Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

that it hath been said : - Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.” But I say unto you, love your enemies, 44 bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate

you, and

the Mosaic law on this head. Deut. love a bad man's deeds, nor refrain xv. 7 - 11. Reject not the suit of from speaking of them with indige the poor, or those who solicit your nation, especially if they injure us, aid, though, as the connexion indi- yet we can love him, if we will cates, they have treated you in such only consider that he is our brother a way as seemingly to release you man, notwithstanding his wickedfrom the obligations of benevolence. ness, and can yet be restored to Luke vi. 30 - 35. Rom. xii. 20. virtue and love, perhaps in some Give and lend to enemies.

measure by the instrumentality of 43. After using some minute il- our own love to him. If we should lustrations of the true principles of sincerely love our enemies, how morals and religion, and contrast- many of them would soon be en, ing them with current doctrines, he rolled among our friends! That proceeds from this versc to enjoin this love should be like that of corlove towards enemies. - It hath been dial attachment to near relatives said. Said by whom? By ancient and dear friends is not required : teachers and rabbins. There is no but we are to cherish a benevolent commandment in the Old Testament regard, a love for them, if not for that we should hate our enemies. their conduct; a disposition to do But the Jewish teachers corrupted them good at all times, and not the law, and deduced illegitimate evil; to rejoice in their happiness, inferences, at variance with its spir- and not to be envious of it; to lait ; particularly from Lev. xix. 18. ment their calamities, and not to One of them said, that "he who exult over their fall. If we cannot lived in idolatry was the common have the love of approbation, we enemy of all, and as such might be can have the love of benevolence. slain by any one." And Tacitus, But this precept runs counter to a Roman historian, says,

" the Jews our general feelings, it requires hated all others as enemies.' The strenuous self-denial to obey it. It language of Paul is that they were has been remarked, that “this one

contrary to all men. Other 'ci- precept is a sufficient proof of the tations might be made to the same holiness of the Gospel, and the effect. A Jew sees a Gentile fall truth of the Christian religion. into the sea: let him by no means Every false religion flatters man, lift him out: for it is written: Thou and accommodates itself to his pride shalt not rise up against the blood and passions. None but God could of thy neighbor; but this is not thy have imposed a yoke so contrary to neighbor.” The Mosaic law incul- self-love." - Bless them that curse cated, however, mercy to enemies. you. He shows how love to eneEx. xxii. 21. Deut. xxiii. 7. mies is to be manifested. It is not

44. Similar language is found in to be a barren sentiment, but to Luke vi. 27, 28; Rom. xii. 14-21; produce the fruits of forbearance, 1 Peter ii. 9. And instances of good-will, and forgiveness. What obedience to this divine principle is meant by blessing is defined by are related in Luke xxiii. 34 ; Acts its being contrasted with cursing. vii. 60; 1 Cor. iv. 12, 13. — Love As the one is to speak and impreyour enemies. Though we cannot cate evil upon a person, the other

[ocr errors]

pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you ; 45 that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heav

en; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, 46 and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye is to speak and wish good for him, therefore, that you may become asto give him good words. Do good similated in disposition and conduct to them that hate you. Here the to the benevolent and impartial Deiemphasis is on the word do. An ty. Goodness in men likens them A postle has said, we must “not to the Being of all goodness. — For love in tongue, but in deed and he maketh his sun to rise, fc. The truth." The sentiment of good- article before evil and good, just will, if shut up in the heart, and and unjust, is not in the original, not manifested and exercised in be- and the passage would read better nevolent action, will soon droop and without it. He maketh his sun to wither, like an unused limb of the rise on evil and good, and sendeth body. The affections of the soul, rain on just and unjust. He does like the muscles of the arm or leg, good to foe and friend, exercising a are strengthened by action. - Pray most generous benevolence towards for them which despitefully use you all mankind. “We are bound to and persecute you.

These words love our enemies ; this is a law of originally referred to arraigning and Christianity, original and peculiar. prosecuting at law, but afterwards No system but this has required it; became more unlimited in their sig- and no act of Christian piety is nifications, embracing acts of insult more difficult. None shows more and injury of any kind. The pre- the power of the grace of God; cept to pray for our enemies shows none is more ornamental to the how truly and profoundly our Mas- character; none more like God; ter understood human wants and and none furnishes better evidence woes, and how completely he could of piety. He that can meet a man remedy them. If it were universal- kindly who is seeking his hurt, who ly the custom to pray for our ene- can speak well of one that is permies, and to treat them in accord- petually slandering and cursing him; ance with our prayers, hatred and that can pray for a man that abuses, unkindness would be thawed and injures, and wounds him, is in the softened, as snow by the sunbeams. way to life. This is Religion, beauThe savage feuds, the fostered tiful as its native skies ; pure like grudges, the evil eye, the poisoned its Source ; kind like its Author ; tongue, by which society is em- fresh like the dews of the morning ; broiled and rent, would be known clear and diffusive like the beams only in tradition. Murders, Duels, of the rising sun; and holy like the and Wars, would belong only to feelings and words that come from the dark and bloody Past.

the bosom of the Son of God. He 45. That ye may be the children of that can do this need not doubt that your Father, &c. It is a Scripture he is a Christian. He has caught idiom to call those who_resemble the very spirit of the Saviour, and any being his children. Thus, bad he must inherit eternal life.” men are called the sons of Belial Barnes. and Satan; and good men the sons 46. For if ye love them which love and children of God. John viii.. you, i. e. if you love only those who 44; 1 John iï. 10. The force is love you ; if you do not extend

8

VOL. I.

love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same ? and if ye salute your brethren only, 47 what do ye more than others ? do not even the publicans so?

more

your affections beyond the circle of ing asked which of the wild beasts your friends; if you have no disin- were most cruel, answered : “ Bears terested love. What reward have and lions, in the mountains; and ye? Luke vi. 34, “ what thank have tax-gatherers and calumniators, in ye?”. What virtue, merit, or praise cities.”. Still, like every other class is it in you, and what reward or of worthless men, excellent characapprobation can you hope for, either ters were found among them. Jefrom your conscience, or God? sus numbered among his illustrious Your love is only selfish and con- Twelve, Matthew the publican. tracted. The worst men do as And Zaccheus was one, though much as you. Do not even the pub- perhaps belonging to the superior licans the same? Or, tax-gatherers class. In saying, therefore, that, in the same? There were taxes and loving those who loved them, they customs levied by the Roman gov- did no more than publicans, Jesus ernment upon the nations under virtually said, they did no their subjection. Two classes of than the most abandoned and hatepersons were engaged in collecting ful persons in society. these revenues. One of these con- 47. Salute. The species is put sisted of Roman knights principally, for the genus, or, to speak less who paid the government a certain technically, one act is mentioned sum for the privilege of collecting as a representative of all the offithe money in a prescribed district. ces of good-will. The salutations The other class were less honora- of the east vary according to the ble, and consisted of those who rank of the person addressed. Inwere employed under the general feriors kiss the hand, feet, knees, or contractors, as agents, to receive garments of their superiors, or prosthe dues at the gates of cities, in trate themselves upon the ground. seaports, on highways, and bridges. Equals lay their right hand upon These are the publicans usually their bosom and incline their bodies spoken of in the New Testament. a little to equals. Various expresThey were mostly Gentiles, but sions were used also in saluting: sometimes Jews. Engaged in rais- as, Peace be to thee; Be thou ing the taxes of a foreign power, blessed of Jehovah; May Jehovah addicted to rapacity, Luke iii. 12, be with you. Similar forms are 13, in their office, and exerting still observed in the east, according their power to oppress the inhabi- to modern travellers. Brethren. tants, the collectors, or tax-gather- Many, manuscripts read friends. ers, were objects of universal odium The Jews were accustomed to treat and detestation. No epithet was other nations scornfully, and to retoo bad to apply to them. Publican strict their friendly offices to a narwas a synonyme for sinner. Luke row circle of their own friends or vi. 32. Their bad qualities of course

Jesus inculcates universal were likely to be nourished and charity and courtesy. strengthened by the harsh and bit- more than others? What act of sinter treatment which they received gular virtue or distinction is it, to from the rest of the community. salute, or treat politely, only those Theocritus, an ancient writer, be- 'who make the same return? Worse

sect.

What do ye

48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

CHAPTER VI.

The Sermon on the Mount, - continued. TAKE heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen

of them; otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which 2 is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not

[ocr errors]

men do as much as that. The many of the Mosaic precepts by the publicans. Or, as Griesbach reads, Scribes and Pharisees; and he sets the Gentiles, or heathen, salute those up a much higher and purer standthat salute them. But the follow- ard of virtue than theirs. He now ers of Christ were to aspire after proceeds to show that in their reliwider sympathies, more diffusive gious acts, as well as opinions, there charity and civility.

was a corrupt motive ; and that his 48. Perfect. It is not perfection disciples should act from far better in general that is here urged, but, as principles. — Alms. The original the connexion shows, perfection of text, according to the judgment of charity; completeness, roundness, the best editors, reads righteousness expansiveness of benevolence. In instead of alms. The sense then this virtue, we are not to take im- would be, - Do not your deeds of perfect, narrow man as our model, righteousness, your religious duties, but God, whose benevolent regards from motives of vanity. This verse extend to the family of man, rich is a general text to the remarks and poor, sinner and saint, bond and which follow in verse 2, upon alms; free; whose tender mercies are over verse 5, upon prayer ; and verse 16, all his works and creatures. We, upon fasting. He goes on to specilike him, though not equally with fy what religious duties should not him, for that would be impossible, be performed for the sake of publiare to be impartial in our feelings city. – To be seen of them. The and conduct towards our race, kind strength of the prohibition lies in to all, loving all, praying for all, these words. Jesus does not contreating all as brethren. What a demn public acts of virtue and besublime appeal to the sensibility of nevolence. It would be inconsistent man, that he should imitate the glo- with his own injunction, Matt. v. 16. rious Parent of all; that, leaving But he forbids such acts being done the contracted spirit of clanship, for the sake of being seen of men, or nationality, or sectarianism, he from a love of ostentation. Such should aspire after that grand chari- motives vitiate the apparently good ty, which like the Providence and deed. A man that ever acts virtuGrace of God, encircles in its gener- ously, so far as we can see, may be ous embrace the whole brotherhood influenced by such selfish or ambiof man! So Jesus taught, and so he tious views, as to lose the solid renobly lived. Precept and practice ward of virtue, the favor of God. harmonized perfectly in him. Thus the Scribes and Pharisees lost

the approbation of Jesus and their CHAP. VI.

Creator. Matt. xxiii. 5. 1. Our Lord had been speaking 2. Doest thine alms. The first of the wrong construction put upon specification relates to alms-giving.

sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men, Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But when 3 thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth ; that thine alms may be in secret; and thy Father, 4 which seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly.

He contrasts the practices of the It has been well said, that hypocrisy times with the pure principles of his is the tribute which vice pays to religion, and unveils the worthless- virtue. In the synagogues and in ness of an action, however good the streets. The Scribes and Phariseemingly, which is prompted by a sees took the most public opportudesire of the applause of men. — nities of doing their religious duties, Do not sound a trumpet before thee. that they might be noticed and apWe have similar phrases at the plauded. — They have their reward. present day : to blazon; to trumpet; They obtain the reward they desire ; to make a flourish of trumpets. It the praise of men; the poor return is not clear that any custom is actu- for their ostentation and hypocrisy, ally described here, but a figurative They cannot look for any further reexpression is used, to teach that we ward. The higher recompense of should not make a show of our virtue and God's favor cannot be charities to acquire human praise. theirs. Reference is made in general, per- 3. Let not thy left hand know, 5.c. haps, to eastern customs. 2 Kings A proverbial expression. The sense ix. 13. Stage-players and gladiators is, Make no exertion to publish your were brought into the theatres with benevolence; on the contrary, let it sound of trumpets. The Persian hardly be known to yourself. The dervises, a kind of religious beg- alms-box stood in Jewish synagars, according to Chardin, carry gogues on the right hand of the horns with them, which they blow passage into the house ; hence the when any thing is given them, in peculiar force and beauty of saying, honor of the donors. A Burman that the left hand should not know convert, reading the Sermon on the of the alms which the right hand Mount, exclaimed, “How unlike bestowed. our religion is this! When Burmans 4. That thine alms may be in semake offerings at the pagodas, they cret, i. e. may be secretly given. make a great noise with drums and These directions refer more to the musical instruments, that others may spirit than to the manner of bestowsee how good they are. The ing charities. Gifts to the destitute hypocrites, i. e. Scribes and Phari- are -necessarily sometimes public.

Matt. xxiii. 13, 14, 15, 29. The rule of our Master is violated The word in Greek means actors. only when the motive of beneficence It was the custom among the an- is, to be seen and praised by mancients for actors or stage-players to kind. It is the disposition of heart wear masks. Hence the force of that makes the giver's alms acceptthe word in morals and religion. It able or not, in the presence of the describes those who act under a Great Spirit. - Seeth in secret. Sees mask ; who profess to be good, but the hidden virtues, the private charwithin are bad ; who personate, like ities, the unobtrusive benevolence stage-actors, an assumed character. of his children on earth. — Reward

sees.

« ZurückWeiter »