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linquents but by Order of the Judge and the Laws; fo the whole Business that the Devils are to do in Hell, is appointed them by the great Judge, whofe Officers and Executioners they are, as to the Business of Punishments; as he has other Officers, the holy Angels, to execute his Commands in the more delightful Part of his Justice, the Rewarding of fuch as do well. The Prifon too, here mentioned, feems to be a proper Description of Hell; and especially our Saviour's Affuring us with an Affeveration, that there shall be no Mer cy fhewn there, no Compounding for the Debt, no Abatement of any of the Dues, makes it very probable that this was the Chief Thing he had an Eye to, the Judgment of the Other World; for it is no unufual Thing in this World, to make Abatements and Compofitions with Poor Debtors, and to let them get out of Prifon, by paying a Part, when they have not wherewithal to difcharge the whole Debt. There is one Word indeed put in the End, because our Saviour obferves an exact Decorum in all his Similitudes, which would feem to intimate, that upon paying the whole Sum, the Prifoner may be released at laft. Thou shalt by no Means, fays he, come out thence, 'till thou hast paid the uttermoft Farthing. But if we confider the Scope and Purport of the Difcourfe, we may obferve the Simile runs quite another Way; for the Allufion is made to a Debtor that had neglected and abufed the Patience of his Creditor, of whom he might have had good Terms in Time, had he been careful to embrace them. But inftead of that, he provokes him to the highest Degree imaginable; and will do nothing but as he is compelled by the Extremity of
the Law. This Debtor is represented as one that had not wherewithal to fatisfy the Debt himself, and one that could find no Bail, and therefore was forced to go to Prifon; our Saviour affures us, the Creditor was fo irritated with this ill Ufage, that he would have no Mercy on him; would not abate him one Farthing of the Sum. Now then, what is there to answer this Part of the Similitude? truly this, that when the poor Wretch, who was much in his Neighbour's Debt, and took no Care to fatisfy him in this Life, comes to be condemned by the great Judge of all the Earth, and to be thrown into the Prison of Hell, without Effects, and without Friends to do any thing for him; there he muft lie till the whole Reckoning is Difcharged, which never will be discharged; for it is not the Lying there that discharges any thing. For this Particle Till, doth not always denote a limited Time, but is ufed often to Things that have no end, as 2 Chron. xxxvi. 16. The Wrath of the Lord arose against the People, till there was no Remedy. So Job xxvii. 5. Till I die, I will not remove my Integrity from me. And Ifa. xxii. 14. Surely this Iniquity fhall not be purged from you till ye die, faith the Lord of Hofts. So Matt. i. 25. Jofeph took to him his Wife, (the Virgin Mary) and knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born Son; though he never knew her at all; but the remained a perpetual Virgin. So in this fame Chapter: Till Heaven and Earth pass away, one fot or Tittle Shall in no wife pass from the Law. So 1 Cor. xv. 25. He must reign till he hath put all Enemies under his Feet. The whole Text then having an Afpect this Way, we may learn from it, not only that there fhall be a most exact,
righteous Judgment, which fhall pass upon all Men, but particularly (which is home to the Point here treated of) that Severe Vengeance fhall be taken of them who wrong their Neighbours in this Life, and neglect to make Reparation, and to reconcile themselves to them. Thefe their injured Neighbours, by not avenging themfelves, but committing the Caufe to God, may be justly faid to deliver their Adverfary into the Hand of the Judge. And the Terror of what follows here, is a lively Description of the Punishment in the future State, which fhall be inflicted on fuch obftinate, malicious Perfons, as refufe to be reconciled with their Neighbour in this World. They fhall have nothing wherewithal to make Satisfaction in the World to come; there is none then will be Bail or Surety for them; they fhall be perfonally thrown into Prison; the Time of Accommodation with the Adversary will then be over, and no further Offers of that kind shall then be made them; the Debt, as all other, the longer it is unfatisfied, is ftill growing bigger and bigger, fo that at last it rifes to fuch a prodigious Sum, that the Debtor shall never be able to discharge it, and therefore can never expect to be released from that dismal Place.
Let this Doctrine teach us, in the firft Place, to abftain carefully from doing any Injury to our Neighbour, that we may not at all run iu his Debt: And in the next Place, Let it teach us to be Careful to make our Peace with him in Time, at least, when we are both in the Way, that is, while we are both alive, in this World; for if the Debt remains unfatisfied till he puts it into the Hands of the Eternal Judge, we fee how
it will be then too late, and how our Mifery will be then irretrieveable.
And what is here faid of the Debts to our Neighbour, might, by a Parity of Reason, be applied to all Sins whatsoever, being Debts to Almighty God; which if neglected to be made up in Time, will have the fame fatal Confequences; and therefore there can be no wholesomer Advice given to Men, than to make their Peace with God while the Day of Grace lasts, when he is willing to treat with them in a friendly and amicable Manner; for if they put off their Repentance, and Reconciliation with him, till the final Satisfaction by the Judgment of the great Day, it will be then too late, and all thofe dreadful Confequences will follow, which we have been defcribing. Confider therefore in this your Day the Things which belong to your everlasting Peace, before the Time come, that they be hid from your Eyes. I fhall conclude with an excellent Advice of the Evangelical Prophet Ifaiah, Chap. Iv. 6, 7. Seek the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near ; let the Wicked forfake his Way, and the unrighteous Man his Thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have Mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly Pardon. Now to this great God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghoft, let us render, as is due, all Praise, Honour and Glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
MATT. V. 27.
Ye have heard that it was faid by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit Adultery.
Ver. 28. But 1 fay unto you, that whosoever looketh on a Woman to Luft after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his Heart.
The First Sermon on this Text.
UR Saviour goes on here in the fame Subject which he had been treating of from the twentieth Verse of this Chapter, namely, in fhewing how we Chriftians must carry Moral Duties to an higher Perfection than the ftricteft Doctors and Interpreters of the Law among the Jews, the Scribes and Pharifees, carried them; if we intend to have any share in his Kingdom. He had inftanced in the Sixth Commandment, directing the Government of our Paffion; and fhewed both what Interpretation thofe Doctors had put upon it, and what higher Degree of Duty he required. He proceeds now in the fame manner to give another Inftance of the fame Truth in the Seventh Commandment, for governingLuft; which it seems those Jewish Doctors had interpreted as forbidding only the grofs Acts of Uncleannefs: Ye have heard, fays he;" that is, Ye have been taught by your Doctors,