« הקודםהמשך »
REFLECTIONS. How delightfully were the sabbaths of Christ spent in the midst of all his fatigues ! How pleasantly did the sun go down upon him, when he had been imitating that heavenly luminary in his steady and constant course; scattering a brighter light and more beneficial influences upon all about him! And when the sabbath had been spent in these labours of piety and love, how happily were the fruits of it carried into the ensuing week? The first morning of it, that it might be most pleasantly and most profitably begun, Jesus rose before it was light, that he might enjoy God and himself in religious retirement. It surely becomes us sometimes willingly to deny ourselves the gratifications of sleep, that we may have the better opportunity for devotion. And it should be the peculiar care of those who are employed in God's public service, to cultivate communion with him in private ; lest, while they keep the vineyard of others, their own be neglected and impoverished,
Our Lord's retirement is interrupted by the people who came to ins quire after him, and desired to have detained him longer among them; and who that has ever known the pleasure of conversing with him, would not desire that it might be longer continued and frequently renewed ? But, in this instance, their request must be denied; the great purposes of his ministry required his presence elsewhere, and be breaks through all that importunity which would have broken in upon nis schemes of usefulness: a resolution which we must learn in some cases to imitate if we would prosecute the business of life with vigour and success. Let us often reflect wherefore we were sent ; and judge by that where God would have us to be ; that by the inti. mations of his pleasure every motion may be regulated, and every abode determined.
Wherever Christ removes he still goes about doing good, publishing the gospel, and confirming it by the most amazing works of power and of mercy, How well were these miracles suited to awaken men's attention, and to convince their consciences of his divine mission! Well might his fame go over the whole country! may it ex. tend itself now to the remotest regions, that all the ends of the earth may look unto him and be saved, while he displays a healing power over their spirits proportionable to that which he here exerted on their bodies!
Christ begins his Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes, &c. MATT,
.. v. 116,
1 A ND (Jesus) seeing the multitudes, went up to a mountain,
A and when he was set down, his disciples came near to him. 2 And opening his mouth, he taught them saying, Happy are the 4 poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.- Happy are 5 they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.-Happy are the 6 meek, for they shall inherit the earth.-Happy are they that huna ger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 8 Happy are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.-Happy are 9 the pure in heart, for they shall see God.-Happy are the peace. 10 makers, for they shall be called the children of God. Happy are
they that are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs
is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Happy are ye when men shall reproach you, and persecute
you, and shall falsely say every thing that is evil of you for my 12 sake. Rejoice, and triumphantly exult ; because your reward in
heaven (will be] great ; for thus they persecuted the prophets 13 who were before you. You are the salt of the earth ; but if the
salt be grown insipid, with what can it be seasoned ? it is no für.
ther of any avail, but to be thrown out of doors and to be trampled 14 on by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is situa15 ted (like yonder*) on a mountain, cannot be hid. Neither do men
light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it giv. 16 eth light to all that are in the house. Let your light so shine be
fore men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
REFLECTIONS. What abundant reason have we to bless God, that this large and edifying discourse of our blessed Redeemer is thus particularly recorded by the sacred historian. Let every one that hath ears to hear attend to it ; for surely never man shake as our Lord here doth. Let us fix our souls in a posture of humble attention, that we may receive the law from his mouth. He opened it with blessings, repeated and most important blessings. But on whom are they pronounced ? and whom are we taught to think the happiest of mankind? The meek and the humble, the penitent and the merciful, the peaceful and the pure, those that hunger and thirst after righteousness, those that labour, but faint not, under persecution! Blessed Jesus! how different are thy maxims from those of the children of this world! They call the proud happy, and admire the gay, the rich, the powerful, and the victorious. But let a vain world take its gaudy trifles, and dress up the foolish creatures that pursue them. May our souls share in that happiness which the Son of God came to recommend and to procure ! May we obtain mercy of the Lord ; may we be owned as his children; may we see his face ; and may we inherit his kingdom ! With these enjoyments, and these hopes, we will cheerfully welcome the lowest or the most painful circumstances.
Let us awaken and stir up our souls to the cultivation of those amiable virtues which are here recommended to our pursuit ; this humility and meekness, this penitent sense of sin, this ardent desire after righteousness, this compassion and purity, this peacefulness and fortitude of soul, and, in a word, this universal goodness which be
* Maundrel says, that Saphet (supposed to be the ancient Bethulia) might easily be seen from this mountain, and that Christ might point to it. Many have observed that, like Socrates, he took his similes from things the most familiar to his hearers, and often before their eyes while he spoke.
comes us as we sustain the character of the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Is there not reason to lament it, that we answer the character no more? Is there not reason to cry out, with a good man in former times, « Blessed Jesus ! either these are not thy words, or we are not Christians !" Oh, season our hearts more effectually with thy grace ! Pour forth that divine oil on our lamps ! Then shall the flame brighten ; then shall the ancient honours of thy religion be revived ; and multit:ides be awakened and animated by the lustre of it to glorify our Father in heaven. Amen.
Our Lord declares his furpose of establishing the moral law, and enters
on his exposition of it. MATT. v. 17-26.
17 C UPPOSE not that I am come to dissolve the law, or the
prophets ; I am not come to dissolve, but to completc (them : 18 for verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass away, not one
jot or one tittle shall pass from the law, till all things be effected. 19 Whoever therefore shall violate one of the least of these com
mandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be accounted one of the least in the kingdom of heaven : but whosoever shali do
and teach [them? he shall be called great in the kingdom of 20 heaven. For I say unto you, That unless your righteousness
abound more than [that] of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall
not by any means enter into the kingdom of heaven. 21. You have heard that it was said by the ancients “ Thou shalt
not kill :" and you have been taught that whosoever shall unlawful22 ly kill another, shall be obnoxious to the judgment* : but I say
unto you, That whosoever shall without cause be angry with his brother, shall be obnoxious to the judgment, and whosoever shall say to his brother, “ Raca" (i.e. thou worthless empty fellow) shall he obnoxious to the sanhedrim : but whosoever shall say “ Thou fool" (i.e. thou graceless wicked villian) shall be obnoxious to the
fire of hell.t 23 Therefore, if thou art bringing thy gift to the altar, and there
recollectest that thy brother has any just complaint] against thee; 24 leaving thy gift there, before the altar, go away, and first be recon25 ciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. And in
case of a legal prosecution, my advice is, Come to a friendly agreement with thine adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with
* The Jews had a common court of 23 men wherein capital sentences-might be passed, on which a malefactor might be strangled or beheaded : this was called the judgment. But the council or sanhedrim was the supreme court, consisting of 72, in which the highest crimes were tried, which they alone punished with stoning.
+ An allusion to the valley of Hinhon or Tophet, where children were buint alive to Molech ; afterwards made a receptacle for the filth of the city, where fires were kept burning to consume it. Å fit emblem of Hell, which in Syriac takes its name from thence (Isa. XXX. 33. Jer. xix. 11-18.) and by the Jews was commovly called (as above) Gehennah.
him ; lest the adversary deliver thee to the judge ; and the
judge deciding the cause against thee, deliver thee to the officer, and 26 thou be cast into prison ; verily I say unto thee, thou shalt not by
any means come out from thence, till thou hast discharged the very last farthing
REFLECTIONS. Let us seriously consider and often recollect the purposes of Christ's appearance : he came not to destroy the law and the prophets, or to disa solve men's obligation to observe them ; but rather to enforce, as well as to fulfil them. How fatally shall we pervert the purposes of his coming, if we regard him as the minister of sin? How ungratefully shall we abuse the merciful constitution of his gospel, should we take encouragement from thence to violate his law ? Dangerous as well as ungrateful abuse indced ! For God's eye will be watchful over its honours, and his hand exerted to maintain them : so that heaven and earth shall pass away before it shall fail of its accomplishment in being either obeyed or avenged on the impenitent sinner. May it be our constant care to keep it ourselves, and to teach others to observe it! May we teach it by our lives as well as our lips ; and let our daily conversation demonstrate how practicable and how amiable its precepts are! So shall we be great in the kingdom of heaven, in the pursuit of which we may give full scope to the noblest ambition of which human nature is capable.
Let our hearts own and feel the spiritual sense of God's law, that we may rise to a more sincere and more extensive righteousness than that of the Scribes and Pharisees. May we delight in it after the inward man, and learn to regulate our thoughts and our passions, as well as our external behaviour, by it ! Especially let us avoid all the malignant and ill-natured passions, all thoughts of rash and immoderate anger, all words of contumely and reproach. If we would maintain communion with the God of love, let love govern in our hearts; and when we come to present our devotions to him, let us lift up holy hands without wrath, as well as without doubting ; so may we promise ourselves a gracious welcome ; so shall we carry away the most valuable blessings !
But are none of us strangers to this blessed state? Are none of us obnoxious to the divine displeasure ? If we are so, with what a holy solicitude of soul should we labour to make up the controversy and come to an agreement, while we are yet in the way with this awful adversary ! lest we be immediately hurried before the tribunal of the righteous Judge of all the world, and be delivered into the hands of justice, to be reserved in everlasting chains beyond the possibility of redemption. Lord, we were all the debtors, and, in one sense, the prisoners of thy justice ; and of ourselves were most incapable, not only of paying the uttermost farthing, but even of discharging the least part of the debt! We bless thee for that generous Surety who has undertaken and discharged it for us; and by the price of whose atoning blood we are delivered from the chains of darkness, and are translated into the glorious liberty of thy children,
37 V OU have heard that it was said to the ancients, “ Thou shalt
I not commit adultery;" as if that law related only to the 28" grossest acts of uncleanness. But I say unto you, That whosoever
shall gaze on a woman to lust after her, has already committed 29 adultery with her in his heart. And if thy right eye offend or
ensnare* thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee: for it is advan
tageous to thee that one of thy members should perish, rather 30 than thy whole body should be thrown into hell. Yea if thy right
hand offend or ensnare thee, cut it off, and cast it froin thee; for it is advantageous to thee, that one of thy members should per
ish, rather than thy whole body should be thrown into hell. 31 It has been said, “Whoever would dismiss his wife, let him 32 give her a writing of divorce.” (Deut. xxiv. 1.) But I say unto
you, That whosoever shall dismiss his wife, except on account of adulteryt, causeth her to commit adultery; and whoever shall
marry her that is dismissed, committeth adultery. 33 Again, you have heard that it was said to the ancients, “ Thou
shalt not perjure thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine 34 oaths.” (Lev. xix. 12.) But I say unto you, Swear not at all in
your common discourse ; either by heaven, for it is the throne of 35 God; or by the earth, for it is his footstool ; or by Jerusalem, for 36 it is the city of the Great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy 37 head, for thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let
your conversation be, Yes, yes; No, no : for whatever is more
than these cometh from the evil one. 38 You have heard that it has been said, (Deut. xix. 21.) “ An 39 eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say unto you, Do
not set yourselves against the injurious person : but if any man 40 strike thee on thy right cheek, turn the other to him also. And
if any one be resolved to sue thee at law, and to take away thy
vest, permit him to take thy mantle too, rather than continue the 41 suit. And if any officer press thee to go one mile,ll go with him 42 two, rather than disturb the peace. Give to him that asketh thee
charity, and do not turn away him that would borrow of thee. 43 You have heard that it was said, “ Thou shalt love thy neigh
bour," (Lev. xix. 18.) and, as some have added, “ shalt hate thine 44 enemy.” But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them
that curse you, do good to them that hate you ; and pray for them 45 that insult you, and persecute you ; that you may be approved as
* This word (which often occurs in scripture) properly signifies, to be a stumbling-block in a person's way, or an occasion of his fall.
f As the author properly observes in a note that the word here must mean adultery, it is inserted as preferable to the coarse term he uses. Ed.
# A proverbial phrase to express a meek submission to injuries and affronts.
li Viz. with carriages on the public account. Among the Jews, the disciples of their wise men were exempted from such services, but Christ advises his not to insist on such exemption.