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Blessed are they that mourn: for An. Olymp. they shall be comforted.
pronounces blessed. 6 Blessed are they which do hunger A.M. 4031. and thirst after righteousness: for An. Olymp. 5 Blessed are the meek: for they they shall be filled. shall inherit the earth.
Who they are whom Christ
a Isai. 61. 2, 3. Luke 6. 21. John 16. 20. 2 Cor. 1. 7. Rev. 21. 4.
here promised. Some contend, that pazago should be referred to μ, and the verse translated thus: Happy, or blessed in spirit are the poor. But our Lord seems to have the humiliation of the spirit particularly in view.
Kingdom of heaven.] Or, 7wv ovgavwv, of the heavens. A participation of all the blessings of the New Covenant here, and the blessings of Glory above. See this phrase explained, chap. iii. 2. Blessed are the poor! this is God's word: but who believes it? Do we not say, Yea rather, Blessed is the rich
The Jewish Rabbins have many good sayings relative to that poverty and humility of spirit, which Christ recommends in this verse. In the treatise called Bammidbar Rabba, s. 20. we have these words: There were three (evils) in Balaam, the evil eye, (envy) the towering spirit, (pride) and, the extensive mind (avarice.)
Tanchum, fol. 84. The law does not abide with those who have the extensive mind, (avarice) but with him only who has a contrite heart.
Our word meek comes from the old Anglo-saxon meca, or meccea, a companion or equal, because he who is of a meek or gentle spirit, is ever ready to associate with the meanest of those who fear God, feeling himself superior to none; and well knowing, that he has nothing of spiritual or temporal good, but what he has received from the mere bounty of God, having never deserved any favour from his hand.
For they shall inherit the earth.] Or, τn ynï, the land. Under this expression, which was commonly used by the prophets to signify the land of Canaan, in which all temporal good abounded, Judg. xviii. 9, 10. Jesus Christ points out that abundance of spiritual good, which was provided for men in the gospel. Besides, Canaan was a type of the kingdom of God, and who is so likely to inherit glory, as the man in whom the meekness and gentleness of Jesus dwell? || In some good MSS. and several ancient versions, the fourth || and fifth verses are transposed: see the authorities in the various readings in Professor Griesbach's edition. The present arrangement certainly is most natural; 1. Poverty, to which the promise of the kingdom is made. 2. Mourning or distress, on account of this impoverished state, to which consolation is promised. And 3. Meekness established in the heart by the consolations received.
Verse 4. Blessed are they that mourn] That is, those, who feeling their spiritual poverty, mourn after God, lamenting the iniquity that separated them from the fountain of blessedness. Every one flies from sorrow, and seeks after joy, and yet true joy must necessarily be the fruit of sorrow. The whole need not (do not feel the need of) the physician; || but they that are sick do; i. e, they who are sensible of their disease. Only such persons as are deeply convinced of the sinfulness of sin, feel the plague of their own heart, and turn with disgust from all worldly consolations, because of their insufficiency to render them happy, have God's promise of solid comfort. They SHALL BE comforted, says Christ, maçaannoortes, from zaga, near, and xaλew, I call. He will call them to himself, and speak the words of pardon, peace, and life eternal, to their hearts. See this notion of the word expressed fully by our Lord, chap. xi. 28. COME UNTO ME all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Verse 6. They which do hunger and thirst] As the body has its natural appetites of hunger and thirst for the food and drink suited to its nourishment, so has the soul. No being is indestructible or unfailing in its nature but God; no being is independant but him: as the body depends for its nourishment, health, and strength upon the earth; so does the soul upon heaven. Heavenly things cannot support the body, they are not suited to its nature: earthly things cannot support the soul, for the same reason. When the uneasy sensation termed hunger, takes place in the stomach, we know we must get food, or perish. When the soul is awakened to a sense of its wants, and begins to hunger and thirst after righteousness or holiness, which is its proper food, we know that it must be purified by the Holy Spirit, and be made a partaker of that living bread, John viii. 48. or perish everlastingly. Now, as God never inspires a prayer but with the design to Verse 5. Blessed are the meek] Happy, ogaus, from jaos, answer it, he who hungers and thirsts after the full salvation easy, those who are of a quiet, gentle spirit, in opposition to of God, may depend on being speedily and effectually blessed the proud and supercilious Scribes and Pharisees, and their or satisfied, well-fed, as the word xogradova implies. disciples. We have a compound word in English, which Strong and intense desire after any object has been, both by once fully expressed the meaning of the original, viz. gentle-poets and orators, represented metaphorically by hunger and man; but it has now almost wholly lost its original significa- thirst. See the well known words of Virgil, Æneid iii. 55.
Rabbi Chanina said, Why are the words of the Law compared to water? Because, as waters flow from heights, and settle in low places; so the words of the Law rest only with him who is of a humble heart." See Schoetgen.
b Ps. 37. 11.
See Rom. 4. 13.4 Isai. 55. 1. & 63. 13.
The merciful, pure in heart, peace
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they || 9 Blessed are the peace-makers: for
8 b Blessed are the pure in heart: for God. they shall see God.
Ps. 41. 1. ch. 6. 14. Mark 11. 25. 2 Tim. 1. 16. Hebr. 6. 10.
Quid non mortalia pectora cogis,
Auri sacra FAMES!
« O cursed hunger after gold! what canst thou not influence the hearts of men to perpetrate?" How frequently do we find, inexplebilis honorum FAMES-SITIENS virtutis-famæ SITIS, the insatiable hunger after honour, a thirst for virtue, thirst after fame, and such like? Righteousness here is taken for all the blessings of the New Covenant-all the graces of the Messiah's kingdom-a full restoration to the image of God!
Verse 7. The merciful] The word mercy, among the Jews, signified two things: the pardon of injuries, and almsgiving. Our Lord undoubtedly takes it in its fullest latitude here. To know the nature of mercy, we have only to consult the grammatical meaning of the Latin word misericordia, from which ours is derived. It is composed of two words: miserans, pitying, and cor, the heart; or miseria cordis, pain of heart. Mercy supposes two things: 1. a distressed object and 2. a disposition of the heart, through which it is affected at the sight of such an object. This virtue therefore is no other than a lively emotion of the heart, which is excited by the discovery of any creature's misery; and such an emotion as manifests itself outwardly, by effects suited to its nature. The merciful man is here termed by our Lord exen, from 05, which is generally derived from the Hebrew chil, to be in pain as a woman in travail: or from ilel, to cry,|| or lament grievously; because a merciful man enters into the miseries of his neighbour, feels for, and mourns with him. They shall obtain mercy.] Mercy is not purchased but at the price of mercy itself; and even this price is a gift of the mercy of God. What mercy can those vindictive persons expect, who forgive nothing, and are always ready to improve every advantage they have of avenging themselves? Whatever mercy a man shews to another, God will take care to shew the same to him. The following elegant and nervous saying of one of our best poets, is worthy of the reader's most serious attention.
makers and persecuted are blessed.
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"The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for
1 Cor. 13. 12. 1 John 3. 2, 3.- 2 Cor. 4. 17. 2 Tim. 2. 12. 1 Pet. 3. 14.
And earthly pow'r doth then shew likest God's,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
Why all the souls that are, were forfeit once:
How shalt thou hope for mercy, rend'ring none ?"
In the Tract Shabbath, fol. 151. there is a saying very
like this of our Lord. "He who shews mercy to men, God will shew mercy to him: but to him who shews no mercy to man, God will shew no mercy."
Verse 8. Pure in heart] In opposition to the Pharisees, who affected outward purity, while their hearts were full of corruption and defilement. A principal part of the Jewish religion consisted in outward washings and cleansings: on this ground they expected to see God, to enjoy eternal glory: but Christ here shews, that a purification of the heart from all vile affections and desires, is essentially-requisite in order to enter into the kingdom of God. He whose soul is not delivered from all sin, through the blood of the covenant, can have no scriptural hope of ever being with God. There is a remarkable illustration of this passage, quoted by Mr. Wakefield from Origen, Contra Cels. lib. vi. "God has no body, and therefore is invisible: but men of contemplation can discern him with the heart and understanding. But A DEFILED HEART CANNOT SEE GOD: but HE
MUST BE PURE WHO WISHES TO ENJOY A PROPER VIEW OF A
Shall see God.] This is a Hebraism, which signifies possess · God, enjoy his felicity: as seeing a thing, was used among the Hebrews for possessing it. See Psal. xvi. 10. Thou wilt not suffer thy Holy One to SEE corruption, i. e. he shall not be corrupted. So John iii. 3. Except a man be born again, he cannot SEE the kingdom of God, i. e. he cannot enjoy it. So John iii. 16. He that believeth not the Son, shall not SEE life, i. e. shall not be put in possession of eternal glory.
Probably our Lord alludes to the advantages those had, who were legally pure, of entering into the sanctuary, into the presence of God, while those who had contracted any legal defilement, were excluded from it. This also was obviously typical.
Verse 9. The peace-makers] Eignon, peace, is compounded of age (s) by, connecting into one: for as WAR distracts, and divides nations, families, and individuals, from each other, inducing them to pursue different objects and different interests: so PEACE restores them to a state of unity, giving them one object, and one interest. A peace-maker is a man, who, being endowed with a generous public spirit, labours for the public good; and feels his own interest promoted, in promoting that of others: therefore, instead of fanning the fire of strife, he uses his influence and wisdom to reconcile the contending parties, adjust their differences, and restore them to a state of unity. As all men are represented to be in a state of hostility to God and each other, the Gospel is called the Gospel of peace, because it tends to reconcile men to God and to each other. Hence our Lord here terms peace-makers, the children of God: for as he is the Father of peace, those who promote it are reputed his children. But whose children are they who foment divisions in the church, the state, or among families? Surely they are not of that God, who is the Father of peace, and lover of concord; of that CHRIST, who is the sacrifice and mediator of it; of that SPIRIT, who is the nourisher and bond of peace; nor of that CHURCH of the Most High, which is the kingdom and family of peace.
the salt of the earth;
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12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall
Neh. 9, 26. 2 Chron. 36. 16. ch. 23. 34, 57. Acts 7. 52. 1 Thess. 2. 15. f Mark 9. 50, Luke 14. 34, 35.
Christ gives no quarter to vice; so the vicious will give no quarter to this religion, or to its professors.
For their's is the kingdom of heaven.] That spiritual kingdom, explained chap. iii. 2. and that kingdom of glory, which is its counterpart, and consequence.
Verse 11. When men shall revile you, and persecute] The persecution mentioned in the preceding verse, comprehends all outward acts of violence—all that the hand can do. This comprehends all calumny, slander, &c. all that the tongue can effect. But as Swx, which we render to persecute, is a forensic term, and signifies legal persecutions and public accusations, which, though totally unsubstantiated, were the means of destroying multitudes of the primitive Christians, our Lord probably refers to such. No Protestant can think, without horror, of the great numbers burnt alive in this country, on such accusations, under the popish reign of her, who is emphatically called Bloody Queen Mary. Verse 12. Rejoice] In the testimony of a good conscience; for without this, suffering has nothing but misery in it.
Be exceeding glad] Ayahrixode, leap for joy. There are several cases on record, where this was literally done by the martyrs, in Queen Mary's days.
Great is your reward in heaven] In the Talmudical Tract Pirkey Aboth, are these words: "Rabbi Tarpon said, The day is short: the work is great: the labourers are slow: the REWARD IS GREAT: and the father of the family is urgent."
The followers of Christ are encouraged to suffer joyfully on two considerations. 1. They are thereby conformed to the prophets who went before. 2. Their reward in heaven is a great one. God gives the grace to suffer, and then crowns that grace with glory; hence it is plain, the reward is not of debt, but of grace: Rom. vi. 23.
Verse 13. Ye are the sult of the earth] Our Lord shews here what the preachers of the Gospel, and what all who profess to follow him, should be; the salt of the earth, to preserve the world from putrefaction and destruction. See the note on Lev, ii. 13.
St. Clement, Strom. lib. iv. s. 6. in fin. says, that "Some who transpose the Gospels, add this verse: Happy they who are persecuted by justice, for they shall be perfect: happy they who are persecuted on my account, for they shall have a place where they shall not be persecuted.”
Verse 10. They which are persecuted] Ady, they who are hard pressed upon, and pursued with repeated acts of enmity. Parkhurst. They are happy who suffer, seems a strange saying: and that the righteous should suffer, merely because they are such, seems as strange. But such is the enmity of the human heart to every thing of God and goodness, that all those who live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suf-side of the valley, towards Gibul, there is a small precipice fer persecution in one form or other. As the religion of about two men's lengths, occasioned by the continual taking
But if the salt have lost his savour] That this is possible in the land of Judea, we have proof from Mr. Maundrell, who, describing the Valley of Silt, speaks thus: "Along, on one
and the light of the world.
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it be salted? it is thenceforth good for || it under a bushel, but on a candle-
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
Prov. 4. 18. Phil. 2. 15.-—b Mark 4. 21. Luke 8. 16. & 11. 53.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put your Father which is in heaven.
away of the salt; and in this, you may see how the veins of it lie. I broke a piece of it, of which, that part that was exposed to the rain, sun, and air, though it had the sparks and particles of salt, YET IT HAD PERFECTLY LOST ITS SAVOUR: the inner part, which was connected to the rock, retained its savour, as I found by proof." See his Trav. 5th edit. last page. A preacher or private Christian, who has lost the life of Christ, and the witness of his Spirit, out of his soul, may be likened to this salt. He may have the sparks and glittering particles of true wisdom, but without its unction or comfort. Only that which is connected with the rock, the soul that is in union with Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit, can pre■erve its savour, and be instrumental of good to others.
Their light should shine before men.
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To be trodden under foot] There was a species of salt Judea, which was generated at the lake Asphaltitis, and hence called bituminous salt, easily rendered vapid, and of no other use but to be spread in a part of the temple, to prevent slipping in wet weather. This is probably what our Lord alludes to in this place. The existence of such a salt, and its application to such a use, Schoetgenius has largely proved in his Hora Hebraicæ, vol. i. p. 18, &c.
Verse 14. Ye are the light of the world.] That is, the instruments which God chooses to make use of, to illuminate the minds of men, as he uses the sun (to which probably he pointed) to enlighten the world. Light of the world,
ner Clam, was a title applied to the most eminent Rabbins. Christ transfers the title from these, and gives it to his own disciples, who, by the doctrines that he taught them, were to be the means of diffusing the light of life throughout the universe.
A city that is set on a hill] This place may receive light from the following passage in Maundrel's Travels. "A few points towards the north (of Tabor) appears that which they call the Mount of Beatitudes, a small rising, from which our blessed Saviour delivered his Sermon in the fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters of Matthew. Not far from this little hill is the city Saphet, supposed to be the ancient Bethulia. It stands upon a very eminent and conspicuous mountain, and is SEEN FAR and NEAR. May we not suppose, that Christ alludes to this city, in these words of his, A city set on a hill cmnot be hid?" p. 115. Quesnell remarks here: "The Christian life is something very high and sublime, to which
16 Let your light so shine before men, they may see your good works, and glorify
The word in the original signifieth a measure containing about a pint less
Verse 15. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel] A bushel, podio; :—a measure both among the Greeks and Romans, containing a little more than a peck English. From some ancient writers we learn, that only those who had bad designs, hid a candle under a bushel; that, in the dead of the night, when all were asleep, they might rise up, and have light at hand to help them to effect their horrid purposes of murder, &c. See Wetstein, Kypke, Wolf, &c.
Verse 16. Let your light so shine] Or, more literally, Thus let your light shine, Outw haμfarw To Ows. As the sun is lightined up in the firmament of heaven to diffuse its light and heat freely to every inhabitant of the earth; and as the lamp is not set under the bushel, but placed upon the lamp-stand, that it may give light to all in the house; THUS let every follower of Christ, and especially every preacher of the Gospel, diffuse the light of heavenly knowledge, and the warmth of divine love, through the whole circle of their acquaint
we cannot arrive without pains: whilst it withdraws us from the earth, and carries us nearer heaven, it places us in view, and as a mark, to the malice of carnal men."
That they may see your good works] It is not sufficient to have light-we must walk in the light, and by the light. Our whole conduct should be a perpetual comment on the doctrine we have received, and a constant exemplification of its power and truth.
And glorify your Father] The following curious saying is found in Bammidbar Rabba, s. 15. "The Israelites said to the holy blessed God, Thou commandest us to light lamps to thee; and yet thou art the Light of the world, and with thee the light dwelleth. The holy blessed God answered, I do not command this because I need light; but that you may reflect light upon me, as I have illuminated you :--that the people may say, Behold, how the Israelites illustrate him, who illuminates them in the sight of the whole earth." See more in Schoetgen. Real Christians are the children of God— they are partakers of his holy and happy nature: they should ever be concerned for their Father's honour, and endeavour so to recommend him and his salvation, that others: may be prevailed on to come to the light, and walk in it. Then God is said to be glorified, when the glorious power of his grace is manifested in the salvation of men.
It is worthy of observation, that the word gamar, aniong the Rabbins, signifies not only to fulfil, but also to teach; and consequently, we may infer that our Lord intimated, that the Law and the Prophets were still to be taught or inculcated by him and his disciples; and this he and they have done in the most pointed manner. . See the Gospels and Epistles; and see especially this Sermon on the mount, the Epistle of James, and the Epistle to the Hebrews. And this meaning of the word gives the clear sense of the Apostle's words, Coloss. i. 25. Whereof I am made a minister, Tangwoai Tov λoyov TOU DEOv, to fulfil the word of God, i. e. to teach the doctrine of God.
destroy the law or the prophets.
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Verse 18. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven] In the very commencement of his ministry, Jesus Christ teaches the instability of all visible things. "The heaven which you see, and which is so glorious, and the earth which you inhabit and love, shall pass away; for the things which are seen are temporal, gorxaiga, are for a time; but the things which are not seen are eternal, aiwna, ever-during," 2 Cor. iv. 18. And the word of the Lord endureth for ever.
One jot or one tittle] One yod, () the smallest letter in the
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.
Verse 17. Think not that I am come to destroy the Hebrew alphabet. One tittle, or point, ngasa, either meanlaw] Do not imagine that I am come to violate the Law-ing those points which serve for vowels in this language, if καταλυσαι, from κατα, and λυω, I loose, violate, or dis- they then existed; or the apices, or points of certain letters, solve-I am not come to make the Law of none effect-to such as resh, or daleth, he, or cheth, (as the change dissolve the connection which subsists between its several of any of these into the other, would make a most essential parts, or the obligation men are under to have their lives alteration in the sense, or, as the Rabbins say, destroy the regulated by its moral precepts; nor am I come to dissolve world). the connecting reference it has to the good things promised. But I am come, λngwoα, to complete-to perfect its connection and reference, to accomplish every thing shadowed forth in the Mosaic ritual, to fill up its great design; and to give grace to all my followers, λngwoas, to fill up, or complete, every moral duty. In a word, Christ completed the Law: 1st. In itself, it was only the shadow, the typical representation of good things to come; and he added to it that which was necessary to make it perfect, HIS OWN SACRIFICE, without which it could neither satisfy God, nor sanctify men. 2dly. He completed it in himself, by submitting to its types with an exact obedience, and verifying them by his death upon the cross. 3dly. He completes this Law, and the sayings of his Prophets, in his members, by giving them grace to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and their neighbour as themselves; for this is all the Law and the Prophets.
That this saying, one jot or one tittle, is a proverbial mode of expression among the Jews, and that it expressed the meaning given to it above, is amply proved by the extracts in Lightfoot and Schoetgen. The Reader will not be displeased to find a few of them here, if he can bear with the allegorical and strongly figurative language of the Rabbins.
b Luke 16. 17.
"The book of Deuteronomy came and prostrated itself before the Lord, and said, 'O Lord of the world, thou hast written in me thy Law; but now, a Testament defective in some parts, is defective in all. Behold, Solomon endeavours to root the letter yod out of me :' (in this text, Deut. xvii. 5. a nan x lo yirbeh nashim, he shall not multiply wives.) The holy blessed God answered, Solomon, and a thousand such as he, shall perish, but the least word shall not perish out of thee.'
In Shir Hashirim Rabba, are these words: "Should all the inhabitants of the earth gather together, in order to whiten one feather of a crow, they could not succeed: 'so, if all the inhabitants of the earth should unite to abolish one yod, which is the smallest letter in the whole Law, they should not be able to effect it."
In Vayikra Rabba, s. 19. it is said: "Should any person in the words of Deut. vi. 4. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is achad, ONE Lord, change the duleth into a resh, he would ruin the world." [Because, in that case, the word 8 achar, would signify a strange or false God.]
"Should any one, in the words of Exod. xxxiv. 14. Thou shalt worship no OTHER, achar, God, change resh into daleth, he would ruin the world." [Because the command would then run, Thou shalt not worship the ONLY or true God.]
"Should any one, in the words of Levit. xxii. 32. Neither shall ye PROPHANE, ♫ techalelu, my holy name, change cheth into he, he would ruin the world." [Because the sense of the commandment would then be, Neither shall ye PRAISE my holy name.]
"Should any one, in the words of Psal. cl. 6. Let every