Matthew 12:44

The heart of man is a house in which dwell good or evil. When evil has taken up its abode there, the moralist will endeavour to drive it out. But if he is not able to substitute a positive good, his work will issue in worse than a failure; the evil will come back with increased power and resume possession of its old haunts. Let us endeavour to see the reason of this, and then how the mischief can be prevented.

I. THE EVICTION. The house was inhabited by a most undesirable tenant, who kept it in an ill condition, neglected, and filthy. So the landlord turned him out, and had the house cleaned down and garnished ready for a better occupier. This is analogous to a partial reformation - one that is only negative. We may compare it with the work of John the Baptist when that is not followed up by the gospel of Christ. The old state of sin has become unendurable; a desperate effort has been made to break off the bad habits. The drunkard has given up his drink; the profligate has left his vice; the worldly person has turned aside from his old follies. The evil spirit has been expelled. More has been done. Not only has there been an expulsion; there has been a cleansing, there has been a re-decoration. The empty house is swept and garnished. An improvement of manners has taken place. Some attempt has been made to add grace and beauty to the once wrecked and degraded soul.

II. THE EMPTINESS. An empty house is a dreary sight. Gaunt and silent in a street full of life, it seems to be the abode of ghostly shadows that flit to and fro am[ peep out of the windows at twilight. If we enter it, it strikes us with a dismal sense of desertion. Its wails echo to every footfall; the stairs creak painfully under our tread; a gust of wind sighs through the vacant passages; suddenly we are startled by the slamming of a door somewhere up in the garret. It is an eerie place. An empty mind is equally desolate; and a heart from which the old affections have been torn is a dreary vacancy. Such things cannot be endured, and they do not last.

III. THE RETURN. The empty house invites stray guests. It cannot remain perfectly deserted, if it has nothing better than rats and mice to scamper over the ceilings and chase one another behind the wainscoting. The poor empty soul will soon be infested with a brood of "tenants-at-will." 'If there is nothing to keep them out, the old habits will return and reassert themselves. The disappointment of the hope of reformation is likely to give rise to an utter abandonment of despair. When the reformed drunkard breaks out with his old vice again he plunges deeper than ever in the mire.

IV. THE REMEDY. How can this terrible end be prevented? The evil arises from the emptiness of the heart. This vacuum must be filled. If the old evil is not to return, a new good must take its place. The only way to keep the old tenant out is to put a new tenant in possession. -Negative morality is of little value. "Thou shalt not" is a poor substitute for a gospel of redemption. The heart needs to be filled with a new passion in order that it may leave no room for the old passions to return. Now, this remedy is found in Christ. The love of sin is only perfectly banished when the love of Christ has filled the heart. But when Christ is in possession sin cannot reassert its insolent claims. - W.F.A.

When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man.
The central lesson of this text is this: THAT REFORMATION IS NOT NECESSARILY SALVATION — that, indeed, reformation without godliness may bring a curse rather than a blessing. And it is not the history of the Jewish nation only which illustrates this principle. Look at the reaction which, in our own country, followed the Puritan Reformation. Again, there are not a few in our day who have lost all faith in the gospel of Christ, BUT WHO ARE FIRM RELIEVERS IS THE POWER OF SCIENCE AND MATERIAL CIVILIZATION TO ELEVATE AND BLESS MANKIND. Science may expel the devils of ignorance and superstition; it may "sweep" the house, and "garnish " it with information on a thousand subjects. But can it supply the house with a tenant strong enough to keep out the " seven worse devils " when they come? I do not know that ignorance is more dangerous than intellectual pride. I do not know that a superstitious idolatry is worse than an atheistic materialism. Nay, it may perhaps be more healthful for a man to worship the stars than to worship his own telescope, it is surely better to "feel after God" in the darkness, than to cease caring for Him in the light. Coming nearer home, MY TEXT ALSO TEACHES US A PRATICAL LESSON AS TO OUR DEALINGS WITH INDIVIDUALS WHOM WE ARE SEEKING TO SAVE AND BLESS. AS a parent you endeavour by earnest discipline to expel from your child the demons of disobedience, untruthfulness, self-will. You do well in thus sweeping the house; but this is not salvation. One deed done by your boy through the love of God or Christ or goodness, is worth all the sweeping and garnishing in the world; for it indicates that the house is tenanted. Take another case. Here, let us suppose, is a drunkard whom you are anxious to reform. He is ruining his body, breaking his wife's heart, injuring his family. You succeed in reforming him. This a matter for rejoicing. You have done well in sweeping the house from one vice; but that vice had its root in ungodliness, and if after his reformation the man continues ungodly, there is danger of that ungodliness breaking out in worse sins than ever. Finally, THE TEXT HAS A SOLEMN APPLICATION TO THE STATE OF OUR OWN SOULS. The grand question is: Are our souls inhabited by the principles of godliness? Is the spirit of God dwelling within us? Let us choose and cherish all things good.

(T. C. Finlayson)

You may perhaps have seen some large mansion filled with substantial and elegant furniture, and surrounded with a beautiful and well kept garden, and having in its windows a placard bearing the words" To LET, FURNISHED." I fear there is many a man in modern Christendom of whom such a house is only too fitting an emblem! He may have been well instructed in the truths of Christianity; his mind may be richly stored with the fruits of modern culture; he may be brilliant and accomplished; his acquirements may be substantial, his manners gentlemanly, his tastes refined, his conduct decorous: but the well-furnished rooms are all vacant: they are not tenanted by the spiritual life; they are sadly too open to the incursions of evil; and one day, perhaps, the "seven devils" may come and abuse to their own purposes all those intellectual and aesthetic treasures.

(T. C. Finlayson.)

I suppose there never was a time in the history of England which equalled in licentiousness and profanity the period ushered in by the Restoration. And doubtless the chief cause of this is to be found in the endeavour of the Puritans, when they were in power, to force upon the nation both their own theology and their own code of morals. The Puritans, in their intense eagerness to reform the nation, fell into the great mistake of supposing that they could make the people orthodox and virtuous by Acts of Parliament. At least, their deeds were in accordance with some such theory. The Book of Common Prayer was forbidden, under penalty, to be used either in churches or in private houses. Punishments were threatened against such as should find fault with the Calvinistic mode of worship. Public amusements were attacked. Theatrical representstions were proscribed. One statute ordered that all the maypoles in England should be cut down. The Long Parliament gave orders that Christmas Day should be strictly observed as a fast — a day of national humiliation. No person was to be "admitted into the public service until the House of Legislature should be satisfied as to his real godliness." Thus the Puritans set themselves most vigorously to "sweep" England and to "garnish" it. And it cannot be denied that to some extent they succeeded. The country did present an aspect of greater devoutness and morality. But all such Acts of Parliament could not communicate one spark of religious life; they could "sweep" away much visible dust, they could "garnish" the house with external observances, but they could not send the indwelling tenant. And so, in due time, to the untenanted house came the "seven devils:" — first, hypocrisy and all manner of cant, and secret debauchery, even during the Protectorate; and then, at the Restoration, an unblushing profanity sand licentiousness, the like of which England had never seen before. The king and his courtiers set the example of profligacy. The statesmen of the land became mere selfish tricksters. Literature draggled itself in the mire of pollution. The stage became utterly corrupt. Conventicles were proscribed. John Bunyan was only one of many who were sent to prison for preaching the gospel.

(T. C. Finlayson.)

And if we look to England at the period of the Reformation, we find that men, raised up by God, and endowed of Him with singular boldness, and wisdom, and piety, exorcised the unclean spirit of Romish superstition, and ejected from amongst us the corruptions of Popery. It was a sublime moral revolution, and never did the human mind struggle free from a more oppressive shackle, never was there thrown off from a people a mightier weight, than when Reformers had won the hard-fought battle, and Protestantism was enthroned as the religion of these realms. But we should like to have it carefully considered, whether there has been no receiving back the unclean spirit. The human mind, long enslaved, was intoxicated with its freedom, and, in place of stopping at liberty, went on to lawlessness. Hence the overspreading of the land with a thousand sects and a thousand systems; as though, in casting out the one spirit of ecclesiastical tyranny, we had taken in the seven of ecclesiastical disunion. And over and above this melancholy disruption of the visible Church, Popery itself has too often found a home in our Protestantism: for whenever formality has insinuated itself into religion, or self-righteousness, or the substitution of means for an end, then has there been introduced the very essence of Romanism: the ejected spirit has come back, the same in nature, though less repulsive in appearance.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)



1. Not a particle of its materials belong to him.

2. Not an effort in its workmanship was his.

III. INTENSE SELFISHNESS. Why does he return to the house, for injury.

IV. EGREGIOUS FOLLY. Possession precarious.

(Dr. Thomas.)




1. Of the state in which he found it. Empty. Garnished but not furnished.

2. The possession he again takes.


1. He will now run greater lengths in impiety than before.

2. He is less likely than ever to be recovered from Satanic dominion.

3. It must prove the occasion of more severe and aggravated suffering.

(H. Bromley.)

Expository Outlines.
I. A MISERABLE CONDITION INDICATED. It is that of a man under the influence of an evil spirit.

1. This influence is powerful. It is inward, controlling, directing.

2. It is defiling.

II. AN AGREEABLE DELIVERANCE EXPERIENCED. Men may undergo considerable change for the better, without being really converted.

1. In the Word of God this truth is frequently set forth.

2. It is confirmed by innumerable instances.

3. This subject demands serious thought, and vigorous self-examination.


1. When the evil spirit returned he found the house unoccupied.

2. His return under these circumstances was easily effected.

3. The consequences attending this re-possession were truly awful.

(Expository Outlines.)

Evil, in every form or stage, is dangerous. But if one comes out of these evils, and lapses back into them, the dangers are increased. This is well understood in disease. When the fever has subsided, and pulse and temperature have become normal, if then, through some indiscretion or exposure, the disease returns, the physician looks for a wider variation of pulse and temperature, and greater danger. The forces of nature are weakened; the house of the body was swept clean of all those gracious energies that filled it full of life and health, and now the disease runs riot through all its undefended chambers and passages. So one may dwell in a marsh at the foot of a mountain — a miserable existence, it may be, in malarious damps and under fatal shades; but it is better to stay there than to climb the mountain and heedlessly slip over a precipice. Life may be maintained below, though under wretched conditions; but the fall may cripple or end it. So one may live a contented life in rude poverty; the single room of the hut, water from the spring, the wild forest around, the homespun suit, the plain diet, the unhelped toil, the dull and narrow routine — a picture for pity, perhaps, and not representing the best forms of life; but if one escapes it, and comes into finer and larger ways of living, and then is driven back to the old place and ways, the lapse breeds a discontent and misery before unknown. To venture forth and then return; to rise and fall back; to promise and not fulfil; to undertake and not do — this is the tragedy of character.

I. ONE WHO LAPSES FROM RELIGIOUS EARNESTNESS DOES NOT EASILY REGAIN IT; and if the lapses are frequent there is danger of losing it altogether. The Divine flame cannot often go out and be re-kindled. Once out, it is apt to stay out. The religious nature cannot be tampered with, and retain its integrity. It is largely made up of emotions and passions that lose their quality, and turn into scourges, if treated fitfully. You may bend a bar of iron, and straighten it again; but after repeating this process a few times it suddenly parts in your hands, and only fusing fire can weld it. Take a finer passion — love. You cannot give and take back love without ceasing to love; it is, by its nature, a continuous thing. Violate its nature as such, and it becomes a name and a disgust. One cannot "fall in love" many times, and have a heart left... Fire always burns; water seeks its level; the crystal keeps its angle; light extinguishes darkness. So in spiritual matters; we cannot trifle with these great passions of love and reverence, devotion, fidelity and enthusiasm without destroying them... It is dangerous, because self-destructive to say, "I will do a thing," and then not do it; to take a place of responsibility, and shirk its duties when they begin to press hard and grow monotonous. If we trifle with truth and duty, we do not merely lose them; we change them into avenging spirits that return to us with consuming power.

II. One who takes up and lays off a duty, and is fitful in religious habits and feelings, GROWS SCEPTICAL OF THE REALITY OF THESE THINGS. A religious life gets its vindication and comes to a full proof of its reality, only as it is continuous and lived out to the full. One cannot in a year test the full power of a single Christian quality. A personal vindication of the faith is a life-work, and requires all its years. Thus only does one come to know in whom and what one believes. But if the test is a short or vacillating one; if you try prayer, worship, self-denial, meekness, charity, forgiveness, self-control, devotion for a while, and lapse out of them, you doubt their reality. Why should you not? They bore you no fruit, gave you no proof. But alas for him who reaches such a conclusion by such a process. It is something to believe in goodness, though we may not be good; to believe that honest men walk the streets, though we may not be honest; that the light which shines from the downcast eves of modesty is not a false light, though it may have died out in our own; that when men speak of prayer and faith, they speak of realities and powers, though we may be strangers to them. But to doubt them, to disbelieve their existence — that is perdition. Then the soul begins to depart from all things, the glory of humanity fades Out; inspiration ceases to play within us; nobility is gone out of all our life.

III. THE REASONS FOR STEDFASTNESS. Only one true goal of human effort — character. To know its conditions and obey them is the sum of all knowledge and duty. Regularity, bending the powers to one end, doing always the right thing under the right motive — it is thus that character takes shape and becomes a reality. A habit of religious thought may be formed as truly as a trade can be learned, and under the same law of repetition, guided by will and sympathetic purpose. Lapse, alternations, fluctuations, now earnest, now slothful, now up and doing, and now doing nothing, now alive with religious enthusiasm, now sunk down in apathy — such a history is the defeat and the denial of character. There is still hope no doubt, for one who has had such a history; but he must take care not to repeat it. Character is justly adjudged by its faults and vices, rather than from its virtues; just as it is the weakest spot in the iron that measures the strength of the bar, and just as the rope will hold only the weight that the frayed and chafed strands can endure. In character, the vice blackens the virtue; the virtue cannot whiten the vice... And so, when we turn to the Bible, we find all the promises and all the rewards poured out on those who are faithful unto the end. The patience of the saints is the burden of its exhortation. Be thou faithful unto death, and thou shalt win the crown of life. And in keeping with this, the picture of heavenly perfection, is that of constancy — serving God day and night in His temple; and so they reign for ever and ever.

(T. T. Munger.)

As wealth increases, as we multiply men-servants and maid-servants in our houses, as life becomes less primitive and more artificial, there come to be found a large number of persons, both men and women, who have little or nothing to do, unless they seek or make an occupation for themselves. It is out of such a condition of things that there is sure to arise, sooner or later, every imaginable evil that can afflict society or ruin the individual soul. Given the growth of wealth, luxury and indolence, and straightway you have prepared a nest in which a whole brood of vices will soon and swiftly be hatched. When one home is clouded or shattered by the shame of some wretched intrigue, and another stung and wounded by the cruelty of some causeless calumny, and a third dishonoured and disbanded perhaps by some foolish and criminal extravagance, have we ever paused to consider amid what idleness, what aimlessness, amid what vapid seeking for a fresh excitement in the dead dull level of an unemployed and uninterested life, these manifold forms of evil were conceived and initiated? Ah! if we could trace back some crime or baseness to its incipient beginning, how often should we find it true that, into the life, "empty, swept and garnished," there had entered, just because it was so empty, its hands so idle and unemployed, its heart so uninterested and indifferent, a whole legion of devils to drag it down to hell.

(Bishop H. C. Potter.)

It is not here said that the evil spirit breaks open the door, or that he does so much as draw the latch; but that he finds it empty and open already, and all things ready for his entertainment; so that, if we reach not out our hands to welcome him when he comes, and set not our doors open to let him in when he knocks, his temptations can never do us hurt; he can but entreat us, as he did Christ; and, if we fall, the fault is our own; we cast ourselves down headlong into misery and sin.

(Bishop Cosin.)

So the malicious heart is a house for the spirit of envy: the drunken for the spirit of sobriety: the proud for the spirit of pride: the unchaste for the spirit of uncleanness: usurer for the spirit of covetousness.

(T. Adams.)

The discontented devil cast out of man seeks about for a new lodging; and finds all places dry: he esteems every place, but in man's heart, irksome and unpleasant, as a dry, barren, and healthy wilderness. Now, as when a man hath long lived in a fertile valley, abounding with delightful fruits, and necessary comforts, the grounds standing thick with corn, and a pleasant river running along, to glad his heart with a welcome moisture; it cannot be other than a displeasing change to be banished into a mountainous desert, where the scorching sun burns up the grass, and withers the fruit; or the unhindered force of the wind finds a bleak object to work upon; where the veins of blood, the springs of water, rise not, run not, to modify the earth, and cherish her plants. Such is Satan's case and cause of perplexity. The wicked heart was his delighted orchard, where the fruits of disobedience, oaths, lies, blasphemies, oppressions, cozenages, contentions, drunken, proud, covetous actions and habits made him fat.

The devil may be within the grate, though he thrust not out his apparent horns, or say, he be walked abroad, yet be returns home at night: and in the mean time, like a mistrustful churl, locks the door after him; spares up the heart with security, that his treasure be not stolen. Thus as a snail, he gathers up himself into his shell and house of the heart, when he fears discovery, and puts not forth his horns. Sometimes he plays not in the sun actually, but burrows deep in the affections. The fox keeps his den close, when he knows that God's huntsmen be abroad to seek him.

(T. Adams.)

Nero is still in Rome, though he remits taxations, and forbears massacres for a season.

(T. Adams.)

Man compared to a fort, and the devil to its captain.

I. The unclean spirit's EGRESS, forsaking the hold.

1. His unroosting:

(a)the person going out;

(b)the manner;

(c)the measure, of his going out.

2. His unresting: which is seen in

(a)his travel;

(b)his trial;

(c)his trouble;

(d)the event — "finding none."

II. His REGRESS, striving for a re-entry into that which he lost.

1. Intentively:

(a)his resolution;

(b)his revolution;

(c)the description of the seat;

(d)his affection to the same place.

2. Inventively: for he findeth in it,




III. His INGRESS: manifest by —

1. His associates;

(a)their number;

(b)their nature;

(c)the measure of their malice.

2. His assault:

(a)the invasion;

(b)the inhabitation;

(c)the cohabitation.

(T. Adams.)

For like as a lazy and slothful housewife uses to sweep a little of the loose dust and filth in the open and middle of the room, and lets many secret corners lie foul as before, and maybe leaves the dirt behind the door out of the public view of people: so the false and counterfeit Christian reforms his life in the sight of men; or, like the Pharisees, makes clean the outside of the cup and platter, but their hearts are still polluted, and as vile as ever.

(B. Keach.)

And remarkable is the phrase of our Saviour, "garnished," which we know is commonly a curious piece of art, men by their ingenuity strive to imitate nature; they will draw the face of a man, etc., with curious painting, very exact, so that it much resembles the person's natural face, yet it is not the same, it is but a piece of paint, an artificial invention. Even so in like manner by the improvement of man's natural parts, common grace, light and knowledge, he may appear in the view and sight of men, as a true child of God, and may talk and discourse like a saint, read and hear God's Word — nay, and pray also with much seeming devotion and piety, and may likewise bridle many unruly lusts, and gross enormities of life, and give alms to the poor, insomuch that he may very exactly resemble a true and sincere Christian, and be taken by all godly people to be indeed such an one; but notwithstanding all, it is but an artificial piece, it is but like a curious paint, or vainglorious garnish; it is not the image of God, it is not the new creature; though it looks like it, much resembles it, yet is not the same; for the man is a mere hypocrite, a counterfeit Christian, the work upon him being only the product of natural improvements, and not the effects of the saving operations of the Holy Spirit.

(B. Keach.)

Beelzebub, David, Isaiah, Jesus, Jonah, Jonas, Ninevites, Solomon
Galilee, Nineveh
Adorned, Arrives, Clean, Empty, Fair, Findeth, Finds, Forth, Garnished, Order, Return, Says, Sees, Swept, Turn, Unoccupied, Whence
1. Jesus reproves the blindness of the Pharisees concerning the Sabbath,
3. by scripture,
9. by reason,
13. and by a miracle.
22. He heals a man possessed that was blind and mute;
24. and confronting the absurd charge of casting out demons by Beelzebub,
32. he shows that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall never be forgiven.
36. Account shall be made of idle words.
38. He rebukes the unfaithful, who seek after a sign,
46. and shows who is his brother, sister, and mother.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Matthew 12:39-45

     2009   Christ, anger of
     5694   generation

Matthew 12:43-45

     4131   demons, kinds of
     7342   cleanliness

An Attempt to Account for Jesus
'But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This man doth not cast out demons, but by Beelzebub, the prince of the demons.'--MATT. xii. 24. Mark's Gospel tells us that this astonishing explanation of Christ and His work was due to the ingenious malice of an ecclesiastical deputation, sent down from Jerusalem to prevent the simple folk in Galilee from being led away by this new Teacher. They must have been very hard put to it to explain undeniable but unwelcome facts, when they hazarded such a preposterous
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

'Make the Tree Good'
'... Make the tree good, and his fruit good....' --MATT. xii. 33. In this Gospel we find that our Lord twice uses this image of a tree and its fruit. In the Sermon on the Mount He applies it as a test to false teachers, who hide, beneath the wool of the sheep's clothing, the fangs and paws of ravening wolves. He says, 'By their deeds ye shall know them; for as is the tree so is its fruit.' That is a rough and ready test, which applies rather to the teacher than to his doctrine, but it applies, to
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

'A Greater than Jonas'
'A greater than Jonas is here.'--MATT. xii. 41. There never was any man in his right mind, still more of influence on his fellows, who made such claims as to himself in such unmistakable language as Jesus Christ does. To say such things of oneself as come from His lips is a sign of a weak, foolish nature. It is fatal to all influence, to all beauty of character. It is not only that He claims official attributes as a fanatical or dishonest pretender to inspiration may do. He does that, but He does
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

'A Greater than Solomon'
'A greater than Solomon is here.'--MATT. xii. 42. It is condescension in Him to compare Himself with any; yet if any might have been selected, it is that great name. To the Jews Solomon is an ideal figure, who appealed so strongly to popular imagination as to become the centre of endless legends; whose dominion was the very apex of national glory, in recounting whose splendours the historical books seem to be scarce able to restrain their triumph and pride. I. The Man. The story gives us a richly
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Pharisees' Sabbath and Christ's
'At that time Jesus went on the Sabbath day through the corn; and His disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. 2. But when the Pharisees saw it they said unto Him, Behold, Thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the Sabbath day. 3. But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; 4. How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

On the Words of the Gospel, Matt. xii. 32, "Whosoever Shall Speak a Word against the Holy Spirit, it Shall not be Forgiven Him, Neither In
1. There has been a great question raised touching the late lesson of the Gospel, to the solution of which I am unequal by any power of mine own; but "our sufficiency is of God," [2335] to whatever degree we are capable of receiving His aid. First then consider the magnitude of the question; that when ye see the weight of it laid upon my shoulders, ye may pray in aid of my labours, and in the assistance which is vouchsafed to me, may find edification for your own souls. When "one possessed with a
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

On the Words of the Gospel, Matt. xii. 33, "Either Make the Tree Good, and Its Fruit Good," Etc.
1. The Lord Jesus hath admonished us, that we be good trees, and that so we may be able to bear good fruits. For He saith, "Either make the tree good, and his fruit good, or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt, for the tree is known by his fruit." [2484] When He says, "Make the tree good, and his fruit good;" this of course is not an admonition, but a wholesome precept, to which obedience is necessary. But when He saith, "Make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt;" this is not a
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

Sweet Comfort for Feeble Saints
I. First, we have before us a view of MORTAL FRAILTY And first, the encouragement offered in our text applies to weak ones. What in the world is weaker than the bruised reed, or the smoking flax? A reed that groweth in the fen or marsh, let but the wild duck light upon it, and it snaps; let but the foot of man brush against it and it is bruised and broken; every wind that comes howling across the river makes it shake to and fro, and well nigh tears it up by the roots. You can conceive of nothing
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 1: 1855

How to Read the Bible
I. That is the subject of our present discourse, or, at least the first point of it, that IN ORDER TO THE TRUE READING OF THE SCRIPTURES THERE MUST BE AN UNDERSTANDING OF THEM. I scarcely need to preface these remarks by saying that we must read the Scriptures. You know how necessary it is that we should be fed upon the truth of Holy Scripture. Need I suggest the question as to whether you do read your Bibles or not? I am afraid that this is a magazine reading age a newspaper reading age a periodical
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 25: 1879

Strength in the Weak.
"He is Faithful that Promised." "A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench."--MATT. xii. 20. Strength in the Weak. Will Jesus accept such a heart as mine?--this erring, treacherous, traitor heart? The past! how many forgotten vows--broken covenants--prayerless days! How often have I made new resolutions, and as often has the reed succumbed to the first blast of temptation, and the burning flax been well-nigh quenched by guilty omissions and guiltier commissions! Oh!
John Ross Macduff—The Faithful Promiser

Identity of Christ's Character.
THE argument expressed by this title I apply principally to the comparison of the first three Gospels with that of Saint John. It is known to every reader of Scripture that the passages of Christ's history preserved by Saint John are, except his passion and resurrection, for the most part different from those which are delivered by the other evangelists. And I think the ancient account of this difference to be the true one, viz., that Saint John wrote after the rest, and to supply what he thought
William Paley—Evidences of Christianity

What are Evidences of Backsliding in Heart.
1. Manifest formality in religious exercises. A stereotyped, formal way of saying and doing things, that is clearly the result of habit, rather than the outgushing of the religious life. This formality will be emotionless and cold as an iceberg, and will evince a total want of earnestness in the performance of religious duty. In prayer and in religious exercises the backslider in heart will pray or praise, or confess, or give thanks with his lips, so that all can hear him, perhaps, but in such a
Charles G. Finney—The Backslider in Heart

Lesser and Fuller Forms.
Moreover, we have endeavoured to use the fullest form, including the words of those Gospels which have the lesser forms of sentences, except where the sentence ends in a period, in which case have given the least form, so that the larger form of the other Gospels might be made apparent; as, for instance, this sentence, taken from Matt. xii. 47; Mark iii. 32; Luke viii. 20: ^c 20 And it was told him, ^a Behold, thy mother and thy brethren bseek for thee. ^c stand without desiring to see thee. ^a seeking
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Jesus Defends Disciples who Pluck Grain on the Sabbath.
(Probably While on the Way from Jerusalem to Galilee.) ^A Matt. XII. 1-8; ^B Mark II. 23-28; ^C Luke VI. 1-5. ^b 23 And ^c 1 Now it came to pass ^a 1 At that season ^b that he ^a Jesus went { ^b was going} on the { ^c a} ^b sabbath day through the grainfields; ^a and his disciples were hungry and began ^b as they went, to pluck the ears. ^a and to eat, ^c and his disciples plucked the ears, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands. [This lesson fits in chronological order with the last, if the Bethesda
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Jesus Heals Multitudes Beside the Sea of Galilee.
^A Matt. XII. 15-21; ^B Mark III. 7-12. ^a 15 And Jesus perceiving it withdrew ^b with his disciples ^a from thence: ^b to the sea [This was the first withdrawal of Jesus for the avowed purpose of self-preservation. After this we find Jesus constantly retiring to avoid the plots of his enemies. The Sea of Galilee, with its boats and its shores touching different jurisdictions, formed a convenient and fairly safe retreat]: ^a and many followed him; ^b and a great multitude from Galilee followed; and
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Blasphemous Accusations of the Jews.
(Galilee.) ^A Matt. XII. 22-37; ^B Mark III. 19-30; ^C Luke XI. 14-23. ^b 19 And he cometh into a house. [Whose house is not stated.] 20 And the multitude cometh together again [as on a previous occasion--Mark ii. 1], so that they could not so much as eat bread. [They could not sit down to a regular meal. A wonderful picture of the intense importunity of people and the corresponding eagerness of Jesus, who was as willing to do as they were to have done.] 21 And when his friends heard it, they went
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Sign Seekers, and the Enthusiast Reproved.
(Galilee on the Same Day as the Last Section.) ^A Matt. XII. 38-45; ^C Luke XI. 24-36. ^c 29 And when the multitudes were gathering together unto him, ^a 38 Then certain of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, Teacher, we would see a sign from thee. [Having been severely rebuked by Jesus, it is likely that the scribes and Pharisees asked for a sign that they might appear to the multitude more fair-minded and open to conviction than Jesus had represented them to be. Jesus had just wrought
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Christ's Teaching as to his Mother and Brethren.
(Galilee, Same Day as the Last Lesson.) ^A Matt. XII. 46-50; ^B Mark III. 31-35; ^C Luke VIII. 19-21. ^a 46 While he yet speaking to the multitudes, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without seeking to speak to him. [Jesus was in a house, probably at Capernaum--Mark iii. 19; Matt. xiii. 1.] ^c 19 and there came { ^b come} ^c to him his mother and ^b his brethren; ^c and they could not come at him for the crowd. ^a and, standing without, they sent unto him, calling him. 32 And the multitude
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Jesus Defends Healing a Withered Hand on the Sabbath.
(Probably Galilee.) ^A Matt. XII. 9-14; ^B Mark III. 1-6; ^C Luke VI. 6-11. ^a 9 And he departed thence. [The word here points to a journey as in Matt. xi. 1 and xv. 29, which are the only places where Matthew uses this expression. Greswell may be right in thinking that it indicates the return back to Galilee from the Passover, since a cognate expression used by John expresses such a journey from Galilee to Judæa. See John vii. 3 ], ^c 6 And it came to pass on another sabbath [another sabbath
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Acceptance of the Christian Conception of Life Will Emancipate Men from the Miseries of Our Pagan Life.
The External Life of Christian Peoples Remains Pagan Though they are Penetrated by Christian Consciousness--The Way Out of this Contradiction is by the Acceptance of the Christian Theory of Life--Only Through Christianity is Every Man Free, and Emancipated of All Human Authority--This Emancipation can be Effected by no Change in External Conditions of Life, but Only by a Change in the Conception of Life--The Christian Ideal of Life Requires Renunciation of all Violence, and in Emancipating the Man
Leo Tolstoy—The Kingdom of God is within you

The Two Sabbath-Controversies - the Plucking of the Ears of Corn by the Disciples, and the Healing of the Man with the Withered Hand
IN grouping together the three miracles of healing described in the last chapter, we do not wish to convey that it is certain they had taken place in precisely that order. Nor do we feel sure, that they preceded what is about to be related. In the absence of exact data, the succession of events and their location must be matter of combination. From their position in the Evangelic narratives, and the manner in which all concerned speak and act, we inferred, that they took place at that particular
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The First Peræan Discourses - to the Pharisees Concerning the Two Kingdoms - their Contest - what Qualifies a Disciple for the Kingdom of God, And
It was well that Jesus should, for the present, have parted from Jerusalem with words like these. They would cling about His hearers like the odour of incense that had ascended. Even the schism' that had come among them [4194] concerning His Person made it possible not only to continue His Teaching, but to return to the City once more ere His final entrance. For, His Peræan Ministry, which extended from after the Feast of Tabernacles to the week preceding the last Passover, was, so to speak,
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

Opposition to Jesus.
During the first period of his career, it does not appear that Jesus met with any serious opposition. His preaching, thanks to the extreme liberty which was enjoyed in Galilee, and to the number of teachers who arose on all hands, made no noise beyond a restricted circle. But when Jesus entered upon a path brilliant with wonders and public successes, the storm began to gather. More than once he was obliged to conceal himself and fly.[1] Antipas, however, did not interfere with him, although Jesus
Ernest Renan—The Life of Jesus

The Cardinal was Seated, -- He Rose as Moretti Appeared. ...
The Cardinal was seated,--he rose as Moretti appeared. "I beg your Eminence to spare yourself!" said Moretti suavely, with a deep salutation, "And to pardon me for thus coming unannounced into the presence of one so highly esteemed by the Holy Father as Cardinal Bonpre!" The Cardinal gave a gesture of courteous deprecation; and Monsignor Moretti, lifting his, till then, partially lowered eyelids, flashed an angry regard upon the Abbe Vergniaud, who resting his back against the book-case behind him,
Marie Corelli—The Master-Christian

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