« PreviousContinue »
Matth. xix. 21.
These, the Casualties of Life, the Infirmities of Age and Sickness, are very lawful and reasonable Restraints upon us. Our Saviour, 'tis confess’d, commanded the
Young Man in the Gospel, to go and sell all
he had, and give to the Poor. But this was done, as a Trial of his pretended Perfection. It was a Precept Personal to Him, not of universal Obligation, nor to be drawn into Example rashly, and at all Adventures. The Primitive Christians also brought their Goods into one common Fund, from whence Distribution was made, as each of the Brethren had need. But this is commended, only as an Act seasonable Then, not for a Standard of Practice, that should be perpetual. At this rate indeed our Saviour's Declaration, that we shall have the Poor always with us, could not hold true. So that all the Inference, resulting from these Instances, is, that Men should be in a constant Disposition of Mind, most willingly to exchange the Treasures of this Life for those of a Better; and to part even with their All, when the Service of God, and the Good of Souls, require it. But, in ordinary Cases, the Exigencies of Other People are so to be considered, as that our Own be not altogether overlook’d; And, while we help Them, care must be taken not to rob, and perfectly strip Our Selves.
Again, The very Consideration of the Objects we would relieve, makes this Caution neceffary. For, the Wants and Distresses of our Brethren are not of one Day's Production, or Continuance. Fresh Objects, worthy of our Pity, are perpetually presenting themselves ; And therefore we should do ill to be so lavish upon One, or a Few, as thereby to fall under a Disability of succouring the Rest. That, which is constantly a Duty,obliges us to such prudent Reserves, as may keep us in Condition to perform it long and often, even as oft, as fit Occasions shall call for it at our Hands. These Reasons (to name no more ) are sufficient to prove, that Men may, and ought to proceed by a Zeal tempered with
Prudence, even in Gifts of Piety and Charity. They should not abandon their Substance, and, by laying out all in a Heat, either cut off their own Power of being charitible for the future, or so reduce it, as to become Objects of Charity themselves. And therefore I shall close with a few short Rules, in which the Example of our Saviour may be Serviceable, for directing our Difposals, and our Behaviour, in this Point.
We cannot but observe, that the Multitudes now fed by Him, were in a Place remote from all Accommodations, ready to faint for Hunger, driven to that Necessity, by following him so far, and attending him so long, that they might reap the Benefit of his Miracles, and his Doctrine. Now, since the Necessities of our Brethren in Want are by far moreand greater, than the Liberality of the Wealthiest and most Open-handed Man can possibly supply; It is absolutely necessary, that we should give with some Distinction. Wherein we shall do well to imitate our Lord, in the following Particulars.
1. That we generally bestow our Charity upon Such, as are least in a Condition of sustaining themselves. For that which the Desart was to these Multitudes, the same in Effect, are Old Age, Maimed Limbs, Long Sickness, Multitude of Helpless Children, and the Calamities, which more immediately and visibly come from the Hand of God, to the Poor in general. They disable them, I mean, from furnishing themselves, by pain-. ful Labour and honest Industry; and, in so doing, they lay them at our Doors, and charge us with them. But as for Them, whom Pride or Profusion, Sloth or Vice have reduced ; Them, who continue Poor, only because they will not take any Trouble to be otherwise ; the Laws of God have not commanded, and those of Men wisely discountenance, the fame Compassion for such. To Them, who make Wandring and Beggary a Trade, and chuse the Shame, but Ease, of That, before an ho
13. Nor is it strange, 13. For if the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes that his Blood should of an beifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifierb to tbe purifyhave so noble and last- ing of the Flesh : ing Effects, to any who remember, how that of Beasts heretofore, and the Ashes made of a burnt red Heifer, removed all Legal Pollutions, and restored the Unclean, when sprinkled with them, to the Service of the Tabernacle. (Numb. xix.)
14. Shall not then 14. How much more shall be Blood of Christ, who Christ's Blood, (whole tbrough the eternal Spirit offered bimself witbout spor to Person is Divine, and to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve tbe his Blood the Blood of living God God (Acts xx. 28.) by the Unity of the fame Eternal Spirit) when He offered himself a most unblemished Sacrifice, be effectual to cleanse Mens Souls, (as that of Beasts did formerly their Bodies) from the Guilt of those Sins that make liable to death, (as that Other from Pollutions contracted by dead Bedies) and qualify them for the Acceptance of their Service to God, (as that Other admitted Men to the Communion of the Sanctuary.)
15. To this End, (or 15. And for this cause be is the Mediator of the New by this Blood) he hath Testament, ibat by means of dealb, for the redemption of sealed a new Covenant the transgressions that were under tbe forft Teftament, ibey between God and Us; which are called might receive the promise of eternal inthat so, in Considera- beritance. tion of his Death for the Expiation of Sins, which the first Legal Covenant could not expiate, all who are admitted to, and perform their part of it, may receive the Promise of Immortality and Happiness in Heaven. Their Title to which is clear, by their Sins being thus atoned for and forgiven.
HE Pre-eminence of the Evangelical above the
Legal Covenant was asserted in the Epistle for the last Lord's Day. The Church now proceeds to confirm that Affertion, by appointing one for this Day, which instances in some particulars, wherein that Preeminence consists. An Argument carried on, by some Comparisons, drawn from that Tabernacle, and the Service of it, in which the Glory of the Levitical Dispensation principally lay.
I. The Person officiating.
These are the Heads of the Apostle's Reasoning, and Niall be so of my present Discourse, upon this Subject.
I. The First Preference, given here to the GospelCovenant, regards the Person officiating in the Chriftian Sacrifice. Those among the Jews were offered by the Succession and Posterity of Aaron, Men in all. Points upon a Level with their Brethren, excepting that Distinction God had put, by the Honour of devoting them to his Altar, and, by Their Ministry, conveying his Blessings to, and receiving the Homage and Acknowledgments due from, the Body of his People. But still those Blessings were, could be, no other, than the Oeconomy they attended upon, had indented for. Which, properly speaking, extended no farther, than the Privileges of communicating with God in the Ordinances he had prescribed ; and the Mercies of an Earthly Canaan; of which such Communion, regularly observed, was made the Condition, and the Pledge.
The same high Office does our Jejus execute under the Gospel-Dispensation. But, (as the Chapters foregoing have proved by several Instances) to much greater Advantage. He was not, like the Jewish High Priests, taken from among Men, Not of the same common Frailties and Corruptions, with those for whom he mediates : but is holy and harmless, undefiled and separate from Sinners : He consequently needed not, like Them, to offer for his own Sins first, and then for the People. He was therefore a successful Sacrificer for his Peoples Sins, because under no Guilt of his own, to render him obnoxious, and require a Sacrifice. He was not of the Tribe of Levi, or the Order of Aaron, whose Priesthood was temporary, and the Persons admitted to it mortal: But of the Order of Melchisedec : Ofa Priesthood unchangeable ; In respect of its solemn Institution confirmed by the Oath of God; In respect also of the Priest himself, who liveth for ever to make Inter
vii, 26, 27.
vii. 20, 21, 23, 24, 25.
the Veil, through which a Passage is opened for us in
to the Holiest; that St. John speaking of the John i. 14.
Incarnation of the Word, expresses it by pitching his Tabernacle among us, or, in our Human Nature; and says, that thence his Glory was conspicuous:
And again, that our Blessed Lord himself John ii. 19, 21.
calls his own Body a Temple. Manifestly alluding by These, to the Jewish Tabernacle, and Temple,and Glory of the Lord exhibiting himself there. Strong Confirmations these are, of that Presence, by which God dwelt thus among his People, being intended as a Type of that realand visible Presence, by which, in the Body ofhis Incarnate Son, he actually dwelt with, and exhibited himself to Men. Hence we have a Rational Account, why the Worship of God, and Mens Acceptance in it, should be confined to that Place of his Symbolical Presence ; because intimating, that there is no Name given unto Men, whereby they must be saved, but only the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whose Human Nature he is Substantially present. And this Sense will likewise correspond perfectly well, with that Character of this Tabernacle, Not made with Hands, that is to say, not of this building ; In regard of Christ's Human Nature not being brought into the World by Human Means ; (which being made with Hands often denotes) nor in the ordinary way ; but born of an unblemished Virgin, and conceived by an Almighty and immediate Operation of the Holy Ghost. In all which Respects, this Tabernacle too was greater and more perfect than tbat under the Law; and by it, by the Blood which thus became his, he entred into Heaven, as the High Priest heretofore entred into the Holy Place on Earth. The Manner of Entring was thus far alike in both ; but the Blood they carried in, by no means alike. Which brings us to the
III. Third Consideration, upon which the Pre-eminence of our High Priest is asserted in the Scripture now