« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
be acceptable to God, so long as we our.' bers should perish, and not that thy selves are implacable to men. A second whole body should be cast into hell. danger respects us, when we appear before God in judgment; then God will be our Our Saviour had condemned ocular Adversary, Christ our Judge, Satan our ac-adultery in the foregoing verse, or the adul. cuser, hell our tormentor; If now from the tery of the eye; He that looketh on a woheart we do not every one forgive our bro-man to lust after her, hath committed ther his trespasses. Lord! how heinous adultery with her in his heart. Whence then is this sin of inveterate anger, hatred, note, That the eye is an inlet to sin, espeand malice, in our hearts, against any per-cially the sin of uncleanness: lust enters son! No gists, though never so costly, no the heart at the window of the eye. Now in devotions, though never so specious, will these verses Christ prescribes a remedy for prevail with God to pass it by, whilst we the cure of this eye-malady: If thine eye live: and if we die with hearts full of this offend thee, pluck it out: which is not to rancour and bitterness, we can never ex- be understood literally, as if Christ compect to be encircled in the arms of Him who manded any man to maim his bodily mem. is all love, all mercy, all goodness and com- bers; but spiritually, to mortify the lusts passion: no reconciliation with God with of the flesh, and the lusts of the eye, which out an hearty good-will to all men. Nay otherwise would prove a dangerous snare farther, the text here speaks of a prison, to the soul. Learn, 1. That sin may be which is the dreadful dungeon of hell, into avoided : it is our duty to avoid whatsowhich the implacable and unreconciled ever leads to it, or may be an occasion of person must be cast, and lie forever with it; if we find the view of an ensnaring out mixture of pity; and it is not men's object will inflame us, we must, though scoffing at it that will secure them against not put out our eye, yet make a covenant the horror of it.
with our eye that we will not look upon it.
Note, 2. That the best course we can take 27 Ye have heard that it was said to be kept from the outward acts of sin, is by them of old time, Thou shalt not to mortify our inward affection and love to commit adultery: 28 But I say unto sin. This is to kill it in the root; and you, That whosoever looketh on a if once our inward affections be mortified, woman to lust after her, hath com- preserved; for they will no longer be wea
our bodily members may be spared and mitted adultery with her already in
pons of sin, but instruments of righteoushis heart.
ness unto holiness. Our Saviour next proceeds to explain 31 It hath been said, Whosoever the seventh commandment, which forbids shall put away his wife, let him give adultery; by which the Pharisees under her a writing of divorcement: 32 stood only the gross act of uncleanness, and carnal lying with a woman. But, But I say unto you, that whosoever says our Saviour, whosoever secretly in his shall put away his wife, saving for heartdesires such a thing, and casts his eyes the cause of fornication, causeth her upon a woman in order to such an act, en- to commit adultery: and whosoever tertaining only a thought of it with plea shall marry her that is divorced, sure and delight, he is an adulterer in God's account. Learn, That such is the purity
committeth adultery. and spirituality of the law of God, that it Our blessed Saviour still proceeds in condemns speculative wantonness, no less vindicating and clearing the seventh comthan practical uncleanness; and forbids i mandment from the corrupt glosses of the not only the outward action, but the secret Pharisees. Almighty God had tolerated purpose and intention, and first out-goings the Jews, in case of uncleanness, to put of the soul after unlawful objects.
away their wives by a bill of divorce, 29 And if thy right eye offend Deut. xxiv. 1. Hereupon the Pharisees thee, pluck it out, and cast it from maintained it lawful to put away the wife
upon every slight occasion. This abuse thee : for it is profitable for thee Christ corrects; and shows that divorce, that one of thy members should except in case of adultery, is a certain perish, and not that thy whole body breach of the seventh commandment. should be cast into hell. 30 And if Learn, 1. That so indissoluble is the mar. thy right hand offend thee, cut it off,
riage-covenant betwixt two persons, that and cast it from thee: for it is profit- bands of marriage, can dissolve or disan
nothing but adultery, which violates the able for thee that one of thy mem- nul it. Learn, 2. When persons are un
justly put away, it is unlawful for them to Here our Lord prescribes a proper mean marry to any other, or for others know- and remedy for shunning the occasion and ingly to marry to them.
danger of rash swearing; and that is, by
using and accustoming ourselves in con. 33 Again, ye have heard that it versation to a true simplicity and constant hath been said by them of old time, plainness of speech; either affirming or Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but denying, according to the nature of the shalt perform unto the Lord thine thing; letting oaths alone till we are called Oaths : 34 But I say unto you, strife between man and man. Learn, That
to them upon great occasions, for ending Swear not at all: neither by heaven; the great end of speech being to communifor it is God's throne: 35 Nor by the cate the sense of our minds to each other, earth; for it is his footstool: neither we ought to use such plainness and simby Jerusalem; for it is the city of plicity in speaking, that we may believe
one another without oaths, or more solemn the great King. 36 Neither shalt
and religious asseverations. thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white
38 Ye have heard that it hath or black :
been said, An eye for an eye, and a
tooth for a tooth: 39 But I The next commandment which our Saviour expounds and vindicates, is the you, That ye resist not evil: but third, which requires a reverent use of whosoever shall smite thee on thy God's name.
Now the Pharisees taught right cheek, turn to him the other that perjury was the only breach of this also. 40 And if any man will sue commandment; and that swearing was thee at the law, and take away thy nothing, if they did not forswear them-coat, let him have thy cloak also. selves; and that persons were only obliged 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to swear by the name of God in public courts of justice, but in their ordinary and to go a mile, go with him twain. common discourse they might swear by Our Saviour here vindicates the sixth any of the creatures. Now, in opposition commandment, which obliges us to do no to these wicked principles and practices, wrong to the body of our neighbour. God Christ says, Swear not at all : that is, had given a law to the public magistrate, 1. Swear not profanely in your ordinary to require an eye for an eye, and a tooth discourse. 2. Swear not unduly by any for a tooth, when a person was wronged: of the creatures; for that is to ascribe a || hereupon the Pharisees taught, That a prideity to them. 3. Swear not lightly upon vate person, wronged by another, might any trifling or frivolous occasion; for oaths exact satisfaction from him to the same upon small occasions are great sins. So | degree in which he had been wronged by that an oath is not here forbidden by our | him; if he had lost an eve by another, he Saviour, but restrained. For though might revenge it, by taking away the eye light and needless, common and ordinary || of another. But, says Christ, I say unto swearing, be a very great sin, yet to take you, resist not evil; that is, seek not private an oath upon a solemn occasion, when revenge, but leave the avenging of injuries lawfully called thereunto, is a Christian to God and the magistrates; and in trivial and necessary duty. Christ by this pro- | matters not to appeal at all, and, when hibition doth not forbid all swearing as a forced, not for revenge sake: teaching us, thing absolutely evil; nor doth he forbid That Christians ought rather to suffer a all assertory or promissory oaths in mat- double wrong, than to seek a private reters testimonial, when imposed by the || venge. Christianity obliges us to bear magistrate ; for Christ himself, when many injuries patiently, rather than to readjured by the high-priest, did answer venge one privately. Religion indeed doth upon oath.
But he forbids all voluntary not bid us invite injuries, but it teaches us oaths in common conversation, and in our to bid them welcome: we are not to return ordinary discourse; because an oath is an evil for evil, but are rather to endure a act of religious worship: therefore to trifle greater evil than to revenge a less. with it is an horrid provocation.
42 Give to him that asketh thee, 37 But let your communication and froin him that would borrow of be, Yea, yea; nay, nay: for what-thee, turn not thou away. soever is more than these, cometh of
Our Saviour here presses the law of cvil.
charity upon his disciples: this is two-fold; salute your
a charity in giving to them that beg, and 45 That ye may be the children a charity in lending to them that desire to of your Father which is in heaven: borrow. Christianity obliges all those who for he maketh his sun to rise on the have ability, to abound in works of charity evil and on the good, and sendeth of all sorts and kinds whatsoever. that is truly charitable, doth not only give, rain on the just and on the unjust. but lends; yea, sometimes lends, looking To encourage us to the foregoing duty for nothing again. It is not enough to act of loving our enemies, our Saviour procharity of one sort, but we must be ready || pounds the example of God himself to our to act it in every kind, and to the highest imitation, That ye may be the children of degree that our circumstances and abili- || your Father; that is, that you may be ties will admit. Giving is a God-like thing, known to be the children of your Father he is the giver of every good and perfect which is in heaven, by your likeness to him, gist; he gives before we ask: and we and imitation of him. Note, 1. That the must imitate God in giving; namely, by best evidence we can have of our divine giving what we give cheerfully, sincerely, sonship, is our conformity to the divine discreetly, proportionally, universally, in nature, especially in those excellent proobedience to God's command, and with an perties of goodness and forgiveness. Note, eye at his glory. And there is sometimes 2. That God doth good to them that are as great charity in lending as there is in continually doing evil unto him. Rain giving; many a poor family, by our lend- and sun, fat and sweet, gold and silver, ing them a small matter, may raise them- | are such good things as their hearts and selves into a condition to live comfortably houses are filled with, who are altogether and honestly in the world.
empty of grace and goodness. 43 Ye have heard that it hath been 46 For if ye love them which love said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, you, what reward have ye? do not and hate thine enemy: 4Å But I even the publicans the same? 47 say unto you, Love
brethren only, bless them that curse you, do good
what do ye more than others? do to them that hate you, and pray for not even the publicans so? them which despitefully use you and
Yet farther to encourage us to the duty persecute you:
of loving our enemies, Christ assures his
disciples that he expects more from them Another corrupt gloss which the Phari-than from others; more than common husees had put upon the law of God, our Sa-manity and civil courtesy towards friends: viour here takes notice of: the law said, for even heathens by the light of nature Thou shalt lore thy neighbour, Lev. xix. 18. were taught to love those that love them : This they interpreted to relate only to their but he expected that Christianity should own countrymen, the Jews; concluding, | teach them better, and lead them farther, that they might hate all the uncircumcised | even to love their enemies, and to bless them nations, as enemies. But, saith our Sa- that curse them. Note, Love for love is viour, I require you to love all men; for if justice; love for no love is favour and enemies must not be shut out of your love, kindness: but love for hatred and enmity none must. Love your enemies, here the is divine goodness; a Christ-like temper, inward affection is required. Bless them which will render us illustrious on earth, that curse you ; there outward civility and and glorious in heaven. But, Lord! how affability is required. Do good to them that do men confine their love to little sects and hate you ; here real acts of kindness and parties! and from thence comes that bitcharity are commanded to be done by us to terness of spirit of one party towards anour bitterest and most malicious enemies. other; and oh, how hard it is to find Pray for them that despitefully use you, and a Christian of a true catholic love and persecule you ; these are the highest ex-temper! pressions of enmity that can be, calumny
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even and cruelty; yet are we commanded to pray for those that touch us in these two
as your Father which is in heaven tenderest points, our reputation and our
is perfect. life. Learn, That Christianity obliges us That is, Aim at perfection in all Christian to bear a sincere affection towards our virtues and divine graces, but particularly most malicious enemies; to be ready upon in this of love; in imitation of your heaall occasions to do good unto them, and venly Father, who is the perfect Pattern of pray for them.
all desirable goodness, and adorable perfections. To be perfect as our heavenly | that God may be glorified: but not to be Father is perfect, is indeed impossible, as seen of men, that ourselves may be apto equality, but not as to imitation. The plauded. Observe, 3. The particular sin word rendered here perfect, by St. Mat- || which our Saviour warns his disciples thew, is elsewhere, by St. Luke, rendered against in giving their alms, namely, ostenmerciful, Luke vi. 36, implying, That charity lation and vain-glory, which the Pharisees is the perfection of a Christian's graces; I were notoriously guilty of; sounding a trumhe that is made perfect in love, is perfect pet to call people about them when they in all divine graces, in the account of God. I gave their alms. Thence learn, That the Learn, 1. That there is no standing still in doing any good work, especially any work religion, but he that will be saved must of charity and mercy, vain-gloriously, and press on towards perfection. Learn, 2. not with an eye to God's glory, will cerThat no less than perfect and complete per- tainly miss of the reward of well-doing in fection in grace, and particularly in the another world. Observe, 4. The advice grace and love of charity, is and ought to given by our Saviour for the prevention of be the aim of every Christian in this life, this sin and danger; and that is, to do our and shall be his attainment in the next. alms as secretly as we can; Let not thy
right hand know what thy left hand doeth; that CHAP. VI.
is, conceal it from thy nearest relations, This chapter is a continuation of our Saviour's in-1 and, if possible, from thyself. Note thence, comparable serinon upon the mount, in which he That the secrecy of our charity is one good cautions his disciples against the hypocrisy and evidence of its sincerity. Hence the Egypvain-glory of the Pharisees, both in their alms- tians made the emblem of charity to be a giving and prayers ; the former in the first four blind boy reaching out honey to a bee verses of this chapter, which speaks thus ;
that had lost her wings. TAKE heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of
5 And when thou prayest, thou them: otherwise ye have no reward shalt not be as the hypocrites are: of your Father which is in heaven. for they love to pray standing in the 2 Therefore when thou doest thine synagogues, and in the corners of alms, do not sound a trumpet before the streets, that they may be seen of thee, as the hypocrites do in the men. Verily I say unto you, They
6 But thou, synagogues and in the streets, that have their reward. they may have glory of men. Verily when thou prayest, enter into thy I say unto you, They have their re- closet, and, when thou hast shut thy ward. 3 But when thou doest alms, door, pray to thy Father which is in let not thy left hand know what thy secret; and thy Father, which seeth right hand doeth ; 4 That thine alms in secret, shall reward thee openly. may be in secret: and thy Father, Here our Saviour warns his disciples which seeth in secret, himself shall against the same pharisaical hypocrisy in reward thee openly.
praying, which he had before reproved in
alms-giving. It was lawful to pray in the Observe here, 1. The duty directed to, synagogues, and to pray standing, and alms-giving after a right manner; Do not that before men; but to do this upon your alms before men: some copies read it, | design to be applauded by men, is conDo not your righteousness before men ; be- Idemned by Christ. Our business in prayer cause alms-giving is a considerable part lies with God, we are not to concern ourof that righteousness and justice which selves how men like our performances, it we owe unto our neighbour; he that is is sufficient if God doth approve and will uncharitable, is unjust: acts of charity are accept them. To cure the foregoing vanity, acts of justice and equity. It also intimates Christ directs to secret prayer in our to us, That the matter of our alms should closets, where God is the Witness, and will be goods righteously gotten : to give alms be the Rewarder, of our sincerity. Note, of what is gotten unjustly, is robbery, || That secret prayer is a commanded and and not righteousness. Observe, 2. Our encouraged duty, and when in sincerity Saviour's cautionary direction in giving performed shall be attended with a public alms, Take heed that you do them not to and glorious reward: Pray to thy Father be seen of men. It is one thing to do our which is in secret, &c. alms that men may see them, and another ihing to do them that we may be seen of
7 But when ye pray, use not vain men. We ought to do alms before men, || repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard in earth, as it is in heaven: 11 Give for their much speaking. 8 Be not us this day our daily bread : 12 And ye therefore like unto them: for your forgive us our debts, as we forgive Father knoweth what things ye have our debtors. 13 And lead us not into need of, before ye ask him. temptation, but deliver us from evil:
A vain-glorious ostentation in prayer For thine is the kingdom, and the was condemned by our Saviour in the for- power, and the glory, for ever. mer verse; here a vain-glorious multipli- Amen. cation of words, by idle tautologies and impertinent repetitions, is condemned also; The sense and signification of this best after the manner of the heathen, who ex- of prayers, is this: “O thou our Father pect to have their prayers granted by God in Jesus Christ! who remainest on thy for the multiplicity of words used by throne in heaven, and art there per. themselves. Hence note, That a Chris- petually praised, and perfectly obeyed by tian's business in prayer being not to inform glorious angels and glorified saints'; grant God, (for he knoweth what things we need, that thy name may be glorified, thy throne before we ask him :) nor yet to move and per- acknowledged, and thy holy will obeyed, suade God, (for he is our Father :) it cer- here on earth below, by us thy sons and tainly argues an undue apprehension of servants, most sincerely and readily, and God, when we lengthen out our prayers in some proportion to what is done in with vain repetitions and a multitude of heaven. And because, by reason of the words. Yet note, 1. That it is not all repe- frailty of our natures, we cannot subsist tition of the same words in prayer which without the comforts and supports of life, Christ here condemns, for he himself pray- we crave, that such a proportion of the ed thrice, using the same words, that the good things of this life may be given unto cup might pass from him. Nor, 2. Are we us, as may be sufficient for us; and that to apprehend that prayers continued to a we may be content with our allowance. considerable length are forbidden by And knowing that thy holiness and justice Christ; for Solomon's prayer was such, i oblige thee to punish sin and sinners, we Kings, viii. Nehemiah's such, chap. ix. 'Tis plead with thee, for the sake of thy Son's said the people confessed and worshipped satisfaction, to pardon to us our daily for three hours: Christ continued in prayer trespasses, which we are guilty of in this all night; and the church, Acts xii. made state of imperfection; as we do freely and prayers without ceasing for St. Peter's en-heartily forgive others that have offended largement. And we read of St. Paul's pray
and wronged us. And seeing that by ing night and day, Thess. iii. 10, and of reason of the frailty of our natures we are his commanding the churches to be instant prone to rush upon and run into temptain prayer, and to continue in prayer. But tion; we crave that, by the power of thy Christ here condemns prayers lengthened omnipotent grace, we may be kept from out upon an apprehension that we shall | Satan's temptations, from the world's allurebe heard for our much speaking, or can ments, from our own evil inclinations, and move God by arguments whilst we con- be preserved unblamable to thine everlasttinue in our sins. Dr. Whitby,
ing kingdom; which is exalted over all 9 After this manner therefore persons, over all places, over all things, in
all times, past, present, and to come: and pray ye:
accordingly, in testimony of our desires, As if Christ had said, For preventing and in assurance to be heard and answerthese and all other faults in prayer, I willed, we say, Amen; so be it; so let it be, myself give you a complete form of pray- even so, O Lord, let it be for ever.” More er, and an exact pattern and platform for particularly, in this comprehensive and your imitation when you pray. Note, compendious prayer, the following seveThat the Lord's Prayer is both a perfect rals are remarkable. Namely, 1. That the form of prayer which ought to be used by learned observe, that this prayer is taken us, and also a pattern and platform, ac- | out of the Jewish liturgies, in which it is cording to which all our prayers ought to entirely found, excepting these words, be framed. St. Matthew says, After this As we forgive them that trespass against us. manner pray ye: St. Luke says, When ye From whence Grotius notes, how far Christ pray, say,
the Lord of his church was from affecting COur Father which art in heaven, it was a form; a piece of piteous weak
novelties, or despising any thing because Hallowed be thy name: 10 Thy ness amongso some at this day. Observe, kingdom come. Thy will be done || 2. The person w whom Christ directs us