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14 Ye are the light of the 16 Let your light so shine world. A city that set on a before men, that they may see hill cannot be bid.
your good works, and glorify 15 Neither do men light a your Father which is in heaven. candle, and put it under a 17 Think not that I am come bushel, but on a candlestick; to destroy the law or the prophand it giveth light unto all that ets: I am not come to destroy, are in the house.
but to fulfil.
14. The light of the world. The abrogate, to render null and void. darkness of moral and religious igno- | || The law or the prophets ; the writings rance had covered the earth ; but by of the Old Testament, as divided into means of the apostles of Jesus, the the law of Moses, or the Pentateuch, light of truth was to shine on the and the prophetical books, or the rest world. Jesus was emphatically " the of the Old Testament. Compare light of the world." John 9: 5. 8: 12. Matt. 12: 5. Luke 2: 23. 16: 29, In an inferior sense, his disciples also 31. 24 : 27, 44. Though Jesus came were the light of the world, for they as the predicted king, and acknowlwere to communicate to men the truths edged not the authority of the Scribes of his religion. || A city that is set on and Pharisees, at that time the relia hill cannot be hid. So the disciples gious teachers; though he stood by of Christ would attract notice.
himself, and gave instructions and 15. A candle; more in accordance precepts on his own authority, - yet with Eastern customs, a lamp. || Bush- he did not annul the great principles el; any large measure. || Candlestick; contained in the law of Moses and in lamp-stand.
the writings of the prophets. || To 16. Glorify your Father ; ascribe fulfil ; to fill up, to complete, to carry praise to God. The holy and useful out to perfection, and leave nothing to lives of the Saviour's followers reflect be added or to be altered. All relipraise on the religion which they pro- gious teachers who had preceded the fess, and thus cause honor to be paid Messiah had left much incomplete, to God, from whom this religion pro- both as to the statement of principles, ceeded.
and the manifestation of the principles 17. The divine teacher next proceed. in actual practice. It was reserved ed to correct some of the erroneous for the Messiah to present the full views of moral and religious duty light, of which before only some which had been handed down from glimpses had been discerned. The former times, and which were, in his dispensation by Moses and the prophday, maintained by the Scribes and ets was preparatory to that of the Pharisees, the religious guides of the Messiah, looking forward to it, and people. These views arose chiefly having reference to it, as the grand from a wrong interpretation of the completion of the whole scheme of Mosaic statutes, and from the authority divine revelation. The Messiah came, of certain traditions. Jesus maintain then, not to annul, but to complete; ed the immutable nature of the funda- not to abrogate any fundamental relimental principles enforced in the gious principles, but to carry out those books of the Old Testament; correct. principles to perfection. Whatever ed certain erroneous views of those was abrogated by the Messiah's comprinciples; showed the very broad and ing was merely of an external, cirextensive application of them; and cumstantial nature, and was abrogagave such additional precepts, in re- ted on the ground of having answered gard to them, as the more elevated all its purposes, and of having become and complete nature of his religion needless, now that He had come, for rendered necessary.
To destroy ; to whose coming they were preparatory. 18 For verily I say unto you, commandments, and shall teach Till heaven and earth pass, men so, he shall be called the one jot or one tittle shall in no least in the kingdom of heaven : wise pass from the law, till all but whosoever shall do and be fulfilled.
teach them, the same shall be 19 Whosoever therefore called great in the kingdom of shall break one of these least heaven.
That our Saviour had reference here if this be the right view, might be exto the moral, and not to the ceremo- pressed by the phrase till all things nial, part of the Old Testament, ap- ure done, or till every thing is done pears from the illustrations contained with. The same words, however, in in the following verses (21—48). the original, occur in Luke 21: 32, 18. Verily; truly, certainly. || Head- and nearly the same in Matt. 24: 34,
and earth; the visible uni- and Mark 13: 30, in such a manner as verse. See Gen. 1:1. 2:1. || Pass; rather to favor the view first presented, pass away, perish. The expression 19. Least commandments. The till heaven and earth pass uway, is Saviour did not, in his own judgment, similar to ours, till the world shall end, apply the word least to any of the dior, as long us the world stands. It was vine commands; but here adopted the a received opinion among the Jews, method of speaking which was comthat the earth would never be totally mon among the Pharisees. They didestroyed, but would at some time be vided the commands into the small renovated, and in this renewed form and the great, the weighty and the exist forever. To say, then, that a light. And in making these distinc thing would not take place till heaven tions, they were inclined to enforce and earth pass away, was the same as the tithing of mint, and anise, and cumsaying, it will never take place. See in, and other external things, and to Luke 16: 17. || Jot. The Greek pass over justice, mercy, and the love word here employed corresponds to of God. See Matt. 23: 16, 18, 23, the name of the smallest Hebrew 25. Luke 11: 42. Hence, to some letter, and means the smallest thing of the divine commands they could || Tittle; a very small point, by which attach, when it suited their conve certain Hebrew letters are distinguish- nience, the disrespectful epithet least, ed from others; they being in other that is, not worthy of much regard ; respects alike. The idea expressed by and they would lead others thus to each of these words is, the very small- view and to treat the precepts of God. est part. || From the law; from the But the Saviour declared, that he who religion enforced in the Old Testa- should thus treat, in his own practice ment. Compare the word law in the and by his teaching, the commands of preceding verse. The declaration of God, would be regarded and treated the Saviour is, that not the smallest in a similar manner in the new disthing recognized in the fundamental pensation which was now introduced; moral principles of the Old Testament that is, he should be held as not worcan be annulled. Il Till all be fulfilled; thy of regard, but as deserving retill the whole design of the law be jection. As he treated God's law, so, effected, its promises be fulfilled, its in the new dispensation, he would threatenings performed, its precepts himself be treated; he would be honored either by obedience or by counted as least, as unsuitable to enpunishment for disobedience. This joy the blessings and honors of the phrase is regarded by some as a mere Messiah's administration. | In the repetition, in another form, of the idea kingdom of heaven;, the Messiah's expressed by the words till heaven and reign, the new dispensation. The sarth pass away. Its meaning, then, Saviour did not say, such a person may
20 For I say unto you, That 21 Ye have heard that it was except your righteousness shall said by them of old time, Thou exceed the righteousness of the shalt not kill; and whosoever scribes and Pharisees, ye shall shall kill shall be in danger of in no case enter into the king- the judgment : dom of heaven.
22 But I
be admitted into heaven, and there and oppression (Matt. 23: 4, 14), and considered as the least in the world with insatiable ambition (Matt. 23:6, of glory. He meant, as appears by 7). Thus, in principle, in extent, and the preceding remarks, such a person in actual fruits, their righteousness shall be accounted unsuitable to be was, in truth, of no account, highly as among the Messiah's subjects; he shall they were esteemed among men. A be rejected from them. Of course, better sort of piety is demanded in such a person cannot be admitted into order to be a true subject of the Mesthe state of glory which is the com- siah, and to obtain the bliss pertaining pletion of the Messiah's administra- to his administration. || The kingdom tion. || Great in the kingdom of of heaven; the Messiah's reign, or heaven. The word great is, here, the dispensation, commenced on earth, contrast of the word least in the for- perfected in the world of glory. To mer part of the verse. The idea is, enter into this kingdom is, to be adhe shall be held of great account; mitted to a share in its bliss and rethat is, suitable to be approved, wards here and hereafter, as a subject acknowledged by the Messiah, and of it. admitted to the blessings which he 21. The Saviour descended to bestows here and hereafter. As such particulars, and corrected some of the a person treats the divine commands, prevalent erroneous notions respecting so he shall himself be treated. Ac- the precepts of the Old Testament, and counting them all as great, as worthy gave illustrations of his fulfilling, or of his reverence and obedience, he carrying out to complete fulness, those shall be accounted as a suitable sub precepts. He made needed explanaject for great honor and happiness in tions and additions. By them of old the new dispensation.
time; the ancients, teachers of a for20. Your righteousness; integrity mer age. The Saviour did not mean and piety. || The Scribes and Phari- Moses and the prophets, but teachers sees.' The scribes were men devoted who arose some time after them. to the study and the teaching of the These teachers had grossly misapprelaw of Moses, and of the traditionary re- hended the spirit of many precepts in ligious precepts. See INTRODUCTORY | the Old Testament, and had attached Explanations, III. 3. They and the to them modifying phrases, and had oriPharisees were held in such repute for ginated, or perpetuated, the tradition. possessing the favor of God, as to oc- al precepts and explanations. Such casion the saying, that if only two men teaching had exerted its influence were to be admitted into heaven, one down to the time of Christ. || Thou would be a scribe and the other a shalt not kill. Ex. 20: 13. || WhosoPharisee. Their righteousness, how- ever shall kill, &c. This was an addiever, was extremely defective. It was tion, or explanation, made in subsemerely external, while their hearts quent times, and it proceeded on the were far from uprightness. See Matt. principle, that the law recognized only 15:1–9. 23: 23, 25, 27, 28. Consist- actual murder. The precept and the ing in an outside show, it was intended explanation were placed together, as to procure applause from men, rather the rule of conduct. In danger of; than to please God. Matt. 23: 3, 5, liable to, exposed to. | The judgment. 14. It was connected with harshness | Josephus, the Jewish historian, states, whosoever is angry with his brother, Raca, shall be in danbrother without a cause, shall ger of the council : but whobe in danger of the judgment : soever shall say, Thou fool, shall and whosoever shall say to his be in danger of hell fire. that in every city there was a tribunal weighty matters came before this tribuof seven judges, with two Levites as nal. In the time of Christ, its power attending officers. This tribunal deci- had been limited by the Roinans; but ded causes of comparatively small still it held the right of passing senmoment, and is the one here spoken tence of death, though the power of of. The judgment, then, was an in-executing the sentence was lodged ferior tribunal of the Jews.
with the Ronan governor. 22. Widely different is the view The idea of the Saviour is, whoever which Jesus presented. So far from shall indulge his anger so far as to use regarding only the outward act of mur- the opprobrious epithet Raca (blockder as forbidden, and as exposing to head) contracts guilt of such a dye as punishment, he declared that a wrong these teachers would ascribe to a crime state of mind, and offences considered which would be carried up to the Sanat that time of little moment, but yet hedrim, the highest court; and he extending to the act of killing, would poses himself to such an increase of expose a person to punishment; that punishment, as that it may be likened even causeless anger, disregarded as it to the punishment decreed by the Sanwas hy those teachers, was a crime, in hedrim, when compared with the punthe judgment of God, of as great ill ishment decreed by the Judgment. desert as that which they attached to Thus the Saviour marks a gradation the crime of murder. Compare 1 John of guilt and of punishment, while yet 3: 15. Brother. Among the Hebrews, he has not described any crime beyond this word was sometimes used with anger, nor arrived to the point of say. much latitude, as equivalent to our ing what murder deserves. How difexpression another person. Compare ferent from the teachers to whose deHeb. 8:11, Lev. 19:17; also Gen. 13: cisions the Jews were accustomed! 11," the one from the other;” or, if || Thou fool. The word fool among literally translated, from his brother; the Hebrews was one of the vilest ep26:31,
one to another ;” in the He- ithets they could employ. It did not so brew, to his brother. || In danger of the much imply a destitution of intellect, judgment; exposed to the tribunal just as a destitution of every good moral mentioned. The idea is, that causeless quality. See Ps. 14: 1. It was equiv. anger exposes to punishment as truly alent to the terms impious wretch, as, according to the decision of these denier of God and all religion. It teachers, does the act of killing; and implied, then, in the person who used the guilt of causeless anger is as great it, when speaking to another, a very as that which these teachers ascribe to high degree of anger, so high that the crime of killing. || Raca ; a term he was willing to call upon him the of contempt, equivalent to blockhear, reprobation of God and of man. or, empty headed, fool. It is properly || Hell fire. The term in the original, a word derived from the Hebrew lan- | translated hell, is derived from two guage, expressed in Greek letters, and Hebrew words, signifying Valley of transferred to the English language. Hinnom. This was a valley near the || The council ; that is, the Sanhedrim. southern wall of Jerusalem. In a part This was the highest tribunal among of this valley was a place called Tothe Jews. It consisted of seventy-two pheth, where, in the later periods of persons, and the acting high priest was the Jewish kingdom, children were generally the president. It was com- made to pass through the fire in sacri. posed of the most distinguished men fice to Moloch. 2 Kings 16: 3. Jer. 7: in the nation. Appeals and other | 31. In the reign of Josiah (2 Kings
23 Therefore, if thou bring the altar, and go thy way; first thy gift to the altar, and there be reconciled to thy brother, and rememberest that thy brother then come and offer thy gift. hath aught against thee,
25 Agree with thine adver24 Leave there thy gift before sary quickly, while thou art 23 : 10), a reformation was effected; ment, in which the words hell fire reand in subsequent times, the Jews late directly to the Valley of Hinnom, conceived such an abhorrence of the as a representative merely of extreme place, that they made it the receptacle misery in the world of woe. In other of all the filth and pollution of the passages, they refer directly to the city; and to prevent mischief from such place of torment beyond the grave. an accumulation of carcasses and other The connection of the word in differputrid matter, they kept a fire burning ent passages sufficiently shows this. Hence the word fire was connected 23. Since now the cherishing of anwith it. So odious did this place be- ger is so great a sin, and exposes to such come, and so associated with every danger, it ought not for a moment to thing bad and disagreeable, that they be indulged; and no duties, however applied the name of it to the place of binding and sacred, ought to be held torments in a future life. It is also superior to the duty of obtaining reconsaid, that criminals of more than ordi- ciliation, if we have given any person nary guilt, who had excited universal occasion to be unpleasantly affected detestation were, after being executed, towards us. The teaching of the Pharcast unburied into this abominable isees gave no such prominence to place. This was the extreme of pun. an upright state of heart. Gift to ishment and disgrace. To this, as the the altar. Much of the religious obvery utmost extent of suffering on servances of the Jews consisted in earth, the Saviour probably here al- making offerings to God, and in sacluded; and thus would correct the er- rifices, which were brought to the roneous sentiments of the people, by altar. || Thy brother; any person, as showing that the indulgence of cause- in 22d verse. || Hath aught against less anger is regarded by God as a very thee; has just cause to find fault with heinous crime, and as leading to thee. If ihou art conscious of having most dire punishment, though such done him wrong, and hast thus alienaindulgence was passed over by the ted his affections. Jewish teachers, and only the act of 24. Go thy way; that is, to the murder was regarded by them as for person wronged. Wait not to make bidden by the law.
the offering ; for it will be unacceptable The Saviour here specified three to God, if presented in a spirit of undegrees of criminal anger, and three kindness towards any man. || Be reccorresponding degrees of punishment. onciled; prevail on him, by suitable The crimes were takei cognizance of, acknowledgments, and whatever else not by the Jewish civil law, but by is necessary, to be reconciled to thee; God's spiritual law; and the punish- regain his favor. A very common ments would be inflicted by God. But meaning of the word reconcile in the in order to express these different de Bible is, to procure favor, grees of punishment, reference was 25. This same spirit, leading to an made to tribunals and practices among amicable adjustment of all difficulties, the Jews. The punishment expressed ought to be cherished in the whole inby the words hell fire would indeed tercourse of life. A contrary spirit be inflicted beyond the grave ; so, too, leads to ruin, even as to our temporal would the punishment expressed by a affairs. A maxim of prudence, then, reference to the Council, or the Sanhe was suggested by this view of the drim, and to the Judgment. This case. Thine adversary; thy creditis the only passage in the New Testa- or, who demands a settlement, and is