MAT. V. 21-26.

THE chief design of Jesus throughout the whole of this invaluable discourse is to show that if man would be accepted with God and be a partaker of eternal life, he must be possessed of a pure and perfect righteousness. The Scribes though the professed teachers of the Law, had lost sight of this great scriptural doctrine. They were deluding the people by perverting the very Word of God and lowering the demands of His holy Law.

To illustrate the hollowness and unscriptural character of the teaching of the Scribes, our Lord selects several plain precepts of the law of God, shewing how completely the vain traditions of the elders were opposed to the true spiritual meaning of these precepts. The first instance which He adduces is the sixth commandment.

V. 21. "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment."

These words in the original admit of two interpretations. They may either be rendered thus, "Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time," in which case we must understand our Lord as Himself quoting the commandment, and adding to it the interpretation of the Pharisees: or they may be rendered as in our translation, in which case we must understand our Lord as adopting the language of the Pharisees, who were accustomed to quote not from the pure word of God, but from the traditions of the elders. These traditions they regarded as of equal authority with the statements of the Bible, and, accordingly, while in the case before us the quotation is made correctly from the law of Moses, "thou shalt not kill," it is instantly followed up by the unauthorised interpretation of their own commentators, "whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment," that is, he exposes himself to merited punishment at the hands of the civil magistrate. Such was the whole extent of the view which the Scribes held in reference to this command of God. It prohibited murder, no doubt, according to their teaching, but simply in the outward act and as a civil enactment, bringing the murderer under the cognizance of human laws. Such an interpretation of the divine commandment was defective in the extreme. It was limiting

the prohibition to the mere outward act, taking away the life of another, and it was thus preventing the people from perceiving the spirituality of the law as reaching to the thoughts and intentions of the heart; it pointed to the punishment which the murderer must expect at the hands of man, but it made no account of the awful curse of an angry God. To expose accordingly the erroneous interpretation thus put upon the sixth commandment, Jesus proceeds to explain it in its true spiritual meaning and extent.

V. 22. "But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire."

He calls the attention of his hearers away from the outward act of murder to the inward principle from which murder springs. He dilates not upon the awful heinousness of the crime of embruing our hands in a brother's blood, taking away that life which He cannot restore, and hurrying a human being into an unknown, perhaps an unprepared eternity; but He goes down into the very depths of the murderer's heart, and lays bare the first unhallowed feeling which led ultimately to the fatal deed. You say that the outward act of murder is a crime, but I say that

the secret feeling of unreasonable anger is in the sight of God a crime.

It may be that all anger is not sinful as seems to be conveyed by the apostolic command, "Be ye angry, and sin not." There may be, and undoubtedly there is, abstractly speaking, a moral indignation which is angry with the sin, but loves and pities the sinner. Such anger cannot in itself be sinful. We fear, however, that such is the extent to which depravity cleaves to our nature, that it is very difficult to indulge the feeling of anger in any degree without being betrayed into sin. But whether this be the case or not, it is certain at all events, on the authority of Christ Himself, that all anger without a cause, excessive in its nature and unreasonable in its origin, exposes us to the punishment of God as certainly as the act of murder exposes us to the punishment of man.

Angry feelings find vent in reproachful language, and our Lord, tracing the onward course of resentment from its first rise in the heart, declares, “Whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca,” or vain fellow, "shall be in danger of the council." It is not the mere use of the word here mentioned which our Lord views as sinful, but it is the malicious feeling which has led to its use. The feeling is supposed to be stronger and more aggravated than in the case of causeless anger, and, accordingly, the punishment which it merits is alleged to be stronger. The former

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