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fore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest the east. The brook Kedron ran he repents of it, and forsakes it, it through it. Horrid sacrifices of must prove his woe in all future the heathen god Moloch were per- states of his being. Jesus thus ilformed in this valley. On this ac lustrates the principle of his relicount, the place was afterwards held gion, in contradistinction to the erin such abhorrence, that it was made roneous instructions of the Scribes the common receptacle of the filth and Pharisees, that not only the of the city. The carcasses of ani- outward act, but the inward feeling mals, the bodies of executed crimi- and the words of the lips, are subnals, were thrown into this place. ject to the laws of God. Unjust or Fires were kept constantly burning immoderate anger, contemptuous to consume these things, and pre- epithets, and passionate reproaches, vent the atmosphere becoming pes were in fact breaches of that law tilential. Worms were frequently of social duty, every violation of to be seen preying upon the re which was an offence of greater or mains of the filth and rubbish of the less magnitude against the Supreme populous city. Hence very severe Lawgiver and Judge. and disgraceful punishments, and 23. It is said that the Scribes rethe retributions of the future world, quired restitution in money matters, in some places, are depicted by the but that in other things, they held figure of the Gehenna of fire, or that gifts and sacrifices would exthe constantly burning fires of the piate all offences not cognizable by valley of Hinnom, and the worms the judge. But our Saviour takes that are always to be found there. a different ground. He teaches that In using this term, our Lord em- reconciliation is better than sacriployed the current language of his fices, and that a gift to God is vain day and nation. His idea seems to and unacceptable, so long as the have been, that for the most oppro- giver is in the practice of violating brious words, and the corresponding his social obligations. Having in temper which prompted their use, is the preceding verses warned his man would be subject, whether in hearers against anger and scorn this life or the future one, to the towards their human brethren, he punishment of God, - a punish- now points out the true course of
as much severer in degree conduct, when the offence has actuthan those aforementioned, as the ally been committed; it is, first of burning fires and undying worm of all, to be reconciled; even to postthe valley of Hinnom, would ex- pone the services and sacrifices of ceed in severity the punishment, in- divine worship, till the broken chain flicted by the tribunal of Seven and of brotherly love is again united. the Sanhedrim. Three degrees of The duty of benevolence is paraanger are specified, and three cor mount to ritual observances. But responding gradations of punish- the Jewish teachers inculcated the ment, proportioned to the different reverse. -If thou bring thy gift to degrees of guilt. Where these pun- the altar. The freewill offering ishments will be inflicted, he does and sacrifices of the Jewish wornot say, he need not say. The shippers were called gifts. The man, who indulges any wicked feel- altar was situated in front of the ings against his brother man, is in temple. If a person had gone so this world punished, his anger is far as to bring his gift to the very the torture of his soul, and unless altar, to the place where it was to
24 that thy brother hath aught against thee ; leave there thy gift
before the altar, and go thy way ; first be reconciled to thy 25 brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine
be offered, and there, just before he tered the minds of the Jewish teachmade his offering, recollected that ers, wedded as they were to technithere was matter of difference and cality and ceremonies. --Go thy way. ill-will between him and his brother, Seek reconciliation. Do not wait till he was to turn back from the temple the injured person, or he who supof God, and seek reconciliation with poses himself injured, comes to you. his fellow-man, and then he migkt But go to him. And this would be reasonably trust that his gifts would practicable for those who came from be accepted by the Almighty. Re- the farthest parts of the land, for memberest should be remember, gram- these gists were offered on general matically. - That thy brother hath festival days, when the nation was aught against thee, i. e. has, or together at Jerusalem, and every thinks he has, any just cause of man could find his neighbors and complaint. Jesus mentions the case acquaintances. —Be reconciled. Not of one who has offended, not one only cherish right feelings yourself, who has been wronged. The per- but make reparation, explanation, son who has done wrong to another, or whatever will satisfy, within the or who, that other believes, has bounds of reason, your offended, indone wrong, is to seek reconciliation jured fellow-man, and thus obtain with his injured brother rather than his pardon and love. Let there be perform ceremonial observances. But reconciliation on both sides. — Then if it be the other way, and his broth come and offer thy gift. Having er has wronged him, there is nothing discharged your duty to man, you in the lessons of Jesus to show that will be prepared to worship God. his offerings will be unworthy until The spirit of these instructions, the affair is settled. It then de- though wrapped in Jewish phraseolvolves upon the man who has done ogy and imagery, is for us as well the wrong to seek the reconciliation. as for them of old. If we would Still it is the fruit of a Christian worship our Maker acceptably, our spirit to forgive, to forget, to be al- prayers must rise from hearts bapways ready to receive the advances tized into the love of man, as well of reconciliation from those who as into the belief of God. The have ill used us; to desire most tongue we use in devotion must not earnestly to have others in charity utter cursings towards mankind, as with us, as well as to be ourselves well as blessings towards the Fain charity with them.
ther; else the cursings will devour 24. Leave there thy gift before the the blessings, and our supplications altar. Gifts were delayed or re will fall to the earth dead. If faith jected sometimes on account of their be one of the wings of prayer, love impropriety, or because they had is the other. some blemish, or the person offering 25. See Luke xii. 58, 59. Jesus, them was disqualified by unclean- having already shown, that to inness, or for some other cause. But dulge in malevolent feelings, and Jesus speaks of delaying the gift for use opprobrious epithets, is highly a new reason, the moral unfitness criminal, and that the exercise of a and unpreparedness of the giver. conciliating temper should take preSuch an idea had not probably en
cedence of ritual observances and
advergary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him ; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out 26 thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. Ye have 27 heard that it was said by them of old time : “ Thou shalt not
acts of worship, now goes on to ger of attributing a sense to a passhow, that, merely as a matter of sage which was never in the writer self-interest, we should seek to live or speaker's mind, as of mistaking in brotherly love, and settle all diffi- the sense; as much danger of erring culties immediately with our fellow as to the degree, so to speak, as to creatures. - Agree with thine ad- the kind of meaning. - At any time. versary quickly, fc. Be, or make These words are superfluous; not friends with him. This probably in the original. - The officer. The had reference to the Roman law con one who executed the sentence; the cerning injuries, by which the plain- sheriff, or prison-keeper. Reference tiff, the adversary, as it is here trans- is supposed to be made in this verse lated, could, without the formality to the oppression of the Romans, of a summons or writ, drag the of which rendered it expedient to setfender with his own hand before the tle difficulties in private, rather than court. On the way he had however to resort to "hood-winked justice." an opportunity of settling the affair, 26. He describes the evil of deif he pleased, and of being set at laying to be reconciled, but the adliberty. But if the case were brought vantages of regaining peace and before the judge, a fine would be good-will are obvious, and therefore imposed, and, if unable to pay it, not mentioned. In this verse the the prisoner would be held in con- language of the courts is still kept finement until the debt was dis- up. There would be no deliverance charged. It is a maxim of pru- from jail till the last farthing was dence, therefore, as well as a dic- paid. If reconciliation is not early tate of love, to seek reconciliation sought and secured, irreparable with those whom we have offended troubles will befall the injurer. He and injured, and to do it at the ear will not escape until he has expiated liest opportunity. The ill conse- fully the offence. He will be visited quences of not being reconciled to with unmitigated retribution, who our fellow-inen are pictured forth in seeks not by penitence and confesjudicial phraseology. The longer sion to avert it beforehand. - Paid the difficulty was delayed, the harder the uttermost farthing, i. e. paid the it would be to be settled, the more whole debt. What is here called a aggravated its evil consequences. farthing was a small brass coin, The passage is designed rather to equal to about four mills of our point out the importance of early money, reparation and reconciliation in re 27. The last paragraph relates to gard to our fellow-men, than to be the sixth commandment, to Murder, violently construed as an admonition and the violation of social goodagainst delay in religion, in general, will. This one treats of the sevor in our duties more especially to enth, of Adultery and Divorcement. our Maker. In the interpretation By them of old time. Should be, of Scripture, there is as much dan- to them of old time. But the words
28 commit adultery.” But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh
on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her 29 already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck
are not considered genuine in this and tales; by songs and jibes; by place, since they are not found in a double meanings and innuendoes ; large number of the most ancient by looks and gestures; by converversions and manuscripts. The dis- sation and obscene books and pictinguished critic Griesbach therefore tures, this law of our Saviour is rejects them as spurious. Thou perpetually violated. If there be shalt not commit adultery. Ex. xx. any one sentiment of most value for 14. Our Lord would not, by thus the comfort, the character, the virquoting the commandments, weaken tuous sociability of the young, one their authority, but aims to prove that will shed the greatest charm that they should be kept in the spirit over society, and make it the most as well as the letter, and that the pure, it is that which inculcates perJewish maxim, that the thoughts fect delicacy and purity in the interand desires were not sinful unless course of the sexes.
Virtue of any acted out, was false and dangerous. kind never blooms where this is not Our Father takes the will for the cherished. Modesty and purity once deed, both in the virtuous and the gone, every flower that would difvicious.
fuse its fragrance over life withers 28. To lust after her. Or, more and dies with it. There is no sin explicitly, in accordance with the that so withers and blights every original, in order to cherish impure virtue, none that so enfeebles and wishes and feelings. Men, who prostrates every ennobling feeling can only judge by external actions, of the soul, as to indulge in a life give the name of a crime merely to of impurity. How should purity the last act; but in the estimation dwell in the heart, breathe from the of God, who searches the heart, he life, kindle in the eye, live in the hath committed the crime who hath imagination, and dwell in the interintended to do it, or hath wished it course of all the young!” — Barnes. done. The law of the ten com 29. Right eye. The mention of mandments does not expressly pro- the eye is naturally connected with hibit all offences, but only such as the preceding verse, where it speaks are most atrocious of their kind. of inflaming unlawful emotions by Thus it does not prohibit all false- looking on an object of desire. The hood to our neighbor, but false wit- organ of vision might become an nessing against him; nor every in- instrument of sin. The Hebrews jury to his property, but theft; nor were accustomed to compare lusts all unlawful commerce between the and evil passions, and also good sexes, but only adultery. Christ, affections, with different members however, here informs us, that who- of the human body. The bowels, ever indulges himself in any thing heart, and eye, were thus used. which may lead to that offence is 2 Cor. vi. 12, vii. 3; Mark vii. 21, guilty in a certain degree of the 22 ; Rom. vi. 13, vii. 23. -- Offend. crime of adultery.' The impure Here is an instance where the meandesire is therefore to be abhorred ing of the word has changed during and shunned as being akin to the two centuries, so that it does not criminality of the actual deed. 2 Pe now express what it did at the time ter ii. 14. “By obscene anecdotes our English version was made. It
it out, and cast it from thee ; for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend 30 thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee ; for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. It hath been said : 31 “Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a then meant to cause to fall, or to in order to save life. They willingly sin ; it now means to affront. The yield up a less good to retain a greatoriginal clearly signifies to make er. So, is the reasoning of our to stumble, to seduce, to tempt Master, should men do in spiritual to sin, or to ensnare. If the right things. It is better to crucify the eye, or hand, if the best member most cherished desires, if sinful, in the whole body, led its posses- than by their indulgence to endansor into sin, it were better to lose ger the salvation of the soul itself, it than to perish entirely as to the and lose eternal life. – Hell. This moral nature. It is said that the term, in the original, Gehenna, has right eye was indispensable to a solo already been commented on, verse dier, as war was then conducted, 22. The main idea here conveyed and that to lose it would be more is that of severe punishment, exthan to part with the other. -Pluck treme suffering, and no intimation is it out.
This cannot be understood given as to its place, or its duration, with any propriety as an injunction whatever may be said in other texts to be literally performed, but as a in relation to these points. Wickstrong mode of saying that the edness is its own hell. A wronged greatest loss was preferable to the conscience, awakened to remorse, is loss of holiness; that any hardship more terrible than fire or worm. In was to be endured rather than that a this life and in the next, sin and woe sinful habit should be tolerated; that are for ever coupled together. God the dearest object was to be relin- has joined them, and man cannot quished, if it was a stumbling-block put them asunder. to our virtue. By self-denial, though 31. After showing that the laws it be painful as the plucking out of a of his religion included the heart, as right eye, or the cutting off a hand, well as the outward conduct, and must the vicious propensities be re- that no sacrifice was too great to be strained. The darling inclination, made for virtue, he proceeds to conthe easily besetting sin, must be re trast the practices and opinions of nounced, however great the sacri- the times in relation to divorces, fice. Matt. xviii. 8, 9; Mark ix. with the strictness of his principle. 43 - 47 ; Rom. viii. 13.
- It hath been said. Deut. xxiv. 1; 30. The same in substance as the Jer. ii. 1, 8; Matt. xix. 3-9; Luke Jast verse. Reiteration is one of the xvi. 18; Mark x. 2 - 12. Moses figures of good speaking and writing. had given a law in reference to diThe deeply moved mind overflows vorcement, but it was designed for with powerful imagery. It is prof- the then existing condition of the itable, i. e. it is better, it is prefer- Jews; it was adapted to the hardable. -One of thy members should ness of their hearts. Mark x. 5. perish. Men with diseased limbs Jesus would inculcate a stricter hesitate not to have them amputated principle. On the interpretation of