When pride of self fills up the soul, there is little room for Jesus; but when Jesus is fully loved, self is subdued, and sin driven out of the throne. If we think little of the Lord Jesus we have very great cause to account ourselves spiritually blind, and naked, and poor, and miserable. The rebel despises his lawful sovereign, but the favored courtier is enthusiastic in his praise. Christ crucified is the revealer of many hearts, the touchstone by which the pure gold and the counterfeit metal are discerned; his very name is as a refiner's fire and like fuller's soap; false professors cannot endure it, but true believers triumph therein. We are growing in grace when we grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let everything else be gone, and let Christ fill up the entire space of our soul, then, and only then, are we rising out of the vanity of the flesh into the real life of God.
Of which there were great numbers in Judea; see (Judges 15:4) ; these words are directed not to angels, nor to civil magistrates, but to ministers of the word; but whether the words of Christ, or the church, is not easy to determine; some think they are the words of the church, who had hitherto been relating what Christ said to her, and who, having neglected her vineyard, (Song of Solomon 1:6).
By foxes may be meant false teachers, to whom the false prophets of old were compared, (Ezekiel 13:3,4). Foxes are crafty and subtle creatures, malignant and mischievous, hungry and voracious, full of deceit and dissimulation, are of an ill smell, and abominably filthy; so false teachers walk in craftiness, use good words and fair speeches, and thereby deceive the hearts of the simple; their doctrines are pernicious, their heresies damnable, and they bring destruction on themselves and others; they are hungry after worldly substance, are greedy of it, and can never have enough; devour widows' houses, and make merchandise of men, to enrich themselves; they put on sheep's clothing, transform themselves into angels of light, mimic the voice of Gospel ministers, use their phrases and expressions, that they may not be easily discovered; and are abominable in their principles and practices, and to be shunned by all good men.
heresies and heretics are to be nipped in the bud, before they increase to more ungodliness; otherwise errors, which may seem small at first, soon grow larger and spread themselves, and become fatal to the churches: that spoil the vines;
Or "flowers". The "vines" are the churches; the "tender grapes", or "flowers", young converts, which Christ has a particular regard unto, (Isaiah 40:11) (42:3) ; and these, having but a small degree of knowledge, are more easily imposed upon and seduced by false teachers; and therefore, for their sakes, should be carefully watched, and vigorously opposed, since otherwise a promising vintage is in danger of being spoiled. Christ, in this address, intimates, that not only he and the church, but, he ministers also, had an interest in the vines and tender grapes, as they have; see (Song of Solomon 8:11,12) ; and therefore should be the more concerned for their welfare; hence he calls them "ours"; interest carries a powerful argument in it.