Two Swords

Luke 22:35-38: John 18:1-6, 10, 11

And [Jesus] said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.

And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords.

And he said unto them, It is enough…

When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples. Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.

Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground…

Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): I must here confess that the matter about the swords appears to me very obscure. I am afraid I do not understand it, and I know of none who does.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Some think it is spoken ironically: “Two swords among twelve men! you are bravely armed indeed when our enemies are now coming out against us in great multitudes, and every one with a sword!”

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): A smile must have passed over the Saviour’s face as He saw how they had misunderstood Him! He did not mean that they should literally carry swords, but that they should now have to go through an alien world and to meet with no friends or helpers…He could never have thought of their fighting that He might not be delivered unto the Jews, since for that purpose two swords were simply ridiculous! They had missed His meaning, which was simply to warn them of the changed circumstances of His cause—but they caught at the words which He had used and exhibited their two swords.

THOMAS GOODWIN (1600-1679): Some interpreters hence observe that it is lawful to wear defensive weapons. There is the clearest evidence for it here, for they did not only wear swords, but Christ bids them, if they had no swords, to sell their garments and buy swords. And when Peter had done this mischievous act, in drawing his sword and striking the high priest’s servant, Christ did not bid him fling it away, but only to put it up again into its place.

H. A. IRONSIDE (1876-1951): He said unto them, “It is enough”―that is, no more talk about that. He was not speaking about actual defense.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Our Lord, seeing their dullness of understanding, dismisses the subject. The disciples took His words about the swords literally, but He was talking figuratively. If they could not see His meaning now, they would later. At present, He said “enough” and for wise reasons would say no more.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): Our Saviour doth doubtless speak in a figure.

HUGH  LATIMER (1483-1555): In this world God hath “two swords;” the one is a temporal sword, the other a spiritual. The temporal sword resteth in the hands of kings, magistrates, and rulers, under Him; whereunto all subjects be subject, as well the clergy as the laity, and punishable for any offence, Romans 13:1-4.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): God has appointed magistrates as his vicegerents in the world, and has put the sword into their hands “for the punishment of evildoers, and the support of them that do well,” Romans 13:4; and if they should forbear “to execute wrath” upon those who violate the laws, they would themselves be guilty of a dereliction of their public duty.

HUGH  LATIMER: The spiritual sword is hands of ministers and preachers; whereunto all kings, magistrates, and rulers, ought to be obedient; that is, to hear and follow, so along as the ministers sit in Christ’s chair; that is, speaking out of Christ’s book. The king correcteth transgressors with the temporal sword; yea, and the preacher also, if he be an offender. But the preacher cannot correct the king, if he be a transgressor of God’s Word, with the temporal sword; but he must correct and reprove him with the spiritual sword; fearing no man, and setting God only before his eyes, under whom he is a minister, to supplant and root up all vice and mischief by God’s Word; whereunto all men ought to be obedient.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): The church’s weapons are not carnal, but spiritual; not the sword of the civil magistrate, but “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,” Ephesians 6:17; Christ’s kingdom, being not of this world, is not supported and defended by worldly means, or carnal weapons.

MATTHEW HENRY: Christ’s ministers, though they are His soldiers, do not “war after the flesh,” 2 Corinthians 10:3,4… The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit, the only offensive weapon in all the Christian armoury; and we may say of it as David said of Goliath’s sword, “None is like that” in our spiritual conflicts.

JOHN GILL: The sword of the Spirit is sharper than a “twoedged sword,” and is said to come out of the mouth of Christ (Revelation 19:13-15), with which He pierces into and cuts the hearts of men…One of its edges is the law, which sharply reproves and menaces for sin, threatening with curses, condemnation, and death; and which, in the Spirit’s hand, cuts deep into the hearts of men, lays open the corruption of their nature, and the swarms of sin which are in them; it causes pain and grief, working wrath in the conscience; it wounds and kills, and is therefore called the letter that kills, 2 Corinthians 3:6. The other edge is the Gospel, which cuts in pieces the best of men; all their works of righteousness, which it removes from their justification and salvation; and all their wisdom, holiness, freewill power, and creature abilities.

MATTHEW HENRY: Peter must put up his sword, for it was the sword of the Spirit that was to be committed to him―weapons of warfare not carnal, yet mighty. When Christ with a word felled the aggressors, he showed Peter how he should be armed with a word, “quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword,” Hebrews 4:12―and with that, not long after this, Peter laid Ananias and Sapphira dead at his feet, Acts 5:1-10.

ADAM CLARKE: He uses no sword but the sword of the Spirit.

HUGH  LATIMER: God will have the faith defended, not by man’s power, but by His Word only, by the which He hath evermore defended it, and that by a way far above man’s power or reason, as all the stories of the Bible make mention.


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Our Lord Jesus Christ’s Rule for Christian Fasting

Matthew 6:16-18

Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

ANDREW FULLER (1754-1815): Fasting is supposed to be the ordinary practice of the godly. Christ does not make light of it, but merely cautions them against its abuses.

LANCELOT ANDREWES (1555-1626): When ye fast.” I say first, this very “when” shows Christ’s liking of it, that there is a time allowed for it, else He would allow it no “when”―no time at all; this “when” is a presupposing, at least, for can any man fancy that Christ would presuppose aught that were not required of us by God?

SAMUEL MILLER (1769-1850): There is no precept in the Word of God which enjoins the observance of a particular number of fast days in each year. It is to be considered as an occasional, or perhaps, more properly speaking, a special duty, which, like seasons of special prayer, ought to be regulated, as to its frequency and manner of observance, by the circumstances in which we are placed.

ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER (1772-1851): Some Christians neglect it altogether, under the false notion that literal fasting is not enjoined, but only penitence and abstaining from sin.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): This is a mistake; there is no such term in the Bible as ‘fasting from sin;’ the very idea is ridiculous and absurd, as if sin were a part of our daily food.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Let us define what fasting is.

SAMUEL MILLER: Fasting is abstinence from food.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Fasting is a religious abstinence, whereby we forbear the use of all earthly comforts in the time set apart for this duty—a forbearing of food, whether meat or drink, Esther 4:16; Jonah 3:7. From this the whole action is called a fast, which imports not a sober use of food—for this we are at all times bound to observe—but a total abstinence, if necessity of nature through some debility and infirmity doth not require otherwise.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): It is an act of self-denial, and mortification of the flesh―a means to curb the flesh and the desires of it, and to make us more lively in religious exercises, as fulness of bread is apt to make us drowsy.

HUDSON TAYLOR (1832-1905): Self-denial surely means something far greater than some slight and insignificant lessening of our self-indulgences!

ADAM CLARKE: At present it is but little used; a strong proof that self-denial is wearing out of fashion.

MATTHEW HENRY: Christ does not direct to abate anything of the reality of the fast; He does not say, “take a little meat, or a little drink, or a little cordial;” no, “let the body suffer, but lay aside the show and appearance of it―while thou deniest thyself thy bodily refreshments, do so as that it may not be taken notice of.”

JOHN CALVIN: Fasting is a subordinate aid, which is pleasing to God no farther than as it aids the earnestness and fervency of prayer.

HUDSON TAYLOR: In Shansi I found Chinese Christians who were accustomed to spend time in fasting and prayer. They recognized that this fasting, which so many dislike, requires faith in God, since it makes one feel weak and poorly, is really a Divinely appointed means of grace. Perhaps the greatest hindrance to our work is our own imagined strength; and in fasting we learn what poor, weak creatures we are, dependent on a meal of meat for the little strength which we are so apt to lean upon.

ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER: There are, however, degrees of fasting, both as to the time of abstinence from food, and whether the abstinence be total or partial. The Ninevites, when brought to repentance by the preaching of Jonah, tasted neither bread nor water for three whole days. This was a severe fast. Daniel fasted three full weeks; but this was not a total abstinence, for he says, “I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth,” Daniel 10:2,3.

HENRY SCUDDER (died 1659): The Scripture hath not determined how long a continued fast should be kept. We have examples that some have fasted a longer time, as three days, some a shorter, but none less than one day.

SAMUEL MILLER: The frequency with which every individual Christian ought to fast, and the extent to which he ought to carry his abstinence on each occasion, are questions concerning which no definite rule can be laid down. The Word of God prescribes no precise law as to either of these points.

HENRY SCUDDER: Let it be as shall best suit your occasions. As for the Lord’s day, though it cannot be denied but that if the present necessity require, you may fast upon that day―yet because the Sabbath is a day of Christian cheerfulness, and fasting is somewhat of the nature of a free-will offering, I think you will do best to set such a day apart to yourself for fasting, which is more your own, and not the Lord’s day.

MATTHEW HENRY: Christ does not tell us how often we must fast; circumstances vary, and wisdom is profitable therein to direct; the Spirit in the Word has left that to the Spirit in the heart. But take this for a rule: whenever you undertake this duty, study to approve yourselves to God, and not to recommend yourselves to the good opinion of men.

SAMUEL MILLER: Let pagans, Mohammedans, and nominal Christians flatter themselves with the dream that the mere physical observance of abstinence, independent of the state of the soul, will recommend them to God. But let us remember that the character and exercises of the inner man are everything here.

JOHN CALVIN: Fasting is not simply, or by itself, approved by God, but on account of the end designed by it…We must hold by this rule, that the duties of men are to be judged according as they are directed to a proper and lawful end―a holy and lawful fast has three ends in view. We use it either to mortify and subdue the flesh, that it may not be wanton, or to prepare better for prayer and holy meditation; or to give evidence of humbling ourselves before God, when we would confess our guilt before Him.

MATTHEW HENRY: Fasting is the humbling of the soul, Psalm 35:13―that is the inside of the duty; let that therefore be thy principal care, and as to the outside of it, covet not to let it be seen. If we be sincere in our solemn fasts, and humble, and trust God’s omniscience for our witness, and His goodness for our reward, we shall find both that He did see in secret, and will reward openly.


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God’s Sifting & Testing of Gideon’s Troops

Judges 7:1-6

Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.

And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.

And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.

And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The army consisted of thirty-two thousand men, a small army in comparison with what the Midianites had now brought into the field; Gideon was ready to think them too few, but God comes to him, and tells him they are too many.

G. CAMPBELL MORGAN (1863-1945): By divine direction, the first work Gideon was called on to do was to sift the army…The first test imposed was a proclamation that all who were faint-hearted and afraid should depart.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN (1826-1910): Why were the “fearful” dismissed?

WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): Fear is not faith.

MATTHEW HENRY: Fearful faint-hearted people are not fit to be employed for God; and, among those that are enlisted under the banner of Christ, there are more such than we think there are.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN: Fear is contagious; and in undisciplined armies like Gideon’s, panic, once started, spreads swiftly and becomes frenzied confusion. The same thing is true in the work of the Church today. Who that has had much to do with guiding its operations has not groaned over the dead weight of the timid and sluggish souls, who always see difficulties and never the way to get over them? And who that has had to lead a company of Christian men has not often been ready to wish that he could sound out Gideon’s proclamation, and bid the “fearful and afraid” take away the chilling encumbrance of their presence, and leave him with thinned ranks of trusty men? Cowardice, dressed up as cautious prudence, weakens the efficiency of every regiment in Christ’s army.

HORATIUS BONAR (1808-1889): There is needed not only natural courage in order to face natural danger or difficulty; there is, in our own day, a still greater need of moral boldness, in order to neutralize the fear of man, the dread of public opinion, that god of our idolatry in this last age, which boasts of superior enlightenment.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN: The first test had sifted out the brave and willing…One lesson we may learn from this thinning of the ranks; namely, that we need not be anxious to count heads when we are sure that we are doing His work, nor even be afraid of being in a minority.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Twenty-two thousand accepted that permission [to depart] and left their general with ten thousand.

G. CAMPBELL MORGAN: And still the number was too great, because the quality of the men making up the ten thousand lacked something of vital importance.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): Gideon was ordered to bring them down to a stream, and to separate those who lapped like a dog, from those who bowed down to drink like cattle.

J. R. MILLER (1840-1912): It seemed to make the smallest difference in the world whether a soldier drank by bowing down with his face in the water, or by lapping up the water with his hand as he stood: yet it was a difference that settled the question of fitness or unfitness for the great work before the army.

CHARLES SIMEON: Those who in a more temperate and self-denying way took up water in their hands and lapped it, as a dog lappeth, were to be the chosen band.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): The season of the year being hot, and the generality of the soldiers weary, and thirsty, and faint, they would most probably bow down upon their knees, that they might more fully refresh themselves by a liberal draught, as indeed they did; and it could be expected that there would be but few, who either could or would deny themselves in this matter.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN: The two ways of drinking clearly indicated a difference in the men. Those who glued their lips to the stream and swilled till they were full, were plainly more self-indulgent, less engrossed with their work, less patient of fatigue and thirst, than those who caught up enough in their curved palms to moisten their lips without stopping in their stride or breaking rank.

JOHANNES PISCATOR (1546-1625): This was a sign of strength of body and temperance of mind, as the other posture was of weakness and greediness.

G. CAMPBELL MORGAN: Men who bent down to get a drink of water were not sufficiently alive to the danger. An ambush might surprise them. Men who stooped and caught the water in their hands and lapped it were watchers as well as fighters.

WILLIAM KELLY (1821-1906): It proved whether they were wholly set on the one object—the one mission; or whether they could be distracted from it for a moment in order to take natural refreshment. This was the meaning of the test of the water.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN: The great lesson taught here is that self-restraint in the use of the world’s goods is essential to all true Christian warfare. There are two ways of looking at and partaking of these. We may either ‘drink for strength’ or ‘for drunkenness.’ Life is to some men, first a place for strenuous endeavour, and only secondly a place of refreshment. Such think of duty first and of water afterwards. To them, all the innocent joys and pleasures of the natural life are as brooks by the way, of which Christ’s soldier should drink, mainly that he may be re-invigorated for conflict. There are others whose conception of life is a scene of enjoyment, for which work is unfortunately a necessary but disagreeable preliminary…The water lapped up in the palm, as the soldier marches, is sweeter than the abundant draughts swilled down by self-indulgence.

GIOVANNI DIODATI (1576-1649): Those are fit to follow the Lord, who for zeal to His service, do but taste the pleasures of the world as they pass along, without staying with them, [using them] only for necessity, and not for any constant delight they take in them.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): Here then we have another great moral quality which must ever characterize those who will act for God and for His people in an evil day. They must not only have confidence in God, but they must also be prepared to surrender self.


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A Reality Check on Islamic Peace, Tolerance & Love

1 John 4:7, 8, 16, 20

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love…And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

JOHN ANGELL JAMES (1785-1869): In what page of the Koran will you find—in all those pretended revelations from heaven, of which Gabriel is said to have been the bearer, where is there such a description of Deity as this—“God is love!” or such a sentiment as that which arises out of it, “he who dwells in love, dwells in God, and God in him?” So far from recognizing this principle, Islamism condemns and forbids it.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Mohammed’s laws run thus―‘Avenge yourselves of your enemies; marry as many wives as you can maintain; kill the infidels, etc.’

JOHN ANGELL JAMES: It enjoins almsgiving, it is true, and gives it a high place among its virtues—but this is not the same as love, and may be often carried to a great extent without a particle of the nature of love. This system of imposture, abounding as it does with minute and ridiculous ceremonies, and a slavish regard to absurd ritual observances, enforces, by the authority of its founder, the most ferocious and blood-thirsty hatred, to all who do not receive it in the exercise of implicit faith. Wars against all infidels are not only enjoined in many passages of the Koran—but are declared to be in a high degree meritorious in the sight of God.

H. A. IRONSIDE (1876-1951): Mohammed promised his fanatical followers a place in Paradise if they died for the faith in conflict with the “infidels” who rejected his teachings.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Mohammed presents himself before those whom he claims as disciples, and says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am neither meek, nor lowly in heart; I will have no patience with you; there is my creed, or there is the scimitar—death or conversion, whichever you please.”

JOHN TRAPP: But we have not so learned Christ.

JOHN OWEN (1616-1683): Christ doth not gather men by force or violence, or drive them together into the profession of the truth with the sword, as Mohammed.

C. H. SPURGEON: Although Christ hath a right to demand man’s love and man’s faith, yet He comes not into the world to demand it with fire and sword. His might is under persuasion; His strength is quiet forbearance, and patient endurance; His mightiest force is the sweet attraction of compassion and love. He knoweth nothing of the ferocious hosts of Mohammed; He bids none of us draw our sword to propagate the faith, but saith, “Put up thy sword into its scabbard; they that take the sword shall perish by the sword.”

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Mohammed’s Koran is such a great spirit of lies that it leaves almost nothing of Christian truth remaining, so how could it have any other result than that it should become a great and mighty murderer, with both lies and murders under the show of truth and righteousness―where the spirit of lies is, there is also the spirit of murder.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): With what rage are they seized, when the question relates to the defense of the reveries of their prophet Mohammed, for whom they gladly both shed their blood and part with their life.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): The love of God prompts none of them.

JOHN ANGELL JAMES: How completely Islamism has filled its votaries with the most ferocious bigotry and the most merciless intolerance, is known by universal testimony. They everywhere pour insulting contempt upon all who are not Muslims, and feel a savage delight in adding cruelty to insult. “The infidel dogs” is a common appellation applied to Christians.

C. H. SPURGEON: A late traveler tells us that he had a Muslim guide through Palestine and whenever they came to a village that was very dirty, poor and inhabited by professed Christians, he always said, “These are not Muslims, they are Netza,” or, “Nazarenes,” throwing all the spite he possibly could into the word, as if he could not have uttered a more contemptuous term.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa, where the Gospel was once known, have been for many ages involved in Mohammedan darkness.

JOHN ANGELL JAMES: The spirit of the system is everywhere visible in the absolute despotism of the governments of those countries in which it prevails. Where it is found, the arts and the sciences do not flourish, and liberty withers in its shade. The flaming scimitar of the Sultan is its patron and defense; it was propagated by the sword—it is supported by the bow-string, and it is essentially and unalterably cruel.

MARTIN LUTHER: No one can openly confess Christ or preach or teach against Mohammed. What kind of freedom of belief is it when no one is allowed to preach or confess Christ?

PHILIP MAURO (1859-1952): In Islam we have a movement energized by prodigious spiritual powers of evil, a Satanic caricature of the Kingdom of God, being led by a false prophet and based upon a false Bible―the Koran―and seeking to gain the sovereignty of the world.

JOHN ANGELL JAMES: Such is Islamism—a curse to the world, a mystery in the divine government, a dreadful obstacle to the spread of Christianity, and the reverse of all that is holy and beneficent in the glorious gospel of the blessed God.

JOHN CALVIN: There is no knowledge of God where there is no love.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets,” Matthew 22:37-40. The love of our neighbour springs from the love of God as its source; it is found in the love of God as its principle, pattern, and end; and the love of God is found in the love of our neighbour, as its effect, representation, and infallible mark. This love of our neighbour is a love of equity, charity, succour, and benevolence. We owe to our neighbour what we have a right to expect from him.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN (1826-1910): “And who is my neighbour?” The relation intended by the word is as wide as humanity.

JOHN CALVIN: Christ presents to us, in a summary view, the way and manner of fulfilling this precept, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”―for when Christ said, “Love your enemies,” He at the same time confirmed His own doctrine by saying, “That ye might be the children of God,” Matthew 5:44,45.

ADAM CLARKE: Hear this, ye murderous Mohammedans!―He that loveth not, as already described, knoweth not God.


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A Fool’s Claim: There! See? The Bible Does Contradict Itself!

Proverbs 26:4,5

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Wise men have need to be directed how to deal with fools; and they have never more need of wisdom than in dealing with such, to know when to keep silence and when to speak, for there may be a time for both.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): Great wisdom is required as to when, as well as what to speak.

THOMAS COKE (1747-1814): To “answer,” and “not to answer,” is a consistent, and may, for aught critics know, be a very wise direction. Had the advice been given simply, and without circumstance, to answer the fool, and not to answer him, a critic, who had reverence for the text, would satisfy himself in supposing that the different directions referred to doing a thing “in and out of season.” But when to the general advice about answering, this circumstance is added, “according to his folly,” that interpretation is excluded; and a difficulty indeed arises―a difficulty which has made those who have no reverence for the text, accuse it of absurdity and contradiction. But now to each direction reasons are subjoined, why a fool should, and why he should not be answered; reasons which, when set together and compared, are at first sight sufficient to make a critic suspect that all the contradiction lies in his own incumbered ideas.

JOHN ANGELL JAMES (1785-1869): But suppose that reason should meet with palpable contradictions in the Word of God?

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): The fault is in our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): God’s Word does not contradict itself…Each of these passages may be given its full force without there being any conflict between them.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): How can these contrary rules be reconciled, answer him not, and answer him?

CHARLES BRIDGES: Apparently contradictory statements are in fact only balancing truths; each correcting its opposite, and, like the antagonal muscles, contributing to the strength and completeness of the frame…We are forbidden, and yet commanded, to answer a fool. One rule decides—Answer him not; the other—Answer him. The reason, however, attached to each rule, explains the apparent contradiction. Both together are a wise directory for the treatment of the fool, according to the difference of character, time, or circumstances.

THOMAS COKE: The reason given why a fool should not be answered according to his folly is, lest hethe answerer―“should be like unto him.” The cause assigned for forbidding to answer, therefore plainly insinuates that the defender of religion should not imitate the insulter of it in his modes of disputation, which may be comprized in sophistry, buffoonery and scurrility.

MATTHEW HENRY: In some cases a wise man will not set his wit to that of a fool so far as to answer him according to his folly―“If he boast of himself, do not answer him by boasting of thyself. If he rail and talk passionately, do not thou rail and talk passionately too. If he tell one great lie, do not thou tell another to match it. If he calumniate thy friends, do not thou calumniate his. If he banter, do not answer him in his own language, lest thou be like him, even thou, who knowest better things, who hast more sense, and hast been better taught.”

CHARLES BRIDGES: Suppose a ‘free-thinker’ or scoffer at religion, showing the desperate “folly of his heart by making a mock at sin,” Proverbs 14:9, by witty and profane jestings, or specious arguments against the Word or ways of God. Generally speaking, it would be better to follow Hezekiah’s command concerning Rabshakeh’s blasphemy—“Answer him not,” 2 Kings 18:36. Jeremiah thus turned away in silence from the folly of the false prophets, Jeremiah 28:11.

MATTHEW POOLE: Answer him not, when he is incorrigible, or when he is inflamed with passion or wine, or when it is not necessary, nor likely to do him good.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): When either he curseth thee, or cryeth out upon thee for giving him due correction, pass such a one by in silence, as not worthy the answering. “Lest thou also be like unto him”―as hot and as headlong as he; for a little thing kindles us, and we are apt to think that we have reason to be mad, if evil entreated; to talk as fast for ourselves as he doth against us, and to give him as good as he brings; so that at length there will be never a wiser of the two, and people will say so. Hezekiah would not answer Rabshakeh, nor Jeremiah answer Hananiah; nor our Saviour his adversaries, Matthew 26:32; John 19:9; He reviled not his revilers, He threatened not, 1 Peter 2:23.

A. W. PINK: The Lord Jesus has expressly bidden us, “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,” Matthew 7:6. That command is designed to bridle the restless energy of the flesh.

CHARLES BRIDGES: But what may be at one time our duty to restrain, at another time, and under different circumstances, it may be no less our duty to do. Silence may sometimes be mistaken for defeat. Unanswered words may be deemed unanswerable, and the fool become arrogant, more and more “wise in his own conceit.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): He is to be answered when there is any hope of doing him good, or of doing good to others; or of preventing ill impressions being made upon others by what he has said; when the glory of God, the good of the church, and the cause of truth, require it; and when he would otherwise glory and triumph, as if his words were unanswerable―“lest he be wise in his own conceit,” which fools are apt to be, when no answer is given them, imagining it arises from the strength of their arguments.

JOHN TRAPP: Cast in somewhat that may sting him, and stop his mouth. Stone him with soft words but hard arguments, as Christ dealt with Pilate, John 19:8-11, lest he look upon himself as a conqueror, and be held so by the hearers. In fine, when a fool is among such as himself, answer him, lest he seem wise. If he be among wise men, answer him not, and they will regard rather thy seasonable silence than his passionate prattle.

MATTHEW HENRY: See here the noble security of the scripture-style, which seems to contradict itself, but really does not.

CHARLES BRIDGES: Oh! for wisdom to govern the tongue; to discover “the time to keep silence, and the time to speak,” Ecclesiates 3:7; most of all to suggest the “word fitly spoken,” (Proverbs 15:23; 25:11) for effective reproof! How instructive is the pattern of our great Master! His silences and His answers were equally worthy of Himself.

A. W. PINK: Once more, in Proverbs 30:5 we read, “Every word of God is pure.” There is no admixture of error in God’s Word. In it there are no mistakes, no contradictions, no blemishes.


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Faith & Hope in Troublous Times

1 Kings 19:4-9

[Elijah] went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.

And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God. And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?

And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The question God puts to the prophet it, What doest thou here, Elijah? This is a reproof, for his fleeing hither. “What brings thee so far from home? Dost thou flee from Jezebel? Couldst thou not depend upon almighty power for thy protection?”

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): When the Lord interrogated him, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” he thought of nothing but his own services, and the sins of others: yea, when the question was repeated, he returned the same answer. How strange that he should not, on the repetition of the question especially, suspect himself, and acknowledge that he had come thither without any call or direction from his God!

MATTHEW HENRY: Lay the emphasis upon the pronoun thou. “What thou! So great a man, so great a prophet, so famed for resolution.”

CHARLES SIMEON: It is justly said of him, and most probably in reference to these very events, that “Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are,” James 5:17. In this part of his history we behold, his unbelieving fear. On former occasions he had shewn great fortitude: he had just before dared to accuse Ahab to his face as “the troubler of Israel;” and to confront alone all the worshippers of Baal with four hundred and fifty of his prophets at their head: he had also put all those prophets to death, and then had accompanied Ahab to Jezreel: but now his faith failed him, and he doubted whether his God could protect him from the rage of Jezebel.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): The best of men are only men at best…Is any reader of this paper disposed to be cast down and discouraged, because he loves Christ, and tries to serve Him, but finds himself almost entirely alone? Does your heart sometimes fail you, and your hands hang down, and your knees wax faint, because you so seldom meet any one whom you can pray with, and praise with, and read with, and talk with about Christ, and open your heart to without fear? Do you ever mourn in secret for want of company? Well, you are only drinking the cup which many have drunk before you. Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Joseph, and Moses, and Samuel, and David, and the prophets, and Paul, and John, and the Apostles were all people who stood very much alone.  Do you expect to fare better than them?―Alas! there have always been many like you!

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Take a man like Jeremiah. All the false prophets were against him. There is a man who had to stand alone! Poor Jeremiah—how he hated and disliked it! He did not like being unpopular, he did not like standing on his own, and being ridiculed and laughed at, and spat upon, as it were; but he had the truth of God, and so he endured it all. He decided at times to say nothing, but the Word was like a fire in his bones, and he had to go on speaking it. Obloquy and abuse were heaped upon him, but it did not matter; he was God’s spokesman and God’s representative. Similarly Moses had to stand alone when he came down from the Mount where he had met God. To stand in isolation from one’s fellows, but with God, is the great doctrine of the Old Testament in many ways. And it is emphasized in the New Testament also.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): It is the easiest thing in the world to believe as everybody else believes, but the difficulty is to believe a thing alone, when no one else thinks as you think—to be the solitary champion of a righteous cause, when the enemy mustereth his thousands to the battle.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Was it not like that at the Protestant Reformation? What hope had that one man, Martin Luther, just an unknown monk?

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): I had utterly despaired had not Christ been Head of the Church―Every man must do things alone; he must do his own believing, he must do his own dying.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Faith and hope are the two poles on which all the Christian’s noble enterprises turn.

THOMAS COKE (1747-1814): We are apt to be discouraged under want of success, as if the sufficiency of the power was of ourselves, and not of God.

MATTHEW HENRY: Despair of success hinders many a good enterprise. No one is willing to venture alone, forgetting that those are not alone who have God with them.

J. C. RYLE: Stand fast, both in public and in private, even if you stand alone. But you will not stand alone.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): We may depend upon it, that if we are on God’s side, God is on our side.

J. R. MILLER (1840-1912): There is an experience of Luther’s which is suggestive.

MARTIN LUTHER: At one time I was sorely vexed and tried by my own sinfulness, by the wickedness of the world, and by the dangers that beset the church. One morning I saw my wife dressed in mourning. Surprised, I asked her who had died.

“Do you not know?” she replied; “God is dead.”

“How can you talk such nonsense?” I said, “How can God die?”

“Is that really true?”

“Of course,” I said, not perceiving her aim. “How can you doubt it?”

“Yet,” she said, “though you do not doubt that, you are so helpless and discouraged.”

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): Hope is never ill when faith is well.

J. R. MILLER: Things were not as bad as Elijah thought.

CHARLES SIMEON: Elijah supposed himself to be the only one in Israel that maintained a regard for God; but God informed him that there were no less than seven thousand persons who had not yielded to the prevailing idolatry.


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Four Suicidal Chariots: Cowardice & Despair, Rebellion & Unbelief

1 Samuel 31:3-5

And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers. Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Saul thus desperately slew himself, lest he should be slain by the enemy. Seneca counts it a mercy to a man in misery that he may, by commiting suicide, let out his life when he will; and this he calls valour and manhood.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Seneca prescribes it as the last remedy which those that are in distress may have recourse to. The Stoics, notwithstanding their pretended conquest of the passions, yielded thus far to them. And the Epicureans, who indulged the pleasures of sense, to avoid its pains chose rather to put an end to it.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): There have been infidels in all ages who have advocated that it’s a justifiable means of release from trial and difficulty; yet thinking men, as far back as Aristotle, have generally condemned it as cowardly and unjustifiable under any conditions.

RICHARD ROGERS (1550-1618): If a wise man weigh it, there is more cowardliness in preventing troubles and crosses by violence, then enduring them patiently.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): Saul was given up to the blackness of despair.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): Such despair is not uncommon―indeed it is but too common for those who are bowed down with a load of worldly troubles, to seek relief in suicide.

J. C. PHILPOT (1802-1869): Is suicide a sin, or not?

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Thou shalt not kill,” Exodus 20:13. The words are better rendered, ‘thou shalt do no murder.’ And if we are not to murder others, then certainly not ourselves, so that suicide is here plainly and absolutely forbidden.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Suicide is self-murder, and is one of the most desperate crimes which can be committed.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): It is the most unnatural and barbarous kind of murder for a man to butcher himself…A man’s self is most near to him, therefore this sin of self-murder breaks both the law of God, and the bonds of nature―No creature but man willingly kills itself.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN (1826-1910): Suicide, the refuge of defeated monarchs and praised by heathen moralists as heroic, was rare in Israel. The most rudimentary recognition of the truths taught by the Old Testament would prevent it.

D. L. MOODY: The Bible does not mention one single instance of a good man committing suicide. In the four thousand years of Old Testament history it records only four suicides, and only one suicide in the New Testament: Saul, king of Israel, and his armourbearer; Ahithophel; Zimri; and Judas Iscariot, are the five cases. Look at the references in the Bible to see what kind of men they were.

CHARLES BRIDGES: Zimri in rebellious madness threw himself into the flames, 1 Kings 16:18; Ahithophel and Judas “chose strangling rather than life,” 2 Samuel 17:23; Matthew 27:5.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): We find [one more example]―Abimelech, a man who murdered his own brethren without compunction. “A certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and all to break his skull. Then he called hastily unto the young man his armour bearer and said unto him, Draw your sword and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died,” Judges 9:53,54. Shame was too much for him. He would far rather meet the suicide’s death—for such it was.

D. L. MOODY: No man has a right to take his own life from such motives any more than the life of another.

CHARLES SIMEON: Men of this world have one method―as they think―of terminating their miseries, namely, by suicide. A poor and fatal “device” indeed! yet such as it is, they resort to it for relief.

THOMAS COKE (1747-1814): Despair is among the greatest crimes, and often ends in self-murder, a remedy still worse than the disease: for the deepest guilt there is mercy to be hoped, while life continues; but, when men fly from God to the devil for ease by suicide, they are undone for ever.

A. W. PINK: Inasmuch as this sin precludes repentance on the part of its perpetrator, it is beyond forgiveness―they destroy not only their bodies but their souls, too.

WILHELMUS à BRAKEL  (1635-1711): They renounce God, heaven, and hell, and imagine that with their death they will put an end to their unpleasant circumstances. This is the work of ungodly men, and is tantamount to plunging alive into hell and eternal damnation.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN: If Saul had had any faith in God, any submission, any repentance―he could not have finished a life of rebellion by a self-inflicted death, which was itself the very desperation of rebellion.

A. W. PINK: This, in itself, is quite sufficient in our judgment to settle the matter—the only ones mentioned in Scripture who directly took their own lives, were not believers—but unbelievers!

C. H. SPURGEON: Unbelief! It has sharpened the knife of the suicide! It has mixed many a cup of poison. Thousands it has brought to the halter and many to a shameful grave who have murdered themselves and rushed with bloody hands before their Creator’s tribunal because of unbelief!

J. C. PHILPOT: Is rebellion a sin, unbelief a sin, despair a sin? then suicide must be a sin of sins; for it is the last fruit, the highest summit of those sins. Can a man who commits it be said to die in faith, or hope, or love? Where is “receiving the end of faith, the salvation of the soul, ” if a man dies in unbelief, as a suicide must do? How can his hope be “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast,” if it breaks in the storm? And where is love, when he bids defiance to the Almighty by breaking through the bounds of life and death which He has set?

MATTHEW HENRY: All the cautions of the Word of God against sin, and all appearances of it and approaches to it, have this tendency, “Do thyself no harm,” Acts 16:28.―“Man, woman, do not wrong thyself, nor ruin thyself; hurt not thyself, and then none else can hurt thee; do not sin, for nothing else can hurt thee.”

CHARLES SIMEON: Those who have no God to go to, often sink under their troubles, and not unfrequently seek refuge from them in suicide―But we have a God to go unto; a God who says, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain thee.” As for spiritual trouble, we are no more able to endure it than Judas was, who, from a sense of guilt, took refuge in suicide. If  “help were not laid upon One that is mighty,” upon One who says to us, “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest;” what hope could any one of us enjoy?


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Political Science 101 in King Solomon’s University

Proverbs 17:7; Proverbs 14:5

Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.

A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): This might seem to be a truism, unworthy of inspiration. But a closer inspection brings out a valuable maxim of practical wisdom. A faithful witness is moved neither by entreaties nor bribes, neither by promises nor threats, to swerve from truth. He is the man to trust. He will not lie. But a false witness has lost all principle of truth. He will utter lies, without any inducement but his own interest―“Much less do lying lips become a prince,” the minister and guardian of truth, Proverbs 16:10. Yet in a world where self reigns supreme, such inconsistencies are but too prevalent.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Lying ill becomes any man, but so corrupt is modern policy, which insinuates that princes ought not to make themselves slaves to their words further than is for their interest.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): I have heard that politicians can make use of a state lie—though the credit of it lasts but a little while—for great advantage to their designs.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Oh, how often we hear this brought up! You are told to regard the difference between right and wrong everywhere, except when you get into politics; then stick to your party through thick and thin. Right and wrong vanish at once. Loyalty to your leader—that is the point. Never mind where he leads you, follow him blindly. You are even told that you may do wrong because it is politically right. I hate such an argument!

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): A prince neither should speak lies himself, nor encourage them in others; but abhor them.

PHILIP MELANCTHON (1497-1560): Lying lips are abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly are his delight,” Proverbs 12:22. The Lord recommends to us the love and care of truth―for truth being among the chiefest and most conspicuous virtues, therefore the contrary vice is condemned by an expressive Hebrew word, תועבה―abomination: that is, such an evil as God detests with a singular indignation.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): In this place it may be proper to ask, What is a lie?

C. H. SPURGEON: It is deceit that dreads detection!

GEORGE SEATON BOWES (circa 1820’s-1880’s): When the question, “What is truth?” was proposed at a Deaf and Dumb Institution, one of the boys drew a straight line.

“And what is falsehood?”

The answer was a crooked line.

ADAM CLARKE: A lie is any action done, or word spoken, whether true or false in itself, which the doer or speaker wishes the observer or hearer to take in a contrary sense to that which he knows to be true. It is, in a word, any action done or speech delivered with the intention to deceive.

CHARLES BRIDGES: Diversified indeed are its forms—falsehood, exaggeration, coloring, willful perversion, wrong impressions produced or encouraged…A false witness does not always deal with open lying but with deceit—truth misrepresented, concealed and thus turned into falsehood. Thus was Doeg a false witness against the priests. He states the fact, but by suppression of circumstances gives a false impression, 1 Sameul 21:1-7; 1 Samuel 22:9-10.

ADAM CLARKE: [But some may say] ‘I have not told a lie; I have suppressed only a part of the truth.’

WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): This kind of dishonesty is still dishonest.

H. A. IRONSIDE (1876-1951): A half-truth is often a whole lie.

C. H. SPURGEON: Half the truth is a lie…When Abraham said to Abimelech, concerning his wife, “She is my sister,” Genesis 20:12, she was his sister, in a sense—there was some truth in what he said—but she was more than his sister—so he was uttering a lie for which he was rightly rebuked by the heathen prince!

THOMAS HUTTON (1856-1926): In a British Court of Law a witness is responsible before God “to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

CHARLES BRIDGES: In this view a strict attention to truth forms a primary point―the boundary line must never be trifled with―anything less than truth is a lie. Even if no one is deceived by it, a habit is fostered, of which we cannot tell to what it may grow. “He that is unfaithful in that which is least, is unfaithful also in much,” Luke 16:10. The indulgence of a lie soon banishes all fear of an oath. The careless liar, if occasion needs, scruples not to become a false witness.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): A lie is a snowball. The longer it is rolled on the ground, the larger it becomes.

THOMAS COKE (1747-1814): When a man is entangled in one lie, he is led of course to forge many more to support himself in it.

MATTHEW HENRY: It is a rule in the devil’s politics: “To cover sin with sin, in order to escape detection.”

CHARLES BRIDGES: Lying, even if it suits our purpose as an easy escape from difficulty is a miserable short-lived policy! “A lying tongue is but for a moment, Proverbs 12:19. And what will be the relief of this short moment under the tremendous wrath of God? God’s own people have always found this momentary escape from trouble to be followed by shame and confusion. The lie of the Gibeonites ended in their confusion, Joshua 9. The fruit of Gehazi’s lie was the pleasure for a moment. The shame endured unto the end, 2 Kings 5:25-27―None are so visibly blasted as those who make no conscience of a lie…With this sin were Ananias and Sapphira hurried into eternity, Acts 5:1-10. The willful liar proves his parentage, John 8:44, and will be classed in eternity with all that is hateful…His base means often bring him to shame on this side of the grave. But however this be, shame will be his “everlasting recompense.”

C. H. SPURGEON: But the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped,” Psalm 63:11. The mouths of liars will be stopped by the sexton with a shovel full of earth, if in no other way; for it seems as if some liars would never cease lying as long as they are alive. But every lying tongue in all the world shall be silent one day at the judgment bar of God.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): Let not any think lightly of this sin: for so detestable is it in the sight of God, that He has given us this solemn warning, “All liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death,” Revelation 21:8

THOMAS COKE: A corrupted, lying, abusive, perverse tongue brings death to the soul.

THOMAS SCOTT (1747-1821): And as we must foresee the dreadful misery of all impenitent slanderers and liars, in the everlasting fire of hell; let us in meekness warn them of their danger, “if God peradventure will give them repentance, to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will,” 2 Timothy 2:25,26.


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How Can We Please God?

Hebrews 11:5,6

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The beginning of a good and upright life is to know what is pleasing to God―if we wish to please God, we must see what He requires from us.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Faith is the beginning, that’s essential―Without faith, you can’t begin.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Everything is wrong where this principle is wanting.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): The way to please God, then, is to believe in Him.

JOHN CALVIN: Men toil to no purpose, when they endeavour to please God without faith, because, by running, as it were, out of the course, they do not advance towards the goal―though men torment themselves wretchedly throughout their whole life, still they lose their pains, if they have not faith in Christ as the rule of their life.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN (1826-1910): Faith, and not a multitude of separate acts, is what pleases God.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): Enoch did please God: therefore it is clear that Enoch believed; and that his works, whatever they were, were the fruits of faith.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): Faith is the mother of obedience.

JOHN OWEN (1616-1683): Faith is the spring and cause of all obedience, and the obedience that is accepted with Him is the “obedience of faith,” Romans 16:26.

CHARLES SIMEON: It implies a desire and intention to please God. There is one canon, one universal rule of action, prescribed to us in the Scriptures―namely, that “whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, we should do all to the glory of God,” 1 Corinthians 10:31. Whatever therefore springs from other motives and principles, must argue a want of sincerity, in proportion as God’s honour is superseded by any selfish considerations. When Jehu, in compliance with God’s command, extirpated the family of Ahab, his obedience was not considered as sincere, because he was actuated rather by vainglory, than by a real desire to please God, 2 Kings 9:6,7; 2 Kings 10:16; and the blood that he shed in executing the divine command, was on that very account avenged by God himself upon his posterity, Hosea 1:4.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Not one that hath given up his name to Christ is allowedly a self-seeker; it is contrary to the foundation of true Christianity…We are not our own masters, nor our own proprietors—we are not at our own disposal. The business of our lives is not to please ourselves, but to please God.

CHARLES SIMEON: All, even the most refined hypocrites, are under the influence of self-seeking and self-complacency. But the true Christian endeavours to consult the glory of his God. He is as jealous of his motives, as of his actions. He knows that self is but too apt to mix with what we do; and therefore he labours to counteract its influence, and to do his most common actions to the glory of his God. To please God, to serve God, to honour God, these are the ends which he proposes to himself; nor is he ever satisfied with any one action which has not these objects as their true and ultimate scope.

JOHN CALVIN: Learn that whenever we ask what pleases God, we should bring a pure and sincere heart, so that nothing may prevent or hinder us immediately to embrace whatever God may command us.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): He who obeys sincerely endeavours to obey thoroughly.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): We must be entirely willing in all things to please God, or we utterly displease Him. Herod did many things, and was not a button the better. Jehu’s golden calves made an end of him, though he made an end of Baal’s worship. He that doth some, and not “all God’s will,” with David, Acts 13:22, in desire and affection at least, does but as Benhadad, recover of one disease, and die of another: yea, if he take not a better course for himself, he does but take pains to go to hell. Then shall we not be ashamed, when we have respect, at least, to all God’s commandments, Psalm 119:6.

THOMAS MANTON: Partial obedience is an argument of insincerity―obedience is counterfeit when it is not uniform.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Not only does God require obedience, but an obedience which issues from―is animated by―and is, an expression of love.

JOHN CALVIN: No man will actually obey God but he who loves Him.

ADAM CLARKE: Without love it will be impossible to obey. Faith and love are essentially necessary to holiness and sobriety.

THOMAS MANTON: Now in this pleasing of God there must be an avoiding of whatever is grievous and displeasing to Him…Secondly, there must be a constant care of those things God likes of, not only a declining of evil, but a doing of good.

CHARLES SIMEON: A desire to please God cannot but be associated with a fear of His Divine majesty.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): The more I love God, the more I shall fear Him, the more I shall dread to offend Him, the more I shall study to please Him, the more I shall ask, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?

ALEXANDER MacLAREN: But there has to be something more. There has to be a firm resolve―and effort, without which the firmest resolve will all come to nothing, and be one more paving stone for the road that is “paved with good intentions.”

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Enoch “walked with God,” Genesis 5:22―You see, the full life of faith is described here; you get the whole basis in faith, you get this devotional aspect, this experimental aspect in experience―experiential aspect I should call it―and then, thirdly, you get this practical outworking.

EDWARD PAYSON (1783-1827): It is the natural tendency of the fear of God to preserve those who feel its influence from apostacy and declension. It leads them like Enoch to walk with God; to keep near to Him, to wait upon Him in the diligent use of all the appointed means of grace, and to guard against the first symptoms of declension―such, my friends, are the principal effects of the fear of God; and if we would walk in His fear, we must feel and exhibit these effects, not only occasionally, but habitually, and like David have respect to all God’s commandments, and be in the fear of God all the day long.

THOMAS MANTON: Elsewhere in Scripture the phrases of pleasing God and walking with God are joined, as Colossians 1:10—“That you may walk worthy of the Lord unto all well-pleasing.” Walking notes the fixing and the holding of a settled course in our lives, that our intention and main scope must be to please God, so 1 Thessalonians 4:1—“We beseech you,” saith the apostle, “as ye have received of us how you ought to walk, and to please God, so you would abound more and more.

CHARLES SIMEON: There will, it is true, be still “a law in their members warring against the law in their minds,” Romans 6:22,23. But the deliberate purpose of their hearts must be to please God; God only, God universally, God always.


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The Childish Character of Those Who Are Easily Deceived

Ephesians 4:14; Colossians 2:4

Be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.

And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Christian life is not child’s play.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Three characters you may observe among those who are most commonly seduced. One, they are called “simple” ones, Romans 16:18―such who mean well, but want wisdom to discern those who mean ill―incautious ones, that dare pledge everybody, and drink of any one’s cup, and never suspect poisoning. Two, they are called “children;” Three, they are such as are “unstable,” 2 Peter 2:14―such as are not well grounded and principled.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Children are easily imposed upon.

WILLIAM GURNALL: Children are very credulous, prone to believe every one that gives them a parcel of fair words. They think anything is good, if it be sweet. It is not hard to make them eat poison for sugar. They are not swayed by principles of their own, but by those of others. The child reads, construes, and parses his lesson as his master saith, and thinks it therefore right. Thus as poor creatures that have little knowledge of the Word themselves, they are easily persuaded this or that way, even as those of whom they have a good opinion please to lead them. Let the doctrine be but sweet, and it goes down glib. They, like Isaac, bless their opinions by feeling, not by sight. Hence many poor creatures applaud themselves so much of the joy they have found since they were of this judgement and that way. Not being able to try the comfort and sweetness they feel by the truth of their way from the Word, they are fain to believe the truth of it by their feeling, and so, poor creatures, they bless error for truth.

MATTHEW HENRY: We must take care of this, and of being tossed to and fro, like ships without ballast, and carried about, like clouds in the air, with such doctrines as have no truth nor solidity in them, but nevertheless spread themselves far and wide, and are therefore compared to wind.

WILLIAM GURNALL: They are such as are unstable―the truth they profess hath no anchor-hold in their understanding, and so they are at the mercy of the wind, soon set adrift, and carried down the stream of those opinions which are the favourites of the present time, and are most cried up—even as the dead fish with the current of the tide.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): There are some things in children in which it is reproachful for believers to be like them; as nonproficiency in knowledge, want of capacity to receive, bear, and digest strong meat; levity, fickleness, and inconstancy, unskilfulness in the Word, deficiency of knowledge, want of understanding, not of things natural, but spiritual and evangelical.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): You are commanded indeed in something to be like little children, but it is not to be understood with relation to knowledge and understanding.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men,” 1 Corinthians 14:20. Farther, lest the Corinthians should say in reply, that to be spiritually children, is elsewhere commended, as in Matthew 18:3,4, Paul anticipates this objection, and exhorts them, indeed, to be children in malice, but to beware of being children in understanding…Hence we infer how shameless a part those act, who make Christian simplicity to consist in ignorance.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Ignorance is the pedestal of pride.

ROBERT HALDANE (1764-1842): Ignorance of the Scriptures is the cause of high-mindedness in Christians. They are often arrogant and contemptuous through want of knowledge. In the absence of real knowledge, they often suppose that they have a true understanding of things with which they are still unacquainted, and are thus vain and conceited.

JOHN CALVIN: It is a common fault that ignorance is closely followed by obstinacy.

GEORGE SWINNOCK (1627-1673): Ignorance and confidence are often twins.

JOHN GILL: Which is the more aggravated, since their understandings were opened and enlightened; an understanding was given them; the Spirit of God, as a spirit of understanding, was bestowed on them; they had the Scriptures, which are able to make wise unto salvation, and the man of God perfect; and also the ministers of the Gospel to explain divine truths to them; and many had been a long time in the school of Christ, and might have been teachers of others; and yet; after all, were children in understanding, and needed to be taught the first principles of the oracles of God.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is,” Ephesians 5:17. That word “unwise” does not here signify bare ignorance or lack of knowledge, otherwise the two halves of the verse would merely express the same thought in its negative and positive forms. No, the word “unwise” there means “lacking in common sense,” or as the R.V. renders it “be not ye foolish.”

JOHN GILL: In understanding be men;” or “perfect,” of ripe and full age, who have their senses exercised to discern between good and evil;  גבר“a man,” says Aben Ezra, in our language, signifies מלא דעת, “one full of knowledge,” as in Exodus 10:11. It is not perfection of justification that is meant, for babes in Christ are as perfect in this sense as grown men; nor a perfection of sanctification, for there is no such thing in this life―but of knowledge and understanding in divine things; which though it is imperfect in the best, yet in some it is in greater perfection than in others; who may, in a comparative sense, be said to be perfect, or men of full age, who are arrived to a considerable ripeness and maturity of spiritual knowledge; and this is what believers should be pressing after, and desirous of, and make use of all proper methods, such as reading, hearing, and praying, to attain unto.

VERNON J. CHARLESWORTH (1839-1915): Entering the house of one of his congregation, Rowland Hill saw a child on a rocking-horse. “Dear me,” exclaimed the aged minister, “how wondrously like some Christians! there is motion, but  no progress.” The rocking-horse type of spiritual life is still characteristic of too many Church members in the present day.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Is it not a shame to have no more understanding at eighty than at eight years of age?

ROBERT HAWKER (1753-1827): It is a melancholy consideration, how many of God’s dear children continue weak, in point of understanding, and remain but as babes in Christ the greater part of their life. I cannot call that man, any other than a child, a mere babe in grace, who never gets beyond the doubts and fears, the ups and downs, of unbelief. A maturity, and ripeness in grace, is known, by an establishment, and firmness, in the faith and hope of God’s children.


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