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or with P rebellion against God, the worst of all accusations. because so highly ? criminal under the law, incurs a still greater degree of punishment, answering to a death by fire. to the horrid burning of human victims before the statue of Moloch in the
valley of Hinnom. Our Lord therefore asserts, agreeably to other parts of scripture, that reviling,
hatred, variance, wrath, strife, shall exclude from the kingdom of heaven ; and that these crimes shall be punished proportionably to their degrees of guilt. But, according to the tenour of the gospel covenant, sinful anger unrepented of is here supposed. For, on condition of repentance, all manner of sin and of • blasphemy. even if uttered against Christ himself, shall be forgiven unto men ; except the crime of imputing our Lord's miracles to an evil spirit, which indeed excluded repentance, and betrayed an incurable malignity of heart. And we may observe that our Lord elsewhere uses general assertions, where the same restriction must be understood: as in the words, “ Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven." For it is plain, from the case of St. Peter, that hardened perseverance in such denials is meant.
from 555 stultus evasit; fatuus, insipiens factus est.
See also Syr. 1 Cor. iii. 19. where a word from the same root is used for magia, Thus Raca and page may differ, as a charge of light and despicable conduct from that of habitual infatuation.
p It is the opinion of many learned men, that, instead of translating the Greek word peagi, thou fool, the eastern word Moreh should be translated or retained. As and signifies he rebelled in the Hebrew and Chaldee, we may fairly presume that it once had this sense in the Hebrew Syriac. 9 Deut. xvii. 2-7. Lev. xxiv. 16. Jer. vii. 31.
* 1 Cor. vi. 10. ¢ Gal. y. 20. a Matt. xii. 31, 2. w ib. 8. 33.
There is another general precept charged with too much rigour.
*“ I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to desire her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.” The words of the original, “in y order to desire her,” denote giving full and unrestrained scope to evil thoughts and intentions. St. Peter describes some, who walked after the Aesh, as having ? eyes full of adultery, and which could not cease from sin. And all strict moralists decide to the same effect. - Cicero records an observation made by Pericles, that a grave magis. trate should not only restrain his hands from acts of avarice and oppression, but his eyes from contemplating such objects as raise inordinate desire. And in another place he asserts, that, if men deliberate whether they should knowingly commit a crime, there is guilt in the very doubt. There is also a well known determination of the Roman Satyrist, that whoever meditates within himself any secret crime, contracts the guilt of committing it. Some have thought that our Lord's remark is confined
* Matt. v. 28. 1 προς το επιθυμήσαι αυτός. So c. vi. 1. προς το Bez bryts autors, with the end and design of being seen by them. See also c. xiii. 30. xxiii. 5.
2 Pet. ii. 10, 14.
• Off. i. 40. Prætorem decet, non solum manus, sed etiam oculos, abstinentes habere. bib. jii 8. Hoc quidem deliberantium genus pellatur e medin- qui deliberant utrum-se scientes scelere contaminent : in ipsa enim dubitatione facinus inest. Juv. xii. 208. Scelus intra se tacitum qui cogitat ullum, Facti crimen babet. Add Cleanthes : poes. philos. H. Steph. p. 124.
'Οσις επιθυμών ανέχτ’ αισχρά πράγματος,
Ούτος ποιήσει τετ', αν καιρόν λαβη.
to the intentional adulterer : and it is true that the
word used by him signifies adultery, strictly so called, throughout the New Testament and the Greek version of the Old: but still the reason of the assertion equally extends itself to the intentional fornicator. God, who sees the heart, will punish all such evil intentions as want nothing but opportunity to become actual crimes.
It aptly follows : “And if thy right eye offend thee, [lead thee to renounce my gospel, or to violate any religious or moral duty,] pluck it out, and cast it from thee : 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 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.” In another place of this evangelist, our
“ If thy hand or thy foot offend thee ;" and more at large in St. Mark : “If thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two hands to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched : where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched,” &c. This is a strong eastern manner of expressing that seductions to sin, and particularly stumbling blocks in the way of openly professing the gospel at that season, should be avoided at all events; and that the
4 εμοίχευσεν Our Lord having mentioned looking on a woman, he immediately adds, and if thy right eye offend thee: whereas c. xvii. 8, 9. and Mark ix. 43–8. the eye is instanced after the hand and the foot.
causes of guilt and apostacy should be removed, whatever favourite gratifications were foregone, whatever temporal evils were endured. As you would lose an eye or a limb to prevent a death by fire; so. let every thing most dear be sacrificed to avoid eternal death.
It is plain that if the prohibition, 'Swear not at all, were understood absolutely, the good of society would be much affected ; as in important matters it would want the strongest human assurance, and the best human testimony, which derive their greatest force from a solemn appeal to God; and therefore our Lord restrains his command to ordinary 8 discourse; and opposes it to the unnecessary and ensnaring oaths and vows so frequent among the Jews. He himself used the form of an oath, when he said,
If a sign [from heaven] shall be [now] given to this generation : and he affirmed his Messiahship with like solemnity, when the High priest k adjured him by the living God.
Difficulties have been also raised against the following precepts in this discourse : “I say unto you, that ye'resist not evil, [or, as some choose to render the word, the injurious person :) but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. Him that taketh away thy cloak, forbid not to take thy coat also. Whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that
• Matt. v. 34. & ib. v. 37. Comp. Matt. xxii. 15. Col. iv. 6. i Matt. v. 33. i Mark viii. 12. Comp, Heb. 4. 3: 2 Sam. ii. 35. So do God to me and more also, if, &c. * Matt. xxvi. 63, 4: * Matt. v. 39-42. Luke vi. 29, 30.
asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. "Lend, hoping for nothing again. Of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again. I say unto you, Love your enemies : bless them that curse you ; do good to them that hate you ; and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you. PLay not up for selves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. 9 Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink ; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. - Take no thought for the morrow : for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.”
Many have attempted to shew that, with proper limitations, every one of these precepts obliges all Christians at all times. To this
be said that, by a strong particular •instance proverbially applied, our Lord teaches a general lesson of meekness and patience under moderate and private injuries, in opposition to a revengeful sense and rigorous retaliation of every wrong ; that our Lord fulfilled his own precept when he calmly 'reproved the officer who smote him while he stood before the High priest ; and that every Christian will fulfil it, who, when he is injured, makes reason the rule of his conduct, not "rendering evil for evil unto any man from a vindictive spirit, and mitigating the punishment, as far as he is able, when, from the circumstances of
m Luke vi. 35. P Matt. vi. 19.
John xviü. 23.
n Luke vi. 30. 4 ib. 25. rib. 34.
a 1 Pet. üi, 9.
• Matt. v. 44. and p.p. • Matt. y. 39. Luke vi. 29.