The earth would go putrid if there were no salt of grace to preserve it. So, dear friends, if God’s grace is in you, there is a pungent savor about you which fends to preserve others from going as far into sin as otherwise they would have done; “Ye are the salt of the earth:”
Mat_5:13. But if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted?
If the God-given grace could be taken from you altogether, if you had no sanctifying power about you at all, what could be done with you? You would be like salt that has lost its savor.
Mat_5:13. It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
Mark this, then, either the saints must persevere to the end, or else the grace of God has done nothing for them effectually. If they do not continue to be saints, and to exercise a saintly influence, there is no hope for them. There cannot be two new births for the same person; if the divine work has failed once, it will never be begun again. If they really have been saved, if they have been made the children of God, and if it be possible for them to lose the grace which they have received, they can never have it again. The Word of God is very emphatic upon that point: ‘: If they shall fall away, it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance” Falling may be retrieved, but falling away never can be happy. There are countries where there is found salt from which the pungency has completely gone. It is an altogether useless article; and if there are men, who ever did possess the grace of God, and who were truly God’s people, if the divine life could go out of them, they would be in an utterly hopeless case. Perhaps there are no powers of evil in the world greater than apostate churches; who can calculate the influence for evil that the Church of Rome exercises in the world today?
Mat_5:14. Ye are the light of the world.
The Bible is not the light of the world, it is the light of the Church; but the world does not read the Bible, the world reads Christians; “Ye are the light of the world.”
Mat_5:14. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
You Christians are like a city built upon a hilltop, you must be seen. As you will be seen, mind that you are worth seeing.
Mat_5:15. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
God’s intent is, first, to light you; and, secondly, to put you in a conspicuous position, where men can see you.
Mat_5:16. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Let the light of your purity and your good works be as bright as possible, yet let not the light be to your own praise and glory; but let it be clearly seen that your good works are the result of sovereign grace, for which all the glory must be given to “your Father which is in heaven.”
Mat_5:17-18. Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
See how the great Lord of the New Testament confirms the Old Testament. He has not come to set up a destructive criticism that will tear in pieces the Book of Deuteronomy, or cut out the very heart of the Psalms, or grind Ezekiel to powder between his own wheels; but Christ has come to establish yet more firmly than before all that was written aforetime, and to make it stand fast as the everlasting hills.
Mat_5:19. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
A true man may make mistakes, and so he may teach men to violate some one or other of the divine commandments. If he does so, he shall not perish, for he was honest in his blunder; but he shall be among the least in the kingdom of heaven. But he, who earnestly, perseveringly, and conscientiously teaches all that he knows of the divine will, “the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven”
Mat_5:20. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Christ does not teach a lower kind of morality than the Pharisees taught. They were very particular about little things, jots and tittles; but we must go further than they went; we must have more righteousness of life than they had, although they seemed to their fellow-men to be excessively precise. Christ aims at perfect purity in his people, and we must aim at it too, and we must really attain to more holiness than the best outward morals can produce.
Mat_5:21. 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:
God had said, “Thou shalt not kill;” but the remainder of the verse was the gloss of the Rabbis, a true one, yet one that very much diminishes the force of the divine command.
Mat_5:22. But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment;
And a far higher judgment than that of men;
Mat_5:22. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, —
A word of very uncertain meaning, a kind of snubbing word, a word of contempt which men used to one another, meaning that there was nothing in them: “Whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca,” —
Mat_5:22. Shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hellfire.
Christ will not have us treat men with anger, or with contempt, which is a very evil form of hate, akin to murder, because we as good as say, “That man is nobody;” that is, we make nothing of him, which is morally to kill him. We must not treat our fellow-men with contempt and derision, nor indulge any angry temper against them, for anger is of the devil, but “love is of God.”
Mat_5:23-24. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
Note that this injunction is addressed to the man who has offended against his brother; why is this? Because he is the least likely to try to make up the quarrel. It is the man who has been offended who usually exhibits the nobler spirit; but the offender is almost always the last to seek a reconciliation, and therefore the Saviour says to him, “If thy brother hath ought against thee, it is but right that thou shoulder be the first to seek reconciliation with him. Leave thy gift, go away from the prayer-meeting, turn back from the Lord’s table, and go and first be reconciled to thy brother.”
Mat_5:25. Agree with thine adversary quickly,
Always be ready to make peace, — not peace at any price; but, still, peace at any price except the sacrifice of righteousness.
Mat_5:25-26. Whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
And there are some debts of which we cannot pay the uttermost farthing; and there is a prison out of which no man shall come, for the uttermost farthing demanded there shall never be paid. God grant that we may none of us ever know what it is to be shut up in that dreadful dungeon!