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SERMON I.

MATT. V. 17.

Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or tle Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. Ver. 18. For verily I fay unto you, till Heaven and Earth pass, one jot or one tittle fhall in no wife pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled. Ver. 19. Whofoever therefore fhall break one of thefe leaft Commandments, and fhall teach Men fo, he fhall be called leaft in the Kingdom of Heaven: But whofoever shall do and teach them, the fame fhall be called great in the Kingdom of

Heaven.

Ver. 20. For I fay unto you, that except your Righteousness fhall exceed the Righteousness of the Scribes and Pharifees, ye shall in no cafe enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

The First Sermon on this Text.

E have heard, in the former Part of this Sermon on the Mount, what Pains our Saviour took with thefe his Hearers and Difciples, to take off their wrong Notions of the Kingdom of the Meffiah, and their bad Difpofitions of Mind for it. Thofe bad NoVOL. II.

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tions and Difpofitions flowed from one fundamental Error, as I have formerly observed to you, namely, that they expected the Kingdom of the Meffiah would be an Earthly and Temporal Kingdom; that it would flow in Wealth and fenfual Pleasures, and gratify their carnal Appetites to the utmoft, in enriching them with the Spoils, and fatiating them with the Pleasures, attending a full Revenge and Conqueft over their Enemies. This wrong Notion of the Meffiah's Kingdom gave their Minds a quite wrong Byafs, and filled them with Difpofitions to Covetoufnefs, Ambition, Oppreffion, Luxury, Luft, Cruelty, and Revenge; all which they hoped to gratify to the utmost, from the Victories and Profperity they expected in that new State of Things under the Meffiah's Government. Our Saviour thought it neceffary, in the first Place, to rectify all these Mistakes of their Judgment, and wrong Difpofitions of their Hearts and Minds, by teaching them the Neceffity of a Spirit of Poverty, Penitence, Meeknefs, Juftice, Mercifulness, Purity, Peaceablenefs, and Patience; and, in fhort, that it was a Religion and Difcipline of the Cross; that it was an Inftitution of the ftricteft Virtue and Self-Denial, he was to teach the World; and that he might fix it fo much the deeper and ftronger on these his firft Difciples, he acquainted them that they were the Perfons he intended to make Ufe of as Inftruments, in fetting off his Doctrine by their good Examples; and therefore that it was chiefly incumbent upon them to prepare themselves to be Patterns of Holiness and Virtue to others.

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Having made this Beginning, by correcting in general their grofs Carnal Notions of his Kingdom, and fhewing that it requires new Men and Manners; he proceeds now to another Step of the fame Defign, namely, to describe in the Particulars, what an Height and Perfection of Duty he required of all his Difciples and Followers; that is, of all Chriftians, beyond what they had ever learned before. And this he doth for their more clear Apprehenfion and Instruction, by inftancing first in feveral Leffons which had been given them out of the Law; and the Interpretations that their Doctors had put upon them; and then fuperadding his own Improvements. But before he comes to the Particulars, he thought it neceffary to remove one General Mistake, which it feems they were under in this Matter. Think not, fays he, that I am come to deftroy the Law or the Prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. The Words, chiefly by the Gloffes of Interpreters, are become full of Difficulty; for Understanding the Scope and Meaning of them, it will be necessary that we enquire into these three Things:

I. What is meant here by the Law or the Prophets: Whether the whole Law of Mofes, Moral, Ritual, and Judicial, or only the Moral Law?

II. Whether there was any fuch received Opinion, as that the Meffiah was to destroy the Law or the Prophets?

III. In what Senfe it is true, that he came not to destroy, but to fulfil them?

1. First

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I. First then, By the Law or the Prophets in this Place, as I apprehend, is meant the Moral Law; or that Body of Moral Duty delivered by Mofes and the Prophets; without any Regard as yet to that which was called the Judicial or the Ceremonial Law. My Reasons are, 1. It is altogether the Moral Part of Duty, which our Saviour is a treating of in this whole Sermon on the Mount. 2. I cannot imagine any Reafon why they should think he was come to destroy the Ceremonial or Judicial Laws, he having exactly complied with them; and there appearing nothing as yet in his Doctrine or Example to make them entertain fuch a Sufpicion: But I can eafily conceive a very natural Reason, why they should think he would evacuate the Moral Law, as being inconfiftent with that vaft Liberty and Licentiousness they hoped to enjoy under the Meffiah's Kingdom, according to the carnal Notions they had of it: which indeed were utterly inconfiftent with the ftrict Duties of the Moral Law. And therefore after he had in the particular Beatitudes pronounced a Bleffing to all the particular Difpofitions of Mind which were directly oppofite to their carnal Notions and Expectations, it was very natural for him in general to tell them, not to think that he would, either by his Doctrine or Practice, evacuate that noble Rule of Duties which was fet them in the Moral Law; and that he was fo far from evacuating it, that he intended, by his Doctrine and Example, to fet it in a clearer Light, and to contrive that it should be better understood, and obferved to greater Perfection than ever it had been hitherto. 3. I think this Expreffion of the Law,

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with the Addition of the Prophets, will generally be found to mean this; and I do not know that any one Inftance can be brought, that ever the Ceremonial or Judicial Laws are meant by it. I fhall give you one Authority or two for my interpreting it in this Senfe, Matt. vii. 12. Therefore all Things whatsoever ye would that Men fhould do to you, do ye even fo to them: for this is the Law and the Prophets. And Matt. xxii. 40. having spoken of the Love of God, which is the first and great Commandment ; and of the Love of our Neighbour, which is the fecond like unto it; he adds, On thefe two Commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. There is indeed one Paffage, Luke xvi. 16. which feems to have another Afpect, the Law and the Prophets were until John; as if they had then ceased to be regarded or obferved; and if so, then he must have meant the Ritual Law; but that is not at all the Meaning. St Matthew in a parallel Place expreffes it more clearly; Matt. xi. 13. thus: All the Prophets and the Law prophefied until John; meaning, that John did more than prophefie, for he demonftrated and pointed out the Meffiah. So that ftill, as I faid, I do not fee but that this Expreffion, the Law and the Prophets, is always ufed to fignify the Moral Law, with the Explications and Commentaries of the Prophets. And perhaps, if it were not too great a Digreffion, it might be fhewed, by comparing the Scripture Style, that when the New Teftament freaks of the Ceremonial Law as diftinct from the other, instead of giving it the honourable Title of the Law or the Prophets, it commonly fpeaks much more diminutively of it; calling it the Law of a carnal Commandment;

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