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law came in upon occasion, for the prevention of idolatry, and by way of condescension to the temper of that people, and thus Maimonides and the learn. ed Jews understand these words, Jer, vii. 22. 23. I Spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded'them in the day that I brought ihem out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt-offerings or sacrifices. But this thing com, manded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, and I will be your God, and ye mall be my people. So likewise in the Prophet Hofea, God plainly prefers the moral before the ritual part of religion, as that which was principally designed and intended by him, Hof. vi. 6. I dejired mercy and not facrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings. But most plainly and expressly, Mic, vi. 6. Wherewith fhall I come before the Lord ? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, and ten thousands of river's of oil? He bath sherwed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with thy God? These it seems were the things which God stood upon, and required of men, even under that imperfect dispensation; and these are the very things which the Christian religion doth fo ftri&ly injoin and command; so that this righteousness which the gospel requires, was witnesed to by the law and the prophets. I proceed to the
II. Second point, that the law of Moses, or the dispensation of the Jewish religion, was comparatively very weak, and insufficient to make men truly good, and for the promoting of real and inward righteous. ness. It gave laws indeed to this purpose, but those not so clear and perfect, .or at least not so clearly understood as they are now under the gospel; and it made no express promises of inward grace, and afsistance to quicken and ftrengthen us in the doing of our duty; it made no explicit promises of any blesAng and reward to the doing of our duty beyond this life; fo that the best and most powerful arguments and encouragements to obedience, where either whol
ly wanting, or very obscurely revealed under this difpensation
And this insufficiency of the Jewish dispensation, both to our justification and fančtification, to the reconciling of us to God, and the making of us really good, the Apostle frequently inculcates in the New Testament : St Paul, Acts xiii. 38. 39. Be it known unto you therefore, men and' brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of fins : and by him all that believe are justified from all those things from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses; and Rom. viii. 3. What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh; that is, by reason of the carnality of that dispensation, confifting in the purification of the body. Gal. iii. 21. he calls it a law unfit to give life : If there had been a law which could have given life, verily righteousness had been by the law. And the Apostle to the Hebrews, chap. viii. 6.7.8. &c. finds fault with the difpenfation of the law, for the lowness and meannefs of its promises, being only of temporal good things; and for want of conferring an inward and a powerful principle to enable men to obedience; but now hath he obtained (speaking of Christ) a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been fought for the second. And this fecond and better covenant he tells us, was foretold by the Prophets of the Old Testament ; for finding fault with them, he faith, Behold the days come, faith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah : not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers. For this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Ifrael after those days, faith the Lord; I will put my laws into their minds, and write them in their hearts. And chap. X. 1. 4. he shews the inefficacy of their facrifices for the real expiation of sin, the law having but a shadow of good things to come, and not the lively representation of the things themselves, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by. year contt
nually, make the conters thereunto perfect; for it is not posible that the blood of bulls and goats should take a.
I Thould now have proceeded to the third particular; namely, that the Christian religion hath supplied all the defects and weakness and imperfection of the Jewish dispensation; but that I shall not now enter upon, but make one plain inference from the substance of what I have already discoursed. upon this argument.
If our Saviour, came not to diffolve and loosen the obligation of moral duties, but to confirm and eltablith it, and to inforce and bind the practice of these duties more strongly upon us, then they do widely and wilfully mistake the design of Christianity, who teach that it dischargeth men from the obligation of the moral.lay; which is the fundamental and avowed principle of the Antinomian doctrine, but direct. ly contrary to this declaration of our Saviour in the text, that he came not destroy the law and the prophets, but to perfect and fulfil.them, (for to take away the obligation of a law, is plainly to destroy and make it void); and contrary to the Apostle's folemn resolution of this matter, Rom. iii. 31. Do we then make void the law through faith? that is, doth the gospel destroy and take away the obligation of the law ? God forbid, yea we establish the law; the Christian religion is so far from designing or doing any such thing, that it gives new strength and force to it.
But surely they that teach this doctrine, did never duly consider thạt terrible threatening of our Saviour after the text, which seems to be so directly levelled at them : Whofoever fall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men fo, he Hall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven : for how can men more effe&tually teach the violation, not only of the least, but of the greatest of God's commandments, than by declaring, that the gospel hath set men free from the obligation of the moral law? which is in effect to say, that Christians may act contrary to all the duties of morality, that is, do the most impious things in the world, without any offence against
God, and notwithstanding this, continue to be bis. children, and highly in the favour of God.
And all the security they have against this impion3. consequence, is that weak and slender pretence, “that
gratitude and love to God will preserve them from “ making this ill use of the grace of the gospel, and
oblige them to abstain from fin, and to endeavour
to please Cod as much as any law could do.” But then they do not consider the nonsense of this ; fur there can be no such thing as fin, if the obligation of the law be taken away; for where there is 110 law, there can be r:0 transgresiion, as the Apostle and common reason likewise tells us; so that the law being removed and taken away, all actions become indisserent, and one thing is not more a sin or offence against God than another. And what then is it they mean that gratitude will oblige men to, or preserve them from ? when there can be no such thing as sin or duty, as pleasing or offending God, if there be no law to oblige us to the one, or restrain us from the other:
And what is, if this be not, to turn the grace of God into wantonness, and to make Christian liberiy a cloak for all sorts of sins? A man cannot do a greater despite to the Christian religion, nor take a more effeciual course to bring it into contempt, and to make it to be hissed out of the world, than to represent it as a lewd and licentious doctrine, which gives men a perfect discharge from all the duties of morality, and obligeth them only to believe confi. dently, that Christ hath purchased for them a liberty to do what they will, and that upon those terms, and no other, they are secured of the favour of God in this world, and eternal salvation in the other. This is the sum and the plain result of the Antinomian doctrine, the most pernicious heresy, and most directa ly destructive of the great end and design of Christianity, that ever yet was broached in the world. But je have not so learned Christ ;: if so be ze have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jefus : That ye put off concerning your former convere lation, the old man, which is corrupt according to the
deceitful lufts: And that ye be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and put on the new man, which after Gud is created in righteousness, and true holiness.
R Μ Ο Ν
Christianity doth not destroy, but perfect
the law of Moses.
MATTH. V. 17.
Think not that I am come to destroy the luw or the prom
thets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
The second sermon on this text.
respect to the moral law, and those precepts which are of natural and perpetual force, and that our Saviour, did not come either to dissolve or loosen. the obligation of them; for the illustration of which, I propounded to clear these three points.
First, That the main and ultimate design of the law and the prophets, was to engage men to the practice of moral duties, that is, of real and fubitantial goodness.
Secondly, That the law of Moses, or the dispensa. tion of the Jewish religion, was comparatively very weak, and insufficient to make men truly good, and ineffectual to promote inward and real righteousness. These two points I have spoken to. I shall now proceed to the
III. Third, namely, That the Christian religion doth supply all the defects, and weaknesses, and imperfections of the Jewish dispensation.
The Jewish religion had very confiderable advantages above the mere light of nature, which was all that the Heathen world had to duet towards eternal happiness. The Jews had the knowledge of