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Therefore, 'whosoever heareth these sayings of mines
and doeth them, I will liken him unto å wise mang
which built bis house upon a rock) And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the
winds blew, and beat upon that house : And it
fell not, for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine,
and doeth them not, mall be likened unto a fooliso
man, which built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the
winds blew, and beat upon that house : And it fell, and great was the fall of it. . p. 389, 390.
MATT. vii. 28, 29. And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these faya,
ings, the people were astonished at his doctrine. For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the Scribes.
MATTH. V. I, 2. And seeing the multitudes he went up into a
mountain ; and when he was set, his disciples came unto him,
And he open'd his mouth and taught them, saying, &c.
HESE words are the preface to the
narrative of our Saviour's sermon on the T mount, when having lately enter'd
upon his prophetick office, he began to
discharge his authority by delivering a new and more excellent, a more refin’d and spiritual Law than that of Moses; a nobler and more perfcct system of morality than either Jews or Gentiles understood beforc. As he came down from the eternal glory to enlighten, as well as from the everlasting arins of mercy to redeem the world; 'twas necessary he should not only dic a facrifice for us on the cross, that we might be admitted to the inheritance of life and happiness above, but by his inftruétions alfo few us the way to that better country where our hopes and inheritance arc; and so direct us how to qualify our felves for that heavenly state of purity and perfection, that we may be capable of it; that the most absolute holiness of God may not be rafhly encroach'd upon, in confidence of his infinite mercy: Now all this is sufficiently provided for in the laws and precepts of Christianity, laid down in the New Testament, in the writings of the Apostles, but especially in the sermons of our Lord himself, and more particularly in this before us, which as it is the longest, so it is one of the clearest and most practical of all his publick discourses, and plainly lays the foundation of the whole Christian moral law. Now by way of introduction to what the following volume will present you with, I think it necessary to consider, (1.) The folemnity observ'd by our Saviour in the publication of this part of his doctrine. (2.) The auditors to whom he deliver'd it. And (3.) The fermon it felf, with respect to two general observations which ought to be made upon it.
I. The folemnity of the publication: And to this the circumitances of it lead us. It is here to be obfery’d,
FIRST, That he laid so great a stress upon the matter of these instructions, that he would not entirely leave them to the after-care of his Apostles, tho they in the discharge of their ministry, for the edification of his Church, were to be guided by the holy Spirit, which should lead them into all truth; but to stamp the more awful character upon them, made use of the authority of his own Person in delivering them out to his Disciples; as God had done before, when he pronounced the Ten Commandments from mount Sinai. And this ob
servation will receive greater force if we consider that it was God who itill fpake personally to them, tho' veil'd and shrouded in our human nature. It was not indeed deliver'd with that pomp and terror as before; because, as the * Ifraelites were not then, mankind is still not able to bear the lustre and majesty of the divine presence without fome allay. And God had promis'd, when he gratify'd the people of Israel it in their request upon that occalion, issuing out the other remainder of his will to them by the intervention of Moses, that when he should bless them with a second more compleat revelation of his will in the future age of the Church, he would in like manner, comply with their infirmity. I will raise them up a prophet (faid the Lord to Moses) from among their brethren like unto thee, and I will put my words in his mouth, and he mall speak unto them all that I shall command him. This promise was now fulfill'd in Christ, who was both God and Man in one person. His divine nature gave solemnity and fanction to his law; for, as the Evangelist takes notice at the conclusion of this sermon on the mount, He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes : His human nature, by which he was of the seed of Israel, represented him as that Prophet from among their brethren like unto Moses, and render'd the delivery of it more gracious in the hands of such a Mediator. But,
SECONDLY, We may observe that in farther imitation of that folemn precedent, the giving of the moral law to the Jews from mount Sinai, Christ deliver'd his instructions also from a mountain: He retir'd from the promiscuous multitude, who crouded after him to gaze upon his person only, or to fce his miracles, and not to be instructed
* Exod. xx. 18, 19.
F Deut. xviii, 17, 18.
in the way to happiness, and went up into a mounrain, where only those would take the pains to follow him who were acted by conscience more than curiosity, and desir'd rather to learn their duty, than be furnith'd with futrprizing things to be talk'd of. And hither accotdingly such as these came to him: For the true Christian must stick at no difficulties in following Christ, however steep the access may be, and however singular they may seem in leaving the multitudes behind them.
THIRDLY, Having thus provided that none but pious ears should hear him, (fuch only being Worthy of these sublime instructions) He fate down, a posture,i us’d indeed by the Jewisa doctors in their (chools and fynagogues, but becoming only him, who had, and thew'd hereby, the authority of a Legislator. And being thus seated, he began to teach his auditors. But,
II. Who thcfe auditors were is next to be consider'd. And by them we are here to understand, not only the twelve, who were afterwards stills Apostles, but the whole body of his Disciples, all luch of that. mix'd multitude in the plain as were touch'd with a belief, that he was a Prophet sent from God, and heard him, as Herod heard the Baptist, gladly, and were willing to embrace the doctrine hc. fhould teach them. For that the whole multitude of such as had this good disposition in them, are call’d his Disciples, as well as the twelve, is evident from several pairages in the history of our Saviour. And that his auditors here are to be taken in such a latitude, is plain,.
1. From this, That the Apostles were not nam d and chosen, nay, some of them were not then so much as called to be Disciples, : For St. Matthew *, who
* Matth. ix. o.