Matthew 12:20
A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not extinguish, till He leads justice to victory.
An Emblem of the UselessF. Greeves.Matthew 12:20
An Improving DisciplineW. E. M. Linfield, D. D.Matthew 12:20
Bruised ReedS. Charnock.Matthew 12:20
Bruised Reed and Smoking FlaxPreacher's MonthlyMatthew 12:20
Compassion of Christ to Weak BelieversPresident Davies.Matthew 12:20
Encouragement for New ConvertsH. Blunt.Matthew 12:20
God's Care SpecificG. H. Hepworth, D. D.Matthew 12:20
God's Method with the Weak and WearyW. E. M. Linfield, D. D.Matthew 12:20
Good in Seeming EvilsSibbes.Matthew 12:20
Grace Never Blown Quite OutS. Charnock.Matthew 12:20
Safety in Being Like ChristS. Charnock.Matthew 12:20
Security in Abundant GraceS. Charnock.Matthew 12:20
Smoking FlaxMaldonatus.Matthew 12:20
Special Care of the Weak OnesS. Charnock.Matthew 12:20
Surprise At Safety of Divine Life in SoulsS. Charnock.Matthew 12:20
Sweet Comfort for Feeble SaintsC. H. Spurgeon.Matthew 12:20
Tenderness Better than TerrorW. M. H. Murray.Matthew 12:20
Tenderness Toward the IrresoluteW. M. H. Murray.Matthew 12:20
Tenderness Toward the OutcastW. M. H. Murray.Matthew 12:20
The Bruised ReedW.F. Adeney Matthew 12:20
The Gentleness of ChristH. E. Manning.Matthew 12:20
The Rarest of GentlenessP.C. Barker Matthew 12:20
The Redeemer's GentlenessCongregational PulpitMatthew 12:20
The Tenderness of ChristC. T. Coster.Matthew 12:20
The Tenderness of GodW. M. H. Murray.Matthew 12:20
Weak ChristiansSibbes.Matthew 12:20
Weak Grace May be VictoriousS. Charnock.Matthew 12:20
Weak Grace, Weak GloryS. Charnock.Matthew 12:20
Weakness PrevalentW. M. H. Murray.Matthew 12:20
The Mission of ChristJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 12:9-21
Isaiah's Description of ChristB. W. Noel. M. A., M. N., W. M. Taylor, D. D., J. Rawlinson., Bishop Simpson.Matthew 12:14-21
Physical Forces GentleF. Greeves.Matthew 12:14-21
Social-Forces GentleF. Greeves.Matthew 12:14-21

According to his custom, St. Matthew here applies an ancient prophecy to Jesus Christ. The ideal that was never realized before now finds its fulfilment. It is one peculiarly appropriate to the character of Christ and to his saving mission.

I. CHRIST BRINGS GOOD TIDINGS TO THE FEEBLE AND FAILING. He comes as the Physician for the sick. He is the good Shepherd who leaves the safe flock of ninety and nine to seek the one lost sheep. He has little for the righteous, but much for the sinful. He was not the Friend of Pharisees, but the Friend of publicans and sinners.

1. This is contrary to the common customs of men. With us too often religion is for the religious. The good have more goodness offered to them, but the bad are left in their badness. This was the case with the old-world religions, which fed the devotion of the devout, but neglected the ruin of the impious. Christ and all who follow Christ bring the gospel to the lost.

2. This counteracts the stern processes of nature. In nature we witness the survival of the fittest. There the strong succeed and the weak fail, and the race is to the swift and the battle to the strong. Christ brings a more merciful principle to work upon men. The bruised and crushed and hopeless are the especial objects of his care.

II. THE SOURCE OF CHRIST'S ACTION IS PURE COMPASSION. There is no obligation to deal out mercy to the worthless. They who fail do not deserve to be helped merely on account of their failure. The bruised reed cannot entertain us with sweet music; it' it can emit any sounds at all, these must be of a rather painful character. The smoking wick has ceased to illumine the room; it is now an offensive object. Would it not be better to throw both of them away? No reason could be given for tenderness to those who have ceased to be of any use. to the community excepting pure compassion. But this was the very motive of our Lord's most frequent miracles. Again and again we read that "he was moved with compassion. The same wonderful love and sympathy prompted his whole life-work. It is now the great motive of the gospel. Therefore the work of Christ is characterized by tenderness. He does not drive; he leads. He does not merely command; he helps, uplifting, strengthening.

III. THE COMPASSIONATE MINISTRY OF CHRIST IS JUSTIFIED BY ITS RESULTS. A hard man of the world may be inclined to criticize our Lord's method as uneconomical. He may say that the same amount of energy spent on the young, the strong, the hopeful, would produce larger results. In reply it may be urged that Compassion does not weigh and measure and calculate, or she would cease to be Compassion; she gives freely, asking for no return. Nevertheless, there is a return. Christ's compassion is powerful. He mends the bruised reed and rekindles the smoking flax. Then the first result is the salvation of the helpless. But the process does not stay here. They who are thus redeemed are bound to their Saviour by the closest ties of gratitude. There is no love so tender and devoted as that of the Magdalene. The redeemed are living witnesses to the grace of Christ, and they are the most zealous in proclaiming it to others. - W.F.A.

A bruised reed shall He not break.
1. The originality of Christ. It is easy to smile on the strong and prosperous: Christ's smiles were for the weak.

2. The love of Christ is the root of His tenderness, This brought Him from the land of glory; He came to save man.

3. How practical Christ's teaching.

4. But in dealing with bruised reed and dim wick, tenderness must be wise not to break the reed and quench the wick. No unwise precipitancy.

5. His work is not merely negative. He will do more than not break; He will strengthen. His work is perfect.

(C. T. Coster.)


1. The metaphor of a " bruised reed" conveys the idea of(1) a state of weakness. He is weak in know. ledge, love, faith, joy, zeal, prayer. He laments his weakness.(2) A state of oppression. He feels himself crushed under a sense of guilt.

2. The metaphor of "smoking flax " conveys the idea of grace, true and sincere, but languishing and just expiring.Describe the reality of religion in a low degree.

1. The Christian feels an uneasiness, emptiness, anxiety within.

2. He is very jealous of the sincerity of his religion.

3. He retains direction and tendency toward Christ. Even the smoking flax sends up some exhalations of love towards heaven.


1. The declarations and assurances of Jesus.

2. His people in every age have found these promises good. Hear David, "This poor man cried," etc.

3. Go to the cross and there learn this love and compassion.

(President Davies.)

Congregational Pulpit.
Consider this narrative: —


1. He did not abandon His work in disgust.

2. He did not flag in it, but still healed all that came to Him.

3. He did not rail at His enemies, defy or denounce them to the people.

4. He quietly retired before the storm.

5. He avoided giving further offence.



1. Are we persecutors, He lets His meekness conquer hostility.

2. Are we weak in faith, He helps to victory.

3. Are we in affliction, He acts a kind part.Learn:

1. To love and trust Him.

2. To imitate His spirit and conduct in times of persecution.

(Congregational Pulpit.)

Preacher's Monthly.
Christ has nothing in common with demagogues, or world conquerors. The characteristics of His operations: —

I. QUIETNESS. Rivulets noisy; deep, full rivers, still. Stillness the condition of growth.

II. TENDERNESS. Tenderness does not imply lack of force. Delicacy of touch in strong-natured men. Tenderness is not to be associated with moral indifference. In Him, associated with intense antagonism to moral evil.

III. VICTORIOUS ON-GOING. NO pause in the progress.

IV. So CHRIST IS THE GREAT CREATOR OF HOPE IN THE HEARTS OF SIN-CURSED MEN — "In His name shall the Gentiles trust," etc.

(Preacher's Monthly.)


1. The encouragement in our text applies to weak ones.

2. To worthless things. A student cannot read bye smoking flax.

3. To offensive things.

4. These may yet be of some service.


III. THERE IS CERTAIN VICTORY — "Till He send forth judgment unto victory."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)


II. If the bruised reed may represent our broken hopes, it may also represent OUR BROKEN RESOLUTIONS.

III. THAT CHRIST DOES NOT AND WILL NOT APPLY THE LEAST FORCE OR VIOLENCE TO PROPAGATE HIS LAW OR RELIGION. God understands the structure of our minds and never offers violence to their free exercise.

(W. M. H. Murray.)

Have you ever thought how many weak things there are in the world? Look at the natural kingdom. How few are the oaks, and how many are the rushes! There is a rose, with a stem so fragile as to almost break under the burden of its own blushing and fragrant bloom. Yet God is God of the reed and the rose.

(W. M. H. Murray.)

Why, you might as well try to frighten a flower into lifting its face toward the sun as to frighten a soul into lifting itself toward God! The attraction of light and love from above, and not the propulsion of fear from beneath, is what accomplishes the beautiful result. There is no need of any such rude and tyrannous force, such violent benevolence.

(W. M. H. Murray.)

Because you have broken one resolution, never imagine that He will not assist you to keep another, made with greater wisdom, and a more determined purpose. The temples of God, so far as we represent them, are all constructed out of ruins. He builds from the fragments of an ancient overthrow. Be persuaded of this, that nothing good in you ever escapes the notice of God. He is not, as some seem to picture Him, a heartless overseer, standing over you whip in hand, and watching for a chance to get in a blow. His observation is like a gardener's. There is not a bud of promise that can open in your soul, there is not an odour that can be added to the fragrance of your lives, that He does not detect it and rejoice in it. Whatever beautifies you glorifies Him. He delights in your development, and smiles on your every effort in that direction.

(W. M. H. Murray.)

I met a man the other day who had lived like the prodigal; wasted the substance of body and brain in riotous living. A magnificent wreck he was. A man who stood as I have seen a tree stand after a fire had swept through the forest-blasted and charred to the very core, all the life and vigour burnt out of it;yet keeping its magnificent girth and symmetry of proportion, even to the topmost bough. So that man stood. I took him kindly by the hand, and said, "Friend, there is hope in your future yet." He drew himself slowly up until he stood at hie straightest, looked me steadily in the eye, and said, "Do you mean to say, Mr. Murray, that if I went to-night to God, He would pardon such a wretch as I?" See how he misunderstood God! See how we all misunderstand Him! Pardon! Is there any one He will not pardon? Is there a noisome marsh or stagnant pool on the face of the whole earth so dark, so reeking with rottenness and mire, that the sun scorns to shine on it? And is there a man so low, so heavy with corruption, so coarse and brutal, that God's love does not seek him out? How is the world to be redeemed if you put a limit to God's love? How is the great mass of humanity to be washed and lifted, if the thoughts of God are like our thoughts, and His ways like our ways? It is because He does not love as we do, because He does not feel as we do, because He does not act as we do, that I have any hope for my race — that I have any hope for myself.

(W. M. H. Murray.)

I. THE NEW CONVERT TYPIFIED BY THE BRUISED REED. A reed one of the frailest things in nature, a fit image of a person whose mind is newly turned to a knowledge of Divine truth; a bruised reed, they go in sorrow. God gentle to such.

II. THE SMOKING FLAX SHALL HE NOT QUENCH. Before, it was portrayed by brokenness of heart; here, by weakness of faith. Of all things in the world flax is the most combustible. The smallest spark will kindle it into a blaze. The faith little, but real. The flax was smoking. A painted fire would have occasioned no smoke; however small therefore the fire, it was certainly a real fire.

(H. Blunt.)

I. EXAMPLES of Christ's gentleness recorded in Scripture.

1. In His dealing with His disciples (Luke 9:55; John 14:9; Mark 9:33, 34; John 20:27; John 21:15-17).

2. And so in like manner to all the people (Matthew 11:28-30; Luke 7:36-48; John 8:3-11).


1. It implies that when there is so much as a spark of life in the conscience, there is possibility of entire conversion to God.

2. The only sure way of fostering the beginnings of repentance is to receive them with gentleness and compassion. How great a consolation there is in this Divine tenderness of Christ.

(H. E. Manning.)

I. Our entire dependence upon God. We are not trees able to resist, but reeds.

II. The text seems to imply that God sometimes bruises us. Life is a discipline.

(G. H. Hepworth, D. D.)


1. Considerate, not arbitrary.

2. Sparing.

3. Merciful.

4. Conciliating — He does not reject and despise.


1. The redemptive works.

(1)The incarnation.


2. Co-operative works.

(1)Means of grace.





(W. E. M. Linfield, D. D.)

As the flax is broken in the hackle spun by hard, patient labour into thread, woven with care and skill into the woof, and by exposure to light and darkness, dew and sunshine, heat and cold, is bleached and fulled into shining linen, so shall the glorious appearance of the redeemed come out of the great tribulation of life, and from the fulling in the blood of the Lamb.

(W. E. M. Linfield, D. D.)

A reed is, at the best, but a very ignoble growth in the vegetable world; it has no flowers for the hand of taste; it has no fruits for the lap of toil; it has no timber for architecture; it can form no weapon for war; it may render a very poor and uncertain support if you cut it into a slender staff, or it may perhaps solace a weary hour with very questionable music if you shape it into a shepherd's pipe; but at the best a reed is one of the least precious things in the vegetable kingdom.

(F. Greeves.)


1. A bruised reed — such as are convinced of their own weakness, vanity, and emptiness.

2. The smoking flax of the wick of a candle, wherein there is not only no profit, but some trouble and noisomeness.

II. THE ACT — "He shall not break... not quench."

III. THE CONTINUANCE OF IT — "Till He send forth judgment unto victory." Doctrine. True; though weak, grace shall be preserved, and in the end prove victorious.

1. The love of God is engaged in its preservation.

2. The power of God.

3. The holiness of God.

4. The wisdom of God.

5. The glory of God.Further, Christ is engaged in this work, as

(1)A purchaser of His people;

(2)An actual proprietor and possessor by way of

(a)donation from His Father;

(b)conquest of every gracious person;

(c)mutual consent and agreement;

(d)appointment to take care of every believer.Christ's charge was

(a)to redeem them;

(b)to be their governor;

(c)to receive them;

(d)to perfect them.

(S. Charnock.)

takes it for a musical instrument made of a reed which shepherds used to have, which, when bruised, is flung away by the musician, as disdaining to spend his breath upon such a vile instrument that emits no pleasant sound.

(S. Charnock.)

Though He walk in the way where bruised reeds lie, He will step over them, and not break them more; He will not tread upon a little smoking flax that lies languishing upon the ground, and so put it out with His foot, though it hurts the eyes with its smoke, and offends the nostrils with its stench.


The sun is not able to dry up a drop of sea-water that lies in the midst of the sand, which the sea every minute rolls upon and preserves; neither can the flesh the least grace, while the fulness of Christ flows out upon it to supply it.

(S. Charnock.)

As the sickly, faint child, hardly able to go, and not the strong one, is the object of the father's pity, the weaker thy faith, which lies mixed with a world of strong corruptions, the more will Christ be affected with thy case, and pity that grace of His own which suffers under them.

(S. Charnock.)

Well, then, will Christ suffer one to perish who hath the same nature, spirit, and mind which He Himself hath? Will He endure that His own picture, limned by the art of His Spirit, with the colours of His own blood, in so near a resemblance to Him, that He hath not His image again in anything in the world besides it; and this drawn for His own glory, that He might be a head among many brethren; will He suffer so excellent a piece as this to be torn in pieces, in contempt of Him, either by flesh or devils?

(S. Charnock.)

Grace can never be so blown out, but there will be some smoke, some spark, whereby it may be rekindled. The smoking snuff of Peter's grace was lighted again by a sudden look of his Master.

(S. Charnock.)

To see a rich jewel in a child's hand, with a troop of thieves about him snatching at it, and yet not able to plunder, would raise an astonishment both in the actors and spectators, and make them conclude an invisible strength that protects the child, and defeats the invaders.

(S. Charnock.)

Though weak grace will carry a man to heaven, it will be just as a small and weak vessel surprised by a shattering storm, which, though it may get to the shore, yet with excessive hardships anti fears; such will sail through a stormy sea, and have a daily contest with stormy doubts, ready to overset their hopes; whereas a stout ship, well rigged, will play with the waves in the midst of a tempest, and at last pass through all difficulties, without many fears, into its haven.

(S. Charnock.)

Weak Christians are like glasses which are hurt with the least violent usage, otherwise, if gently handled, will continue a long time.


Some things, though bad in themselves, yet discover some good, as smoke discovers some fire. Breaking out in the body shows strength of nature. Some infirmities discover more good than some seeming beautiful actions. Better it is that the water should run something muddily than not at all. Job had more grace in his distempers than his friends in their seeming wise carriage.


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