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Threatenings against those
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19 a Whosoever therefore shall break An. Olymp. one of these least commandments, 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.
a James 2. 10.
thing that hath breath PRAISE,
♫ tehalel, the Lord, change hé into ♬ cheth, he would ruin the world." [Because the command would then run, Let every thing that hath breath PROPHANE the Lord.]
"Should any one, in the words of Jerem. v. 10. They lied AGAINST the Lord, mm beihovah, change ♬ beth intɔ caph, he would ruin the world." [For then the words would run, They lied LIKE the Lord.] "Should any one, in the words of Hosea v. 7. They have dealt treacherously, ma beihovah, AGAINST the Lord, change beth into caph, he would ruin the world." [For then the words would run, They have dealt treacherously LIKE the Lord.]
who break Christ's commandments.
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20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the An. Olymp. righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. 21
Ye have heard that it was said by
"Should any one, in the words of 1 Sam. ii. 2. There is none holy As the Lord, change cap into beth, he would ruin the world." [For then the words would mean, There is no holiness in the Lord.]
These examples fully prove, that the axa of our Lord, refers to the apices, points, or corners, that distinguish beth from caph; cheth from hé; and resh from daleth. For the Reader will at once perceive, how easily a caph may be turned into a ♬ beth; a hé into a ♬ cheth; and aresh into adaleth: and he will also see of what infinite consequence it is to write and print such letters correctly.
Till all be fulfilled.] Or, accomplished. Though all earth and hell should join together to hinder the accomplishment of the great designs of the Most High; yet it shall be all in vain-even the sense of a single letter shall not be lost. The words of God which point out his designs, are as unchangeable as his nature itself. Every sinner, who perseveres in his iniquity, shall surely be punished with separation from God and the glory of his power; and every soul that turns to God, through Christ, shall as surely be saved, as that Jesus himself hath died.
Rom. 9. 31. & 10. 3.— Or, to them.
ing, the words of God, sets the holy precept aside, or explains away its force and meaning, shall be called least-shall have no place in the kingdom of Christ here, nor in the kingdom of glory above. That this is the meaning of these words, is evident enough from the following verse.
Verse 20. Except your righteousness shall exceed] given, Unless your righteousness abound more—unless it take in, not only the letter, but the spirit and design of the moral and ritual precept; the one directing you how to walk so as to please God; the other pointing out Christ, the great Atonement, through and by which a sinner is enabled to do somore than that of the scribes and Pharisees, who only attended to the letter of the Law, and had indeed made even that of no effect by their traditions-ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. This fully explains the meaning of the preceding verse. The old English word is pihepirays, rightwiseness, i. e. complete, thorough, excellent WISDOM. For a full explanation of this verse, see Luke xviii. 10, &c.
Verse 21. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time] Tois agxalois, to or by the ancients. By the ancients, we may understand those who lived before the Law, and those who lived under it; for murder was, in the most solemn manner, forbidden before, as well as under the Law, Gen. ix. 5, 6.
But it is very likely that our Lord refers here merely to traditions and glosses relative to the ancient Mosaic ordinance; and such as, by their operation, rendered the primitive command of little or no effect. Murder from the beginning has been punished with death; and it is, probably, the only crime that should be punished with death. There is much reason to doubt, whether the punishment of death, inflicted for any other crime, is not in itself murder, whatever the authority may be that has instituted it. GOD, and the greatest legislators that have ever been in the universe, are of the same opinion. See Montesquieu, Blackstone, Verse 19. Whosoever-shall break one of these least com- and the Marquis Beccaria, and the arguments and testimonies mendments] The Pharisees were remarkable for making lately produced by Sir Samuel Romilly, in his motion for the a distinction between weightier and lighter matters in the amendment of the criminal laws of this kingdom. It is Law, and between what has been called, in a corrupt part very remarkable, that the criminal code published by of the Christian Church, moral and venial sins. See on Joseph II. late Emperor of Germany, though it consists of chap. xxii. 36. seventy-one capital crimes, has not death attached to any Whosoever shall break. What an awful consideration is of them. Even murder with an intention to rob, is punishthis! He who, by his mode of acting, speaking, or explained only with "imprisonment for thirty years, to lie on the
floor, to have no nourishment but bread and water, to be closely chained, and to be publicly whipped once a year, with less than one hundred lashes." See Colquhoun on the Police of the City of London, p. 272.
Verse 22. Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause] o os Copeos-xn, who is vainly incensed. " This translation is literal; and the very objectionable phrase, without a cause, is left out, xn being more properly translated by that above." What our Lord seems here to prohibit, is not merely that miserable facility which some have of being angry at every trifle, continually taking offence against their best friends; but that anger which leads a man to commit outrages against another, thereby subjecting himself to that punishment which was to be inflicted on those who brake the peace. xn, vainly, or, as in the common translation, without a cause, is wanting in the famous Vatican MS. and two others, the Ethiopic, latter Arabic, Saxon, Vulgate, two copies of the old Itala, J. Martyr, Ptolomeus, Origen, Tertullian, and by all the ancient copies quoted by St. Jerom. It was probably a marginal gloss originally, which in process of time crept into the text.
Shall be in danger of the judgment] voxos esa, shall be liable to the judgment. That is, to have the matter brought before a senate, composed of twenty-three magistrates, whose business it was to judge in cases of murder and other capital crimes. It punished criminals by strangling or beheading; but Dr. Lightfoot supposes the judgment of God to be ed. See at the end of this chapter.
harsh speeches censured.
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was punished by cutting out the tongue, and thrusting a hot iron, of ten fingers' breadth, into the mouth of the person who used it. Code of Gentoo Laws, chap. xv. sect. 2. p. 212.
Shall be in danger of hell fire.] ενοχος εται εις την γέενναν του πυρος, shall be liable to the hell of fire. Our Lord here alludes to the valley of the son of Hinnom, 1 Ghi hinom. This place was near Jerusalem, and had been formerly used for those abominable sacrifices, in which the idolatrous Jews had caused their children to pass through the fire to Molech. A particular place in this valley was called Tophet, from ♫♫ tophet, the fire-stove, in which some suppose they burnt their children alive to the above idol. See 2 Kings xxiii. 10. 2 Chron. xxviii. 3. Jer. vii. 31, 32. From the circumstance of this valley having been the scene of those infernal sacrifices, the Jews, in our Saviour's time, used the word for hell, the place of the damned. See the word applied in this sense by the Targum, on Ruth ii. 12. Psal. cxl. 12. Gen. iii. 24. xv. 17. It is very probable, that our Lord means no more here than this: If a man charge another with apostacy from the Jewish religion, or rebellion against God, and cannot prove his charge, then he is exposed to that punishment, (burning alive) which the other must have suffered, if the charge had been substantiated. There are three kinds of offences here, which exceed each other in their degrees of guilt. 1st. Anger against a man, accomintend-panied with some injurious act. 2dly. Contempt, expressed by the opprobrious epithet raka, or shallow brains. 3dly. Hatred and mortal enmity, expressed by the term morch, or apostate, where such apostacy could not be proved. Now, proportioned to these three offences were three different degrees of punishment, each exceeding the other in its severity, as the offences exceeded each other in their different degrees of guilt. 1st. The judgment, the council of twentythree, which could inflict the punishment of strangling. 2dly. The Sanhedrin, or great council, which could inflict the punishment of stoning. And 3dly. the being burnt alive in the valley of the son of Hinnom. This appears to be the meaning of our Lord.
Now, if the above offences were to be so severely punish
Raca] from the Hebrew prak, to be empty. signifies a vain, empty, worthless fellow, shallow brains, a term of great contempt. Such expressions were punished among the Gentoos by a heavy fine. See all the cases, Code of Gentoo Laws, chap. xv. sect. 2.
The council] Evvideo, the famous council, known among the Jews by the name of Sanhedrin. It was composed of seventy-two elders, six chosen out of each tribe. This grand Sanhedrin not only received appeals from the inferior Sanhedrins, or court of twenty-three, mentioned above; but could alone take cognizance, in the first instance, of the highest|| crimes, and alone inflict the punishment of stoning.
That is, vain fellow. 2 Sam. 6. 20. Jam. 2. 20.
Thou fool] Morch, probably from n marah, to rebel, aed, which did not immediately affect the life of another, how rebel against God, apostate from all good. This term im- much sorer must the punishment of murder be? ver. 21. plied, among the Jews, the highest enormity, and most ag- And as there could not be a greater punishment inflicted than gravated guilt, Among the Gentoos, such an expression death, in the above terrific forms, and this was to be inflicted
for minor crimes; then the punishment of murder must not only have death here, but a hell of fire in the eternal world, attached to it. It seems that these different degrees of guilt, and the punishment attached to each, had not been properly distinguished among the Jews. Our Lord here calls their attention back to them, and gives them to understand, that in the coming world there are different degrees of punishment prepared for different degrees of vice; and that not only the outward act of iniquity should be judged and punished by the Lord, but that injurious words, and evil passions should all meet their just recompence and reward. Murder is the most punishable of all crimes, according to the written Law, in respect both of our neighbour and civil society. But He who sees the heart, and judges it by the eternal law, punishes as much, a word, or a desire, if the hatred whence they proceed be complete and perfected. Dr. Lightfoot has some curious observations on this passage in the preface to his Harmony of the Evangelists. See his works, Vol. II. and the conclusion of this chapter.
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25 Agree with thine adversary adversary A. M. 4031. quickly, whiles thou art in the An. Olymp. 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.
26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no
Verse 24. Leave there thy gift before the altar] This is as much as to say, “Do not attempt to bring any offering to God whilst thou art in a spirit of enmity against any person, or hast any difference with thy neighbour, which thou hast not used thy diligence to get adjusted." It is our duty and interest, both to bring our gift, and offer it too; but God will
Prov. 25. 8. Luke 12. 58, 59.- See Ps. 32. 6. Isai. 55. 6.
not accept of any act of religious worship from us, while any enmity subsists in our hearts toward any soul of man; or while any subsists in our neighbour's heart towards us, which we have not used the proper means to remove. A religion, the very essence of which is love, cannot suffer at its altars, a heart that is revengeful and uncharitable, or which does not use its utmost endeavours to revive love in the heart of another. The original word, dwgov, which we translate gift, is used by the Rabbins in Hebrew letters 11 doron, which signifies not only a gift, but a sacrifice offered to God. See several proofs in Schoetgen.
Then come and offer thy gift.] Then, when either thy brother is reconciled to thee, or thou hast done all in thy power to effect this reconciliation. My own obstinacy and uncharitableness must render me utterly unfit to receive any good from God's hands, or to worship bim in an acceptable inanner; but the wickedness of another, can be no hindrance to me, when I have endeavoured earnestly to get it removed, though without effect.
Verse 25. Agree with thine adversary quickly] Adversary, ·
Verse 23. Therefore if thou bring thy gift] Evil must be nipped in the bud. An unkind thought of another may beadixos, properly a plaintiff in law--a perfect law term. the foundation of that which leads to actual murder. A Our Lord enforces the exhortation given in the preceding Christian, properly speaking, cannot be an enemy to any verses from the consideration of what was deemed prudent in man; nor is he to consider any man his enemy, without the ordinary law-suits. In such cases, men should make up fullest evidence for surmises to the prejudice of another, can matters with the utmost speed, as running through the whole never rest in the bosom of him who has the love of God in his course of a law-suit, must not only be vexatious, but be attended heart, for to him all men are brethren. He sees all men as with great expense; and in the end, though the loser may children of God, and members of Christ, or at least capable be ruined, yet the gainer has nothing. A good use of this of becoming such. If a tender forgiving spirit was required, very prudential advice of our Lord is this: Thou art a sinner, even in a Jew, when he approached God's altar with a bullock God hath a controversy with thee. There is but a step beor a lamb, how much more necessary is this in a man who tween thee and death. Now is the accepted time. Thou art professes to be a follower of the Lamb of God; especially invited to return to God by Christ Jesus. Come immediately when he receives the symbols of that Sacrifice which was at his call, and he will save thy soul. Delay not! Eternity is offered for the life of the world, in what is commonly called at hand; and if thou die in thy sins, where God is thou shalt the sacrament of the Lord's supper?
Those who make the adversary, God; the judge, Christ; the officer, Death; and the prison, Hell, abuse the passage, and highly dishonour God.
Verse 26. The uttermost farthing.] Kodavrny.
The Rabbins p_kordiontes, prutoth make.
Impure thoughts, &c. condemned.
The offending eye, hand, &c.
means come out thence, till thou hast || mitted adultery with her already in A. M. 4031. An. Olymp. paid the uttermost farthing.
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27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath com
Exod. 20. 14. Deut. 5. 18.b Job 31. 1. Prov. 6. 25. Sce Gen. 34. 2. 2 Sam. 11. 2.
a kontarik, which is exactly the same with those words in Mark xii. 42. λεπτα δυο, ο εστι κοδράντης, two mites, which are one farthing. Hence it appears, that the ATOV lepton was the same as the prutah. The weight of the prutah was half a barley corn, and it was the smallest coin among the Jews, as the kodrantes or farthing, was the smallest coin among the Romans. If the matter issue in law, strict justice will be done, and your creditor be allowed the fulness of his just claim; but if, while you are on the way, going to the magistrate, you come to a friendly agreement with him, he will relax in his claims, take a part for the whole, and the composition be in the end, both to his and your profit.
This text has been considered a proper foundation on which to build not only the doctrine of a purgatory, but also that of universal restoration. But the most unwarrantable violence must be used before it can be pressed into the service of either of the above antiscriptural doctrines. At the most, the text can only be considered as a metaphorical representation of the procedure of the great Judge; and let it ever be remembered, that by the general consent of all (except the basely interested) no metaphor is ever to be produced in proof of any doctrine. In the things that concern our eternal salvation, we need the most pointed and express evidence on which to establish the faith of our souls.
Verse 27. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old] By the ancients, Tois agxas is omitted by nearly a hundred MSS. and some of them of the very greatest antiquity and authority; also by the Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian, Gothic, and Slavonian versions; by four copies of the old Itala; and by Origen, Cyril, Theophylact, Euthymius and Hilary. On this authority Wetstein and Griesbach have left it out of the
29 And if thy right eye 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.
phelius, on this verse, says, idμa hoc loco, est turpi cupiditate mulieris potiundæ flugrare. In all these cases, our blessed Lord points out the spirituality of the Law; which was a matter to which the Jews paid very little attention. Indeed it is the property of a Pharisee to abstain only from the outward crime. Men are very often less inquisitive to know how far the will of God extends, that they may please him in performing it, than they are to know how far they may satisfy their lusts without destroying their bodies and souls utterly, by an open violation of his law.
Hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.] It is the earnest wish or desire of the soul, which in a variety of cases, constitutes the good or evil of an act. If a man earnestly wish to commit an evil, but cannot, because God puts time, place, and opportunity out of his power; he is fully chargeable with the iniquity of the act, by that God who searches and judges the heart. So, if a man earnestly wish to do some kindness, which it is out of his power to perform, the act is considered as his; because God, in this case, as in that above, takes the will for the deed. If voluntary and deliberate looks and desires make adulterers and adulteresses, how many persons are there whose whole life is one continued crime? whose eyes being full of adultery, they cannot cease from sin. 2 Pet. ii. 14. Many would abhor to commit one external act before the eyes of men, in a temple of stone; and yet they are not afraid to commit a multitude of such acts in the temple of their hearts, and in the sight of God!
Verse 29. And if thy right eye offend thee] The right eye and the right hand are used here to point out those sins which appear most pleasing and profitable to us; from which we must be separated, if we desire ever to see the kingdom of God.
Verse 28. Whosoever looketh on a woman, to lust after her] Επιθυμεσαι αυτήν, earnestly to covet her. The verb επιθυμεω, is Offend thee] Exavdanın σs. Te fait broncher, cause thee to undoubtedly used here by our Lord, in the sense of coveting stumble, French Bible. Exardaanga is explained by Suidas, through the influence of impure desire. The word is used in "that piece of wood in a trap, or pit for wild beasts, which precisely the same sense, on the same subject, by Herodotus, being trodden upon by them, causes them to fall into the book the first, near the end. I will give the passage, but I trap or pit." The word in Suidas appears to be compounddare not translate .t. To the learned Reader it will justify ed of oxardadov a stumbling block, or something that causes a my translation, and the unlearned must take my word. man to trip, and xalça private or hidden. Thus then the Της ΕΠΙΘΥΜΗΣΕΙ γυναικος Μασσαγέτης ανης, μιάγεται αδίως. Ra- right eye may be considered the darling idol; the right hand,
the profitable employment, pursued on sinful principles; these become snares and traps to the soul, by which it falls into the pit of perdition.
Verses 29, 30. Pluck it out-cut it off] We must shut our senses against dangerous objects, to avoid the occasions of sin, and deprive ourselves of all that is most dear and profitable to us, in order to save our souls, when we find that these dear and profitable things, however innocent in themselves, cause us to sin against God.
It is profitable for thee that one of thy members] Men often part with some members of the body, at the discretion of a surgeon, that they may preserve the trunk, and die a little later; and yet they will not deprive themselves of a look, a touch, a small pleasure, which endanger the eternal death of the soul. It is not enough to shut the eye, or stop the hand; the one must be plucked out, and the other cut off. Neither is this enough, we must cast them both from us. Not one moment's truce with an evil passion, or a sinful appetite. If you indulge them, they will gain strength, and you shall be ruined. The Rabbins have a saying similar to this: "It is better for thee to be scorched with a little fire in this world, than to be burned with a devouring fire in the world to come."
Verse 31. Whosoever shall put away his wife] The Jewish doctors gave great licence in the matter of divorce. Among them, a man might divorce his wife if she displeased him even in the dressing of his victuals!
Rabbi Akiba said, "If any man saw a woman handsomer than his own wife, he might put his wife away; because it is said in the Law, If she find not favour in his eyes." Deut. XXIV. 1.
Josephus, the celebrated Jewish historian, in his life, tells us, with the utmost coolness and indifference, " About this time I put away my wife, who had borne me three children, not being pleased with her manners."
These two cases are sufficient to shew, to what a scandalous and criminal excess this matter was carried among the Jews. However, it was allowed by the school of Shammai, that no fan was to put away his wife unless for adultery. The school of Hillel gave much greater licence.
32 But I say unto you, That who. A.M 4031, soever shall put away his wife, saving An. Olymp. for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced, committeth adul tery.
Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not for
b Ch. 19. 9. Luke 16. 18. Rom. 7.3. 1 Cor. 7. 10, 11- ch. 23. 16. 4 Exod. 20. 7. Lev. 19. 12. Num. 30. 2. Deut. 5. 11.
"On the day of the week A. in the month B. in the year C. from the beginning of the world, according to the common computation in the province of D. I, N. the son of N. by whatever name I am called, of the city E. with entire consent of mind, and without any compulsion, have divorced, dismissed, and expelled thee-thee, I say, M. the daughter of M. by whatever name thou art called, of the city E. who wast heretofore my wife: but now I have dismissed thee-thee, I say, M. the daughter of M, by what ever name thou art called, of the city E. so as to be free, and at thine own disposal, to marry whomsoever thou pleasest, without hindrance from any one, from this day for ever. Thou art therefore free for any man. Let this be thy bill of divorce from me, a writing of separation and expulsion, ac▾ cording to the law of Moses and Israel.
REUBEN, son of Jacob, Witness.
God permitted this evil to prevent a greater; and, perhaps, to typify his repudiating the Jews, who were his first
Verse 32. Saving for the cause of fornication] Aoyov ogrelas, on account of whoredom. As fornication signifies no more than the unlawful connection of unmarried persons, it cannot be used here with propriety, when speaking of those who are married. I have therefore translated hoyou Togvuas, on account of whoredom. It does not appear that there is any other case in which Jesus Christ admits of divorce. A real Christian ought rather to beg of God the grace to bear patiently and quietly' the imperfections of his wife, than to think of the means of being parted from her. "But divorce was allowed by Moses;" yes, for the hardness of their hearts it was permitted: but what was permitted to an uncircumcised heart among the Jews, should not serve for a rule to a heart in which the love of God has been shed abroad by the Holy Spirit. Those who form a matrimonial connection in the fear and love of God, and under his direction, will never need a divorce. But those who marry as passion or money lead the way, may