Friday, July 3, 2009

Who Is My Neighbor?

Matthew Poole, "How May Detraction Be Best Prevented or Cured?" - a sermon on Ps. 15.3 in Puritan Sermons, 1659-1689, Vol. 2, p. 444-445:

QUESTION I. " Who is my neighbor ? " -- There are some men of fame in the world that will tell you, that, " in the language of the Old Testament, by 'neighbor' is to be understood' one of the same country and religion,' popularins Israelita; " and it is the peculiarity of the gospel, that every man is made my neighbor. But if we examine Scripture, we shall find this to be a gross mistake. I need not go farther for the confutation of it than to the Decalogue itself: " You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." (Exod. 20. 16.) I suppose it will seem a very hard saying to affirm, that it is lawful to bear false witness against a stranger. So when God commands, " You shall not lie carnally with your neighbor's wife," (Lev. 18. 20) I presume these gentlemen would not allow themselves that liberty with the wife of a stranger. If God may be his own interpreter, this controversy will quickly be ended from Lev. 19., where, if you compare two verses,--verse 18, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," with verse 34, "But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; "--you will not need the help of an artist to form this conclusion, that" the stranger is, in God's account, and ought to be in mine account, my neighbor." To the same purpose you may please to compare two other places of scripture together: Deut. 22. 4, "You shall not see your brother's ass nor his ox fall down by the way, and hide yourself from them; you shall surely help him to lift them up again; " With Exod. 23.4, 5: " If you meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray, you shall surely bring it hack to him again. If you see the ass of him that hate thee lying under his burden, you shall help with him." He who is my " brother, "which is nearer than a neighbor, in the one place, is mine " enemy," and he that " hates me" in another place. And it is further observable to this end, that the Hebrew word and the Greek a "neighbor," is usually rendered in Scripture by eteros ''another;" as: "He that loves another hath fulfilled the law, for the law saith, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Rom. 13. 8, 9.) Most true therefore is that of St. Augustine, Proximus est oamnis homo homini" Every man is a neighbor to any other man." Nay, the more intelligent part of the Jews were of this opinion; and Kimchi upon these words saith, " He is called my neighbor with whom I have any business." And the scribe, of whom we read, Luke 10, knowing tile mistakes of many of his brethren, asks our Savior this question, " Who is my neighbor ? " (Verse 29.) And our savior gives him an answer, the sum of which is this, that even the Samaritan was to be looked upon as his " neighbor."

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