Matthew 15:20

This is a startling image, vividly suggesting to our minds a most deplorable condition of society. While it was especially true of the official teachers of Israel in our Lord's time, it has never ceased to have an application to somewhat similar men. It may be applied to heathen priests, to the benighted leaders of superstition in mediaeval Europe, and, alas! to many in Christendom today who essay to guide others though they themselves cannot see the way of life.

I. THE BLIND LOOK FOR LEADERS. The consciousness of inability and the confession of it may not be recognized by superficial observers, because a certain surface pride tries to veil the deep diffidence and the yearning hunger for guidance that really inhabit the souls of men. The blindness of the multitudes that "knew not the Law" was but a shadow of the blindness of mankind generally. Ignorant of God, unable to comprehend itself, lost in the wilderness of thought, the mind of man seems to be eyeless, or at best dim-sighted and confused in its attempt to grasp spiritual truth.

II. THE BLIND MAY BE DECEIVED IN THEIR LEADERS. Their very blindness puts them under a disadvantage in judging of the worth of those who offer to guide them. Sounding words are no proofs of clear vision. Yet too often teachers have been accepted on their own terms and accredited by their self-assertions. Nevertheless, when one who sees arrives, it is possible for him and others to detect a mistake. The common people who heard Jesus gladly quickly perceived that his teaching had an authority which that of the scribes lacked.

III. THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE LEADERS OF THE BLIND IS MOST SERIOUS. They are trusted men, and in proportion to their acceptance of confidence will be their responsibility. If they fail to carry out their promises their charges will suffer. But they too will fall into trouble. Men cannot guide others wrongly without going wrong themselves. Their fatal mistake is to pretend to be leaders of souls while they themselves are benighted, for it is possible to refuse the responsible function and to take the lower and humbler place of the blind who need guidance.

IV. IT IS MOST IMPORTANT THAT RELIGIOUS TEACHERS SHOULD KNOW THE TRUTH THEY ARE CALLED UPON TO TEACH. This idea is so obvious that it seems to be a waste of words to state it. Yet it is constantly ignored.

1. Special training is needed. In the present day the air is laden with questions concerning the foundations of the faith, and no one is fit to be a teacher of others who is not prepared to meet those questions. Though some of them may not be readily answered, at least the teacher must know how to give some guidance to the inquirer in his perplexity.

2. Divine light is needed. It is not enough for the teacher to have been trained in theological studies. These may have left him in a midnight darkness; and they will do so if he has not opened his soul to the light of God.

V. THE ONLY SAFE GUIDE IS JESUS CHRIST. He has clear vision, and he leads surely through all difficulties. We lean on the teaching of ignorant men when we might go straight to the teaching of Christ. With the Light of the world shining upon our path, we should be able to see, and yet this will not be possible if we are blind. Now, it is the great work of Christ not merely to guide the blind, but to give them sight, so that they may see their way and follow him by their own vision of truth. - W.F.A.

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts.

1. When evil thoughts are plainly occasioned by anything that was voluntary in us, then they are to be accounted voluntary and sinful.

2. When evil thoughts proceed from gross, supine negligence and carelessness, then we are accountable for them; when we keep no guard at all over our minds and fancies, but give them free liberty wildly to rove and ramble.

3. Though evil thoughts may be involuntary at the first starting of them, being occasioned by what we could not avoid hearing and seeing, or coming upon us unawares, or proceeding from the temper and habit of our bodies, or the accidental impulses and motions of the animal spirits in our brains, which are the most immediate instruments the soul uses in her operations; though thus the first rise of evil thoughts may be involuntary., yet if we with pleasure entertain and cherish them, if our fancies are tickled by them, if they are delightful and grateful to us, this implies the consent of our wills. They then become greatly sinful to us.

II. THE NATURE AND KINDS OF EVIL THOUGHTS.(a) Especially dwell on the representing and acting over sins in our minds and thoughts; when we erect a stage in our fancies, and on it with strange complacence, imagine those satisfactions and filthinesses which we have not opportunity to bring into outward act.

1. Consider these lewd imaginations as to the present time. There is no sin or wickedness so vile and heinous but a man may become truly guilty of it in the sight of God only by imagining it done in his mind, and taking pleasure in such a thought.

2. As to what is past, there is reciting and repeating over those sins in our thoughts and fancies, which we had long before committed, and, perhaps, as to the external acts, quite forsaken.

3. With respect to the time to come, the speculative wickedness of men's fancies and imaginations shows itself in the wild and extravagant suppositions they make to themselves, feigning themselves to be what they would fain be, and then imagining in their minds what in such circumstances they would do.(b) Dwell on unworthy, atheistical, profane, desperate thoughts of (led Almighty.(c) Thinkings that become evil because of the seasons of them.(d) Envious, malicious, fretting thoughts.(e) Troublesome, anxious thoughts of future events.(f) Haughty, proud, admiring thoughts of ourselves.


1. If they proceed from the hearts, then we must look after them.

2. Consider what care and art wicked men use to prevent good thoughts, and let us use the same diligence and endeavours to hinder evil and wicked thoughts and motions.

3. Avoid idleness.

4. Live under the due awe of God's continual presence with us.

5. Serious devotion, especially humble and hearty prayer to God Almighty.

(B. Calamy.)


1. Vain thoughts. These are not of a directly noxious quality; yet, light, empty, trifling, and insignificant, they form a most fearful waste of the noble faculty of thought.

2. Thoughts of a directly irreligious tendency. Impious and unworthy conceptions of God, sceptical thoughts in relation to various parts of revealed religion nourished as a subterfuge for sin, rebellious thoughts formed in the hardness of our hearts against the allotments of His providence, etc.

3. Intensely selfish and worldly thoughts.

4. Thoughts of deliberate wickedness.


1. They have the stamp of guilt affixed to them by the Divine law.

2. They lead to the expressions of evil actions.

3. They defraud us of the supreme end of thought.

III. ENFORCE THE NECESSITY OF RESISTANCE OF EVIL, THOUGHTS. HOW necessary such resistance when we consider the advantages accruing, e.g., the influence —

1. Upon our personal character.

2. Upon society.

3. Upon a review of life in leaving it and during eternity.

(James Foster, B. A.)



1. We are driven to believe in the doctrine of the fall.

2. It shows the need of a new nature.

3. Admire the grace of God.

4. This doctrine illustrates the doctrine of the atonement.

(C. H. Spugeon.)

He plainly tells us that the part of human nature which yields such poisonous fruit is not a bough which may be sawn off, a limb which may be cut away, but the very core and substance of the man — his heart. He in effect tells us that lust doth not come out of the eye merely, but from the inmost nature of a depraved being. Murder comes not in the first place from the hasty hand, but from a wild ungovernable heart.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

You never need educate any man into sin. As soon as ever the young crocodile has left its shell it begins to act just like its parent, and to bite at the stick which broke the shell. The serpent is scarcely born before it rears itself and begins to hiss. The young tiger may be nurtured in your parlour, but it will develop ere long the same thirst for blood as if it were in the forest. So is it with man; he sins as naturally as the young lion seeks for blood, or the young serpent stores up venom.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

If you can drive a man from outward vice, how far have you improved him if he lives in inward sin? You have benefited him as far as the sight of man is concerned, but not before God. There was a man killed on Holborn Hill this week, and I have heard that there was little or no external appearance of injury upon his body. He had been crushed between an omnibus and a cart, and all the wounds were internal, but he died just as surely as if he had been beaten black and blue, or cut into a thousand gashes. So a man may die of internal sin; it does not appear outwardly for certain reasons, but he will die of it just the same if it be within. Many a man has died from internal bleeding, and yet there has been no wound whatever to be seen by the eye. You, my dear hearer, may go to hell as well dressed in the garnishings of morality as in the rags of immorality.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The Saviour does not stop to prove that these things come out of the heart. He asserts it, and asserts it because it is self-evident. When you see a thing coming forth, you are clear it was there first. Last summa.: I noticed hornets continually flying from a number of decayed logs in my garden. I saw them constantly flying in and out, and I did not think myself at all unreasonable in concluding that there was a hornet's nest there; and so, if we see the hornets of sin flying out of a man, we suppose at once there is sin within him.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Some malady which you do not understand troubles and alarms you. The physician is called. Thinking that the illness proceeds from a certain inflammatory process on a portion of your skin, you anxiously direct his attention to the spot. Silently, but sympathizingly, he looks at the place where you have bidden him look, and because you have bidden him look there, but soon he turns away. He is busy with an instrument on another part of your body. He presses his trumpet tube gently to your breast, and listens for the pulsations which faintly but distinctly pass through. He looks and listens there, and saddens as he looks. You again direct his attention to the cutaneous eruption which annoys you. He sighs and sits silent. When you reiterate your request that something should be done for the external eruption, he gently shakes his head, and answers not a word. From this silence you would learn the truth at last, you would not miss its meaning long.

(W. Arnot.)

Original sin is the womb of all actual sin. Every sinful act in us derives its descent from this. This is the spawn; actual transgressions are the offspring. This is actual sin in the egg, more than the cockatrice's. Hatched by Satan, it yields a fearful brood, whose name is legion, whose end is destruction, whose grave is hell. In Eden there was a tree of life, so will there be in the Eden above — a tree whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. But since man was thrust out of Paradise, a tree of death, a root of bitterness, has grown in every soul, bearing all manner of cursed fruits; and every leaf, every bud, tends to destroy life and ruin man. Its grapes are gall, its clusters are bitter, its wine is the poison of asps. Ransack the records of human crime, dig up from the grave of forgetfulness every atrocity, however unprecedented, however abominable, it lay in germ in the ordinary corruption of human nature. Ten thousand trees spread their arms over the earth in giant magnitude, yet all spring from the one same root.

(R. B. Nichol.)

The heart is the seat and source of every great wickedness. No wonder that the wickedness of man is great. If the pendulum and weights and machinery of a clock are all deranged, it is quite clear that the hands will not point with correctness to the hours. If the fountain is corrupt and impure, the streams must inevitably be so.

(J. Cumming, D. D.)

If a man covets, he steals. If a man has murderous hate, he murders. If a man broods dishonest thoughts, he is a -knave. If a man harbours sharp and bitter jealousies, envies, hatreds, though he never express them by his tongue, or shape them by his hand, they are there. There are many goodseeming men, who, if all their day's thoughts and feelings were to be suddenly developed into acts visible to the eye, would run from themselves, as men in earthquakes run from the fiery gapings of the ground, and sulphurous cracks that open the way to the uncooled centre of perdition.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Anselm says, "Our heart is like a mill, ever grinding, which a certain lord gave in charge to his servant, enjoining that he should only grind in it his master's grain, whether wheat, barley, or oats, and telling him that he must subsist on the produce. But that servant has an enemy, who is always playing tricks on the mill. If, any moment, he finds it unwatched, he throws in gravel to keep the stones from acting, or pitch to clog them, or dirt and chaff to mix with the meal. If the servant is careful in tending his mill, there flows forth a beautiful flour, which is at once a service to his master, and a subsistence to himself; but if he plays truant, and allows his enemy to tamper with his machinery, the bad outcome tells the tale; his lord is angry; and he himself is starved." This mill, ever grinding, is the heart; thoughts are the grain; the devil is the watchful enemy: he throws in bad thoughts, which can only be prevented by watchfulness and prayer.

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