Imatges de pÓgina
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be freely admitted into the congregation and the fanctuary (u).

The unchangeable law of nature, requires a perfect obedience both in heart and life, which no son of Adam can say with truth that he has yielded. Yet we find God prescribed to the Ilo raelites a form of glorying in their obedience to the Mosaic law, and of pleading upon that obe.dience for covenant blessings. Deut. xxvi. 12,15.

" When thou hast made an end of tithing « all the tithes of thine increase, the third year, “ which is the year of tithing, and has given it “ unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, “ and the widow, that they may eat within thy

gates, and be filled; then thou shalt say be“ fore the Lord thy God, I have brought away " the hallowed things out of my house, and allo “ have given them unto the Levite, and unto

the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the wi“dow, according to all thy commandments « which thou halt commanded me: I have not " tran?gressed thy commandments, neither have “ I forgotten them. I have not eaten thereof " in my mourning, neither have I taken away

ought thereof for any unclean use, nor given

ought thereof for the dead: but I have hear“ kened to the voice of the Lord my God, and “ have done according to all that thou haft com6. manded me.

Look down from thy holy ha“ bitation, from heaven, and bless thy people " Ifrael, and the land which thou hast given us,

as thou swarest unto our fathers, a land that “ floweth with milk and honey.” Would God have directed them, think you, to glory in their

(u) See Mr. Lock on Rom. ii. 26.

observance

be

observance of that law, if, in fact, the fincereft among them had not observed it. Yet doubtless that was the case, if its demands were the same as those of the law of nature. But indeed, the things mentioned in that form of glorying were only external performances, and one may fee, with half an eye, many might truly boast they had done them all, who were strangers notwithftanding to charity, flowing from a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned.

Job, who probably represents the Jews after their return from the Babylonish captivity, was perfect and upright (v). Zacharias and Elizabeth were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless (w). The young man, who came to Jesus, enquiring what he should do to inherit eternal life, profefled that he had kept the commandments from his youth up, and our Lord does not charge him with falfhood in that profefsion (x). Paul was, touching the righteousness which was of the law, blameless (y). Yet Job curses the day in which he was born (z); Zacharias is guilty of unbelief (a); the young man, in the gospel, loves this world better than Christ (b); and Paul himself groans to be delivered from a body of fin and death (c). These seeming contradictions will vanish, if we take notice, that all of these, though chargeable with manifold breaches of the law of nature, had kept the letter of the Mosaic law, and thus were en

(v) Job i. 1. (2) Luke i. 6.

(*) Matth. (y) Phil. iii. 6.

(z) Job iji, 1, 3. (a) Luke i. 20. (b) Mat. xix. 22, 23.

(c) Rom.

xix. 20.

vii. 24.

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titled

titled to the earthly happiness promised to its observers.

Indeed, in many passages of Scripture, perfection means no more, than a strict adherence to purity of worship, in opposition to idolatry and other gross violations of the Sinai covenant. And therefore, men who, if sincere in religion, were far from being eminent for inward holiness, are notwithstanding termed perfect. Thus it is said of Afa, that he did that which was right in the

eyes of the Lord, as did David his father ; and that his heart was perfect with the Lord all his days, 1 Kings xv. 11, 14. And yet he cruelly imprisons a prophet for honestly reproving him, and fo far from amending his ways, he goes off the stage without any record of his repentance and reformation : the last thing raid of him being one of the worst, that, in his fickness, he fought unto the physicians and not unto God. On the other hand, though Solomon had grace in sincerity, yet it is said 1 Kings xi. 4. his heart was not perfect with God as David's was : because he was not perfect and steady like David in maintaining purity of worship. This remark was made long ago by the pious Mr. Hooker of Hartford in New England. Application of Redemption, book 10. p. 661. and with equal reason Bifhop Warburton bas observed, Divine Legation, vol

. II. part I. p. 355,-360. that the title of Man after God's own heart, was given to David, not on account of his private morals, but of a behaviour fo different from that of Saul, in steadily maintaining purity of worship. And much for the same reason, God says of Samuel in opposition to Eli, Sam. ii. 35. I will raise

me

me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to all which is in my heart and in my mind.

$.5. You will ask, if this reasoning is just, why did the prophets so often insist upon it, that facrifices and meer outward obedience were not acceptable to God (d)? I answer, in many such paffages, the Jews are rebuked for neglecting the moral law, and placing all their religion in the ceremonial : so that it is not so much meer outward morality, that was blamed in them, as meer ritual religion, absurdly intermingled with the worship of idols, and accompanied with theft, murder, adultery, and other gross violations of moral duties (e). Besides, even these rites are not absolutely condemned. It is only suggested, that they have no intrinsic worth and value, that God does not love them for their own sakes, and therefore, under a more perfect dispensation, would abrogate them: and that though these rites, joined to external moral obedience, might fecure temporal blessings, yet that they could not entitle, as many of the Jews, and even Paul himself, before his conversion fondly dreamed, to the special favour and friendship of God, and to eternal happiness. It

may be further enquired, if meer external obedience was the condition of the Sinai covenant, why were not all who yielded such obedience, blessed according to the promise, with long life and prosperity in the land of Canaan. I have no fpecial concern with this difficulty, since it is almost equal on the contrary hypothesis. Those

(d) Pfal. 1. 8. Ila. i. 11. xliii. 23. Jer. vii. 21. Hof. v. 6, 7. vi. 6. Mic. vi, 8. (e) Jer, vii. 9, 10. Amos v. 21,--24.

who

who ask the question, will find it as hard to answer it in a satisfying manner, and yet are as much obliged to attempt it as I am. The hypothesis of those, who think that the promise of temporal prosperity in the Sinai covenant, was rather made to the Jewish nation in general, than to particular Ifraelites (f), would, if well founded, afford a full and easy solution to this difficulty. But what has been observed in the preceding section, $ 2. perfectly confutes that notion. I would only observe, that if our views of the grounds of God's government were more complete, we should see no cause in any instance to arraign the divine veracity. Men, who seemed to live blameless lives, might, notwithstanding, be punished for outward fins; I mean either for outward fins secretly coinmitted by them. felves, or for the outward fins of parents, which were often visited upon the children to the third and fourth generations.

$ 6. There is another difficulty, which merits a fuller discussion. The Israelites were forbidden to cover what was their neighbours, and to lust after evil things, and were required to love the Lord with all their heart and soul, and mind and strength, and to love their neighbours as themselves. Hence it is plausibly argued, that abftaining from actual injustice, freedom from idolatry and other gross fins, and an observance of the external institutions of God's worship, was not the only condition of the Sinai covenant.

That conclusion, however, is more than the pranises will warrant. These precepts unquestionably prove, that God prescribed to the Jews

(f) Alhardt de Roat Apol. Derit, p. 72, and 172. D

inward

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