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the limited sense their teachers confined them to, and proved that they might be greatly extended.
The construction hitherto given to the sixth commandment by the Jewish teachers was only to prevent the crime of actual murder ; but our Lord had autho. rity to improve this precept, by enjoining an entire suppression of hatred, malice, and contempt, towards their brethren or fellow-creatures ; sir.ce these might end in death, or would at least wound the mind, and perhaps destroy reputation, which to the unhappy object of them might be even dearer than life : therefore, such offences were of the same nature as murder.
Our Lord declared, that as there are different degrees of guilt, there will be proportionable punishments : and commanded all his followers to be as cau. tious of prejudicing the reputation and sensibility of others, as of taking away their lives. The Law given by Moses “Thou shalt not kill,” was certainly a good and a necessary law; but with our Saviour's improve. ment, its value was increased to society.
The word Raca signifies empty worthless fellow; the word Fool, in scripture language, signifies a wicked person,
To be in danger of the judgment, according to the constitution of the Jewish state, was to be subject to the sentence of the lesser Sanhedrim.
By the Council was meant the great Sanhedrim. By bell-fire they understood the fire of the valley of Hin. nom, or Tophet. This was a dreadful place, which had formerly been the scene of such detestable sacrifices, in which children were burnt alive to Moloch. It was afterwards defiled by Josiah king of Judah, and made a receptacle for the filth of the city, and it is probable that criminals, who were condemned to be burnt, might Gaffer their punishment on this spot,
Our LORD, according to his usual custom of compar. ing spiritual things with subjects familiar to his hearers, represented the displeasure of God for unjust anger by the judgment; the Divine resentment due to those who treated their fellow-creatures with opprobrious anger, to the Council; and the future punishment of such as with barbarous inhumanity destroy the reputation of others, to Hinnom : dying without being reconciled to the injured party, he compared to being cast into prison: and assured the guilty, that if they did not repent of their fault, and repair the mischief they had done whilst they continued in this world, their imprisonment in the place of torment, to which they would be consigned, should be everlasting; for no one can pay the debt of sin. : After our SAVIOUR had exemplified in what manner the sixth commandment should be observed, he proceeded to shew that the practice of the seventh also might be widely extended.
The third commandment had been greatly corrupted by the Scribes and Pharisees, who allowed the use of oaths on trilling vccasions : but our Saviour taught his disciples, that by taking the name of the LORD in vain, much more was implied than absolute perjury; for he who swears by any creature, does in fact appeal to God, since He alone sees what passes in the heart; and all creatures are the work of his hand, and depend on him
existence. It is therefore very sinful and foolish to use oaths in common conversation, since, if per. sons conduct themselves so as to obtain the reputation of honour and integrity, a simple negative and affirmative will be sufficient to gain them credit; while the practice of common swearing lessens the solemnity of an oath, and by abating the reverence due to the name of Gov, may lead men to commit perjury, and will cer
for their very
tainly invalidate in a great measure their most solemn protestations.
Amongst the statutes in the Book of Deuteronomy, was that to which our LORD referred, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. This was originally intended to direct judges in respect to inflicting punishments and penalties for violence and barbarity ; but, according to the interpretation of the Scribes and Pharisees, it was understood as encouraging a rigorous, severe revenge of every injury a man might receive. To restrain his disciples from such quick resentment, our Saviour added a command, that they should patiently submit to trilling affronts when the danger was not great, rather than in. dulge a litigious disposition.
The phrase Turn to hit the other also, was proverbial, to express a meek submission to injuries and affronts, and 'not to be taken literally, as our Lord's example will shew,
What our Lord said in respect to being compelled to go a mile, alluded to a custom which prevailed, of pressing or obliging persons to go on public services. Among the Jews the disciples of their wise men were exempted from these services; but our SAVIOUR advises his dis. ciples not to insist on the exemption.
Having directed his followers how to bear injuries, our Lord proceeded to exhort them to confer benefits.
When the Jews were separated to be the peculiar people of God, they received a command to destroy the idolatrous nations, and were strictly forbidden to shew them either pity or kindness. They had also a positive injunction to love their neighbour; but from several passages
in the Old Testament it appears, that these precepts were not designed to make them uncharitable to the world in general, or inveterate to those who per
sonally sonally injured them, but only to keep up a holy indig. nation against such as openly affronted the majesty of God; for they were expressly enjoined not to hate their brother in their heart, not to avenge or bear any grudge, but to love their neighbour as themselves. If they met their enemy's beast going astray, they were to bring him back, &c. Notwithstanding these, and other precepts to the same effect, the Jews were taught by their traditions to love their neighbours, and hate their enemies without exception. Our LORD explained the Law of Moses according to its original intention, and improved it by instructing them to imitate the benevolence of the Supreme Being, by extending their charity and good will to all mankind, enemies as well as friends.
Under the Mosaic dispensation, the Jews were taught to consider God as their heavenly King, jealous to maintain his honour, and destroy those who set up idols in competition with him; but our Saviour usually rés presented God to his followers, under the endearing character of their HEAVENLY FATHER." Such he is to all Christians, for Christ's sake; those who are children of the same HEAVENLY FATHER ought surely to love as brethren. To be perfect even as God is perfect, signifies to imitate the perfections of God as much as possible.
Note, Though I have for obvious reasons slightly passed over in my Annotations that part of our Lord's discourse which relates to adultery and divorces, I cannot be totally silent on a subject whicla requires such particular attention in an age like this, when the free quency of divorces disgraces the nation.
It is certainly an indispensable duty in all who have the care of youth of either sex, to make them fully acquainted with the solemnity of the inarriage-vow, and the sinsulness and unhappy effects of a violation of it.
CONTINUATION OF OUR SAVIOUR'S SERMON ON THE
From Matthew, Chap. vi. Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
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.
But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth : that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret, him. self shall reward thee openly.
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.
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut the door, pray to thy Father, which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.