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promised to us things greater than all our explicit desires, bigger than the thoughts of our heart, then évviso plev TW W, saith the apostle, “ then we draw near to God;" and by these we are enabled to do all that God requires, and then he requires all that we can do; more love and more obedience than he did of those who,-for want of these helps, and these revelations, and these promises, which we have, but they had not,-were but imperfect persons, and could do but little more than human services. Christ hath taught us more, and given us more, and promised to us more, than ever was in the world known or believed before him; and by the strengths and confidence of these, thrusts us forward in a holy and wise economy; and plainly declares, t'at we must serve him by the measures of a new love, do him honour by wise and material glorifications, be united to God by a new nature, and made alive by a new birth, and fulfil all righteousness; to be humble and meek as Christ, to be merciful as our heavenly Father is, to be pure as God is pure, to be partakers of the Divine nature, to be wholly renewed in the frame and temper of our mind, to become people of a new heart, a direct new creation, new principles, and a new being, to do better than all the world before us ever did, to love God more perfectly, to despise the world more generously, to contend for the faith more earnestly; for all this is but a proper and a just consequent of the great promises, which our blessed Lawgiver came to publish and effect for all the world of believers and disciples.
The matter which is here required, is certainly very great; for it is to be more righteous than the Scribes and Pharisees; more holy than the doctors of the law, than the leaders of the synagogue, than the wise princes of the sanhedrim ; more righteous than some that were prophets and high priests, than some that kept the ordinances of the law without blame; men that lay in sackcloth, and fasted much, and prayed more, and made religion and the study of the law the work of their lives : this was very much; but Christians must do more.
Nunc te marmoreum pro tempore fecimus; at tu,
Si fætura gregem suppleverit, aureus esto. They did well, and we must do better; their houses were marble, but our roofs must be gilded and fuller of glory.
But as the matter is very great, so the necessity of it is the greatest in the world. It must be so, or it will be much worse : unless it be thus, we shall never see the glorious face of God. Here it concerns us to be wise and fearful; for the matter is not a question of an oaken garland, or a circle of bays, and a yellow riband : it is not a question of money or land; nor of the vainer rewards of popular noises, and the undiscerning suffrages of the people, who are contingent judges of good and evil: but it is the great stake of life eternal. We cannot be Christians, unless we be righteous by the new measures : the righteousness of the kingdom is now the only way to enter into it; for the sentence is fixed, and the judgment is decretory, and the Judge infallible, and the decree irreversible : “ For I say unto you,” said Christ, “ unless your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in nowise enter into the kingdom of heaven."
Here, then, we have two things to consider. 1. What was the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees. 2. How far that is to be exceeded by the righteousness of Christians.
1. Concerning the first. I will not be so nice in the observation of these words, as to take notice that Christ does not name the Sadducees, but the Scribes and Pharisees, though there may be something in it: the Sadducees were called 'Caraim,' from cara, 'to read;' for they thought it religion to spend one third part of their day in reading their Scriptures, whose fulness they so admired, they would admit of no suppletory traditions : but the Pharisees were called “Thanaim,' that is, deutepútai, they added to the word of God words of their own, as the church of Rome does at this day; they and these fell into an equal fate; while they 'taught for doctrines the commandments of men, they prevaricated the righteousness of God: what the church of Rome, to evil purposes, hath done in this particular, may be demonstrated in due time and place; but what false and corrupt glosses, under the specious title of the tradition of their fathers, the Pharisees had introduced, our blessed Saviour reproves, and are now to be represented as the årti papádelyna, that you may see that righteousness, beyond which all they must go, that intend that heaven should be their journey's end.
1. The Pharisees obeyed the commandments in the letter, not in the spirit: they minded what God spake, but not what he intended : they were busy in the outward work of the hand, but incurious of the affections and choice of the heart. Υμείς πάντα σαρκικώς νενοήκατε, said Justin Martyr to Tryphon the Jew, ' Ye understand all things carnally;' that is, they rested £v ankomatı sucessías, as Nazianzen calls it, ' in the outward work of piety, which not only Justin Martyr but St. Paul calls' carnality,' not meaning a carnal appetite, but a carnal service b. Their error was plainly this: they never distinguished duties natural from duties relative; that is, whether it were commanded for itself, or in order to something that was better ; whether it were a principal grace, or an instrumental action: so God was served in the letter, they did not much inquire into his purpose : and, therefore, they were curious to wash their hands, but cared not to purify their hearts; they would give alms, but hate him that received it; they would go to the temple, but did not revere the glory of God that dwelt there between the cherubims; they would fast, but not mortify their lusts; they would say good prayers, but not labour for the grace they prayed for. This was just as if a man should run on his master's errand, and do no business when he came there. They might easily have thought, that by the soul only a man approaches to God, and draws the body after it; but that no washing or corporal services could unite them and the shechinah together, no such thing could make them like to God, who is the Prince of Spirits. They did as the dunces in Pythagoras's school, who,-when their master had said “ Fabis abstineto," by which he intended “they should not ambitiously seek for magistracy,'—they thought themselves good Pythagoreans if they did not eat beans ;' and they would be sure to put their right foot first into the shoe, and their left foot into the water, and supposed they had done enough ; though if they had not been fools, they would have understood their master's meaning to have been, that they should put more affections to labour and travel, and less to their pleasure and recreation; and so it was with the Pharisee: for as the Chaldees taught their morality by mystic words, and the
b Gal. iii. 3. and vi. 12, 13. Phil. iii. 31.
Egyptians by hieroglyphics, and the Greeks by fables; so did God by rites and ceremonies external, leading them by the hand to the purities of the heart, and by the services of the body to the obedience of the spirit; which because they would not understand, they thought they had done enough in the observation of the letter.
2. In moral duties, where God expressed himself more plainly, they made no commentary of kindness, but regarded the prohibition so nakedly, and divested of all antecedents, consequents, similitudes, and proportions, that if they stood clear of that hated name which was set down in Moses' tables, they gave themselves liberty, in many instances, of the same kindred and alliance. If they abstained from murder, they thought it very well, though they made no scruple of murdering their brother's fame; they would not cut his throat, but they would call him fool, or invent lies in secret, and publish his disgrace openly: they would not dash out his brains, but they would be extremely and unreasonably angry with him : they would not steal their brother's money, but they would oppress him in crafty and cruel bargains. The commandment forbade them to commit adultery; but because fornication was not named, they made no scruple of that; and being commanded to honour their father and their mother, they would give them good words and fair observances; but because it was not named that they should maintain them in their need, they thought they did well enough to pretend corban,' and let their father starve.
3. The Scribes and Pharisees placed their righteousness in negatives : they would not commit what was forbidden, but they cared but little for the included positive, and the omissions of good actions did not much trouble them; they would not hurt their brother in a forbidden instance, but neither would they do him good according to the intention of the commandment. It was a great innocence if they did not rob the poor,-then they were righteous men; but they thought themselves not much concerned to acquire that godlike excellency, a philanthropy and love to all mankind. Whosoever blasphemed God was to be put to death ; but he that did not glorify God as he ought, they were unconcerned for him, and let him alone. He that spake against Moses, was to die without mercy ; but against the ambitious and the
covetous, against the proud man and the unmerciful, they made no provisions.
Virtus est vitium fugere, et sapientia prima
Stultitiâ caruisse. They accounted themselves good, not for doing good, but for doing no evil; that was the sum of their theology.
4. They had one thing more as bad as all this: they broke Moses' tables into pieces, and, gathering up the fragments, took to themselves what part of duty they pleased, and let the rest alone; for it was a proverb amongst the Jews, “ Qui operam dat præcepto, liber est à præcepto;" that is, “if he chooses one positive commandment for his business, he may be less careful in any of the rest.' Indeed, they said also, “Qui multiplicat legem, multiplicat vitam ;" “ He that multiplies the law, increases life;" that is, if he did attend to more good things, it was so much the better, but the other was well enough ; but as for universal obedience, that was not the measure of their righteousness; for they taught that God would put our good works and bad into the balance, and according to the heavier scale, give a portion in the world to come; so that some evil they would allow to themselves and their disciples, always provided it was less than the good they did. They would devour widows' houses, and make it up by long prayers; they would love their nation, and hate their prince; offer sacrifice, and curse Cæsar in their heart; advance Judaism, and destroy humanity.
Lastly: St. Austin summed up the difference between the Pharisaical and evangelical righteousness in two words ; “ Brevis differentia inter legem et evangelium ; timor et amor.” They served the God of their fathers in the spirit of fear,' and we worship the Father of our Lord Jesus in the spirit of love,' and by the spirit of adoption. And as this. slavish principle of theirs was the cause of all their former imperfections, so it finally and chiefly expressed itself in these two particulars :-1. They would do all that they thought. they lawfully could do. 2. They would do nothing but what was expressly commanded.
This was the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, and their disciples, the Jews"; which, because our blessed
c Hor. Ep. i. 1. 41.