M A T T H E W.
This chapter, and the two that follow it, are a
sermon; a famous sermon; the sermon upon the mount. It is the
longest and fullest continued discourse of our Saviour that we have
upon record in all the gospels. It is a practical discourse; there
is not much of the credenda of Christianity in it—the things to be
believed, but it is wholly taken up with the agenda—the things to
be done; these Christ began with in his preaching; for if any man
will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of
God. The circumstances of the sermon being accounted for (ver. 1, 2), the sermon itself
follows, the scope of which is, not to fill our heads with notions,
but to guide and regulate our practice. I. He proposes blessedness
as the end, and gives us the character of those who are entitled to
blessedness (very different from the sentiments of a vain world),
in eight beatitudes, which may justly be called paradoxes,
ver. 3-12. II. He
prescribes duty as the way, and gives us standing rules of that
duty. He directs his disciples, 1. To understand what they are—the
salt of the earth, and the lights of the world, ver. 13-16. 2. To understand what they have
to do—they are to be governed by the moral law. Here is, (1.) A
general ratification of the law, and a recommendation of it to us,
as our rule, ver. 17-20.
(2.) A particular rectification of divers mistakes; or, rather, a
reformation of divers wilful, gross corruptions, which the scribes
and Pharisees had introduced in their exposition of the law; and an
authentic explication of divers branches which most needed to be
explained and vindicated, ver.
20. Particularly, here is an explication, [1.] Of the
sixth commandment, which forbids murder, ver. 21-26. [2.] Of the seventh
commandment, against adultery, ver.
27-32. [3.] Of the third commandment, ver. 33-37. [4.] Of the law of retaliation,
ver. 38-42. [5.] Of the
law of brotherly love, ver.
43-48. And the scope of the whole is, to show that the
law is spiritual.