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hear thee, thou hast gained thy | Whatsoever ye shall bind on brother. earth, shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven.

16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.

18 Verily I say unto you, gains him, saves him from being lost. Compare James 5:20. 1 Pet. 3: 1.

1 Cor. 7: 16. 9:19-22.

19 Again, I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth, as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father, which is in heaven.

20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

16. Two or three witnesses, &c. rule similar in its import was binding on the Jews. Compare Deut. 19: 15.

tion to the church, they would need special direction from heaven. This the Saviour promised they should reAceive, in answer to prayer. If two of you shall agree. It was not necessary that the whole company should always be together in order to consult and pray; if only two should unite in seeking a knowledge of the

17. The church; the company of believers with which the offender is connected. As a heathen man and a publican. The Jews did not en-divine will, their prayer would be courage intimacy with the heathen, heard, and whatsoever they should that is, with Gentiles, and publicans ask for, as connected with their offi(see on 5: 47) they regarded as un- cial capacity, they should receive it. worthy of their society. An offender, then, who would not hearken, in a private conversation, to reasonable suggestions, nor listen, when two or three witnesses were present, nor comply with the directions of the church, was no longer to be kept in familiar intimacy as a Christian, but was to be removed from the company of Christians, as unsuitable for Christians to associate with. Jesus, however, unlike the Jewish teachers, does not permit us to hate those who are thus separated. See 5: 44-48.

20. Where two or three, &c. If any of the apostles had met in the name of Christ, that is, with reference to his cause, to consult on a matter which involved his glory, Christ himself would be spiritually present with them, and communicate to their minds a knowledge of his will.

REFLECTIONS. 1. There is great wisdom and kindness in the rule requiring a private interview with a Christian brother who may have done us wrong. Little success could be

18. Compare 16:19. The differ-anticipated, if we should at first converse with him in the presence of others. Men have such a regard to false honor, and are so unwilling to acknowledge that they have done wrong, when their reputation is at stake, that the utmost secrecy ought to be sought in matters of this kind. Reproof is unwelcome to one who deserves it; and all outward circum

19 Sustaining this important rela-stances which might unpleasantly

ence between this verse and the one referred to, is, that in this verse the words of Christ are manifestly addressed to all the apostles, giving them all alike full authority in respect to the church, as his representatives. His followers were to look to them as guides fully qualified and empowered.

21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times


23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a affect his mind ought to be avoided. v. 15.

2. We have much encouragement to seek the return of an offending brother to his duty. We may be the means of saving him. v. 15. Compare James 5: 19, 20.

3. United prayer has great couragement. v. 19. Our Lord's representations concerning the efficacy of prayer do, however, give no encouragement to any wild and extravagant petitions; for while we pray to our heavenly Father, whose heart is full of tenderness, we must remember that he has all knowledge, and that his promise does not have respect to any improper fancies of men, but to petitions conformed to what he sees is right and suitable; just as an earthly father, who gives the fullest encouragement to his son to ask for favors, does not thereby give up his right to discriminate and to judge respecting the desires presented.

4. If we habitually cherish a regard to the honor of our Saviour, we may indulge also the cheering confidence that he is ever with us (v. 20); particularly when united with others in employments and consultations pertaining to the advancement of his


forgiving temper. The number seven was used as a sort of round number, like our word ten. The mention of seven led the Saviour to adopt this peculiar way of answering the question. Compare Luke 17: 3, 4.

23. To illustrate the principle of en-forgiving injuries, and to show the consequences of an opposite spirit, Jesus proceeded to speak a parable. The kingdom of heaven; the Messiah's dispensation. The manner in which the forgiveness of injuries is regarded in this dispensation, may be illustrated by the conduct of a certain king. || Servants; not domestic servants, or slaves; but officers. The person spoken of is a king; royal officers are sometimes called servants. See on 14: 2. || Take account; call to a reckoning, inquire into their management of affairs.

21. Then came Peter. The instructions of the Saviour respecting the treatment of persons who have done others wrong, suggested an inquiry which Peter wished to make.

certain king which would take account of his servants.

24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him which owed him ten thousand talents.

22. Until seventy times seven. Let there be no limit to the exercise of a

25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.

24. Ten thousand talents. The value of the talent may be stated at about a thousand dollars. The amount here mentioned would then be ten millions of dollars. The design of the Saviour was, to present a debt of an indefinitely large amount, as contrasted with a very small debt, and thus to show the weight of obligation when lenity had been exercised towards such a debtor. Besides, the property of private individuals, who were in royal favor and royal employ, was frequently enormous in Eastern countries. Even if so large a debt were an improbable supposition, it yet was adapted to the Saviour's design; namely, to represent a signal case of kindness towards a dependant.

25. Commanded him to be sold, and

26 The servant, therefore, I vants saw what was done, they fell down, and worshipped him, were very sorry, and came and saying, Lord, have patience with told unto their lord all that was me, and I will pay thee all. done.

27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.

29 And his fellow-servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.

31 So when his fellow-ser

his wife, &c. This circumstance was in accordance with Jewish ideas and manners. See Lev. 25: 39. 2 Kings 4: 1. Amos 8: 6. Oriental kings had absolute power over the persons and property of their subjects.

26. Worshipped; performed special homage.

28. Fellow-servants; fellow-officers under the king. || A hundred pence. The word rendered pence expresses a coin equal to about ten or twelve cents of our money; a trifling sum, indeed, ten or twelve dollars, when compared with his own debt to the king!

34. Tormentors; probably the keepers of the prison. The king, having absolute power, recalled his act of remitting the debt and enforced his original claim.

35. So likewise. In this verse we have the application of the parable. If we do not forgive those who do us wrong, our heavenly Father will not forgive us our sins against him, but will condemn us to all the severity of punishment that our sins deserve. Coinpare 6: 12.

32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:

33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow-servant, even as I had pity on thee?

34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

How powerful is the consideration exhibited in this parable to enforce a Christian's exercise of the spirit of forgiveness! He has himself received forgiveness from God, of offences unspeakably more numerous and more aggravated than can possibly be committed against himself by any human being. The remembrance of his own sinfulness, and of the unspeakable kindness of God towards him, ought to excite compassion and forgiveness in respect to those who have done him wrong. If such a spirit be not possessed, can it be, that the person has ever been made acquainted with his own heart, and has ever experienced the pardoning mercy of God? If he have not the spirit of forgiveness, is he not wholly destitute of that temper which is suitable to one who needs forgiveness from God? Does he possess that temper which would render it suitable that his sins should be forgiven? The spirit of heaven is a spirit of love; an unforgiving temper can have no abode there.



ND it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judea, beyond Jordan:

6 Wherefore they are no 2 And great multitudes fol- more twain, but one flesh. lowed him, and he healed them What, therefore, God hath there. joined together, let not man put asunder.

7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning, made them male and female,


1. Galilee; the country in the north of Palestine. || Coasts of Judea; the territory bordering on Judea, at the south part of the land. || Beyond Jordan; on the eastern side of the river Jordan.

5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife and they twain shall be one flesh?

3. To put away; to divorce. || For every cause; for any thing whatever that may displease him.

4. Male and female; or, a male and a female.

5. See Gen. 2: 24. Twain; an obsolete word, meaning two.

6. One flesh; that is, so to speak, one person in affection, in interests and pursuits. || Let not man put asunder. God appointed the marriage bond to be a permanent one; let not man presume, without divine authority, to break it. 7. Why did Moses then, &c. Having thus heard the decision of Jesus, that, since marriage had been established and regulated by divine authority, man ought not to assume the power of sundering the marriage bond, the Pharisees objected that Moses had given the Jews permission to put away their wives by giving the wife a bill of divorcement. Thus the authority

8 He saith unto them, Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

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of Moses seemed to be arrayed against that of Jesus. The statute of Moses, on this subject, may be seen in Deut. 24: 1. The expressions used by Moses were not so definite as to prevent inquiry and difference of opinion concerning what would be a just cause for a divorce. There were consequently two parties among the Jews on this question; one contending that only the guilt of adultery was an adequate cause for divorcing one's wife; the other, that any thing which made a person displeased with his wife, was a sufficient cause. It was in view of this contested question that the Pharisees wished to learn the opinion of Jesus. He let them know very distinctly that the marriage bond was intended by the Creator to be a permanent one; and that man ought not to assume the power of breaking it.

8. Moses suffered you, &c. Jesus acknowledged that Moses had given them liberty to put away their wives; but declared that this arrangement, sanctioned by Moses, was not an original one, established at the first by the Creator. It was only a prudential arrangement, to meet the intractable disposition of the Jews. When Mo

9 And I say unto you, Who- | put away, doth commit adulsoever shall put away his tery. wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery and whoso marrieth her which is

ses established his institutes, the Jews had already been in the habit of improper conduct on this point; and such was their character, that a due regard to his office as a civil (not a moral) legislator, made him endeavor rather to prevent abuses of what had been regarded as a privilege, than to prescribe the strict rule of equity, according to the original divine arrangement. The statutes of Moses were, to a great extent, to be regarded as civil statutes, apted to the existing state of things in the nation, rather than as moral precepts, declaring, simply and fully, rules of action to regulate the conscience in the sight of God. The distinction between a moral precept, enjoining a principle of perfect right in the sight of God, and a civil statute, regulating a person's conduct as a citizen of a civil community, not as a creature of God, was overlooked by the Pharisees, but is here exhibited by our Lord; as if he had said, Moses was legislating in reference to the civil community, and in reference to your conduct, as members of the civil community; and, knowing your intractable disposition [hardness of heart], and foreseeing that, if he had at once entirely prohibited the practice of divorcing wives, worse consequences would ensue, by reason of your character, than if he only endeavored to regulate the matter by restraining abuses, and appointing the order of proceeding in this case, so that it should not be arbitrary, he did, in these circumstances, and in this view, permit divorces; not, however, that he approved of such conduct, when viewed in a moral light, nor that God approved of sundering the marriage bond.

This distinction between a moral

10 His

disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.

precept proceeding from God, and binding the conscience in respect to Him, and a civil statute, proceeding from a legislator, and regulating the conduct of citizens as citizens merely, will be apprehended, by considering that human legislation is necessarily imperfect, and that it must have regard to an existing state of things, and not solely to abstract principles; and that, frequently, a thing may not be unlawful, so far as the civil laws are concerned, while it yet may contravene the laws of God; and that a thing may be forbidden by human law, which may yet be required by the perfectly right principles of divine law. And though Moses was divinely commissioned to make his statutes, yet his commission regarded him, to a great extent, as making a code of civil statutes, which must, therefore, partake of the nature of civil statutes established by other legislators.

9. And I say unto you, &c. By comparing the parallel passage in Mark 10: 10, 11, it will appear that the conversation with the Pharisees had terminated with the eighth verse. He replied to their inquiry, and answered their objections. After retiring to a house, his disciples resumed the subject; and Jesus proceeded to instruct them further in relation to it.

Whosoever shall put away, &c. Compare 5: 31, 32. In Mark 10: 12, the rule is stated as applicable also to the woman. The parallel passage in Mark is 10: 1-12.

10. It is not good to marry. That is, if nothing but adultery be a just cause for divorce, it would be best not to marry. If a man be regarded as bound to his wife for life, however displeasing to him may be the connection, and if no unpleasant circum

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