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Exposition of Matthew Chapter Six

Exposition of Matthew Chapter Six

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Aug 13, 2013
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EXPOSITIO OF MATTHEW CHAPTER SIXBy JOH BIRD SUMER, D.D.LECTURE XXII.HYPOCRISY I ALMSGIVIG AD PRAYER.MATT. vi. 1 6.1. Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to beseen of them : otherwise ye have no reward of your Fatherwhich is in heaven.2. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound atrumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagoguesand in the streets, that they may have glory of men. VerilyI say unto you, They have their reward.3. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand knowwhat thy right hand doeth :4. That thine alms may be in secret : and thy Fattierwhich seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.These words expose further the hypocrisy of those who were admired in that day as patterns of righteousness. Their object was, to have the praiseof men : and as almsgiving is naturally popular, andcommands applause, they would argue, that meaningto be well spoken of, they must be ready to distri-bute ; but, at the same time, contrive that what theygave should be no secret, otherwise they would losethe return which they were seeking. Therefore,8
MATT. VI. 16. 99said our Lord, the hypocrites sound a trumpet beforethem in the synagogues and in the streets, that theymay be seen of men.ow how will the Christian feel in this matter ?The words of St. John will be an actuating principlewithin him : " Whoso hath this world's good, andseeth his brother have need, and shutteth up hisbowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth thelove of God in him ?" 1 Therefore he will make ita regular part of his expenditure, to give, accordingto his ability, in whatever way he deems most reallybeneficial to his fellow-creatures. But this will notbe blazoned abroad. Few will be aware of it. Hisleft hand will not know what his right hand doeth.His concern is not with man, but with God : whoalone will see that he holds himself as a steward whomust give account of the talents entrusted to him,and that the only reward he looks for, is the favourof his Father which seeth in secret.At the same time, there may be proper seasonsand fit occasions, when a Christian's liberality shouldbe public and seen of men. He is to be a pattern of good works, that others may imitate them. All de-pends upon the intention. If the object is present ap-plause, present applause will be the sole reward. If the object is the glory of God, the charity will beeither public or private, according as God is likelyto be glorified by it most successfully. Just as inprayer, of which our Lord proceeds to speak. If itis sincere, it will not be ostentatious. Yet Danielis not blamed, but praised, though he made whatmay be called an ostentatious prayer, a prayer which1 1 John iii. 17.
H 2100 MATT. VI. 1 G.might be seen of men : when in defiance of theimpious decree which forbade him, " he went intohis house; and his windows being open in hischamber towards Jerusalem, he kneeled upon hisknees three times a day, and prayed and gave thanksbefore his God, as he did aforetime." 2 In his casethis was as much his duty, as it was the duty of the Pharisees to avoid the hypocritical practicewhich Jesus here condemns.5. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hy-pocrites are ; for they love to pray standing in the syna-gogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may beseen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their re-ward.6. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet,and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father whichis in secret ; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall re-ward thee openly.The hypocrisy which is here exposed, though stillcommon in Eastern countries, is so unlike the man-ners of our time and nation, that we might seem tobe in no danger of a like error. Consider, however,what the error is. It is the performance of religiousduties for the sake of appearances, and not from afeeling of religion. It is the doing that to be seen of men, which ought to be done from piety towardsGod. And is there no reason amongst ourselves, tofear that the attendance of some persons at church,or at the holy table, arises from a like impure mo-tive ? is rather a compliance with custom, than an

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