Luke 3:7-9. Then said he to the multitude, O generation of vipers See note on Matthew 3:7. Bring forth, therefore, fruits worthy of repentance The Baptist did not stop at preaching repentance, and rest satisfied with the people’s making a profession thereof, but he insisted on the necessity of their bringing forth fruits suitable to such a profession, or a thorough reformation of their conduct in all respects. See this explained particularly in the notes on Matthew 3:8-10. Begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father That is, trust not in your being members of the visible church, or in any external privileges whatsoever; for God requires a change of heart, and that now, without delay. For the axe is laid to the root of the trees That is, the patience of God is very near come to an end, with respect to you, and his judgments are at hand and ready to be inflicted; so that if you continue unfruitful, notwithstanding the extraordinary means now to be tried with you, destruction will speedily overtake you. The drift of all John’s sermons was to root out their prejudices, and give them a sense of this important truth, that acceptance with God does not depend upon flowing garments, broad phylacteries, frequent ablutions, much fasting, and long prayers; but that good works, proceeding from faith and love, are necessary thereto.
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