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Wesley's Notes on the Bible
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XI

1. Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples - The Jewish masters used to give their followers some short form of prayer, as a peculiar badge of their relation to them. This it is probable John the Baptist had done. And in this sense it seems to be that the disciples now asked Jesus, to teach them to pray. Accordingly he here repeats that form, which he had before given them in his sermon on the mount, and likewise enlarges on the same head, though still speaking the same things in substance. And this prayer uttered from the heart, and in its true and full meaning, is indeed the badge of a real Christian: for is not he such whose first and most ardent desire is the glory of God, and the happiness of man by the coming of his kingdom? Who asks for no more of this world than his daily bread, longing meantime for the bread that came down from heaven? And whose only desires for himself are forgiveness of sins, (as he heartily forgives others, ) and sanctification.

2. When ye pray, say - And what he said to them is undoubtedly said to us also. We are therefore here directed, not only to imitate this in all our prayers, but to use this very form of prayer. Matt. vi, 9.

4. Forgive us; for we forgive them - Not once, but continually. This does not denote the meritorious cause of our pardon; but the removal of that hindrance which otherwise would render it impossible.

5. At midnight - The most unseasonable time: but no time is unseasonable with God, either for hearing or answering prayer.

9. Matt. vii, 7.

13. How much more shall your heavenly Father - How beautiful is the gradation! A friend: a father: God! Give the Holy Spirit - The best of gifts, and that which includes every good gift.

14. It was dumb - That is, it made the man so. Matt. xii, 22.

15. But some said, He casteth out devils by Beelzebub - These he answers, ver. 17. Others, to try whether it were so or no, sought a sign from heaven. These he reproves in ver. 29 and following verses. Beelzebub signifies the Lord of flies, a title which the heathens gave to Jupiter, whom they accounted the chief of their gods, and yet supposed him to be employed in driving away flies from their temple and sacrifices. The Philistines worshipped a deity under this name, as the God of Ekron: from hence the Jews took the name, and applied it to the chief of the devils. Mark iii, 22.

16. Matt. xii, 38.

17. A house - That is, a family.

20. If I cast out devils by the finger of God - That is, by a power manifestly Divine. Perhaps the expression intimates farther, that it was done without any labour: then the kingdom of God is come upon you - Unawares, unexpected: so the Greek word implies.

21. The strong one armed - The devil, strong in himself, and armed with the pride, obstinacy, and security of him in whom he dwells.

26. The last state of that man becometh worse than the first - Whoever reads the sad account Josephus gives of the temple and conduct of the Jews, after the ascension of Christ and before their final destruction by the Romans, must acknowledge that no emblem could have been more proper to describe them. Their characters were the vilest that can be conceived, and they pressed on to their own ruin, as if they had been possessed by legions of devils, and wrought up to the last degree of madness. But this also is fulfilled in all who totally and finally apostatize from true faith.

27. Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked! - How natural was the thought for a woman! And how gently does our Lord reprove her!

28. Yea, rather blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it - For if even she that bare him had not done this, she would have forfeited all her blessedness.

29. It seeketh - The original word implies seeking more, or over and above what one has already.

32. They repented at the preaching of Jonah - But it was only for a season. Afterward they relapsed into wickedness, till (after about forty years) they were destroyed. It is remarkable, that in this also the comparison held. God reprieved the Jews for about forty years; but they still advanced in wickedness, till having filled up their measure, they were destroyed with an utter destruction.

33. The meaning is, God gives you this Gospel light, that you may repent. Let your eye be singly fixed on him, aim only at pleasing God; and while you do this, your whole soul will be full of wisdom, holiness, and happiness. Matt. v, 15; Mark iv, 21; Luke viii, 16.

34. But when thine eye is evil - When thou aimest at any thing else, thou wilt be full of folly, sin, and misery. On the contrary, Matt. vi, 22.

36. If thy whole body be full of light - If thou art filled with holy wisdom, having no part dark, giving way to no sin or folly, then that heavenly principle will, like the clear flame of a lamp in a room that was dark before, shed its light into all thy powers and faculties.

39. Now ye Pharisees - Probably many of them were present at the Pharisee's house. Matt. xxiii, 25.

41. Give what is in them - The vessels which ye clean, in alms, and all things are clean to you. As if he had said, By acts directly contrary to rapine and wickedness, show that your hearts are cleansed, and these outward washings are needless.

42. Woe to you - That is, miserable are you. In the same manner is the phrase to be understood throughout the chapter.

44. For ye are as graves which appear not - Probably in speaking this our Lord fixed his eyes on the scribes. As graves which appear not, being overgrown with grass, so that men are not aware, till they stumble upon them, and either hurt themselves, or at least are defiled by touching them. On another occasion Christ compared them to whited sepulchres, fair without, but foul within; Matt. xxiii, 27.

45. One of the lawyers - That is scribes; expounders of the law.

48. Whom they killed, ye build their sepulchres - Just like them pretending great reverence for the ancient prophets, while ye destroy those whom God sends to yourselves. Ye therefore bear witness by this deep hypocrisy that ye are of the very same spirit with them.

49. The wisdom of God, agreeably to this, hath said - In many places of Scripture, though not in these very words, I will send them prophets - Chiefly under the Old Testament: and apostles - Under the New. Matt. xxiii, 34.

50. The blood of all shall be required of this generation - That is, shall be visibly and terribly punished upon it.

51. And so it was within forty years, in a most astonishing manner, by the dreadful destruction of the temple, the city, and the whole nation. Between the temple and the altar - In the court of the temple.

52. Ye have taken away the key of knowledge - Ye have obscured and destroyed the knowledge of the Messiah, which is the key of both the present and the future kingdom of heaven; the kingdom of grace and glory. Ye have not entered in - Into the present kingdom of heaven.

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