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Matthew 5:13

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Ye are the salt of the earth - Salt renders food pleasant and palatable, and preserves from putrefaction. So Christians, by their lives and instructions, are to keep the world from entire moral corruption. By bringing down the blessing of God in answer to their prayers, and by their influence and example, they save the world from universal vice and crime.

Salt have lost its savour - That is, if it has become tasteless, or has lost its preserving properties. The salt used in this country is a chemical compound - chloride of sodium - and if the saltness were lost, or it were to lose its savor, there would be nothing remaining. It enters into the very nature of the substance. In eastern countries, however, the salt used was impure, or mingled with vegetable or earthy substances, so that it might lose the whole of its saltness, and a considerable quantity of earthy matter remain. This was good for nothing, except that it was used to place in paths, or walks, as we use gravel. This kind of salt is common still in that country. It is found in the earth in veins or layers, and when exposed to the sun and rain, loses its saltness entirely. Maundrell says, “I broke a piece of it, of which that part that was exposed to the rain, sun, and air, though it had the sparks and particles of salt, yet it had perfectly lost its savor. The inner part, which was connected to the rock, retained its savor, as I found by proof. So Dr. Thomson (The Land and the Book, vol. ii. pp. 43,44) says, “I have often seen just such salt, and the identical disposition of it that our Lord has mentioned. A merchant of Sidon having farmed of the government the revenue from the importation of salt, brought over an immense quantity from the marshes of Cyprus - enough, in fact, to supply the whole province for at least 20 years. This he had transferred to the mountains, to cheat the government out of some small percentage. Sixty-five houses in June - Lady Stanhope‘s village were rented and filled with salt. These houses have merely earthen floors, and the salt next the ground, in a few years, entirely spoiled. I saw large quantities of it literally thrown into the street, to be trodden underfoot by people and beasts. It was ‹good for nothing.‘

“It should be stated in this connection that the salt used in this country is not manufactured by boiling clean salt water, nor quarried from mines, but is obtained from marshes along the seashore, as in Cyprus, or from salt lakes in the interior, which dry up in summer, as the one in the desert north of Palmyra, and the great lake of Jebbul, southeast of Aleppo.

“Maundrell, who visited the lake at Jebbul, tells us that he found salt there which had entirely ‹lost its savor,‘ and the same abounds among the debris at Usdum, and in other localities of rocksalt at the south end of the Dead Sea. Indeed, it is a well-known fact that the salt of this country, when in contact with the ground, or exposed to rain and sun, does become insipid and useless. From the manner in which it is gathered, much earth and other impurities are necessarily collected with it. Not a little of it is so impure that it cannot be used at all, and such salt soon effloresces and turns to dust - not to fruitful soil, however. It is not only good for nothing itself, but it actually destroys all fertility wherever it is thrown; and this is the reason why it is cast into the street. There is a sort of verbal verisimilitude in the manner in which our Lord alludes to the act: ‹it is cast out‘ and ‹trodden under foot;‘ so troublesome is this corrupted salt, that it is carefully swept up, carried forth, and thrown into the street. There is no place about the house, yard, or garden where it can be tolerated. No man will allow it to be thrown on to his field, and the only place for it is the street, and there it is cast to be trodden underfoot of men.”

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Ye are the salt of the earth. Mankind, lying in ignorance and wickedness, were as a vast heap, ready to putrify; but Christ sent forth his disciples, by their lives and doctrines to season it with knowledge and grace. If they are not such as they should be, they are as salt that has lost its savour. If a man can take up the profession of Christ, and yet remain graceless, no other doctrine, no other means, can make him profitable. Our light must shine, by doing such good works as men may see. What is between God and our souls, must be kept to ourselves; but that which is of itself open to the sight of men, we must study to make suitable to our profession, and praiseworthy. We must aim at the glory of God.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Ye are the salt of the earth - Our Lord shows here what the preachers of the Gospel, and what all who profess to follow him, should be; the salt of the earth, to preserve the world from putrefaction and destruction. See the note on Leviticus 2:13.

But if the salt have lost his savor - That this is possible in the land of Judea, we have proof from Mr. Maundrell, who, describing the Valley of Salt, speaks thus: "Along, on one side of the valley, toward Gibul, there is a small precipice about two men's lengths, occasioned by the continual taking away of the salt; and, in this, you may see how the veins of it lie. I broke a piece of it, of which that part that was exposed to the rain, sun, and air, though it had the sparks and particles of salt, Yet It Had Perfectly Lost Its Savour: the inner part, which was connected to the rock, retained its savor, as I found by proof." See his Trav., 5th edit., last page. A preacher, or private Christian, who has lost the life of Christ, and the witness of his Spirit, out of his soul, may be likened to this salt. He may have the sparks and glittering particles of true wisdom, but without its unction or comfort. Only that which is connected with the rock, the soul that is in union with Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit, can preserve its savor, and be instrumental of good to others.

To be trodden underfoot - There was a species of salt in Judea, which was generated at the lake Asphaltites, and hence called bituminous salt, easily rendered vapid, and of no other use but to be spread in a part of the temple, to prevent slipping in wet weather. This is probably what our Lord alludes to in this place. The existence of such a salt, and its application to such a use, Schoettgenius has largely proved in his Horae Hebraicae, vol. i. p. 18, etc.

Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 439

Any habit or practice that would lead into sin, and bring dishonor upon Christ, would better be put away, whatever the sacrifice. That which dishonors God cannot benefit the soul. The blessing of heaven cannot attend any man in violating the eternal principles of right. And one sin cherished is sufficient to work the degradation of the character, and to mislead others. If the foot or the hand would be cut off, or even the eye would be plucked out, to save the body from death, how much more earnest should we be to put away sin, that brings death to the soul! DA 439.1

In the ritual service, salt was added to every sacrifice. This, like the offering of incense, signified that only the righteousness of Christ could make the service acceptable to God. Referring to this practice, Jesus said, “Every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.” “Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.” All who would present themselves “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” (Romans 12:1), must receive the saving salt, the righteousness of our Saviour. Then they become “the salt of the earth,” restraining evil among men, as salt preserves from corruption. Matthew 5:13. But if the salt has lost its savor; if there is only a profession of godliness, without the love of Christ, there is no power for good. The life can exert no saving influence upon the world. Your energy and efficiency in the upbuilding of My kingdom, Jesus says, depend upon your receiving of My Spirit. You must be partakers of My grace, in order to be a savor of life unto life. Then there will be no rivalry, no self-seeking, no desire for the highest place. You will have that love which seeks not her own, but another's wealth. DA 439.2

Let the repenting sinner fix his eyes upon “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29); and by beholding, he becomes changed. His fear is turned to joy, his doubts to hope. Gratitude springs up. The stony heart is broken. A tide of love sweeps into the soul. Christ is in him a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. When we see Jesus, a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief, working to save the lost, slighted, scorned, derided, driven from city to city till His mission was accomplished; when we behold Him in Gethsemane, sweating great drops of blood, and on the cross dying in agony,—when we see this, self will no longer clamor to be recognized. Looking unto Jesus, we shall be ashamed of our coldness, our lethargy, our self-seeking. We shall be willing to be anything or nothing, so that we may do heart service for the Master. We shall rejoice to bear the cross after Jesus, to endure trial, shame, or persecution for His dear sake. DA 439.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, 258-9

Such an appeal, made in the spirit of Christ, will not be thought impertinent. It will impress the minds of many in the higher classes. 6T 258.1

By efforts put forth in wisdom and love, many a rich man may be awakened to a sense of his responsibility and his accountability to God. When it is made plain that the Lord expects them as His representatives to relieve suffering humanity, many will respond and will give of their means and their sympathy for the benefit of the poor. When their minds are thus drawn away from their own selfish interests, many will be led to surrender themselves to Christ. With their talents of influence and means they will gladly unite in the work of beneficence with the humble missionary who was God's agent in their conversion. By a right use of their earthly treasure they will lay up “a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.” They will secure for themselves the treasure that wisdom offers, even “durable riches and righteousness.” 6T 258.2

*****

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Ellen G. White
Prophets and Kings, 231

The healing of the waters of Jericho was accomplished, not by any wisdom of man, but by the miraculous interposition of God. Those who had rebuilt the city were undeserving of the favor of Heaven; yet He who “maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust,” saw fit in this instance to reveal, through this token of compassion, His willingness to heal Israel of their spiritual maladies. Matthew 5:45. PK 231.1

The restoration was permanent; “the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake.” 2 Kings 2:22. From age to age the waters have flowed on, making that portion of the valley an oasis of beauty. PK 231.2

Many are the spiritual lessons to be gathered from the story of the healing of the waters. The new cruse, the salt, the spring—all are highly symbolic. PK 231.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 356

You have no time to lose, but should make diligent efforts to overcome the marked traits in your character, which, if indulged, will close the doors of glory against you. You cannot afford to lose heaven. You now need to make a decided change in your words and deeds, to overcome your avaricious spirit, and to turn your thoughts into the channel of sanctified truth. In short, you need to be transformed. Then God will accept your labors in His cause. You should be a man of such undeviating veracity that the love of gain will not seduce you and no temptation overcome you. The Lord requires of all who profess His name a strict adherence to truth. This will be as salt which has not lost its savor, as a light amid the moral darkness and deception of the world. 4T 356.1

“Ye are the light of the world,” says Christ. Those who are truly connected with God, by reflecting the light of heaven will have a saving power in the church and also in the world; for the perfume of good deeds and truthful acts will make them of good repute, even among those who are not of our faith. Those who fear God will respect and honor such a character; and even the enemies of our faith, as they see the spirit and life of Christ exhibited in their daily works, will glorify God, the source of their strength and honor. 4T 356.2

You, my brother, should have been truly converted to the truth and wholly given to the work of God years ago. Precious years, which should have been rich with experience in the things of God and in practical labor in His cause, have been lost. Whereas you should now be able to teach others, you have failed to come to the full knowledge of the truth yourself. You ought now to have an experimental knowledge of the truth and be qualified to bear the message of warning to the world. Your services have been nearly lost to the cause of God because your mind has been divided; you have been planning and scheming, buying and selling, serving tables. 4T 356.3

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