Revised Version, "Ye serpents, ye offspring of vipers, how shall ye escape the judgment of hell?" margin, "Gehenna." It is neither right nor wise to attempt any mitigations or modifications of this intensely severe sentence. Let the words stand precisely as we find them; and let the sentence be the sternest, severest, intensest sentence that ever passed the Divine lips of our blessed Lord. Capable of being misunderstood and misrepresented, they are capable also of most rational and most reasonable explanation. All we have to do is to inquire whether the persons referred to, and the circumstances under which the words were uttered, would justify a noble-minded man in speaking so intensely. If they would. then Jesus is justified.
I. THESE DENUNCIATIONS, READ IN THE LIGHT OF THE PERSONS DENOUNCED. Explain that they would have been unsuitable for the Pharisees as a class. They would have been over-intense if applied to the formalist and hypocritical sections of the Pharisee class. But they are strictly appropriate to those few men who, for months past, had been resisting every witness that favoured Christ's claim; had been plotting, dodging, scheming, to destroy Christ; had come fawning upon him, with malice, hatred, and all uncharitableness in their hearts. Defeated in argument, they would not admit defeat. Humiliated by our Lord's answers, they were still bent on effecting their shameless purpose. What did such men deserve? What was left to be done with them? They had to be shown up, as men are shown up when withering denunciations are heaped upon them, under which they cower, conscience smitten. Jesus was doing the best thing possible for those wretched men, by these holy enunciations, the mere form of which must be judged by Eastern, not Western, models.
II. THESE DENUNCIATIONS, READ IN THE LIGHT OF THE PERSON DENOUNCING. Those who so readily accuse Christ of over-severity would be the very first and loudest in accusing him of moral weakness, inability to recognize or respond to sin, if such instances of severity had not been recorded. The true man, the Divine man, feels adequately in response to every situation; and we may unhesitatingly affirm that this was a time to be sublimely indignant, and that burning words of wrath - terrible as these - were the fitting thing for the occasion. - R.T.
How can ye escape the damnation of hell? I.
WHAT YOUR SITUATION ACTUALLY IS.
1. YOU are even now under sentence of condemnation.
2. You need to be awakened, no man will escape a danger he does not perceive.
3. In order to escape final condemnation you must pursue religion with perseverance.
II. THE OBSTACLES.
1. The effect of sin is to make men blind to their own sins.
2. The sinner often seeks deliverance in a way in which it cannot be obtained.
3. The unbelieving heart will not submit to God until its opposition be removed.
4. The fascinating power of worldly objects.
5. Then you say the difficulties are so great that you have not courage to make the attempt to escape.
To pretend holiness when there is none is a vain thing. What were the foolish virgins better for their blazing lamps when they wanted oil? What is the lamp of profession without the oil of saving grace? What comfort will a show of holiness yield at last? Will painted gold enrich? Painted wine refresh him that is thirsty? Will painted holiness be a cordial at the hour of death? A pretence of sanctification is not to be rested in. Many ships have had the name of Hope, the Safeguard, the Triumph, yet have been cast away upon the rocks; so many who have had the name of saintship have been cast into hell.
It is not right that God should punish one generation for the sins of another.
2. It is just that God should punish all generations for their own sins.
3. God might if He pleased pass by the sins of all generations; He might punish them hereafter, not here.
4. It is right that God should punish one generation and not another. He has always acted as a Sovereign in sparing or punishing particular generations. God delayed to destroy the Egyptians.
5. When God does spare one generation and punish another He always has some good reason for both sparing and punishing.
6. The sins of one generation may be a good reason why God should punish the sins of another.
7. It is criminal and foolish for one generation to imitate the sins of a former.
8. It is well for the present generation to discountenance open vices prevailing.
9. Sinners always are the troublers of the world.
TopicsBrood, Condemnation, Condemned, Damnation, Escape, Gehenna, Generation, Hell, Judgment, Kept, O, Offspring, Punishment, Sentence, Sentenced, Serpents, Snakes, Vipers
Outline1. Jesus admonishes the people to follow good doctrine, not bad examples5. His disciples must beware of their ambition.13. He denounces eight woes against their hypocrisy and blindness,34. and prophesies of the destruction of Jerusalem.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesMatthew 23:33
9513 hell, as incentive to action
5381 law, letter and spirit
8749 false teachers
5379 law, Christ's attitude
7552 Pharisees, attitudes to Christ
7464 teachers of the law
2318 Christ, as prophet
2009 Christ, anger of
LibraryThe Morality of the Gospel.
Is stating the morality of the Gospel as an argument of its truth, I am willing to admit two points; first, that the teaching of morality was not the primary design of the mission; secondly, that morality, neither in the Gospel, nor in any other book, can be a subject, properly speaking, of discovery. If I were to describe in a very few words the scope of Christianity as a revelation,  I should say that it was to influence the conduct of human life, by establishing the proof of a future state …
William Paley—Evidences of Christianity
Jesus' Last Public Discourse. Denunciation of Scribes and Pharisees.
(in the Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, a.d. 30.) ^A Matt. XXIII. 1-39; ^B Mark XII. 38-40; ^C Luke XX. 45-47. ^a 1 Then spake Jesus ^b 38 And in his teaching ^c in the hearing of all the people he said unto ^a the multitudes, and to his disciples [he spoke in the most public manner], 2 saying, ^c 46 Beware of the scribes, ^a The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat: 3 all things whatsoever they bid you, these do and observe: but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. …
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel
Christianity Misunderstood by Believers.
Meaning of Christian Doctrine, Understood by a Minority, has Become Completely Incomprehensible for the Majority of Men-- Reason of this to be Found in Misinterpretation of Christianity and Mistaken Conviction of Believers and Unbelievers Alike that they Understand it--The Meaning of Christianity Obscured for Believers by the Church--The First Appearance of Christ's Teaching--Its Essence and Difference from Heathen Religions-- Christianity not Fully Comprehended at the Beginning, Became More and …
Leo Tolstoy—The Kingdom of God is within you
First Attempts on Jerusalem.
Jesus, almost every year, went to Jerusalem for the feast of the passover. The details of these journeys are little known, for the synoptics do not speak of them, and the notes of the fourth Gospel are very confused on this point. It was, it appears, in the year 31, and certainly after the death of John, that the most important of the visits of Jesus to Jerusalem took place. Many of the disciples followed him. Although Jesus attached from that time little value to the pilgrimage, he conformed …
Ernest Renan—The Life of Jesus
For which Cause Our Lord Himself Also with his Own Mouth Saith...
4. For which cause our Lord Himself also with His own mouth saith, "Cleanse what are within, and what are without will be clean."  And, also, in another place, when He was refuting the foolish speeches of the Jews, in that they spake evil against His disciples, eating with unwashen hands; "Not what entereth into the mouth," said He, "defileth the man: but what cometh forth out of the mouth, that defileth the man."  Which sentence, if the whole of it be taken of the mouth of the body, …
St. Augustine—On Continence
Relation of the Pharisees to the Sadducees and Essenes, and to the Gospel of Christ
On taking a retrospective view of Pharisaism, as we have described it, there is a saying of our Lord which at first sight seems almost unaccountable. Yet it is clear and emphatic. "All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do" (Matt 23:3). But if the early disciples were not to break at once and for ever with the Jewish community, such a direction was absolutely needful. For, though the Pharisees were only "an order," Pharisaism, like modern Ultramontanism, had not only become …
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life
Among the People, and with the Pharisees
It would have been difficult to proceed far either in Galilee or in Judaea without coming into contact with an altogether peculiar and striking individuality, differing from all around, and which would at once arrest attention. This was the Pharisee. Courted or feared, shunned or flattered, reverently looked up to or laughed at, he was equally a power everywhere, both ecclesiastically and politically, as belonging to the most influential, the most zealous, and the most closely-connected religions …
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life
The General Service to a Prophet.
At the Vespers, for O Lord, I have cried, the Stichera, Tone 4. Similar to: Called from above... Thou that hast in the purity of thy mind received the reflex of the God-emitted light and wast the herald of the divine words and seer and divine prophet, thou appearedst as the God-moved mouth of the Spirit, conveying that which was shewn by Him unto thee, O all-honoured (mentioned by name), and declaring unto all the peoples the salvation that was being granted and the Kingdom of Christ; do entreat …
Anonymous—The General Menaion
Of the Power of Making Laws. The Cruelty of the Pope and his Adherents, in this Respect, in Tyrannically Oppressing and Destroying Souls.
1. The power of the Church in enacting laws. This made a source of human traditions. Impiety of these traditions. 2. Many of the Papistical traditions not only difficult, but impossible to be observed. 3. That the question may be more conveniently explained, nature of conscience must be defined. 4. Definition of conscience explained. Examples in illustration of the definition. 5. Paul's doctrine of submission to magistrates for conscience sake, gives no countenance to the Popish doctrine of the obligation …
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Hints to Teachers and Questions for Pupils
Teacher's Apparatus.--English theology has no juster cause for pride than the books it has produced on the Life of Paul. Perhaps there is no other subject in which it has so outdistanced all rivals. Conybeare and Howson's Life and Epistles of St. Paul will probably always keep the foremost place; in many respects it is nearly perfect; and a teacher who has mastered it will be sufficiently equipped for his work and require no other help. The works of Lewin and Farrar are written on the same lines; …
James Stalker et al—The Life of St. Paul
On Attending the Church Service
"The sin of the young men was very great." 1 Sam. 2:17. 1. The corruption, not only of the heathen world, but likewise of them that were called Christians, has been matter of sorrow and lamentation to pious men, almost from the time of the apostles. And hence, as early as the second century, within a hundred years of St. John's removal from the earth, men who were afraid of being partakers of other men's sins, thought it their duty to separate from them. Hence, in every age many have retired from …
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions
Machinations of the Enemies of Jesus.
Jesus passed the autumn and a part of the winter at Jerusalem. This season is there rather cold. The portico of Solomon, with its covered aisles, was the place where he habitually walked. This portico consisted of two galleries, formed by three rows of columns, and covered by a ceiling of carved wood. It commanded the valley of Kedron, which was doubtless less covered with debris than it is at the present time. The depth of the ravine could not be measured, from the height of the portico; and …
Ernest Renan—The Life of Jesus
The Early Ministry in Judea
113. We owe to the fourth gospel our knowledge of the fact that Jesus began his general ministry in Jerusalem. The silence of the other records concerning this beginning cannot discredit the testimony of John. For these other records themselves indicate in various ways that Jesus had repeatedly sought to win Jerusalem before his final visit at the end of his life (compare Luke xiii. 34; Matt. xxiii. 37). Moreover, the fourth gospel is confirmed by the probability, rising almost to necessity, that …
Rush Rhees—The Life of Jesus of Nazareth
The Crossing of the Jordan
THE CROSSING OF THE JORDAN Just how did you feel at the time you were sanctified? I have heard some tell of how the holy fire of the Spirit seemed to go all through them. Others have told of a deeper, more complete peace. Some have shouted for joy. Others have wept for joy. And I am wondering how one ought to feel. Can you tell me? And how can I know that I am consecrated? Every teacher of entire sanctification that I ever heard says that the consecration must be complete; but how am I to know when …
Robert Lee Berry—Adventures in the Land of Canaan
Subjects of Study. Home Education in Israel; Female Education. Elementary Schools, Schoolmasters, and School Arrangements.
If a faithful picture of society in ancient Greece or Rome were to be presented to view, it is not easy to believe that even they who now most oppose the Bible could wish their aims success. For this, at any rate, may be asserted, without fear of gainsaying, that no other religion than that of the Bible has proved competent to control an advanced, or even an advancing, state of civilisation. Every other bound has been successively passed and submerged by the rising tide; how deep only the student …
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life
Letter Xliv Concerning the Maccabees but to whom Written is Unknown.
Concerning the Maccabees But to Whom Written is Unknown.  He relies to the question why the Church has decreed a festival to the Maccabees alone of all the righteous under the ancient law. 1. Fulk, Abbot of Epernay, had already written to ask me the same question as your charity has addressed to your humble servant by Brother Hescelin. I have put off replying to him, being desirous to find, if possible, some statement in the Fathers about this which was asked, which I might send to him, rather …
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux
Number and Order of the Separate Books.
The number of the books was variously estimated. Josephus gives twenty-two, which was the usual number among Christian writers in the second, third, and fourth centuries, having been derived perhaps from the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Origen, Jerome, and others have it. It continued longest among the teachers of the Greek Church, and is even in Nicephorus's stichometry.(83) The enumeration in question has Ruth with Judges, and Lamentations with Jeremiah. In Epiphanius(84) the number twenty-seven …
Samuel Davidson—The Canon of the Bible
I. (Who first propounded these heresies, p. 11.) Hippolytus seems to me to have felt the perils to the pure Gospel of many admissions made by Clement and other Alexandrian doctors as to the merits of some of the philosophers of the Gentiles. Very gently, but with prescient genius, he adopts this plan of tracing the origin and all the force of heresies to "philosophy falsely so called." The existence of this "cloud of locusts" is (1) evidence of the antagonism of Satan; (2) of the prophetic spirit …
Hippolytus.—The Refutation of All Heresies
"The Carnal Mind is Enmity against God for it is not Subject to the Law of God, Neither Indeed Can Be. So Then they that Are
Rom. viii. s 7, 8.--"The carnal mind is enmity against God for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." It is not the least of man's evils, that he knows not how evil he is, therefore the Searcher of the heart of man gives the most perfect account of it, Jer. xvii. 12. "The heart is deceitful above all things," as well as "desperately wicked," two things superlative and excessive in it, bordering upon an infiniteness, such …
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning
We are not Binding Heavy Burdens and Laying them Upon Your Shoulders...
37. We are not binding heavy burdens and laying them upon your shoulders, while we with a finger will not touch them. Seek out, and acknowledge the labor of our occupations, and in some of us the infirmities of our bodies also, and in the Churches which we serve, that custom now grown up, that they do not suffer us to have time ourselves for those works to which we exhort you. For though we might say, "Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the …
St. Augustine—Of the Work of Monks.
Repentance and Impenitence.
In the discussion of this subject I shall show,-- I. What repentance is not. 1. The Bible everywhere represents repentance as a virtue, and as constituting a change of moral character; consequently, it cannot be a phenomenon of the intelligence: that is, it cannot consist in conviction of sin, nor in any intellectual apprehension of our guilt or ill-desert. All the states or phenomena of the intelligence are purely passive states of mind, and of course moral character, strictly speaking, cannot be …
Charles Grandison Finney—Systematic Theology
Second Sunday after Trinity Exhortation to Brotherly Love.
Text: 1 John 3, 13-18. 13 Marvel not, brethren, if the world hateth you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath the world's goods, and beholdeth his brother in need, and shutteth …
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. III
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