THE Leaven of Pharisaism and Sadducism PURGED OUT. A SERMON Preached before the COURT of ALDERMEN AND City of London AT THEIR GUILD-HALL CHAPPEL On Sunday Decemb. 16. 1688.

By J. GOODMAN, D. D.

Imprimatur,

Carolus Alston R. P. D. Hen. Episc. Lond. à Sacris Domesticis.

LONDON, Printed by S. Roycroft, for Robert Clavel at the Peacock at the West-End of St. Pauls, 1688/9.

CHAPMAN Mayor, &c.
Cur’ Special’ tent’ apud Grocers-Hall DieVen’ in Fe­sto S. Thomae Apostoli xxio. Decemb’ 1688. Annoq’ R’ R’s Jacobi Sec’ Angl’, &c. Quarto.

THis Court doth desire Dr. Goodman to Print his Sermon Preached on Sunday Morning last at the Guild-Hall Chapel, before the Alder­men of this City.

Wagstaffe.

To the Right Honourable Sir John Chapman Kt. LORD MAYOR: And to the Right Worshipful The Aldermen of the City of London.

My Lord and Gentlemen.

IN Obedience to your Order, I here present You the Sermon which I lately Preached at your Cha­pel: And although it hath never been my custome to Dispute your Commands in this Case; yet at this time, I think my self under a double obligation to comply with them: Partly, in regard that Your Lord­ship by a sudden and dangerous Distemper of Body, was then disabled from affording your Presence at the Deli­very of it; and partly in consideration of the seasona­bleness of the Subject of this discourse, which I verily think to be such as may in a great Measure Atone for whatsoever defects there may be otherwise in the Man­agement of it; and in that confidence, without further Preface or Apology; I commend it to Gods Blessing and your Candour.

[Page] May it please the Divine Majesty to restore Your Lordships Health, and therewith sill You with such a Measure of his Grace and Holy Spirit, as may inable You to adorn that great Station in which he hath placed You, till it shall please him to prefer You to an Higher in his own Kingdom.

And may all you the Worthy Magistrates of this Great and Famous City, live to see Jerusalem in its Glory; I mean, not only the Times wherein you live, Blessed with Peace and Prosperity, but the Church of God setled, and the Protestant Religion (which is no other than Primi­tive Christianity revived in its native Purity and Sim­plicity) firmly Established, which as it will be the great­est Glory to this Age and the greatest Blessing to Poste­rity; so that You in your Stations may be instrumen­tal in so Glorious a Work, shall be the Hearty Prayer of

(My Lord and Gentlemen)
Your Obedient Servant J. GOOD MAN.

A SERMON Preached before the ALDERMEN AND CITIZENS of LONDON.

St. Matth. XVI. 6.Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

THere are two very common and very unhappy miscarriages in the External management of Religion. Whilst (on the one side) some Men think themselves obliged severely and rigorously [Page 2] to Prosecute all that differ from them, although it be but in meer opinions, or the Circumstan­tials of Religion. And others on the other hand, seem so cold and unconcerned in this great affair as if all Religions were alike, and it were per­fectly indifferent what Principles a Man enter­tained, so he had but some kind of Devotion.

The former of these Mistakes takes its rise from too confident a presumption of our own Judgment, and a fond and groundless pretence to Infallibility, and therefore exacts of all other Men a Conformity to our Measures. The later proceeds from as unreasonable a Diffidence and Distrust of the grounds of Believing, as if there was really no [...] or Standard of Truth, and Falshood; and consequently these last sort of men are as void of Faith as the other were of Charity: To be sure, both of them are very dangerous, forasmuch as the one begining in Confidence, ends in Cruelty: The other be­gining in Scepticism, commonly ends in Atheism.

But, both these dangers may in a great Mea­sure be avoided, and great Light gained to­wards the government of our selves in this weighty and difficult business, by attending to the Carriage of our Saviour towards the [Page 3] several Sects of the Jews respectively. For where as it is well known, that there were three nota­ble Parties amongst them, commonly distin­guished by the Names of the Essenes, the Phari­sees and the Sadducees; it is very remarkable con­cerning the first of them, namely the Essenes: That though they were very numerous at the time of our Saviour; and withal, held several very odd and unjustifiable opinions; yet our Saviour is so far from all Bitterness and Severi­ty towards them, that we do not find that he makes any kind of Reflection upon them. But for the other two, viz. The Pharisees and Sadducees, he upon all occasions sharply in­veighs against them, and severely exposes them.

Now the reason of this very different Carri­age of our Saviour seems to be this: That the Essenes, tho' they were mistaken in some Opini­ons, yet were sincere in their minds, harmless in their Lives, quiet and peaceable in their Spi­rits: They contented themselves to enjoy their own Consciences, and let other Men alone; they were not a Confident and Boysterous sort of Men, that must either have the sole Government of the World, or else be always Plotting and Contriving of Mischief; but humble and modest, and so capable of being [Page 4] recovered from their Errors: But the other two Sects, viz. The Pharisees and Sadducees, they were quite another sort of Men, pretenders to Infallibility, and consequently presumptuous and over-bearing, perpetual Dictators in opini­on, fastuous and disdainful towards all others, too wise in their own Eyes to learn of any one, and too sanctimonious to be reproved by any Body; withal, they were a Crafty and Projecting sort of Men that must either Rule or Confound the World. Our Saviour there­fore (to Teach us to make a discrimination in the like Cases) as I observed, gently passes by the Essenes, but always sets himself most se­verely against the two other Sects, and particu­larly here in my Text, gives his Disciples caution against them; Take heed and beware of the Lea­ven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

The special occasion of these Words was this; If we look to the begining of this Chap­ter, we find these two busie Sects (though at other times they had Hot Disputes between themselves, yet now) lay their Heads together and Conspire against our Saviour: But (as the usual guize of Hypocrites is) they come to him very demurely with these Words, Ma­ster, we would see a Sign from thee.

[Page 5] What! Had they had no Signs hitherto; had Jesus wrought no Miracles amongst them all this while, or were these Men only strangers to all the great passages of that time?

But, We would see a Sign from Heaven. And why a Sign from Heaven; would that be more unexceptionable than any he had hitherto given them; would this convince them? No, that was not their Errand, they came not to be Converted, but to be hardened; they had a mind not to believe, and seek only a colour for their unbelief; they ask him therefore for that which they verily thought he would not grant them, that they might have some pre­tence for their Infidelity.

Now therefore, our Saviour having disco­vered their Design, and detected their Hypo­crisie in the 2, 3, and 4, Verses in my Text, turns himself towards his Disciples, and gives them this serious caution against them, and all such kinds of Men Take heed and Beware, &c.

For the full opening of which, I will briefly inquire into these Four things.

First, What is the Importance of this Meta­phorical expression Leaven, and what our Sa­viour means by the Leaven of Pharisees and Sadducees.

[Page 6] Secondly, More particularly we will inquire what was the peculiar Leaven of these two Sects, so often mentioned in the New-Testament.

Thirdly, We will consider what was the danger of that Leaven, and its contrariety to the Doctrine and Design of our Saviour.

Fourthly and Lastly, We will inquire what this Caution of our Saviour implies, and what he would have his Disciples to do, when he bids them Take heed and beware, &c.

And by that time I have given Account of these Four things, I shall not only have opened the full scope of the Text, but I hope every attentive Auditor will be satisfied of the sea­sonableness of this subject for the present Time.

I begin with the First, viz. What our Sa­viour means by Leaven: In the Words fol­lowing my Text, Verse 7. We find that the Disciples took our Saviour Literally, and re­flecting on themselves for their Omission, to provide Bread and necessaries for the Voyage which they were now entring upon, though he had obliquely reproved their carelesness in that particular, and that he had thence took occasion to interdict them all Trade and Civil commerce with those two Sects of Men. But [Page 7] by the 12. Verse they understand their Master's mind better, and knew at Length That he spake not of the Leaven of Bread, but of the Doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Indeed it is usual with our Saviour, by that Metaphor, to represent Doctrine, whether good or bad, for Matth. chap. 13. 33. He com­pares his own Institution to it, saying the King­dom of Heaven is like Leaven, which a Woman took and hid in two Measures of Meal, till the whole was Leavened, &c. And the resemblance is very fit and Natural, for as it is the nature of Leaven, that it works insensibly, quickly insinuates it self, and Universally diffuses its Efficacy over the whole Mass into which it is put; so in like manner Doctrine works upon the minds of Men, and gives a Tincture of its own Nature and Temper to them: Insomuch as that such as a Mans persuasions and Principles are, such ordinarily at least will his Life and Practice be.

It is true indeed, that sometimes Mens Lives are better than their Principles, and sometimes also worse: For it may fall out that Men of very unhappy and mischievous Opinions may yet live virtuously, when the Probity of their Temper is such, as that it Antidotes them against the Malignity and Venome of their persuasions: [Page 8] And on the other side, it is no infrequent (tho' an unhappy) spectacle, to behold others of ve­ry Noble and Generous principles, as to Do­ctrine, yet to live very Lewd and Profligate Lives, such Men with-holding the Truth in un­righteousness, (as the Apostles Phrase is) or out­facing the Light, and Debauching their Con­sciences, in compliance with their Lusts and carnal or secular Interests.

But, (as I said) ordinarily it is otherwise, for such a state of contradiction to Principles must needs be violent and unnatural; and the lives and acti­ons of Men do as reasonably bear proportion to the Principles of their Minds and Conscien­ces, as it is Natural for the stream to rise as high as its Source and Fountain, and no higher. Hence it is, that our Saviour, Matth. 12. 33. saith, Either make the Tree good, and his Fruit good: or the Tree Corrupt, and the Fruit Corrupt: And again, Matth. 6. 23. He pronounces, If the Light that is in Thee be Darkness, that Dark­ness must be great and intolerable. To the truth of which Observation, the general experience of all the World, bares ample Testimony amongst several instances of which, I cannot but remark a very pertinent passage of an Hea­then Historian in the Life of that wicked Em­perour [Page 9] Tiberius; his Words concerning him are these: Erat circa Deos negligentior, quippe Ma­thematicae addictus, persuasionisque plenus omnia sato agi. Which I render thus, q. d. Ti­berius was a profane Prince, careless of Re­ligion, and without any Devotion towards God; and no wonder, for he was an admirer of Astrology; and full of the Opinion, that the Starrs or Fate governed the World, and not God.

And in short, this is the true Reason of all Education, and of all the Care and Diligence that evil and good Men use in Propounding and Propagating good Doctrine, and prevent­ing the contrary; not that they think God is pleased with dry opinions and speculations, but because they are aware that Principles draw on Practices, and that evil opinions Cor­rupt good Manners. But somuch for that; I proceed,

In the second place, to inquire what was the peculiar Leaven of these Pharisees and Sad­ducees which our Saviour thus cuations against. And for this, the Learned Jewish Historian, Josephus in his 13th. Book of Antiquities, and in his 2d. Book of the Jewish Warrs, hath given us a very exact Account of all the Sects of Religion amongst that People, and from him I shall present this Auditory, with the substance [Page 10] of what he delivers, touching the Pharisees and Sadducees wherein we are at present con­cerned.

And first, it is notorious that the Sect of the Sadducees utterly denied the being of Angels and Spirits; or of all Spiritual sub­stances, and acknowledged nothing but Matter or Body in the whole Universe; and consequently hereof, they must also renounce the Immortality of the Soul, the Resurrecti­on of the Body, and Eternal Life in the World to come: Whereas on the contrary, the Pha­risees acknowledged all the aforesaid great Ar­ticles, as we Learn, Acts 23. 8. Only this is to be added withal, That these latter enter­tained so many Legendary Stories about these great Points, and had such very crasie notions of them, that they thereby rendred the very Doctrines ridiculous and incredible.

Again, the Sadducees were gross Idolaters of the Letter, and as they received only the Law of Moses, (excluding the Prophets and all other sacred Writings) so they understood the Books of the Law in the most crass and litte­ral sense, and admitted not of any interpreta­tion or consequence from it, though never so clearly and naturally deduced; On the other side, the Pharisees not only received the whole Scripture of the Old Testament, but be­sides [Page 11] were great Patrones of Oral Tradition, and allowed as great or greater authority to it than the written Word; and consequently thought themselves obliged under as great a necessity to the observance of those things that came down to them by the Tradition of their Fa­thers, as to those they found written in the Law and the Prophets; from whence it came to pass (as it must needs do) that their Creed be­came Vast and Voluminous, and their Devo­tion was Clogged with innumerable Rites and Ceremonies.

The result of all which is this; that the Pha­risees had too much Faith (such as it was) and the Sadducees (properly speaking) none at all: The Sadducees could upon their Principles have no ground for any Religion or Piety; and the Pharisees, by their Prodigious additions to Gods Institution, had quite corrupted and lost the true Idea of Religion. In short, whatever cold pretences a Sadducee could make to Civility or Morality; it is evident, he could have no De­votion. On the contrary, the very Character of a Pharisee was a confident Devotionist, with­out Morality.

Now, from what hath been delivered in this short Account of these two Sects, it will be easie to discern the reason why our Saviour gives such caution against their Leaven, and [Page 12] what the mischief and danger to his Doctrine and Design was from each of them singly, or both together. Which is the

3. Third Inquiry; but because herein lies especially the Emphasis of the Text, I will give a more particular Account of this matter as followeth:

And first as touching the Sadducees; it is manifest by what hath been said, that their Lea­ven was the same with that of the Epicurean Philosophers, and could by no means be a Principle of Conscience or Religion, but a Do­ctrine Calculated for this present Life; for be­lieving neither Angel nor Spirit, nor any thing to be in the World but meer Matter; it was impossible they should have any concern for another World, and consequently they could have no Religion, only as the Law of Moses was lex Terrae the Law of the Land; so far it stood them in hand to observe it, or at least to pre­tend an external Conformity to it, for the sake of their secular Interests and Advantages. To be sure such Principles could lay no obligation upon their Consciences; and therefore they were the truest Race of Latitudinarians, and could comply with whatsoever was uppermost; and upon that score, could not withstand the Temptation of being of the Religion of the Prince, whatever it was.

[Page 13] Accordingly, it is observable in a Parallel place to this of my Text; namely, Mark 8. 15. For the Leaven of the Pharisees, we have the Leaven of Herod, as signifying the same thing, for these Men it seems consistently enough with their Principles, could flatter that vile Prince, so far as to cry him up for the Messias.

It was I say, a Sect or Leaven fit for Men of Covetous and Ambitious designs, and was successful to those purposes; for Acts 5. 17. We find the great Council or Sanhedrin of the Jews, chiefly consisted of those of this Leaven.

These Men were of the Spawn of the Levia­than, and derived the sanction of Religion from humane Legislation, and the commands of God obliged no further than they were inacted by the Civil Magistrate.

Besides all this, they had the right knack of Triming between all Religions; for whatso­ever was the inward opinion of their mind, they could conceal or deny, or mince the matter, so that their Persuasion should never expose them to any damage, nor their Conscience in­terfere with their Interests.

Now, the Christian Religion which our Sa­viour came to introduce and to plant in the World, being not only a very strict and Holy, but a most solemn and serious institution: Nothing could be more contrary to it, than [Page 14] such loose Principles as these; His was a Re­ligion fitted to please God, not to flatter and humour Men: It was a Religion designed for the saving of Mens Souls in another World, and to fit them for Eternal Life, and not to serve a turn, or to save a Stake in this World. Upon all which, there can be no wonder that he earnestly Cautions against the Leaven of the Sadducees which undermined the Principles of all Religion.

And then in the next place, for the Religion of the Pharisees, that (by what was said in the description of their Leaven) consisting of so many incredible Articles of Faith, grounded only upon Tradition and Legendary Stories, and of such innumerable trifling and Arbitrary Rites and Ceremonies, and yet made essentially ne­cessary to Salvation, was utterly contrary to the whole tenor and design of the Gospel, as might be made appear in innumerable instances, of which I will here specifie only these five parti­culars following.

In the first place, a principal Design of our Saviour in the Doctrine of the Gospel, was to instruct Men with right notions of God, which is not only the first and most immediate honour to the Divine Majesty, but the only solid Foun­dation of all Vertue and Piety: The right ap­prehension of Gods Perfections and Attributes, [Page 15] being the great obligation upon our minds, to reverence and observe him in general, and be­ing of great use also, to direct us in the parti­cular instances of our Duty towards him. Now the Pharisees Superstition was contrariwise very apt to breed in Men, very mean and unworthy notions of the Divine Majesty; and so tended naturally both to confound the Measures, and to subvert the very ground and Reason of Piety and Vertue.

Partly, as it mightily abated of his Grandure and Majesty whilst it represented him, as insist­ing upon so many little things as carried neither weight nor worth, nor intrinsick Reason in them. We always count it an Argument of a little mind to be wrought upon by meer Comple­ments, to be pleased with Trifles, and to be offended with such Ceremonious Omissions: And we cannot naturally esteem him to be a Wise and great Man, whom we observe to be of that temper; much less can we imagine that he should be an infinitely wise God, a full per­fect and self-sufficient being, that will indure to be flattered with Ceremonies, be forced with Gifts, be propitiated with formal Oblations, be complemented with external Addresses, imposed upon by shows and shadows, or be offended for the want of any such things. Now the Pharisees Leaven consisting wholly of these, [Page 16] without regard to true Piety, and generous Obe­dience and conformity of Heart and Life to him, quite clouded and obscured the glory of his Divinity, and rendred him more like a Man than a God, and indeed more like a little necessi­tous narrow minded Man, than a wise and a great one.

Partly, as it rendred him an unbenign and captious Deity, such an one as insisted upon very Punctilio's, and was prone to take advant­age of his Creatures upon the smallest omissi­ons; the effects of which must needs be, that Men might be possibly Tempted to fear, and to stand under the slavish dread of such a God, but it was plainly impossible they should love him; without which there can be no Life nor Soul in Religion.

Above all this, the Pharisaical Leaven repre­sented the Divine Majesty as a Selfish and Ty­rannical Being, as if he looked only at his own ends, and had no regard to the good of his Creatures, and more aimed at the obtaining his own Will of them, than had any respect to the true use and reason of things, or design of the good and happiness of Men: For how could it be otherwise; or how could Men think other­wise of him, that insisted as much upon clean Hands as upon a pure Heart; that was as much offended with the Omission of a Ritual, as of [Page 17] a Moral precept, and that would take the Sacrifice of a Beast, in the exchange for obedience of a Man. Now the Doctrine of the Pharisees bringing in such apprehensions of Religion as these are, must needs there withal introduce very mean, low and unwor­thy notions of God, and thereby undermine true Piety, and especially that of the Gospel.

Again, in the second place, the design of our Sa­viour was to make Religion easie and delightful, and not only passible, but acceptable to all Men; that so his institution might become the Religion of all the World, the truly Catholick Religion.

To this purpose, he was to lay open all Inclosures, to pare off all Superfluities, to retrench the redun­dance of troublesome and unnecessary Ceremonies; so to bring Religion into as narrow a compass as was possible, that it might fall in the better with the occasions of humane Life; and that the affairs of Heaven and Earth might not interfere, he was to make it fully reasonable, and the reason of it so conspicuous as that it might commend it self to the minds of all Men; He was to accommodate it to humane Nature in general, so that no quality or condition of Life should be incapable of it, that it should be impossible to no constitution; excluded from no place, Climate or Country; that it should be inconsistent with no form of Government, nor inconvenient for any Age or time of the World.

[Page 18] All this was aim'd at in the institution of Christi­an Religion; and all this was Crossed and Contradi­cted by the Leaven of the Pharisees, for that consist­ed of so many Articles of Faith, as it was impossible to persuade all Men of: It had so many Rites and Ce­remonies, peculiar to one Country, or Climate, or Place, or Condition, or Constitution of Men; and others so numerous, as were very troublesome to those that were most Conscientious of them, and most of them founded upon such reasons, as few Men could be satisfied with, and yet all of them made indispensably necessary; that it became not on­ly a very uneasie Religion, but impossible to a great part of Men, and unacceptable to all: And there­fore, was so far unfit to become the Catholick or Universal Religion; that it could be only the Cog­nizance of a Sect and Party, and fitter to divide the World than to Unite it.

It must needs have been very burthensome to the Bodies of Men, to be bound to observe so many washings and instances of external Cleanness, as their Superstition required: And it could not but be very troublesome to the minds and Memories of Men, to retain so many little things as were strictly to be observed, and yet could not take hold of a Mans mind, because they had no Foundation in reason: And above all, it must needs be intolerable to the Consciences of Men, and hold them in perpetual an­xiety and solicitude; when a Mans Duty was so large, [Page 19] as that he could scarce ever tell when he had done, and yet every thing was alike necessary, and so the danger was Fatal, if he Omitted or failed in any part of it. Upon all these Accounts, Pharisaism contra­dicted the design of our Saviour in the institution of Christianity; and therefore he cautions his Disciples against it.

Moreover Thirdly, such a troublesome and cir­cumstantial way of Religion as that of the Pharisees; under the form, supplants the very Power of God­liness: Partly, as these nice and troublesome ob­servances weary the minds of Men and exhaust their best Spirits; and so that Zeal is spent upon Trifles which should have been reserved for more weighty occasions: As we commonly observe of a bad Diet, that it not only corrupts the humours of the Body, filling it with ill Juices, but also clogs and satiares the Natural Appetite of the Stomach, and deads it to all those things that might be whol­some and beneficial; but principally, this Pompous Form undermines the power of Religion, as it ren­ders Men prone to hope to make amends for the de­fect of the latter, by the redundance of the former; for it is too common and usual for Men to think to expiate Immorality by Superstition: And we gene­rally observe, that those who are over-precise in lit­tle matters, are apt to indulge themselves too much in great.

[Page 20] Thus, our Saviour upbraids these very Men we speak of, Matth. 23. 23. That under pretence of be­ing more than exact in Tythings, Mint, Ann [...]s, and Commin, they neglected the weighty matters of the Law; Justice, Mercy, and Faith: And again, Matth. 15. 3. He tells them they notoriously made void the Com­mandments of God through their Traditions; for by their Corban, they Legitimated unnaturalness to­wards their Parents; by their long Prayers, they hoped to make amends for devouring Widows Houses, and by outward washings, to expiate their inward Impurities: And for the sake of these things, our Saviour (whose Design was to introduce true and unfeigned goodness, and sincere and unaffected Piety) severly interdicts this Leaven.

Furthermore, in the Fourth place; as it is usually observed, that light things are puffy and turgid, so it is certain that such an empty and Pompous Reli­gion as that of the Pharisees, usually swells and puffs Men up with Pride and conceit of themselves, which temper is the furthest projection from that of the Gospel: Such a Train of observances as they had, made a very Glorious and Sanctimonious show, and raised the admiration of the World, and thereby deceived them into a great Opinion of themselves: It was an easie and cheap way to Saintship, for the observation of Rites and Ceremonies cost them lit­tle self-denial and mortification; and yet it served to make them to be thought the only People: Accord­ingly [Page 21] they had a saying amongst the Jews in those times; that, If there were but two Men to go to Heaven, the one would be a Scribe, and the other a Pharisee. Thus were these Aiery Bubbles blown up to Hea­ven, both in the conceit of the World, and in their own Opinion: So we observe in the Gospel, Luk. 18. 11. Whereas the poor Publican is dejected in the Presence of God, in contemplation of his own miscarriages; and therefore dares scarce look up to­wards Heaven, but modestly smites upon his Breast, and Prays, God be Merciful to me a Sinner: The Pharisee transported with vulgar Applause and Self-admira­tion, boldly out-faces God and Man, and cries out, God, I thank thee that I am not like other Men, for I Fast twice a Week, and pay Tythes of all I Possess, &c. And therefore challenges Heaven as due to his Merit.

Not unlike Servants are the new invented Orders of Modern Pharisees, who upon the Account of their Observation of certain Rules of their own In­vention, and of the Vows of Fantastick Poverty, un­commanded abstinence from Flesh or Marriage, & blind Obedience to their Superiors, call themselves the Religious; and all the World of good Christians besides, the Seculars or the Men of this World. Of such a flatulent Nature is Superstition: And thus fa­stuose and supercilious doth it render all the Prose­lytes to it; and therefore our Saviour, whose inten­tion [Page 22] was to bring Humility and Modesty into Fa­shion, cautions earnestly against this Leaven.

Fifthly and lastly, our Saviour by his Institution, designed to bring in Gentleness and Kindness, Love and good will amongst Men. But such an ex­ternal and ritual Religion as that of the Pharisees, naturally tends to make Men quarrelsome and con­tentious, Carnal and Sanguinary: For in the first place, the materials or instances of Superstition are many and numerous, and so liable to be mistaken; for in many things we offend all; or where our Ob­ligation is very large, our Duty is very Nice and dif­ficult: Again, such things being neither manifestly re­quired by clear Reason, nor by evident Revelation, must needs be always uncertain, and so become matter of endless dispute and contention; especial­ly if all things be alike necessary, and that Eternal Life depends upon every Punctilio: No wonder if Men be fierce and eager, for he that is mortally vul­nerable in every part, must needs be very jealous and curious: To all which add; that the Man who hath his Religion at his Fingers ends, or in ritibus ad solos digitos pertinentibus, as Lactantius expresses it; this Man must need be very peremtory and dogma­tical, very decretory and decisive; so that there can be no dissenting from such a Man without Anathe­ma's; and his Superstition by all these considerati­ons, will raise him to such a Heat and Confidence, [Page 23] that he will think he doth God good service to kill those that differ from him.

Of this St. Paul himself was an Example; he was bred at the Feet of Gamaliel, a Learned Traditiona­ry Doctor, and after the strictest Sect of the Jewish Religion, a Pharisee; and all this served to inflame him against Christ and his Religion and Disciples, to such a degree, that he confesses he was mad against them, and thought he ought to do whatsoever he did or could do against that Name and Institution.

The same thing Tertullian 1400 Years ago ob­served of the Jews in general; his words are, Sy­nagogae Judaeorum fontes persecutionum: The Jewish Zelots were constantly the great inflamers of Per­secution against Christianity; and they when they could not do it themselves, exasperated the Pagans and put them upon it.

A Jewish Spirit is everlastingly a persecuting Spi­rit, and of all mankind a Pharisee (whatever he may pretend) can never be in earnest for Tole­ration: I would to God the Experience of all Ages had not born too undeniable a Testimony to the truth of this Observation, and that modern Pha­risaism had in this respect amended the matter: But Leaven is Leaven, and will ever have the same Operation.

The Man that considers his Religion, and weighs the reasons of it before he imbraces it, will be Gentle and Charitable towards those that differ [Page 24] from him, or are not of his Attainment; he con­siders the shortness of humane Understanding, that he may be deceived himself, and therefore pities those that are so; he makes allowance for different Constitutions, several ways of Education, and the prejudices incident to Men in this World: but the blind Zelot that believes with his Will, not his Understanding, that sees with other Mens Eyes, and inslaves his mind to other Mens dictates; in a word, the Traditionary Pharisee, is bold and vio­lent, cruel and unmerciful.

And the Man that is heartily and sincerely vir­tuous, he is pitiful and compassionate to the in­firmities of mankind; he considers humane frail­ty, and the Temptations we are beset withal, how many times we do that which we cannot allow or justifie, and judges of other Men as he would be judged himself: But the supercilious Pharisee, makes no reflection upon himself; and therefore hath no Mercy nor Compassion towards others.

St. Austin, in answer to the Manichees, and par­ticularly to that Epistle of theirs, called, Funda­mentum, hath this Noble and Christian passage: Illi in vos saeviant, qui nesciunt quanto cum labore ve­ritas inveniatur, & quam difficulter errores caveantur; with many other excellent Words to that purpose. (Let those saith he) Persecute you, who neither knew the difficulty of discovering Truth, and of avoiding Error; but so will not I, who have Erred as you [Page 25] do, and hardly recovered the firm ground of Truth, that work is only fit for them that have their Re­ligion by Rote, and their Devotion by instinct, that never studied for Knowledge, nor laboured for Vertue; that are Infallible by an implicit Faith, and devout without Piety, that is, those that are of the right Leaven of Pharisaism.

These in short, are some of the Causes why our Saviour gave such a strict and Solemn charge against the Leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. And now, it is time to come to the Fourth and last Branch of my Text; namely, to shew what our Saviour means by this expression, Take heed and beware, and what is the Duty of his Disciples in this particular, and that I will now in­deavour briefly to explain, and then conclude.

In order to which, in the first place it is to be observed; that the Emphasis lies in the word Leaven; for it is not so much the Men of the Sect of the Pharisees and Sadducees that are to be avoid­ed, as the Leaven of those Sects, and that is so much the more to be taken care of; because there may be the Leaven of those Sects, though the Name be forgotten, and the Men so called, be gone off the Stage: And it is much to be doubted, or rather it is past doubt, that there is a Leaven of Pharisaism, and Sadducism amongst Christians as well as there was amongst the Jews, and per­haps amongst Protestants as well as Papists; and [Page 26] therefore, it will be our Duty to observe and di­stinguish it; As for Instance,

Wherever we find a sort of Pretenders to the Atomical or Epicurean Philosophy, that assert there is nothing but Matter or Body in the Universe; these Men, let them be otherwise never so Ingeni­ous, or let them cover and disguise the business as well as they can, must necessarily upon their Principles, take away the being of Angels and Spi­rits, and all the concern of another World; and therefore, are of the Leaven of Sadducism.

Or if there be in this Age those that would per­suade themselves and others, that it is a piece of Superstition to be strait-laced in Conscience, or a kind of Fanaticism to be curious what Religion a Man is of, and that that whole affair is Matter of indifferency, since God is pleased with variety, or regards not what Principles Men are of, so they be Devout and Honest in their respective persuasions: This conceit wherever it is, is no­thing better than a piece of the Old Leaven of Sadducism.

Or if there be those that assert, that the Reli­gion of Christ Jesus, is only to be of the Religi­on of the Prince and Country.

Or that whatsoever a Man believes in his Heart, it is lawful for him to conceal and disguise it, and to make profession of that which comports best with his Safety and Interest; all this is Sadducism.

[Page 27] To give one instance more on this Head; Who­soever they be that would persuade us, we must needs understand those Famous words, Hoc est Corpus meum, in the gross literal sence, against all the Reason of the world, and the very Testimony of our Saviour; this is neither better nor worse, than a spice of old Sadducism.

And then on the other side, (for the Pharisees) Wherever we observe Men building their Faith and Religion upon Oral and unwritten Tradition, and equalling that to the Holy Scripture and written Word of God, this is Pharisaism.

Or wherever we find Men imposing upon others, a vast and voluminous Creed, and enjoyning a World of Nice Observances, under the Peril of Eternal Damnation, (if they be not complied with) or the Yoke laid upon the Neck of the Dis­ciples of our Lord, no whit Inferious to that of Judaism; in all this, there is the Spirit of Pha­risaism.

Wherever we see Men lay mighty stress upon disputable Opinions, or to Save or Damn Men accordingly as they are of such or such a Party, here is the plain Genius of Pharisaism.

To name no more, Wherever we observe Men to be mighty pretenders to Devotion, but care­less of Justice and Charity, or to strain at a Gnat and swallow a Camel; all this is the Leaven of Pha­risaism, wherever it is found, and to be avoided accordingly.

[Page 28] In the next place, let us consider the Emphasis of these Words of our Saviour, [...], Take heed and beware; it is an earnest expression that I do not remember to have observed above once more in the whole New Testament, and (to be sure) imports no less, than that great application of mind is re­quired in this particular. Religion is certainly a business that deserves to be well considered of, and to be carefully examined and well understood as well as Devoutly prosecuted; nor is there any thing in this World, for the sake of which God gave us our Understanding, more than to inquire into this weighty affair: And the least that can be made of the charge here in the Text, is, that we by no means allow our selves Supinely to swallow whatsoever is either first Suggested, or imperiously Dictated to us, since such an Implicit Faith, is the very first working of the Leaven of the Pharisaism and Sadducism; and the vindicating our selves to our selves, and the asserting the Freedom of our own Thoughts and Liberty of judging for our selves is the first Step to true and generous Chri­stianity, and the way to be everlastingly secured from the aforesaid Leaven; For example,

If we freely consult our own Reason, we shall never be able to think of God Almighty as of a partial Deity, or an accepter of Persons, that will Save or Damn Men in gross, accordingly as they shall be of such a Sect or Party: We shall [Page 29] never be able to imagine, that a great and wise Majesty, will have any great value for empty forms and meer Pageantry of Religion; as if we had a Fancy like that of the Pantomime at Rome, who having been admired by the Rabble, would needs have the fondness to go also into the Capitol, and play his Tricks over before the Gods, as if God must needs be pleased with what the silly multitude admired.

It can never enter into a considering Mans thoughts, that the Divine Majesty should be pro­pitiated with Beads and Baubles, that Mony should Purchase his Favour to the Wicked Man, that he should be corrupted with Bribes, or imposed upon, and won with Complements.

In a word, no Man that hath, and makes use of the discretion of a reasonable Creature, can think so unworthily of God, as that he should be fatally offended with little mistakes in Opinion; or that he will cast away a very sincere and De­vout Man, meerly upon the Account of a Cere­mony under or over; and he that allows himself but this kind of modest Freedom of mind, hath made good Provision against the danger of the Leaven of Pharisaism and Sadducism.

Again, in the Third place; the most effectual security against the aforesaid Leaven, is to keep to the Holy Scripture, especially of the New Testa­ment; to study that, and take all the Measures of [Page 30] our Religion thence: If we trust to the Autho­rity and dictates of Men, or to the Customs and Fashions of the World; they will betray us to those Leavens; or if meerly upon unwritten Tra­dition, that like a common Sewer brings down for the most part, the Trash and Rubbish of former times; very often letting the most weighty things sink and perish in the passage: For proof of which, we need no other evidence, but the experience of the Jews, amongst whom, one cannot but admire, what childish and ridiculous Stories, this way of Tradition hath filled them with; insomuch, that this Oral part of their Religion, hath almost quite disparaged that which was written and Divinely revealed, meerly by the Vicinage and Conjuncti­on with it.

Whereas, if we attend, to and study the Ho­ly Scripture; that will not only preserve us from such mean and unworthy Notions of God and Religion; but will ingage us in such a method as shall both make us better Men, and the World the better for us.

If we govern our selves by Tradition and the Fancies of Men, then all our Care and Devotion will be laid out in Cultivating an Opinion in Cere­monious Addresses to the Deity, in Pompous Ob­lations, or in Scrupulous Observance; but if we consult the Scripture, that will teach us, that God will have Mercy and not Sacrifice, and that a pure [Page 31] Mind and an Holy Life, are more acceptable to him than long Prayers, frequent Fasts, and the most costly Offerings: There we shall find, that the first and great Commandment of Gods Law is, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy Heart, and with all thy Mind, and with all thy Strength; and that whatever demonstrates sincere Love to him, be it little or much, is sure to procure his Favour: These we shall learn expresly, that the Lord our God is not pleased with the Fat of Lambs, nor propitiated with Rivers of Oyl; neither doth he require the fruit of our Bodies, to expiate the Sin of our Souls; but that we do justly, and love Mercy, and walk humbly with our God: The due conside­ration of which passages of Scripture, will effe­ctually Antidote us against the Infection of any of the aforesaid Leavens.

To all which; I add in the last place, that if we do but mind the Nature and Notion of Chri­stianity, and consider the Genius and Spirit of that Religion, we are safe; particularly, if we do but look upon it under the representation which those two Words or Phrases give of it; whereby it is called, a reasonable Service, and a Spiritual Worship.

As for the former, no Man can be so absurd, as to think that a reasonable service which is built upon an implicit Faith, and where a Man under­stands nothing of the Reason and Grounds of his [Page 32] Religion, but in a Blind Obedience, servilely and brutishly gives himself up to the Conduct of others, or when he Worships God in a Language whereof he hath no knowledge or understanding.

And as for the other Phrase of a Spiritual Wor­ship; can any Man of common sense take that to be a Spiritual Religion, which is made up of Bo­dily Drudgeries; of meer Forms, and Rites, and Ceremonies? But to be a Christian, is to have worthy Notions of God in our minds, and a flame of servent Piety and Devotion to him in our Hearts; to Love him, to Fear him, to Trust in him, to be Holy, and Just and Sober in our Lives, and to be peaceable in our Spirits; such a Religion as this is worthy of God, was fit for the Son of God to be the Author and Publisher of; and the Consciencious Observance of it will fit us for, and in due time bring us to the possession of the Heavenly Mansions above, and the Eternal Society of glorious Saints and Angels in Heaven: Which God grant to us all, through the Merits and Mediation of the same Jesus Christ Our Lord: To whom be Glory and Honour, and Adoration, for ever, and ever, Amen.

ADVERTISEMENT.

The Golden Rule: Or, The Royal Law of [...] explained. By J. Goodman▪ D. D. And are to be Sold by Robert Olavel at the Peacock, at the West-End of St. Pauls.

FINIS.

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