20 The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees - Described
in the sequel of this discourse.
21 Ye have heard - From the scribes reciting the law; Thou shalt
do no murder - And they interpreted this, as all the other commandments,
barely of the outward act. The judgement - The Jews had in every city a
court of twenty - three men, who could sentence a criminal to be strangled.
But the sanhedrim only (the great council which sat at Jerusalem, consisting
of seventy - two men,) could sentence to the more terrible death of stoning.
That was called the judgment, this the council. Exod 20:13.
22 But I say unto you - Which of the prophets ever spake thus?
Their language is, Thus saith the Lord. Who hath authority to use this
language, but the one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Whosoever
is angry with his brother - Some copies add, without a cause - But this
is utterly foreign to the whole scope and tenor of our Lord's discourse.
If he had only forbidden the being angry without a cause, there was no
manner of need of that solemn declaration, I say unto you; for the scribes
and Pharisees themselves said as much as this. Even they taught, men ought
not to be angry without a cause. So that this righteousness does not exceed
theirs. But Christ teaches, that we ought not, for any cause, to be so
angry as to call any man Raca, or fool. We ought not, for any cause, to
be angry at the person of the sinner, but at his sins only. Happy world,
were this plain and necessary distinction thoroughly understood, remembered,
practised! Raca means, a silly man, a trifler. Whosoever shall say, Thou
fool - Shall revile, or seriously reproach any man. Our Lord specified
three degrees of murder, each liable to a sorer punishment than the other:
not indeed from men, but from God. Hell fire - In the valley of Hinnom
(whence the word in the original is taken) the children were used to be
burnt alive to Moloch. It was afterward made a receptacle for the filth
of the city, where continual fires were kept to consume it. And it is probable,
if any criminals were burnt alive, it was in this accursed and horrible
place. Therefore both as to its former and latter state, it was a fit emblem
of hell. It must here signify a degree of future punishment, as much more
dreadful than those incurred in the two former cases, as burning alive
is more dreadful than either strangling or stoning.
23 Thy brother hath aught against thee - On any of the preceding
accounts: for any unkind thought or word: any that did not spring from
24 Leaving thy gift, go - For neither thy gift nor thy prayer
will atone for thy want of love: but this will make them both an abomination
25 Agree with thine adversary - With any against whom thou hast
thus offended: while thou art in the way - Instantly, on the spot; before
you part. Lest the adversary deliver thee to the judge - Lest he commit
his cause to God. Luke 12:58.
26 Till thou hast paid the last farthing - That is, for ever,
since thou canst never do this. What has been hitherto said refers to meekness:
what follows, to purity of heart.