« הקודםהמשך »
Do&trine of our Saviour's on the Moral Law, is like the finishing Strokes of the Painter, it being before much duller and more obscure. Besides, I know not that ever this Word, which we render fülfil, signifies a better Explication or Interpretation, it is never taken in that Sense, but commonly in the other of Fulfilling, Filling up, Finishing, or Perfecting. 2. It is plain that our Saviour in these Matters, which he says were indulged to the Yews, because of the Hardness of their Hearts; such as Divorces, and the Law of Retaliation, has directly retrenched those Conceffions; and so has not interpreted, but amended and perfected the Law in those Particulars. 3. But it is not only those Things which were permitted because of the Hardness of their Hearts, he has thus amended; there are some New Duties he has added. I shall at present mention one relating to the First, and another to the Second Table of the Law. As to the First Table, the Instance I shall give, is his prohibiting of all Oaths in common Conversation. And that in the Second Table of the Law, relating to our Duty to our Neighbour, is that New Commandment of Brotherly Love, John. xiii. 34. which Christ calls particularly bis Commandment, John. xv. 12. This is my Commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. For neither the Law of Nature, nor the Law of Moses, erected the Disciples of Christ into a Society, and cemented them together by that firm Friendship, which Christ by that New Institution or Commandment set up among them. 4. There are many other high Degrees of Duties, e. g. of Humility, Self-denial, Bearing the Crofs, Suffering to Martyrdom, Love of Enemies, and
the the like, which tho' now by the Help of Christ's Doctrine we can reduce to fome Head or other of the Ten Commandments, yet really it would puzzle any one to find them out there, if we had no better Assistance than is afforded us from the Law of Mofes itself. 5. Lastly, It was prophefied concerning the Messiah, Deut, xviii. 18. that he should be a Prophet like unto Moles. Now how could he be a Prophet like unto Moses, if he was not to be a Lawgiver? To be only an Interpreter of the Law, seems to make him a Prophet inferior to Mofes, like the other Prophets of the Old Teftament. And it is not a sufficient Answer to this, to Thew how, in divers other Respects, he was preferable to Mofes, unless we make him preferable in this Respect of his Doctrine, and the Authority he had to deliver God's Mind and Will ; for the Prophecy relates particularly to that. Í will raise them up a Prophet, says God to Moses, from among their Brethren, like unto thee, and will put my Words in his Mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto iny Words which he shall speak in my Name, I will require it of him. Upon all which Accounts it is much more probable to me, that our Blessed Saviour has not only explained, but perfected the Law.
There is one Objection against this Doctrine, which I find has made the learned Calvin, and feveral others, oppose it with some Vehemence ; Namely, because the Law requires the highest Degree of Love, both to God and our Neighbour, therefore they think it is not capable of any Rectification, or further Perfection. But there is a Fallacy in this Argument; for thọ the Law
may design the same Perfection, yet it may not have such perfect Ways and Means of coming at it. For it is possible enough for the Law in general to require the Height of Love both to God and Man, and yet in the Ways and Means of compaffing this Design, there might be, and there were such Things indulged to that carnal People, as required an Amendment by the higher Dispenfation of the Gospel, tho' both Law and Gofpel aimed at the same Thing; as we aim at the same Thing in the Instruction of Children and Men, tho’ in the Instruction of Children we are forced to take some childish Methods, not so proper for Men.
The Difficulties of the Words-being thus cleared, we may now gather our Saviour's Meaning in the Text to be as if he had said: “Think not that " there is any such Liberty or Liệentiousness in “ my Kingdom, that to gratify your carnal Ex“ pectations from it, I will dispense with any of
the Rules of Morality prescribed by Moses, and “ explained by the Prophets. I am so far from “ any Design of evacuating them, that I intend “ to teach them more clearly and perfectly than “ ever they were taught before."
From the Words thus explained, there are these Three Things I would speak to.
I. In general, how requisite it is to remove all Mistakes and Prejudices out of Peoples Minds, in order to prepare them for the Reception of the Truth. Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the Prophets.
II. That Christ is a great Friend, Promoter, and Encourager of good Morality.
III. I would
III. I would Thew what Influence this Doctrine should have both upon our Judgment and Practice.
But Time not permitting the handling of these Things as they ought, I shall rather choose not to enter upon them, but to refer them to some other Opportunity.
Now to God the Father, Son and Holy Ghosts be all Praise, &c.
MATT. V. 17. Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or
the Prophets : I am not come to destroy, but to
The Second Sermon on this Text.
fioning some Controversy among Interpreters, I was the more particular in the Explication of them at the last Occasion. The Result of the Sense and Meaning of them I gathered up thus ; as if our Saviour had said; “ Think not that there “ is any such Liberty or Licentiousness in my “ Kingdom, that to gratify your carnal Expecta* tions from it, I will dispense with any of the “ Rules of Morality prescribed by Moses, and ex“ plained by the Prophets. I am so far from any “ Design of evacuating those Laws, that I intend “ to teach them more clearly and perfectly than “ ever they were taught before.”
From the Words thus explained, there were Three Things I just proposed to consider, but had
not then Time to do it, which I do therefore de- sign for the Subject of our present Meditation.
1. The First was, to observe in general, how sequisite it is to remove all Mistakes and Prejudices