Matthew 18


The disciples inquiring who should be greatest in Christ's

kingdom, 1.

He takes occasion to recommend humility, simplicity, and

disinterestedness, 2-6.

Warns them against offences, 7.

Recommends mortification and self-denial. 8, 9.

Charges them to avoid giving offence. 10, 11.

Parable of him who had lost one sheep out of his flock

consisting of one hundred, 12-14.

How to deal with an offending brother, 15-18.

A gracious promise to social prayer, 19, 20.

How often an offending brother who expresses sorrow, and

promises amendment, is to be forgiven, 21, 22.

The parable of the king, who calls his servants to account, and

finds one who owed him ten thousand talents, who, being unable

to pay, and imploring mercy, is forgiven, 23-27.

Of the same person, who treated his fellow-servant unmercifully,

who owed him but a small sum, 28-30.

Of the punishment inflicted on this unmerciful servant, 31-35.


Verse 1. At the same time] Or hour; but ωρα is frequently

used to signify some particular time: however, instead of ωρα,

three MSS., all the Itala but four, and Origen, read ημερα,

day. Origen says both readings were extant in MSS. in his time.

Who is the greatest] Could these disciples have viewed the

kingdom of Christ in any other light than that of a temporal one?

Hence they wished to know whom he would make his prime

minister-whom his general-whom his chief chancellor-whom supreme

judge, &c., &c. Is it he who first became thy disciple, or he who

is thy nearest relative, or he who has most frequently entertained

thee, or he who is the oldest, merely as to years? Could this

inquiry have proceeded from any but the nine disciples who had not

witnessed our Lord's transfiguration? Peter, James, and John,

were surely more spiritual in their views! And yet how soon did

even these forget that his kingdom was not of this world!

See Mr 10:35, &c.; Joh 18:10, &c.

The disciples having lately seen the keys delivered to Peter, and

found that he, with James and John, had been privileged with being

present at the transfiguration, it is no wonder if a measure of

jealousy and suspicion began to work in their minds. From this

inquiry we may also learn, that the disciples had no notion of

Peter's supremacy; nor did they understand, as the Roman Catholics

will have it, that Christ had constituted him their head, either

by the conversation mentioned Mt 16:18, 19,

or by the act mentioned in the conclusion of the preceding

chapter. Had they thought that any such superiority had been

designed, their present question must have been extremely

impertinent. Let this be observed.

Verse 2. A little child] But this child could walk, for he

called him to him. Nicephorus says, this was Ignatius, who was

afterwards bishop of Antioch, and suffered martyrdom under, and by

command of, the Roman Emperor Trojan, in the 107th year of our

Lord. But this good father is not much to be depended on, being

both weak and credulous.

Verse 3. Except ye be converted] Unless ye be saved from those

prejudices which are at present so baneful to your nation,

(seeking a temporal and not a spiritual kingdom,) unless ye be

clothed with the spirit of humility, ye cannot enter into the

spirit, design, and privileges of my spiritual and eternal

kingdom. The name of this kingdom should put you in mind of its

nature.-1. The KING is heavenly; 2. His SUBJECTS are

heavenly-minded; 3. Their COUNTRY is heavenly, for they are

strangers and pilgrims upon earth; 4. The GOVERNMENT of this

kingdom is wholly spiritual and divine. See on Mt 3:2.

And become as little children] i.e. Be as truly without

worldly ambition, and the lust of power, as little children are,

who act among themselves as if all were equal. The following

saying from the Boostan of the poet Saady is very appropriate.

"The hearts of infants being free from avarice, what care they for

a handful of silver more than for a handful of dust?"

Verse 4. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself] So great is

the disparity between the kingdom of Christ and the kingdoms of

this world, that there is no way of rising to honours in the

former, but by humility of mind, and continual self-abasement.

The same is greatest] Thus our Lord shows them that they were

all equal, and that there could be no superiority among them, but

what must come from the deepest humility; he intimates also, that

wherever this principle should be found, it would save its

possessor from seeking worldly honours or earthly profits, and

from seeking to be a ruler over his brethren, or a lord in God's


Verse 5. One such little child] As our Lord in the preceding

verses considers a little child an emblem of a genuine disciple,

so by the term in this verse he means a disciple only. "Whosoever

will receive, i.e. show unto such a child-like, unambitious

disciple of mine, any act of kindness for my sake, I will consider

it as done to myself."

Verse 6. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones] But,

on the contrary, whosoever shall cause one of the least of those

who believe in me to be stumbled-to go into the spirit of the

world, or give way to sin-such a one shall meet with the most

exemplary punishment.

Let those who act the part of the devil, in tempting others to

sin, hear this declaration of our Lord, and tremble.

A millstone] μυλοςονικος, an ass's millstone, because in

ancient times, before the invention of wind and water mills, the

stones were turned sometimes by slaves, but commonly by asses or

mules. The most ancient kind of mills among the inhabitants of

the northern nations, was the quern, or hand-mill. In some places

in Ireland, Scotland, and the Zetland Isles, these still exist.

Drowned in the depth of the sea.] It is supposed that in Syria,

as well as in Greece, this mode of punishing criminals was

practised; especially in cases of parricide; and when a person was

devoted to destruction for the public safety, as in cases of

plague, famine, &c. That this was the custom in Greece, we learn

from the Scholiast on the Equites of Aristophanes, οτανγαρ

κατεποντουντιναςβαροςαποτωντραχηλωνεκρεμων. When a person

was drowned, they hung a weight, (υπερβολονλιθον, Suidas,) a vast

stone about his neck. See the ancient Scholia upon the Equites,

lin. 1360, and Suidas, in υπερβολονλιθον. We find also that it

was a positive institute of the ancient Hindoo law. "If a woman,"

says the precept, "causes any person to take poison, sets fire to

any person's house, or murders a man, then the magistrate, having

bound a stone to her neck, shall drown her." Halhead's Code of

Gentoo Laws, 4to. edition, page 306.

Verse 7. Wo!] Or, alas! ουαι. It is the opinion of some

eminent critics, that this word is ever used by our Lord to

express sympathy and concern.

Because of offences] Scandals, stumbling-blocks, persecutions,


For it must needs be that offences come] αναγκεγαρεστιν

ελθειντασκανδαλα, for the coming of offences is unavoidable.

Such is the wickedness of men, such their obstinacy, that they

will not come unto Christ that they may have life, but desperately

continue deceiving and being deceived. In such a state of things,

offences, stumbling-blocks, persecutions, &c., are unavoidable.

Wo to that man] He who gives the offence, and he who receives

it, are both exposed to ruin.

Verse 8. - 9. If thy hand, &c.] See the notes on Mt 5:29, 30.

Verse 9. See Clarke on Mt 18:8.

Verse 10. One of these little ones] One of my simple, loving,

humble disciples.

Their angels-always behold] Our Lord here not only alludes to,

but, in my opinion, establishes the notion received by almost all

nations, viz. That every person has a guardian angel; and that

these have always access to God, to receive orders relative to the

management of their charge. See Ps 34:8; Heb 1:14.

Always behold the face] Hence, among the Jews, the angels were

styled , malakey panim, angels of the face, and Michael

is said to be , sar ha-panim the prince of the face. This

is an allusion to the privilege granted by eastern monarchs to

their chief favourites; a privilege which others were never

permitted to enjoy. The seven princes of Media and Persia, who

were the chief favourites and privy-counsellors of Ahasuerus, are

said to see the king's face.

Es 1:14; see also 2Ki 25:19, and Jer 51:25.

Our Lord's words give us to understand that humble-hearted,

child-like disciples, are objects of his peculiar care, and

constant attention. The clause, ενουρανοις, in the heavens,

is wanting in several MSS., versions, and fathers.

Verse 11. For the Son of man, &c.] This is added as a second

reason, why no injury should be done to his followers. "The Son

of man has so loved them as to come into the world to lay down his

life for them."

That which was lost.] απολωλος. In Re 9:11, Satan is called

απολλυων, Apolluon, the destroyer, or him who lays waste. This

name bears a near relation to that state in which our Lord tells

us he finds all mankind-lost, desolated, ruined. So it appears

that Satan and men have the nearest affinity to each other-as the

destroyer and the destroyed-the desolator and the desolated-

the loser and the lost. But the Son of man came to save the lost.

Glorious news! May every lost soul feel it! This verse is

omitted by five MSS., two versions, and three of the fathers; but

of its authenticity there can be no doubt, as it is found in the

parallel place, Lu 19:10, on which verse there is not a

single various reading found in any of the MSS. that have ever

been discovered, nor in any of the ancient versions.

Verse 12. Doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into

the mountains] So our common translation reads the verse; others,

Doth he not leave the ninety and nine UPON THE MOUNTAINS, and go,

&c. This latter reading appears to me to be the best; because, in

Lu 15:4,

it is said, he leaveth the ninety and nine IN THE DESERT. The

allusion, therefore, is to a shepherd feeding his sheep on the

mountains, in the desert; not seeking the lost one ON the


Leaving the ninety and nine, and seeking the ONE strayed

sheep:-This was a very common form of speech among the Jews, and

includes no mystery, though there are some who imagine that our

Lord refers to the angels who kept not their first estate, and

that they are in number, to men, as NINETY are to ONE. But it is

likely that our Lord in this place only alludes to his constant

solicitude to instruct, heal, and save those simple people of the

sea coasts, country villages, &c., who were scattered abroad, as

sheep without a shepherd, (Mt 9:36,) the scribes and Pharisees

paying no attention to their present or eternal well-being. This

may be also considered as a lesson of instruction and comfort to

backsliders. How hardly does Christ give them up!

Verse 13. He rejoiceth more] It is justly observed by one, on

this verse, that it is natural for a person to express unusual joy

at the fortunate accomplishment of an unexpected event.

Verse 14. It is not the will of your Father] If any soul be

finally lost, it is not because God's will or counsel was against

its salvation, or that a proper provision had not been made for

it; but that, though light came into the world, it preferred

darkness to light, because of its attachment to its evil deeds.

Verse 15. If thy brother] Any who is a member of the same

religious society, sin against thee, 1. Go and reprove him

alone,-it may be in person; if that cannot be so well done, by thy

messenger, or in writing, (which in many cases is likely to be the

most effectual.) Observe, our Lord gives no liberty to omit this,

or to exchange it for either of the following steps. If this do

not succeed,

Verse 16. 2. Take with thee one or two more] Men whom he

esteems, who may then confirm and enforce what thou sayest; and

afterwards, if need require, bear witness of what was spoken. If

even this do not succeed, then, and not before,

Verse 17. 3. Tell it unto the Church] Lay the whole matter

before the congregation of Christian believers, in that place of

which he is a member, or before the minister and elders, as the

representatives of the Church or assembly. If all this avail not,


Let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.] To whom

thou art, as a Christian, to owe earnest and persevering good

will, and acts of kindness; but have no religious communion with

him, till, if he have been convicted, he acknowledge his fault.

Whosoever follows this threefold rule will seldom offend others,

and never be offended himself.-Rev. J. WESLEY.

Reproving a brother who had sinned was a positive command under

the law. See Le 19:17. And the Jews have a saying, that one of

the causes of the ruin of their nation was, "No man reproved

another." On the word Church, See Clarke on Mt 16:28.

Verse 18. Whatsoever ye shall bind, &c.] Whatever

determinations ye make, in conformity to these directions for your

conduct to an offending brother, will be accounted just, and

ratified by the Lord. See on Mt 16:19; and, to what is there

said, the following observations may be profitably added.

οσαεανδησητεκαιοσαεανλυσητε. Binding and loosing, in

this place, and in Mt 16:19, is generally restrained, by

Christian interpreters, to matters of discipline and authority.

But it is as plain as the sun, by what occurs in numberless places

dispersed throughout the Mishna, and from thence commonly used by

the later rabbins when they treat of ritual subjects, that binding

signified, and was commonly understood by the Jews at that time to

be, a declaration that any thing was unlawful to be done; and

loosing signified, on the contrary, a declaration that any thing

may be lawfully done. Our Saviour spoke to his disciples in a

language which they understood, so that they were not in the least

at a loss to comprehend his meaning; and its being obsolete to us

is no manner of reason why we should conclude that it was obscure

to them. The words, bind and loose, are used in both places in a

declaratory sense, of things, not of persons. It is ο and

οσα, in the neuter gender, both in chap. 16, and here in this:

i.e. Whatsoever thing or things ye shall bind or loose.

Consequently, the same commission which was given at first to St.

Peter alone, (Mt 16:19,) was afterwards enlarged to all the

apostles. St. Peter had made a confession that Jesus was the

Christ, the Son of God. His confession of the Divinity of our

Lord was the first that ever was made by man; to him, therefore,

were given the keys of the kingdom of heaven: i.e. God made

choice of him among all the apostles, that the Gentiles should

first, by his mouth, hear the word of the Gospel, and believe. He

first opened the kingdom of heaven to the Gentiles, when he

preached to Cornelius. It was open to the Jews all along before;

but if we should suppose that it was not, yet to them also did St.

Peter open the kingdom of heaven, in his sermon at the great

pentecost. Thus, then, St. Peter exercised his two keys: that

for the Jews at the great pentecost; and that for the Gentiles,

when he admitted Cornelius into the Church. And this was the

reward of his first confession, in which he owned Jesus to be the

promised Messiah. And what St. Peter loosed, i.e. declared as

necessary to be believed and practised by the disciples here, was

ratified above. And what he declared unlawful to be believed and

practised, (i.e. what he bound,) was actually forbidden by God


I own myself obliged to Dr. Lightfoot for this interpretation of

the true notion of binding and loosing. It is a noble one, and

perfectly agrees with the ways of speaking then in use among the

Jews. It is observable that these phrases, of binding and

loosing, occur no where in the New Testament but in St. Matthew,

who is supposed to have written his Gospel first in Hebrew, from

whence it was translated into Greek, and then the force and use of

the expression will better appear. Dr. Wotton's Miscell.

Discourses, vol. i. p. 309, &c., &c.

"The phrases to bind and to loose were Jewish, and most

frequent in their writers. It belonged only to the teachers

among the Jews to bind and to loose. When the Jews set any apart

to be a preacher, they used these words, 'Take thou liberty to

teach what is BOUND and what is LOOSE.'" Strype's preface to the

Posthumous Remains of Dr. Lightfoot, p. 38.

Verse 19. Again I say unto you] The word αμην, verily, is

added here, in ninety-eight MSS., (many of which are of the

greatest antiquity and importance,) seven editions, all the

Arabic, the Slavonic, and several of the Itala. The taking in or

leaving out such a word may appear to some a matter of

indifference; but, as I am fully convinced Jesus Christ never

spoke a useless or a needless word, my maxim is, to omit not one

syllable that I am convinced (from such authority as the above) he

has ever used, and to take in nothing that he did not speak. It

makes the passage much more emphatic-Again, VERILY I say unto you,

If two of you shall agree] συμφωνηστωσιν, symphonize, or

harmonize. It is a metaphor taken from a number of musical

instruments set to the same key, and playing the same tune: here,

it means a perfect agreement of the hearts, desires, wishes, and

voices, of two or more persons praying to God. It also intimates

that as a number of musical instruments, skilfully played, in a

good concert, are pleasing to the ears of men, so a number of

persons united together in warm, earnest, cordial prayer, is

highly pleasing in the sight and ears of the Lord. Now this

conjoint prayer refers, in all probability, to the binding and

loosing in the preceding verse; and thus we see what power

faithful prayer has with God!

It shall be done for them] What an encouragement to pray! even

to two, if there be no more disposed to join in this heavenly


Verse 20. For where two-are gathered together in thy name]

There are many sayings among the Jews almost exactly similar to

this, such as, Wherever even two persons are sitting in discourse

concerning the law, the Divine presence is among them. See much

more in Schoettgen. And the following, among the ancient Hindoos,

is like unto it: "When Brahma, the Lord of creation, had formed

mankind, and at the same time appointed his worship, he spoke and

said, 'With this worship pray for increase, and let it be that on

which ye shall depend for the accomplishment of all your wishes.

With this remember God, that God may remember you. Remember one

another, and ye shall obtain supreme happiness. God, being

remembered in worship, will grant you the enjoyment of your

wishes: he who enjoyeth what hath been given unto him by God, and

offereth not a portion unto him, is even as a thief. Know that

good works come from Brahma, whose nature is incorruptible;

wherefore, the omnipresent Brahma is PRESENT IN THE WORSHIP." See

the Bagvat Geeta, p. 45, 46.

In my name] Seems to refer particularly to a public profession

of Christ and his Gospel.

There am I in the midst] None but God could say these words, to

say them with truth, because God alone is every where present, and

these words refer to his omnipresence. Wherever-suppose millions

of assemblies were collected in the same moment, in different

places of the creation, (which is a very possible case,) this

promise states that Jesus is in each of them. Can any, therefore,

say these words, except that God who fills both heaven and earth?

But Jesus says these words: ergo-Jesus is God. Let it be

observed, that Jesus is not among them to spy out their sins; or

to mark down the imperfections of their worship; but to enlighten,

strengthen, comfort, and save them.

Verse 21. Till seven times?] Though seven was a number of

perfection among the Hebrews, and often meant much more than the

units in it imply, yet it is evident that Peter uses it here in its

plain literal sense, as our Lord's words sufficiently testify. It

was a maxim among the Jews never to forgive more than thrice:

Peter enlarges this charity more than one half; and our Lord makes

even his enlargement septuple, see Mt 18:22.

Revenge is natural to man, i.e. man is naturally a vindictive

being, and, in consequence, nothing is more difficult to him than

forgiveness of injuries.

Verse 22. Seventy times seven.] There is something very

remarkable in these words, especially if collated with Ge 4:24,

where the very same words are used-"If any man kill LAMECH, he

shall be avenged seventy times seven." The just God punishes sin

in an exemplary manner. Sinful man, who is exposed to the stroke

of Divine justice, should be abundant in forgiveness, especially

as the merciful only shall find mercy. See Clarke on Mt 5:7,

and on Mt 6:14, 15.

The sum seventy times seven makes four hundred and ninety. Now

an offence, properly such, is that which is given wantonly,

maliciously, and without ANY PROVOCATION. It is my opinion, that,

let a man search ever so accurately, he will not find that he has

received, during the whole course of his life, four hundred and

ninety such offences. If the man who receives the offence has

given any cause for it, in that case, the half of the offence, at

least, towards his brother, ceases.

Verse 23. Therefore is the kingdom] In respect to sin,

cruelty, and oppression, God will proceed in the kingdom of heaven

(the dispensation of the Gospel) as he did in former times; and

every person shall give an account of himself to God. Every sin

is a debt contracted with the justice of God; men are all God's

own servants; and the day is at hand in which their Master will

settle accounts with them, inquire into their work, and pay them

their wages. Great Judge! what an awful time must this be, when

with multitudes nothing shall be found but sin and insolvency!

By servant, in the text, we are to understand, a petty king, or

tributary prince; for no hired servant could possibly owe such a

sum as is here mentioned.

Verse 24. Ten thousand talents] μυριωνταλαντων, a myriad of

talents, the highest number known in Greek arithmetical notation.

An immense sum, which, if the silver talent be designed, amounts

to 4,500,000 sterling; but if the gold talent be meant which is by

far the most likely, then the amount is 67,500,000 sterling, a sum

equal to the annual revenue of the British empire! See the note

on Ex 25:39.

The margin above is incorrect.

Verse 25. He had not to pay] That is not being able to pay.

As there could not be the smallest probability that a servant,

wholly dependent on his master, who was now absolutely insolvent,

could ever pay a debt he had contracted of more than 67 millions!

-so is it impossible for a sinner, infinitely indebted to Divine

justice, ever to pay a mite out of the talent.

Commanded him to be sold-his wife-children, &c.] Our Lord here

alludes to an ancient custom among the Hebrews, of selling a man

and his family to make payment of contracted debts. See Ex 22:3;

Le 25:30, 47; 2Ki 4:1.

This custom passed from among the Jews to the Greeks and Romans.

I have already remarked (see Ge 47:19) that in the Burman empire

the sale of whole families, to discharge debts, is very common.

Verse 26. Fell down and worshipped him] προσεκυνειαυτω,

crouched as a dog before him, with the greatest deference,

submission, and anxiety.

Have patience with me] μακροθυμησονεπεμοι, be long-minded

towards me-give me longer space.

The means which a sinner should use to be saved, are, 1. Deep

humiliation of heart-he fell down. 2. Fervent prayer. 3.

Confidence in the mercy of God-have patience. 4. A firm purpose

to devote his soul and body to his Maker-I will pay thee all. A

sinner may be said, according to the economy of grace, to pay all,

when he brings the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus to the throne of

justice, by faith; thus offering an equivalent for the pardon he

seeks, and paying all he owes to Divine justice, by presenting the

blood of the Lamb.

Verse 27. Moved with compassion] Or with tender pity. This is

the source of salvation to a lost world, the tender pity, the

eternal mercy of God.

Verse 28. A hundred pence] Rather denarii. The denarius was

a Roman coin, worth about seven-pence halfpenny English. The

original word should be retained, as our word penny does not

convey the seventh part of the meaning. A hundred denarii would

amount to about 3l. 2s. 6d. British, or, if reckoned as some do,

at seven-pence three farthings, the sum would be 3l. 4s. 7d.

Took him by the throat] κρατησαςαυτονεπνιγε. There is no

word I am acquainted with, which so fully expresses the meaning of

the original, επνιγε, as the Anglo-saxon term throttle: it

signified (like the Greek) to half choke a person, by seizing his


Verse 29. Fell down at his feet] This clause is wanting in

several ancient MSS., versions, and fathers. Several printed

editions also have omitted it; Griesbach has left it out of the


Pay thee all.] παντα, all, is omitted by a multitude of MSS.,

versions, and fathers.

Verse 30. And he would not, &c.] To the unmerciful, God will

show no mercy; this is an eternal purpose of the Lord, which never

can be changed. God teaches us what to do to a fellow-sinner, by

what HE does to us. Our fellow-servant's debt to us, and ours to

God, are as one hundred denarii to ten thousand talents! When we

humble ourselves before him, God freely forgives us all this

mighty sum! And shall we exact from our brother recompense for

the most trifling faults? Reader, if thou art of this unmerciful,

unforgiving cast, read out the chapter.

"All the souls that are were forfeit once,

And he who might the 'vantage best have took,

Found out the remedy. How would you be,

If HE, who is the top of judgment, should

But judge you as you are? O! think on that,

And mercy then will breathe within your lips

Like man new made.

Though justice be thy plea, consider this,

That, in the course of justice, none of us

Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;

And that same prayer doth teach us all to render

The deeds of Mercy.-"

Verse 31. His fellow-servants saw what was done] An act of

this kind is so dishonourable to all the followers of Christ, and

to the spirit of his Gospel, that through the respect they owe to

their Lord and Master, and through the concern they feel for the

prosperity of his cause, they are obliged to plead against it at

the throne of God.

Verse 32. His lord, after that he had called him] Alas! how

shall he appear! Confounded. What shall he answer? He is


Verse 33. Shouldest not thou also have had compassion]

ουκεδεικαισε, Did it not become thee also? What a cutting

reproach! It became ME to show mercy, when thou didst earnestly

entreat me, because I am MERCIFUL, It became thee also to have

shown mercy, because thou wert so deep in debt thyself, and hadst

obtained mercy.

Verse 34. Delivered him to the tormentors] Not only continued

captivity is here intended, but the tortures to be endured in it.

If a person was suspected of fraud, as there was reason for in

such a case as that mentioned here, he was put to very cruel

tortures among the Asiatics, to induce him to confess. In the

punishments of China, a great variety of these appear; and

probably there is an allusion to such torments in this place.

Before, he and all that he had, were only to be sold. Now, as he

has increased his debt, so he has increased his punishment; he is

delivered to the tormentors, to the horrors of a guilty

conscience, and to a fearful looking for of fiery indignation,

which shall devour the adversaries. But if this refers to the day

of judgment, then the worm that dieth not, and the fire that is

not quenched, are the tormentors.

Verse 35. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto

you] The goodness and indulgence of God towards us is the

pattern we should follow in our dealings with others. If we take

man for our exemplar we shall err, because our copy is a bad one;

and our lives are not likely to be better than the copy we

imitate. Follow Christ; be merciful as your Father who is in

heaven is merciful. You cannot complain of the fairness of your

copy. Reader, hast thou a child, or servant who has offended

thee, and humbly asks forgiveness? Hast thou a debtor, or a

tenant, who is insolvent, and asks for a little longer time? And

hast thou not forgiven that child or servant? Hast thou not given

time to that debtor or tenant? How, then, canst thou ever expect

to see the face of the just and merciful God? Thy child is

banished, or kept at a distance; thy debtor is thrown into

prison, or thy tenant sold up: yet the child offered to fall at

thy feet; and the debtor or tenant, utterly insolvent, prayed for

a little longer time, hoping God would enable him to pay thee all;

but to these things thy stony heart and seared conscience paid no

regard! O monster of ingratitude! Scandal to human nature, and

reproach to God! If thou canst, go hide thyself-even in hell,

from the face of the Lord!

Their trespasses.] These words are properly left out by

GREISBACH, and other eminent critics, because they are wanting in

some of the very best MSS. most of the versions, and in some of

the chief of the fathers. The words are evidently an

interpolation; the construction of them is utterly improper, and

the concord false.

In our common method of dealing with insolvent debtors, we in

some sort imitate the Asiatic customs: we put them in prison, and

all their circumstances there are so many tormentors; the place,

the air, the company, the provision, the accommodation, all

destructive to comfort, to peace, to health, and to every thing

that humanity can devise. If the person be poor, or comparatively

poor, is his imprisonment likely to lead him to discharge his

debt? His creditor may rest assured that he is now farther from

his object than ever: the man had no other way of discharging the

debt but by his labour; that is now impossible, through his

confinement, and the creditor is put to a certain expense towards

his maintenance. How foolish is this policy! And how much do

such laws stand in need of revision and amendment! Imprisonment

for debt, in such a case as that supposed above, can answer no

other end than the gratification of the malice, revenge, or

inhumanity of the creditor. Better sell all that he has, and,

with his hands and feet untied, let him begin the world afresh.

Dr. Dodd very feelingly inquires here, "Whether rigour in exacting

temporal debts, in treating without mercy such as are unable to

satisfy them-whether this can be allowed to a Christian, who is

bound to imitate his God and Father? To a debtor, who can expect

forgiveness only on the condition of forgiving others? To a

servant, who should obey his Master?-and to a criminal, who is in

daily expectation of his Judge and final sentence?" Little did he

think, when he wrote this sentence, that himself should be a

melancholy proof, not only of human weakness, but of the

relentless nature of those laws by which property, or rather

money, is guarded. The unfortunate Dr. Dodd was hanged for

forgery, in 1777, and the above note was written only seven years


The unbridled and extravagant appetites of men sometimes require

a rigour even beyond the law to suppress them. While, then, we

learn lessons of humanity from what is before us, let us also

learn lessons of prudence, sobriety, and moderation. The parable

of the two debtors is blessedly calculated to give this


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