That ye may be the children of your father
Not that any became the children of God, by doing things in imitation of him: for as in nature no man becomes the son of another by imitating him, or by doing the things he does but either by birth, or by adoption; so in grace no man becomes a child of God by the works he does, as a follower of God, but by adopting grace; and which is discovered in regeneration. Christ's meaning is, that they might appear, and be known to be the children of God, by doing those things in which they resemble their heavenly Father; and which are agreeable to his nature and conduct; as the tree is known by its fruit, and the cause by its effect: for where adoption and regenerating grace take place, the fruit of good works is brought forth to the glory of God. Some copies, instead of (uioi) , "children", read (omoioi) "like": and accordingly, the Persic version renders it thus, "that ye may be like your Father, which is heaven". Our Lord seems to have respect to the Jews, often having in their mouths this expression, (Mymvb wnyba) , "our Father which is in heaven"; and to their frequent boasting that they were the children of God; and therefore he would have them make this manifest by their being like him, or acting in imitation of him;
for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil, and on the good.
Christ instances in one of the greatest blessings in nature, the sun, so useful to the earth, and so beneficial to mankind for light and heat; which he calls "his sun": his own, and not another's; which he has made, and maintains, orders to run its race, and commands it to rise morning by morning, and that upon good and bad men; one, as well as another; all equally share in, and partake of its benign influences, and enjoy the comfortable effects and blessings of it:
and sendeth rain on the just and unjust;
that is, on the fields of persons of such different characters, even both the early and the latter rain; which makes the earth fruitful, crowns it with goodness, and causes it to bring forth bread to the eater, and seed to the sower. This is one of the most considerable blessings of life; the gift of it is God's sole prerogative; it is peculiar to him; it is what none of the vanities of the Gentiles can give; and yet is bestowed by him on the most worthless and undeserving. This flows from that perfection of God, which the Cabbalists F21 call
``"chesed, mercy", or benignity, to which it is essential to give largely to all, both "to the just and unjust".''The Jews have a saying F24, that
``greater is the day of rain, than the resurrection of the dead; for the resurrection of the dead is for the just; but rain is (Myevrl Nyb Myqdul Nyb) , "both for the just, and for the wicked":''a way of speaking much like this here. They also used to praise God for rain, on this consideration, because it was given to unworthy persons.
``F25 R. Jose Bar Jacob went to visit R. Joden of Magdala; whilst he was there, rain descended, and he heard his voice, saying, thousands of thousands, and millions of millions are bound to praise thy name, O our king, for every drop thou causest to descend upon us, (Mybyyxl hbwj) (lmwg tav) , "because thou renderest good to the wicked".''Now our Lord instances in things which could not be denied, and they themselves allowed; and makes use of their own words, to engage them to imitate God, whom they call their Father, by doing good to their enemies, and them that hated them, as well as to their friends and neighbours: yet sometimes they could scarcely allow, that the Gentiles had the same share in this divine favour with themselves; for they say F26, that
``God works by way of miracle, that rain should not be wanting in his land, although it is wanting in the countries of the Heathen; as he says, ( Job 5:10 ) "who giveth rain on the earth", which is the land of Israel; for on that (rjm br) , "a great rain" descends, and "sendeth waters", (Myjem) , "few (which is added to the text) upon the fields"; which relates to what is without the land, whereupon it does not descend, but the substance of the land of Israel; therefore he saith, the Lord will open to thee his good treasure, and not to others.''
F21 Sepher Shaar Hassamaim, Tract. 7. c. 12. p. 155.
F24 T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 7. 1.
F25 T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 14. 1. & Taanith, fol. 64. 2.
F26 Tzeror Hammor, fol. 152. 4.