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the following cuts will give a sufficiently accurate representation of the more simple and usual modes in which the garments were worn.
The under-noted will also show the usual form and use of the girdle. In the girdle was the place of the purse (Matt. x. 9), and to it the sword and dirk were commonly attached. Compare 2 Sam. xx. 8. In modern times, the pistols are also fastened to the girdle. It is the common place for the handkerchief, smoking materials, ink-horn, and in general the implements of one's profession. The girdle served to confine the loose flowing robe, or outer garment, to the body. It held the garment when it was tucked up, as it was usually in walking or in labour. Thence to gird up the loins became a significant figurative expression, denoting readiness for service, activity, labour, and watchfulness; and to loose the loins, denoted the giving way to repose and indolence. 2 Kings iv. 29: Job xxxviii. 3 ; Isa. v. 27; Luke xii. 35; John xxi. 7.
42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
a Deut. xv. 8, 10; Luke vi. 30, 35. 42. Give to him that asketh thee. This is the general rule. It is better to give sometimes to an undeserving person, than to turn away one really necessitous. It is good to be in the habit of giving. At the same time, the rule must be interpreted so as to be consistent with our duty to our families (1 Tim. v. 8), and with other objects of justice and charity. It is seldom, perhaps never, good to give to a man that is able to work. 2 Thess. iii. 10. To give to such is to encourage laziness, and to support the idle at the expense of the industrious. If such a man is indeed hungry, feed him ; if he wants any thing farther, give him employment. If a widow, an orphan, a man of misfortune, or a man infirm, lame, or sick, is at your door, never send him away empty. See Heb. xiii. 2; Matt. xxv. 35-45. So of a poor and needy friend that wishes to borrow. We are not to turn away or deny him. This, however, frequently requires some limitation. It must be done in consistency with other duties. To lend to every needy man, would be to throw away our property, encourage laziness and crime, and ruin our families. It should be done consistently, and of this every man is to be the judge. We learn from this text, that where there was a deserving friend or brother in want, we should lend to him, without usury, and without standing much about the security. 43 | Ye have heard that it hath been said, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
c Deut. xxiii. 6; Ps. xli. 10.
b Lev. xix. 18.
d Luke vi. 27, 35; Rom. xii. 14, 20.
43. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. The command to love our neighbour was a law of God. Lev. xix. 18. That we must, therefore, hate our enemy, was an inference drawn from it by the Jews. They supposed that if we loved the one, we must, of course, hate the other. They were strangers to that great, peculiar law of religion which requires us to love both. A neighbour is literally one that lives near to us; then, one that is near to us by acts of kindness and friendship. This is the meaning here. See also Luke x. 36. 44 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 ;
e Luke xxiii. 34; Acts vii. 60 ; 1 Cor. iv, 12, 13; 1 Pet. ii. 23, iii. 9. 44. Love your enemies. There are two kinds of love, involving the same general feeling, or springing from the same fountain of good-will to all mankind, but differing still so far as to admit of separation in idea. The one is that feeling by which we approve of the conduct of another, commonly called the love of complacency; the other, by which we wish well to the person of another, though we cannot approve his conduct. This is the love of benevolence; and this love we are to bear towards our enemies. It is impossible to love the conduct of a man that curses and reviles us, and injures our person or property, or that violates the laws of God; but though we may thoroughly disapprove of his conduct
, and oppose its evil influence with all our might (and duty requires that we should do so), still we are not to hate, but to wish well to, his person. We are to pity his wickedness, to deal with him regarding it in an open and straightforward manner, and, should he prove obstinate, to rebuke him with grave severity. But we are ever to distinguishi between his person and his conduct. Whilst we reprobate the one, we are to love the other. We are not to triumph over him, but to assist him in his adversity—to seek his welfare here, and, above all
, to show our Christian love by endeavouring to reclaim him from sin, and thereby advance his spiritual interests. This is to love our enemies. It may be a difficult duty, but we are laid under obligation to perform it by the law of Christian love; and those who are really possessed of the spirit of their divine Master, will make it their aim and delight to obey him in this, as in all other his holy requirements. 1 Bless them that curse you. The word bless here means to speak well of or to. "Not to curse again, or to slander, but to speak of those things which we can commend in an enemy; or, if there is nothing that we can commend, to say nothing about him. The word bless, spoken of God, means to regard with favour, or to confer benefits, as when God is said to bless his people. When we speak of our blessing God, it means to praise him, or give thanks to him. When we speak of blessing men, it unites the two meanings, and signifies to confer favour, to thank, or to speak well of. q Despitefully use you. The word thus translated means, first, to injure by prosecution in law; then, wantonly and unjustly to accuse, and to injure in any way. This seems to be its meaning here. 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for 'he
maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
s Job xxv. 3. 45. That ye may be the children of your Father. In Greek, the sons of your Father. The word son has a variety of significations. See Note on Matt. i. 1. Christians were called the sons or children of God in several of these senses—as his offspring, as adopted, as his disciples, as imitators of him. God makes his sun to rise on the evil and good, and sends rain, without distinction, on the just and unjust. And his people are to show their love and reverence towards him, as their reconciled Father in Christ Jesus, by a ready and cheerful obedience to his commandments. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even
the publicans the same?
g Luke vi. 32.
46. For if ye love them, &c. If you love those only who love you, what proof do you give that you chiefly aim at the glory of God—that you are disinterested, and not selfish, in your affection ? How can you show that love is exercised irrespective of the advantage you expect to derive, from the return towards yourself of the sympathy of the object on whom it is bestowed? But if you confine your love to those who will in return love you, and be of service to you, you fall very far short of Christian duty; for even the publicans themselves—the most worthless characters-do the very same thing. I The publicans. The publicans were tax-gatherers. Judea was a province of the Roman empire. The Jews bore this foreign yoke with much impatience, and paid their taxes with great reluctance. It happened, therefore, that those who were appointed to collect taxes were objects of detestation. Many of them were men who were disposed to execute their office at all Înazards; who were willing to engage in an odious and hated employment; often of abandoned characters, oppressive in their exactions, and dissolute in their lives. By the Jews they were associated in character with thieves, and adulterers, and those who were profane and dissolute. 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not
even the publicans so? 47. And if ye salute your brethren, &c. The word salute here means to show the customary tokens of civility, or to treat with the common marks of friendship. The worst men, the very publicans would do this. Christians are bound to do more; they should show that they have a different spirit—they should treat their enemies as courteously as wicked men do their friends. 48 "Be ye therefore perfect, even 'as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
h Gen. xvii. 1; Lev. xi. 44, xix. 2; Luke vi. 36; Col. i. 28, iv. 12; James i. 4; 1 Pet. i. 15, 16. i Eph. v. 1. 48. Be ye therefore perfect. Our Saviour concludes this part of the discourse by commanding his disciples to be perfect. This word commonly means finished, complete, pure, holy. Originally it is applied to a piece of mechanism—as a machine that is complete in its parts. Applied to men, it refers to completeness of parts, or perfection, where no part is defective or wanting. Thus Job (i. 1) is said to be perfect; not that he was perfect in the sight of God-sinless, and without blame; he was chargeable with much sin (Job ix. 20), and in common with every other mere man, since the fall, by nature incapable of thinking or doing any good thing. But he is called perfect, because his principles were sound—because his piety was proportionale—had a completeness of parts-was consistent and regular. He exhibited his religion as a prince, a father, an individual, a benefactor of the poor. lle was not merely a pious man in one place, but uniformly. Exhibit not your Christian conduct merely in loving your friends and neighbours. Let your piety manifest itself in loving your enemies. Let your love to God, your allegiance to Christ, be the governing principle of your every thought and action.
1. Upon those who have accepted of the overtures of mercy held out in the Gospel to perishing sinners, and are born of the “incorruptible seed,” God bestows the graces of the Iloly Spirit. It is the work of that Holy Spirit to adorn their souls. Our Saviour, at the beginning of this chapter, discourses of the spiritual graces thus conferred upon his people. They all meet in the character of each believer. One disciple may have this or the other grace in a fuller measure than another, but every disciple is a partaker of them all. We are not, then, to suppose that they are separable, and can exist apart from each other. Where one of them exists, the others also shall be present. What a variety of colours each one of them lovely—combine in making up the spotless purity of a sunbeam! A sunbeam appears to be altogether incomplex—simple and uncompounded. But the philosopher, admitting it into his darkened chamber, and meeting it midway with his prism, makes it diverge from its course, and separates it into the manifold tints of which it is compounded. Our Saviour analyzes the character of a believer, and exhibits by themselves the graces of which it is composed. Each grace is beautiful in itself, and, being combined, they make up an admirable whole. Though this glorious work of the Spirit has commenced, and is going forward in the soul of every converted man, many things remain to mar and interrupt its progress. In this life it reaches not to the completeness of a perfect work. By many features it manifests itself to be from above; and although it works not here below to the total destruction of all in-dwelling depravity, it shows what its tendencies are, and in what it shall eventually issue. Its tendencies are to make the soul perfect in holiness ; and these shall be brought to their consummation when the soul is emancipated from this body of sin and death, and admitted into those mansions of glory which Christ has purchased for his people—which he, as their forerunner, has already entered, and where he now waits to receive and welcome them.
2. Where the love of Christ reigns paramount in the soul, the life will be conformable to his commandments. It is not the principle of servile fear, but that of love unfeigned, which actuates the believer in his obedience to the law of his divine Master. In the estimation of an unregenerate man, the law of God is a grievous bondage; the believer delights himself in it, accounting it as his meat and drink to be walking in the path of its holy precepts. He loves Christ above his chiefest joy, and so of Christ's commandments. Whilst the love of Christ is the very essence of the believer's spiritual life, there are many considerations which ought to have much weight with him in watching with jealous care over his walk and conversation in the present evil world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid; no more can a disciple of Jesus live and die unknown and unnoticed. Many eyes are constantly upon him--some of them for good, more of them for evil. Every sin he commits brings an insinuation against the profession he makes. What will the world think of him, if he live not above the world? It were, indeed, a small matter what the world thinks of him ; but it is a mighty one what it thinks of the Gospel. The Truth, of course, is not responsible for the weakness or wickedness of those who profess it. It is still the Truth. It remains unsullied and indestructible. The world, however, is not nice in discrimination ; and it will not fail, when it finds those who make a profession of better things giving the lie to their profession, by actions which in no way correspond, to lay it to the account of a the Faith,” and affect to treat it as a delusion. No one can estimate the amount of dishonour which may be brought upon the Gospel, and the amount of misery which may be entailed upon immortal souls, in consequence of the falls and shortcomings of disciples. Christ's sharpest wounds are those which he receives in the house of his friends. Believers would do well constantly to remember, that they are as a city set upon a hill. In God's sight they continually are ; nor are the eyes of the world ever withdrawn from them.
3. Towards the conclusion of the chapter, our Saviour explains the true bearing of the Divine law, and corrects the false views of it prevalent at the time. These views were very erroneous. Though furnished with the means of spiritual enlightenment, the Jews were in great ignorance of divine things. With the Scriptures in their hands, they lived in “ Egyptian darkness." There was much that was gross and material in their ideas of God, and of the principles of his moral government of his creatures. For example, they thought that by an external obedience to its precepts the requirements of the moral law were fulfilled. This was to make God see and judge as man sees and judges. Had they understood the Scriptures, they would have known that sin is the transgression of the law—that sin is that evil thing which God hates, and which he denounces. They would have known that the form or mode of its manifestation does not affect its nature; in other words, that sin in the heart is as odious in the sight of God, and as much in opposition to his law, as sin in the outward life—a wicked thought as a wicked action. They would have known tḥat where the heart is impure, the life cannot be good. It is greatly to be apprehended that there is too many of these Jewish notions prevalent amongst ourselves. Do we not stand more in awe of the opinion of our fellow-creatures than of the judgment of God ? Has not the fear of the world more influence in deterring us from the commission of sin than the fear of God ? The law is exceeding broad. It is a quick discerner, and an impartial judge, of the thoughts and intents of the heart. We cannot for one moment escape out of the presence of Jehovah, nor for one moment free ourselves from the obligation to receive his law as the only rule of our thoughts and actions.—ED.
1 Christ continueth his sermon on the mount, speaking of alms, 5 prayer, 14 forgiving our
brethren, 16 fasting, 19 where our treasure is to be laid up, 24 of serving God, and mammon: 25 exhorteth not to be careful for worldly things: 33° but to seek God's
kingdom. TAK TAKE heed that ye do not your || alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward Fof your Father which is in heaven.
| Or, righteousness. Deut. xxiv. 13; Ps. cxii. 9; Dan. iv. 27; 2 Cor. ix. 9, 10. † Or, with. Ver. 1. Alms. Liberality to the poor and needy: Any thing given to them to supply their wants. Our Saviour, here, does not positively command his disciples to aid the poor, but supposes that they would do it of course, and gives them direction how to do it. Religion prompts us to help those who are really poor and needy; and a real Christian does not wait to be commanded to do it, but only asks the opportunity. See Gal. ii
. 10; James i. 27; Luke xix. 8. 9 Before men, &c. Our Lord does not forbid us to give alms before men always, but only forbids our doing it to be seen of them, for the purposes of ostentation, and to seek their praise. To a person who is disposed to do good from a right motive, it matters little whether it be in public or in private. The only thing that renders it even desirable that our good deeds should be seen is, that God may be glorified. . Otherwise. If your only motive in alms-giving is to be seen of men, your alms will not find acceptance before God.
2 Therefore *when thou doest thine alms, || do not sound a trumpet before
thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
a Rom. xii. 8. 1 Or, cause not a trumpet to be sounded. 2. Do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do. The word hypocrite is taken from stage-players, who act the part of others, or speak not their own sentiments, but the sentiments of others. It means here, and in the New Testament generally, those who dissemble or hide their real sentiments, and assume or express other feelings than their own—those who, for the purposes of ostentation, or gain, or applause, put on the appearance of religion. Such persons, when they were about to bestow alms, caused a trumpet to be sounded, professedly to call the poor together to receive it, but really to call the people to attend to it In giving alms, we are not to make a great noise about it, like the sounding of a trumpet. 1 In the synagogues. The word synagogue commonly means the place of assembling for religious worship known by that name. Note, Matt. iv. 23. It also denotes any collection of people for any purpose.
And it is not improbable that it has that meaning here. They have their reward. That is, they obtain the applause they seek--the reputation of being charitable. 3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand
doeth: 4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself "shall reward thee openly.
b Luke xiv. 14.
3, 4. Let not thy left hand know, &c. This is a proverbial expression, signifying that the action should be done as secretly as possible. The encouragement for doing this is, that it will be pleasing to God; that he will see the act, however secret it may be, and will openly reward it. Rarely, perhaps never, has it been found that the man who is liberal to the poor, has ever suffered by it in his worldly circumstances. 5 9 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are : for they
love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their
reward. 5. And when tnou prayest, &c. Hypocrites manifested the same spirit about prayer as alms-giving; it was done in public places. The word synagogues here clearly means, not the place of worship of that name, but places where many were accustomed to assemble—near the markets or courts, where they could be seen of many. The Jews were much in the habit of praying in public places. At certain times of the day they always offered their prayers. Wherever they were, they suspended their employment, and paid their devotions. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, Center into thy closet, and when thou hast
shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
c 2 Kings iv. 33. 6. Enter into thy closet. Every Jewish house had a place for secret devotion. The roofs of their houses were flat places for walking, conversation, and meditation, in the cool of the evening. Over the porch, or entrance of the house, was a small room of the size of the porch, raised a storey above the rest of the house, expressly appropriated for the place of retirement. Here, in secrecy and solitude, the pious Jew might offer his prayers, unseen by any but the Searcher of hearts. This is the place commonly mentioned in the New Testament as the upper room, or the place for secret prayer. The meaning of our Saviour is, that there should be some place where we may be in secret —where we may be alone with God. There should be some place to which we may resort where no ear will hear us but His ear, and no eye can see us but His eye. It is often said that we have no such place, and can secure none. We are away from home—we are travelling—we are among