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command of sincerity, and prohibition of hypocrisy, it had nothing in it proportionable to those excellent promises and clearest revelations of eternity there expressed; nor of a fit employment for the designation of a special and a new Lawgiver, whose laws were to last for ever, and were established upon foundations stronger than the pillars of heaven and earth.
3. But St. Paul, calling the law of Moses, “ a law of works 5," did well insinuate what the doctrine of the Jews was, concerning the degrees and obligations of justice : for besides that it was a law of works, in opposition to the law of faith, (and so the sense of it is formerly explicated“,) it is also a law of works, in opposition to the law of the Spirit; and it is understood to be such a law, which required the exterior obedience; such a law, according to which St. Paul so lived, that no man could reprove him; that is, the judges could not tax him with prevarication ; such a law, which, being in very many degrees carnal and material, did not with much severity exact the intention and purposes spiritual. But the Gospel is “ the law of the Spirit.” If they failed in the exterior work, it was accounted to them for sin; but to Christians nothing becomes a sin, but a failing and prevaricating spirit. For the outward act is such an emanation of the interior, that it enters into the account, for the relation's sake, and for its parent. When God hath put a duty into our hands, if our spirits be right, the work will certainly follow; but the following work receives its acceptation, not from the value the Christian law hath precisely put upon it, but because the spirit from whence it came hath observed its rule. The law of charity is acted and expressed in works, but hath its estimate from the spirit. Which discourse is to be understood in a limited and qualified signification. For then also God required the heart, and interdicted the very concupiscences of our irregular passions, at least in some instances; but because much of their law consisted in the exterior, and the law appointed not, nor yet intimated any penalty to evil thoughts, and because the expiation of such interior irregularities was easy, implicit, and involved in their daily sacrifices, without special trouble; therefore the old law
Rom. iij. 27.
c Vide Considerat. of Christ's first Preaching, n. 3.
was “ a law of works,” that is, especially and in its first intention. But this being less perfect, the holy Jesus inverted the order. 1. For very little of Christianity stands upon the outward action; (Christ having appointed but two sacraments immediately :) and, 2. a greater restraint is laid upon the passions, desires, and first motions of the Spirit, than under the severity of Moses : and, 3. they are threatened with the same curses of a sad eternity, with the acts proceeding from them: and, 4. because the obedience of the spirit does in many things excuse the want of the outward act, God always requiring at our hands what he hath put in our power, and no more: and, 5. lastly, because the spirit is the principle of all actionsd, moral and spiritual, and certainly productive of them, when they are not impeded from without; therefore the holy Jesus hath secured the fountain, as knowing that the current must needs be healthful and pure, if it proceeds through pure channels, from a limpid and unpolluted principle.
4. And, certainly, it is much for the glory of God, to worship him with a religion, whose very design looks upon
“ the Searcher of our hearts” and Lord of our spirits; who judges the purposes as a God, and does not only take his estimate from the outward action as a man. And it is also a great reputation to the institution itself, that it purifies the soul, and secures the secret cogitations of the mind. It punishes covetousness, as it judges rapine ; it condemns a sacrilegious heart', as soon as an irreligious hand; it detests hating of our brother, by the same aversation which it expresses against doing him affronts. He that curses in his heart, shall die the death of an explicit and bold blasphemer; murmuring and repining is against the laws of Christianity; but either by the remissness of Moses's law, or the gentler execution of it, or the innovating or lessening glosses of the Pharisees, he was esteemed innocent whose actions were according to the letter, not whose spirit was conformed to
1 ου γαρ δοκείν δίκαιος, αλλ' είναι, θέλει,
Βαθείαν άλoκα διά φρενός καρπούμενος, ,
Amphiar. apud Æschyl. Sept. con. Theb. 589. • Josephus reprehendit Polybiun, quòd mortem Antiochi inflictam dixit ob cogitatum scelus sacrilegii, putans pænam non irrogari nisi ob perpetratum facinus : το γάς μηκέτι ποιήσαι το έργον βουλευσάμενον, ουκ ήν τιμωρίας άξιον,
the intention and more secret sanctity of the law. So that our righteousness must therefore exceed the Pharisaical standard, because our spirits must be pure as our hands, and the heart as regular as the action; our purposes must be sanctified, and our thoughts holy; we must love our neighbour as well as relieve him, and choose justice with adhesion of the mind, as well as carry her upon the palms of our hands. And, therefore, the prophets, foretelling the kingdom of the Gospel, and the state of this religion, call it "a writing the laws of God in our hearts." And St. Paul distinguishes the Gospel from the law, by this only measure : We are all Israelites, of the seed of Abraham, heirs of the same inheritance; only now we are not to be accounted Jews, for the outward conformity to the law, but for the inward consent and obedience to those purities, which were secretly signified by the types of Moses. They of the law were " Jews outwardly;" their “ circumcision was outward in the flesh,” their“ praise was of menf;" we are “ Jews inwardly;" our“ circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter, and our praise is of God;" that is, we are not judged by the outward act, but by the mind and the intention; and though the acts must follow in all instances where we can, and where they are required, yet it is the less principal, and rather significative, than by its own strength and energy operative, and accepted.
5. St. Clement of Alexandria saith, the Pharisees' righteousness consisted in the not doing evils; and that Christ superadded this also, that we must do the contrary good, and so exceed the Pharisaical measure. They would not wrong a Jew, nor many times relieve him; they reckoned their innocence by not giving offence, by walking blameless, by not being accused before the judges sitting in the gates of their cities. But the balance, in which the Judge of quick and dead weighs Christians, is, not only the avoiding evil, but doing good; the “ following peace with all men, and holiness;” the proceeding“ from faith to faith;" the “ adding virtue to virtue ;” the persevering“ in all holy conversation
i Rom. ii. 28, 29.
Optimus est qui minimis urgetur.
and godliness.” And, therefore, St. Paul, commending the grace of universal charity, says, that “ Love worketh no ill to his neighbour, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law;” implying, that the prime intention of the law was, that every man's right be secured, that no man receive wrong. And, indeed, all the decalogue consisting of prohibitions rather than precepts, saving that each table hath one positive commandment, does not obscurely verify the doctrine of St. Clement's interpretation. Now, because the Christian charity abstains from doing all injury, therefore it is the fulfilling of the law: but because it is also patient and liberal, that it suffers long, and is kind; therefore the charity commanded in Christ's law, exceeds that charity which the Scribes and Pharisees reckoned as part of their righteousness. But Jesus himself does, with great care in the particulars, instance in what he would have the disciples to be eminent, above the most strict sect of the Jewish religion. 1. In practising the moral precepts of the decalogue, with a stricter interpretation; 2. and in quitting the permissions and licenses, which, for the hardness of their heart, Moses gave them, as indulgences to their persons, and securities against the contempt of too severe laws.
6. The severity of exposition was added but to three commandments, and in three indulgences the permission was taken away. But, because our great Lawgiver repeated also other parts of the decalogue in his after-sermons', I will represent, in this one view, all that he made to be Christian by adoption.
The First Commandment.
7. The first commandment Christ often repeated and enforced, as being the basis of all religion, and the first endearment of all that relation, whereby we are capable of being the sons of God; as being the great commandment of the law, and comprehensive of all that duty we owe to God, in the relations of the virtue of religion : “ Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one Lord;” and, “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and
b Rom. xiii. 10.
with all thy mind, and with all thy strengthk.” This is the first commandment; that is, this comprehends all that which is moral and eternal in the first table of the decalogue.
8. The duties of this commandment are: 1. To worship God alone, with actions proper to him ; and, 2. to love, and, 3. obey him with all our faculties. 1. Concerning worship. The actions proper to the honour of God are, to offer sacrifice, incense, and oblations; making vows to him, swearing by his name as the instrument of secret testimony, confessing his incommunicable attributes, and praying to him for those graces which are essentially annexed to his dispensation; as remission of sins, gifts of the Spirit, and the grace of sanctification, and life eternal. Other acts of religion, such as are uncovering the head, bowing the knee, falling upon our face, stooping to the ground, reciting praises, are, by the consent of nations, used as testimonies of civil or religious veneration, and do not always pass for confessions of a Divinity; and, therefore, may be, without sin, used to angels, or kings, or governors, or to persons in any sense more excellent than ourselves, provided they be intended to express an excellency no greater than is proper to their dignities and persons; not in any sense given to an idol, or false gods. But the first sort are such, which all the world hath consented to be actions of Divine and incommunicable adoration; and such which God also, in several religions, hath reserved as his own appropriate regalities; and are idolatry, if given to any angel or man.
9. The next duties are: 2. Love ; 3. and obedience; but they are united in the Gospel : “ This is love, that we keep his commandments." And since we
And since we are, for God's sake, bound also to love others, this love is appropriate to God by the extension of parts, and the intension of degrees. The extension signifies, that we must serve God with all our faculties; for all division of parts is hypocrisy, and a direct prevarication : our heart must think what our tongue speaks, our hands act, what we promise or purpose; and God's enemies must have no share, so much as in appearance or dissimulation. Now no creature can challenge this; and if we do justice to our neighbour, though unwillingly, we have
Matt. xxii. 37. Mark, xii. 30, Luke, X. 27.