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29, 30. Thy right eye. The Hebrews, like others, were accustomed to represent the affections of the mind by the members or parts of the body. Rom. vii. 23, vi. 13. Thus the bowels, denoted compassion; the heart, affection or feeling; the reins, understanding, secret purpose. An evil eye denotes sometimes envy (Matt. xx. 15); sometimes an evil passion, or sin in general
. Mark vii. 21, 22, “ Out of the heart proceedeth an evil eye." The right eye and the right hand are perhaps particularly mentioned, because they are most useful and serviceable members. The lesson here taught is, that however dear to us our sins may be, and however difficult to part with, yet they must be abandoned. God has promised grace to his people, which shall enable them to triumph over sin. If the power of sin be not destroyed within us, it shall at length destroy us and torment us for ever. I Shall offend thee. The noun from which the verb “offend,” in the original, is derived, commonly means a stumbling-block, or a stone placed in the way, over which one might fall.
It also means a net, or a certain part of a net, against which, if a bird strikes, it springs the net and is taken. It comes to signify, therefore, any thing by which we fall or are ensnared; and, in religious discourse, means any thing by which we fall into sin, or by which we are ensn
snared. The English word offend commonly means to displease--to make angry---to affront. This is not the sense of the word in Scripture. In Scripture it signifies to cause to fall, or to allure, into sin. I Pluck it out, &c. It is not to be supposed that Christ intended this to be taken literally. His design was to teach that the dearest objects, if they caused us to sin, were to be abandoned ; that, in dependence on the assistance of Divine grace, by all sacrifices and self-denials, the evil propensities of our corrupt natures must be overcome, and our vain, wicked, and ungodly imaginations resisted to the uttermost. In a word—that all sin must be forsaken, though it should cost great pain, and inflict as great a pang as would be occasioned by the cutting off of a right hand, or the plucking out of the right eye. Our Saviour frequently used this form of expression. See Matt. xviii. 9 ; Mark ix. 43-47; see also Col. iii. 5. q İt is profitable for thee. It is better for thee. You will be a gainer
1 One of thy members perish. It is better to deny yourself the gratification of an evil passion here, however much it may cost you, than to go down to hell for ever. 31 It hath been said, 'Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a
writing of divorcement: 32 But I say unto you, That "whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced coinmitteth adultery.
i Deut. xxiv. 1; Jer. iii. 1; Mark x. 2, 9. m Chap. xix. 9; Luke xvi. 18; Rom. vii. 3; 1 Cor. vii. 10, 11. 31, 32. It hath been said, &c. The husband was directed, if he put his wife away, to give her a bill of divorce, that is, a certificate of the fact, that she had been his wife, and that he had dissolved the marriage. Our Saviour, in Mark x. 1-12, teaches that this was permitted on account of the hardness of their hearts; but in the beginning it was not so. God made a single pair, and ordained marriage for life. Our Saviour brought back marriage to its original institution, and declared that whosoever should henceforward put away his wife, except for the crime of adultery, should incur a fearful amount of guilt. No man, and no set of men, may innocently interfere, and assert that divorces may righteously be granted for any other cause. Whosoever, therefore, are divorced for any cause, except the single one of adultery, if they marry again, are, according to the Scriptures, living in adultery. No earthly laws can trample down the laws of God, or make that right which he has solemnly pronounced wrong. 33 | Again, ye have heard that "it hath been said by them of old time,
Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but Pshalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:
n Cnap. xxiii. 16.
o Exod. xx, 7; Lev. xix. 12; Num. XXX. 2; Deut. v, 11.
p Deut. xxiii, 23.
33. Thou shalt not forswear thyself. Our Saviour here proceeds to correct another false interpretation of the law. The law respecting oaths is found in Lev. xix. 12, and Deut. xxiii. 21, 22. By those laws, men were forbidden to perjure themselves, or to forswear, that is, swear falsely.
Perform unto the Lord. Perform literally, really, and religiously what is promised in an oath. I Thine oaths. An oath is a solemn affirmation or declaration, made with an appeal to God for the truth of what is affirmed, and imprecating his vengeance, and renouncing his favour, if what is affirmed is false. A false oath is called perjury, or, as in this place, forswearing.
34 But I say unto you, "Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is 'God's
throne: 35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem: for it is the city of the great King.
34, 35. Swear not at all. That is, in the manner which our Saviour proceeds to specify. Swear not in any of the common and profane ways customary at the time. 1 By heaven ; for it is God's throne. "To swear by that, is to swear by Him that sitteth thereon. Matt. xxiii. 22.' I The earth; it is his footstool. Swearing by the earth, therefore, is really swearing by God. Or, perhaps, it means, 1. We have no right to pledge or swear by what belongs to God; and, 2. That oaths by inanimate objects are unmeaning and wicked. If they are real oaths, they are by a living Being, who has power to take vengeance. 1 Jerusalem. Chap. ii. 1.
I Jerusalem. Chap. ii. 1. q City of the great King. That is, of God; “the King eternal, immortal, and invisible”—the King of his ancient Church and people. Jerusalem was the capital of the nation, and the place where he was peculiarly honoured. 36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one
hair white or black. 36. Thy head. This was a common oath. The Gentiles also, many of them, used this oath. To swear by the head, was the same as to swear by the life; or to say, I will forfeit my life, if what I say is not true. God is the author of the life; and to swear by that, therefore, is the same as to swear by him. q One hair, &c. You have no control or right over your own life. You cannot even change one single hair. God has all power and sovereignty; and it is, therefore, wicked and profane to pledge what is God's gift and God's property. It is the same as swearing by God himself. 37 'But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is
more than these cometh of evil.
1 Col. iv. 6; James v. 12.
37. Your communication. Your word—what you say. 9 Be, Yea. Yes. This does not mean that we should always use the word yea, for it might as well have been translated yes. But it means that we should simply affirm, or declare that a thing is so. q More than these. More than these affirmations. Profane oaths come of evil. q Cometh of evil. Is evil. Proceeds from some evil disposition or purpose. And from this we may learn, 1. That profane swearing is always the evidence of a depraved heart. To trifle with the name of God, or with any of his works, is itself most decided proof of depravity. . 2. That, in common conversation, a more ready assent ought not to be given to what any one affirms, because he swears to its truth. Indeed, when we hear a man, in ordinary communication, swear to a thing, it is a pretty good evidence that he knows what he is saying to be false, and we should be on our guard. He that will break the Third Commandment, will not hesitate to break the Ninth also. And this explains the fact, that profane swearers are seldom believed. A man that is truly a Christian, and leads a Christian life, does not need oaths and profaneness to make him believed. 3. Profane swearing is a vice of the most worthless and vile; and he who, with superior advantages of education and knowledge, is guilty of that loathsome crime, in this respect, identifies himself with the refuse of mankind. 4. Profaneness does no man any good. No man is the richer, or wiser, or happier, for it. It helps no one's education or
It commends no one to any society. It is disgusting to the refined ; abominable to the good ; insulting to those with whom we associate ; degrading to the mind ; unprofitable, needless, and injurious in society; and charged with atrocious guilt in the sight of God. 5. God will not hold the profane swearer guiltless. Wantonly to profane his name—to call his vengeance down—to curse him on his throne—to invoke damnation, is, perhaps, of all offences the most awful. And there is not, perhaps, a greater proof of the Divine forbearance, than that God does not rise in vengeance, and smite the profane swearer at once to hell. Verily, in a world like this
, where his name is profaned every day, and hour, and moment, by thousands, God shows that he is slow to anger-that his mercy is infinite. 38 q Ye have heard that it hath been said, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth
for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, "That ye resist not eyil: 'but whou. Exod. xxi. 24; Lev. xxiv, 20; Deut. xix, 21. z Prov. xx. 22, xxiv. 29; Luke vi. 29; Rom. xii. 17, 19; I Cor. yi. 7;
1 Thess. v. 15; 1 Pet ini. 9.
y Isa, 1. 6; Lam. iii. 30.
soever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41 And whosoever "shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
Chap. xxvii. 32; Mark xv. 21. 38-41. “Exod. xxi. 24, 25; Lev. xxiv. 19, 20. The law referred to was a judicial regulation, and the magistrate's rule in deciding causes; declaring the utmost punishment which he might inflict, when nothing less would satisfy the offended party : yet the Scribes explained it as if it had authorised private revenge, and had even required people to demand or exact this severe retaliation. But Christ declared, that the moral law required the reverse of this vindictive spirit and conduct. His disciples are not allowed to “resist evil,” or the injurious party, either by violent opposition or vexatious law-suits. In the present state of human nature, there is little need to enumerate exceptions and limitations to such general rules-self-love will suffice, and more than suffice. The preservation of life, or liberty, or important property, authorise, and in many cases require, a man to stand in his own defence, at the peril of the illegal assailant; but in ordinary cases, it is better to give way, and yield to insults and injuries, than to repel them by force or legal process; and it does not accord with the spirit of Christianity, to put the life and soul of man in competition with a sum of money, however great, when there is no reason to fear farther violence. In smaller matters, however, the case is quite clear. If a man give a disciple of Christ a contemptuous or painful blow on the cheek, it is his duty and wisdom to imitate his Master, and take it patiently, nay, rather to turn the other, and expose himself to farther insult, than to begin a contest, by returning the blow, sending a challenge, or commencing a law-suit--even though he should be ridiculed and despised for his want of spirit and courage, through his obedience to his Lord. If a man be sued at law, and injuriously deprived of his coat, or outer garment, which, though of small value, he could ill spare, he had better suffer himself to be defrauded of his cloke also, than be involved in the temptations and evils of seeking legal redress. Indeed, in cases of great importance, other duties may require a man to avail himself of the protection of the law : justice to his creditors, and to the public, and even to his family, may engage him to defend his estate, and to give a check to the exorbitancy of unreasonable men; and a Christian may prosecute a criminal, out of love to public justice, though not from private revenge. Yet, there are generally men of the world enough to deal with such depredators; and a disciple of Christ seldom has occasion to waste his time, or endanger the loss of his temper, about them. Under various pretences, also, unreasonable men may require Christ's disciples to attend them about business, public or private; but if they should insist upon a man's going a mile out of his way to serve them, it would be better to go two than quarrel about it: and it would be expedient rather to give or lend, to those who injuriously required it, than to refuse with harshness or apparent selfishness: and much more to give, or to lend, where there is need, and a prospect of doing good. It is self-evident, that many and great limitations and exceptions must be admitted in the last instance: for no man could go on giving and lending to every one who should ask him ; but he must consider his own ability and the nature of the case, and act accordingly: and, therefore, we must suppose that limitations and exceptions are implied in the other admonitions, which must be judged of according to the general law of loving our neighbour as ourselves. The grand and obvious instruction is this, "Suffer any injury for the sake of peace, when no duty requires the contrary; and commit your interests and concerns to the Lord's keeping: The case of those who were compelled, by authority, to accompany and convey the baggage of travellers, sustaining a public character, is supposed to be meant in the 41st verse. Even if the case were oppressive, or the person compelled were legally exempted, compliance would be preferable to a contest."-Scott.
“Coat.” The Jews wore two principal garments, an interior and an exterior. The interior, here called the “ coat," or the tunic, was made commonly of linen, and encircled the whole body, extending down to the knees. Sometimes beneath this garment, as in the case of the priests, there was another garment corresponding to pantaloons. The coat or tunic was extended to the neck, and had long or short sleeves. Over this was commonly worn an upper garment, here called “ cloke," or mantle. It was made commonly nearly square, of different sizes, five or six cubits long, and as many broad, and wrapped round the body, and thrown off when labour was performed. The Asiatic modes of dress are nearly the same from age to age, and hence it is not difficult to illustrate the passages
where such a reference occurs. The ordinary dress consisted of the inner garment, the outer garment, the girdle, and the sandals. In regard to the sandals, see Note on chap. iii. 11. As reference to various articles of apparel occurs frequently in the New Testament, it is desirable to have a correct view of the ancient mode of dress, in order to a correct understanding of the Bible, 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.
b Lev. xix. 18.
c Deut. xxiii. 6; Ps. xli. 10.
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 at 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 ofor 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 distinguislı 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
.. 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?
& 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