Matthew 5


Christ begins his sermon on the mount, 1, 2.

The beatitudes, 3-12.

The disciples the salt of the earth, and light of the world,


Christ is not come to destroy, but confirm and fulfil, the Law

and the Prophets, 17-19.

Of the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, 20.

Interpretation of the precepts relative to murder, anger, and

injurious speaking, 21, 22.

Of reconciliation, 23-26.

Of impure acts and propensities, and the necessity of

mortification, 27-30.

Of divorce, 31, 32.

Of oaths and profane swearing, 33-37.

Of bearing injuries and persecution, 38-41.

Of borrowing and lending, 42

Of love and hatred, 43-46.

Of civil respect, 47.

Christ's disciples must resemble their heavenly Father, 48.


Verse 1. And seeing the multitudes] τουςοχλους, these

multitudes, viz. those mentioned in the preceding verse, which

should make the first verse of this chapter.

He went up into a mountain] That he might have the greater

advantage of speaking, so as to be heard by that great concourse

of people which followed him. It is very probable that nothing

more is meant here than a small hill or eminence. Had he been on

a high mountain they could not have heard; and, had he been at a

great distance, he would not have sat down.

See Clarke on Mt 5:14.

And when he was set] The usual posture of public teachers among

the Jews, and among many other people. Hence sitting was a

synonymous term for teaching among the rabbins.

His disciples] The word μαθητης signifies literally a scholar.

Those who originally followed Christ, considered him in the light

of a Divine teacher; and conscious of their ignorance, and the

importance of his teaching, they put themselves under his tuition,

that they might be instructed in heavenly things. Having been

taught the mysteries of the kingdom of God, they became closely

attached to their Divine Master, imitating his life and manners;

and recommending his salvation to all the circle of their

acquaintance. This is still the characteristic of a genuine

disciple of Christ.

Verse 3. Blessed are the poor in spirit, &c.] Or, happy,

μακαριοι from μα or μη, not, and κηρ, fate, or

death: intimating, that such persons were endued with immortality,

and consequently were not liable to the caprices of fate. Homer,

Iliad i, 330, calls the supreme gods, θεωνμακαρων, the ever happy

and IMMORTAL gods, and opposes them to θνητωνανθρωπων, mortal




"Be ye witnesses before the immortal gods, and before mortal

men." From this definition we may learn, that the person whom

Christ terms happy is one who is not under the influence of fate

or chance, but is governed by an all-wise providence, having every

step directed to the attainment of immortal glory, being

transformed by the power into the likeness of the ever-blessed

God. Though some of the persons, whose states are mentioned in

these verses, cannot be said to be as yet blessed or happy, in

being made partakers of the Divine nature; yet they are termed

happy by our Lord, because they are on the straight way to this


Taken in this light the meaning is similar to that expressed by

the poet when describing a happy man.

FELIX, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas:

Atque metus omnes et inexorabile FATUM

Subjecit pedibus; strepitumque Acherontis avari!

Virg. Geor. ii. v. 490.

Which may be thus paraphrased:-

"Happy is he who gains the knowledge of the first cause of all

things; who can trample on every fear, and the doctrine of

inexorable FATE; and who is not terrified by death, nor by the

threatened torments of the invisible world!"

Poor in spirit] One who is deeply sensible of his spiritual

poverty and wretchedness. πτωχος, a poor man, comes from πτωσσω,

to tremble, or shrink with fear. Being destitute of the true

riches, he is tremblingly alive to the necessities of his soul,

shrinking with fear lest he should perish without the salvation of

God. Such Christ pronounces happy, because there is but a step

between them and that kingdom which is here promised. Some

contend, that μακαριοι should be referred to, πνευματι, and the

verse translated thus: Happy, or blessed in spirit, are the poor.

But our Lord seems to have the humiliation of the spirit

particularly in view.

Kingdom of heaven.] Or, τωνουρανων, of the heavens. A

participation of all the blessings of the new covenant here, and

the blessings of glory above.

See this phrase explained, Clarke's notes "Mt 3:2".

Blessed are the poor! this is God's word; but who believes it?

Do we not say, Yea, rather, Blessed is the rich?

The Jewish rabbins have many good sayings relative to that

poverty and humility of spirit which Christ recommends in this

verse. In the treatise called Bammidbar Rabbi, s. 20, we have

these words: There were three (evils) in Balaam: the evil eye,

(envy,) the towering spirit, (pride,) and the extensive mind


Tanchum, fol. 84. The law does not abide with those who have

the extensive mind, (avarice,) but with him only who has a

contrite heart.

Rabbi Chanina said, "Why are the words of the law compared to

water? Because as waters flow from heights, and settle in low

places, so the words of the law rest only with him who is of an

humble heart." See Schoettgen.

Verse 4. Blessed are they that mourn] That is, those who,

feeling their spiritual poverty, mourn after God, lamenting the

iniquity that separated them from the fountain of blessedness.

Every one flies from sorrow, and seeks after joy, and yet true joy

must necessarily be the fruit of sorrow. The whole need not (do

not feel the need of) the physician, but they that are sick do;

i.e. they who are sensible of their disease. Only such persons

as are deeply convinced of the sinfulness of sin, feel tho plague

of their own heart, and turn with disgust from all worldly

consolations, because of their insufficiency to render them happy,

have God's promise of solid comfort. They SHALL BE comforted,

says Christ, παρακληθησονται, from παρα, near, and καλεω, I

call. He will call them to himself, and speak the words of

pardon, peace, and life eternal, to their hearts. See this notion

of the word expressed fully by our Lord, Mt 11:28, COME UNTO ME

all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Verse 5. Blessed are the meek] Happy, οιπραεις, from ραος,

easy, those who are of a quiet, gentle spirit, in opposition to

the proud and supercilious Scribes and Pharisees and their

disciples. We have a compound word in English, which once fully

expressed the meaning of the original, viz. gentleman; but it has

now almost wholly lost its original signification. Our word meek

comes from the old Anglo-saxon meca, or meccea, a companion or

equal, because he who is of a meek or gentle spirit, is ever

ready to associate with the meanest of those who fear God, feeling

himself superior to none; and well knowing that he has nothing of

spiritual or temporal good but what he has received from the mere

bounty of God, having never deserved any favour from his hand.

For they shall inherit the earth.] Or, τηνγην, the land.

Under this expression, which was commonly used by the prophets to

signify the land of Canaan, in which all temporal good abounded,

Jud 18:9, 10, Jesus Christ points out that abundance of

spiritual good, which was provided for men in the Gospel.

Besides, Canaan was a type of the kingdom of God; and who is so

likely to inherit glory as the man in whom the meekness and

gentleness of Jesus dwell? In some good MSS. and several ancient

versions, the fourth and fifth verses are transposed: see the

authorities in the various readings in Professor Griesbach's

edition. The present arrangement certainly is most natural: 1.

Poverty, to which the promise of the kingdom is made. 2. Mourning

or distress, on account of this impoverished state, to which

consolation is promised. And 3. Meekness established in the heart

by the consolations received.

Verse 6. They which do hunger and thirst] As the body has its

natural appetites of hunger and thirst for the food and drink

suited to its nourishment, so has the soul. No being is

indestructible or unfailing in its nature but GOD; no being is

independent but him: as the body depends for its nourishment,

health, and strength upon the earth, so does the soul upon heaven.

Heavenly things cannot support the body; they are not suited to

its nature: earthly things cannot support the soul, for the same

reason. When the uneasy sensation termed hunger takes place in

the stomach, we know we must get food or perish. When the soul is

awakened to a tense of its wants, and begins to hunger and thirst

after righteousness or holiness, which is its proper food, we know

that it must be purified by the Holy Spirit, and be made a

partaker of that living bread, Joh 8:48, or perish everlastingly.

Now, as God never inspires a prayer but with a design to answer

it, he who hungers and thirsts after the full salvation of God,

may depend on being speedily and effectually blessed or satisfied,

well-fed, as the word χορτασθησονται implies. Strong and intense

desire after any object has been, both by poets and orators,

represented metaphorically by hunger and thirst. See the

well-known words of Virgil, AEneid iii. 55.

---------Quid non mortalia pectora cogis,

Auri sacra FAMES!

"O cursed hunger after gold! what canst thou not influence the

hearts of men to perpetrate?" How frequently do we find,

inexplebilis honorum FAMES-SITIENS virtutis-famae SITUS, the

insatiable hunger after honour, a thirst for virtue, thirst after

fame, and such like! Righteousness here is taken for all the

blessings of the new covenant-all the graces of the Messiah's

kingdom-a full restoration to the image of God!

Verse 7. The merciful] The word mercy, among the Jews,

signified two things: the pardon of injuries, and almsgiving. Our

Lord undoubtedly takes it in its fullest latitude here. To know

the nature of mercy, we have only to consult the grammatical

meaning of the Latin word misericordia, from which ours is

derived. It is composed of two words: miserans, pitying, and cor,

the heart; or miseria cordis, pain of heart. Mercy supposes two

things: 1. A distressed object: and, 2. A disposition of the

heart, through which it is affected at the sight of such an

object. This virtue, therefore, is no other than a lively emotion

of the heart, which is excited by the discovery of any creature's

misery; and such an emotion as manifests itself outwardly, by

effects suited to its nature. The merciful man is here termed by

our Lord ελεημων, from ελεος, which is generally derived from the

Hebrew chil, to be in pain, as a woman in travail: or from

galal, to cry, or lament grievously; because a merciful man enters

into the miseries of his neighbour, feels for and mourns with him.

They shall obtain mercy.] Mercy is not purchased but at the

price of mercy itself; and even this price is a gift of the mercy

of God. What mercy can those vindictive persons expect, who

forgive nothing, and are always ready to improve every advantage

they have of avenging themselves? Whatever mercy a man shows to

another, God will take care to show the same to him. The

following elegant and nervous saying of one of our best poets is

worthy of the reader's most serious attention:-

"The quality of mercy is not strained;

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed;

It blesseth him who gives, and him who takes:

'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes

The throned monarch better than his crown.

It is an attribute of God himself;

And earthly power doth then show likest God's,

When mercy seasons justice.--------

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.--------

Why, 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.

How shalt thou hope for mercy, rend'ring none?"

In the tract Shabbath, fol. 151, there is a saying very like

this of our Lord. "He who shows mercy to men, God will show mercy

to him: but to him who shows no mercy to man, God will show no


Verse 8. Pure in heart] In opposition to the Pharisees, who

affected outward purity, while their hearts were full of

corruption and defilement. A principal part of the Jewish

religion consisted in outward washings and cleansings: on this

ground they expected to see God, to enjoy eternal glory: but

Christ here shows that a purification of the heart, from all vile

affections and desires, is essentially requisite in order to enter

into the kingdom of God. He whose soul is not delivered from all

sin, through the blood of the covenant, can have no Scriptural

hope of ever being with God. There is a remarkable illustration

of this passage, quoted by Mr. Wakefield from Origen, Contra Cels.

lib. vi. "God has no body, and therefore is invisible: but men of

contemplation can discern him with the heart and understanding.



Shall see God.] This is a Hebraism, which signifies, possess

God, enjoy his felicity: as seeing a thing, was used among the

Hebrews for possessing it. See Ps 16:10.

Thou wilt not suffer thy Holy One to see corruption, i.e. he

shall not be corrupted. So Joh 3:3:

Except a man be born again, he cannot SEE the kingdom of God,

i.e. he cannot enjoy it. So Joh 3:16.

He that believeth not the Son, shall not SEE life, i. e shall not

be put in possession of eternal glory. The Hindoo idolaters

vainly boast of what the genuine followers of Christ actually

enjoy-having the Divine favour witnessed to their souls by the

Holy Spirit. The Hindoos pretend that some of their sages have

been favoured with a sight of their guardian deity.-See WARD'S


Probably our Lord alludes to the advantages those had, who were

legally pure, of entering into the sanctuary, into the presence of

God, while those who had contracted any legal defilement were

excluded from it. This also was obviously typical.

Verse 9. The peace-makers] ειρηνη, peace, is compounded of

ειρειν (εις) εν, connecting into one: for as WAR distracts

and divides nations, families, and individuals, from each other,

inducing them to pursue different objects and different interests,

so PEACE restores them to a state of unity, giving them one

object, and one interest. A peace-maker is a man who, being

endowed with a generous public spirit, labours for the public

good, and feels his own interest promoted in promoting that of

others: therefore, instead of fanning the fire of strife, he uses

his influence and wisdom to reconcile the contending parties,

adjust their differences, and restore them to a state of unity.

As all men are represented to be in a state of hostility to God

and each other, the Gospel is called the Gospel of peace, because

it tends to reconcile men to God and to each other. Hence our

Lord here terms peace-makers the children of God: for as he is the

Father of peace, those who promote it are reputed his children.

But whose children are they who foment divisions in the Church,

the state, or among families? Surely they are not of that GOD,

who is the Father of peace, and lover of concord; of that CHRIST,

who is the sacrifice and mediator of it; of that SPIRIT, who is

the nourisher and bond of peace; nor of that CHURCH of the Most

High, which is the kingdom and family of peace.

St. Clement, Strom. lib. iv. s. 6, in fin. says, that "Some who

transpose the Gospels add this verse: Happy they who are

persecuted by justice, for they shall be perfect: happy they who

are persecuted on my account, for they shall have a place where

they shall not be persecuted."

Verse 10. They which are persecuted] δεδιωγμενοι, they who are

hard pressed upon and pursued with repeated acts of enmity.

Parkhurst. They are happy who suffer, seems a strange saying: and

that the righteous should suffer, merely because they are such,

seems as strange. But such is the enmity of the human heart to

every thing of God and goodness, that all those who live godly in

Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution in one form or other. As

the religion of Christ gives no quarter to vice, so the vicious

will give no quarter to this religion, or to its professors.

For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.] That spiritual kingdom,

explained Mt 3:2, and that kingdom of glory which is its

counterpart and consequence.

Verse 11. When men shall revile you, and persecute] The

persecution mentioned in the preceding verse comprehends all

outward acts of violence-all that the hand can do. This

comprehends all calumny, slander, &c., all that the tongue can

effect. But as διωκειν, which we render to persecute, is a

forensic term, and signifies legal persecutions and public

accusations, which, though totally unsubstantiated, were the means

of destroying multitudes of the primitive Christians, our Lord

probably refers to such. No Protestant can think, without horror,

of the great numbers burnt alive in this country, on such

accusations, under the popish reign of her who is emphatically

called Bloody Queen Mary.

Verse 12. Rejoice] In the testimony of a good conscience; for,

without this, suffering has nothing but misery in it.

Be exceeding glad] αγαλλιασθε, leap for joy. There are

several cases on record, where this was literally done by the

martyrs, in Queen Mary's days.

Great is your reward in heaven] In the Talmudical tract Pirkey

Aboth, are these words: "Rabbi Tarpon said, The day is short: the

work is great: the labourers are slow: the REWARD IS GREAT: and

the father of the family is urgent."

The followers of Christ are encouraged to suffer joyfully on two

considerations. 1. They are thereby conformed to the prophets who

went before. 2. Their reward in heaven is a great one. God gives

the grace to suffer, and then crowns that grace with glory; hence

it is plain, the reward is not of debt, but of grace: Ro 6:23.

Verse 13. Ye are the salt of the earth] Our Lord shows here

what the preachers of the Gospel, and what all who profess to

follow him, should be; the salt of the earth, to preserve the

world from putrefaction and destruction.

See Clarke on Le 2:13.

But if the salt have lost his savour] That this is possible in

the land of Judea, we have proof from Mr. Maundrell, who,

describing the Valley of Salt, speaks thus: "Along, on one side of

the valley, toward Gibul, there is a small precipice about two

men's lengths, occasioned by the continual taking away of the

salt; and, in this, you may see how the veins of it lie. I broke

a piece of it, of which that part that was exposed to the rain,

sun, and air, though it had the sparks and particles of salt, YET

IT HAD PERFECTLY LOST ITS SAVOUR: the inner part, which was

connected to the rock, retained its savour, as I found by proof."

See his Trav., 5th edit., last page. A preacher, or private

Christian, who has lost the life of Christ, and the witness of his

Spirit, out of his soul, may be likened to this salt. He may have

the sparks and glittering particles of true wisdom, but without

its unction or comfort. Only that which is connected with the

rock, the soul that is in union with Christ Jesus by the Holy

Spirit, can preserve its savour, and be instrumental of good to


To be trodden underfoot] There was a species of salt in Judea,

which was generated at the lake Asphaltites, and hence called

bituminous salt, easily rendered vapid, and of no other use but to

be spread in a part of the temple, to prevent slipping in wet

weather. This is probably what our Lord alludes to in this place.

The existence of such a salt, and its application to such a use,

Schoettgenius has largely proved in his Horae Hebraicae, vol. i.

p. 18, &c.

Verse 14. Ye are the light of the world] That is, the

instruments which God chooses to make use of to illuminate the

minds of men; as he uses the sun (to which probably he pointed) to

enlighten the world. Light of the world, ner olam, was a

title applied to the most eminent rabbins. Christ transfers the

title from these, and gives it to his own disciples, who, by the

doctrines that he taught them, were to be the means of diffusing

the light of life throughout the universe.

A city that is set on a hill] This place may receive light from

the following passage in Maundrell's Travels. "A few points

toward the north (of Tabor) appears that which they call the Mount

of Beatitudes, a small rising, from which our blessed Saviour

delivered his sermon in the fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters of

Matthew. (See Clarke on Mt 5:5.) Not far from this little

hill is the city Saphet, supposed to be the ancient Bethulia. It

stands upon a very eminent and conspicuous mountain, and is SEEN

FAR and NEAR. May we not suppose that Christ alludes to this

city, in these words of his, A city set on a hill cannot be hid?"

p. 115. Quesnell remarks here: "The Christian life is something

very high and sublime, to which we cannot arrive without pains:

while it withdraws us from the earth, and carries us nearer

heaven, it places us in view, and as a mark, to the malice of

carnal men."

Verse 15. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a

bushel] A bushel μοδιος:-a measure both among the Greeks and

Romans, containing a little more than a peck English. From some

ancient writers we learn, that only those who had bad designs hid

a candle under a bushel; that, in the dead of the night, when all

were asleep, they might rise up, and have light at hand to help

them to effect their horrid purposes of murder, &c. See Wetstein,

Kypke, Wolf, &c.

Verse 16. Let your light so shine] Or more literally, Thus let

your light shine, ουτωλαμψατωτοφως. As the sun is lighted up

in the firmament of heaven to diffuse its light and heat freely to

every inhabitant of the earth; and as the lamp is not set under

the bushel, but placed upon the lamp-stand that it may give light

to all in the house; THUS let every follower of Christ, and

especially every preacher of the Gospel, diffuse the light of

heavenly knowledge, and the warmth of Divine love through the

whole circle of their acquaintance.

That they may see your good works] It is not sufficient to have

light-we must walk in the light, and by the light. Our whole

conduct should be a perpetual comment on the doctrine we have

received, and a constant exemplification of its power and truth.

And glorify your Father] The following curious saying is found

in Bammidbar Rabba, s. 15. "The Israelites said to the holy

blessed God, Thou commandest us to light lamps to thee; and yet

thou art the, Light of the world, and with thee the light

dwelleth. The holy blessed God answered, I do not command this

because I need light; but that you may reflect light upon me, as

I have illuminated you:-that the people may say, Behold, how the

Israelites illustrate him, who illuminates them in the sight of

the whole earth." See more in Schoettgen. Real Christians are

the children of God-they are partakers of his holy and happy

nature: they should ever be concerned for their Father's honour,

and endeavour so to recommend him, and his salvation, that others

may be prevailed on to come to the light, and walk in it. Then

God is said to be glorified, when the glorious power of his grace

is manifested in the salvation of men.

Verse 17. Think not that I am come to destroy the law] Do not

imagine that I am come to violate the law καταλυσαι, from κατα,

and λυω, I loose, violate, or dissolve-I am not come to make the

law of none effect-to dissolve the connection which subsists

between its several parts, or the obligation men are under to have

their lives regulated by its moral precepts; nor am I come to

dissolve the connecting reference it has to the good things

promised. But I am come, πληρωσαι, to complete-to perfect its

connection and reference, to accomplish every thing shadowed forth

in the Mosaic ritual, to fill up its great design; and to give

grace to all my followers, πληρωσαι, to fill up, or complete,

every moral duty. In a word, Christ completed the law: 1st. In

itself, it was only the shadow, the typical representation, of

good things to come; and he added to it that which was necessary

to make it perfect, HIS OWN SACRIFICE, without which it could

neither satisfy God, nor sanctify men. 2dly. He completed it in

himself by submitting to its types with an exact obedience, and

verifying them by his death upon the cross. 3dly. He completes

this law, and the sayings of his prophets, in his members, by

giving them grace to love the Lord with all their heart, soul,

mind, and strength, and their neighbour as themselves; for this is

all the law and the prophets.

It is worthy of observation, that the word gamar, among the

rabbins, signifies not only to fulfil, but also to teach; and,

consequently, we may infer that our Lord intimated, that the law

and the prophets were still to be taught or inculcated by him and

his disciples; and this he and they have done in the most pointed

manner. See the Gospels and epistles; and see especially this

sermon on the mount, the Epistle of James, and the Epistle to the

Hebrews. And this meaning of the word gives the clear sense of

the apostle's words, Col 1:25.

Whereof I am made a minister, πληρωσαιτοςλογοντουθεου, to

fulfil the word of God, i.e. to teach the doctrine of God.

Verse 18. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven] In the very

commencement of his ministry, Jesus Christ teaches the instability

of all visible things. "The heaven which you see, and which is so

glorious, and the earth which you inhabit and love, shall pass

away; for the things which are seen are temporal, προσκαιρα, are

for a time; but the things which are not seen are eternal αιωνια,

ever-during," 2Co 4:18. And the WORD of the Lord endureth for


One jot or one tittle] One yod, (,) the smallest letter in the

Hebrew alphabet. One tittle or point, κεραια, either meaning

those points which serve for vowels in this language, if they then

existed; or the seraphs, or points of certain letters, such as

resh, or daleth, he, or cheth (as the

change of any of these into the other would make a most essential

alteration in the sense, or, as the rabbins say, destroy the

world.) Or our Lord may refer to the little ornaments which

certain letters assume on their tops, which cause them to appear

like small branches. The following letters only can assume

coronal apices, tsaddi- gimel- zain-

nun- teth- ayin- shin. These, with the

coronal apices, often appear in MSS.

That this saying, one jot or one tittle, is a proverbial mode of

expression among the Jews, and that it expressed the meaning given

to it above, is amply proved by the extracts in Lightfoot and

Schoettgen. The reader will not be displeased to find a few of

them here, if he can bear with the allegorical and strongly

figurative language of the rabbins.

"The book of Deuteronomy came and prostrated itself before the

Lord, and said: 'O Lord of the world, thou hast written in me thy

law; but now, a Testament defective in some parts is defective in

all. Behold, Solomon endeavours to root the letter yod out of

me.' (In this text, De 17:5.

lo yirbeh, nashim, he shall not multiply wives.)

The holy blessed God answered, 'Solomon and a thousand such as he

shall perish, but the least word shall not perish out of thee.'"

In Shir Hashirim Rabba, are these words: "Should all the

inhabitants of the earth gather together, in order to whiten one

feather of a crow, they could not succeed: so, if all the

inhabitants of the earth should unite to abolish one yod, which

is the smallest letter in the whole law, they should not be able

to effect it."

In Vayikra Rabba, s. 19, it is said: "Should any person in the

words of De 6:4,

Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is achad, ONE Lord,

change the daleth into a resh, he would ruin the world."

[Because, in that case, the word achar, would signify a

strange or false God.]

"Should any one, in the words of Ex 34:14,

Thou shalt worship no OTHER, achar, God, change resh

into daleth, he would ruin the world." [Because the command

would then run, Thou shalt not worship the ONLY or true God.]

"Should any one in the words of Le 22:32,

Neither shall ye PROFANE techelelu, my holy name, change

cheth into he, he would ruin the world." [Because the

sense of the commandment would then be, Neither shall ye PRAISE my

holy name.]

"Should any one, in the words of Ps 150:6,

Let every thing that hath breath PRAISE, tehalel, the Lord,

change he into cheth, he would ruin the world." [Because

the command would then run, Let every thing that hath breath

PROFANE the Lord.]

"Should any one, in the words of Jer 5:10,

They lied AGAINST the Lord, beihovah, change

beth into caph, he would ruin the world." [For then the

words would run, They lied LIKE the Lord.]

"Should any one, in the words of Hosea, Ho 5:7,

They have dealt treacherously, beihovah, AGAINST the

Lord, change beth into caph, he would ruin the

world." [For then the words would run, They have dealt

treacherously LIKE the Lord.]

"Should any one, in the words of 1Sa 2:2,

There is none holy AS the Lord, change caph into

beth, he would ruin the world." [For then the words would mean,

There is no holiness IN the Lord.]

These examples fully prove that the μιακεραια of our Lord,

refers to the apices, points, or corners, that distinguish

beth from caph; cheth from he; and

resh from daleth. For the reader will at once perceive, how

easily a caph may be turned into a beth; a he

into a cheth; and a resh into a daleth: and he

will also see of what infinite consequence it is to write and print

such letters correctly.

Till all be fulfilled.] Or, accomplished. Though all earth and

hell should join together to hinder the accomplishment of the

great designs of the Most High, yet it shall all be in vain-even

the sense of a single letter shall not be lost. The words of God,

which point out his designs, are as unchangeable as his nature

itself. Every sinner, who perseveres in his iniquity, shall

surely be punished with separation from God and the glory of his

power; and every soul that turns to God, through Christ, shall as

surely be saved, as that Jesus himself hath died.

Verse 19. Whosoever-shall break one of these least

commandments] The Pharisees were remarkable for making a

distinction between weightier and lighter matters in the law, and

between what has been called, in a corrupt part of the Christian

Church, mortal and venial sins. See Clarke on Mt 22:36.

Whosoever shall break. What an awful consideration is this! He

who, by his mode of acting, speaking, or explaining the words of

God, sets the holy precept aside, or explains away its force and

meaning, shall be called least-shall have no place in the kingdom

of Christ here, nor in the kingdom of glory above. That this is

the meaning of these words is evident enough from the following


Verse 20. Except your righteousness shall exceed] περισσευση,

Unless your righteousness abound more-unless it take in, not only

the letter, but the spirit and design of the moral and

ritual precept; the one directing you how to walk so as to please

God; the other pointing out Christ, the great Atonement, through

and by which a sinner is enabled to do so-more than that of the

scribes and Pharisees, who only attend to the letter of the law,

and had indeed made even that of no effect by their traditions-ye

shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. This fully explains

the meaning of the preceding verse. The old English word is

[Anglo-Saxon], right-wiseness, i.e. complete, thorough, excellent

WISDOM. For a full explanation of this verse, see Lu 18:10, &c.

Verse 21. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time]

τοιςαρχαιοις, to or by the ancients. By the ancients, we

may understand those who lived before the law, and those who lived

under it; for murder was, in the most solemn manner, forbidden

before, as well as under, the law, Ge 9:5, 6.

But it is very likely that our Lord refers here merely to

traditions and glosses relative to the ancient Mosaic ordinance;

and such as, by their operation, rendered the primitive command of

little or no effect. Murder from the beginning has been punished

with death; and it is, probably, the only crime that should be

punished with death. There is much reason to doubt, whether the

punishment of death, inflicted for any other crime, is not in

itself murder, whatever the authority may be that has instituted

it. GOD, and the greatest legislators that have ever been in the

universe, are of the same opinion. See Montesquieu, Blackstone,

and the Marquis Beccaria, and the arguments and testimonies lately

produced by Sir Samuel Romilly, in his motion for the amendment of

the criminal laws of this kingdom. It is very remarkable, that

the criminal code published by Joseph II., late emperor of

Germany, though it consists of seventy-one capital crimes, has not

death attached to any of them. Even murder, with all intention to

rob, is punished only with "imprisonment for thirty years, to lie

on the floor, to have no nourishment but bread and water, to be

closely chained, and to be publicly whipped once a year, with less

than one hundred lashes." See Colquhoun on the Police of the

City of London, p. 272.

Verse 22. Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause]

οοργιζομενοςεικη, who is vainly incensed. "This translation

is literal; and the very objectionable phrase, without a cause, is

left out, εικη being more properly translated by that above."

What our Lord seems here to prohibit, is not merely that miserable

facility which some have of being angry at every trifle,

continually taking offence against their best friends; but that

anger which leads a man to commit outrages against another,

thereby subjecting himself to that punishment which was to be

inflicted on those who break the peace. εικη, vainly, or, as in

the common translation, without a cause, is wanting in the famous

Vatican MS. and two others, the Ethiopic, latter Arabic, Saxon,

Vulgate, two copies of the old Itala, J. Martyr, Ptolomeus,

Origen, Tertullian, and by all the ancient copies quoted by St.

Jerome. It was probably a marginal gloss originally, which in

process of time crept into the text.

Shall be in danger of the judgment] ενοχοςεσται, shall be

liable to the judgment. That is, to have the matter brought

before a senate, composed of twenty-three magistrates, whose

business it was to judge in cases of murder and other capital

crimes. It punished criminals by strangling or beheading; but Dr.

Lightfoot supposes the judgment of God to be intended. See at the

end of this chapter.

Raca] from the Hebrew rak, to be empty. It

signifies a vain, empty, worthless fellow, shallow brains, a term

of great contempt. Such expressions were punished among the

Gentoos by a heavy fine. See all the cases, Code of Gentoo Laws,

chap. 15: sec. 2.

The council] συνεδριον, the famous council, known among the

Jews by the name of Sanhedrin. It was composed of seventy-two

elders, six chosen out of each tribe. This grand Sanhedrin not

only received appeals from the inferior Sanhedrins, or court of

twenty-three mentioned above; but could alone take cognizance, in

the first instance, of the highest crimes, and alone inflict the

punishment of stoning.

Thou fool] Moreh, probably from marah, to rebel, a

rebel against God, apostate from all good. This term implied,

among the Jews, the highest enormity, and most aggravated guilt.

Among the Gentoos, such an expression was punished by cutting out

the tongue, and thrusting a hot iron, of ten fingers breadth, into

the mouth of the person who used it. Code of Gentoo Laws, chap.

15: sec. 2. p. 212.

Shall be in danger of hell fire.] ενοχοςεσταιειςτηνγεενναν

τουπυρος, shall be liable to the hell of fire. Our Lord here

alludes to the valley of the son of Hinnom, Ghi hinom.

This place was near Jerusalem, and had been formerly used for

those abominable sacrifices, in which the idolatrous Jews had

caused their children to pass through the fire to Molech. A

particular place in this valley was called Tophet, from

tophet, the fire stove, in which some supposed they burnt their

children alive to the above idol. See 2Ki 23:10; 2Ch 28:3;

Jer 7:31, 32. From the circumstances of this valley having been the

scene of those infernal sacrifices, the Jews, in our Saviour's

time, used the word for hell, the place of the damned. See the

word applied in this sense by the Targum, on Ru 2:12; Ps 140:12;

Ge 3:24; 15:17. It is very probable that our Lord means no more

here than this: if a man charge another with apostasy from the

Jewish religion, or rebellion against God, and cannot prove his

charge, then he is exposed to that punishment (burning alive)

which the other must have suffered, if the charge had been

substantiated. There are three kinds of offences here, which

exceed each other in their degrees of guilt. 1st. Anger against

a man, accompanied with some injurious act. 2dly. Contempt,

expressed by the opprobrious epithet raka, or shallow brains.

3dly. Hatred and mortal enmity, expressed by the term moreh, or

apostate, where such apostasy could not be proved. Now,

proportioned to these three offences were three different degrees

of punishment, each exceeding the other in its severity, as the

offenses exceeded each other in their different degrees of guilt.

1st. The judgment, the council of twenty-three, which could

inflict the punishment of strangling. 2dly. The Sanhedrin, or

great council, which could inflict the punishment of stoning. And

3dly. The being burnt alive in the valley of the son of Hinnom.

This appears to be the meaning of our Lord.

Now, if the above offences were to be so severely punished,

which did not immediately affect the life of another, how much

sorer must the punishment of murder be! Mt 5:21. And as there

could not be a greater punishment inflicted than death, in the

above terrific forms, and this was to be inflicted for minor

crimes; then the punishment of murder must not only have death

here, but a hell of fire in the eternal world, attached to it. It

seems that these different degrees of guilt, and the punishment

attached to each, had not been properly distinguished among the

Jews. Our Lord here calls their attention back to them, and gives

then to understand, that in the coming world there are different

degrees of punishment prepared for different degrees of vice; and

that not only the outward act of iniquity should be judged and

punished by the Lord, but that injurious words, and evil passions,

should all meet their just recompense and reward. Murder is the

most punishable of all crimes, according to the written law, in

respect both of our neighbours and civil society. But he who sees

the heart, and judges it by the eternal law, punishes as much a

word or a desire, if the hatred whence they proceed be complete

and perfected. Dr. Lightfoot has some curious observations on

this passage in the preface to his Harmony of the Evangelists.

See his works, vol. ii., and the conclusion of this chapter.

Verse 23. Therefore if thou bring thy gift] Evil must be

nipped in the bud. An unkind thought of another may be the

foundation of that which leads to actual murder. A Christian,

properly speaking, cannot be an enemy to any man; nor is he to

consider any man his enemy, without the fullest evidence: for

surmises to the prejudice of another can never rest in the bosom

of him who has the love of God in his heart, for to him all men

are brethren. He sees all men as children of God, and members of

Christ, or at least capable of becoming such. If a tender

forgiving spirit was required, even in a Jew, when he approached

God's altar with a bullock or a lamb, how much more necessary is

this in a man who professes to be a follower of the Lamb of God;

especially when he receives the symbols of that Sacrifice which

was offered for the life of the world, in what is commonly called

the sacrament of the Lord's supper!

Verse 24. Leave there thy gift before the altar] This is as

much as to say, "Do not attempt to bring any offering to God while

thou art in a spirit of enmity against any person; or hast any

difference with thy neighbour, which thou hast not used thy

diligence to get adjusted." It is our duty and interest, both to

bring our gift, and offer it too; but God will not accept of any

act of religious worship from us, while any enmity subsists in our

hearts towards any soul of man; or while any subsists in our

neighbour's heart towards us, which we have not used the proper

means to remove. A religion, the very essence of which is love,

cannot suffer at its altars a heart that is revengeful and

uncharitable, or which does not use its utmost endeavours to

revive love in the heart of another. The original word, δωρον,

which we translate gift, is used by the rabbins in Hebrew letters

doron, which signifies not only a gift, but a sacrifice

offered to God. See several proofs in Schoettgen.

Then come and offer thy gift.] Then, when either thy brother is

reconciled to thee, or thou hast done all in thy power to effect

this reconciliation. My own obstinacy and uncharitableness must

render me utterly unfit to receive any good from God's hands, or

to worship him in an acceptable manner; bat the wickedness of

another can be no hinderance to me, when I have endeavoured

earnestly to get it removed, though without effect.

Verse 25. Agree with thine adversary quickly] Adversary,

αντιδικος, properly a plaintiff in law-a perfect law term. Our

Lord enforces the exhortation given in the preceding verses, from

the consideration of what was deemed prudent in ordinary

law-suits. In such cases, men should make up matters with the

utmost speed, as running through the whole course of a law-suit

must not only be vexatious, but be attended with great expense;

and in the end, though the loser may be ruined, yet the gainer has

nothing. A good use of this very prudential advice of our Lord is

this: Thou art a sinner; God hath a controversy with thee. There

is but a step between thee and death. Now is the accepted time.

Thou art invited to return to God by Christ Jesus. Come

immediately at his call, and he will save thy soul. Delay not!

Eternity is at hand; and if thou die in thy sins, where God is

thou shalt never come.

Those who make the adversary, God; the judge, Christ; the

officer, Death; and the prison, Hell, abuse the passage, and

highly dishonour God.

Verse 26. The uttermost farthing.] . The rabbins

have this Greek word corrupted into kordiontes, and

, kontrik, and say, that two prutoth make a

kontarik, which is exactly the same with those words in Mr 12:42,

λεπταδυοοεστικοδραντης, two mites, which are one farthing.

Hence it appears that the λεπτον lepton was the same as the

prutah. The weight of the prutah was half a barley-corn, and it

was the smallest coin among the Jews, as the kodrantes, or

farthing, was the smallest coin among the Romans. If the matter

issue in law, strict justice will be done, and your creditor be

allowed the fulness of his just claim; but if; while you are on

the way, going to the magistrate, you come to a friendly agreement

with him, he will relax in his claims, take a part for the whole,

and the composition be, in the end, both to his and your profit.

This text has been considered a proper foundation on which to

build not only the doctrine of a purgatory, but also that of

universal restoration. But the most unwarrantable violence must

be used before it can be pressed into the service of either of the

above antiscriptural doctrines. At the most, the text can only be

considered as a metaphorical representation of the procedure of

the great Judge; and let it ever be remembered, that by the

general consent of all (except the basely interested) no metaphor

is ever to be produced in proof of any doctrine. In the things

that concern our eternal salvation, we need the most pointed and

express evidence on which to establish the faith of our souls.

Verse 27. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old] By

the ancients, τοιςαρχαιοις, is omitted by nearly a hundred MSS.,

and some of them of the very greatest antiquity and authority;

also by the Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian, Gothic, and Sclavonian

versions; by four copies of the old Itala; and by Origen, Cyril,

Theophylact, Euthymius, and Hilary. On this authority Wetstein

and Griesbach have left it out of the text.

Verse 28. Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her]

επιθυμσαιαυτην, earnestly to covet her. The verb, επιθυμεω, is

undoubtedly used here by our Lord, in the sense of coveting

through the influence of impure desire. The word is used in

precisely the same sense, on the same subject, by Herodotus, book

the first, near the end. I will give the passage, but I dare not

translate it. To the learned reader it will justify my

translation, and the unlearned must take my word. τηςεπιθυμησει

γυναικοςμασσαγετηςανηρμισγεταιαδεως, Raphelius, on this

verse, says, επιθυμειν hoc loco, est turpi cupiditate mulieris

potiundae flagrare. In all these eases, our blessed Lord points

out the spirituality of the law; which was a matter to which the

Jews paid very little attention. Indeed it is the property of a

Pharisee to abstain only from the outward crime. Men are very

often less inquisitive to know how far the will of God extends,

that they may please him in performing it, than they are to know

how far they may satisfy their lusts without destroying their

bodies and souls, utterly, by an open violation of his law.

Hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.] It is

the earnest wish or desire of the soul, which, in a variety of

cases, constitutes the good or evil of an act. If a man

earnestly wish to commit an evil, but cannot, because God puts

time, place, and opportunity out of his power, he is fully

chargeable with the iniquity of the act, by that God who searches

and judges the heart. So, if a man earnestly wish to do some

kindness, which it is out of his power to perform, the act is

considered as his; because God, in this case, as in that above,

takes the will for the deed. If voluntary and deliberate looks

and desires make adulterers and adulteresses, how many persons

are there whose whole life is one continued crime! whose eyes

being full of adultery, they cannot cease from sin, 2Pe 2:14.

Many would abhor to commit one external act before the eyes of

men, in a temple of stone; and yet they are not afraid to commit a

multitude of such acts in the temple of their hearts, and in the

sight of God!

Verse 29. - 30. Pluck it out-cut it off] We must shut our

senses against dangerous objects, to avoid the occasions of sin,

and deprive ourselves of all that is most dear and profitable to

us, in order to save our souls, when we find that these dear and

profitable things, however innocent in themselves, cause us to sin

against God.

It is profitable for thee that one of thy members] Men often

part with some members of the body, at the discretion of a

surgeon, that they may preserve the trunk, and die a little later;

and yet they will not deprive themselves of a look, a touch, a

small pleasure, which endanger the eternal death of the soul. It

is not enough to shut the eye, or stop the hand; the one must be

plucked out, and the other cut off. Neither is this enough, we

must cast them both from us. Not one moment's truce with an evil

passion, or a sinful appetite. If you indulge them, they will

gain strength, and you shall be ruined. The rabbins have a saying

similar to this: "It is better for thee to be scorched with a

little fire in this world, than to be burned with a devouring fire

in the world to come."

Verse 31. Whosoever shall put away his wife] The Jewish

doctors gave great license in the matter of divorce. Among them,

a man might divorce his wife if she displeased him even in the

dressing of his victuals!

Rabbi Akiba said, "If any man saw a woman handsomer than his own

wife, he might put his wife away; because it is said in the law,

If she find not favour in his eyes." De 24:1.

Josephus, the celebrated Jewish historian, in his Life, tells

us, with the utmost coolness and indifference, "About this time I

put away my wife, who had borne me three children, not being

pleased with her manners."

These two cases are sufficient to show to what a scandalous and

criminal excess this matter was carried among the Jews. However,

it was allowed by the school of Shammai, that no man was to put

away his wife unless for adultery. The school of Hillel gave much

greater license.

A writing of divorcement] The following is the common form of

such a writing. See Maimonides and Lightfoot.

"On the day of the week A. in the month B. in the year C. from

the beginning of the world, according to the common computation in

the province of D., I, N. the son of N. by whatever name I am

called, of the city E. with entire consent of mind, and without

any compulsion, have divorced, dismissed, and expelled thee-thee,

I say, M. the daughter of M. by whatever name thou art called, of

the city E. who wast heretofore my wife: but now I have dismissed

thee-thee, I say, M. the daughter of M. by whatever name thou art

called, of the city E. so as to be free, and at thine own

disposal, to marry whomsoever thou pleasest, without hinderance

from any one, from this day for ever. Thou art therefore free for

any man. Let this be thy bill of divorce from me, a writing of

separation and expulsion, according to the law of Moses and


REUBEN, son of Jacob, Witness.

ELIEZAR, son of Gilead, Witness."

God permitted this evil to prevent a greater; and, perhaps, to

typify his repudiating the Jews, who were his first spouse.

Verse 32. Saving for the cause of fornication] λογουπορνειας,

on account of whoredom. As fornication signifies no more than the

unlawful connection of unmarried persons, it cannot be used here

with propriety, when speaking of those who are married. I have

therefore translated λογουπορνειας, on account of whoredom. It

does not appear that there is any other case in which Jesus Christ

admits of divorce. A real Christian ought rather to beg of God

the grace to bear patiently and quietly the imperfections of his

wife, than to think of the means of being parted from her. "But

divorce was allowed by Moses;" yes, for the hardness of their

hearts it was permitted: but what was permitted to an

uncircumcised heart among the Jews, should not serve for a rule to

a heart in which the love of God has been shed abroad by the Holy

Spirit. Those who form a matrimonial connection in the fear and

love of God, and under his direction, will never need a divorce.

But those who marry as passion or money lead the way, may be

justly considered adulterers and adulteresses as long as they


Verse 33. Thou shalt not forswear thyself] They dishonour the

great God, and break this commandment, who use frequent oaths and

imprecations, even in reference to things that are true; and those

who make vows and promises, which they either cannot perform, or

do not design to fulfil, are not less criminal. Swearing in civil

matters is become so frequent, that the dread and obligation of an

oath are utterly lost in it. In certain places, where oaths are

frequently administered, people have been known to kiss their

thumb or pen, instead of the book, thinking thereby to avoid the

sin of perjury; but this is a shocking imposition on their own

souls. See Clarke on De 4:26; "De 6:13".

Perform unto the Lord thine oaths] The morality of the Jews on

this point was truly execrable: they maintained, that a man might

swear with his lips, and annul it in the same moment in his heart.

Rab. Akiba is quoted as an example of this kind of swearing. See


Verse 34. - 35. Neither by heaven, &c.] It was a custom among

the Scythians, when they wished to bind themselves in the most

solemn manner, to swear by the king's throne; and if the king was

at any time sick, they believed it was occasioned by some one's

having taken the oath falsely. Herod. l. iv.

Who is there among the traders and people of this world who obey

this law? A common swearer is constantly perjuring himself: such

a person should never be trusted. When we make any promise

contrary to the command of God, taking, as a pledge of our

sincerity, either GOD, or something belonging to him, we engage

that which is not ours, without the Master's consent. God

manifests his glory in heaven, as upon his throne; he imprints the

footsteps of his perfections upon the earth, his footstool; and

shows that his holiness and his grace reign in his temple as the

place of his residence. Let it be our constant care to seek and

honour God in all his works.

Verse 36. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head] For these

plain reasons: 1st. God commands thee not to do it. 2dly. Thou

hast nothing which is thy own, and thou shouldst not pledge

another's property. 3dly. It never did, and never can, answer any

good purpose. And 4thly. Being a breach of the law of God, it is

the way to everlasting misery.

Verse 37. Let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay] That

is, a positive affirmation, or negation, according to your

knowledge of the matter concerning which you are called to

testify. Do not equivocate; mean what you assert, and adhere to

your assertion. Hear what a heathen says on this subject:-



Hom. Il. ix. 312.

"He whose words agree not with his private thoughts is as

detestable to me as the gates of hell." See on Jos 2: at the end.

See the subject of swearing particularly considered in the note

at the conclusion of De 6.

Whatsoever is more than these] That is, more than a bare

affirmation or negation, according to the requirements of Eternal

Truth, cometh of evil; or, is of the wicked one-εκτουπονηρου

εστιν, i.e. the devil, the father of superfluities and lies. One

of Selden's MSS. and Gregory Nyssen, a commentator of the fourth

century, have εκτουδιαβολουεστιν, is of the devil.

That the Jews were notoriously guilty of common swearing, for

which our Lord particularly reprehends them, and warns his

disciples against, and that they swore by heaven, by earth, by

Jerusalem, by their head, &c., the following extracts, made by Dr.

Lightfoot from their own writings, amply testify:-

"It was customary and usual among them to swear by the

creatures. 'If any swear by heaven, by earth, by the sun, &c.,

although the mind of the swearer be, under these words, to swear

by HIM who created them, yet this is not an oath. Or, if any

swear by some of the prophets, or by some of the books of the

Scripture, although the sense of the swearer be to swear by HIM

that sent that prophet, or that gave that book, nevertheless, this

is not an oath. MAIMONIDES.'

"If any adjure another by heaven or earth, he is not guilty.


"They swore by HEAVEN, hashsha mayim, ken hu, 'By

heaven, so it is.' BAB. BERAC.

"They swore by the TEMPLE. 'When turtles and young pigeons were

sometimes sold at Jerusalem for a penny of gold, Rabban Simeon ben

Gamaliel said, By this habitation (that is, by this

TEMPLE) I will not rest this night, unless they be sold for a

penny of silver.' CHERITUTH, cap. i.

"R. Zechariah ben Ketsab said, 'By this TEMPLE, the

hand of the woman departed not out of my hand.'-R. Jochanan said,

'By the TEMPLE, it is in our hand, &c.' KETUBOTH and BAB.


"Bava ben Buta swore by the TEMPLE in the end of the tract

Cherithuth, and Rabban Simeon ben Gamaliel in the beginning,

-And so was the custom in Israel.-Note this, so

was the custom. JUCAS. fol. 56.

"They swore by the city Jerusalem. R. Judah saith, 'He that

saith, By JERUSALEM, saith nothing, unless with an intent purpose

he shall vow towards Jerusalem.' Where also, after two lines

coming between those forms of swearing and vowing, are added,

'Jerusalem, For

Jerusalem, By Jerusalem.-The Temple, For the temple, By the

temple.-The Altar, For the altar, By the altar.-The Lamb, For the

Lamb, By the Lamb.-The Chambers of the Temple, For the chambers

of the temple, By the chambers of the temple.-The Word, For the

Word, By the Word.-The Sacrifices on Fire, For the sacrifices on

fire, By the sacrifices on fire.-The Dishes, For the dishes, By

the dishes.-By all these things, that I will do this to you.'


"They swore by their own HEADS. 'One is bound to swear to his

neighbour, and he saith, Vow (or swear) to

me by the life of thy head, &c. SANHEDR. cap. 3.

"One of the holiest of their precepts relative to swearing was

this: 'Be not much in oaths, although one should swear concerning

things that are true; for in much swearing it is impossible not to

profane.' Tract. DEMAI."-See Lightfoot's Works, vol. ii. p. 149.

They did not pretend to forbid ALL common swearing, but only

what they term MUCH. A Jew might swear, but he must not be too

abundant in the practice. Against such permission, our Lord

opposes his Swear NOT AT ALL! He who uses any oath, except what

he is solemnly called by the magistrate to make, so far from being

a Christian, he does not deserve the reputation, either of decency

or common sense. In some of our old elementary books for

children, we have this good maxim: "Never swear: for he that

swears will lie; and he that lies will steal; and, if so,

what bad things will he not do!" READING MADE EASY.

Verse 38. An eye for an eye] Our Lord refers here to the law

of retaliation mentioned See Clarke on Ex 21:24, (see the note there,

and See Clarke on Le 24:20,)

which obliged the offender to suffer the same injury he had

committed. The Greeks and Romans had the same law. So strictly

was it attended to at Athens, that if a man put out the eye of

another who had but one, the offender was condemned to lose both

his eyes, as the loss of one would not be an equivalent misfortune.

It seems that the Jews had made this law (the execution of which

belonged to the civil magistrate) a ground for authorizing private

resentments, and all the excesses committed by a vindictive spirit.

Revenge was often carried to the utmost extremity, and more evil

returned than what had been received. This is often the case among

those who are called Christians.

Verse 39. Resist not evil] Or, the evil person. So, I am

fully persuaded, τωπονηρω ought to be translated. Our Lord's

meaning is, "Do not repel one outrage by another." He that does

so makes himself precisely what the other is, a wicked person.

Turn to him the other also] That is, rather than avenge

thyself, be ready to suffer patiently a repetition of the same

injury. But these exhortations belong to those principally who

are persecuted for righteousness' sake. Let such leave the

judgment of their cause to Him for whose sake they suffer. The

Jews always thought that every outrage should be resented; and

thus the spirit of hatred and strife was fostered.

Verse 40. And if any man will sue thee at the law] Every where

our blessed Lord shows the utmost disapprobation of such

litigations as tended to destroy brotherly kindness and charity.

It is evident he would have his followers to suffer rather the

loss of all their property than to have recourse to such modes of

redress, at so great a risk. Having the mind averse from

contentions, and preferring peace and concord to temporal

advantages, is most solemnly recommended to all Christians. We

are great gainers when we lose only our money, or other property,

and risk not the loss of our souls, by losing the love of God and


Coat] χιτωνα, upper garment.-Cloke, ιματιον, under

garment. What we call strait coat, and great coat.-See on

Lu 6:29.

Verse 41. Shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.]

αγγαρευσει. This word is said to be derived from the Persians,

among whom the king's messengers, or posts, were called αγγαποι,

or angari. This definition is given both by Hesychius and Suidas.

The Persian messengers had the royal authority for pressing

horses, ships, and even men, to assist them in the business on

which they were employed. These angari are now termed chappars,

and serve to carry despatches between the court and the provinces.

When a chappar sets out, the master of the horse furnishes him

with a single horse; and, when that is weary, he dismounts the

first man he meets, and takes his horse. There is no pardon for a

traveller that refuses to let a chappar have his horse, nor for

any other who should deny him the best horse in his stable. See

Sir J. Chardin's and Hanway's Travels. For pressing post horses,

&c., the Persian term is [Persian] Sukhreh geriften. I find no

Persian word exactly of the sound and signification of αγγαρος;

but the Arabic [Arabic] agharet signifies spurring a horse,

attacking, plundering, &c. The Greek word itself is preserved

among the rabbins in Hebrew characters, angaria, and it has

precisely the same meaning: viz. to be compelled by violence to do

any particular service, especially of the public kind, by the

king's authority. Lightfoot gives several instances of this in

his Horae Talmudicae.

We are here exhorted to patience and forgiveness:

First, When we receive in our persons all sorts of insults and

affronts, Mt 5:39.

Secondly, When we are despoiled of our goods, Mt 5:40.

Thirdly, When our bodies are forced to undergo all kinds of

toils, vexations, and torments, Mt 5:41. The way to improve the

injustice of man to our own advantage, is to exercise under it

meekness, gentleness, and long-suffering, without which

disposition of mind, no man can either be happy here or hereafter;

for he that avenges himself must lose the mind of Christ, and thus

suffer an injury ten thousand times greater than he can ever

receive from man. Revenge, at such an expense, is dear indeed.

Verse 42. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would

borrow] To give and lend freely to all who are in need, is a

general precept from which we are only excused by our inability to

perform it. Men are more or less obliged to it as they are more

or less able, as the want is more or less pressing, as they are

more or less burthened with common poor, or with necessitous

relatives. In all these matters, both prudence and charity must

be consulted. That God, who makes use of the beggar's hand to ask

our charity, is the same from whom we ourselves beg our daily

bread: and dare we refuse HIM! Let us show at least mildness and

compassion, when we can do no more; and if we cannot or will not

relieve a poor man, let us never give him an ill word nor an ill

look. If we do not relieve him, we have no right to insult him.

To give and to lend, are two duties of charity which Christ

joins together, and which he sets on equal footing. A rich man is

one of God's stewards: God has given him money for the poor, and

he cannot deny it without an act of injustice. But no man, from

what is called a principle of charity or generosity, should give

that in alms which belongs to his creditors. Generosity is

godlike; but justice has ever, both in law and Gospel, the

first claim.

A loan is often more beneficial than an absolute gift: first,

because it flatters less the vanity of him who lends; secondly, it

spares more the shame of him who is in real want; and, thirdly, it

gives less encouragement to the idleness of him who may not be

very honest. However, no advantage should be taken of the

necessities of the borrower: he who does so is, at least, half a

murderer. The lending which our Lord here inculcates is that

which requires no more than the restoration of the principal in a

convenient time: otherwise to live upon trust is the sure way to

pay double.

Verse 43. Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.]

Instead of πλησιαν neighbour, the Codex Graevii, a MS. of the

eleventh century, reads φιλον friend. Thou shalt love thy friend,

and hate thine enemy. This was certainly the meaning which the

Jews put on it: for neighbour, with them, implied those of the

Jewish race, and all others were, considered by them as natural

enemies. Besides, it is evident that πλησιον, among the

Hellenistic Jews, meant friend merely: Christ uses it precisely in

this sense in Lu 10:36, in answer to the question asked by a

certain lawyer, Mt 5:29. Who of the three was neighbour (πλησιον

friend) to him who fell among the thieves? He who showed him

mercy; i.e. he who acted the friendly part. In Hebrew, rea,

signifies friend, which word is translated πλησιον by the LXX. in

more than one hundred places. Among the Greeks it was a very

comprehensive term, and signified every man, not even an enemy

excepted, as Raphelius, on this verse, has shown from Polybius.

The Jews thought themselves authorized to kill any Jew who

apostatized; and, though they could not do injury to the Gentiles,

in whose country they sojourned, yet they were bound to suffer

them to perish, if they saw them in danger of death. Hear their

own words: "A Jew sees a Gentile fall into the sea, let him by no

means lift him out; for it is written, Thou shalt not rise up

against the blood of thy neighbour:-but this is not thy

neighbour." Maimon. This shows that by neighbour they understood

a Jew; one who was of the same blood and religion with themselves.

Verse 44. Love your enemies] This is the most sublime piece of

morality ever given to man. Has it appeared unreasonable and

absurd to some? It has. And why? Because it is natural to man

to avenge himself, and plague those who plague him; and he will

ever find abundant excuse for his conduct, in the repeated evils

he receives from others; for men are naturally hostile to each

other. Jesus Christ design's to make men happy. Now he is

necessarily miserable who hates another. Our Lord prohibits that

only which, from its nature, is opposed to man's happiness. This

is therefore one of the most reasonable precepts in the universe.

But who can obey it? None but he who has the mind of Christ. But

I have it not. Seek it from God; it is that kingdom of heaven

which Christ came to establish upon earth. See on Mt 3:2. This

one precept is a sufficient proof of the holiness of the Gospel,

and of the truth of the Christian religion. Every false religion

flatters man, and accommodates itself to his pride and his

passions. None but God could have imposed a yoke so contrary to

self-love; and nothing but the supreme eternal love can enable men

to practise a precept so insupportable to corrupt nature.

Sentiments like this are found among Asiatic writers, and in

select cases were strongly applied; but as a general command this

was never given by them, or any other people. It is not an

absolute command in any of the books which they consider to be

Divinely inspired. Sir William Jones lays by far too much stress

on the casual introduction of such sentiments as this in the

Asiatic writers. See his WORKS, vol. i. p. 168, where the

sentiment is connected with circumstances both extravagant and

unnatural; and thus it is nullified by the pretended


Bless them that curse you] ευλογειτε, give them good words for

their bad words. See Clarke on Ge 2:3.

Do good to them that hate you] Give your enemy every proof that

you love him. We must not love in tongue, but in deed and in


Pray for them which despitefully use you] επηρεαζοντων from επι

against, and αρης Mars, the heathen god of war. Those who are

making continual war upon you, and constantly harassing and

calumniating you. Pray for them-This is another exquisitely

reasonable precept. I cannot change that wicked man's heart; and

while it is unchanged he will continue to harass me: God alone can

change it: then I must implore him to do that which will at once

secure the poor man's salvation, and contribute so much to my own


And persecute you] διωκοντων, those who press hard on and

pursue you with hatred and malice accompanied with repeated acts

of enmity.

In this verse our Lord shows us that a man may be our enemy in

three different ways.

First, in his heart, by hatred.

Secondly, in his words by cursing or using direful imprecations

(καταρωμενους) against us.

Thirdly, in his actions, by continually harassing and abusing


He shows us also how we are to behave to those.

The hatred of the first we are to meet with love.

The cursings or evil words of the second, we are to meet with

good words and blessings.

And the repeated injurious acts of the third, we are to meet

with continual prayer to God for the man's salvation.

Verse 45. That ye may be the children of your Father] Instead

of υιοι children, some MSS., the latter Persic version, and

several of the primitive fathers, read ομοιοι, that ye may be like

to, or resemble, your Father who is in heaven. This is certainly

our Lord's meaning. As a man's child is called his, because a

partaker of his own nature, so a holy person is said to be a child

of God, because he is a partaker of the Divine nature.

He maketh his sun to rise on the evil] "There is nothing

greater than to imitate God in doing good to our enemies. All the

creatures of God pronounce the sentence of condemnation on the

revengeful: and this sentence is written by the rays of the sun,

and with the drops of rain, and indeed by all the natural good

things, the use of which God freely gives to his enemies." If God

had not loved us while we were his enemies, we could never have

become his children: and we shall cease to be such, as soon as we

cease to imitate him.

Verse 46. For if ye love them which love you] He who loves

only his friends, does nothing for God's sake. He who loves for

the sake of pleasure or interest, pays himself. God has no enemy

which he hates but sin; we should have no other.

The publicans] That is, tax-gatherers, τελωναι, from τελος

a tax, and ωνεομαι I buy or farm. A farmer or

collector of the taxes or public revenues. Of these there were

two classes; the superior, who were Romans of the equestrian

order; and the inferior, those mentioned in the Gospels, who it

appears were mostly Jews.

This class of men was detestable among the Romans, the Greeks,

and the Jews, for their intolerable rapacity and avarice. They

were abhorred in an especial manner by the Jews, to whom the Roman

government was odious: these, assisting in collecting the Roman

tribute, were considered as betrayers of the liberties of their

country, and abettors of those who enslaved it. They were

something like the tythe-farmers of certain college-livings in

some counties of England, as Lancashire, &c.-a principal cause of

the public burthens and discontent. One quotation, of the many

produced by Kypke, will amply show in what detestation they were

held among the Greeks. Theocritus being asked, Which of the wild

beasts were the most cruel? answered, ενμεντοιςορεσιναπκτοι

καιλεοντες. ενδεταιςπολεσιντελωναικαισυκοφανται. Bears

and lions, in the mountains; and TAX-GATHERERS and calumniators,

in cities.

Verse 47. And if ye salute your brethren only] Instead of

αδελφους brethren, upwards of one hundred MSS., and several of

them of great authority and antiquity, have φιλους friends. The

Armenian Slavonic, and Gothic versions, with the later Syriac,

and some of the primitive fathers, agree in this reading. I

scarcely know which to prefer; as brother is more conformable to

the Jewish mode of address, it should be retained in the text: the

other reading, however, tends to confirm that of the Codex Graevii

on Mt 5:43.

On the subject of giving and receiving salutations in Asiatic

countries, Mr. Harmer, Observat. vol. ii. p. 327, &c., edit. 1808,

has collected much valuable information: the following extract

will be sufficient to elucidate our Lord's meaning.

"Dr. Doddridge supposes that the salutation our Lord refers to,

Mt 5:47,

If ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do

not even the publicans so? means embracing, though it is a

different word. I would observe, that it is made use of in the

Septuagint to express that action of endearment; and which is

made use of by an apocryphal writer, (Ecclus. 30:19,) whereas, the

word we translate salute is of a much more general nature: this, I

apprehend, arose from his being struck with the thought, that it

could never be necessary to caution his disciples, not to restrain

the civilities of a common salutation to those of their own

religious party. Juvenal, when he satirizes the Jews of the

apostolic age for their religious opinions, and represents them as

unfriendly, and even malevolent, to other people, Sat. xiv., and

when he mentions their refusing to show travellers the way, Non

monstrare vias, &c., or to point out to them where they might find

water to drink when thirsty with journeying, takes no notice of

their not saluting those of another nation; yet there is no reason

to believe, from these words of CHRIST, that many of them at least

would not, and that even a Jewish public an received no

salutations from one of his own nation, excepting brother


"Nor shall we wonder at this, or think it requisite to suppose

the word we translate salute (ασπαζομαι) and which certainly,

sometimes at least, signifies nothing more than making use of some

friendly words upon meeting with people, must here signify

something more particular, since we find some of the present

inhabitants of the east seem to want this admonition of our Lord.

'When the Arabs salute one another,' according to Niebuhr, 'it is

generally in these terms, Salam aleikum, Peace be with you; in

speaking which words they lay the right hand on the heart. The

answer is, Aleikum essalam, With you be peace. Aged people are

inclined to add to these words, And the mercy and blessing of God.

The Mohammedans of Egypt and Syria never salute a Christian in

this manner; they content themselves with saying to them, Good day

to you; or, Friend, how do you do? The Arabs of Yemen, who seldom

see any Christians, are not so zealous but that sometimes they

will give them the Salam aleikum.'

"Presently after he says: 'For a long time I thought the

Mohammedan custom, of saluting Christians in a different manner

from that made use of to those of their own profession, was an

effect of their pride and religious bigotry. I saluted them

sometimes with the Salam aleikum, and I had often only the common

answer. At length I observed in Natolia, that the Christians

themselves might probably be the cause that Mohammedans did not

make the same return to their civilities that they did to those of

their own religion. For the Greek merchants, with whom I

travelled in that country, did not seem pleased with my saluting

Mohammedans in the Mohammedan manner. And when they were not

known to be Christians, by those Turks whom they met with in their

journeying, (it being allowed Christian travellers in these

provinces to wear a white turban, Christians in common being

obliged to wear the sash of their turbans white striped with blue,

that banditti might take them at a distance for Turks, and people

of courage,) they never answered those that addressed them with

the compliment of Salam aleikum. One would not, perhaps, suspect

that similar customs obtain in our times, among Europeans: but I

find that the Roman Catholics of some provinces of Germany never

address the Protestants that live among them with the compliment

JESUS CHRIST be praised; and, when such a thing happens by

mistake, the Protestants do not return it after the manner in use

among Catholics, For ever and ever. Amen!'

"After this, the words of our Lord in the close of the fifth of

Matthew want no farther commentary. The Jews would not address

the usual compliment of Peace be to you, to either heathens or

publicans; the publicans of the Jewish nation would use it to

their countrymen that were publicans, but not to heathens; though

the more rigid Jews would not do it to them, any more than to

heathens: our Lord required his disciples to lay aside the

moroseness of Jews, and express more extensive benevolence in

their salutations. There seems to be nothing of embracing thought

of in this case, though that, doubtless, was practised anciently

among relations, and intimate friends, as it is among modern


If not to salute be a heathenish indifference, to hide hatred

under outward civilities is a diabolic treachery. To pretend much

love and affection for those for whom we have neither-to use

towards them complimentary phrases, to which we affix no meaning,

but that they mean, nothing, is highly offensive in the sight of

that God by whom actions are weighed and words judged.

Do not-the publicans] τελωναι,-but εθνικοι heathens, is

adopted by Griesbach, instead of τελωναι, on the authority of

Codd. Vatican. & Bezae, and several others; together with the

Coptic, Syriac later, and Syriac Jerusalem; two Arabic, Persic,

Slavonic; all the Itala but one; Vulgate, Saxon, and several of

the primitive fathers.

Verse 48. Be ye therefore perfect-as your Father] God himself

is the grand law, sole giver, and only pattern of the perfection

which he recommends to his children. The words are very emphatic,

εσεσθεουνυμειςτελειοι, Ye shall be therefore perfect-ye shall

be filled with the spirit of that God whose name is Mercy, and

whose nature is love. God has many imitators of his power,

independence, justice, &c., but few of his love, condescension,

and kindness. He calls himself LOVE, to teach us that in this

consists that perfection, the attainment of which he has made both

our duty and privilege: for these words of our Lord include both a

command and a promise.

"Can we be fully saved from sin in this world?" is an important

question, to which this text gives a satisfactory answer: "Ye

shall be perfect, as your Father, who is in heaven, is perfect."-As

in his infinite nature there is no sin, nothing but goodness and

love, so in your finite nature there shall dwell no sin, for the

law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus shall make you free from

the law of sin and death, Ro 8:2. God shall live in, fill, and

rule your hearts; and, in what He fills and influences, neither

Satan nor sin can have any part. If men, slighting their own

mercies, cry out, This is impossible!-whom does this arguing

reprove-God, who, on this ground, has given a command, the

fulfilment of which is impossible. "But who can bring a clean out

of an unclean thing?" God Almighty-and, however inveterate the

disease of sin may be, the grace of the Lord Jesus can fully cure

it; and who will say, that he who laid down his life for our souls

will not use his power completely to effect that salvation which

he has died to procure. "But where is the person thus saved?"

Wherever he is found who loves God with all his heart, soul, mind,

and strength, and his neighbour as himself; and, for the honour of

Christianity and its AUTHOR, may we not hope there are many such

in the Church of God, not known indeed by any profession of this

kind which they make, but by a surer testimony, that of uniformly

holy tempers, piety to God, and beneficence to man?

Dr. Lightfoot is not perfectly satisfied with the usual mode of

interpreting the 22nd verse of this chapter. I subjoin the

substance of what he says. Having given a general exposition of

the word brother, which the Jews understood as signifying none but

an Israelite-ενοχος, which we translate is in danger of, and which

he shows the Jews used to signify, is exposed to, merits, or is

guilty of-and the word gehenna, hell-fire, which he explains as

I have done above, he comes to the three offences, and their


The FIRST is causeless anger, which he thinks too plain to

require explanation; but into the two following he enters in

considerable detail:-

"The SECOND. Whosoever shall say to his brother, 'Racha,' a

nickname, or scornful title usual, which they disdainfully put one

upon another, and very commonly; and therefore our Saviour has

mentioned this word, the rather because it was of so common use

among them. Take these few examples:-

"A certain man sought to betake himself to repentance (and

restitution.) His wife said to him, 'Rekah, if thou make

restitution, even thy girdle about thee is not thine own, &c.'

Tanchum, fol. 5.

"Rabbi Jochanan was teaching concerning the building of

Jerusalem with sapphires and diamonds, &c. One of his scholars

laughed him to scorn. But afterwards, being convinced of the

truth of the thing, he saith to him, 'Rabbi, do thou expound, for

it is fit for thee to expound: as thou saidst, so have I seen it.'

he saith to him, 'Rekah, hadst thou not seen, thou wouldst not

have believed, &c.' Midras Tillin, fol. 38, col. 4.

"To what is the thing like? To a king of flesh and blood, who

took to wife a king's daughter: he saith to her, 'Wait and fill me

a cup;' but she would not: whereupon he was angry, and put her

away; she went, and was married to a sordid fellow; and he saith

to her, 'Wait, and fill me a cup;' she said unto him, 'Rekah, I am

a king's daughter, &c.' Idem in Psalm 137.

"A Gentile saith to an Israelite, 'I have a choice dish for thee

to eat of.' He saith, 'What is it ?' He answers, 'Swine's

flesh.' he saith to him, 'Rekah, even what you kill of clean

beasts is forbidden us, much more this.' Tanchum, fol. 18, col. 4.

"The THIRD offence is to say to a brother, 'Thou fool,' which,

how to distinguish from racha, which signifies an empty fellow,

were some difficulty, but that Solomon is a good dictionary here

for us, who takes the term continually here for a wicked wretch

and reprobate, and in opposition to spiritual wisdom: so that in

the first clause is condemned causeless anger; in the second,

scornful taunting and reproaching of a brother; and, in the last,

calling him a reprobate and wicked, or uncharitably censuring his

spiritual and eternal estate. And this last does more especially

hit the scribes and Pharisees, who arrogated to themselves only to

be called chocamim, wise men, but of all others they had

this scornful and uncharitable opinion, 'This people, that knoweth

not the law, is cursed,' Joh 7:49.

"And now for the penalties denounced upon these offences, let us

look upon them, taking notice of these two traditions of the Jews,

which our Saviour seems to face, and to contradict.

"1st. That they accounted the command, Thou shalt not kill, to

aim only at actual murder. So that in their collecting the six

hundred and thirteen precepts out of the law, they understand that

command to mean but this: 'That one should not kill an Israelite,'

and accordingly they allotted this only violation of it to

judgments; against this wild gloss and practice, he speaks in the

first clause: Ye have heard it said, Thou shalt not kill, and he

that killeth, or committeth actual murder, is liable to judgment,

and ye extend the violation of that command no farther; but I say

to you, that causeless anger against thy brother is a violation of

that command, and even that maketh a man liable to judgment.

2nd. They allotted that murder only to be judged by the council,

or Sanhedrin, that was committed by a man in propria persona: let

them speak their own sense, &c. Talm. in Sanhedrin, per. 9.

"'Any one that kills his neighbour with his hand, as if he

strike him with a sword, or with a stone that kills him, or

strangle him till he die, or burn him in the fire, seeing that he

kills him any how in his own person, lo! such a one must be put to

death by the Sanhedrin; but he that hires another to kill his

neighbour, or that sends his servants, and they kill him, or that

violently thrusts him before a lion, or the like, and the beast

kills him-any one of these is a shedder of blood, and the guilt of

shedding of blood is upon him, and he is liable to death by the

hand of Heaven, but he is not to be put to death by the Sanhedrin.

And whence is the proof that it must be thus! Because it is

said, He that sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be

shed. This is he that slays a man himself, and not by the hand of

another. Your blood of your lives will I require. This is he

that slays himself. At the hand of every beast will I require it.

This is he that delivers up his neighbour before a beast to be

rent in pieces. At the hand of man, even at the hand of every

man's brother, will I require the life of man. This is he that

hires others to kill his neighbour: In this interpretation,

requiring is spoken of all the three; behold, their judgment is

delivered over to Heaven (or God.) And all these man-slayers and

the like, who are not liable to death by the Sanhedrin, if the

king of Israel will slay them by the judgment of the kingdom, and

the law of nations, he may, &c.' Maym. ubi supr. per. 2.

"You may observe in these wretched traditions a twofold killing,

and a twofold judgment: a man's killing another in his own person,

and with his own hand, and such a one liable to the judgment of

the Sanhedrin, to be put to death by them, as a murderer; and a

man that killed another by proxy, not with his own hand, not

hiring another to kill him, or turning a beast or serpent upon him

to kill him. This man is not to be judged and executed by the

Sanhedrin, but, referred and reserved only to the judgment of God.

So that we see plainly, from hence, in what sense the word

judgment is used in the latter end of the preceding verse, and the

first clause of this, namely, not for the judgment of any one of

the Sanhedrins, as it is commonly understood, but for the judgment

of God. In the former verse, Christ speaks their sense, and in

the first clause of this, his own, in application to it. Ye have

heard it said, that any man that kills is liable to the judgment

of God; but I say unto you, that he that is but angry with his

brother without a cause is liable to the judgment of God. You

have heard it said, that he only that commits murder with his own

hand is liable to the council, or Sanhedrin, as a murderer; but I

say unto you, that he that but calls his brother racha, as common

a word as ye make it, and a thing of nothing, he is liable to be

judged by the Sanhedrin.

"Lastly, he that saith to his brother, Thou fool, wicked one, or

cast-away, shall be in danger of hell-fire, ενοχοςειςθεεςςας

πυρος. There are two observable things in the words. The first

is the change of case from what was before; there it was said τη

κρισειτωσυνεδριω, but here, ειςγεενναν. It is but an

emphatical raising of the sense, to make it the more feeling and

to speak home. He that saith to his brother, Raka, shall be in

danger of the council; but he that says, Thou fool, shall be in

danger of a penalty even to hell-fire. And thus our Saviour

equals the sin and penalty in a very just parable. In just anger,

with God's just anger and judgment; public reproach, with public

correction by the council; and censuring for a child of hell, to

the fire of hell.

"2nd. It is not said ειςπυργεεννης, To the fire of hell, but

ειςγεενναςπυρος, To a hell of fire; in which expression he

sets the emphasis still higher. And, besides the reference to the

valley of Hinnom, he seems to refer to that penalty used by the

Sanhedrin of burning-the most bitter death that they used to put

men to; the manner of which was thus: They set the malefactor in a

dunghill up to the knees; and they put a towel about his neck, and

one pulled one way, and another the opposite, till, by thus

strangling him, they forced him to open his mouth. Then they

poured boiling lead into his mouth, which went down into his

belly, and so burnt his bowels. Talm. in Sanhedrin. per. 7.

"Now, having spoken in the clause before, of being judged by the

Sanhedrin, whose most terrible penalty was this burning, he doth

in this clause raise the penalty higher; namely, of burning in

hell; not with a little scalding lead, but even with a hell of

fire." It is possible that our Lord might have reference to such

customs as these.

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