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Matthew 12:34

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

O generation of vipers - These are apparently severe words; but they were extremely proper in reference to that execrable people to whom they were addressed: the whole verse is an inference from what was spoken before.

Out of the abundance (περισσευματος, the overflowings) of the heart - Wicked words and sinful actions may be considered as the overflowings of a heart that is more than full of the spirit of wickedness; and holy words and righteous deeds may be considered as the overflowings of a heart that is filled with the Holy Spirit, and running over with love to God and man.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

O generation of vipers! - Christ here applies the argument which he had suggested in the previous verse. They were a wicked race; like poisonous reptiles, with a corrupt and evil nature. They could not be expected to speak good things - that is, to speak favorably of him and his works. As the bad fruit of a tree was the proper effect of its “nature,” so were their words about him and his works the proper effect of their nature. The “abundance” or fullness of the “heart” produced the words of the lips. “Vipers” are a poisonous kind of serpents, not often a yard long, and about an inch thick, having a flat head. The males have two large teeth, through which a most deadly poison is thrown into the wound made by the bite. They are an emblem of malignity and mischief. These were strong expressions to be used by the meek and lowly Jesus; but they were not the effect of anger and malice; they were a declaration of the true character of the people with whom he was conversing - a declaration most justly deserved. See the notes at Matthew 3:7.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Men's language discovers what country they are of, likewise what manner of spirit they are of. The heart is the fountain, words are the streams. A troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring, must send forth muddy and unpleasant streams. Nothing but the salt of grace, cast into the spring, will heal the waters, season the speech, and purify the corrupt communication. An evil man has an evil treasure in his heart, and out of it brings forth evil things. Lusts and corruptions, dwelling and reigning in the heart, are an evil treasure, out of which the sinner brings forth bad words and actions, to dishonour God, and hurt others. Let us keep constant watch over ourselves, that we may speak words agreeable to the Christian character.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 84

The once earnest Christian who enters into these sports is on the downgrade. He has left the region pervaded by the vital atmosphere of heaven, and has plunged into an atmosphere of mist and fog. It may be some humble believer is induced to join in these sports. But if he maintains his connection with Christ, he cannot in heart participate in the exciting scene. The words he hears are not congenial, for they are not the language of Canaan. The speakers do not give evidence that they are making melody in their hearts to God. But there is unmistakable evidence that God is forgotten. He is not in all their thoughts. These parties of pleasure and gatherings for exciting sports, made up of those who profess to be Christians, are a profanation of religion and the name of God. TM 84.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 703

Brother P, you should discipline yourself to discern the sacredness of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment and should labor to raise the standard in your family and wherever you have, by example, lowered it among God's people. You should counteract the influence you have cast in this respect, by changing your words and actions. You have frequently failed to “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy;” you have often forgotten, and have spoken your own words upon God's sanctified day. You have been unguarded, and have upon the Sabbath joined with the unconsecrated in conversation upon the common topics of the day, such as gains and losses, stocks, crops, and provisions. In this your example injures your influence. You should reform. 2T 703.1

Those who are not fully converted to the truth frequently let their minds run freely upon worldly business, and, although they may rest from physical toil upon the Sabbath, their tongues speak out what is in their minds; hence these words concerning cattle, crops, losses, and gains. All this is Sabbath breaking. If the mind is running upon worldly matters, the tongue will reveal it, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. 2T 703.2

The example of ministers especially should be circumspect in this respect. Upon the Sabbath they should conscientiously restrict themselves to conversation upon religious themes—to present truth, present duty, the Christian's hopes and fears, trials, conflicts, and afflictions; to overcoming at last, and the reward to be received. 2T 703.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 159

I saw that it is the privilege of every Christian to enjoy the deep movings of the Spirit of God. A sweet, heavenly peace will pervade the mind, and you will love to meditate upon God and heaven. You will feast upon the glorious promises of His word. But know first that you have begun the Christian course. Know that the first steps are taken in the road to everlasting life. Be not deceived. I fear, yea, I know, that many of you know not what religion is. You have felt some excitement, some emotion, but have never seen sin in its enormity. You have never felt your undone condition and turned from your evil ways with bitter sorrow. You have never died to the world. You still love its pleasures; you love to engage in conversation on worldly matters. But when the truth of God is introduced, you have nothing to say. Why so silent? Why so talkative upon worldly things, and so silent upon the subject that should most concern you—a subject that should engage your whole soul? The truth of God does not dwell in you. 1T 159.1

I saw that many are fair in their profession, while within is corruption. Deceive not yourselves, falsehearted professors. God looks at the heart. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” The world, I saw, is in the heart of such, but the religion of Jesus is not there. If professed Christians love Jesus better than the world, they will love to speak of Him, their best Friend, in whom their highest affections are centered. He came to their aid when they felt their lost and perishing condition. When weary and heavy-laden with sin, they turned unto Him. He removed their burden of guilt and sin, took away their sorrow and mourning, and turned the whole current of their affections. The things they once loved, they now hate; and the things they hated, they now love. 1T 159.2

Has this great change taken place in you? Be not deceived. I would never name the name of Christ, or I would give Him my whole heart, my undivided affections. We should feel the deepest gratitude that Jesus will accept this offering. He demands all. When we are brought to yield to His claims, and give up all, then, and not till then, will He throw around us His arms of mercy. But what do we give when we give all? A sin-polluted soul for Jesus to purify, to cleanse by His mercy, and to save from death by His matchless love. And yet I saw that some thought it hard to give up all. I am ashamed to hear it spoken of, ashamed to write it. 1T 160.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 460

Satan controls the minds of the youth in general. Your daughters are not taught self-denial and self-control. They are petted, and their pride is fostered. They are allowed to have their own way until they become headstrong and self-willed, and you are put to your wit's end to know what course to pursue to save them from ruin. Satan is leading them on to be a proverb in the mouth of unbelievers because of their boldness, their lack of reserve and womanly modesty. The young boys are likewise left to have their own way. They have scarcely entered their teens before they are by the side of little girls of their own age, accompanying them home and making love to them. And the parents are so completely in bondage through their own indulgence and mistaken love for their children that they dare not pursue a decided course to make a change and restrain their too-fast children in this fast age. 2T 460.1

With many young ladies the boys are the theme of conversation; with the young men, it is the girls. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” They talk of those subjects upon which their minds mostly run. The recording angel is writing the words of these professed Christian boys and girls. How will they be confused and ashamed when they meet them again in the day of God! Many children are pious hypocrites. The youth who have not made a profession of religion stumble over these hypocritical ones and are hardened against any effort that may be made by those interested in their salvation. 2T 460.2

There ought to be picked men at the heart of the work, men who in every emergency can be relied upon to keep the fort, men who are unselfish, abounding in generosity and all good works, whose lives are hid in God, and who consider the better life of more value than food and clothing. “Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” God calls for faithful sentinels right at the heart of the work, who will love souls for whom Christ died, and who will bear the burden for perishing souls, looking forward to that recompense of reward which will be theirs when they enter into the joy of their Lord and behold souls saved through their instrumentality to live as long as God shall live, and be happy, eternally happy, in His glorious kingdom. Oh, that we could arouse fathers and mothers to a sense of their duty! Oh, that they would feel deeply the weight of responsibility resting upon them! Then they might forestall the enemy and gain precious victories for Jesus. Parents are not clear in this matter. They should closely investigate their lives, analyze their thoughts and motives, and see if they have been circumspect in their course of action. They should watch closely to see if their example in conversation and deportment has been such as they would wish their children to imitate. Purity and virtue should shine out in their words and acts before their children. 2T 460.3

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