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Qualities, 'Tis true, it is an easy thing for such a Man to flatter himself, as being nothing near fo bad as some others, who take the Scorner's Chair, and set their Mouths against Heaven, and go
into the Way of Atheism, open Lewdness, and scoffing at Religion ; and therefore he
apt to think, and to think justly too, that one and the fame Portion shall never be assigned them, whose Ways are so vastly different. But let him confider, that though they differ ever so much in other things, they agree in this, that they set up each of them their own Lusts, and prefer them to the Laws of Almighty God; and therefore they must both expect to be treated as his Enemies, though not in equal Degrees; but they shall each of them find Punishments exactly suited to their several Crimes, and to the several Degrees of them in the Future State.
To conclude then: If we are acted with the Spirit of Christianity, and truly believe this Doctrine of our Saviour's concerning the Punishments in the other World, and the various Degrees of them, let this influence our Fear, so as in time, knowing the Danger, we may take Warning, and Flee from this Wrath to come. Of all Fears, This is the moit to be dreaded; what signifie other Things, which end with the Death of the Body, to this, which endures to all Eternity? With me it is a very small thing, says St Paul, 1 Cor. iv. 3. that I should be judged of you, or of Man's Judgment. The great Judgment we ought to think on, and to dread, is the Judgment of Almighty God. Let the stoutest Sinners consider betimes, how dreadful a thing it is to fall into the Hands of the living God; and let the Sinners of a lower
Size confider, how comfortless it is, after all the Measures they keep, that they can only expect one of the best Apartments in Hell; being but almost Christians, and not far from the Kingdom of Heaven? Would it not be much better for us to lay afide every Weight, and the Sin which doth fo eafily belet us, and to run with Patience our Christian Course? Would it not be infinitely more prudent to inake our Calling and Ele&tion jure, by sacrificing that beloved Lust, whatever it is, to our Duty to God Almighty, than to halt between two, and to be under the constant Apprehensions that Death may prize us, before we have finished our Work? The way to make sure is, not to dwell any longer in the Confines, and about the Borders of our sinful Courses ; but to go in heartily into the Ways of Holiness and Virtue, and of the two, rather to flee to the Heighth of the contrary Virtue, than even to halt in any low Degrees of it: After the Example of Zacchæus,who being in Danger from Covetousness, went in heartily into the other and fafer Extreme, so to speak, if there can be any
such thing asąn Extreme in Goodness. For instead of a bare Restitution (which perhaps he could not exactly have found what it amounted to), Lord, says he, half of my Goods I give to the Poor : and if I have taken any thing from any Man by false Accufation, I restore him fourfold, Luke xix. 8. It would be a very worthy Study in all Men to imitate this Example, not only in this, but in all other Vices; I mean, to flee so far from the Approaches of such Vices, which our Calling, Inclinations, Circumstances, and Temptations lead us to; that it may appear plainly, both to ourselves and others, that we are clearly come off from the
Vices we were endangered by, and have made a
So much for the Fifth Thing in the Words,
Manner of Interpreting the
MAT T. V. 21. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old
Time, Thou shalt not kill : and whofoever Mall
kill, Mall be in danger of the Judgment. Ver. 22. But I say unto you, that whosoever is
angry with his Brother without a Cause, shall be in danger of the Judgment : and whosoever Jhall say to his Brother, Raca, Mall be in danger of the Council: but whosoever fall say, Thou Fool, jhall be in danger of Hell-fire.
The Fifth Sermon on this Text.
we are now come to the last Observation I made from it; which is a general one, concerning our Saviour's Way of Interpreting the Commandments ; namely, that where any Sin is prohibited by any of God's Laws, there all Thoughts, Words and Actions, usually occasioning the Sin, or tending towards it, are likewise prohibited. This of my Text is the first Instance of our Saviour's Interpretation of the Commandments in this comprehensive Sense, and therefore this is as proper an Occasion for handling this Observation as we can possibly meet with again.
In managing this Subject, there are these Three or Four Things I propose to myself.
1. To shew you from the Text and Context, that our Saviour interprets the Commandments in this large comprehensive Sense.
2. That this is agreeable to the Sense of the Ho ly Ghost in other Passages of the Scriptures, not only of the New, but likewise of the Old Testament.
3. What Reason there is that the Laws of God should be interpreted in this comprehensive Sense.
4. By what Ways and Means we may be affisted in the Regulation of our Thoughts, and in the cutting off all the other Occasions of Sin.
I. First, I am to shew from the Text and Context, that our Saviour interprets the Commandments in this large comprehensive Sense. This he teaches us in as direct and plain Words as can be defired; for from the whole Purport of his Dilcourse on this Subject it appears, that the chief Difference between his Interpretation, and that of the Scribes and Pharisees, lay in this, that they interpreted this Precept, Thou shalt not kill, to relate only to the external Act of Killing ; but he interprets it to extend to the very Thoughts of the Heart, in which the first Motion of Anger and Hatred is entertained. And so in the next Commandment which he explains, he is not contented to require only an Abstinence from the gross Acts of Fornication and Adultery, but
proceeds to condemn inward Lust, and even those Gratifications of the Senses, which serve to provoke and stir it up. So that this is not only a Truth to be gathered from his Discourse, but is the main Design and Purport of it, and ought to be regarded accordingly.