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is your part, to do as you are commanded : the event is in the band of Gud. You are not accountable for this: leave it to him, who orders all things well. “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening with-hold not thy hand; for thou knowest not whether shall prosper,” Eccles. xi. 6.
“ But the trial hurries and frets your own soul." Perhaps it did so for this very reason, because you thought you were accountable for the event, which no man is, nor indeed can be. Or perhaps, because you were off your guard; you were not watchful over your own spirit. But this is no reason for disobeying God. Try again ; but try more warily than before. Do good (as you forgive) “not seven times only ; but until seventy times seven.” Only be wiser by experience: attempt it every time more cautiously than before. Be more humbled before God, more deeply convinced, that of yourself you can do nothing. Be more jealous over your own spirit ; more gentle, and watchful unto prayer. Thus cast your bread upon the waters, and you shall find it again after many days.”
IV. 1. Notwithstanding all these plausible pretences for hiding it, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” This is the practical Application which our Lord himself makes of the foregoing Considerations.
“ Let your light so shine”—Your lowliness of heart, your gentleness and meekness of wisdom : your serious, weighty concern for the things of eternity, and sorrow for the sins and miseries of men : your earnest desire of universal holiness and full happiness in God: your tender good-will to all mankind, and fervent love to your supreme Benefactor. Endeavour not to conceal this light, wherewith God hath enlightened your soul; but let it shine before men, before all with whom you are, in the whole tenour of your conversation. (Let it shine still more eminently in your actions, in your doing all possible good to all men : and in your suffering for righteousness' sake, while you“ rejoice and are exceeding glad, knowing that great is your reward in heaven.”
2. 6 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works : so far let a Christian be from ever de signing, or desiring to conceal his Religion. On the contrary, let it be your desire, not to conceal it; not to put the “ light under a bushel.” Let it be your care, to place it
on a candlestick, that it may give light to all that are in the house.” Only take heed, not to seek your own praise herein, not to desire any honour to yourselves. But let it be your sole aim that all, who see your good works, may “glorify your Father which is in heaven."
3. Be this your one ultimate end in all things. With this view, be plain, open, undisguised. Let your love be without dissimulation: why should you bide fair, disinterested love? Let there be no guile found in your mouth : let your words be the genuine picture of your heart. Let there be no darkness or reservedness in your conversation, no disguise in your behaviour. Leave this to those who have other designs in view; designs which will not bear the light. Be ye artless and simple to all mankind'; that all may see the grace of God which is in you. And though some will barden their hearts, yet others will take knowledge, that ye have been with Jesus, and by returning themselves “to the great Bishop of their souls, glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
4. With this one design, that men may glorify God in you, go on in his name, and in the power of his might. Be not ashamed, even to stand alone, so it be in the ways of God. Let the light which is in your heart, shine in all good works, both works of piety and works of mercy. And in order to enlarge your ability of doing good, renounce all superfluities. Cut off all unnecessary expense, in food, in furniture, in apparel. Be a good steward of every gift of God, even of these his lowest gifts. Cut off all unnecessary expense of time, all needless or useless employments. And “ whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." In a word, be thou full of faith and love; do good : suffer evil. And herein be thou“ steadfast, immovable : yea, always abounding in the work of the Lord ; forasmuch as thou knowest that thy labour is not in vain in the Lord."
66 Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the
Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. “ For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass,
one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law,
till all be fulfilled. " Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least Com
mandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven : but whosoever shall do, and teach them, the same shall be called great in
the kingdom of heaven. “ For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall
exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
1. AMONG the multitude of reproaches which fell upon him who was despised and rejected of men,” it could not fail to be one, That he was a Teacher of novelties, an Introducer of a new Religion. This might be affirmed with the more colour, because many of the expressions he had used were not common among the Jews : either they did not use them at all, or not in the same sense, not in so full and strong a meaning. Add to this, that the worshipping God
C in spirit and in truth,” must always appear a' new Religion to those who have hitherto known nothing but outside worship, nothing but the form of godliness.
2. And it is not improbable, some might hope it was so : that he was abolishing the old Religion, and bringing in another; one which, they might flatter themselves, would be an easier way to heaven. But our Lord refutes in these words both the vain hopes of the one, and the groundless calumnies of the other.
I shall consider them in the same order as they lie, taking each verse for a distinct head of Discourse.
I. 1. And, first, “ Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfil.”
The ritual or ceremonial law, delivered by Moses to the children of Israel, containing all the injunctions and ordinances which related to the old sacrifices and service of the temple, our Lord indeed did come to destroy, to dissolve and utterly abolish. To this bear all the Apostles witness : not only Barnabas and Paul, who vehemently withstood those who taught, That Christians “ ought to keep the law of Moses,” Acts xv. 6: not only St. Peter, who termed the insisting on this, on the observance of the ritual law, a
tempting God, and putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers,” saith he, “nor we were able to bear:” but “all the Apostles, elders, and brethren, being assembled with one accord,” ver. 10, declared, That to command them to keep this law, was to " subvert their souls: and that it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to them, to lay no such burthen upon them.” This “ hand-writing of ordinances our Lord did blot out, take away, and nail to his cross, ” ver. 24.
2. But the Moral Law, contained in the Ten Commandments, and enforced by the prophets, he did not take away. It was not the design of his coming to revoke any part of this. This is a law which never can be broken, which “ stands fast as the faithful witness in heaven." The moral stands on an entirely different foundation from the cere
monial, ritual law; which was only designed for a temporary restraint upon a disobedient and stiff-necked people : whereas this was from the beginning of the world; being 66 written not on tables of stone,” but on the hearts of all the children of men, when they came out of the hands of the Creator. And, however the letters once written by the finger of God, are now in a great measure defaced by sin, yet can they not wholly be blotted out, while we have any consciousness of good and evil. Every part of this law must remain in force, upon all mankind, and in all ages : as not depending either on time or place, or any other circumstances liable to change; but on the nature of God, and the nature of man, and their unchangeable relation to each other.
3. “ I am not come to destroy but to fulfil.” Some have conceived our Lord to mean, I am come to fulfil this, by my entire and perfect obedience to it. And it cannot be doubted but he did, in this sense, fulfil every part of it. But this does not appear to be what he intends here, being foreign to the scope of his present discourse. Without question his meaning in this place is, (consistently with all that goes before and follows after,) I am come to establish it in its fulness, in spite of all the glosses of men. I am come to place in a full and clear view, whatsoever was dark or obscure therein. I am come to declare the true and full import of every part of it: to shew the length and breadth, the entire extent of every commandment contained therein : and the height and depth, the inconceivable purity and spirituality of it in all its branches.
4. And this our Lord has abundantly performed in the preceding and subsequent parts of the discourse before us : in which he has not introduced a new Religion into the world, but the same which was from the beginning : a Religion, the substance of which is without question, as old as the creation; being coeval with man, and having proceeded from God, at the very time when “ man became a living soul:" (the substancé, I say, for some circumstances of it, now relate to man as a fallen creature.) A Religion witnessed