Page images

* such there was no need of faith to be imputed to them for righteouiness. They itood upon their own legs, were just already, and needed no allowance to be made them for believing Jefus to be the Meffiah, taking hiin for their king, and becoming his subjects. But that Christ does require obedience, fincere obedience, is evident from the laws he himteif delivers (unless he can be suppoled to give and inculcate laws only to have them disobeyed), and from the lentence he will pass when he comes to judge.

The faith required was, to believe Jelus to be the Meliah, the anointed, who had been promised by God to the world. Amon at the Jews (to whom the promises and prophecies of the Meffiah were more immediately delivered) anointing was used to three soits of perfons at their inauguration, whereby they were set apart to three great onces, viz. of priests, prophets, and kings. Though these three offices be in holy writ attributed to our Saviour, yet I do not remember that he any where aflumes to himself the title of a priest, or mentions any thing relating to his priesthood; nor does he speak of his being a prophet but very sparingly, and once or twice, as it were, by the bye: but the goipel, or the good news of the kingdom of the Mefliah, is what he preaches every where, and makes it his great business to publith to the world. This he did, not only as most agreeable to the expectation of the jews, who looked for their Melliah, chiefly as coming in power to be their king and deliverer, but as it beft answered the chief end of his coming, which was to be a king, and as such to be received by those who would be his subjects in the kingdom which he came to erect. And though he took not directly on himself the title of king till he was in cuilody, and in the hands of Pilate; yet it is plain “king,” and “ king of Israel,” were the familiar and received titles of the Meifiah. See John i. 50. Luke xix. 38. compared with Matt. xxi. 9. and Mark xi. 9. John xii. 13. Matt. xxi. 5. Luke xxiii. 2. compared with Matt. xxvii. 11. and John xviii. 33–37. Mark xv. 12. compared with Matt. xxvii. 22. Matt. xxvii. 42.

What those were to do, who believed him to be the Meffiah, and received him for their king, that they might be admitted to be partakers with him of his kingdom in glory, we shall best know hy the laws he gives them, and requires them to obey; and by the fentence which he himself will give, when, fitting on his throne, they shall all appear at his tribunal, to receive every one his doom from the mouth of this righteous judge of all men.

What he propofes to his followers to be believed, we have already seen; by examining his, and his apoitles preaching, step by step, all through the hiitory of the four evangelifts, and the is Acts of “ the apoitles:" The same method will belt and plainest thew us, whether he required of those who belicved him to be the Meliah, any thing besides that faith, and what it was. For he being a king, we shall see by his commands what he expects from his fubjects: for if he did not expect obedience to them, his commands would be but meer mockery; and if there were no punishment for the


transgreffors of them, his laws would not be the laws of a king, that had authority to command, and power to chastife the disobedient; but empty talk, without forcé, and without influence.

We hall therefore from his injunctions (if any such there be) fee what he has inade necessary to be performed, by all those who shall be received into eternal life in his kingdom prepared in the heavens. And in this we cannot be deceived. What we have from his own mouth, especially if repeated over and over again, in different places and expresfions, will be past doubt and controversy. I shall pass by all that is said by St. John Baptift, or any other, before our Saviour's entry upon his ministry and public promulgation of the laws of his kingdom.

He began his preaching with a command to repent; as St. Matt. tells us, iv. 17.“ From that time Jesus began to preach; saying, « Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And Luke v. 32. he tells the Scribes and Pharisees, “I come not to call the « righteous;" those who were truly so needed no help, they had a right to the tree of life, “but finners to repentance."

In his fermon, as it is called in the Mount, Luke vi, and Matt. v. &c. he commands they should be exemplary in good works. “Let your light so shine amongst men, that they may see your “ good works, and glorify your father which is in heaven,” Matt. V. 15. And that they might know what he came for, and what he expected of them, he tells them, ver. 17–20.“ Think not that I « am come to disolve" or loosen “ the law, or the prophets : I am « not come to diffolve" or loosen, but to “ make it full,” or compleat: by giving it you in its true and strict sense. Here we fee he confirms, and at once reinforces all the moral precepts in the Old Teftament. “For verily I say to you, Till heaven and earth país, « one jot or one tittle ihall in no wise pass from the law till all k be done. Wholoever therefore shall break one of these leaft « commandments, and shall teach men fo, he fall be called the « least” (i. e. as it is interpreted, shall not be at all) “ in the « kingdom of heaven.” Ver. 21.

Ver. 21. " I say unto you, That except your righteousness," i. e. your performance of the eternal law of right, “ Thall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees,

ye ihall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven:" and then hc goes on to make good what he said, ver. 17. viz. “ That he

was come to compleat the law,” viz. by giving its full and clear sense, free from the corrupt and loolining gloffes of the Scribes and Pharisees, ver. 22-26. He tells them, "That not only murder, but causeless anger, and so much as words of contempt, were forbidden. He commands then to be reconciled and kind towards their adverfaries; and that upon pain of condemnation. In the following part of his fermon, which is to be read Luke vi. and more at large Matt. V, vi, vii. he not only forbids actual uncleanness, but all irregular desires, upon pain of hell-fire; causeless divorces, swearing in conversation, as well as forswearing in judgement, revenge, retaliation, oftentation of charity, of devotion, and of fafting, repe


titions in prayer ; covetousness, worldly care, cenforiousness: and, on the other side, commands loving our friends, doing good to those that hate us, blessing those that curse us, praying for those that despightfully use us; patience, and meeknets under injuries; forgivenels, liberality, compassion: and clofes all his particular injunctions, with this general golden rule, Matt. vii. 12. “ All things what" soever ye would have that men thould do to you, do ye even fo « to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” And to new how much he is in earnest, and expects obedience to these laws; he tells them, Luke vi. 35. That if they obey, “ great shall be * their REWARD;” they “ shall be called, The fons of the highest.” And to all this, in the conclufion, he adds this solemn fanction: « Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say?" It is in vain for you to take me for the Mesliah your king, unless you obey me. « Not every one who calls me Lord, Lord, shall “ enter into the kingdom of heaven,” or be the sons of God; “ but “ he that doeth the will of my father which is in heaven.” To such disobedient subjects, though they have prophesied and done miracles in my naine, I fhail lay at the day of judgement, “ Depart « from me, ye workers of iniquity, I know you not.”

When Matt. xii, he was told, that his mother and brethren sought to speak with hiin, ver. 49; “stretching out his hands to “ his disciples, he said, Behold my mother and my brethren; for « whosoever shall do the will of my father, who is in heaven, he is u my brother, and filter, and mother.” They could not be children of the adoption, and fellow-heirs with him of eternal life, who did not do the will of his heavenly father.

Matt. xv. and Mark vii. the Pharisees finding fault, that his disciples eat with unclean hands, he makes this declaration to his apostles: “Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever from without enstereth into a inan, cannot defile him; because it enters not into “ his heart, but his belly. That which cometh out of the man, « that defileth the man: for from within, out of the heart of men, « proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, « falfe witnesses, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, “ an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these ill things come “ from within, and defile a man.”

He commands felf-denial, and the exposing ourselves to suffering and danger, rather than to deny or disown him: and this upon pain of losing our souls, which are of more worth than all the world. This we may read Matt. xvi. 24–27. and the parallel places, Matt. vilj. and Luke ix.

The apostles disputing amongst them who should be greatest in the kingdom of the Messiah, Matt. xviii. 1. he thus determines the controversy, Mark. ix. 35. “ If any one will be first, let him be

last of all, and servant of all :” and setting a child before them, adds, Matt. xviii. 3. “ Verily I say unto you, Unless ye turn, and “ become as children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of “ heaven."

Matt. « can.”

Matt. 15. “ If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and

tell him his fault between thee and hiin alone : if he shall hear « thee, thou haft gained thy brother; but if he will not hear thee, " then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two « or three witnefies every word may be established. And if he shall

neglect to har them, tell it to the church ; but if he neglect to « hear the church, let him be unto thee as an Hcathen and Publi

Ver. 21. “ Peter fuid, Lord, How often shall my brother « sin againit me, and I forgive him ? till seven times ? Jesus said “ unto him, I lay not unto thee till seven times, but until seventy

times foven." And then ends the parable of the servant, who, being himself iorgiven, was rigorous to his fellow-fervant, with these words, ver. 34. “ And his Lord was wroth, and delivered him to " the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. « So' likewise Thall my heavenly father do also unto you, if you « from your hearts forgive not every one

his brother their « trefpafies.”

Luke x. 25. To the lawyer, asking him, “ What shall I do to « inherit eternal life? He laid, What written in the law ? how « readest thou ?” He answered, “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy « God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy “ strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” Jesus faid, “ This do, and thou shalt live.” And when the lawyer, upon our Saviour's parable of the good Samaritan, was forced to confets, that he that ihewed mercy was his neighbour; Jesus dismifled him with this charge, ver. 37. “Go, and do thou likewise."

Luke xi. 41. “ Give alms of luch things as ye have : behold, all « things are clean unto you."

Luke xii. 15. « Také heed, and beware of covetousness.” Ver. 22. “Be not folicitous what

ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, nor what ye shall put on;" be not fearful or apprehensive of want, “ for it is your father's pleasure to give you a kingdoin. Sell that

you have, and give alms : and provide yourselves bags that wax not old, and treasure in the heavens tiat faileth not; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be allo. Let your loins be girded, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto

men that wnit for the Lord, when he will return. Bieffcd are “ those servants, whom the Lord, when he cometh, lhall find “ watching. Blefied is that fervant, whom the Lord having made « ruler of his houshold, to give them their portion of meat in due “ season, the Lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing : of a truth “ I say unto you, that he will make him a ruler over all that he « hath. But if that servant say in his heart, My Lord delayeth his

coming, and ihall begin to beat the men-servants, and maidens, and 66 to eat and drink, and to be drunken: the Lord of that servant « will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour « when he is not aware, and will cut hiin in funder, and will ap" point him his portion with unbelievers. And that servant who u knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did ac

“ cording

[ocr errors]

to cording to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes : for he " that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be « beaten with few stripes ; for unto whomfoever much is given, of « him shall be much required; and to whom men have committed "much, of him they will ask the more.”

Luke xiv. JI. “ Whosoever exalteth himself, shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

Ver. 12. “ When thou makest a dinner or fupper, call not thy “ friends or thy brethren, neither thy kinsman, nor thy neigh« bours, left they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made " thee. But when thou makeft a feast, call the poor and maimed, « the lame and the blind, and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot " recompense thee; for thou thalt be recompensed at the resurrec« tion of the just.”

Ver. 33." So likewise, whosoever he be of you that is not ready « to forego all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”

Luke xvi. 9. “I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the “mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail, they may receive “ you into everlasting habitations. If ye have not been fáithful in “ the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true

riches ? and if ye have not been faithful in that which is another “ man's, who shall give you that which is your own?"

Luke xvii. 3. “ If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; " and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespafs against thee seven “ times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, “ I repent, thou shalt forgive him."

Luke xviii. 14" He spoke a parable to them, to this end, that “ men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”

Ver. 18. « One comes to him, and asks him, saying, Master, what “ Thall I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus said to him, If thou wilt “ enter into life, keep the commandments. He says, Which? « Jesus said, Thou knowest the commandments : Thou shalt not “ kill; Thou shalt not commit adultery; Thou shalt not steal; « Thou shalt not bear false witness; Defraud not; Honour thy « father and thy mother; And thou snalt love thy neighbour as " thyself. He said, All these have I observed from my youth;

Jesus hearing this, loved him; and said unto him, Yet lackest “ thou one thing : fell all that thou hast, and give it to the poor, and “ thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” To understand this right we must take notice, that this young man alks our Saviour, what he must do to be admitted effectually into the kingdom of the Mefliah? The Jews believed, that when the Mefliah came, those of their nation that received him should not die; but that they, with those who being dead should then be raised again by him, should enjoy eternal life with him. Our Saviour, in answer to this demand, tells the young man, that to obtain the eternal life of the kingdom of the Messiah, he must keep the commandments. And then enumerating several of the precepts of the law, the young inan fays, he had observed these from his childhood : for which, VOL. IV.


« PreviousContinue »