If you 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?
Read Chapter 7
Augustine of Hippo
Serm. in Mont., ii, 21: As above He had cited the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, that our hopes may rise from the less to the greater; so also does He in this place, when He says, “Or what man among you?”.
Or He calls “evil” those who are lovers of this age; whence also the good things which they give are to be called good according to the ir sense who esteem them as good; nay, even in the nature of things they are goods, that is, temporal goods, and such as pertain to this weak life.
Serm., 61, 3: For that good thing which makes men good is God. Gold and silverare good things not as making you good, but as with them you may do good. If then we be evil, yet as having a Father who is good let us not remain ever evil.
Or perhaps he called the Apostles evil, in their person condemning the whole human race, whose heart is set to evil from his infancy, as we read in Genesis. Nor is it any wonder that He should call this generation, “evil,” as the Apostle also speaks, “Seeing the days are evil.”
Now this He said, not to bring an evil name on man's nature, nor to condemn our race as bad; but in contrast to His own goodness He calls paternal tenderness evil, so great is the excess of His love to man.
Do you see an argument unspeakable, of power to arouse to good hopes even him that has become utterly desperate?
Now here indeed He signifies His goodness by means of our fathers, but in what precedes by the chief among His gifts, by the soul, by the body. And nowhere does He set down the chief of all good things, nor bring forward His own coming:— for He who thus made speed to give up His Son to the slaughter, how shall He not freely give us all things?— because it had not yet come to pass. But Paul indeed sets it forth, thus saying, He that spared not His own Son, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things. Romans 8:32 But His discourse with them is still from the things of men.
6. After this, to indicate that we ought neither to feel confidence in prayer, w...
Lest perchance any one considering how great is the difference between God andman, and weighing his own sins should despair of obtaining, and so never takein hand to ask; therefore He proposes a comparison of the relation between father and son; that should we despair because of our sins, we may hope because of God’s fatherly goodness.
There are two things behoveful for one that prays; that he ask earnestly; and that he ask such things as he ought to ask. And those are spiritual things; as Solomon, because he asked such things as were right, received speedily.
And what are the things that we ought to ask, he shows under the likeness of aloaf, and a fish. The loaf is the word concerning the knowledge of God the Father. The stone is all falsehood that has a stumbling-block of offence to thesoul.Or by the loaf may be understood spiritual doctrine; by the stone ignorance; by the fish the water of Holy Baptism; by the serpent the wiles of the Devil, or unbelief.
This He said not detracting ...
Or; bread which is the common food signifies charity, without which the other virtues are of no avail. The fish signifies faith, which is born of the water of baptism, is tossed in the midst of the waves of this life and yet lives. Luke adds a third thing, “an egg,” which signifies hope; for an egg is the hope of the animal. To charity, He opposes “a stone,” that is, the hardness of hatred; to faith, “a serpent,” that is, the venom of treachery; to hope, “a scorpion,” that is, despair, which stings backward, as the scorpion.
The sense therefore is: we need not fear that should we ask of God our Father bread, that is doctrine or love, He will give us a stone; that is, that He will suffer our heart to be contracted either by the frost of hatred or by hardness of soul; or that when we ask for faith, He will suffer us to die of the poison of unbelief. Thence it follows, “If then ye being evil.”.
And be it known that where Matthew says, “He shall give good things,” Luke has, "shall give his Holy Spirit.” But this ought not to seem contrary, because all the good things which man receives from God, are given by the grace of the Holy Spirit.