Ver 43. For a good tree brings not forth corrupt fruit; neither does a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.44. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.45. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
THEOPHYL; Our Lord continues the words which He had begun against the hypocrites, saying, For a good tree brings not forth corrupt fruit; i.e. as if He says, If you would have a true and unfeigned righteousness, what you set forth in words make up also in works, for the hypocrite though he pretends to be good is not good, who does evil works; and the innocent though he be blamed, is not therefore evil, who does good works.
TITUS BOS. But take not these words to thyself as an encouragement to idleness, for the tree is moved conformably to its nature but you have the exercise of free will; and every barren tree has been ordained for some good, but you were created to the good work of virtue.
ISIDORE PELEUS; He does not then exclude repentance, but a continuance in evil, which as long as it is evil cannot bring forth good fruit, but being converted to virtue, will yield abundance. But what nature is to the tree, our affections are to us. If then a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit, how shall a corrupt heart?
CHRYS. But although the fruit is caused by the tree, yet, it brings to us the knowledge of the tree, because the distinctive nature of the tree is made evident by the fruit, as it follows, For every tree is know by its fruit.
CYRIL; Each man’s life also will be a criterion of his character. For not by extrinsic ornaments and pretended humility is the beauty of true happiness discovered, but by those things which a man does; of which he gives an illustration, adding, For of thorns men do not gather figs.
AMBROSE; On the thorns of this world the fig cannot be found, which as being better in its second fruit, is well fitted to be a similitude of the resurrection. Either because, as you read, The fig trees have put forth their green figs, that is, the unripe and worthless fruit came first in the Synagogue. Or because our life is imperfect in the flesh, perfect in the resurrection, and therefore we ought to cast far from us worldly cares, which eat into the mind and scorch up the soul, that by diligent culture we may obtain the perfect fruits. This therefore has reference to the world and the resurrection, the next to the soul and the body, as it follows, Nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. Either because no one living in sin obtains fruit to his soul, which like the grape nearest the ground is rotten, on the higher branches becomes ripe. Or because no one can escape the condemnations of the flesh, but he whom Christ has redeemed, Who as a grape hung on the tree.
THEOPHYL; Or, I think the thorns and bramble are the cares of the world and the prickings of sin, but the figs and the grapes are the sweetness of a new life and the warmth of love, but the fig is not gathered from the thorns nor the grape from the bramble, because the mind still debased by the habits of the old man may pretend to, but cannot bring forth the fruits of the new man. But we must know, that as the fruitful palm tree is enclosed and supported by a hedge, and the thorn bearing fruit not its own, preserves it for the use of man, so the words and acts of the wicked wherein they serve the good are not done by the wicked themselves, but by the wisdom of God working upon them.
CYRIL; But having shown that the good and the bad man may be discerned by their works as a tree by its fruits, he now sets forth the same thing by another figure, saying, A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good, and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth that which is evil.
THEOPHYL; The treasure of the heart is the same as the root of the tree. He therefore who has in his heart the treasure of patience and perfect love, brings forth the best fruits, loving his enemy, and doing the other things which have been taught above. But he who keeps a bad treasure in his heart does the contrary to this.
BASIL; The quality of the words shows the heart from which they proceed, plainly manifesting the inclination of our thoughts. Hence it follows, For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
CHRYS. For it is a natural consequence when wickedness abounds within, that wicked words are breathed as far as the mouth; and therefore when you hear of a man uttering abominable things, do not suppose that there lies only so much wickedness in him as is expressed in his words, but believe the fountain to be more copious than the stream.
THEOPHYL; By the speaking of the mouth the Lord signifies all things, which by word, or deed, or thought, we bring forth from the heart. For it is the manner of the Scripture to put words for deeds.
Ver 46. And why call you me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?47. Whosoever comes to me, and hears my sayings, and does them, I will show you to whom he is like:48. He is like a man which built a house, and dug deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.49. But he that hears, and does not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth: against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
THEOPHYL; Lest any one should vainly flatter himself with the words, Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, as if words only and not rather works were required of a Christian, our Lord adds the following, But why call you me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? As if He said, Why do you boast of sending forth the leaves of a right confession, and show forth no fruit of good works.
CYRIL; But Lordship both in name and reality belongs only to the Highest Nature.
ATHAN. This is not then the word of man, but the Word of God, manifesting His own birth from the Father, for He is the Lord Who is born of the Lord alone. But fear not the duality of Persons, for they are not separate in nature.
CYRIL; But the advantage which arises from the keeping of the commandments, or the loss from disobedience, he shows as follows; Whosoever comes to me, and hears my sayings, he is like to a man who built his house upon a rock, &c.
THEOPHYL; The rock is Christ. He digs deep; by the precepts of humility He plucks out all earthly things from the hearts of the faithful, lest they should serve God from regard to their temporal good.
BASIL; But lay your foundations upon , a rock, that is, lean upon the faith of Christ, so as to persevere immovable in adversity, whether it come from man or God.
THEOPHYL; Or the foundation of the house is the resolution to live a good life, which the perfect hearer firmly lays in fulfilling the commandments of God.
AMBROSE; Or, He teaches that the obedience to heavenly precepts is the foundation of all virtue, by means of which this our house can be moved neither by the torrent of pleasures, nor by the violence of spiritual wickedness, neither by the storms of this world, nor by the cloudy disputations of heretics; hence it follows, But the flood came, &c.
THEOPHYL; A flood comes in three ways, either by unclean spirits, or wicked men, or the very restlessness of mind or body; and as far as men trust in their own strength they fall away, but as long as they cling to the immovable rock they cannot even be shaken.
CHRYS. The Lord also shows us that faith profits a man nothing, if his manner of life be corrupt. Hence it follows, But he that hears and does not, is like a man, that without a foundation built an house upon the earth, &c.
THEOPHYL; The house of the devil is the world which lies in wickedness, which he builds upon the earth, because those who obey him he drags down from heaven to earth; he builds without foundation, for sin has no foundation, standing not by its own nature, for evil is without substance, which yet whatever it is, grows up in the nature of good. But because the foundation is called so from fundus, we may not unfitly understand that fundamentum is placed here for fundus. As then he who is fallen into a well is kept at the bottom of the well, so the soul falling away remains stationary, as it were, at the very bottom, as long as it continues in any measure of sin. But not content with the sin into which it is fallen, while daily sinking into worse, it can find no bottom, as it were, in the well to which it may fix itself. But every kind of temptation increasing, both the really bad and the feignedly good become worse, until at last they come to everlasting punishment Hence it follows, Against which the stream did beat vehemently. By the force of the stream may be understood the trial of the last judgment, when both houses being finished, the wicked shall go into everlasting punishment but the righteous into life eternal.
CYRIL; Or they build upon the earth without foundation, who upon the quicksand of doubt, which relates to opinion, lay the foundation of their spiritual building, which a few drops of temptation wash away.
AUG. Now this long discourse of our Lord, Luke begins in the same way as Matthew; for each says, Blessed are the poor. Then many things which follow in the narration of each are like, and finally the conclusion of the discourse is found to be altogether the same, I mean with respect to the men who build upon the rock and the sand. It might then easily be supposed that Luke has inserted the same discourse of our Lord, and yet has left out some sentences which Matthew has kept, and likewise put in others which Matthew has not; were it not that Matthew says the discourse was spoken by our Lord on the mountain, but Luke on the plain by our Lord standing. It is not however thought likely from this that these two discourses are separated by a long course of time, because both before and after both have related some things like or the same. It may however have happened that our Lord was at first on a higher part of the mountain with His disciples alone, and that then he descended with them from the mount, that is, from the summit of the mountain to the flat place, that is, to some level ground, which was on the side of the mountain, and was able to hold large multitudes, and that there He stood until the crowds were gathered together to Him, and afterwards when He sat down His disciples came nearer, and to them, and the rest of the multitude who were present, He held the same discourse.