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Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Matthew
Book: Matthew
Chapter: 5

Overview:
Christ's Sermon On the Mount. (1,2) Who are blessed. (3-12)
Exhortations and warnings. (13-16) Christ came to confirm the
Law. (17-20) The sixth commandment. (21-26) The seventh
commandment. (27-32) The third commandment. (33-37) The Law of
retaliation. (38-42) The Law of Love explained. (43-48)

1-2 None will find happiness in this world or the next, who do
not seek it from Christ By the rule of his Word. He taught them
what was the evil they should abhor, and what the good they
should seek and abound in.

3-12 Our Saviour here gives eight characters of blessed people,
which represent to us the principal graces of a Christian. 1.
The Poor in Spirit are happy. These bring their minds to their
condition, when it is a low condition. They are humble and lowly
in their own eyes. They see their want, bewail their guilt, and
thirst after a Redeemer. The kingdom of Grace is of such; the
kingdom of Glory is for them. 2. Those that Mourn are happy.
That godly sorrow which worketh true Repentance, watchfulness, a
humble mind, and continual dependence for acceptance On the
Mercy of God in Christ Jesus, with constant seeking the Holy
Spirit, to cleanse away the remaining evil, seems here to be
intended. Heaven is the joy of our Lord; a mountain of joy, to
which our way is through a vale of tears. Such mourners shall be
comforted By their God. 3. The meek are happy. The meek are
those who quietly submit to God; who can Bear insult; are
silent, or return a soft answer; who, in their patience, keep
possession of their own souls, when they can scarcely keep
possession of anything else. These meek ones are happy, even in
this world. Meekness promotes wealth, comfort, and safety, even
in this world. 4. Those who hunger and thirst after
Righteousness are happy. Righteousness is here Put for all
spiritual blessings. These are purchased for us By the
Righteousness of Christ, confirmed By the faithfulness of God.
Our desires of spiritual blessings must be Earnest. Though all
desires for Grace are not Grace, yet such a desire as this, is a
desire of God's own raising, and he will not forsake the work of
his own hands. 5. The merciful are happy. We must not only Bear
our own Afflictions patiently, but we must do all we can to help
those who are in misery. We must have compassion On the souls of
others, and help them; pity those who are in Sin, and seek to
snatch them as brands out of the burning. 6. The pure in Heart
are happy; for they shall see God. Here Holiness and happiness
are fully described and Put together. The Heart must be purified
By Faith, and kept for God. Create in me such a Clean Heart, O
God. None but the pure are capable of seeing God, nor would
Heaven be happiness to the impure. As God cannot endure to look
upon their iniquity, So they cannot look upon his purity. 7. The
peace-makers are happy. They Love, and desire, and delight in
peace; and study to be quiet. They keep the peace that it be not
broken, and recover it when it is broken. If the peace-makers
are blessed, woe to the peace-breakers! 8. Those who are
persecuted for Righteousness' sake are happy. This saying is
Peculiar to Christianity; and it is more largely insisted upon
than any of the Rest. Yet there is nothing in our sufferings
that can merit of God; but God will provide that those who lose
for him, though Life itself, shall not lose By him in the End.
Blessed Jesus! how different are thy maxims from those of men of
this world! They Call the proud happy, and admire the gay, the
rich, the powerful, and the victorious. May we find Mercy from
the Lord; may we be owned as his children, and inherit his
kingdom. With these enjoyments and hopes, we may cheerfully
welcome low or painful circumstances.

13-16 Ye are the Salt of the Earth. Mankind, lying in ignorance
and wickedness, were as a vast Heap, ready to putrefy; but
Christ sent forth his disciples, By their lives and doctrines to
season it with knowledge and Grace. If they are not such as they
should be, they are as Salt that has lost its savour. If a Man
can take up the profession of Christ, and yet remain graceless,
No other doctrine, No other means, can make him profitable. Our
Light must shine, By doing such good Works as men may see. What
is between God and our souls, must be kept to ourselves; but
that which is of itself open to the sight of men, we must study
to make suitable to our profession, and praiseworthy. We must
aim at the Glory of God.

17-20 Let none suppose that Christ allows his people to trifle
with any commands of God's holy Law. No sinner partakes of
Christ's justifying Righteousness, till he repents of his evil
deeds. The Mercy revealed in the Gospel leads the believer to
still deeper self-abhorrence. The Law is the Christian's rule of
duty, and he delights therein. If a Man, pretending to be
Christ's Disciple, encourages himself in any allowed
disobedience to the holy Law of God, or teaches others to do the
same, whatever his station or reputation among men may be, he
can be No true Disciple. Christ's Righteousness, imputed to us
By Faith alone, is needed By every one that enters the kingdom
of Grace or of Glory; but the new Creation of the Heart to
Holiness, produces a thorough change in a Man's temper and
conduct.

21-26 The Jewish teachers had taught, that nothing except
actual Murder was forbidden By the sixth commandment. Thus they
explained away its spiritual meaning. Christ showed the full
meaning of this commandment; according to which we must be
judged hereafter, and therefore ought to be ruled now. All rash
Anger is Heart Murder. By our Brother, here, we are to
understand any person, though ever So much below us, for we are
all made of one Blood. "Raca," is a scornful Word, and comes
from pride: "Thou fool," is a spiteful Word, and comes from
Hatred. Malicious slanders and censures are Poison that kills
secretly and slowly. Christ told them that how Light soever they
made of these sins, they would certainly be called into Judgment
for them. We ought carefully to preserve Christian Love and
peace with all our brethren; and if at any time there is a
quarrel, we should confess our fault, humble ourselves to our
Brother, making or Offering satisfaction for wrong done in Word
or deed: and we should do this quickly; because, till this is
done, we are unfit for Communion with God in holy ordinances.
And when we are preparing for any religious exercises, it is
good for us to make that an occasion of serious reflection and
self-examination. What is here said is very applicable to our
being reconciled to God through Christ. While we are alive, we
are in the way to his judgement-seat; after Death, it will be
too late. When we consider the importance of the case, and the
uncertainty of Life, how needful it is to seek peace with God,
without delay!

27-32 Victory over the desires of the Heart, must be attended
with painful exertions. But it must be done. Every thing is
bestowed to save us from our sins, not in them. All our senses
and powers must be kept from those things which lead to
transgression. Those who lead others into Temptation to Sin, By
Dress or in other ways, or leave them in it, or expose them to
it, make themselves guilty of their Sin, and will be accountable
for it. If painful operations are submitted to, that our lives
may be saved, what ought our minds to shrink from, when the
Salvation of our souls is concerned? There is tender Mercy under
all the Divine requirements, and the Grace and consolations of
the Spirit will enable us to attend to them.

33-37 There is No reason to consider that solemn oaths in a
Court of Justice, or On other proper occasions, are wrong,
provided they are taken with due reverence. But all oaths taken
without necessity, or in common Conversation, must be sinful, as
Well as all those expressions which are appeals to God, though
persons think thereby to evade the guilt of swearing. The worse
men are, the less they are bound By oaths; the better they are,
the less there is need for them. Our Lord does not enjoin the
precise terms wherein we are to affirm or deny, but such a
constant regard to Truth as would render oaths unnecessary.

38-42 The Plain instruction is, Suffer any injury that can be
borne, for the sake of peace, committing your concerns to the
Lord's keeping. And the sum of all is, that Christians must
avoid disputing and striving. If any say, Flesh and Blood cannot
pass By such an affront, let them remember, that Flesh and Blood
shall not inherit the Kingdom of God; and those who act upon
right principles will have most peace and comfort.

43-48 The Jewish teachers By "neighbour" understood only those
who were of their own country, nation, and religion, whom they
were pleased to look upon as their friends. The Lord Jesus
teaches that we must do all the real kindness we can to all,
especially to their souls. We must pray for them. While many
will render good for good, we must render good for evil; and
this will speak a nobler principle than most men act By. Others
salute their brethren, and embrace those of their own party, and
way, and opinion, but we must not So confine our respect. It is
the duty of Christians to desire, and aim at, and press towards
Perfection in Grace and Holiness. And therein we must study to
conform ourselves to the Example of our heavenly Father, 1Pe
1:15,16. Surely more is to be expected from the followers of
Christ than from others; surely more will be found in them than
in others. Let us Beg of God to enable us to prove ourselves his
children.