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uuto us according to our faith; and “the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us,” through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
We may yet farther observe, that every command in Holy Writ is only a covered promise. - For by that solemn declaration, “ This is the covenant I will make after those days, saith the Lord : I will put my laws in your minds, and write them in your hearts.” God hath engaged to give whatsoever he commands. Does he command us then to “ pray without ceasing ?” to “ rejoice evermore ?.” to be “ holy as He is holy?" It is enough : He will work in us this very thing : It shall be unto us according to his word.
4. But if these things are so, we cannot be at a loss what to think of those who, in all ages of the Church, have undertaken to change or supersede some commands of God, as they professed, by the peculiar direction of his Spirit. Christ has bere given us an infallible rule, whereby to judge of all such pretensions. Christianity, as it includes the whole moral law of God, both by way of injunction and of promise, if we will hear him, is designed of God to be the last of all bis dispensations. There is no other to come after this. This is to endure till the consummation of all things. Of consequence, all such new revelations are of Satan and not of God; and all pretensions to another more perfect dispensation fall to the ground of course. “Heaven and earth shall pass away;” but this word “shall not pass away."
III. 1. “ Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven : but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
Who, what are they, that make the preaching of the Law a character of reproach? Do they not see on whom the reproach must fall,-on whose head it must light at last ? Whosoever on this ground despiseth us, despiseth Him that sent us. For did ever any man preach the law like Him, even when he came not to condemn, but to save, the world ; when he came purposely to “bring life and immortality to light through the gospel ? " Can any preach the law more expressly, more rigorously, than Christ does in these words ? And who is he that shall amend them ? Who is he that shall instruct the Son of God how to preach ? Who will teach him a better way of delivering the message which he hath received of the Father ?
2. “ Whosoever shall break one of these least commandments,” or one of the least of these commandments.-" These commandments," we may obserre, is a term used by our Lord as an equivalent with the Law, or the Law and the Prophets,which is the same thing, seeing the Prophets added nothing to the law, but only declared, explained, or enforced it, as they were mored by the Holy Ghost.
“Whosoever shall break one of these least commandments," especially if it be done wilfully or presumptuously :-One ;for “he that keepeth the whole law, and [thus] offends in one point, is guilty of all;" the wrath of God abideth on him, as surely as if he had broken every one. So that no allowance is made for one darling lust; no reserve for one idol ; no excuse for refraining from all besides, and only giving way to one bosom sin. What God demands is, an entire obedience; we arc to have an eye to all his commandments; otherwise we lose all the labour we take in keeping somc, and our poor souls for ever and ever.
“One of the least," or one of the least of these commandments :-Here is another cxcuse cut off, whereby many, who cannot deceive God, miserably deceive their own souls. “This sin,” saith the sinner, “is it not a little one? Will not the Lord spare me in this thing ? Surely be will not be extreme to mark this, since I do not offend in the greater matters of the law.” Vain hope! Speaking after the mamer of men, we may term tliese great, and those little commandments; but, in reality, they are not so. If we use propriety of speech, there is no such thing as a little sin; every sin being a transgression of the holy and perfect law, and an affront on the great Majesty of Heaven.
3. “ And shall teach men so.” In some sense it may be said, that whosoever openly breaks any commandment, teaches others to do the same; for example speaks, and many times louder than precept. In this sense it is apparent, every open drunkard is a teacher of drunkenness; every sabbath-breaker is constantly teaching his neighbour to profane the Day of the Lord. But this is not all: au babitual breaker of the law is seldom content to stop here: he generally teaches other men to do so too, by word as well as example; especially when he hardens his neck, and hateth to be reprored. Such a sinner soon commences an advocate for sin : he defends what he is resolved not to forsake: lic excuses the sin which he will not leave, and thus directly teaclics every sin which he commits,
“ He shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven;"'--that is, shall have no part therein. He is a stranger to the kingdom of heaven which is on earth ; he hath no portion in that inheritance; no share of that “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Nor, by consequence, can he have any part in the glory which shall be revealed.
. 4. But if those who even thus break, and teach others to break, “ one of the least of these commandments, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven,” shall have no part in the kingdom of Christ and of God; if even these shall be cast into “outer darkness, where is wailing and gnashing of teeth ;” then where will they appear, whom our Lord chiefly and primarily intends in these words,-they who, bearing the character of Teacbers sent from God, do nevertheless themselves break bis commandments; yea, and openly teach others so to do; being corrupt both in life and doctrine ?
5. These are of several sorts. Of the first sort are they who live in some wilful, habitual sin.' Now if an ordinary sinner teaches by his example, how much more a sinful Minister,-even if he does not attempt to defend, excuse, or extenuate his sin ? If he does, he is a murderer indeed ; yea, the murderer-general of his congregation. He peoples the regions of death. He is the choicest instrument of the Prince of Darkness. When he goes hence, “hell from beneath is moved to meet him at his coming.” Nor can he sink into the bottomless pit, withont dragging a multitude after him.
6. Next to these are the good-natured, good sort of men; who live an easy, harmless life, neither troubling themselves with outward sin, nor with inward holiness ; men who are remarkable neither one way nor the other,-neither for religion nor irreligion ; who are very regular both in public and private, but do not pretend to be any stricter than their neighbours. A Minister of this kind breaks, not one, or a few only, of the least commandments of God; but all the great and weighty branches of his law which relate to the power of godliness, and all that require us to " pass the time of our sojourning in fear," to “ work out our salvation with fear and trembling,” to have our “loins always girt, and our lights burning,” to “ strive" or agonize “to enter in at the strait gate.” And he teaches men so, by the whole form of his life, and the general tenor of his preaching, which uniformly tends to sooth those in their pleasing dream, who imagine themselves Christians and are not; to persuade all, who attend upon his ministry, to sleep on and
tiike their iest. Vi marvel therefore, it' luthle, and then that iuliowy lim, ilahe Together in everlasting burnings!
7. But abore all these, in the bighest rank of the enemies of the gospel of Christ, are ther who openly and explicitly “judge the law” itself, and “speak evil of the law;" who teach men w break (2.097, to lissolve, to loose, to antic the obligation of) not one only, whether of the least, or of the greatest, but all the commandments at a stroke; who teach, without any cover, in so many words,-“What did our Lord do with the law? Ile abolished it. There is but one duty, which is that of believing. All commands are iwtit for our times. From any demand of the law, no man is obliged now to go one step, or give away onc farthing, to eat or omit one morsel.” This is indeed carrying matters with a high hand; this is withstanding our Lord to the face, and telling him, that he understood noi holl to cleliver the message on which he was sent. ( Lord, lay not this siu to their charge! Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do!
8. The most surprising of all the circumstances that attend this strong delusion, is, that they who are given up to it, really believe that they honour Christ by overthrowing his law, and that they are magnifying his office, wbile they are clestroying his doctrive! Sca, they honour himn just as Judas did, when he said, “ Hail, Master, and kissed him.” And he may as justly say to every one of them, “ Betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?" It is no other than betraving bim with a kiss, to talk of his blood, and take away his crown; to set light by any part of his lawr, under pretence of advanciug his gospel. Norindeed can any one escape this charge, who preaches faith in any such a manner as either directly or indirectly tends 10 set aside any brauch of obedience; who preaches Christ so as to disaunul, or weaken in any wise, the least of the cominandments of God.
9. It is impossible, indeed, to have too bigh an estrem for “the faithi of God's clect.” And we must all declare, “ By grace ve are sured through faith; pot of works, lest any man should boast.” We must cry aloud to every penitent simer, “ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” But, at the same time, we must take care to let all men huom', we esteem vo faith but that which worketh by Jove; and that we are not saved by faith, unless so far as ie are delivered from the power as well as the guilt of sin. And when we say, “Beliere, and thou shalt be saved;" we do not mca!), “ Bclicve,
and thou shalt step from sin to heaven, without any holiness coming between; faith supplying the place of holiness; ” but, “Believe, and thou shalt be holy; believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt. have peace and power together: thou shalt have power from him in whom thou believest, to trample sin under thy feet; power to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and to serve hiin with all thy strength : thou shalt have power, .by patient continuance in well doing, to seek for glory, and honour, and immortality ;' thou shalt both do and teach all the commandments of God, from the least even to the greatest : thou shalt teach them by thy life as well as thy words, and so be called great in the kingdom of heaven.'” · IV. 1. Whatever other way we teach to the kingdom of heaven, to glory, honour, and immortality, be it called the way of Faith, or by any other name, it is, in truth, the way to destruction. It will not bring a man peace at the last. For thus saith the Lord, " I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisecs, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."
The Scribes, mentioned so often in the New Testament, as some of the most constant and vchement opposers of our Lord, were not Secretaries, or men employed in writing only, as that term might incline us to believe. Neither were they Lawyers, in our common sense of the word; although the word yopixoi is so rendered in our translation. Their employment had no affinity at all to that of a Lawyer among us. They were conversant with the laws of God, and not with the laws of man. These were their study: it was their proper and peculiar business, to read and expound the Law and the Prophets; particularly in the synagogues. They were the ordinary, stated Preachers among the Jews. So that if the sense of the original word was attended to, we might render it, the Divines. For these were the men that made Divinity their profession : and they were generally (as their name literally imports) men of letters ; men of the greatest account for learning that were then in the Jewish nation.
2. The Pharisees were a very ancient sect, or body of men, among the Jews; originally so called from the Hebrew word uns, which signifies to separate or divide. Not that they made any formal separation from, or division in, the National Church : they were only distinguished from others by greater strictness of life, by more exactness of conversation. For they were zealous of the law in the minutest