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the ten commandments, though our Lord and Saviour Christ hath added no new thing unto them more than what was before, yet, as I may so speak, he hath put them into another dress than what was formerly put upon them; for saith he in the vth of Matthew, “ It hath been said by them of old, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her,” &c. In this vth of Matthew there are six cases that our Lord and Saviour Christ speaks unto; in three of them he makes mention of the
very words of the moral law; as at verse 21, “ Ye have heard it was said of old, Thou shalt not kill.” At the 27th verse, “ Ye have heard that it was said of old, Thou shalt not commit adultery.” So again, verse 33. But, now, when he speaks of the other laws that were not of the ten commandments, ye may observe that he alters his manner of speaking: “ Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye.” He doth not say, Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time. When, I say, he speaks of any of the ten commandments, that clause is added; when he speaks of the other three cases, that clause is not added.
Again, You may observe this, that those words, “ Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time;" should be rather translated, as it is in some of your books, “ Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time;" which appears by the antithesis, or opposition, “ But I say.”
Again, You may observe, that when he saith, at the 17th verse, “ Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets, I am not come to destroy but to fulfil;” those words, according to the original, may be read thus; “I am not come to destroy but to fill up;" for though Christ added nothing unto the ten commandments, or moral law, yet, notwithstanding, he did more fully reveal and make known what was and is therein commanded; for our Lord and Saviour Christ did not barely speak against the false glosses and interpretations of the Jews and Jewish rabbins, for he instanceth in the words of Moses, and of the law itself. 66 It hath been said by them, Thou shalt not commit adultery; but I say, Whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust," &c. What, then, were not unclean thoughts forbidden by the law, and in Moses's time? Yes : but when Christ came, he doth more fully and clearly reveal what was before commanded and forbidden
in the law; and so though he hath made no new addition to the law, yet in this respect he hath, as it were, made some advance upon the very moral law, the ten commandments; and herein we are to hearken to him, this great Prophet, by acknowledging, receiving and submitting unto these commands thus opened and interpreted by him.
But now if you look upon the positive precepts or commandments of Christ, you shall find that Jesus Christ hath given forth many that were not given forth in the times of Moses, or of the old testament: for in the times of the old testament circumcision was, now baptism is; then the passover, now the Lord's supper; then their ministers were priests and Levites, now pastors and teachers; then the whole nation of the Jews a church, now as men do believe they are added to the church; then if any man did sin presumptuously he was to be cut off by the sword from among the people, now to be cut off by the censures of the church. So that, I say, if you look upon the positive precepts, there are many that are now given forth by Christ which were not given forth before in the times of Moses and of the old testament; and these, all these we are to receive, to acknowledge, and to submit unto, and herein to hearken to this great Prophet.
But it will be granted on all hands, that there are many appointments, institutions and ordinances which were given forth by this great Prophet in the times of the new testament; but the question is, whether these are to continue still or no? We grant, indeed, that there were such appointments in Christ's own time, and in the apostle's time; for the people of those times, and of that generation : but the question is, whether these still are to continue, and whether still we are to submit, to receive, and to acknowledge these appointments; and so whether still we are to hearken unto Christ herein ?
For answer hereunto, observe, I pray, the laying of Christ's appointments, institutions and ordinances. If they be laid and pressed upon universal and perpetual grounds, then they are still to continue. Now you shall find that these appointments, institutions and ordinance of Christ-baptism, the Lord's supper, particular churches, the ministry, church censures, singing of psalms, and the like--are laid upon such
universal and perpetual grounds, as to continue until Christ's coming again.
I shall touch a little upon these particulars, and prove the thing first by way of enumeration.
As for that of particular churches. You find in the book of Revelation, that Christ speaks of things to come after John's time, who lived the longest of all the apostles, at chap. i. 1, thus: “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass.” And chap. iv. 1, at the latter end of the verse, saith the Lord Christ to John, “I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” Now in the ist chapter he gives him a vision of the Son of Man walking between the seven golden candlesticks; and he tells us, at the last verse, that those seven golden candlesticks are the seven churches ; shewing that thus Christ would appear unto his people in the way of churches after John's time, in the times that were to
And so in the close of the book of the Revelation, after he had spoken of all things that should come to pass, saith he, at the 16th verse, “I have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches.” Not in the church in general, but in the churches. And if ye look into the first epistle of Timothy, ye shall find, that the apostle Paul having given directions and several precepts concerning bishops, elders, deacons, widows, and about the ordering of the house of God, which, saith he, is the church of God; he concludes all with a solemn charge, chap. vi. 13, “ I give thee eharge, in the sight of God, and before Jesus Christ, that thou keep the commandment,” not this, but the commandment, according to the old translation, and the original greek, “ without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Which appearing doth synchronize with the judging of the quick and dead. 2 Tim. iv. 1. But Timothy himself doth not live so long, and therefore this charge lies upon every minister, and others respectively, for so indeed the charge is directed to the man of God, chap. vi. 11, who by the same apostle is interpreted to be every minister. 2 Tim. ii. 17. So that the ordering of God's house by bishops, or elders, deacons and widows is still to continue, and therefore particular churches and congregations for public worship are still to continue.
As for the ministry, you know what the apostle saith in Eph. iv. ll., speaking of Christ, “ He gave some, apostles : some, prophets: some, evangelists : and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Well, but how long are these to continue ? read verse 13., “ Till we all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” And I pray are we yet come unto this condition ? It may be some particular man will dare to say it, that he himself is come unto this condition, this stature of the fulness of Christ; but mark what the apostle saith, till we all come in the unity of faith. What a world of differences in faith are there now amongst us ? but saith the apostle, these offices of the ministry are to continue till we all come; not till one man comes, or two men come, but till we all come unto the unity of the faith ; that is not yet come to pass, and therefore the ministry is still to continue ; neither can it be said, that this unity of faith is to be understood of the doctrine of faith; for that were to say, that the ministry were to continue till the doctrines and rules for the ministry were given out, and then to cease: and if ye look into Psalm lxviii., from whence these words are cited; ye shall find at verse 18, that Christ hath given these gifts, “ That the Lord God might dwell amongst men.” As if there were no abode or dwelling for God amongst men, without these gifts; and have we not need still that God should dwell amongst us ? yea, and doth not God still dwell amongst us?
As for baptism; you know what our Lord and Saviour Christ said to his disciples, Matt. xxviii. 19. “ Go teach all nations, baptizing them.” I do not insist upon those words, “Lo, I am with you until the end of the world,” though that will carry it; but I pray you mark those words, “ Go teach all nations, baptizing them.” So that all nations are to be taught and baptized; baptism therefore, is not to end till all nations be taught and baptized; and is that done? read what is said in Matt. xxiv. 14. “ And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.” But the end is not yet come. · When the gospel is preached unto all na
tions, then shall the end come; but the end is not yet come, therefore the gospel still is to be preached unto the nations, and they to be baptized, and so this ordinance of baptism is to continue still.
As for that of the Lord's supper; ye know what the apostle saith, “ As oft as ye eat, &c., ye shew forth the Lord's death till he come.” That cannot be understood of the coming of the Spirit; for so he was come in the apostle's time. But if ye look into 1 Cor. xi., ye shall see what a reason the apostle gives, why he gave out the Lord's supper unto the Corinthians, and they were to receive it; even such a reason as reacheth unto us as well as to the Corinthians, saith he, verse 23., “ For I have received of the Lord, that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread,” &c. He makes this the reason why he gave forth the Lord's supper unto the Corinthians, and why they were to receive it, even because that the Lord Christ did give it to his disciples in the night when he was betrayed, and because he had thus received of the Lord, &c. Now I appeal unto any man, Is not this reason as good a reason upon us, as upon the Corinthians ? If indeed the apostle had made this the reason, I have received a message from Christ, that you Corinthians should receive the Lord's supper, then this reason had not bound us as well as them, but the reason that he gives of this dispensation, reacheth to us as well as them, and therefore to continue amongst us as it was used amongst them.
As for the censures of the church, in case that any do offend and continue scandalously and obstinately in their sin ; ye know what our Saviour saith in Matt. xviii., “ Tell it unto the church; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man, and a publican.” Now if you look
upon the verses before and after this text, ye shall find that they do all bind us. Verse 10., “ Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones :” that still continues, So after this text. “ Peter came unto Christ and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times, but until seventy times seven times,” verse 21., yea, look upon the whole chapter, and the other verses thereof, and ye find that they do still bind us and continue upon us,