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32 writing of divorcement. But I say unto you, that whosoever
shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication,
causeth her to commit adultery; and whosoever shall marry 33 her that is divorced committeth adultery. Again, ye have the Mosaic law respecting divorces, mit adultery. These words are not there was a division of opinion to be taken literally. The man among the Jews; one Rabbinical who dismisses his wife for insufSchool holding, that a separation ficient reasons does not actually might take place for any cause, cause her to commit that crime, but however slight; another maintain- is responsible for it, if he subjects ing, that it was justifiable only in the her to a situation where she is led case of unfaithfulness in the mar to commit it. He is a sharer in the riage relation. Our Lord supports guilt, so far as an unjust divorce has the same principle on grounds of his been the cause of it, for that was own, and rebukes those loose no- his act. Marry her that is divortions and practices, common amongst ced. That is, her who is divorced the Jews in relation to this most for any other reason than the one sacred connexion. - Writing of mentioned above, or divorcement. This was a bill, or weighty as that. He who marries form, stating that at a certain time a woman, dismissed from her husthe writer had, at his own pleasure, band on trivial grounds, is partaker divorced and expelled his wife, and of the guilt of adultery, inasmuch that she was at liberty to marry as a new connexion precludes the whom she chose. It was subscrib- restoration of harmony, and the reed by two witnesses, and given to sumption of the conjugal ties, that the woman as her bill of divorce. have been needlessly and unjustly Frequency of divorces has always severed. The sense of the whole been deemed a proof of a very cor verse,
according to a sensible comrupt state of society. It was so in mentator, is, - that, since divorce the time of our Saviour. The in- should never take place except for creased cases and facilities of di- unfaithfulness, he who dismisses his vorce in our own country, are an wife for a less cause, though he omen of bad import.
should not again be married, ex32. The Saviour restricts the poses her to the danger of an unpower of divorce to a single case, lawful connexion; and he who and that one in which there could marries her under such circumbe no reasonable hope of domestic stances, disregards the relation peace or confidence. Still his lan- which, morally, if not legally, exguage does not, to all, bear the liter- ists between her and the husband al inference, that he allowed of di- who divorced her for an insufficient vorce in no other possible case. It has been suggested, “ that Christ 33. From this to the 38th verse, may have mentioned Adultery, ra- Jesus takes up the subject of Oaths. ther as an example of that kind or In order to understand the drift of degree of offence, which amounted his instructions, it is necessary for to a dissolution of the marriage us to go back to that time and peobond, than as the only instance ple ; for whilst he inculcated a uniin which it was proper that it versal religion, his form of address should be dissolved." – Fornication. was modified and colored by the cirWhoredom. Causeth her to com cumstances of his hearers. What
heard that it hath been said by them of old time : “Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths.” But I say unto you, swear not at all ; neither by 34
were those circumstances in the oath in form, and do it with a menpresent case ?
The Jews were in tal reservation, so as to deceive the the habit, as their learned men in- other party, and be guilty of trifling form us, of dividing oaths into two with the venerable majesty of God. classes, the lighter and the weigh But perform unto the Lord thine tier. The lighter were those, which caths. Deal honestly in the matter. did not contain the name of God, Be true to the obligation assumed and which, they held, might be bro- in making the oath. So much for ken with impunity, although there what Moses taught. What does was some tacit reference made in Jesus teach in commenting on this them to the Deity. These were law in reference to the circumstances frequently made, according to Philo, of his day? in common conversation, amount 34. But I say unto you, swear not ing in fact to what we call profane at all ; neither by heaven. That is swearing. An apocryphal writer to say, abolish this practice ; abanrefers to the custom, Ecclesiasticus don the common irreverent oaths, in xxiii. 9 – 13. They also allowed which there is a tacit understandof mental prevarication, a swearing ing and purpose to deceive. The with the lips, and disavowing or sense is more clearly brought out annulling of the oath with the by Griesbach, who leaves out the heart. That our Saviour did not usual semicolon, and puts in only a refer to judicial oaths, or to solemn
For, as the punctuation appeals to God upon important oc was determined, not by the original casions in a reverent manner, as inspired writers, but by their fallible some believe, and prohibit them en successors in the church, it is lawtirely, is apparent from the speci- ful to change it as the sense seems mens he cites, which are unlike any to require. Our Lord is not made that were ever used in any court of to say, swear not at all, which law; and from his own example in would be plainly one sense; but answering to an oath, Matt. xxvi. swear not at all by heaven, and the 64, when he did not answer to an other pernicious forms which he ordinary interrogation, and from that mentions, which is plainly quite a of his Apostle Paul in calling God different sense. If it had been his to witness, which is in spirit an object to prohibit oaths altogether, oath, Rom. i. 9; Gal. i. 20; 1 upon every occasion, he would cerThess. ii. 5; 2 Cor. i. 18, 23. tainly have said, swear not at all, He aims to sweep away the minute swear not by God, — and said no and pernicious distinctions introduced more ; but, as he goes on to specify into promissory oaths and bonds, and what they were not to swear by, to inculcate greater simplicity and he leaves it plainly to be inferred, sincerity of conversation. — By them that there is at least one oath, that of old time. Rather, according to by God himself, that established in Griesbach, to them of old time. the Mosaic code, which it is lawful Thou shalt not forswear thyself. to take upon solemn and important Lev. xix. 12 ; Num. xxx. 2 ; Deut. occasions. If a legislator prohibits xxiii. 23. Thou shalt not perjure the importation of certain articles of thyself; thou shalt not take an commerce, we conclude that the ar
35 heaven, for it is God's throne ; nor by the earth, for it is his foot
stool ; neither by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King ; 36 neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not 37 make one hair white or black. But let your communication
be : Yea, yea ; Nay, nay ; for whatsoever is more than these
ticles which he does not specify in is wholly in his hands, so that the the prohibition may be lawfully im- very color of the hair is determined ported. - For it is God's throne. by his will exclusively, it follows İs. lxvi. 1; Acts vii. 49; Jesus that in swearing by the head refershows, Matt. xxiii. 22, that in ence is made to the Deity, and the swearing by heaven there is a secret oath is therefore weighty and not appeal to the Being who dwelleth to be used on every insignificant therein, and that in a trivial matter occasion; and binding and not to such an oath should not be used, be broken with impunity. for it is profaneness ; especially 37. Your communication. Acshould not be used as if a mental cording to Robinson, in his Greek reservation could be made, and the Lexicon of the New Testament, performance of the oath could be your answer , your reply. When in innocently trifled with, for that common conversation you make a would be perjury. To call heaven reply, do not try to confirm your God's throne, and the earth his assertion with an oath, as if that footstool, is to use figures in accom would add any weight to it, but let modation to man's imperfect idea your yes be yes, and your no be no. of the all-surrounding Deity. The Let your simple affirmation or neHebrew Scriptures abound in simi- gation be sufficient. Do not expose lar instances.
yourself to profaneness and per35. He who swears by the earth jury. - For whatsoever is more than makes a solemn and binding oath, these cometh of evil. Or, the evil and is responsible for its fulfilment, one. If you go beyond this simfor he virtually appeals to Him be- plicity of speech, you fall into evil. fore whose infinite greatness the It was a proverb among the Jews, mighty globe itself is but a foot to characterize a man of veracity, stool. And he who swears by that his yes was yes, and his no, no. Jerusalem calls Him to witness 2 Cor. i. 17, 18, 19; James v. 12. whose city Jerusalem peculiarly is, In conclusion, upon this paragraph as the capital of his chosen people, relating to oaths, we are to bear in and the place of his worship. The mind, that profaneness and perjury ancient Arabs called God simply were rife in the days of Christ, and " the King.'
The Jews often ad- that he addresses his remarks to dressed him with this title. Ps. uproot both these sins. Again, that xcv. 3; Is. xli. 21.
his prohibition relates to promis36. The oaths enumerated by sory oaths and vows, and not to Jesus were common amongst the oaths before a magistrate, or in a Heathen likewise, as well as among court of law. Further, that it is the Jews. Juvenal, Horace, Virgil, undeniably true, that the authorized Ovid, Martial, and Pliny, to men oaths of office, of courts, &c., are tion no more, might be cited in multiplied so as to lose much of illustration of the custom. As God their weight, and often administeris the architect of the head, and it ed so as to command little respect.
cometh of evil. Ye have heard that it hath been said : “ An 38 eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say unto you, 39 that
ye resist not evil ; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also ; and if any man will 40 And it is to be feared that perjury them by law to demand an eye for is more common than is supposed. an eye, &c.
But in process of But abuse is no valid argument time, it became the custom, under against use. Still it was the ob- the sanction of corrupt teachers, to ject of our Saviour to prepare the make these exactions and take reway for an age when the simple venge privately. Jesus annuls this yea or nay of his followers should whole custom, and inculcates a betbe more trustworthy than the most ter spirit. tremendous oath. Finally, the les 39-48. Parallel
Luke sons of our Master are highly per- vi. 27 – 36. tinent to the present times. They 39. Resist not evil. Or, the-inpiercingly rebuke that vice of pro- jurious person.
The nature and fane language, which preëminently condition of man, the example of strikes at the majesty of God, and Jesus and his disciples, forbid the soils in the common mind the holi- idea that the principle of non-reness of his name.
sistance, in the wide latitude which 38. Our Master criticizes another some give it, was ever designed to saying of old, relating to what is be conveyed in these words. Recalled Lex Talionis, or the law of sisting evil is man's great work on revenge, retaliation. - An eye for an earth ; resisting evil men, overcomeye, $c. Ex. xxi. 23 - 25 ; Lev. ing evil with good, is the mission xxiv. 19, 20; Deut. xix. 21. This of every Christian.
The manner provision of the Mosaic code was of resistance is the great question. adapted to a semi-barbarous state The lesson of Jesus plainly was, of society, and, like that relating to that we should not oppose the evil divorces, was tolerated and allowed or injurious person in his own for a time, as Jesus said, for the spirit, should not resist in anger, hardness of their hearts. The same
revenge, or hate ; should not resist custom was observed at Athens, for the sake of doing harm, but of Rome, and other ancient cities. preventing harm; should resist in According to the laws of Solon the such a self-possessed temper as to retaliation was so rigid that where be able to bear even redoubled inan eye was put out, and it was the dignities, and to prefer to suffer only one the person had, both of them rather than to give way to the eyes of the offender were put the angry passions.
Smite thee on out to make the loss equal. The thy right chcek, fc. An affront of evil of the law was that it en the worst kind. Is. 1. 6; Lam. ii. couraged a fiendish spirit of re 30. Nobody can suppose for a venge, fatal to every sentiment of moment that this is to be literally benevolence and piety, which was understood. It is a hyperbole. As not content always with returning much as to say, it is better to turn like evil for evil, but often carried the other cheek to the smiter than its retaliation to the utmost extremi- to retaliate in his own hot spirit. ty. Moses, in order to provide a Meek and patient endurance is prefsafety-valve for the boiling passions erable to eager, headlong revenge. of a half savage people, permitted It is observable in this connexion,
sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy 41 cloak also ; and whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go 42 with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee; and from him 43 that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that Jesus expostulated with the a reference in the verse probably to band who arrested him, and the the law of Moses. Ex. xxii. 25, officer who struck him. Mark xiv. 26; Deut. xxiv. 13. 49; John xviii. 22, 23. In these, 41. Whosoever shall compel. This as well as in other cases, it is not language is taken from a Persian so much the object of our divine custom. A courier travelling on Master to give his followers a stat- the king's business could lawfully ute book, to define nicely their do- impress into his service, men, horings, but to carry home deeply and ses, ships, boats, or any vehicle, to feelingly to their hearts and con- accelerate his journey. No person sciences great principles, that should could refuse with safety, however be an ever present and ever speak- urgent his own business or journey. ing law to them. — It has been said, The king's will was omnipotent. that it is devil-like to return evil for The same custom prevailed under good, beast-like to return evil for the Roman governors or Tetrarchs, evil, man-like to return good for and, according to Chardin, prevails good, but God-like to return good now among the Turks. A comfor evil.
pulsory service is spoken of in Matt. 40. The first case he cites is of xxvii. 32 ; Mark xv. 21. — Twain. assault, the second is of a suit at Two. The sense is an amplificalaw, and the third is that of per- tion of the last verse. It is better sonal liberty. Here again the like to do twice as much as is required principle of interpretation is to be of us than to seek revenge, or to applied as in the preceding verse. make an opposition which would It is an illustration, rather than a only draw upon our heads greater rule, which Jesus here propounds. ruin. Or apply it to the time : Loss of property is better than liti- those thus pressed into the public gation. I can afford to lose dollars service would feel angry and bitter ; and cents; but love for our neigh- but Jesus advises that they should bor is one of the " must haves,” it be willing to do more rather than is of the necessity of life itself. less than they were compelled. Submit to any inconvenience, even 42. Here are farther pointings that of losing an article of clothing, towards the same kind, conciliating, rather than be embroiled in quar- accommodating, fraternal spirit. We rels and contentions in law with a are not to understand that we are violent man. Coat. The coat or to give to every one that asks, or tunic was the under or inner gar to lend to every one that wishes to ment, encircling the whole body borrow. To give to some would and descending to the knees. The be to furnish them with the means cloak was a flowing mantle without of injury ; to lend to some would sleeves, nearly square, worn over be to supply them encouragements the close under-dress, and often to indolence and shiftlessness. Still used as a covering at night. Hence “ turn not thou away” from the the custom and expression, to gird really needy, help them in the most up the loins, or confine this loose judicious way. James ii. 15, 16. dress around the person. There is Most noble were the injunctions of