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any thing. Is offended, or thinks he has been injured by you in any manner. ' First be reconciled. This means to settle the difficulty; to make proper acknowledgment, or satisfaction, for the injury. If you have wronged him, make restitution. If you owe him a debt which ought to be paid, pay it. If you have injured his character, confess it, and seek pardon. If he is under an erroneous impression, if your conduct has been such as to lead him to suspect that you have injured him, make an expla. nation. Do all in your power, and all you ought to do, to have the matter settled. From this we learn the reason why God often does not accept our offerings; and we go empty away from our devotions. We do not do what we ought to others; we cherish improper feelings, or refuse to make proper acknowledgments, and God will not accept such attempts to worship him.
25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the 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 means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
Agree with thine adversary quickly! This is still an illustration of the sixth commandment. To be in hostility, to go to law, to be litigious, is a violation always, on one side or the other, of the law requiring us to love our neighbour; and our Saviour regards it as a violation of the sixth commandment. While you are in the way with him, says he, that is, while are going to the court, before the trial, it is your duty, if possible, to come to an agreement. See 1 Cor. vi. 6, 7. The consequence of not being reconciled, he expresses in the language of courts. He did not mean to say, that this would be literally the way with God; but that His dealings with those who harboured these feelings, and would not be reconciled with their brethren, were represented by the punishment inflicted by human tribunals. *Thine adversary.' A man that is opposed to us in law. It here means a creditor; a man who has a just claim on us. “In the way with him. While you are going before the court. Before the trial comes on. The officer.' The executioner; as we should say, the sheriff. The uttermost farthing.' The last farthing. All that is due. The farthing was a small coin used in Judea, equal to two mites. It was equal to about three halfpence of our money.
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 committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29 And if thy right eye offend 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. 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, 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.
The pharisees had explained the seventh commandment as they had the sixth, as extending only to the external act. Our Saviour assures them that it did not regard the external act merely, but the secrets of the heart, and the movements of the eye; that they who indulged a wanton desire, have already. in the sight of God, violated the commandment. Such was the guilt of David, whose deep and awful crime fully shows the danger of indulging in evil desires, and in the rovings of a wanton eye. See 2 Sam. xi. Ps. li. So exceeding strict and broad is the law of God! And so heinous in his sight are thoughts and feelings, which may be for ever concealed from the world!
" 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, feeling, &c.; the reinis, understanding, secret purpose. An evil eye denotes sometimes envy, Matt. xx. 15; sometimes an evil passion, or sin in general, Mark vii. 21, 22. In this place, as in 2 Pet. ii. 14, it is used to denote unlawful desire, and inclination. '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 captive. It signifies, therefore, any thing by which we fall, or are ensnared; and applied to morals, the verb means to cause to fall, or to allure, into sin. Pluck it out,' &c. Christ intended to teach that the dearest objects, if they caused us to sin, were to be abandoned ; that by sacrifices and self-denials, we must overcome the evil propensities of our natures, and resist our wanton imaginations. Our Saviour several times repeated this sentiment. See Matt. xviii. 9. Mark ix. 43–47. See also Col. iii. 5. 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, causetli her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced, committeth adultery.
It hath been said,' &c. That is, by Moses, Deut. xxiv. 1, 2 Our Saviour, in Mark x. 1-12, says 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. But Moses found the people so much hardened, so long accustomed to the practice of divorce, and so rebellious, that, as a matter of civil appointment, he thought it best not to attempt any change. Our Saviour brought marriage back to its original institution, and declared, that whosoever put away his wife henceforward should be guilty of adultery. Only one offence, he declared, could justify divorce. This is now the law of God. This was the original institution. This is the only law that is productive of peace and good morals, and the due respec of a wife, and the good of children. No earthly laws can trample down the laws of God, or make that right which he hath solemnly pronounced wrong.
33 | Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths :
Thou shalt not forswear, thyself.' Christ here proceeds to correct another false interpretation of the law. The law respecting oaths is found in Lev. xix. 12, and Deut. vi. 13. By those laws men were forbid 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. "Thine oaths. An oath is a solemn affirmation, or declaration, made with an appeal to God for the truth of what is affirmed, and impre nis vengeance, and renouncing his favour, if what is affirmed be false. A false oath is called perjury; or, as in this place, forswearing
The Jewish rabbins had introduced a number of oaths in conmon conversation, and oaths which they did by no means consider as binding. So long as they kept from swearing by the name Jehovah, and so long as they observed the oaths publicly taken, they seemed to consider all others as allowable, and allowedly broken. This is the abuse which Christ wished to correct. It was the practice of swearing in common conversation, and especially swearing by created things. To swear by these things, was to treat irreverently objects created by God; and could not be withoui guilt.
Our Saviour here had no reference to oaths taken in a court of justice. It was merely the foolish and wicked habit of swearing in private conversation; of swearing on every occasion, and by every thing, that he condemned. This he does condemn in a most unqualified manner. He himself, however, did not refuse to take an oath in a court of law, Matt. xxvi. 63, 64. So Paul often called God to witness his sincerity, which is all that is meant by an oath. See Rom. i. 9; ix. 1. Gal. i. 20. Heb. vi. 16.
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:
'Swear not at all. That is, in the manner which he proceeds to specify. Swear not in any of the common and profane ways customary at that time. “By heaven; for it is God's throne. To swear by that was, if it meant any thing, to swear by Him that sitteth thereon, Matt. xxiii. 22. The earth; it is his footstool. Swearing by that, therefore, is really swearing by God. A footstool is that on which the feet rest when sitting. The term is applied to the earth, to denote how lowly and humble an object it is when compared with God. City of the great King' That is God; called the great King, because he was the King of the Israelites, and Jerusalem was the capital of the nation, and the place where he was peculiarly honoured as king.
36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
"Thy head.' 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. 'One hair,' &c. You have no control or right over your own life. You cannot even change one single hair. God has all that control; and it is therefore improper and profane to pledge what is God's gift and God's property; and 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.
"Your communication. Your word; what you say. 'Be, yea.' Yes. It means that we should simply affirm, or declare that a thing is so. 'More than these. More than these affirmations. Profane oaths come of evil. '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. 2. That no man is believed any sooner because he swears to a thing. He that will break the third commandment, will not hesitate to break the ninth also. The man who is always believed, is he whose character is beyond suspicion in all things. A man that is truly a christian, and leads a christian life, does not need oaths and profaneness to make him believed. 3. It is no mark of a gentleman to swear, or use profane words, The basest and meanest of mankind swear with as much skill a most refined ; and he degrades himself to the very lowest level of pollution and shame who becomes a common swearer. Any man has talents enough to learn to curse God, and his fellow-men, and to pray-for every man who swears, prays—that God would sink him and others into hell. 4. Profaneness has done n any good. 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 awful 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 in the universe more cause of amazement at his forbearance, than that God does not rise in vengeance, and smite the profane swearer at once to hell. Verily God is slow to anger; and his mercy is without bounds!
38 A 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 evil : but whosoever 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 cloak also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
"An eye for an eye,' &c. This command is found in Ex. xxi. 24; Lev. xxiv. 20; and Deut. xix. 21. In these places it was given as a rule to regulate the decisions of judges. Christ finds no fault with the rule as applied to magistrates, and does not take upon himself to repeal it. But the Jews made it the rule by which to take private revenge. They considered themselves justified by this rule to inflict the same injury on others that they had received. Against this our Saviour remonstrates.
The general principle which he laid down was, that we are not to resist evil; that is, not to set ourselves against an evil person who is injuring us. But even this general direction is not to be pressed too strictly. Christ did not intend to teach that we are to see our families murdered, or be murdered ourselves, rather than to make resistance. The law of nature, and all laws, human and divine, have justified self-defence, when life is in danger. Our Saviour immediately explains what he means. Had he intended to refer it to a case where life is in danger, he would most surely