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the Rites or Customs, carnal Ordinances, and the like. 4. Lastly, Our Saviour's vehement Afleveration concerning the Perpetuity of the Law, till Heaven and Earth should pass away, seems no way consistent with Truth, if applied to the Ceremonial Law, which he knew was quickly to be abolished. Nor does it seem to be a sufficient Answer, that the Types were fulfilled in their Antitypes, and the Prophecies in their Accomplishment; for there are Abundance of Ceremonies abolished, besides what were Types of the Mefjah; and the very Sabbath itself is changed from the Seventh to the First Day of the Week. For all which Reasons, I am of Opinion, our Saviour speaks here only of the Law, as it is a Rule of Life and Manners, that is, the Moral Law, with the Explications of the Prophets. I have insisted the longer on this first Question, both because Interpreters are much puzzled and divided about it ; and because, by the Help of what has been now observed, we shall find an easier Solution to the other Questions proposed.
II. The Second Question is, whether there was any such Opinion current among them, as that the Meffiah was to destroy the Law or the Prophets? It is plain our Saviour enters upon this Argument, as if he had known of some such Error they had concerning him in their Minds, by this saying, Think not that I am come to deftroy the Law or the Prophets. For Answer of this Doubt, the Generality of Interpreters give us this Account of the Matter That our Saviour being about to give out so many Things as Duties, in which he prescribes either quite new Laws, or at least a much higher Degree of Ho
liness and Virtue than the People had been hitherto taught ; he was afraid on that Account they would think he intended to destroy the Law of Mofes, for which they deservedly had a very great Veneration. But tho' this be the common Anfwer to this Question, I confess it seems to me not so satisfactory; and that for these two Reafons: First, Because this Answer supposes, that they had already an Apprehension of the Reformation our Saviour was going to make in the Law, before he had acquainted them with it: And that by way of Anticipation of a Doubt which he was going to raise, he fortified them with this Antidote, which seems not so very probable. Secondly, Supposing they had as perfectly known all the Reformation Christ was to make about the Law before-hand, as they did afterwards, I can fee nothing from which they could entertain any such Prejudice or Suspicion; as that he was about to destroy the Moral Law : his whole Doctrine about it having so clear a Tendency to the perfecting of it, but not the least Shew or Colour of abrogating or destroying it. So that really I can't think this Opinion of his Intention to destroy the Law or the Prophets, did at all proceed from any of the Doctrines he delivers in this Sermon about them. That which seems to me a much more probable Account of the Matter is, that this Opinion was a Consequence of the Notions they had of the Messiah's worldly Kingdom ; for how could they think to do so much Mischief as to set up the Kingdom of the Mefsiah by Conquest above all the Kingdoms of the World, and to flow in Wealth and carnal Pleafure, and to kill, and say, and fall upon the
Spoil, and possess themselves of other Mens Goods and Inheritances, unless the Strictness of the Moral Law, particularly of the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 10th Commandments, were dispensed with, which do so carefully guard and fence Governments, and Mens Lives and Estates and Properties, that till those Laws are out of the Way, there is no coming at them. And therefore the Prejudice our Saviour is here correcting, as I take it, was not a Prejudice they had learned in his School, but a Prejudice they brought along with them to it, like all those other Prejudices, which he cured in the eight Beatitudes; for this flows as naturally from their carnal Notions of the Messiah and his Kingdom, as any of those other did : and is very properly annexed to that Discourse, as well as it is a pertinent Transition from it, to the preaching up of the Moral Law in it's Purity and Perfection, 9. d. As I have been endeavouring to undeceive you as to your Covetous, Ambitious, Vain, Vindictive, Unjust, Unmerciful, Lascivious, Turbulent and Seditious Expectations from the Messiah's Kingdom ; and to possess you with the contrary good Qualifications, Poverty of Spirit, Penitential Seriousness, Meekness, Justice, Mercifulness, Purity, Peaceableness and Patience so now I tell you in general, as to all Sorts of Duty, that ye are not to expect that I will exempt you from your Obedience to any Part of good Morality whatsoever, recommended either by Mofes or the Prophets; I am so far from evacuating those Duties, that I am resolved, by my Doctrine and Example, and the Injunctions I intend to lay on my Disciples, to preach up all Moral Duties to a greater Height than ye have
ever as yet been taught them. And this leads me to the Third Question,
III. In what Sense it is true, that Christ came not to destroy, but to fulfil the Law and the Prophets. The Law and the Prophets here meant, I have just now shewed to be the Moral Law, with the Interpretations of the Prophets. This Law Christ did not come to destroy, that is, to abolish ; so far from it, that with a great Asseveration he affirms in the next Verse, That till Heaven and Earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wife pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled ; or till all Things come to an End; as the Words are rendred by some learned Interpreters. And thus far all Commentators are agreed, except a few Antinomians, that Christ doth not evacuate the Moral Law but that it is still binding and obligatory upon us Christians. But as to the Meaning of the latter Part of this Sentence, that he was come to fulfil, or fill up, or perfe&t it, (for all these does the Original Word tampãous signify) there seems to be a considerable Variation among Interpreters; tho' at Bottom, like many other Things, it will be found rather a Verbal, than a real Controversy. The Question is, whether our Saviour has only better cleared the Meaning of the Moral Law, vindicating it from the wrong Glosses of the Scribes and Pharisees ; or whether he has not further added to the Moral Law itself, requiring some further or more express Moral Duties of us Christians, than Moses' required in the Law of the fews ? That which induces me to think this is not so material a Controversy, as is by some pretended, is this ; that all are agreed in the Duties required by Christ ; there is not one of
them disputed ; the Question is only, whether the same Duties do not belong to the Law of Mofes, rightly interpreted, or whether they were superadded anew by Christ ? I say, as long as we are all agreed in the Duties, what fignifies it whether they are required only by Christ, or by Moses and Christ both ? For that is really all the Purport of this Controversy. For my Part, I see no Neceffity of making all that follows here with this Introduction, But I say unto you, quite new Constitutions ; it is sufficient to justify that Form of Expression, that it was new to them, and quite another Meaning from wliat the Scribes and Pharisees, their present Interpreters of the Law, understood by it. And I am well satisfied, that as to the Design of the Law, which is to teach the Love of God and our Neighbour to the Height ; and as to the Spiritual Meaning of the Law, it is the same with that of the Gospel ; but the Means of compassing that Design are not near so effectual in the one, as in the other; and therefore I shall briefly give you my Reasons, why it seems to me our Saviour meant more by this Expression, than barely to act the Part of a good Interpreter of the Law; and that he has proceeded further to make Amendments and Alterations. 1. First then, the Original Word in my Text, anpwoul, which we render to fulfil, signifies likewise to fill up and perfect ; and is by almost all the Ancient Fathers upon this Text, interpreted in this latter Sense. And they illustrate it by a very pretty Similitude ; the Similitude of a Painter, who at first makes his rude Draught with a Coal or Lead; then afterwards comes with his Live-Colours, and finishes. So this