1: In the foregoing chapter our Lord particularly described
the nature of inward holiness. In this he describes that purity
of intention without which none of our outward actions are holy.
This chapter contains four parts,
The right intention and manner of giving alms, ver.(Mt 6:1-4).
The right intention, manner, form, and prerequisites of
prayer, ver.(Mt 6:5-15).
The right intention, and manner of fasting, ver.(Mt 6:16-18).
The necessity of a pure intention in all things, unmixed
either with the desire of riches, or worldly care, and fear
of want, ver.(Mt 6:19-34).
This verse is a general caution against vain glory, in any of
our good works: All these are here summed up together, in the
comprehensive word righteousness. This general caution our Lord
applies in the sequel to the three principal branches of it,
relating to our neighbour: to God, ver. 5, 6:(Mt 6:2-6)and to ourselves, ver.(Mt 6:16-18).
To be seen - Barely the being seen, while we are doing any of
these things, is a circumstance purely indifferent. But the
doing them with this view, to be seen and admired, this is what
our Lord condemns.
2: As the hypocrites do - Many of the scribes and Pharisees did
this, under a pretence of calling the poor together. They have
their reward - All they will have; for they shall have none from God.
3: Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth - A
proverbial expression for doing a thing secretly. Do it as
secretly as is consistent,
With the doing it at all.
With the doing it in the most effectual manner.
5: The synagogues - These were properly the places where the people
assembled for public prayer, and hearing the Scriptures read and
expounded. They were in every city from the time of the
Babylonish captivity, and had service in them thrice a day
on three days in the week. In every synagogue was a council of
grave and wise persons, over whom was a president, called the
ruler of the synagogue. But the word here, as well as in many
other texts, signifies any place of public concourse.
6: Enter into thy closet - That is, do it with as much secrecy as
7: Use not vain repetitions - To repeat any words without meaning
them, is certainly a vain repetition. Therefore we should be
extremely careful in all our prayers to mean what we say; and to
say only what we mean from the bottom of our hearts. The vain
and heathenish repetitions which we are here warned against, are
most dangerous, and yet very common; which is a principal cause
why so many, who still profess religion, are a disgrace to it.
Indeed all the words in the world are not equivalent to one holy
desire. And the very best prayers are but vain repetitions, if
they are not the language of the heart.
8: Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of - We do not pray
to inform God of our wants. Omniscient as he is, he cannot be
informed of any thing which he knew not before: and he is always
willing to relieve them. The chief thing wanting is, a fit
disposition on our part to receive his grace and blessing.
Consequently, one great office of prayer is, to produce such a
disposition in us: to exercise our dependence on God; to increase
our desire of the things we ask for; to us so sensible of our
wants, that we may never cease wrestling till we have prevailed
for the blessing.
9: Thus therefore pray ye - He who best knew what we ought to pray
for, and how we ought to pray, what matter of desire, what manner
of address would most please himself, would best become us, has
here dictated to us a most perfect and universal form of prayer,
comprehending all our real wants, expressing all our lawful
desires; a complete directory and full exercise of all our
Thus - For these things; sometimes in these words, at least in
this manner, short, close, full.
This prayer consists of three parts, the preface, the petitions,
and the conclusion. The preface, Our Father, who art in heaven,
lays a general foundation for prayer, comprising what we must
first know of God, before we can pray in confidence of being
heard. It likewise points out to us our that faith, humility,
love, of God and man, with which we are to approach God in prayer.
Our Father - Who art good and gracious to all, our Creator, our
Preserver; the Father of our Lord, and of us in him, thy children
by adoption and grace: not my Father only, who now cry unto thee,
but the Father of the universe, of angels and men: who art in
heaven - Beholding all things, both in heaven and earth; knowing
every creature, and all the works of every creature, and every
possible event from everlasting to everlasting: the almighty Lord
and Ruler of all, superintending and disposing all things; in
heaven - Eminently there, but not there alone, seeing thou fillest
heaven and earth.
Hallowed be thy name - Mayest thou, O Father, he truly known
by all intelligent beings, and with affections suitable to that
knowledge: mayest thou be duly honoured, loved, feared, by all in
heaven and in earth, by all angels and all men.
10: Thy kingdom come - May thy kingdom of grace come quickly, and
swallow up all the kingdoms of the earth: may all mankind,
receiving thee, O Christ, for their king, truly believing in thy
name, be filled with righteousness, and peace, and joy; with
holiness and happiness, till they are removed hence into thy
kingdom of glory, to reign with thee for ever and ever.
Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven - May all the
inhabitants of the earth do thy will as willingly as the holy
angels: may these do it continually even as they, without any
interruption of their willing service; yea, and perfectly as
they: mayest thou, O Spirit of grace, through the blood of the
everlasting covenant, make them perfect in every good work to
do thy will, and work in them all that is well pleasing in thy
11: Give us - O Father (for we claim nothing of right, but only of
thy free mercy) this day - (for we take no thought for the morrow)
our daily bread - All things needful for our souls and bodies: not
only the meat that perisheth, but the sacramental bread, and thy
grace, the food which endureth to everlasting life.
12: And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors - Give
us, O Lord, redemption in thy blood, even the forgiveness of
sins: as thou enablest us freely and fully to forgive every man,
so do thou forgive all our trespasses.
13: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
- Whenever we are tempted, O thou that helpest our infirmities,
suffer us not to enter into temptation; to be overcome or suffer
loss thereby; but make a way for us to escape, so that we may be
more than conquerors, through thy love, over sin and all the
consequences of it. Now the principal desire of a Christian's
heart being the glory of God, (ver. 9, 10,) (Mt 6:9,10)
and all he wants for himself or his brethren being the daily
bread of soul and body, (or the support of life, animal and
spiritual,) pardon of sin, and deliverance from the power of it
and of the devil, (ver. 11, 12, 13,) (Mt 6:11,12,13)
there is nothing beside that a Christian can wish for; therefore
this prayer comprehends all his desires. Eternal life is the
certain consequence, or rather completion of holiness.
For thine is the kingdom - The sovereign right of all things
that are or ever were created: The power - the executive power,
whereby thou governest all things in thy everlasting kingdom:
And the glory - The praise due from every creature, for thy power,
and all thy wondrous works, and the mightiness of thy kingdom,
which endureth through all ages, even for ever and ever. It is
observable, that though the doxology, as well as the petitions of
this prayer, is threefold, and is directed to the Father, Son,
and Holy Ghost distinctly, yet is the whole fully applicable both
to every person, and to the ever - blessed and undivided trinity.(Lu 11:2).
16: When ye fast? - Our Lord does not enjoin either fasting,
alms - deeds, or prayer: all these being duties which were before
fully established in the Church of God. Disfigure - By the dust
and ashes which they put upon their heads, as was usual at the
times of solemn humiliation.
17: Anoint thy head - So the Jews frequently did. Dress thyself
19: Lay not up for yourselves - Our Lord here makes a transition
from religious to common actions, and warns us of another snare,
the love of money, as inconsistent with purity of intention as
the love of praise. Where rust and moth consume - Where all things
are perishable and transient.
He may likewise have a farther view in these words, even to
guard us against making any thing on earth our treasure. For
then a thing properly becomes our treasure, when we set our
affections upon it. (Lu 12:33).
22: The eye is the lamp of the body - And what the eye is to the
body, the intention is to the soul. We may observe with what
exact propriety our Lord places purity of intention between
worldly desires and worldly cares, either of which directly tend
to destroy. If thine eye be single - Singly fixed on God and
heaven, thy whole soul will be full of holiness and happiness.
If thine eye be evil - Not single, aiming at any thing else.
24: Mammon - Riches, money; any thing loved or sought,
without reference to God. (Lu 16:13).
25: And if you serve God, you need be careful for nothing.
Therefore take not thought - That is, be not anxiously careful.
Beware of worldly cares; for these are as inconsistent with the
true service of God as worldly desires. Is not the life more
than meat? - And if God give the greater gift, will he deny the
smaller? (Lu 12:22).
27: And which of you - If you are ever so careful, can even add a
moment to your own life thereby? This seems to be far the most
easy and natural sense of the words.
29: Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these
- Not in garments of so pure a white. The eastern monarchs were
often clothed in white robes.
30: The grass of the field - is a general expression, including
both herbs and flowers. Into the still - This is the natural sense
of the passage. For it can hardly be supposed that grass or
flowers should be thrown into the oven the day after they were
cut down. Neither is it the custom in the hottest countries,
where they dry fastest, to heat ovens with them. If God so
clothe - The word properly implies, the putting on a complete
dress, that surrounds the body on all sides; and beautifully
expresses that external membrane, which (like the skin in a
human body) at once adorns the tender fabric of the vegetable,
and guards it from the injuries of the weather. Every microscope
in which a flower is viewed gives a lively comment on this text.
31: Therefore take not thought - How kind are these precepts! The
substance of which is only this, Do thyself no harm! Let us not
be so ungrateful to him, nor so injurious to ourselves, as to
harass and oppress our minds with that burden of anxiety, which
he has so graciously taken off. Every verse speaks at once to
the understanding, and to the heart. We will not therefore
indulge these unnecessary, these useless, these mischievous
cares. We will not borrow the anxieties and distresses of the
morrow, to aggravate those of the present day. Rather we will
cheerfully repose ourselves on that heavenly Father, who knows
we have need of these things; who has given us the life, which
is more than meat, and the body, which is more than raiment.
And thus instructed in the philosophy of our heavenly Master,
we will learn a lesson of faith and cheer. fulness from every
bird of the air, and every flower of the field.
33: Seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness - Singly aim at
this, that God, reigning in your heart, may fill it with the
righteousness above described. And indeed whosoever seeks this
first, will soon come to seek this only.
34: The morrow shall take thought for itself - That is, he careful
for the morrow when it comes. The evil thereof - Speaking after
the manner of men. But all trouble is, upon the whole, a real
good. It is good physic which God dispenses daily to his
children, according to the need and the strength of each.