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of Grace exempts Us from the Obligation of it. Almost all Enthusiasts ufurp the Liberty of following the unguarded Dictates of their own Fancies, taking them for the Dictates of the infallible Spirit of God; but our Saviour thought not fit to entrust such a wild Liberty as this is, with any Persons whatsoever ; he has given us his Holy Laws, as for other Uses, so for Helps, and Directions to us, how to examine all our own Notions and other Mens too, and to try what Spirit they are of. They have Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them: And as the Prophet Isaiah says, To the Law and to the Testimony; if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no Light in them. Ifa. viii. 20. And certainly there can be nothing more agreeable to Reason than this Method; for if we had not God's Laws to direct us how to judge of the Spirits, we should be at the Mercy of every bold Pretender to impose upon us what new Doctrines he thinks fit; nay, to set up his own Spirit with a paramount Power to repeal or suspend the Laws of God himself; if there were not some certain Bounds fixed, which we are not to transgress. And what better Bounds can be set than those of the Moral Law, with the Explications of the Prophets in the Old Testament, and of our Saviour and his Apostles in the New, directing our Duty both to God and Man?
2. The Second Thing contained in this Affertion of the Text is, that an universal Obedience to all the Parts of the Moral Law is required of us; for our Saviour's Words exclude all manner of Exceptions; not one yot or Tittle shall pass from the Law. It is true, He is here speaking
of the Doctrine, not the Practice; for his Meaning is not to affert, that there shall be such an exact Holiness and Obedience in the Christian Church, that the Members of it shall never in the least transgress any of the Rules of the Moral Law but only that under the Gospel the Authority of the Moral Law shall be preserved in full Force; yet it will follow even from this, that we ought to endeavour after an universal Obedience. I hope none of us are so ignorant, or so badly instructed, as to believe that we can compound with God by the Observation of some Duties for the Neglect of others; yet forasmuch as we have, through the Corruption of Nature, and the Byass of natural Temper, Custom, worldly Interest, and other Temptations, strong Propensities to some Vices beyond others; we should learn from this Doctrine of our Saviour's, to study a sincere Respect to all God's Laws, and more particularly to bend our Care to those, where we know we are in the greatest Danger of transgressing : remembring that if we transgress any one of God's Laws, we trample upon that Sacred Authority which establishes the Whole: And therefore it is to be feared, the Respect we pay to the rest, proceeds not so much from the Love or Fear of God, as from the Want of the like powerful Temptation to transgress them.
3. The Third Thing I judge to be pointed at in this Affertion is, that a Niceness or Exactness, even in the seemingly most inconsiderable Parts of the Moral Law, is recommended here by our Saviour, when he says, that not one hot or Tittle of the Law shall pass ; for the Letter võra in the Greek, and especially the Letter jod in the Hebrew,
which answers it, being the smallest Letter of the Alphabet, and the Word Tittle signifying something yet smaller, either a Point, or an' Interpunction, or a Corner of a Letter, all this fhews what Regard our Saviour had, and consequently what Regard he requires us to have, to very
smallest and most inconsiderable Parts of our Duty. It is certainly a very great Error in Morals, that we are apt to content ourselves with abstaining from grofs Sins, without endea, vouring the like Watchfulness and Care against leffer Transgressions. We should consider that God requires our Care in the one, as well as in the other; And that the giving Place to the Devil in small Things, and the harbouring of small Temptations, makes Way for greater; and that there is often a very near Connexion between them. A sinful Thought harboured, doth quickly bring in a whole Train of sinful Imaginations, and these do naturally sprout out in sinful Actions ; so that the furest Way to keep off great Sins, is to watch against small Ones: And tho'smaller Sins do not lay waste the Conscience so much as great Ones, yet they defile the Man, they hinder his Growth in Grace, they very much indispose him for Prayer, and good Thoughts; and if indulged, make the Difference very small between him and an Hypocrite ; for an Hypocrite takes care to keep a fair Outside, and to abstain from scandalous Sins; but he has not the same Regard to God's Eye as to Man's, nor to Conscience as to Reputation; and therefore if we would secure our Sincerity, let us extend our Care to all the Parts of Duty, tho' after all our Çare, we shall be guilty of many Errors, both of
Omiffion and Commission. But if we have the Comfort of doing our sincere Endeavour, as in the Sight of God, we need not doubt but that, through the Help of his Grace, we shall be advancing gradually towards Christian Perfection, such as is attainable in this Life.
So much for the Affertion in my Text, concerning the Perpetuity of the Law, and the Respect we are to have to ail the Parts of it.
III. I come now to the Third and last Thing I observed in the Words, namely, the Limitation of this Assertion; till all be fulfilled. This, which our Translators render, till all be fulfilled, in the Original is, till all Things be done, that is, till the World be destroyed, and all Things come to an End. This Interpretation seems most agreeable to the parallel Place in St Luke xvi. 17. It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass, than one Tittle of the Law to fail. And it seems most agreeable likewise to the Context, which speaks only of the Moral Law, as I proved by several Arguments, which is to remain for ever. And it is the most general Interpretation of Interpreters; donec omnia fiant, till all Things be done. But if the Word must be understood (as our Translators will have it) in the Sense of Fulfilling ; then we must have Recourse to the Word Prophets in the foregoing Verse, taking the Law for the Law or the Prophets, as it was there exprefled ; and the Fulfilling must relate to the Accomplishment of the Prophecies concerning Christ. But the Prophets not having been mentioned here, as foretelling Things to come, but as Expositors of the Moral Law, I prefer the other Interpretation, for the Reasons abovementioned ; namely,
as being nearer the Original, ius år veita glin I, till all Things be done ; nearer the meaning of the Context, and the Words of St Luke. So it is but a further Assertion of the fame Thing he had faid before; q. d. Till Heaven and Earth pass, that is, are changed by the last Revolution, and all Things are at an End, the Law shall be kept up in it's full Vigour and Perfection.
So now I have done with what I proposed to speak to from the Words; but there is an Objection will naturally rise from what our Saviour here says, which it will be necessary to remove by Way of further Explication of this Doctrine, concerning the perpetual Obligation of the Moral Law. The Objection is this; If the Moral Law is so binding upon Christians, then we are yet under the Covenant of Works, which promised Life only upon the Perfect Obedience of the Law, and threatned its Curses to all them who continued not in all Things written in the Law, to do them. And if so, how is Christ's Yoke easier, or his Burthen lighter? For Answer of this Objection; and for the Explication of this Doctrine, concerning the perpetual Obligation of the Moral Law, we are to confider, that tho' the Moral Law is still binding as a Rule of Duty, and as being a Transcript of the Law of Nature, assumed into the Gospel Dispensation ; yet by Virtue of the New Gospel-Covenant we are delivered, both from the Curse, and Rigour of it; and several more Gracious Terms are allowed us, than by that Law we could have pretended to. All which Terms, notwithstanding, do not tend to the abolishing of the Law, but to the better Observance of it: as will be