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CHAP. V.

[of the righteous.

men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (G)

EXPOSITION.

(G) Ver. 1—16. The sermon on the Mount: the beatitudes.-Dr. Boothroyd and others connect this chapter with the preceding, thus: Great multitudes following our Lord, in consequence of being attracted by his miracles, he was constrained to ascend a mountain, that he might have the opportunity of addressing his disciples the more conveniently, and where, possibly, the multitude themselves might have the better opportunity of hearing. We preteud not, however, to decide either the particu lar time or place of its delivery.

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The object of this discourse of our Lord, is evidently to point out the grand difference between his doctrine and that of the Scribes and Pharisees. They "counted the proud happy," and aimed at the possession of power, rank, and riches; he recommended humility, with all its kindred virtues. The first in the list, is "poverty of spirit," by which is not to be understood that meanness which is connected with avarice; but " By poorness of spirit (says Mr. Soame Jenyns) is to be understood, a disposition of mind, meek, humble, submissive to power, void of ambition, patient of injuries, and free from all resentment. This was so new, and so opposite to the ideas of all Pagan (and, we may add, Rabbinical) moralists, that they thought this temper of mind a criminal and contemptible meanness, shameful pusillanimity; and such it appears to almost all who are called Christians, even at this day, who not only reject it in practice, but disavow it in principle, notwithstanding this explicit declaration of their master. We see them revenging the smallest affronts by premeditated murder, as individuals, on principles of honour; and, in their national capacities, destroying each other with fire and sword, for the low considerations of commercial interests, the balance of rival powers, or the ambition of princes. . . . . And, what is still worse, we hear all these barbarisms celebrated by historians, flattered by poets, applauded in theatres, approved in senates, and even sanctified in pulpits. But universal practice cannot alter the nature of things. Pride was not made for man; but humility, meekness, resiguation; that is, " poorness of spirit," was made for man, and properly belongs to his dependant situation, and is the only disposition of mind which can enable him to enjoy ease and quiet here, and happiness hereafter." (Jenyn's Int. Evid.)

The other dispositions here recommended, are perfectly in harmony with the preceding. Those who are poor in spirit," are indeed very liable to be oppressed, and therefore often subject to injuries, to grief, and mourning. But there is a blessedness in this, when it is occasioned, not by our crimes, but by our virtues. Hunger and thirst are painful feelings, but there is a blessedness attending them when their object is purely spiritual; when men hunger not after worldly riches, nor thirst after carnal pleasures, or human applause, but after those durable riches," that true "righteousness" which is provided for us in the Gospel.

"The merciful man doeth good to his own soul" (Prov. xi. 17), but not to himself alone. Benevolence is an expansive virtue. "There is (says Mr. Jay) a blessedness attending this administration of mercy, that can be conceived only by those that exercise it. The luxury of doing good surpasses every other personal enjoyment. A hard-hearted man is surrounded with the curses of the poor; but the benevolent may say with Job, "When the car heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me." Job xxix. lk.

But the great Christian paradox is the blessedness of suffering persecution and reproach; this persecution, however, be it remembered, must be "for righteousness sake," and this reproach must be uttered "falsely." There is no blessedness in provoking persecution wilfully, or by our own imprudence; nor in reproach, when founded in truth, and on our own folly.

But wherein consists the blessedness of

these Christian virtues? Partly in the present peace and consolation which attend them, and partly in the future reward of divine approbation which awaits them. The former cannot be denied, either by those who truly experience, or carefully observe them. Witness the sick beds of meek and patient believers! Witness the triumphant deaths of Christian martyrs! But the crowning blessedness is, their "reward in heaven," which has two peculiar properties; it is gratuitous and unmerited; it is final and unfading; well then may they rejoice and be exceeding glad."

Our Lord now addresses his disciples more particularly, as "the salt of the earth," and "the light of the world." The former metaphor implies, that by imbibing the savour of his doctrines, they are to season others with them. Believers are

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17¶ Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not

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kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee,

24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adver

EXPOSITION.

"the salt of the earth;" but if they lose the savour of his doctrines, how shall they communicate it to others? Again, they are "the light of the world;" a world sitting in darkness and the shadow of death; but if their conduct be inconsistent with their principles, it will be like putting a bushel measure over a candle, or lamp, which would totally obstruct its light. On

the other hand, a strong, clear, and elevated light, is like "a city set upon a hill,” and illumined by the splendour of an unclouded sun. "Let your light." therefore, says our divine Teacher," so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." "So let our piety reflective shine,

As men may thence confess his truth divine."

NOTES-Chap. V. Con.

Ver. 17. To destroy-Hammond, "To dissolve;" 10 Doddridge.To fulfil-Hammond. "To perfeet" Doddr. "To complete;" Campbell," To ratify" The sense appears to be, that whereas the Jewish teachers relaxed the morality of the law, as we shall see in the instances here subjoined, the object of Jesus was, to enforce it to the utmost extent of its demands.

Ver. 18. Verily Gr. Amen; I solemnly assure You-One jet or tittle.-The jot (Iota) is the Hebrew Jod, and the tittle seems to refer to the corners of certain Hebrew letters, which distinguish them from others, (as, for instance, the Beth from the Caph, or the Daleth from the Resh;) which letfers, without they are written with great care, are scarcely to be distinguished. Lamy, Grotius, &c.

Ver. 19. One of these least commandments-Dodd, and Camp. "One of the least of these command

ments."

Ver. 20. Of the scribes.-These are said to be of two classes, secular and ecclesiastical; but the latter are here intended, among whom were many degrees of rank, from mere transcribers, to men "learned in the law," like Ezra (vii. 6). Some of these are called "Doctors." (Compare Matt. xxii. 35, with Mark xii. 28.) And doubtless had diseiples. Matt. xxiii. 2, 3.-The Pharisees were a sect remarkable for their attachment to the ceremonial law, and still more to the traditions of the elders. They were accounted most orthodox, and the seribes are generally associated with them. See Calmet's Dict.; but we shall find their true character best developed in our Lord's addresses to them. See Mark vii. 9-13.

Ver. 21 and 27. Said by-Marg. "To ;"' so Doddr.

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Ver. 24. Leave there thy gift. It appears from Dr. Lightfoot, that sacrifices were not always offered immediately, but sometimes reserved to an approaching feast. At those times the people collected from all quarters, and reconciliation might be more easily effected. See Lightfoot's Works, vol. ii. p. 143. It may also be remembered, that there were fields, or pasture grounds, belonging to the temple, as it was impossible to keep all the great and small cattle for the public feasts within the courts of the temple.

Ibid. Then come, and offer thy gift.-Philo says, "When a man had injured his brother, and, repent ing of his fault, voluntarily acknowledged it (in which case both restitution and sacrifice were required), he was first to make restitution, and then to come into the temple, presenting his sacritice, and asking pardon." See Doddr. N. B. Philo was contemporary with our Lord: but this rule appears to have been much neglected.

Ver. 25. Agree....quickly-According to the Roman custom above referred to, a person aggrieved could compel the other party to go with him before the Prætor, unless he agreed by the way to adjust the matter. Adams's Rom. Antiq. bk. i. p. 405.

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sary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.

26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not

[adultery,

that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

31 It hath been said, Whosoever shali put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:

32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. (H)

33 Again, ye have heard that it

EXPOSITION-Chap. V. Continued.

(H) Ver. 17-32. The strictness and spirituality of God's law, especially against murder and adultery.-Our Lord is here speaking of moral righteousness, or practical religion, as inculcated by Moses and the prophets; but this law, the Pharisees and Scribes "made void by their tra ditions" (chap. xv. 6.); and relaxed the strictness of its precepts: but, says our Lord, think not that I am come so to do. I am come to fulfil it in all its purity; to enforce it in all its rigour. "Heaven and earth," indeed, "shall pass away," but God's word must be fulfilled. Whoever, therefore, shall violate one of these divine commands, and teach or encourage others so to do, he shall be little esteemed among Christ's disciples. For, says our Redeemer, "except your righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven;" that is, ye shall neither enjoy the privileges of my disciples here, nor share in their rewards hereafter.

"We must (says Mr. Henry) do more than the Pharisees, and better than they, or we shall come short of heaven. They were partial in the law, and laid most stress on the ritual part of it; but we must be universal..... They minded only the outside, but we must make conscience of

inward godliness. They aimed at the praise of men; but we must seek acceptance with God. They were proud of what they did, but we, when we have done all, that we are unprofitable ser

must say,

vants.'

Our Lord now adverts to some particular instances, to show the difference between his doctrine and that of the Scribes and Pharisees above alluded to. Thus, for example, the Mosaic law had said, "Thon shalt not kill," and whoever was guilty of murder, was subjected to the punishment of death. Here the Jewish doctors rested, without adverting to those sins of the heart and of the lips, which, though not cognizable by the letter of the law, would equally subject them to punishment from God, though in different degrees, which he compares to the different judgments of the lower court, the Sanhedrim, and the fire of the valley of Hinnom, here rendered "hell-fire." There is some difficulty, however, in distinguishing the several degrees of crime and punishment. To be angry with our brother (and every man is our brother, as well as our neighbour, Luke x. 29, &c.) "without cause," or without a sufficient cause, will subject us to the judgment of God: to treat him with contempt and ridicule, as a vain, empty

NOTES-Chap. V. Con.

Ver. 26. The uttermost farthing-that is, the full extent of the penalty inflicted. Some Roman Catholic writers have had the ingenuity to draw from hence an argument in favour of purgatory; but it is evident that this refers to a final, and not to a tempo. rary punishment, as in ver. 22 and 29; and that no consistent Catholic can argue from the particie "till" for a termination of it, see chap. i. 29. Ver. 28. Looketh Doddr, "Gazeth," that the

word is often emphatic, see ch. vii; Luke vii. 44; Acts i. 9; iii. 4, &c.

Ver. 29. Offend thee - Marg. "Cause thee to of fend," Hammond and Doddridge, "Ensnare thee." Ver. 32. Fornication.-It is evident that the terms fornication and adultery are here used as synonymous, to include every species of actual uncleanuess. Ver. 33. Thou shalt not forswear thyself, &c.— Levit. xix. 12; Deut. xxiii. 21.

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fellow, is more criminal; but to fly into a rage with him, and call him a scoundrel, or villain, would subject us to still more terrible judgments, like those in the valley of Hinnom, the type of hell. Here, then, we see causeless anger (though in the heart only), reproachful satire, and especially bitter and cruel attacks on character, without legal proof, are all criminal in the sight of God. Our Lord directs men, in the first place, to seek reconciliation, and then make their offering; whereas it is reasonable to believe that those who had once made their offering, thought no more of reconciliation. The next verse is supposed to allude to a custom introduced by the Romans, according to which, the complainant could compel an offender to go before the magistrate, unless he agreed to accommodate the matter by the way; and once committed, they must remain till the law was fully satisfied.

If the law against murder includes every species of violence leading thereto, by analogy of reasoning, that against adultery, every species of uncleanness; for a man to gaze upon a woman with a lustful eye, is to commit adultery with her in his heart. And our Lord teaches us, "that the eye

and the hand, and the fleshly powers, may become wretched occasions of sin to us; and, if there were no other way to avoid the danger, it were better to bear the pain of parting with those mischievous and offensive members, than yield to their temptations, and rush on to guilt and eternal misery." (Watts's Contest of the Powers of Flesh and Spirit.)

What here follows with respect to divorcement, is in opposition to another subterfuge of the Jewish doctors, who, in order to indulge the vices of the rich (and probably their own), allowed men to put away their wives, for every (or any) cause (chap. xix. 2); whereas none but the most important cause (moral uncleanness) ought by any means to be admitted, to separate those whom God hath joined. (ch. xix. 6.) But here is another very important truth covertly insinuated, namely, that those who occasion sin in others, cannot themselves be innocent: a man who divorces his wife without a just cause, may lead two other parties into adultery, and thereby be partaker in the crimes of both. This is to add sin to sin," and to accumulate wrath against the day of judgment.

NOTES.

Ver.4. For it is God's throne.-Herodotus (bk. iv. e.68) says, ,that" when the Scythians desire to use the most solemn oath, they swear by the king's throne."

Ver. 35. Nor by the earth.-Mr. Hughes (Travels in Sicily, Greece, &c. vol. ii. p. 294) mentions an old man at Acathemia swearing "by the earth," as an ancient oath. Neither by Jerusalem.-This was common among the Jews, and is mentioned in the Gemara.-Orient. Cust. No. 1172.

Ver.36 Neither by thy head-another Jewish oath, but no less common among the Greeks and Romans, as appears from Homer, Virgil, Horace, Martial, &c. Orient. Cast. No. 1173.

Ver. 37. Yea, yea, is a solemn and deliberate affirmative; Nay, nay, as solemn a negation. Repetition, among the Hebrews, implied truth and certainty. See Gen. xli. 32; Ps. lxii. 11; Dan. v. 25; John v. 19, 24, 25; Jude 12. Campbell renders it, "Let your yes be yes, and your no, no."- -Cometh of evil-or," the evil one," Ham. and Doddr. Not only profane oaths, but the needless multiplication even of lawful oaths, is a great evil, and much to be lamented in our own country.

In opposition to what is advanced in our Exposition of this passage, we may notice the contrary arguments of Friend Barclay, who contends, that

every kind of swearing is forbidden; in doing which he is compelled to deny the oath of God, Heb. vi. 13-17; contending, that an oath implies swearing by another person, whereas God, swearing only by himself, did not, properly speaking, swear at all: but this is in direct opposition to the passage in the Hebrews, just referred to. And he evades the argument of our Lord's swearing, by pleading that this was under the Jewish dispensation; but it was certainly subsequent to his sermon on the mount. See Barclay's Apol, chap. xv.

As to the ceremony of "kissing the book," we consider it by no means essential to the nature of an oath. And if the Society of Friends are willing, ou proper occasions, to declare they "speak the truth in the fear of God, and before him," whom they call to witness, we consider this, to all intents and purposes, as an oath, which ought to be admitted in all courts, criminal as well as civil. Assertions under such protests being, if false, subject to punishment as perjury, we see no possible evil that can arise in admitting their evidence in all courts whatever: and we doubt not but in a few years the legislature will be satisfied of its propriety.- -Resist not evil-that

is," the evil or injurious person;" but submit to suffer wrong. See Hammond, Doddridge, Campbell.

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38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.

41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

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44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the Publicans the same?

47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the Publicans so?

48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (I)

EXPOSITION-Chap. V. Continued..

(1) Ver. 33-48. Laws with respect to oaths - - a peaceful disposition and brotherly love. The Mosaic law certainly did not forbid the use of oaths, but restrained men two ways-from swearing falsely, and from swearing by improper objects. Now we have already seen that our Lord attempted no alteration in the moral law; but only to rescue it from the false glosses and perversions of the Scribes and Pharisees. He could not, therefore, forbid that use of oaths (as an end of strife, Heb. vi. 16.) which Jehovah had expressly sanctioned (Deut. vi. 13); but, as on the preceding laws of murder and adultery, he exposes and condemns the evasions which these corrupt teachers had invented, in order to "to make void the law of God by their traditions." 1. Though they dared not swear by idols, nor even swear falsely in the name of Jehovah; yet they considered themselves as laid under no solemn obligation in swearing by the heavcus, or by the earth; by Jerusalem, or by their own head. So some nominal Christians in our own time seek the like evasion, in swearing by heaven, or by Jove; by their faith, or by their troth; neither of which, they suppose, can bear witness to their crime. 2. Though they might shrink from the

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guilt of judicial perjury, yet they would introduce into their communications with each other, in common conversation, a variety of profane and idle oaths, by way of embellishment, as is, perhaps even more frequently, the case in our own days; men not considering, or even believing, that for them they must give an account in the day of judgment. The object of these verses appears therefore to be, not to interfere with the public and solemn oaths, either of allegiance, or of evidence; but to purify their conversation from falsehood and profaneness, and confine it within the boundaries of truth and decency. that Jesus did not mean to interfere, as we said, with their judicial proceedings, is, we think, clear, not only from the remarks above, but from the example of himself and his Apostles. The former, though silent to all preceding questions, no sooner is adjured by the high priest in the name of God, than he replies, and enters into the oath administered, which he surely would not have done, had its administration been unlawful. (chap. xxvi. 33, 34, comp. Num. v. 19.) Paul also, in several instances, uses, on solemn occasions, expressions far beyond "Yea and nay," and even equivalent to oaths (2 Cor.

NOTES-Chap. V. Con.

Ver. 39. Turn the other also. This is considered as a proverbial expression, indicative of great patience and forbearance.

Ver. 41. Whosoever shall compel - Hammond, and Doddridge, "Press" thee, &c.—Go with him thain. This is supposed to refer to the Persian Angari, or state couriers, who were empowered to compel any person they met to assist them, or to surrender his horse to them; and a like arbitrary authoty was exercised over the Jews by the Roman

governors. See Orient. Cust. No. 276,

Ver. 45. He maketh his sun to rise, &c.-Bp. Jebb quotes a beautiful Persian epigram, which says, Be like the trees, which impart their shade and fruits to every traveller, to those even who assault them with sticks and stones." Sac. Lit. p. 320.

Ver. 47. If ye salute your brethren only. The rigid Jews would not salute the publicans, nor would even the publicans salute the heathen. Harmer.

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