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shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost 27 farthing. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time: “Thou 28 shalt not commit adultery.” But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh
on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already
retribution who seeks not by peni- but only such as are most atrocious tence and confession to avert it of their kind. Thus it does not beforehand.-Paid the uttermost prohibit all falsehood to our neighfarthing, i. e. paid the whole debt. bor, but false witnessing against What is here called a farthing was him; nor every injury to his propa small brass coin, equal to about erty, but theft; nor all unlawful four mills of our money.
commerce between the sexes, but 27. The last paragraph relates only adultery. Christ however to the sixth commandment, to Mur- here informs us, that whoever inder, and the violation of social dulges himself in any thing which good will. This one treats of the may lead to that offence is guilty seventh, of Adultery and Divorce- in a certain degree of the crime of ment.- By them of old time. Should adultery.” The impure desire is be, to them of old time. But the therefore to be abhorred and shunwords are not considered genuine ned as being akin to the criminality in this place, since they are not of the actual deed. 2 Peter ii. 14. found in a large number of the “ By obscene anecdotes and tales ; most ancient versions and manu- by songs and jibes; by double scripts. The distinguished critic meanings and innuendoes; by looks Griesbach therefore rejects them and gestures; by conversation and as spurious.—Thou shalt not com- obscene books and pictures, this law mit adultery. Ex. xx. 14. Our of our Saviour is perpetually vioLord would not, by thus quoting lated. If there be any one sentithe commandments, weaken their ment of most value for the comfort, authority, but aims to prove that the character, the virtuous sociathey should be kept in the spirit as bility of the young, one that will well as the letter, and that the Jewish shed the greatest charm over sociemaxim, that the thoughts and de- ty, and make it the most pure, it is sires were not sinful unless acted that which inculcates perfect deliout, was false and dangerous. Our cacy and purity in the intercourse Father takes the will for the deed, of ihe sexes. Virtue of any kind both in the virtuous and the vicious. never blooms where this is not
28. To lust after her. Or, more cherished. Modesty and purity explicitly, in accordance with the once gone, every flower that would original, in order to cherish im- diffuse its fragrance over life withpure wishes and feelings. “Men, ers and dies with it. There is no who can only judge by external sin that so withers and blights every actions, give the name of a crime virtue, none that so enfeebles and merely to the last act; but in the prostrates every ennobling feeling estimation of God, who searches of the soul, as to indulge in a life of the heart, he hath committed the impurity. How should purity dwell crime who hath intended to do it, in the heart, breathe from the life, or hath wished it were done. The kindle in the eye, live in the imagilaw of the ten commandments does nation, and dwell in the intercourse not expressly prohibit all offences, of all the young !"-Barnes.
in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it 29 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 30 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
29. Right eye. The mention of though it be painful as the pluckthe eye is naturally connected withing out of a right eye, or the cutthe preceding verse, where it speaks ting off of a hand, must the vicious of inflaming unlawful emotions by propensities be restrained. The looking on an object of desire. The darling inclination, the easily beorgan of vision might become an setting sin, must be renounced, instrument of sin. The Hebrews however great the sacrifice. Mat. were accustomed to compare lusts xviii. 8,9. Mark ix. 43–47. Rom. and evil passions, and also good af- viii. 13. fections, with different menibers of 30. The same in substance as the. the human body. The bowels, last verse. Reiteration is one of the heart, and eye, were thus used. 2 figures of good speaking and writing. Cor. vi. 12. vii. 3. Mark vii. 21, The deeply moved mind overflows 22. Rom. vi. 13. vii. 23.-Offend. with powerful imagery. It is profitHere is an instance where the able, i. e. it is better, it is preferable. meaning of the word has changed One of thy members should perish. during two centuries, so that it does Men with diseased limbs hesitate not now express what it did at the not to have them amputated in ortime our English version was made. der to save life. They willingly It then meant to cause to fall, or to yield up a less good to retain a sin; it now means to affront. The greater. So, is the reasoning of original clearly signifies to make to our Master, should men do in spiritstumble, to seduce, to tempt to sin, ual things. It is better to crucify
If the right eye, or the most cherished desires, if sipful, hand, if the best member in the than by their indulgence to endanwhole body, led its possessor ipto ger the salvation of the soul itself, sin, it were better to lose it than to and lose eternal life.-Hell. This perish entirely as to the moral na term, in the original, Gehenna, has
It is said that the right eye already been commented on, verse was indispensable to a soldier, as 22. The main idea here conveyed war was then conducted, and that is that of severe punishment, exto lose it would be more than to treme suffering, and no intimation part with the other.–Pluck it out. is given as to its place, or its duraThis cannot be understood with tion, whatever may be said in other any propriety as an injunction to texts in relation to these points. be literally performed, but as Wickedness is its own hell. A strong mode of saying that the wronged conscience, awakened to greatest loss was preferable to the remorse, is more terrible than fire loss of holiness; that any hardship or worm. In this life and in the was to be endured rather than that next, sin and are forever a sinful habit should be tolerated ; coupled together. God has joined that the dearest object was to be them, and man cannot put them relinquished, if it was a stumbling- asunder. block to our virtue. By self-devial, 31. After showing that the laws
or to ensnare.
31 that thy whole body should be cast into hell. It hath been said :
“Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of 32 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 her that is divorced committeth
of his religion included the heart, of divorce in our own country are as well as the outward conduct, an omen of bad import. and that no sacrifice was too great 32. The Saviour restricts the to make for virtue, he proceeds to power of divorce to a single case, contrast the practices and opinions and that one where there could be of the times in relation to divorces, no reasonable hope of domestic with the strictness of his principle. peace or confidence. Still his lan
– It hath been said. Deut. xxiv. 1. guage may not, perhaps, bear the Jer. jii. 1, 8. Mat. xix. 3—9. literal inference that he allowed of Luke xvi. 18. Mark x. 2–12. divorce in no other possible case. Moses had given a law in reference It has been plausibly said, “ that to divorcement, but it was designed Christ may have mentioned Adulfor the then existing condition of tery, rather as an example of that the Jews; it was adapted to the kind or degree of offence which hardness of their hearts. Mark amounted to a dissolution of the X. 5. Jesus would inculcate a marriage bond, than as the only stricter principle. On the interpre- instance in which it was proper tation of the Mosaic law respecting that it should be dissolved.”—Causdivorces there was a division of eth her to commit adultery. These opinion arnong the Jews; one Rab- words are not to be taken literally. binical School holding that a sepa- The man who dismisses his wife ration might take place for any for insufficient reasons does not cause, however slight ; another actually cause her to commit that maintaining that it was justifiable crime, but is responsible for it, if only in the case of unfaithfulness he subjects her to a situation where in the marriage relation. Our Lord she is led to commit it. He is a supports the same principle on sharer in the guilt, so far as an ungrounds of his own, and rebukes just divorce has been the cause of those loose notions and practices it, for that was his act.-Marry her common amongst the Jews in rela- that is divorced. That is, her who tion to this most sacred connection. is divorced for any other reason -Writing of divorcement. This than the one mentioned above, or was a bill, or form, stating at a cer- causes as weighty as that. He who tain time the writer had at his marries a woman dismissed from own pleasure divorced and expelled her husband on trivial grounds is bis wife, and that she was at liberty partaker of the guilt of adultery, to marry whom she chose. It was inasmuch as a new connection presubscribed by two witnesses, and cludes the restoration of harmony, given to the woman as her bill of and the resumption of the conjugal divorce. Frequency of divorces ties, that have been needlessly and has always been deemed a proof of unjustly severed. The sense of a very corrupt state of society. It the whole verse, according to a was so in the time of our Saviour. sensible commentator, is, " that, The increased cases and facilities since divorce should never take
adultery. Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old 33 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
place except for unfaithfulness, he and from his own example in anwho dismisses his wife for a less swering to an oath, Mat. xxvi. 64; cause, though he should not again and from that of his Apostle Paul be married, exposes her to the dan- in using them, Rom. i. 9. Gal. i. ger of an unlawful connection; and 20. 1 Thess. ii. 5. 2 Cor. i. 18, he who marries her under such 23. He aims to sweep away the circumstances disregards the rela- minute and pernicious distinctions tion which, morally, if not legally, introduced into promissory oaths exists between her and the husband and bonds, to inculcate greater simwho divorced her for an insufficient plicity and sincerity of conversareason."
tion.—By them of old time. Rather, 33. From this to the 38th verse, according to Griesbach, to them of Jesus takes up the subject of Oaths. old time.--Thou shalt not forswear In order to understand the drift of thyself. Lev. xix. 12. Num. XXX. his instructions, it is necessary for 2. Deut. xxjii. 23. Thou shalt us to go back to that time and peo not perjure thyself; thou shalt not ple; for whilst he inculcated a uni- take an oath in form, and do it with versal religion, his form of address a mental reservation, so as to dewas modified and colored by the ceive the other party, and be guilty circumstances of his hearers. What of trifling with the venerable majeswere those circumstances in the ty of God.-But perform unto the present case? The Jews were in Lord thine oaths. *Deal honestly in the habit, as their learned men in- the matter. Be true to the obligaform us, of dividing oaths into two tion assumed in making the oath. classes, the lighter and the weigh- So much for what Moses taught. tier. The lighter were those which What does Jesus teach? did not contain the name of God, 34. But I say unto you, swear not and which, they held, might be bro- at all; neither by heaven. That is to ken with impunity, although there say, abolish this practice; abandon was some tacit reference made in the common irreverent oaths, in them to the Deity. These were which there is a tacit understandfrequently made, according to Philo, ing and purpose to deceive. The in common conversation, amount sense is more clearly brought out ing in fact to what we call profane by Griesbach, who leaves out the swearing. An apocryphal writer usual semicolon, and puts in only a refers to the custom, Ecclesiasticus comma. For as the punctuation xxji. 9—13. They also allowed of was determined, not by the original mental prevarication, a swearing inspired writers, but by their fallible with the lips, and disavowing or successors in the church, it is lawannulling of the oath with the ful to change it as the sense seems heart. That our Saviour did not to require. Our Lord is not made refer to judicial oaths, as some be to say, swear not at all, which lieve, and prohibit them entirely, is would be plainly one sense; but apparent from the specimens he swear not at all by heaven, and the cites, which are unlike any that other pernicious forms which he were ever used in any court of law; mentions, which is plainly quite a
35 heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is his footstool ; 36 neither by Jerusalern, for it is the city of the great King ; neither
shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair 37 white or black. But let your communication be: Yea, yea; Nay, nay; 38 for whatsoever is more than these, cometh of evil. Ye have heard
different sense. If it had been his and the place of his worship. The object to prohibit oaths altogether, ancient Arabs called God simply he would certainly have said, "the King." The Jews often adswear not at all,--and said no more; dressed him with this title. Ps. but as he goes on to specify what xcv. 3. Is. xli. 21. they were not to swear by, he leaves 36. The oaths enumerated by it plainly to be inferred that there Jesus were common amongst the is at least one oath, that hy God Heathen likewise, as well as among himself, that established in the Mo- the Jews. Juvenal, Horace, Virgil, saic code, which it is lawful to take. Ovid, Martial, and Pliny, to menIf a legislator prohibits the im- tion no more, might be cited in portation of certain articles of com- illustration of the custom. As God merce, we conclude that the arti- is the architect of the head, and it cles 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. Is. by his will exclusively, it follows Ixvi. 1. Acts vii. 49. Jesus shows, that in swearing by the head referMat. xxiii. 22, that in swearing byence is made to the Deity, and the heaven there is a secret appeal to oath is therefore weighty and not the Being who dwelleth therein, to be used on every insignificant and that in a trivial matter such an occasion ; and binding and not to oath should not be used, for it is be broken with impunity. profaneness; especially should not 37. Your communication. ACbe used as if a mental reservation cording to Robinson, in his Greek could be made, and the perform- Lexicon of the New Testament, ance of the oath could be innocent- your answer, your reply. When in ly trifled with, for that would be common conversation you make a perjury. To call heaven God's reply, do not try to confirm your throne, and the earth his footstool, assertion with an oath, as if that is to use figures in accommodation would add any weight to it, but let to inan's imperfect idea of the all- your yes be yes, and your no be no. surrounding Deity. The Hebrew Let your simple affirmation or neScriptures abound in similar in- gation be sufficient. Do not expose stances.
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, stoo). Apd he who swears by that his yes was yes, and his no, no. Jerusalemn 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