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this very Sermon, particularly specified; you have made void the laws of God and so corrupted them, as to render them of no effect ; you will cease to answer the purposes of Salt for preservation, and being become insipid, or of no use, you will be thrown away and trodden under foot.
In the following verse, Our Lord changes the metaphor, but still expresses the same sentiment, under the sublimest of images. Ver. 14. Ye are the light of the World ; a City which is set, or built, upon a Hill cannot be hid. i. e. Your situation for communicating light to the world around you, is as conspicuous as a City which is built upon an eminence and cannot be concealed.
These verses have indeed, by the generality of Commentators been applied to the Disciples of Jesus, as Ministers of the Gospel, and they without doubt were, in the Councils of "' to them, the folly and unreasonableness of their own superstition and " idolatry. And that this was really part of the design which the divine “wisdom had in view, in his dispensations towards the People of Israel, " appeareth from several passages of Scripture;” the most remarkable of which referred to by this learned Writer, is the following: -Deut. iv.
5. Behold I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord iny God commanded me; keep therefore and do them, for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the Nations which shall hear all these statutes, and say; surely this great Nation is a wise and understanding people
. What Nation is there so great who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is; in all things that we call upon him for. See Leeland's Advantage and Necessity of the Christian Revelation, pages 400, 401, Vol. I.
Very remarkable to the same piirpose is what Dr. Ellis, in his knowledge of divine things, from Revelation, not from reason and nature, has said upon this subject, page 122.“ What not a little contributed to the preservation " of knowledge in the East was God's continuing to reveal himself to the “ Jews, so that in process of time, the little spot of Jewry was the only
place where the true God was known and taught. And some beams of " this divine wisdom could not but shine forth from time to time upon the
neighbouring people who conversed with them. Accordingly, whenever
we find a people begin to revive in literature, it was owing to one of “these. causés ; either to some transmigrators from those parts coming and
settling among them, or else to their going thither for instruction, From
these fountains they always had it, and at this tiré the Nations of the World "lighted their own. There is no instance to be given to the contrary: 46. Hither Athens and afterwards Rome, came in quest of knowledge and şi instruction. These were the schools and masters of the World. And though “ dur accounts of Asia are but short and defective, yet what remains there are, $ as also their traditions, even in China, trace their original and oracles
westward, which is the fullest confirmation of the Mosaic history, aną # of the propagation of knbwledge by instruction only."
Heaven, Heaven, intended to be the salt of the Earth and the lights of the World. But the question is whether, at the period when our Lord delivered this Sermon upon the Mount, these expressions could have then been applicable to them, in that sense, any more than to the rest of their countrymen. Dr. George Campbell has very justly observed, “ that the Apostles " were not yet qualified for teaching the system of do&trine
implied under the name Gospel ; because in fact, they did not fi know it themselves. They had then no notion of a Messiah, " but as a temporal Prince and mighty Conqueror ; or of his
kingdom but as a secular Monarchy, more extensive than, but “ of the same nature with those which had preceded; to wit, 7: the Assyrian, the Persian, the Macedonian Empires, or that " which was in being at the time, the Romans. Not one of his s hearers could have been more prejudiced than the Apostles ss themselves were, at that time, against a suffering Saviour, who
was to expire in agonies upon the Cross. The doctrine of “ the Gospel is manifestly what the Apostles were not qualified
to teach, till they were enlightened by the descent of the " Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, after our Lords's « Ascension."
These remarks of this very able Writer, are so manifestly founded in truth, that not to admit them, would be to contradict the whole tenor of the Gospel History. Indeed this very
the Mount, contains very sufficient evidence that the Disciples of Jesus were not, particularly, and exclusively meant by the salt of the Earth and the light of the World AS MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL ; for, had that been the case, would our Lord have immediately afterwards addressed them, as persons who thought, that to promote their ambitious views, the eternal laws of morality were to be dispensed with ? Would he have thought it necessary to correct, in so particular a manner, the erroneous traditions, mentioned in the 21st. and following verses, if the Disciples had answered this description ? Besides, from whence could they have attained such a superiority of knowledge, beyond the rest of their countrymen ? for it is evident, from the History, that the Disciples had but just joined him, and they had, hitherto, at least, possessed no means of obtaining such a knowledge as this opinion supposes. The real fa&t seems to be, that our Lord had no reference to the knowledge of HIS RELIGION; but simply to that knowledge which,
as Jews and as the peculiar people of God, they had possessed; by which they were very appositely described, when compared with the state of the rest of mankind, as the salt of the Earth and the light of the World, and consequently if they improved their advantages, were better qualified both for the reception and the diffusion of that additional light, which it was the great object of his mission as the Messiah, to communicate to them.
Our Saviour's respresenting the Jews, under these similitudes, seems to have arisen from his great regard for them, as a Nation, and from his earnest solicitude for their improving the advantages of which, by the special favor of providence, they had hitherto been possessed. Upon a nearer prospect of the calamities which were about to overtake them, he appears to have been uncommonly affected at the thought of their having wilfully rejected all the means of saving them, from their approaching ruin; among which none of the least was, his endeavouring to rouse them to a just sense of their important perogatives, as the salt of the Earth and the light of the World. O Jerusalem! Jerusalem! thou that killest the Prophets and stonest those who are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy Children together as a Hin gathereth her Chickens under her wings, and ye would not. As he told them upon that occasion, their house was left unto them desolate; so he intimates, in the instance under .consideration, by telling them that if the salt hath lost its savor, or saltness, it is thenceforth good
for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foat. This was, unhappily and notoriously the fact, with respect to this infatuated and incorrigible Nation. They soon lost their distinguished pre-eminence, particularly in a religious point of view, and were, and still continue to be, even to a proverb, cast out and trodden under.foot, the objects of contempt and derision to all Nations. " Jerusalem," says Mr, Kett, has been constantly s6 trodden down of the Gentiles, the Romans, the Saracens, 56 and the Turks. Its antient inhabitants have been expelled " and persecuted, and its holy places have been polluted. " The Eagles of idolatrous Rome, the Crescent of the “ impostor Mahomet, and the Banner of Popery, carried by " the Crusaders have been successively displayed amidst the 6 ruins of the Sanctuary of Jehovah, for nearly 1800 years." See Kett's History, the Interpreter of Prophecy, Vol. I. P, 244.
If the preceding interpretation of the 13th. and 14th. verses, in the chapter under consideration, shall, from a careful attention to the situation and circumstances of things, when our Lord delivered this Sermon, be found to be just, there cannot be any difficulty in giving to the verse immediately following, a precise and determinate meaning; a meaning which is replete with sound reasoning, and which perfe&ly harmonizes with the metaphor of the Jews being the light of the World.–V. 15. Men do not light a candle and put it under a bushel, bnt on a candlestick and it giveth light to all that are in the house. As if he had said, ye Jews have been appointed, by providence, to be the lights of ibe: World; upon the same principle, and for the same purpose
that meni light a candle in their houses, namely, that all who are in them, may enjoy the benefit of its light. This being the design of men, in their humble spheres of action, in common life; it is, for a like purpose, but a far more noble and important one, that God has placed you, in the supereminent situation, which in a moral and religious view, you now enjoy. In this view, how natural, and how forcible, is the conclusion which our Lord draws from this reasoning ! So kt your light shine before men ; you who THE WORLD, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Fath:r who is in heaven.
Having thus pointed out to the Jews, the superior importance of their situation among the nations of the world, under the metaphors of salt to preserve, and of light to communicate the knowledge of God, and having urged upon them, the importance of improving the advantages which they possessed, and, which as Jews, could not but have been peculiarly interesting to them; our Lord proceeds, in the next verse, with the same regard to the sentiments which they held, concerning the nature of the Messiah's kingdom, which he had already, so pointedly displayed, and particularly guards them againse imagining that to promote their ambitious and self-interested purposes, it was his design to introduce, or, in any way to encourage, a relaxation of the eternal laws of justice, equity, and righteousness.-v. 17. Think not that I am come to destroy the Law and the Prophets ; very far from it: I am not come to destroy either but to fulfil BOTH ;-to give perfection to the one, and to accomplishi what the others have written of me ; for verily I say unto you,
THE LIGHT OF
till Heaven and Earth pass, one iota, or one tittlý, sball in 20 wise pass from the law till alt be fulfilled. And still farther to let them know, of what immense and essential importance these eternal laws of morality, viz. the lights by which they were to shine before men, in his estimation were; he adds, what must for ever do the highet honor to him and to his religion.--v. 19. Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of the least of these commandments, fof the moral law) 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. He then adds, with a peculiar reference to the lax morality, and the vitious conduct of the Jewish Rulers of those who were the depositaries of the knowledge which then existed in the world ;--for I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall very far exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pbarisees, for so the original word signifies, ye sball in no case, or, upon no account whatever, enter into the kingdom of Heaven : ye will be wholly disqualified for being the subjects of that kingdom which I am about to set up.
*" It has been said by the Enemies of Christianity, that it inculcates
a scheme of morality wholly impracticable and enthusiastic; inconsistent “ with the feelings of human nature, and the business of human life On " this charge," says Mr. Graves, “ it may be observed, that it is most certain “ Christianity does not give any reasonable ground to suppose that it " encourages men to forsake the necessary business, or the useful relations of " human life; that it supposes the stations of husband and wife, and children; " of masters and servant» ; of rulers and subjects ; of rich and poor; of “ teachers and learners; and that it gives such rules for human conduct, in " all these different situations as require strict integrity, active benevolence,
unassuming humility, patience and resignation ; in short, every quality " which tends to promote the happiness of the individual, and the welfare " of society; rules which if practised, would make the whole world,
a scene of virtue, piety, and peace.
" It is equally certain that industry---attention to the interests of those with * whom we are connected, or for whom we are concerned, far from being " prohibited or discountenanced, are recommended and even enjoined. It
may easily be shewn that those passages which seem most strongly to condemn " the world, the things of the world, and the cares of the world; mean 86 only to condemn the sordid pursuits, and vicious pleasures, and excessive $ love of the world; to condemn sensuality, ambition, covetousness, "* extreme solicitude, repining at the dispensations, and distrusting the “ providence of God. ' But while we vindicate the Gospel from such " misrepresentations as would pervert its exalted, but rational precepts, into 5 fanatical cants ; we must neuer forget that its precepts and its motives,