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Sermon Podcast | Audio | Video : Christian Books : XLII. The Sermon on the Mount.

The Four-fold Gospel by J. W. McGarvey

XLII. The Sermon on the Mount.

(a Mountain Plateau Not Far from Capernaum.)

Subdivision H.

Concerning Prayer.

^A Matt. VII.7-11.

^a 7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you [The words here are slightly climacteric. Asking is a simple use of voice, seeking is a motion of the body, and knocking is an effort to open and pass through obstacles]: 8 for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. [Jesus here uses the universal |every one,| but he means every one of a class, for the term is modified by the prescribed conditions of acceptable prayer (Matt. vi.14, 15; Jas. i.6, 7; iv.3; I. John v.14). We see also by the next verse that it means every one who is recognized by God as a son. All God's children who pray rightly are heard.] 9 Or what man is there of you, who, if his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone; 10 or if he shall ask for a fish, will give him a serpent? [Fish and bread were the common food of the peasants of Galilee. A stone might resemble a cake, but if given it would deceive the child. A serpent might resemble an eel or a perch, but if given it would be both deceptive and injurious. We often misunderstand God's answer thus. But our sense of sonship should teach us better.] 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? [Here is an argument from analogy. It is assumed that the paternal feeling which prompts us to give good things to our children, is still a higher degree in God with reference to his children; and hence it is argued that he will much more give good things to those who ask him. Since it is Jesus who assumes the likeness on which the argument rests, we may rely on the correctness of the reasoning; but we must be cautious how we derive arguments of our own from the analogy between God's attributes and the corresponding characteristics of man. For example, this attribute of paternal feeling has been employed to disprove the reality of the eternal punishment with which God himself threatens the sinner, because the paternal feeling in man would prevent him from so punishing his own children. The fallacy in the argument consists in assuming that the feeling in question must work the same results in every particular in God that it does in man. But Revelation teaches that such is not the case.]

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