on Matthew 5 :29
Pluck it out - cut it off - We must shut our senses against dangerous objects, to avoid the occasions of sin, and deprive ourselves of all that is most dear and profitable to us, in order to save our souls, when we find that these dear and profitable things, however innocent in themselves, cause us to sin against God.
It is profitable for thee that one of thy members - Men often part with some members of the body, at the discretion of a surgeon, that they may preserve the trunk, and die a little later; and yet they will not deprive themselves of a look, a touch, a small pleasure, which endanger the eternal death of the soul. It is not enough to shut the eye, or stop the hand; the one must be plucked out, and the other cut off. Neither is this enough, we must cast them both from us. Not one moment's truce with an evil passion, or a sinful appetite. If you indulge them, they will gain strength, and you shall be ruined. The rabbins have a saying similar to this: "It is better for thee to be scorched with a little fire in this world, than to be burned with a devouring fire in the world to come."
on Matthew 5 :29
Thy right eye - The Hebrews, like others, were accustomed to represent the affections of the mind by the members or parts of the body, Romans 7:23; Romans 6:13. Thus, the bowels denoted compassion; the heart, affection or feeling; the reins, understanding, secret purpose. An evil eye denotes sometimes envy Matthew 20:15, and sometimes an evil passion, or sin in general. Mark 7:21-22; "out of the heart proceedeth an evil eye." In this place, as in 2 Peter 2:14, the expression is used to denote strong adulterous passion, unlawful desire, or wicked inclination. The right eye and hand are mentioned, because they are of most use to us, and denote that, however strong the passion may be, or difficult to part with, yet that we should do it.
Offend thee - The noun from which the verb "offend," in the original, is derived, commonly means a stumbling-block, or a stone placed in the way, over which one might fall. It also means a net, or a certain part of a net against which, if a bird strikes, it springs the net, and is taken. It comes to signify, therefore, anything by which we fall, or are ensnared; and applied to morals, means anything by which we fall into sin, or by which we are ensnared. The English word "offend" means now, commonly, to displease; to make angry; to affront. This is by no means the sense of the word in Scripture. It means to cause to fall into sin. The eye does this when it wantonly looks upon a woman to lust after her.
Pluck it out ... - It cannot be supposed that Christ intended this to be taken literally. His design was to teach that the dearest objects, if they cause us to sin, are to be abandoned; that by all sacrifices and self-denials we must overcome the evil propensities of our nature, and resist our wanton imaginations. Some of the fathers, however, took this commandment literally. Our Saviour several times repeated this sentiment. See Matthew 18:9; Mark 9:43-47. Compare also Colossians 3:5.
It is profitable for thee - It is better for thee. You will have gained by it.
One of thy members perish - It is better to deny yourself the gratification of an evil passion here, however much it may cost you, than to go down to hell forever.
Thy whole body should be cast into hell - Thy body, with all its unsubdued and vicious propensities. This will constitute no small part of the misery of hell. The sinner will be sent there as he is, with every evil desire, every unsubdued propensity, every wicked and troublesome passion, and yet with no possibility of gratification. It constitutes our highest notions of misery when we think of a man filled with anger, pride, malice, avarice, envy and lust, and with no opportunity of gratifying them forever. This is all that is necessary to make an eternal hell. On the word hell, see the notes at Matthew 5:22.
on Matthew 5 :29
5:29-30 If a person as dear as a right eye, or as useful as a right hand, cause thee thus to offend, though but in heart. Perhaps here may be an instance of a kind of transposition which is frequently found in the sacred writings: so that the 29th verse may refer to 27, 28; and the 30th to ver. 21, 22. Mt 5:29,27,28,30,21,22 As if he had said, Part with any thing, however dear to you, or otherwise useful, if you cannot avoid sin while you keep it. Even cut off your right hand, if you are of so passionate a temper, that you cannot otherwise be restrained from hurting your brother. Pull out your eyes, if you can no otherwise be restrained from lusting after women. Matt 18:8; Mark 9:43.