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1. That our dying unto, or forfaking of Sin, muft be total or univerfal, from all Sin, without allowing our felves in any.
2. That our living unto Righteousness must be constant, and hold out to the end.
1. I fay, our forfaking of Sin muft be total and univerfal, extending to all Sin, without the leaft Indulgence to any. This was the end of Chrift's Death, fo to kill all Sin in us, that none might continue or revive in us any more: How shall we that are dead to Sin (faith the Apostle) live any longer therein? A dead Man, you know, hath no Senfation or Perception of any thing; and if we are dead to all Sin,, as Chrift's Death teaches us to be, we fhall have no Motion or Inclination to any. There are fome who can well enough difpenfe with this or that Sin, which croffes not their Intereft or Humour, but flick clofe to others, that better adminifter to their Lufts or Defigns; and what they seem to take away from one Vice, they make up with advantage to another. The Apostle fpeaks of fome who abhor'd Idols, but could greedily enough commit Sacrilege, Rom. 2. and we have known many, great Enemies indeed to Idolatry, who yet are well enough reconcil'd to Schifm and Sacrilege. Such as thefe are not dead, but alive unto Sin, to which they moft clofely adhere; and are not fo much alive, as dead unto Righteoufnefs, whofe ways they utterly forfake. Such partial and nominal Chriftians, like those in the Church of Sardis, have a Name to live, but are indeed dead as to all the Purposes of a fpiritual Life; which will not permit in us the Love or Practice of any one known Sin, but lays the Axe to the very Root, and cuts down all the Branches of Iniquity. In a word, we are to imitate Christ's Death, by dying unto all Sin, not fparing Agag, or any darling Impiety, but laying afide every Weight, and the Sin that doth fo eafily befer us.
2. Our living unto Righteoufnefs must be conftant, and perfevering unto the end; not living to it a while, and then leaving it, but making it the Work and Business of our whole Life, and continuing faithful in it, even unto Death. There are fome who feem zealous and good Chrif tians for a time, running with great Alacrity and Chearfulness the Ways of God's Commandments; but after a while flag, and tire, and forfake all: Te did run well (faith the Apoftle to the Galatians) who did hinder you, that ye fhould not obey the Truth? that is, ye began and fet out
well in your Chriftian Race, receiving the Gospel as it was preached unto you, and fo were in a good way of Faith, and by it went happily forward towards the Mark of your high Calling in Chrift Jefus, but you have falter'd fince, and not continu'd on in that Courfe, and fo have loft the Prize for not holding out to the end of the Race: And fo fhall we too, if we perfevere not, and keep not in it to the laft. You fall reap (faith St. Paul) a good Crop of Glory, if ye faint not; but if you give out and grow weary, ye fhall reap only the fad Fruit of Shame and Confufion. In fhort, you must live on a Life of Grace to the end, if ever ye hope to arrive to a Life of Glory.
This is the Senfe and Drift of the Epiftle for this Day; which fhews us how we are to imitate Chrift's Death, by dying unto Sin, and likewife how we are to fhew forth the Virtue of his Refurrection, by living unto Righteousness.
The Application of the whole Difcourfe, the Apostle gives us in the laft Verfe of the Epiftle, faying, Likewise reckon ye alfo your felves to be dead indeed unto Sin, but alive unto God, thro Jefus Christ our Lord; that is, take this home to your felves, and count upon it, that by your Baptifm you are in a State of Death, as to all finful Practices, never to love or live in fuch Courfes any more; and that by Chrift's Refurrection you are rais'd to a new State of Life, to be led in the Practice of Holiness and Vertue, which you are to live for ever, without ever returning again to any vile or vicious Courses. And this thro Jefus Christ our Lord, that is, by the Aid and Affiftance of his Holy Spirit, who is both the Author and Cherifher of this fpiritual Life, from whom, as from the Root and Foundation, all our Graces fpring.
All that remains is, to exhort you to answer these two great Ends and Effects of Chrift's Death and Refurrection, by a total abandoning of all kinds of Sin, and by a conftant Practice of all forts of Vertue. Thefe are the two. Parts of that Sanctification, which we have by Baptifm; they are commonly exprefs'd by Mortification, which is a dying unto Sin; and Vivification, which is a living unto Righteoufnefs. Thefe likewife are the two great Parts of Repentance, which is a turning from Sin unto God. They are exprefs'd in Scripture, fometimes by efchewing Evil and doing Good; fometimes by abhorring that which is Evil, and cleaving to that which is Good; fometimes by denying Ungodli
nefs and worldly Lufts, and living righteously, foberly, and godly in this prefent World: All which are but different Expreflions of what we are call'd upon to do this day, namely to die unto Sin, and to live unto God.
Let this therefore be henceforth our main Study and Exercife. To which end, let us often meditate on the Merits and Virtue of Chrift's Death, and the Power of his Refurrection to work these things in us: the one to mortify and kill Sin in us, which is to put off the old Man; the other to quicken and enliven our Graces, which is to put on the new Man, that after God is created in Righteousness and true Holiness. This is the great Work and Duty of Repentance, to which we are fo often call'd, and encourag'd by many Promifes; and the Neglect whereof is fo feverely threaten'd with many Punishments. Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, faid St. John, upon our Saviour's firft Coming into the World; that being his main Design in it, to blefs Mankind by turning them from their Iniquities. Repent, and be converted (faith St. Peter) that your Sins may be blotted out, when the times of Refreshment shall come from the Prefence of the Lord; Acts 3. 19. that being the only means to procure our Pardon, and to gain Admiffion into the Prefence of God. Except ye repent (faith our Saviour) ye shall all likewife perish; Luke 13. 5. All which are fo many Warnings and Exhortations to the great Duty of this Day, viz. to die unto Sin, and to live unto Righteoufnefs. I fhall conclude all with the following words of our Apostle, Ler not Sin reign therefore in your mortal Bodies, that ye fhould obey it in the Luft's thereof; neither yield ye your Members as Inftruments of Unrighteousness unto Sin, but yield your felves unto God as thofe that are alive from the Dead, and your Members as Inftruments of Righteoufnefs unto God: So fhall you e'er long receive a Crown of Righteoufnefs, which God the righteous Judg fhall give you at the laft Day: Which God grant, &c.
The GOSPEL for the Sixth Sunday after
St. Matthew v. 20-27.
Jefus faid to his Difciples, Except your Righteousnefs ball exceed the Righteousness of the Scribes and Pharifees, ye shall in no cafe enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Te have heard that it was faid by them of old, Thou shalt not kill, and whofoever shall kill fhall be in danger of the Fudgment; but I say unto you, &c.
HIS Gofpel for the Day contains another Part of Chrift's Sermon on the Mount, wherein he vindicates the Law from ali falfe Gloffes, and refines it into a more pure and perfect Rule of Life and Manners. He had before told his Difciples, that he came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfil it, ver. 17. He freed them indeed from the Rites and Ceremonies, but not from the Rules and Precepts of Mofes's Law. Inftead of loofening the Obligation, he expected a ftricter Obedience and Conformity to it. And because the Scribes and Pharifees had corrupted the Law by falfe Gloffes, and their Lives by falfe and glozing Pretences, he endeavours here to reform and regulate both; beginning with, this Caution,
Except your Righteousness shall exceed the Righteousness of the Scribes and Pharifees, ye shall in no cafe enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. The Scribes and Pharifees were the great Doctors and Rabbies among the Jews, the one being the Name of an Office, and the other of a Sect, and both eminent Teachers and Expounders of the Law: which they had done fo falfly and corruptly, that our Saviour found it neceffary to expound it over again, to rescue it from their evil Interpretations, and to bring it up to its juft height
and perfection, as may be feen in the following part of the Chapter.
The Corruptions and falfe Conftructions they made of the Law, were fuch as thefe: they taught, (i.) That if Men kept to the Letter of the Law, which they call'd jufti ad legem, it was fufficient, tho they minded not the true Intent and fpiritual Meaning of it. (2.) If they polish'd the outward Garb, and appear'd righteous before Men, it -matter'd not how falfe and unjuft they were within. (3.) If Men abftain'd from the open groffer Acts of Sin, they need not trouble themselves about the more fecret Motives and Occafions of it. (4.) If Men perform'd the external A&s of Religion, 'twas needlefs to concern themselves about the Principle, End, or Manner of performing them.
Thefe, and fuch other like thefe, were the Doctrines of the Scribes and Pharifees, which they taught others, and practis'd themfelves; by which they made void the Law of God, and rendred the Commandments of none effect by their Traditions.
This was the Righteoufness of the Scribes and Pharifees, which had many Flaws and Imperfections in it; for it was merely external, partial, and hypocritical; it dwelt_only in the Face and outward Appearance, without any Truth or Reality at all within. It confifted in flight Obfervances, and uncommanded Aufterities, and was attended with Arrogance, Pride, and an infolent Contempt of others. They abftain'd from fome Sins, which they could well enough difpenfe with, and allow'd themselves in others more crying and enormous. They perform'd fome Duties, that fuited well enough with their Humour and Intereft, and negelected others of greater weight and neceffity; paying Tythe of Mint, Annife, and Cummin, and at the fame time omitting the weightier matters of the Law. In a word, their Religion was founded on bad Principles, carry'd on by bad Means, and directed to bad Ends; for their Acts of Piety and Mercy were all done for Vanity and Oftentation, and in all things they confulted more the Praife of Men, than the Glory of God.
Now our Saviour tells us, that our Righteousness must exceed this Righteousness of the Scribes and Pharifees, or elfe we shall never enter into the Kingdom of Grace here, or of Glory hereafter. But wherein muft our Righteousness exceed theirs? Why,