« PreviousContinue »
That part of our Lord's Sermon, which we have been attempting to explain, is of general use; for all Christians should be poor in spirit, sorrowful for sin, meek, desirous of righteousness, miniful, pure in beart, peace. makers. What follows was chiefly designed for his in'. mediate disciples. Our Lord knew that some of those who were now attending his discourse, would have the most barbarous torments inflicted on them, on account of the Gospel. If they had not been warned beforehand to expect such treatment, they might have fallen into despair, and imagined themselves excluded from the kingdom of heaven, which they had hitherto sup posed would consist of pomps, pleasures, victories, and triumphs. By the blessing which he pronounced on those who should suffer for their faith, our Lord encouraged them to look for the kingdom of heaven in a fucuit state, where their cruci persecutors could not follow them, and recalled to their remembrance the Prophets who had been persecuted in like manner.
It has been before observed, that it was our LORD's custom to familiarize his doctrine, by comparing spiritual things to present objects. It is supposed, from his call. ing his disciples the Salt of the Earth, that he might then behold husbandmen manuring the land with that article, as the custom was. By this comparison, he ina structed them to season the minds of others with such teavenly precepts as would preserve their principles from corruption ; and warned them to expect disgraie and contempt, if they negiected to execute this part of the apostolic character.
The words, Ye are the Salt of the Earı, may be apa plied in a more extensive sense to good Christians in çe. neral, who may be said to purify a corrupt world. It is also imagined, that the mountain' where Christ G6
preached commanded a view of the city of Bethusia, which was situated on an eminence, and was perhaps rendered more conspicuous by the brightness of the sun. Our LORD perhaps directed their eyes to it when he said, A city which is set on a hill cannot be hid, that his disciples might, from this comparison, consider themselves as exposed to the eyes of the world, and be parti. cularly circumspect in their conduct. From the bright. ness of the sun, he might take occasion to call them the Bght of the world; thus intimating, that they were not to confine their knowledge to their own breasts, but impart it to all within their influence. It was not possible, indeed, for each individual to diffuse the light of the Gospel universally; but they might, like candles or tanıps, illuminate particular places, and by thus letting their light shine before men, excite them to praise and glorify God, who had given such a religion to the world. As far as circumstances will admit, all Chris. tians are required to shew forth the glory of God, by their exemplary lives and conversation.
SECTION XXXVII. CONTINUATION OF OUR SAVIOUR'S SERMON ON THE
From Matthew, Cbap. v. THINk rot that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 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,
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 whoso.
ever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Phari. sees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill: and whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the judgment.
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, Thoa fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire.
Therefore, if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way ; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
Agree with thine adversary quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him: lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery.
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
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 that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 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.
It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement,
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.
Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform' unto the Lord thine oaths.
But I say unto you, Swear not at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne;
Nor by the earth, for it is his footstool ; neither by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. * Neither shalt thou swear hy thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black:
But let your communication' be, Yea, yea: Nay, nay : for whatsoever is more than these, cometh of evil. Ye have heard that it hath been said, An
resist not evil: but who. seeyer shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
And whosoever shall compel thee to go a.mile, go with him twain.
Give to him that asketh thee; and from him that would borrow of thee, turn not thou away. 13. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 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:
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he inaketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the Publicans the same ?
· And if ye salute your brethren only, what do you more than others ? do not even the Publicans so? Be
ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS... As our Lord was profes.edly propagating a new religion, his hearers might have supposed, that he meant entirely to overturn that which had been taught by Mol ses and the Prophets; he, knowing their thoughts, obvi. ated this suspicion, by declaring that he came expressly to fulfil it. The ceremonial part of the Law consisted of types and representations of what the Messiah was to do and suffer, and would of course cease, when they were realized ; and the moral part, or rules of duty to God and Man, our SAVIOUR came with Divine authority to explain, enforce, and improve. Since the moral Law was of Divine original, he required it to be preserved entire, even to the end of the world ; and threatened those who wilfully rejected, or taught others to reject the least part of it, with being excluded from the kingdom of heaven (for this is the meaning of being called " least in the kingdom of heaven.?') Many corruptions had been in troduced by the Scribes and Pharisees, which our SAVIOUR condemned; he' then proceeded to explain some of the moral precepts of the Law, by which he showed