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ing the divine joys that arise from the possession of holy disposi tions, if God can by low and terrestrial objects give such great and manifold delights as we now possess, may he not carry the joys of his favourites vastly higher, by objects infinitely nobler; even such objects as we have reason to believe will subsist in heaven, the state which the wisdom of the Almighty has contrived, and his power formed, for the happiness of his friends and people?
Having thus described true happiness, Jesus addressed himself to his disciples in general, and explained their duty as teach ers appointed to lead others in the road thither. For as they were all eye-witnesses, they were all to become ministers of the word. Hence, he compared them to salt, representing the efficacy of their good example to season mens minds with a love of piety and virtue, which is the proper preservative of spiritual substances. 13. Te are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted?—It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men. If ye, whose business it is to reform mankind, be wicked yourselves, ye cannot be reclaimed, but will be the most useless and contemptible of men.-In the next place, Jesus compared his disciples to the sun, representing the efficacy of their ministry to fill the world with the gladsome light of truth; a thing as necessary in the moral world, as light is in the natu ral. 14. Ye are the light of the world:-And that they might be excited to diligence in dispensing the salutary influences of their doctrine and example, he bade them call to mind that a city that is set on a hill cannot be hid, or that the conduct of persons in eminent stations, is the object of general observation.
He added, 15. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel; but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. The knowledge of divine things is given you by inspiration, not to be concealed, but to be imparted to mankind around you. Therefore, 16. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Make your doctrine and example bright in the eyes of all who behold you, that they might honour God; first, by acting up to the precepts of the gospel strongly impressed on their understandings by your penetrating sermons, and
* Ver. 13. But if the salt, &c.] Our Lord's supposition of the salt's losing its savour is illustrated by Mr Maundrel, who tells us, that in the valley of salt near Gebul, and about four hours journey from Aleppo, there is a small precipice, oc casioned by the continual taking away of the salt. "In this (says he) you may
see how the veins of it lie; I brake a piece of it, of which the part that was ex "posed to the rain, sun, and air, though i had the sparks and particles of salt, yet "it had perfectly lost its savour, as in St Matth. v. The innermost, which had "been connected to the rock, retained its savour, as I found by proof."
powerfully recommended to their hearts by your exemplary lives; next, by their returning thanks to God for sending such men to enlighten and reform the world.-But, because his doctrine concerning happiness was contrary to that which the Jews. were accustomed to hear, and which their teachers pretended to derive from the prophets, whose descriptions of the glory of Messiah's kingdom they understood in a literal sense, as well as from the law, whose rewards and punishments were all of a temporal kind; also, because he was about to give explications of the moral precepts of the law, very different from those which the Scribes and Pharisees commonly gave, but which his disciples, as instructors of mankind, were to inculcate, he ended this branch of his discourse, and introduced that which followed, with declaring, that he was by no means come to destroy the law or the prophets, that is, the moral precepts * contained in them, 17. Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil, (λngwrai), to confirm; so the word is used, 1 Kings i. 14. mariginal translation. Accordingly our Lord adds, 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. Eternity and immutability are by no means the attributes of any ceremonial precept whatever. They are the distinguishing characters of the precepts of morality enjoined in the law and the prophets. None of them shall pass or be abrogated till all be fulfilled, έως αν παντα γένηται, till all the things mentioned be done, that is, till the heavens and the earth pass, or are destroyed. Our Lord's meaning therefore was, that there is nothing in the universe so stable as the eternal truths of morality; the heavens may fall, and the whole frame of nature be unhinged, nay, every part of it may be dissolved; but the rules of righteousness shall remain immutable and immortal.-Wherefore, he ordered his disciples, on the severest penalties, both by their doctrine and example, to enforce the strict observation of all the moral precepts contained in the sacred writings, and that in their utmost extent. 19. Whosoever therefore shall break (that is, destroy, avras being here put for xxrava, as it is likewise John ii. 19.) one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, teach men that their obligation is dissolved, shall be called (or according to the idiom of the original languages, shall be) the least in the kingdom of heaven; since the moral precepts of the law are eternal and immutable,
That is, the moral precepts.] For he came to destroy the whole ceremonial precepts of the law, the band-writing of ordinances which be blotted out, and nailed to bis cross, as the apostle speaks, Col. ii. 14. He nai ed it to his cross blotted out, that its abolition might be known to all men. Besides, we find the phrase law and prophets made use of elsewhere, to signify the moral precepts contained in them. Thus ch. vii. 12. xxii. 40.
whosoever weakens their obligation * shall never enter into hea
He began with doctrine, and spake concerning murder, adultery, divorce, perjury, resentment of injuries, and benevolence; shewing them what they were to believe and teach concerning these points. It seems, the doctors gave it as their opinion, that the law, "Thou shalt not kill," prohibited nothing but actual murder committed with a man's own hand; and therefore if he hired another to kill him, or turned a wild beast upon him that slew him, according to them, it was not murder punishable by the law; though they acknowledged it might deserve the judgment of God. The doctrine of his disciples was to be more sublime, exhibiting the intention and spirit of the law, which forbids not the outward act of murder only, but whatever may tempt or prompt a man to commit it; for instance, our being angry with another, our affronting him, and judging evil concerning his spiritual state, quithout good reason, for the limitation added to the first member of the sentence, must be understood throughout the whole. 21. Ye have heard that it wat said by them of old time, Thou shalt not 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
• Shall never enter into heaven.] For there is in the text a figure which the rhetoricians call (uɛswo15) diminution, often elegantly used to convey a strong ides. Thus, Gal. v. 21. They which do such things, shall not interit the kingdom of God, i. e. shall be severely punished.
Ver. 10. The righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisses.] The Pharisees affirm ed that only the outward action was commanded or forbidden in the law, and interpreted all its precepts accordingly. On this principle they boasted of having performed every thing that was required of them. Nay, they were so arrogant as to think they coul} do even more than was required. This pernicious morality, destructive of all vir ue, Jesus loudly condemned as was fit in the beginning of his ministry.
Ver. 23. Brother The Jewish church was made up of two denominations of men siz by then, or Isracines, who were all all of one blood; and neighbours, or the men of other nations who b came proselytes. Jer. xxxi 34.
They shall no
cause, shall be in danger of* the judgment: By causeless anger, he exposes himself to a degree of punishment in the life to come, which may fitly be represented by that which the judgment inflicts. And whosoever shall say to his brother + Raca, without a cause, shall be in danger of the council: He who derides and affronts his brother causelessly, is liable to a degree of punishment, which may be represented by that which the council used to inflict but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, without a cause: whosoever judging uncharitably of his brother, shall call him Ha wicked wretch, and an apostate, without cause, shall be in danger of hell-fire; voyos sa is yestay T Tugos, verbat. shall be obnoxious to a gehenna of fire, i. e. by a common figure of speech, "obnoxious to f the fire of the valley of Hinnom," obnoxious to a degree of punishment which may fitly be represented by that
more teach every man bis neighbour, and every man his brother. But under the gos pel, there is no distinction of men in respect of descent. Accordingly, brother in the New Testament, has a signification as extensive as neighbour in the Old, denoting all who profess Christianity, in contradistinction to heathens, Matt. xviii. 15, 17. I Cor. v. 11.
Ver. 22. The judgment] This was a particular court among the Jews consisting of twenty-three members; which before the Roman government was established in Judea had the power of life and death, so far as its jurisdiction extended, and punished criminals with strangling and bebeading.
+ Ibid. Raca. Raca is a Syriac word, which, according to Lightfoot, signifies a scoundrel; according to Drusius, a coxcomb, and so is a term of great contempt. Kivi, vain man, used James ii. 20. seems to be a translation of it; for as Jerome observes, it is derived from the Hebrew Rick, which signifies vain or empty.
1 lbid. The council] In the Greek this court is named ovvedgiov; a word which the Jews adopted into their language, and giving it a Hebrew termination, sanbedrim, appropriated it to their supreme council, whose business was to judge in the most important affairs; for instance, in all matters relative to religion, as when any person pretended to be a prophet, or attempted to make innovations in the established worship. This court could, while the republic lasted, inflict the heaviest punishments; particularly stoning, and burning with melted lead poured down the throat of the criminal, after he was half strangled.
A wicked wretch] So fool, signifies in scripture. For as religion is the highest wisdom, vice must be accounted the extremest folly. Mr Sykes draws the same sense from the word, by deriving it from the Syriac, Marah rebellavit ; so that according to him, the original age signifies a rebel against God, or an apostate from true religion.
The fire of the valley of Hinnom.] Jerome tells us, that the valley of Hinnom was a beautiful spot, at the foot of Mount Moriah, the mountain on which the temple stood. It was watered with the fountain of Siloam; see Josh. xv. 8. xviii. 16. It was called the valley of Hinnom from the name of its owner. In after-times, on account of its pleasantness, it became the scene of the detestable worship of Moloch, that horrid idol of the Ammonites, to whom the Israelites burnt their children alive as sacrifices. During the offering of these sacrifices, they made a noise with drums, that they might not hear the cries of their dying children. Hence this place was called Tophet, (sm), in the Hebrew, signifying a drum Kimchi, in Psalm xxvii. tells us, that in later times continual fires were VOL. I. 3 L
fire. But because men are very apt to fall into rash anger, and to express their anger by contemptuous speeches and abusive names, fancying that there is no sin in these things, or but little, and that compensation may easily be made for them by acts of devotion, Jesus declared, that atonement was not to be made for these offences by any offerings, how costly soever, and therefore prescribed immediate repentance and reparation, as the only remedies of them. He insisted particularly on reparation, assuring us, that unless it be made, God will not accept the worship of such offenders, being infinitely better pleased with repentance than with sacrifices, or external worship of any kind, how specious soever those duties may appear in the eye of vulgar understandings. Vain, therefore, is their presumption, who fancy they can make amends for yet more gross acts of injustice, by acts of devotion. 23. Therefore, if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, any just cause of complaint against thee. 24. Leave there thy gift before the altar: do not lay aside thoughts of worshipping God, because thou art not in a proper state, but prepare thyself for his worship without delay: go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. This exhortation Jesus enforced from the consideration of what is reckoned prudent in ordinary law-suits. In such cases wise men always advise the party that has done the wrong, to make up matters with his adversary whilst it is in his power, lest the sentence of a judge being interposed fall heavy on him. For the same reason, we who have offended our brother ought to make it up with him, whilst an opportunity of repentance is allowed us, and that though our quarrel should have proceeded to the greatest lengths, lest the sentence of the supreme Judge overtake
kept in this valley for burning the unburied carcasses and filth of the city, that being thus polluted, it might be unfit for the like religious abominations. The prophet Jeremiah is thought to have had these fires in his eye, chap. vii. 32, 33xix. 11-13. The Jews, from the perpetuity of them, and to express the utmost detestation of the sacrifices which were offered to Moloch in this valley, made. use of its name to signify bell. Accordingly we find Isaiah describing hell under the name of Tophet, and by images drawn from it, chap. xxx. 33. Induced, I suppose, by these considerations, the translators of the Bible have given Tophet or Gehenna, its metaphorical meaning in the passage above; whereas, it ought rather to have had its literal signification. For our Lord intending to shew his hearers, that the punishment of causeless anger, contemptuous speeches, and abusive names, shall in the life to come, bear a proportion to the guilt that is in these sins; and finding no names in the language of men by which those different degrees of punishment could properly be expressed, he illustrated them by the punishments which the Jews were acquainted with. This interpretation of the punishment in the latter clause of the verse, has a particular advantage attending it, as it prevents the reader from imagining, that only the sin of calling one's brother a fool, will be punished with hell-fire.