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punctual in keeping the fourth commandment,--they would not even rub an ear of corn on the Sabbath-day; but not at all in keeping the third ; making little account of light, or even false, swearing. So that their righteousness was partial ; whereas the righteousness of a real Christian is universal. He does not observe one, or some parts of the law of God, and neglect the rest; but keeps all his commandments, loves them all, values them above gold or precious stones.
Il. It may be, indeed, that some of the Scribes and Pharisees endeavoured to keep all the commandments, and consequently were, as touching the righteousness of the law, that is, according to the letter of it, blameless. But still the righteousness of a Christian exceeds all this righteousness of a Scribe or Pharisee, by fulblling the spirit as well as the letter of the law; by inward as well as outward obedience. In this, in the Spirituality of it, it admits of no comparison.. This is the point which our Lord has so largely proved, in the whole tenor of this discourse. Their rigbteousness was external only; Christian righteousness is in the inner man. The Pharisee « cleansed the outside of the cup and the platter;” the Christian is clean within. The Pharisee laboured to present God with a good life; the Christian with a holy heart. The one shook off the leaves, perhaps the fruits of sin ; the other “lays the axe to the root ;” as not being content with the outward form of godliness, how, exact soever it be, unless the life, the spirit, the power of God unto salvation, be felt in the inmost soul.
Thus, to do no harm, to do good, to attend the ordinances of God, (the righteousness of a Pharisee,) are all external; whereas, on the contrary, poverty of spirit, mourning; mcekless, hunger and thirst after righteousness, the love of our neighbour, and purity of heart, (the righteousness of a Christian,) are all intérnal. And even peace-making, (or doing good,) and suffering for righteousness' sake, stand entitled to the blessings annexed to them, only as they imply these inward dispositions, as they spring from, exercise, and confirm them. So that whereas the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees was external only, it may be said, in some sense, that the righteousness of a Christian is internal only: all his actions and sufferings being as nothing in themselves, being estimated before God only by the tempers from ivhich they spring.
12. Whosoever therefore thou art, who bearest the holy and Venerable name of a Christian, see, first, that thy 1ghteous
ness fall not short of the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees. Be not thou as other men are! Dare to stand alone; to be, "against example, singularly good.” If thou follow a multitude at all, it must be to do evil. Let not custom or fasbion bethyguide; but reason, and religion. The practice of others is nothing to thee: “erery man must give an account of himself to God.” Indeed if thou canst save the soul of another, do : but at least, save one; thy own. Walk not in the path of death, because it is broad, and many walk therein. Nay, by this very token thou mayest know it. Is the way wherein tion now walkest, a broad, well-frequented, fashionable way? Then it infallibly leads to destruction. O be not thou “damned for company!" Cease from evil; fly from sin as from the face of a serpent! At least, do no harm. “ He that committet sin is of the Devil.” Be pot thou found in that number. Touching outwardi sins, surely the grace of God is crea DOW sufficient for thee. “Herein,” at least, “ exercise thyself to have a conscience void of oflence, toward God and ioard man."
Secondly: Le not thy righteousness fall short of theirs, with regard to the ordinances of God. If thy labour or bodily strength will not allow of thy lasting twice in the week, lowever deal faithfully with thy own soul, and fast as often as thy strength will permit. Omit no public, no private opportunity of pouring out thy soul iu prayer. Neglect 10 occasion of eating that bread and drinking that cup, which is the communion of the body and blood of Chrisi. Be diligent in scarchiny the Scriptures ; read, as thon mayest, and meditate therein day and night. Rejoice to embrace every opportunity of bearing “the word of reconciliation " declared by the " Ambassadors of Christ," the “Stewards of the mysteries of God." In using all the means of grace, in a constant and careful attendance on every ordinance of God, live up to (at least till thou canst go beyond) “ the righteousness of the Scribes and Pvarisees."
Thirdly: Fall set short of a Pharisec in doing good. Give alms of all thou dost possess. is any hungry? Feed him. Is lie athirst? Give him drinks Naked ? Cover him with a garment. I thou hast this world's goods, do not limit thy beneticence to a scanty proportion. Be merciful to the uttermost of thy power. Why not even as this Pharisee? Now smake thyseis friends," while the time is, “ of the mammon of uurigli:cousness, that when thou failest," when earthly
tabernacle is dissolved, they “ may receive thee into everlasting habitations.”
13. But rest not here. Let thy righteousness “exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees,” Br not thou content to keep the whole law, and offend in one point.” Hold thou fast all his commandments, and “all false ways do thou utterly abhor," Do all the things,whatsoever he hath commanded, and that with all thy might. Thou canst do all things through Christ strengthening thee; though without him thou canst do nothing.
Above all, let thy righteousness excecd theirs in the purity and spirituality of it. What is the exactest form of religion to thee? The most perfect outside righteousness ? Go thou higher and deeper than all this! Let thy religion be the religion of the heart. Be thou poor in spirit; little, and base, and mean, and vile in thy own eyes; amazed and humbled to the dust at the love of God which is in Christ Jesus thy Lord ! Be serious : let the whole stream of thy thoughts, words, and works be such as flows from the decpest conviction that thou standest on the edge of the great gulf, thou and all the children of men, just ready to drop in, either into everlasting glory or everlasting burnings ! Be meek: let thy soul be filled with mildness, gentleness, patience, longsuffering toward all men; at the same time that all which is in thee is athirst for God, the living God, longing to awake up after his likeness, and to be satisfied with it. Be thou a lover of God, and of all mankind. In this spirit, do and suffer all things. Thus “ exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees,'! and thou shalt be “ called great in the kingdom of heaven,"
UPON OUR LORD'S SERMON ON THE
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but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and
the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. “ For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father
will also forgive you : “ But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your
Father forgive your trespasses. Matt. vi. 1-15.
1. In the preceding chapter our Lord has described inward religion in its various branches. He has laid before us those dispositions of soul which constitute real Christianity; the inward tempers contained in that “holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord;" the affections which, when flowing from their proper fountain, from a living faith in God through Christ Jesus, are intrinsically and essentially good, and acceptable to God. He proceeds to show, in this chapter, how all our actions likewise, even those that are indifferent in their own nature, may be made holy, and good, and acceptable to God, by a pure and holy intention. Whatever is done without this, he largely declares, is of no value before God. Whereas, whatever outward works are thus consecrated to God, they are, in his sight, of great price.
2. The necessity of this purity of intention, he shows first, with regard to those which are usually accounted religious actions, and indeed are such when performed with a right intention. Some of these arc commonly termed works of Piety; the rest, works of Charity or Mercy. Of the latter sort, he particularly names Almsgiving; of the former, Prayer and Fasting. But the directions given for these are equally to be applied to every work, whether of Charity or Mercy.
I. 1. And, First, with regard to works of Mercy. “ Take. heed," saith he, “ that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.” “ That ye do not your alms :”-Although this only is named, yet is every work of charity included, every thing which we give, or speak, or do, whereby our neighbour may be profited; whereby another man may receive any advantage, either in his body or soul. The feeding the hungry, the clothing the naked, the entertaining or assisting the stranger, the visiting those that are sick or in prison, the comforting the afflicted, the instructing the ignorant, the reproving the wicked, the exhorting and encouraging the welldoer; and if there be any other work of mercy, it is equally included in this direction. .