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warned you to flee from the Wrath to come ? bring forth therefore Fruits meet for Repentance : and think not to say witbin yourselves, we have Abraham to our Father : for" I say unto you, that God is able of these Stones' to raise up Children unto Abraham. So much for the Description of the Righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees.
II. I proceed now, in the next Place, as I proposed, to consider what further Degrees of Perfection our Saviour requires of his Disciples. This Part ought not to be slightly passed over, it being a Thing of the greatest Consequence to have a right Notion of that Evangelical Righteousness, which is required as the Condition of our Salvation. We have several Descriptions of it in the New Testament, for indeed it comprehends the whole Duty of Man, as there described ; at present I shall confine myself to the Description in my Text, which is taken from the Comparison between it and the Righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees : which I shall endeavour closely to pursue.
1. First then, whereas the Scribes and Pharisees contented themselves with the Exteriour of Duty, there is no Quality more essential to Evangelical Righteousness, than that it chiefly regard the Heart and Inner Man: and that it go about all Duty with a pure Eye to God. Our Saviour has been very plain, full, and particular upon this Şubject. Instead of those Devotions which were performed by the Pharisees standing in the Synagogues, and at the Corners of the Streets, to be seen of Men, he recommends to us to enter into our Closets, and to shut the Door behind us, and to
pray to our Father in fecret. So when we faft, he forbids a fad Countenance, and a demure down-look, which were put on by the Pharisees, that they might appear unto Men to faft; but prefcribes the Anointing of the Head, and the Washing of the Face, and the behaving ourselves so, as if we defired our Fasting should be known only to our heavenly Father in secret. And fo for our Charities and Alms-Deeds, instead of sounding the Trumpet, and hunting for the Applaufe of Men, as they did, we are directed not to let the left Hand know what the right Hand doth. In short, in all Duties, all worldly Regards and Considerations are so to be laid aside or postponed, that it is manifest the chief Regard is to be had to Almighty God; and that the Interiour is reckoned by our Saviour the Life and Soul of all Duty ; it is this Setting God always before us, which is the chief and main Property of our Gospel Obedience, whereby it is distinguished from this Pharifaical Righteousness in the Text.
2. Another Character of Evangelical, whereby it is distinguished from Pharifaical Righteousness, is, that it lays no great Stress on Ceremonials, or other Circumftantials of Religion ; though it uses them for Decency and Order ; but reserves it's Zeal for the more Substantial Matters of it: for, as St Paul obferves well, The Kingdom of God is not Meat and Drink, but Righteousness, and Peace, and Yoy in the Holy Ghost : for be that in these Things ferveth Cbrist, is acceptable to God, and approved of Men, Rom. xiv. 17. Not that a good Christian neglects any the smallest Duty, but he is most zealous for the best Duties, and such as are of greatest Importance.
3. A Third Character of Evangelical Righteoulness is, that it delights in the Study of the holy Scriptures; and the good Christian forms his Practice by that Model. He endeavours to be well rooted and grounded in the found Principles of Faith, and holy Maxims of Duty, which are there contained; and this fortifies him against the Wild-fire of Enthusiasm, the Seduction of Hereticks, the idle Stories of Tradition, or whatever else would lead him aside from his plain Duty. :
4. A Fourth Character of Evangelical Righteousness is, that it seeks for, nor admits of, no Evasions or Subterfuges, whereby to decline or shift-off Duty, remembring that God is not mocked, and be that doth Righteousness is righteous, and no other. And though the Solifidian, and Antinomian, and rigid Predestinarian ; though the loose Casuist, and the Delayer of Repentance, and a great many more such Underminers of Christian Morals, do attack the good Christian in his Principles; and the World, with all it's Cares and Lusts, and bad Examples, endeavours to corrupt his Practice, he keeps that Christian Simplicity and Sincerity, which guards hiin against all Trick and Fraud, and Diffimulation in his Duty, continually exercising and training himself to have al ways a Conscience void of Offence, both towards God and towards Man, Acts xxiv. 16.
6. A Fifth Character of Evangelical Righteousnels is, that it is well guarded against all the Effects of blind Zeal, and by Moderation and Humility is preserved from many Rocks the Pharifaical Righteousness splits upon. Howsoever zealous a good Christian may be for propagating the Truth, he understands the Christian Spirit better G 2
than to propagate it with Fire and Faggot, or by any other Methods of Perfecution; and though he will neglect neither Prayer, nor Sacraments, nor Fasting, nor any of the other Means whereby Christian Graces and Virtues are obtained, he still remembers that the Virtues themselves are of more Value than the Means of obtaining them ; and therefore will be far from valuing himself, or. making Oftentation to others of his Fasting and Mortification, and his other Attempts to bring himself to an Habit of Virtue ; but humbly waiting on God, he importunately intercedes with him, through the Mediation of Christ, who refifts the Proud, and gives Grace to the Humble. 1.6. The last Character I shall mention of the Righteousness of a good Christian, as distinguished from that of the Scribes and Pharisees, is, that the good Christian believes God to be no Respecter of Perfons, but in every Nation be that fears him, and worketh Righteousness, shall be accepted by him. And therefore trusting to no such external Privileges, he works out bis Salvation with Fear and Trembling, watching and praying that he enter not into Temptation, and taking Care left by Negligence and Disuse of his Talent, he provoke God to take it away from him. · So much for the Second Thing I proposed to consider from the Words. I find Time will not allow my going on to what I farther proposed : I shall therefore refer the Consideration of it, together with the Practical Inferences from the Whole, to another Opportunity.
MAT T. V. 20. For I say unto you, that except your Righteousness
hall exceed the Righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye fall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Seventh Sermon on this Text. A T the last Occasion, I explained to you
the Meaning of these Words, which being the Foundation of what was then said, and what is now farther to be said upon them, I shall again give you the Sum and Substance of it in this short Paraphrase; as if our Saviour had faid, “ Except ye my Hearers take Care to observe the « Moral Law more exactly than the Scribes and “ Pharisees require in their Interpretations of it, " ye shall be judged unworthy to be Members of " the Christian Church here, or to go to Heaven " hereafter.” In speaking to which Proposition, I proposed to do these Five Things.
I. 'To enquire into the Defects of the Pharifaical Righteousness, by thewing what Sort of Obedience it was which they required to the Law.
II. To shew what farther Degrees of Perfection our Saviour requires of his Disciples, as to this Point of Obedience to the Moral Law G 3