amazed in the presence
Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me,
A sinner, condemned, unclean.
O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
Is my Savior’s love for me!
He touched their conscience; his
teaching came home to them; they could not help feeling that it was
true. Besides, he did not keep on quoting Rabbi This and Rabbi That, but
he spoke from his own knowledge: “&He taught them as one having
authority, and not as the scribes.&”
Not quoting Rabbi So-and-so, to show
how well he was acquainted with his writings, but speaking as one who
knew what he had to say, and who spoke, out of the fullness of his
heart, truth that was evidently inspired; end his hearers felt the force
of the solemn message which he thus delivered.
The Gospels and Acts also use another
Greek word that is translated amazed which presents a great word
picture of what it means to be amazed or astounded. The Greek word is
(ek = out of + histemi = to stand) which literally means
to stand out of. In the NT existemi is used figuratively to
describe "standing out of one's mind", being "beside" oneself, put
out of one's wits, amazed or astounded. If you have time study the 17
uses of existemi in context (Matthew,
from ek = out + plesso = strike)
strike out, expel by a blow, drive out or away, force out or cast off by a blow.
Some versions render it astonished
which is a good translation of ekplesso. It is interesting to note that
our English word "astonish" which is derived from the Latin word
extonare meaning to strike with thunder! What a picture of Jesus'
radical message which must have struck His hearers like thunder!
Figuratively ekplesso means to
drive out of one's senses by a sudden shock or strong feeling, or
"to be exceedingly struck in mind". It means to
cause to be filled with amazement to the point of being overwhelmed
(struck out of one's senses). It encompasses the ideas of wonder,
astonishment or amazement. Ekplesso expresses a stunned amazement that
leaves the subject unable to grasp what is happening.
Thayer writes that ekplesso
common in Greek from Homer down;
properly, to strike out, expel by a blow, drive out or away; to cast off
by a blow, to drive out; commonly, to strike one out of self-possession,
to strike with panic, shock, astonish; passive to be struck with
astonishment, astonished, amazed.
The audience was astounded,
themselves, totally dumbfounded by Jesus' words. So was John Newton
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.
When we the readers today really
comprehend what Jesus is saying in the Sermon on the Mount, we should be
amazed and astonished also by His gracious (grace filled) word! If we aren't astonished at the revolutionary
character of Jesus' sermon, then frankly we have probably not truly
heard or truly grasped Jesus' intended meaning! As Jesus said repeatedly
in the letters to the seven churches of the Revelation...
He who has an ear, let him hear what
the Spirit says to the churches (see note
It is notable that most of the 13 NT
uses (see below) of ekplesso are a reaction (most often of an uncommitted
listener) to Jesus' teaching even the passage in Acts 13:12 in
which Luke records...
Then the proconsul believed when he
saw what had happened (Acts 13:8 Elymas the magician blinded by Paul),
being amazed (ekplesso) at the teaching of the Lord (Note
that it was Paul who was teaching and yet the phrase "teaching of the
Lord" as if the Lord were teaching through him. Would it be that every
pastor had a similar dynamic when they spoke from the pulpit)
Ekplesso is used 13 times in
the NT (see below)
and is translated: amazed, 5; astonished, 8. There are 4 uses in the
Apocrypha and one in the
Here are all the NT uses for your review (read the
or surrounding passages to understand why there was amazement or
Matthew 7:28 The result was
that when Jesus had finished these words, the multitudes were amazed
at His teaching;
Matthew 13:54 And coming to His home town He began teaching them
in their synagogue, so that they became astonished, and said,
"Where did this man get this wisdom, and these miraculous powers?
Read on for more reactions...
Matthew 13:55 "Is not this the
carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James
and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 "And His sisters, are they not
all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?" 57
And they took offense (verb skandalizo - see noun
skandalon = stumbling block)
at Him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except
in his home town, and in his own household." 58 And He did not do
many miracles there because of their unbelief.
Matthew 19:25 And when the
disciples heard this (Jesus' teaching that "it is easier for a camel to
go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom
of God"), they were very astonished and said, "Then who can be
Matthew 22:33 And when the multitudes heard this (Jesus' teaching
that God said "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the
God of Jacob '? He is not the God of the dead but of the living."), they
were astonished at His teaching.
Mark 1:22 And they were amazed at His teaching; for He was
teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
Mark 6:2 And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the
synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, "Where
did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and
such miracles as these performed by His hands?
Mark 7:37 And they were utterly (huperperissos = beyond all
measure, exceedingly) astonished, saying, "He has done all things
well; He makes even the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak."
Mark 10:26 And they (His own disciples) were even more
astonished and said to Him, "Then who can be saved?"
Mark 11:18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard this, and
began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for all
the multitude was astonished at His teaching.
Notice why the chief priests reacted
this way: Mark 11:17 And He began to teach and say to them, "Is
it not written, 'MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL THE
NATIONS'? But you have made it a ROBBERS' DEN."
Luke 2:48 And when they saw Him, they were astonished (they
were "dumbfounded"!); and His mother said to Him, "Son, why have You
treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously
looking for You."
Luke 4:32 and they were amazed at His teaching, for His
message was with authority.
Luke 9:43 And they were all amazed at the greatness of
God. But while everyone was marveling at all that He was doing, He said
to His disciples,
Acts 13:12 Then the proconsul believed when he saw what had
happened (Acts 13:8 Elymas the magician blinded by Paul), being
amazed at the teaching of the Lord.
Note that it was Paul who was
teaching and yet the phrase teaching of the
Lord indicates it was as if the Lord Jesus were teaching through
Paul! God let it be so,
that every pastor reading these words humbly depends on a similar
spiritual dynamic when they speak Thy truth to their flock. Amen.
NIDNTT notes that...
The primary meaning of ekplesso is to
strike out or expel. The verb is found with this sense in classical Greek
(e.g. “enjoyment banishes grief”, Thucydides), but it occurs far more
frequently with its derived meaning of astound or amaze (i.e. drive out
of one’s senses by a sudden shock). Among the sources of amazement
expressed by ekplesso in non-biblical literature are fear, desire, love,
joy and pleasure. Josephus uses ekplesso several times to express
amazement or overwhelming fear. (Brown,
Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986.
A T Robertson commenting on
ekplesso writes that Jesus' audience...
listened spell-bound to the end and
were left amazed. Note the
a buzz of astonishment. The verb means literally “were struck out of
themselves.” (Matthew 7)
Wuest has similar comments noting that...
ekplesso is a very strong word
meaning, “to strike out, expel by a blow, drive out or away, to strike
one out of self-possession, to strike with panic, shock” in a passive
sense “to be struck with astonishment, amazed.” The verb is in the
pictorial imperfect, describing the prolonged amazement of the audience.
It is in the passive voice, showing that this amazement was caused by an
outside influence, the tremendous impact that the Messiah made upon them
by the new type of teacher and teaching that met their eyes and ears.
The teaching of our Lord was in such
contrast to that of the Jewish leaders, that the people saw the
difference at once, and were almost beside themselves because of it.
What a commentary upon the type of teaching they had been receiving,
dry, formal, stereotyped, without power, above their heads, and the
powerful, simple, interesting thought-arresting teaching of our Lord.
(Commenting on the use of ekplesso
in Mark 6:2) "to strike out, expel by a blow, to strike one out of
self-possession,” in a passive sense, “to be struck with astonishment.”
The discourse and the miracles of our Lord struck them so forcibly that
they were astonished to the point of losing control of themselves. The
verb is imperfect, showing that this condition of being beside
themselves with amazement continued for some time. It is, “they were
continuing to be beside themselves with amazement.” The prefixed
preposition ek meaning “out,” shows an exhausted state of affairs. It
reminds one of an automobile tire that has been deflated. Their
astonishment was so great that their self-possession was exhausted. In
the language of Webster, they were completely flabbergasted.
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Studies in the
Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament: Grand Rapids: Eerdmans)
Vincent has a similar analysis
of ekplesso, writing that it...
Often meant to drive one out of his
senses by a sudden shock, and therefore here of amazement. They were
astounded. We have a similar expression, though not so strong: “I was
struck with this or that remarkable thing.” (Vincent, M. R.. Word
Studies in the New Testament)
is a gathering of a relatively large number of people, a multitude of
men who have flocked together in some place, a throng of people milling
around or closely pressed together.
(didache from didasko
= to give instruction in a
formal or informal setting with the highest possible development of the
pupil as the goal; English = didactic = intended to teach, particularly
in having moral instruction as an ulterior motive) is a noun which
describes the activity of teaching (instruction).
See studies on related words -
Teach (teaching, taught)
and Teaching (instruction)
In the passive sense didache
speaks of the content of what is taught or the doctrine. Ralph
Earle (Word Meanings in the NT) writes that "today doctrine has a
formal, theological sense that didache does not have."
Didache or "the teaching" was
that instruction which elucidated the meaning of the facts which were
proclaimed. The idea of didache then is to impart knowledge to or
instruct someone, for example in how to do something, etc. Teaching
or doctrine is that which communicates to another the knowledge
of that which heretofore that person was ignorant or ill informed.
In the context of the Sermon on the
Mount, didache refers both to Jesus' content (which is primarily
ethical instruction - contrast kerugma - proclamation, as of the gospel)
and the manner of His instruction -- no doubt the crowds were astonished
at both. Unfortunately their astonishment says nothing about their
personal heart commitment to His Word of Truth and/or their belief in
Jesus as Savior and Redeemer.
As an aside the early Church compiled
its first service order book which was entitled The Didache, or
The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. The Didache dates back to shortly
Didache is used 30 times in
the NT -
Matthew 7:28 The result was that when
Jesus had finished these words, the multitudes were amazed at His
Matthew 16:12 Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the
leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and
Matthew 22:33 And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished
at His teaching.
Mark 1:22 And they were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching
them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
Mark 1:27 And they were all amazed, so that they debated among
themselves, saying, "What is this? A new teaching with authority!
He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him."
Mark 4:2 And He was teaching them many things in parables, and was
saying to them in His teaching,
Mark 11:18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began
seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for all the
multitude was astonished at His teaching.
Mark 12:38 And in His teaching He was saying: "Beware of the
scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and like respectful
greetings in the market places,
Luke 4:32 and they were amazed at His teaching, for His message
was with authority.
John 7:16 Jesus therefore answered them, and said, "My teaching
is not Mine, but His who sent Me.
John 7:17 "If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the
teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself.
John 18:19 The high priest therefore questioned Jesus about His
disciples, and about His teaching.
Acts 2:42 And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles'
teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to
Acts 5:28 saying, "We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching
in this name, and behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching,
and intend to bring this man's blood upon us."
Acts 13:12 Then the proconsul believed when he saw what had happened,
being amazed at the teaching of the Lord.
Acts 17:19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying,
"May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming?
Romans 6:17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you
became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you
Romans 16:17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause
dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you
learned, and turn away from them.
1Corinthians 14:6 But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in
tongues, what shall I profit you, unless I speak to you either by way of
revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching?
1 Corinthians 14:26 What is the outcome then, brethren? When you
assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation,
has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for
2 Timothy 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season;
reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
Titus 1:9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the
teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine
and to refute those who contradict.
Hebrews 6:2 of instruction about washings, and laying on of
hands, and the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
Hebrews 13:9 Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings;
for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods,
through which those who were thus occupied were not benefited.
2John 1:9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching
of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has
both the Father and the Son.
2John 1:10 If anyone comes to you and
does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house,
and do not give him a greeting;
Revelation 2:14 'But I have a few things against you, because you have
there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching
Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things
sacrificed to idols, and to commit acts of immorality.
Revelation 2:15 'Thus you also have some who in the same way hold the
teaching of the Nicolaitans.
Revelation 2:24 'But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do
not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of
Satan, as they call them-- I place no other burden on you.
There is only one use of didache
in the Septuagint...
Psalm 60:1 For the choir director;
according to Shushan Eduth. A Mikhtam of David, to teach; when he
struggled with Aram-naharaim and with Aram-zobah, and Joab returned, and
smote twelve thousand of Edom in the Valley of Salt. O God, Thou hast
rejected us. Thou hast broken us; Thou hast been angry; O, restore us.
As MacArthur observes the
had never heard such comprehensive,
insightful words of wisdom, depth, insight, and profundity. They had
never heard such straightforward and fearless denunciation of the
scribes and Pharisees or such a black and white presentation of the way
of salvation. They had never heard such a fearful warning about the
consequences of turning away from God. They had never heard such a
powerful and demanding description of true righteousness or such a
relentless description and condemnation of self-righteousness.
Matthew 1-7 Macarthur New Testament Commentary
Chicago: Moody Press)
Matthew 7:28, 28
Effect of our Lord's Preaching
IT has been thought by many, that
this which is called the Sermon on the Mount, was not delivered at one
time, but is only a collection of sayings which at different times were
used by our Lord. But, as our Lord went through all the cities, towns,
and villages of Judæa, instructing the people, it is reasonable to
suppose, that he should frequently deliver the same truths in nearly the
same expressions, because the same instructions were necessary for all.
The repetition of them therefore, at different times, and at distant
places, is no reason at all why they should not now have been delivered
all at once, when so great a multitude was attending his ministry, and
he had gone up upon a mountain for the purpose of addressing them to
more advantage. Moreover, the words before us clearly shew, that this
was one continued sermon; or rather, that these were the chief topics
contained in it, together with the principal illustrations of them.
Having successively considered all the different parts of this sermon,
we now come to notice,
I. The peculiar character of our Lord’s preaching—
We shall not enter upon the subject of his ministry at large, but
confine our attention to the discourse before us; which, both in the
matter and in the manner, appears to have been well calculated to make a
deep impression on his audience.
The things with which they appear to have been particularly affected,
1. His wisdom—
[There was an astonishing depth in all that he spoke. His knowledge of
the divine law was such, as infinitely surpassed all that even their
most eminent prophets had ever manifested. David had acknowledged his
inability to explore its depth: “I have seen an end of all perfection;
but thy commandment is exceeding broad.” But the height, and depth, and
length, and breadth of it were open to the view of Jesus, who saw it in
all its spirituality, and in its utmost perfection. He was able to
expose and refute all the false glosses with which their most learned
teachers had obscured the law; and to set it forth as reaching, no less
to the thoughts and intents of the heart than to the most open actions
of the life.
There was also a luminousness in his statements, which, like the light
of the sun, carried its own evidence along with it. And his
illustrations were so apt, so easy, so familiar, so convincing, that
every one who was open to conviction was constrained to assent to every
word he spoke. Nor did he ever, like the Scribes, dwell upon matters
that were altogether useless and unedifying; but he was always on
subjects of prime importance, the knowledge of which was necessary for
the salvation of the soul. In a word, as at an early period of his life
the doctors in the temple “were astonished at his understanding and
answers,” so now, on this and many subsequent occasions, his hearers
wondered; “How knoweth this man letters (the Scriptures), having never
learned,” or had a learned education?]
2. His faithfulness—
[He flattered not the people by countenancing for a moment their
expectation of a temporal Messiah, but shewed the spiritual nature of
that kingdom which he was come to establish. Moreover, in his reproofs
he spared not any: the greatest and the wisest among the people were
rather the more exposed to his censures, on account of the influence
which they exerted over the minds of others. The fallacy of their
reasonings, the defectiveness of their morals, and the hypocrisy of
their religious acts, (their alms, their prayers, their fastings,) were
held up to universal reprobation; and all the multitude were warned
plainly, that “unless their righteousness should exceed the
righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, they should in no case enter
into the kingdom of heaven.” They were warned too that they must yield a
cordial and unreserved obedience to his instructions; that the retaining
of any bosom lust would infallibly destroy their souls for ever: that
every sinful affection, though dear as a right eye, or apparently
necessary as a right hand, must be cut off; or else they would assuredly
take their portion “in hell-fire.”
These were plain truths; not such as the people had been accustomed to
hear from their teachers, who only “prophesied smooth things, or amused
them with deceits:” they were such truths as commended themselves to the
consciences of all, and made them feel that they were sinners before
God. Every person that heard him bore him witness, that “truly he was
full of power by the Spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of might,
to declare unto Jacob his transgressions, and to Israel his sin&&.”]
3. His authority—
[The Scribes were in the habit of founding their instructions on their
own fallacious reasonings, or on the dogmas of some of the more learned
Rabbins. But our Lord appealed to no authority above his own. He
reasoned indeed for the conviction of his hearers; but the ground on
which he required every word of his to be received, was his own
authority; “I say unto you; I say unto you.” In this he differed from
all the prophets that had gone before him: they delivered their
messages, as from Jehovah; “Thus saith the Lord:”—but Jesus, being
himself “God manifest in the flesh, assumed a right to dictate as from
himself;” “Ye have heard from others” such or such a thing; but “I say
unto you” the very reverse; and require you to receive the word on my
authority. To this his hearers were ready to submit: for the miracles
which he had already wrought without number had evinced his almighty
power and Godhead, and were a standing testimony, that his every word
was to be received with implicit faith and unreserved obedience.
Doubtless there were many other things conspicuous in his ministrations:
his gracefulness and ease, his tenderness and compassion, his zeal and
diligence, could not fail of attracting notice; but the points above
specified, are those which seem more particularly adverted to in the
words of our text.]
Such was the preaching of our Lord. Let us now consider,
II. The effect produced by it on his hearers—
They appear to have been exceedingly struck with his address; yet not so
affected as we might have hoped. We shall endeavour to point out,
1. How far the effect was good—
[The word which we translate “astonished.” does certainly imply a very
deep impression made upon their minds. This impression consisted partly
in admiration, with which they were filled; and partly in conviction,
with which they were penetrated; a conviction of the truth, the
importance, and the beneficial tendency of all he had spoken. The
novelty, united with the circumstances before mentioned, made his
ministry appear as superior to that of others, as the effulgence of the
sun is to the light of a twinkling star. One sentiment evidently
pervaded the whole multitude, “Never man spake like this man.” At the
same time they felt in their consciences, that, if this was religion,
they had hitherto been ignorant of it in their minds, and destitute of
it in their hearts.
Now these two feelings were doubtless good, inasmuch as they argued an
openness of mind, a freedom from offence, and a desire of further
instruction: and accordingly we find, that, “when he came down from the
mountain, great multitudes followed him.” But, from all that is
recorded, we have no reason to conclude that the impression made upon
them was altogether such as might have been wished.]
2. Wherein it was defective—
[They should have been “pricked to their hearts” with a deep sense of
their wickedness, and should have been led to cry out, like those on the
day of Pentecost, “What shall we do to be saved?” Without such
humiliation as this they could never be truly penitent: they never could
abhor themselves, as every penitent must do, in dust and ashes.
They should have also given up themselves entirely to the Lord Jesus
Christ. He required all to take up their cross and follow him: but this
was effected only to a very small extent, even to the hour of his death:
the whole number of his followers amounted at the last to no more than
one hundred and twenty. Hence it is evident, that, whatever effects were
produced on this audience, they were only transient; and, consequently,
that the word preached did not profit the people, “not being mixed with
faith in them that heard it.”
They should have been brought to a new and heavenly life. Every thing
that falls short of this is in vain. We must “obey from the heart that
form of doctrine into which we are delivered;” just as metal, that
assumes the shape of the mould whereinto it is poured&&. But we see not
in this audience any such tenderness of spirit, such melting of heart,
such surrender of their souls, such transformation of their lives. They
appear only to have been like Ezekiel’s hearers, who were delighted with
his oratory, but were uninfluenced by his reproofs&&.]
Learn then from hence,
1. How ineffectual is the word without the Spirit—
[If any words could of themselves convert the souls of men, surely the
words of our Lord Jesus Christ would have produced this effect. But even
his discourses were often as water spilled upon the ground. So it was
also when his disciples preached: “Paul might plant, and Apollos water,
but God alone can give the increase.” The truth is, that nothing ever
has been done, or ever can, for the saving of immortal souls, but by the
operation of the Spirit of God. It is the Spirit that quickeneth us from
the dead: it is the Spirit that opens the understanding and the heart:
it is “the Spirit that enables us to mortify the deeds of the body,” and
that renews us altogether after the Divine image. When, therefore, we
come up to the house of God, let us look, through the means, to Him who
alone can render the means effectual for our good. Let us remember, that
the ministry of Christ himself will produce no saving effects without
the Spirit; and that the word, by whomsoever delivered, if accompanied
with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, shall be sharper than a
two-edged sword, and be more powerful than “the hammer that breaketh the
rock in pieces.”]
2. In what a lamentable state are the generality of hearers—
[Multitudes, where the Gospel is preached with fidelity, will approve
the word, and perhaps admire the preacher; but they are apt to put those
feelings in the place of true conversion&&. Surely this is a point that
deserves to be well considered. We should judge ourselves, not by our
feelings towards the word, or towards him that ministers it to us, but
by the radical and abiding effects produced upon our hearts and lives.
Let it be a matter then of serious inquiry, Wherein does my reception of
the word differ from that manifested by the auditors of our Lord?
Perhaps I have been often struck, yea, “exceedingly struck&&,” with
admiration and conviction: but have I been brought to the exercise of
deep contrition, of lively faith, of universal holiness? Know ye,
beloved, that unless the word have this effect upon you, instead of
being to you “a savour of life unto life, it will be a savour of death
unto death;” yea, your state will be less tolerable than even that of
Sodom and Gomorrha.]
3. What reason we have for
thankfulness that we possess the written word—
[Many of Christ’s hearers probably regretted that they could not retain
his discourse in their memory, and that they had it not in their hands
for subsequent perusal. And the generality amongst us have reason to
lament our inability to remember what we hear, even when the discourse
embraces perhaps only a single point of that which was so diffusively
treated by our Lord. But, whether this forgetfulness is our misfortune
or our fault, we have this consolation at least, that the sermon of our
blessed Lord is in our hands; that we may hear him preach it over to us,
as it were, again and again; yea, that we may even ask him to explain to
us every point in it. What an advantage is this! What a value should we
set upon it, if now, for the first time, his sermon were put into our
hands! But, alas! because it is accessible at all times, we are apt to
make light of it: and not a few are blind enough to disregard it,
because it refers rather to the precepts than the doctrines of the
Gospel. Let us not however so slight our privileges: let us study this
portion of Holy Writ with peculiar attention: and let us endeavour to
get every precept wrought into our hearts, and exhibited in our lives.
Then shall we be indeed improved by it, and shew forth the excellence of
Christianity in all its perfection.]