The Sermon on the Mount.
(a Mountain Plateau Not Far from Capernaum.)
Influence and Duties of Messiah's Subjects.
A Matt. V. 13–16.
a 13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the
salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good
for nothing, but to be cast out and be trodden under foot of men. [Salt has
been used from time immemorial as an agent in the preservation of meats. The
multitudes which heard Jesus were familiar with its use in curing fish.
“The pickled fish of Galilee were known throughout the Roman world”
(G. A. Smith). It is worthy of note that the salt of Palestine gathered
from the marshes is not pure. Because of the foreign substances in it, it loses
its savor and becomes insipid and useless, when exposed to the sun and air, or
when permitted for any considerable time to come in contact with the ground;
but pure salt does not lose its savor. The verse teaches that God's people keep
the world from putrefaction and corruption. There was not salt enough in the
antediluvian world to save it from the flood, in Sodom to save it from fire,
nor in Canaan to preserve its people from destruction. It also teaches—as
does experience—that a disciple may lose those qualities which make him
salt.] 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be
hid. [As light dispels darkness and enables a man to see his way, so the
Christian, by his teaching and example, removes ignorance and prejudice, and
discloses the way of life. The church, reflecting the light of Christ, is of
necessity a conspicuous body, so that neither its blemishes nor its beauty can
be concealed. For air and for
235protection cities were frequently
built upon hills. Jerusalem and Samaria were both hill cities.] 15 Neither
do men light a candle, and put
it under a bushel [a common measure, found in every Jewish house, and
containing about a peck], but on the stand; and it shineth unto all
that are in the house. [Lamps were then crude affairs without chimneys, in
which, for the most part, olive oil was burned. Candles were not then known.
The word candle, where used in the King James version, is a mistranslation.]
16 Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works,
and glorify your Father who is in heaven. [The light of the Christian is to
shine not ostentatiously, but naturally and unavoidably. It is to shine not
only in his teaching or profession, but in such works and actions as
unprejudiced men must acknowledge to be real excellencies. Moreover, it must so
shine that it shall not win praise for itself, but for him who kindled it. Men
do not praise the street lamps which protect them from robbery and assault, but
they praise the municipal administration which furnishes the lamps.]