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Verse 23

Matthew 5:23. Therefore, &c. “Because men are very apt to fall into rash anger, and to express their anger by contemptuous speeches and abusive names, fancying that there is no sin in these things, or but little, and that the compensation may easily be made for them by acts of devotion, Jesus declares that atonement is not to be made for these offences by any offerings, how costly soever, and therefore prescribes immediate repentance and reparation as the only remedies of them. He insisted particularly on reparation, assuring us that, unless it be made, God will not accept the worship of such offenders, being infinitely better pleased with repentance than with sacrifices, or external worship of any kind, how specious soever those duties may appear in the eye of vulgar understandings. Vain, therefore, is their presumption, who fancy they can make amends for yet more gross acts of injustice, by acts of devotion. ” Macknight. If thou bring thy gift to the altar However costly and free; and there rememberest What thou didst not recollect before; that thy brother hath aught against thee On any of the preceding accounts, for any reproachful or unkind word, or injurious action: do not content thyself with a secret, and, it may be, a deceitful purpose that thou wilt hereafter accommodate the affair, but bring it to an immediate issue. Leave there thy gift before the altar In the hands of those that are ministering there: for neither thy gift nor thy prayer will atone for thy want of love and injurious conduct, but these will make thy devotions and oblations an abomination before God. Go thy way Do not lay aside thoughts of worshipping God, because thou art not in a proper state, but prepare thyself for his worship without delay. Be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift Which thou mayest then cheerfully hope God will accept at thy hand. Philo, ( de Sacrif., p. 844,) explaining the law of the trespass- offering, tells us, “That when a man had injured his brother, and, repenting of his fault, voluntarily acknowledged it, (in which case, both restitution and sacrifice were required,) he was first to make restitution, and then to come into the temple, presenting his sacrifice, and asking pardon.” This greatly illustrates the text, especially considering that our Lord supposes, in this case, not a trespass-offering, but a voluntary gift, presented before the altar; and yet declares that this will not be accepted while there is a consciousness of having wronged a brother, and not made him reparation.

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