the hand of God for correcting His people, and training them to submission, it is his duty to maintain amid them all a calm and peaceful frame, saying from the heart, "It is the Lord, let Him do what seemeth to Him good." "Shall I receive good at the hand of the Lord, and shall I not receive evil? Even so Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight."

The next verse seems to stand separate and apart from the others, and it might appear at first sight difficult to see any link of connection between the exhortation which it contains and what has gone before.

V. 42. "Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away." It has sometimes been supposed, with a view to reconcile this passage with the verses we have just considered, that our Lord means to recommend to his people that, not contented with meekly enduring insults and injuries, they should exercise a kind and generous spirit even towards their enemies. This view, however, we are disposed to regard as more limited than the language of our Lord would warrant. His command is of a more unrestricted kind. Christian generosity is large and liberal. "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ," says Paul, speaking upon this subject, "that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be

rich." If we have known this grace in our blessed experience, we may not imitate our Lord so closely as to impoverish ourselves by our liberality, but we will come nearer to it than we do. A Christian is no niggard, because he feels that he is merely a steward of his wealth, and he remembers the searching question put by an apostle, "If any man see his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”

"Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away." This command is too unlimited say some; it will require to be guarded in some way, otherwise we will ruin ourselves by our generosity, and encourage improvidence and idleness among the poor. Jesus lays down this principle as the broad, expansive spirit of the gospel, and he leaves it to each man to make conscientiously those exceptions which will stand the scrutiny of a judgment day. Beware, however, of diluting, like the Scribes, God's pure and holy word; beware of frittering away by your cold and calculating limitations the all-embracing generosity of the gospel, a generosity which, unlike the selfishness of this cheerless world, seeks not its own but the things that are Jesus Christ's. If we have professed to give ourselves to Christ and yet withhold part of our possessions from Him we lie unto the Holy Ghost.

What a picture is here presented of the faithful

follower of the Lord Jesus! He is patient under Injury, and charitable, considerate and kind to the poor. He shuts his eyes upon his own sufferings, and he opens them to drop many a tear over the sufferings of his fellow men. He can deny himself to many of the comforts of life, that he may have to give to him that needeth. The thought of this quickens his energies as he plies his daily task, and he relishes his morsel all the better if he has the privilege of sharing it with a needy brother. The grace of God has been bestowed upon him, and grace is a generous principle. Nothing opens the heart and the hand like grace. Under its influence a man gives himself unto the Lord, and having given himself, his property follows as a matter of course. "Lord I am thine," is his habitual acknowledgment, "and all that I have is thine."



MAT. V. 43-48.

WE have now come to the climax and the conclusion of the faithful exposure which our Lord makes of the defective righteousness of the Scribes. He has already shown clearly and convincingly that they had perverted both the Moral and the Civil Law, and He now proceeds to establish, with equal clearness, that they had perverted the very principle of love itself— a principle which constitutes the foundation and the fulfilment of the whole law of God.

V. 43. "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy."

No such command is to be found in the Sacred Scriptures. The passage to which Jesus most probably refers, as having been misinterpreted by the

Scribes, is to be found in Lev. xix. 18. "Thou shalt not avenge nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people; but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord." There can be no doubt, that in this verse, strictly speaking, the word "neighbour" might be interpreted as referring to the Israelites, who are described in the first clause as "the children of thy people." But not contented with restricting the term "neighbour" to the Jewish nation, the Scribes drew from the command itself the unwarranted inference, that they were permitted, if not commanded, to hate all who were not of their own nation, and whom they were accustomed to consider as their enemies. And so extensively had this pernicious doctrine of the Scribes gained ground among the Jewish people, that by them the words stranger and enemy were considered as almost identical in meaning. Frequently in the course of His ministry, did our Lord seek to rectify their views upon this point. Thus, in the parable of the good Samaritan, He shows by a beautiful and affecting example, that it is our duty to shew benevolence and kindness to the stranger and the enemy. Nor did the Scribes receive countenance in their false notions from the law of Moses, although, undoubtedly, its precepts were chiefly directed to the welfare of the Jewish people. Thus, in Exod. xxiii. 4, 5, we find the command given, "If thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray,

« VorigeDoorgaan »