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us, and put reconciliation out of our power for ever. 25. Agree zwith thine adversary quickly, whilst 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. 26. Verily I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
Matt. v. 27. Ye have heard that it wa said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery. To explain the opinion of the Jewish doctors in this matter, Lightfoot cites Trip. Targ. in marg. ad Exod. xx. by which it appears, that they were very loose moralists. In opposition therefore to them, our Lord declared, 28. That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. Whosoever cherishes unchaste desires and intentions, or, as it is expressed in the tenth precept, whosoever covets his neighbour's wife, is really guilty of adultery, though he never should find an op.portunity of committing the act with her. For which cause, all such use of our senses as inflames the mind with lust, must be carefully avoided. 29. If thy right eye offend thee, i. e. cause thee to offend, pluck 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. 30. And if thy right hand offend 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. There is here an allusion to the practice of surgeons, who when any member of the body happens to be mortified, cut it off to prevent the sound part from being tainted. The meaning of the passage stript of the metaphor is this: Deny thyself, not by amputation of the members, but by the force of a strong resolution, the use of thy senses, though ever so delightful, in all cases where the use of them ensnares thy soul. Turn away thine eye, and keep back thine hand from the alluring object. "This, says Chrysostom, is a most mild and easy precept. It would have been much more hard, had he given commandment to converse with, and look curiously on women, and then to abstain from farther commission of uncleanness with them." See on Matt. xviii. 7. § 74.
31. It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement. The doctors of the school of Sammai affirmed, that in the law concerning divorce, Deut. xxiv. 1. the words some uncleanness were to be understood of adultery only, whereas they of the school of Hillel, interpreted them of any matter of dislike whatever. Hence the Pharisees asked Jesus, Matt. xix. 3. if it was lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? From his answer to that question. (see 103.) it appears that the interpretation of the law of di3 L 2
vorce given by the school of Hillel, and adopted by the Jews, as we learn from their practice and their writings *, represented in some measure the meaning of the law. Nevertheless, by multiplying the causes of divorce far beyond the intention of their lawgiver, they took occasion from the law to give unbounded scope to their lusts. This abuse Jesus thought fit to reform, by correcting the law itself. See on Matth. xix. 4, 8, 9. § 103. Accordingly, having his eye upon the original institution of marriage in paradise, and upon the laws of that relation then established, he assured his disciples, that he who divorces his wife for any of the causes allowed by the doctors, whoredom excepted, layeth her under a strong temptation to commit adultery, unjust divorce being no divorce in the sight of God; and that since such marriages still subsisted, he who marrieth the woman unjustly divorced, committeth adultery also. 32. But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, † saving for the cause of fornication, (fornication here as elsewhere often is used for adultery: in general it denotes the exercise of all the different species of unlawful lusts) causeth her to commit adultery; and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced, committeth adultery.
Ver. 33. Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not for swear thyself, but shalt perform
Thus, (Malachi ii. 16) the clause which in our translation runs, The Lord says, He bateth putting away, i. e. divorces on frivolous pretences, is by the Chaldee paraphrast, and the LXX. turned thus, (exy Montas &αnostiλns) if theu batest, tbou shouldest put her away. Also the son of Sirach, xxv. 26. If she go not as the wouldest have ber, cut her off from thy flesh. And Josephus, Ant. lib. iv. 8. He that would be disjoined from bis wife for any cause whatever, as many such causes there may be among men, let him give her a bill of divorce. Nay, one of their doctors, R. Akiba by name, delivered it as his opinion, that a man may put his wife away if he likes any other woman better.
+ Ver. 32. Saving for the cause of fornication, &c] In these words, only one just cause of divorce is acknowledged, namely, adultery. Yet the apostle, 1 Cor. vii. 15. plainly allows another, viz. malicious and obstinate desertion, in either of the parties; and that because it is wholly inconsistent with the purposes of mar riage. We must therefore suppose, that our Lord here speaks of the causes of divorce, commonly said to be comprehended under the term uncleanness in the law; and declares, that none of them will justify a man's divorcing his wife, except fornication. His doctrine concerning this matter is, that if the cause of a divorce be just, the innocen party is freed from the bond of marriage, so as to be at liberty to marry again. But if the divorce be made without a just cause, the marriage still subsists, and consequently both parties, the innocent as well as the guilty, thus divorced, commit adultery if they marry, as do the persons likewise whom they marry. This decision, though perfectly equitable with respect to the offending party, may seem to bear hard on the innocent, who is excluded from the benefit of marriage for the others fault. But it is one of those inconveniences which arise from good regulations through the infirmity of human nature, and which in the present circumstances cannot be remedied.
unto the Lord thine oaths. As to oaths, the doctors affirmed *, that they are obligatory according to the nature of the thing by which a man swears, Matt. xxiii. 16. Hence they allowed the use of such oaths in common conversation as they said were not obligatory, pretending that there was no harm in them; because the law which forbade them to forswear themselves, and enjoined them to perform their vows, meant such solemn oaths only as were of a binding nature. It is this detestable morality which Jesus condemned in the following words: 34. But I say unto you, Swear not at all; never swear by any oath, on the supposition that it does not bind you.-For all oaths whatever, those by the lowest of the creatures not excepted, are obligatory; in regard that if these oaths have any meaning at all, they are an appeal to the great Creator; consequently are oaths by him, implying a solemn invocation of his wrath on such of the creatures sworn by, as are capable of God's wrath; and for the others, the oath implies a solemn imprecation, in case of your swearing falsely, that you may for ever be depraved of all the comfort or advantage you have in, or hope from those creatures, see on Matt. xxiii. 20. § 121. Swear, therefore, neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; 35. Nor by the earth, for it is his footstool; neither by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king. 36. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. By comparing Matth. xxiii. 16. it appears that our Lord is here giving a catalogue of oaths, which in the opinion of the doctors were not obligatory. His meaning therefore is, swear not at all, unless you have a mind to perform; because every oath being really obligatory, he who, from an opinion that some are not, swears voluntarily by heaven, or by the earth, or by Jerusalem, or by his own head, is without all doubt guilty of perjury. Much more is he guilty, who, when called thereto by lawful authority, swears with an intention to falsify. But by no means does Jesus condemn swearing truly before a magistrate, or upon grave and solemn occasions; because that would have been to prohibit both the best method of ending controversies, Heb. vi. 16. and an high
The doctors affirmed, &c.] The Romans seems to have understood the opinion of the Jews on this point; for Martial speaking to one of them who denied some wicked action he was accused of, says to him, Lib. ii. Epigr. 95.
Ecce negas, jurasque mihi per templa tonantis:
Lo thou deniest it, and swearest by beaven, (see Matt. xxiii. 22.) but I do not believe thee. Swear then by Anchialus, byrg an chi alon, i. e. the most high does not live, This was the most solemn oath of denial that a Jew could possibly take; being the oath of the great God himself, who in scripture is introduced swearing by his own life or existence: As I live, suith the Lord.
act of religious worship, Deut. vi. 13. Isa. lxv. 16. an oath being not only a solemn appeal to the divine omniscience, from which nothing can be hid, but a direct acknowledgement of God, as the great patron and protector of right, and the avenger of falsehood.-37. But * let your communication be Yea, yea; Nay, nay; maintain such sincerity and truth in all your words, as will merit the belief of your acquaintance; so that in common conversation, to gain yourselves credit, you need to do no more than barely assert or deny any matter, without invoking the name of God at all; for whatsoever is more than these, cometh of evil, or as it may be translated, cometh of the evil one: In common discourse, whatever is more than affirmation or nega tion, ariseth from the temptation of the devil, who prompts men to curse and to swear, that he may lessen in them, and in all who hear them, that awful reverence of the divine Majesty, which is the grand support of society, and the soul of every virtue; and by this means lead them at length to perjury, even in the most solemn instances; considerations which shew the evil nature of this sin in the strongest light.
With respect to mens resisting and revenging such injuries as are done them, Jesus assured his disciples, that although, for the preservation of society, Moses had ordained the judges to give eye for eye, and tooth for tooth, if the injured party demanded it, yet the doctors were greatly in the wrong, not only when they enjoined men to insist on retaliation as their duty; but declared it lawful in many cases for the injured party, at his own hand to avenge himself, provided in his revenge he did not exceed the measure prescribed in the law. Christ's doctrine was, that a good man is so far from revenging private injuries, that oftentimes he does not even resist them; and always forgives them when they happen to be done to him: a generosity which he warmly recommended to his disciples. 38. Ye have heard that it hath been said, by the ancient doctors, ver. 21, 27, 33. An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, ought to be demanded. 39. But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right check, turn to him the other also. 40. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. 41. And
* Ver. 37. Let your communication be Yea, yea: Nay, nay.] The apostle James expresses this sentiment thus, chap v. 12. Let your yea be yea, and your nay nay. The first yea and may therefore signify the promise or assertion; the second, the fulfilment. Accordingly we find the word yea used as a promise, Rev. i. 7. where it is explained by Amen: likewise as the fulfilment of a promise, 2 Cor. i. 10. where we are told, that the promises of God are all in Christ Tea and Amen. On the other hand, concerning those whose actions do not correspond to their promises, it is said that their word is Yea and Nay, 2 Cor. i. 18, 19. our word toward you was not yea and nay.
whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee, turn not thou To understand this passage aright, we must take notice that the Jews, under the sanction of the law of retaliation mentioned above, carried their resentments to the utmost length; and by so doing, maintained infinite quarrels to the great detriment of social life. This abuse of the law Jesus here condemned, by ordering men under the gospel dispensation to proportion their resistance of injuries to their nature and importance. And to direct them in this matter, he here puts five cases wherein Christian meekness must especially shew itself. 1. When any one assaults our person, in resentment of some affront he imagines we have put upon him. 2. When any one sues us at the law, in order to take our goods from us. 3. When he attacks our natural liberty. 4. When one who is poor asks charity. 5. When a neighbour begs the loan of something from us. In all these cases, our Lord forbids us to resist. Yet from the examples which he mentions, it is plain that this forbearance and compliance is required only when we are slightly attacked, but by no means when the assault is of a capital kind. For it would be unbecoming the wisdom. which Jesus shewed in other points, to suppose that he forbids us to defend ourselves against murderers, robbers, and oppressors, who would unjustly take away our life, our estate, or our liberty. Neither can it be thought, that he commands us to give every idle fellow all he may think fit to ask, whether in charity or in loan. We are only to give what we can spare, and to such persons as out of real necessity seek relief from us. Nay, our Lord's own behaviour towards the man who, in presence of the council, smote him on the cheek, gives reason to think he did not mean, that in all cases his disciples should be passive under the very injuries which he here speaks of. In some circumstances, smiting on the cheek, taking away one's coat, and the compelling of him to go a mile, may be great injuries, and therefore are to be resisted. The first instance was judged so by Jesus himself in the case mentioned. For had he forborne to reprove the man who did it, his silence might have been interpreted as proceeding from a conviction of his having done evil, in giving the high priest the answer for which he was smitten. Wherefore, I think it plain, that the expressions of smiting on the cheek, taking away the coat, &c. are of the same kind with those, ver. 19. viz. the cutting off of the right hand, and the plucking out the right eye. They are all figurative; and denote something less than they literally import. Admitting this explication as just, our Lord's rule has for its object small injuries, which he represents by the strong metaphorical expressions of smiting on the cheek, &c. because, to men of keen pas