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came, those of their nation that received him should not die; but that they, with those who, being dead, should then be raised again by him, should enjoy eternal life with him. Our Saviour, in answer to this demand, tells the young man, that to obtain the eternal life of the kingdom of the Messiah, he must keep the commandments. And then enumerating several of the precepts of the law, the young man says, he had observed these from his childhood. For which, the text tells us, Jesus loved him. But our Saviour, to try whether in earnest he believed him to be the Messiah, and resolved to take him to be his King, and to obey him as such, bids him give all that he has to the poor, and come, and follow him; and he should have treasure in heaven. This I look on to be the meaning of the place; this, of selling all he had, and giving it to the poor, not being a standing law of his kingdom ; but a probationary cominand to this young man ; to try whether he truly believed him to be the Messiah, and was ready to obey his commands, and relinquish all to follow him, when he, his Prince, required it.
And therefore we see, Luke xix. 14, where our Saviour takes notice of the Jews not receiving him as the Messiah, he expresses it thus : “ We will not have this man to reign over us." It is not enough to believe him to be the Messiah, unless we also obey his laws, and take him to be our King, to reign over us.
Matt. xxii. 11–13, he that had not on the weddinggarment, though he accepted of the invitation, and came to the wedding, was cast into utter darkness. By the wedding-garment, it is evident good works are meant here; that wedding-garment of fine linen, clean and white, which we are told, Rev. xix. 8, is the dirawuara,“ righteous acts of the saints ;” or, as St.
, Paul calls it, Ephes. iv. 1, “ The walking worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called.” This appears from the parable itself: “ The kingdom of heaven,” says our Saviour, ver. 2, “ is like unto a king, who made a marriage for his son.” And here he distinguishes those who were invited into three sorts: 1. Those who were invited, and came not; i. e. those who had the Gospel,
the good news of the kingdom of God proposed to them, but believed not. 2. Those who came, but had not on a wedding-garment; i. e. believed Jesus to be the Messiah, but were not new clad (as I may so say) with a true repentance, and amendment of life: nor adorned with those virtues, which the apostle, Col. iii. requires to be put on. 3. Those who were invited, did come, and had on the wedding-garment; i. e. heard the Gospel, believed Jesus to be the Messiah, and sincerely obeyed his laws. These three sorts are plainly designed here; whereof the last only were the blessed, who were to enjoy the kingdom prepared for them.
Matt. xxiii. "Be not ye called Rabbi; for one is your Master, even the Messiah, and ye are all brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters : for one is your Master, even the Messiah. But he that is greatest amongst you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased ; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted."
Luke xxi. 34, “ Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be at any time overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life.”
Luke xxii. 25, “ He said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so. But he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger ; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve."
John xiii. 34, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another: as I have loved you, that
ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another." This command, of loving one another, is repeated again, chap. xv. 12, and 17.
Jolin xiv. 15, “ If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Ver. 21, “ He that hath my commandments, , and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and manifest myself to him.". Ver. 23, “ If a
man loveth me, he will keep my words.” Ver. 24, u He that loveth me not, keepeth not my sayings.”
John xv. 8, " In this is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” Ver. 14, “ Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you."
Thus we see our Saviour not only confirmed the moral law, and, clearing it from the corrupt glosses of the Scribes and Pharisees, showed the strictness as well as obligation of its injunctions; but moreover, upon occasion, requires the obedience of his disciples to several of the commands he afresh lays upon them; with the enforcement of unspeakable rewards and punishments in another world, according to their obedience or disobedience. There is not, I think, any of the duties of morality, which he has not, somewhere or other, by himself and his apostles, inculcated over and over again to his followers in express terms. And is it for nothing that he is so instant with them to bring forth fruit? Does he, their King, command, and is it an indifferent thing? Or will their happiness or misery not at all depend upon it, whether they obey or no? They were required to believe him to be the Messiah ; which faith is of grace promised to be reckoned to them, for the completing of their righteousness, wherein it was defective: but righteousness, or obedience to the law of God, was their great business, which if they could have attained by their own performances, there would have been no need of this gracious allowance, in reward of their faith : but eternal life, after the resurrection, had been their due by a former covenant, even that of works; the rule whereof was never abolished, though the rigour was abated. The duties enjoined in it were duties still. Their obligations had never ceased, nor a wilful neglect of them was ever dispensed with. But their past transgressions were pardoned, to those who received Jesus, the promised Messiah, for their king; and their future slips covered, if, renouncing their former iniquities, they entered into his kingdom, and continued his subjects with a steady resolution and endeavour to obey his laws. This righteousness, there.
fore, a complete obedience and freedom from sin, are still sincerely to be endeavoured after. And it is nowhere promised, that those who persist in a wilful disobedience to his laws, shall be received into the eternal bliss of his kingdom, how much soever they believe in him.
A sincere obedience, how can any one doubt to be, or scruple to call, a condition of the new covenant, as well as faith ; whoever reads our Saviour's sermon in the mount, to omit all the rest? Can any thing be more express than these words of our Lord ? Matt. vi. 14, “ If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if
you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” And John xiii. 17, “ If ye know these things, happy are ye if you do them.” "
This is so indispensable a condition of the new covenant, that believing without it will not do, nor be accepted; if our Saviour knew the terms on which he would admit men into life.
“ Why call ye me, Lord, Lord,” says he, Luke vi. 46, “and do not the things which I say?" It is not enough to believe him to be the Messiah, the Lord, without obeying him. For that these he speaks to here were believers, is evident from the parallel place, Matth. vii. 21—23, where it is thus recorded : “Not every one who says Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doth the will of iny Father, which is in heaven.” No rebels, or refractory disobedient, shall be admitted there, though they have so far believed in Jesus, as to be able to do miracles in his name; as is plain out of the following words: “ Many will say to me in that day, Have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name have done many wonderful
, works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye workers of iniquity."
This part of the new covenant the apostles also, in their preaching the Gospel of the Messiah, ordinarily joined with the doctrine of faith.
St. Peter, in his first sermon, Acts ii., when they were pricked in heart, and asked, « What shall we do?
says, ver. 38, "
Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins.' The same he says to them again in his next speech, Acts iv. 26, “ Unto you first, God having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you.” How was this done ? " in turning away every one from your iniquities.”
The same doctrine they preach to the High Priest and rulers, Acts v. 30, “ The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew, and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand, to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins; and we are witnesses of these things, and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.”
Acts xvii. 30, St. Paul tells the Athenians, That now under the Gospel, “God commandeth all men every where to repent.”
Acts xx. 21, St. Paul, in his last conference with the elders of Ephesus, professes to have taught them the whole doctrine necessary to salvation: “I have,” says he, “kept back nothing that was profitable unto you; but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house; testifying both to the Jews and to the Greeks :" and then gives an account what his preaching had been, viz. “ Repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus the Messiah.” This was the sum and substance of the Gospel which St. Paul preached, and was all that he knew necessary to salvation ; viz. “Repentance, and believing Jesus to be the Messiah :" and so takes his last farewell of them, whom he should never see again, ver. 32, in these words: “ And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified.” There is an inheritance conveyed by the word and covenant of grace, but it is only to those who are sanctified.
Acts xxiv. 24, “ When Felix sent for Paul," that he and his wife Drusilla might hear him, “concerning the faith in Christ;" Paul reasoned of righteousness, or