« AnteriorContinuar »
cy among them. However if not, he has the greater Stock of Mercy to come. For,
SECONDLY, the Merciful shall obtain Mercy from God hereafter. And this does not depend upon so many Casualties, and such uncertain Suppositions as the other. Here 'tis only requi. red that mercy and truth meet together, and that the Man be sincere and upright in all other Moral Respects. And so much indeed is necessary. For 'tis not to be thought that Mercy alone, any more than any other Solitary Vertue, can qualifie a Man for Mercy. No, the Man must be rixed rj óróxango, Perfect and Intire, and wanting nothing as to all the integral Parts of Duty, to be accepted in the Judgment of God, Fam. 1. 4. Only there may I think be allowed this further Senfe in the Proposition, that no one Vertue shall go so far towards the obtaining of full Mercy from God, as this of Mercifulness. And that if the Merciful Man for want of other necessary Parts of Chriftian Perfection, should not be able to stand in the last Judgment, yet however his Fall shall be much the milder, and he shall have great Abatements of Punishment made him for the sake of this one Excellency. To which purpose, 'tis very confiderable that our Saviour in the Description of the Last Judgment, makes all the Favour and all the Severity of that Day to proceed according to the Practice of Omiffion of this Duty, Mat, 25;
ONE way or other therefore the Merciful shall be sure to obtain Mercy, nor will God forget this Labour of Love. Pray God we may not forget it our selves, but may so love, study and practise Mercy here, that we may hereafter not only receive a milder Sentence, but find such a Degree of Mercy as may finally rejoice against Judgment. Amen.
DISCOURSE the Sixth.
MATTH. V. Ver. viii.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they fall see God.
NE of the most distinguishing Per, fections of the Christian Institution above any other either Divine or
Human, is, That it requires an inward Rectitude of Mind and Spirit, and makes the Heart the Principle and Seat of Spiritual, as it is of Natural Life. The Heathen Morality went little further than the Regulation of the outward Behaviour, not much regarding the Sanctity of the Interiour. And tho some few raised Spirits among them, mov’d by a Diviner Impulfe, would now and then, like Men in Extasies, talk above the World and themselves too, recommending certain Purgations and Purifications of Soul, as the Pythagoreans and Pla
tonists, tonifts, yet this was not taught or known in the common Schools of Nature, nor was it any where made the ordinary Standard of Morality.
The Jewish Religion, as it presented to the World a Second and more Correct Edition of the Law of Nature, so was it in this particular respect more perfect than the Gentile Morality, there being in the Moral Law one special Precept which directly concerns Purity of Heart. But yet there was a great defect even here too, because tho' there was a Prohibition of inward Concupiscence, yet it had no penal Sanction annex'd to it. Every other Precept was so guarded as to be able to revenge it self upon those who transgressed it. Idolatry was punished, Perjury was punished, Profanation of the Sabbath, Disobedience to Parents, Murther, Adultéry, Theft, and bearing falsé Witness were all
punished, only Concupiscence Philippus a Lim- had no Punishment allotted to it. borch. Theolog. Which (as a Learned Person conChristian p.217.
jectures) gave some occasion to think that they might securely indulge their Concupiscence, so it did not break forth into the outward and grosser Act.
CERTAIN it is, that many among the Jews so thought and practis’d, contenting themselves with external Conformity to the Law, without any regard to the inward Purity and Ho. liness, as may appear from our Saviour's fre. quent Reprehensions of the Pharisees upon this very Account. And 'tis very probable that
this their Fancy was occasioned by there being no Punishment allign'd to the Breach of the Tenth Coinmandment, as that Learned Person conjectures. However 'tis certain that it was a great Defeat in the Law not to bind so perfect a Precept with a Penal Sanction. Tho’indeed the true Reason was, because 'twas too perfect to be severely exacted in that Infant Age and State of the Church. The Law therefore did not rigidly exact it, tho' it did plainly command it. Which thon10 Defeet with relation to that Time and State, (the Law being as perfect as the Gospel, as to all the Ends and Purposes intended by it, and every way accommodated to the Condition of those on whom it was imposed) yet absolutely speaking it was a great Defect and Imperfection of the Law.
THEN as to the Mahumetan Religion (which indeed is only Heathenism pretending to Revelation) this, tho’ the last, and assuming to it felf the improvement of all that went before, is yet really short even of Heathenism it felf. This is so far from r'equiring internal Purity, that is does not require so much as external, but allows and recomiends too the grossest Impurities; which has often made me wonder why the Turk should write upon the out-fide of his Alcoran, Let no man touch this Book, but he that is pure. I'm sure the Book it self requires no such thing, nor can I justifie the Reason of the Motto in any other Sense but this, That none but he that is pure is fit to be trust. ed with such a corrupt Institution.
But the Christian Law is pure indeed, and none but such as are so are worthy to unloose the Seals of this book. This requires the usmost Purity that is consistent with the Measures of Morality, Purity without, and Purity within, pure Hands and pure Hearts. It requires it more expresly, and in a greater degree, than either the Heathen or Jewish Religion, and (what was wanting in the other) under the Sanction of Rewards and Punishments, and those the greatest imaginable. It does not on. ly command inward Purity, but incourage it too by the strongest Proposals that can affect either the Sense or the Reason of Man. One of the greatest of which Encouragements is, that our Saviour inserts it into the Order of his Beatitudes, and gives it a special Title to the Beatifick Vision in these Words, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they fall see God.
The Subject to be here discoursed of is Christian Purity, or Purity of Heart. Whereof I shall represent,
I. The Nature, by a Character or Defcription.
II. The Necessity.
By Furity of Heart in general, is to be understood an inward Conformity of all the