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many forms of oath in Jesus' day. Some were held to be binding, some were not. Instead of making speech more sacred or men more true, these oaths worked the other way. The virtue of simple true-speaking was lost. When men try to make one kind of statement more sacred and binding than another they imply that a man need not be so careful to be honest in ordinary speech. Against all this Jesus protests. Let your speech be simply yes and no, says

. Jesus. What Jesus wants he makes clear in another passage of this same sermon, 6. 22, 23: a single life absolutely given to God. In such a life there is only one purpose, to let God rule not simply in some words but in every word, and in the inner thought as well. This one perfect loyalty is the single eye, and that means a whole life that is light. A life that is all of one piece, true within and without, is what Jesus wants.

The Religion of the Spirit Foretold.-Men had seen the need of a religion of the spirit before Jesus' day. It appears in such noble passages as Psalm 51. 10 and Jeremiah 31. 31-33. But Jesus was the first to set forth that religion in its purity, to live it himself before men, and to give others power to live it after him. The Christian Church has not always maintained the high plane of its Master. Often men have sought to revive some letter of Old Testament law, like the Jewish Sabbath. At other times men have sought to make a law for men's faith and conscience out of some set of doctrines or rules or ordinances. Rules and forms and creeds have their place in the Christian Church, but they are not laws to be enforced nor are they ends in themselves. And we have no right to set them up between a man and God. So far as they help the Christain life and express the spirit of Christ, they may be retained as means. But the one and only essential is an inner spirit, the spirit of Christ. He who has this is a Christian.

RIGHTEOUSNESS AS BROTHERHOOD AND SONSHIP Righteousness as a Life With Men.- The higher right

a

eousness is social. With the Jews righteousness meant something to be done for God, so many rules to be kept because God had commanded them. With Jesus righteousness is a life to be lived with men. The rule of this life is good will. What good will means he makes plain by contrast. The primitive law among men everywhere has apparently been that of retaliation, and the Jewish law was not an exception. “Thine eyes shall not pity," it said; "life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Deuteronomy 19, 21; Exodus 21. 24; Leviticus 24. 20). Over against that Jesus sets up the principle of good will. Not love for love, and hate for hate; but love for all men no matter what they do. Nothing is to overcome this inner spirit which wishes only the good of others. They may beat you, or cheat you at the law, or oppress you by force; there is only one thing for the son of the Kingdom to do—to keep on showing them the same good will as did Jesus himself (Matthew 5. 3842).

Sons of Your Father.–And so Jesus comes at last to the heart of his message. It can all be put into one word: men are to be sons of their Father (Matthew 5. 45). We have seen how Jesus took the name of Father and

gave

it a richer, larger meaning. He did the same with the name

The Jews too thought of themselves as children of Jehovah; but they had in mind only their privileges. When Jesus spoke of sonship he meant obligation, not privilege; an inward spirit, not an outward favor. To be a son of God is to be like God. And so we have the one and final standard for men; not any set of rules, not even those of the Old Testament, but the heart of God himself. To the men of his day, narrow, selfish, exacting their rights, he said : Love all men, enemy as well as neighbor. Pray for all men, persecutor as well as friend. Look up and see what God does; his sun shines upon good and evil, he sends his rain upon the unjust as well as the just. And you are to be like that; you are to aim at nothing less. “Ye therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect."

of son.

Not LETTER NOR LAW, BUT THE SPIRIT Literal Observance.—And now we must turn again to some of the precepts in this chapter over whose meaning and use men have differed so widely. Are we to take these all literally and absolutely? Are the Friends right in refusing to take an oath even in courts of justice? Is Tolstoy right in declaring that there should never be any resistance to violence, nor any refusal to another's request for goods or money? The writer heard one minister of the gospel declare that if a man came to his door and asked him for a quarter, it was his duty to give, even though he knew it would land in the saloon keeper's till in the next few minutes.

The smaller sects and religious movements have often illustrated the error of literalizing the words of Jesus. There is a Russian sect whose members bawl from the housetops whatever message they have to give, because Jesus told his disciples to proclaim from the housetops what he spoke in their ears. The same men hold smoking to be the sin of sins, because Jesus declared that it was that which came out of a man that defiled him. There is a certain humor in Jesus' word to Peter, when he declares that the disciples are to receive in this life a hundred houses for each that they had left, and so also mothers and brothers and sisters a hundredfold (Mark 10. 30). Because Luke in his report of this mentions wife also (Luke 18. 29), the Mormons claim that Jesus supported polygamy; for did he not promise the disciples each a hundred wives?

Jesus' Principle and Method.-It must be answered that in all these positions there is a fundamental misunderstanding of Jesus' principle and method. Jesus is not giving a new set of rules to take the place of the old. It is not rules at all that he is giving. He is replacing a religion of rules with a religion of the spirit. His method in the Sermon on the Mount is very simple. In each case he points out how inadequate the old rule is, showing that it is the inner spirit that counts. Then he makes this plain by means of concrete illustrations. These suggestions of his, however, are not rules, but illustrations, and it is quite in his manner to give these in striking and even extreme form. Take Matthew 5. 38-42. Jesus

opposes

two principles to each other. One is that of give and take, it is the world's way to-day; the other is that of love, ungrudging, unmeasured, invincible, the kind of love that Paul sings later on. You may fight evil with evil, or you may show your unchanged good will by the turned cheek. You may meet injustice with retaliation, or you may answer the oppression by a deed of love; that is giving the cloak to him who has taken the coat. It is the spirit of love that Jesus is after. But it is not love to give a quarter to the man whose whisky-laden breath betrays his weakness; that is to sin against love. If we follow the law of love, we shall refuse the quarter. Those who turn these words of Jesus into a new set of rules are missing the Master's whole lesson, and unwittingly are becoming the scribes of a new legalism. The great demand of Jesus is for this spirit of love that is like the Father's, undeserved and invincible. The illustrations make plain the demand. But how that love shall show itself in the individual case will depend upon the circumstances. One way to show your good will for the drunkard at the door is to join the fight that will destroy the saloon; but that will cost you more than five minutes time or twenty-five cents of money.

WHAT, THEN, IS GOODNESS ? The Heart of Righteousness. It is perhaps possible to put Jesus' ideal of goodness, or righteousness, in two words, though these words must be far larger and richer than in our common use. (1) Obedience (Matthew 6. 33; 7. 21; Mark 3. 35). This does not mean blind submission to some authority, nor the matter of habit or rule. It may be present in men who know but little of God and truth. The test is this: Does this man say "Yes!” to the highest that he knows? He that does this belongs to God, though he may hardly as yet know the name of him who speaks to him. He who fails here has failed wholly (Matthew 5. 4348; 22. 37-40). (2) Love. Man's "Yes" opens the door to God, the Spirit of goodness, but love is the best word to describe the spirit that thus comes in. It is more than a sentiment, an emotion. It is a character, the quality of unselfishness, of unconquerable good will, of positive service. It is, in other words, the spirit of Christ and the heart of God himself. This simple test may be applied in pagan land or Christian, with children or old folks, to the simple and the wise. One touches the will, the spring of all life; the other measures the heart, the inner spirit of the man. It does not mean perfection in either case; it does test the direction and spirit of a man's life, and tells surely what its goal will be.

DIRECTIONS FOR STUDY
Scripture references: Matthew 5. 17-48; Luke 11. 33-44.

Review the principal points of the first two chapters, especially what is said about Jesus' method of teaching and wrong methods of interpreting his words.

Look through the whole Sermon on the Mount and note how all three chapters deal with the one theme of the true righteousness. Note how Jesus' method of teaching is illustrated here. He is practical, vital, concrete. He does not discuss in general terms, but gives concrete examples and applications. We must go back of these pictures to get the general principle.

Note how this chapter builds upon the last. The central thought of this chapter is sonship, and the idea of sonship flows directly from that of Fatherhood.

Read with great care Matthew 5. 17-48. State Jesus' central teaching here and show how this is illustrated and applied in each section.

What shall the modern Christian do with Matthew 5. 3842? Can we follow its letter? Where would this lead us? Do we need its spirit? What changes would the rule of this spirit make?

Read uke 11. 33-44. Note Jesus' criticism of the teaching and practice of the scribes (lawyers) and the Pharisees. Here is ground for their bitter hostility.

Consider Jesus' own spirit and life as illustration of his teaching about righteousness.

Note that this chapter gives us in a nutshell the ethics of Jesus, his ideal as to human character and conduct.

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