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scribes and Pharisees.” Our Lord proceeds to instance several particulars : “ Thou shalt not kill ;" “ Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Of the heinousness of such crimes there was no doubt; they had been forbidden from the first by the law of God. But it had been overlooked by the expounders of that law, that the guilt consists not only in the last and worst act, but in all the steps which have led to it, or in the state of mind which has been disposed to it, even though the actual crime may never have been committed. Anger without a cause, violent and reproachful words,—are often the approaches to murder, and always signs of a state of heart most reprehensible in the sight of God. We read in Genesis, (iv. 4, 5,) that “ the Lord had respect unto Abel and his offering : but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.” At that moment there was in Cain's heart the same spirit which soon afterwards burst out, when “they were in the field, and Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” Had any outward hindrance checked his hand, the jealous, envious, malicious heart would have equally condemned him; and it is vain to apply restraint to the one without correcting the other. There are degrees, no doubt, in the sinfulness of the angry passions; so our Lord implies in his allusion to the Jewish courts of justice; but no degree of them is to be cherished or allowed.
henna; and is frequently used in the New Testament, and always for hell, or the place of final punishment and misery.”— Scott, after Mede.
“ Tempore Christi apparet receptum fuisse loquendi morem, nec ferè aliter tunc vocatum fuisse infernum, quam gehennam, voce a nativo sono paululum deflexa.”—Calvin
23. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the ultar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee;
24. Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way: first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
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.
The only way of subduing the evil passions of envy, hatred, and malice, is to repress every hostile feeling in the first bud. Even acts of religious duty, however needful, are not so urgent as this ; and till this is done, are displeasing rather than acceptable to God. It was an act of duty to bring a gift to the altar ; Moses had commanded, (Deut. xvi. 16.) “ Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the Lord empty ; every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which he hath given thee.” This, then, was an appointed, acknowledged duty. But ill-will rankling at the heart would corrupt all: “for if a man love not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen ?” How can he entertain
that humble, lowly spirit which befits a sinner in the presence of his Judge, a creature in the worship of his Creator, while towards his brethren on earth he cherishes a malicious, unrelenting disposition?
What then is to be done? Must the feeling remain, and excuse the neglect of God? sometimes implied, in the reasons which men plead for absenting themselves from the Church, or from the Lord's Table? The
The way of duty is very different. First be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. But be reconciled without delay; common worldly prudence requires you to agree with an adversary quickly; we know the consequences which often follow obstinate and persevering hostility even in this world; it often involves men in difficulties from which they endeavour to extricate themselves in vain. How much more serious is delay, when every day, during which you cherish an unforgiving temper, increases your condemnation before God? If thou fallest within the verge of his wrath, how shalt thou escape? Thou hast nothing at all to pay, and yet the uttermost farthing shall be required. If man is our adversary, prudence warns us to seek a timely reconciliation. Let this remind us how dreadful it would be to remain with God for our adversary. “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near. ”
Ex. xx. 14.
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 woand it appears
cause thee to offend.
man to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Here our Lord points out another instance in which nothing can preserve us from guilt, except diligent watchfulness against the occasions of it. We must restrain our desires; we must bridle our thoughts; we must “ make a covenant with our eyes;” we must abstain from all incentives to sin; we must avoid all such company as might ensnare us into it; all such places as might prove a temptation to it. By caution and vigilance of this kind we may escape the snares of the evil one; and it from the sentences which follow, that this must be done, at whatever sacrifice or pains.
29. And if thy right eye offend thee,* pluck it out and cast • Or do it from thee: for it is profilable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should Markix.47 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 thut one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
With these awful words before their eyes, will any dare to plead the strength of passion, or the power of habit, or the force of temptation, as an excuse for continuance in known and open sin ?
sin ? These pleas might be listened to if the danger were less urgent, or the risk less terrible. But hesitation is impossible. We must consent to amputation; or expect death. The wages of allowed sin is death-eternal death. “ For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of
Christ and of God. Let no man deceive
Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience.” (Eph. v. 5, 6.)
“ Teach us, O Lord, the way of thy statutes; and we shall keep it unto the end. Turn away our · eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou us in thy way.” (Ps. cxix. 33, 37.)
DIVORCEMENT.-SOLEMNITY OF QATIIS.-SUB
MISSION TO INJURIES.
MATT. v. 31—12.
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, cuuseth her to commit adultery: and whosoerer shall marry her that is divorced, committeth adultery.
Another case is here specified, in which the al. lowed practice of the Jewish nation was either perversion of their law, or altogether contrary to it. Moses had permitted marriage, under certain circumstances, to be dissolved. (Deut. xxiv. 1—4.) In consequence, divorces on the most frivolous pretences had now become disgracefully frequent.