Doctor HORNECK's SERMON Preached before the King and Queen At Whitehal, Nov. 17. 1689.

THE NATURE OF True Christian Righteousness, IN A SERMON PREACHED before the King and Queen, At WHITEHAL, The 17th of November 1689.

By ANTHONY HORNECK D. D. Chaplain in Ordinary to Their MAJESTIES.

Published by Her Majesties Special Command.

In the Savoy, Printed by E. Jones for Sam. Lowndes; and Published by R. Taylor near Stationers-Hall. 1689.

Matth. V. xx.‘For I say unto you, That except your Righteousness shall exceed the Righte­ousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.’

A Preface, or Introduction, will be need­less. It's enough, that these Words are part of Christ's Famous Sermon on the Mount: The Method, I shall observe in hand­ling them, shall be this following, to Enquire, and Consider,

  • I. Who these Scribes and Pharisees were.
  • II. What their Righteousness was, and where­in it consisted.
  • III. How and in what our Righteousness is to exceed their Righteousness.
  • IV. The danger, if we do not, ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

[Page 2] I. Who these Scribes and Pharisees were.

1. The Pharisees. You have often heard of Three Famous Sects among the Jews, when Christ appeared in the World, the Pharisees, the Essenes, and the Sadducees.

The Pharisees were an Order of Men, who distinguished themselves from the Vulgar, by certain Austerities and Mortifications, and a seemingly preciser way of Living; yet they con­vers'd, and lived in Cities, and Towns, and were so far from avoiding, that they seemed to affect Places where there was a great Concourse of People.

When they began, or, who was the first Founder of them, is uncertain; but it's probable, the Institution of the Nazarites of old, and the Numb. 6. 2. Order of the Rechabites afterward, or the strict­ness of the Hasideans, might give occasion to Jerem. 35. 2. this peculiar way of living, though the Votaries, in progress of time, deviated and degenerated from those sober Patterns; and, as it was with Monckery in the Christian Church, improved, or, rather abused, the preceding, pious, and well­meant Self-Denials, into Superstition.

The Essenes were a kind of Hermits, who chose to dwell in the Country, as far from Crouds as they could; and, though they had [Page 3] Procurators in Cities, and populous Places, to re­ceive, and entertain, those of their Sect, whose Occasions led them to pass that way, yet, their chief abode was in a Wilderness not far from Jericho; from whence, as they grew in number, they dispers'd themselves, and planted Colonies in other Places. These, were a Modester and Soberer sort of People, and studied Self-Denial too, but to better and greater Purposes than the Pharisees; and therefore possibly it is, that Christ passes no censure upon them, because, their Service for the most part was reasonable, and in their Morals, they came very near the Christian Institution; and it's likely, that most of them turn­ed Christians afterward, being so well qualified, and [...], prepared for that excellent Disci­pline; and this might give occasion to Eusebius, Euseb. Hist. l. 2. c. 16. 17. and others, to think, that the Essenes, Philo speaks of, were Christian Asceticks.

The Sadducees were Sensualists, and Epicureans, and denied the Being of another World; pre­tended indeed to keep close to the Letter of the Law of Moses, rejected Traditions, and derided the Pharisees, who were great Admirers of it; but were Men loose, and profane, debaucht and cruel, a temper agreeable enough to their Prin­ciple; which was, That Men die like Beasts, [Page 4] and that there is no Resurrection of the Dead, though it must be confess'd, that these Impious Tenets took not much with the common People, the Persons who espoused these Doctrines, being chiefly Men of great Estates, and Dignities, who are apt, without very great Circumspection, from an over-admiration of Things Present and Visible, to be drawn into contempt of Things In­visible and Eternal.

To return to the Pharisees, the Men the Text speaks of; this Order was subdivided into Seven Sects, who all obliged themselves to several sorts of Austerities, too tedious to be told here; and so taking, it seems, were these External Rigors, that there were Women Pharisees, as well as Men Pharisees.

The Name Pharisee, is as much as a Separa­tist, for so the Pharisees were, separating them­selves from the rest of Mankind, by an affected Piety, which passed for great strictness in that Age, and gave occasion to the Apostle, to say, That before his Conversion, he lived after the strictest way of the Jewish Religion, a Pha­risee, Act. xxvi. 5.

2. The Scribes; These were in the Nature of Vide Lights. in Matth. II 4. Secretaries, or Clerks, or Publick Notaries to the Sanhedrin, or Great Council of the Jews; which [Page 5] Council, in those Days, consisting of Sadducees and Pharisees, these Two Factions had their di­stinct Secretaries, or Notaries, as appears from Act. xxiii. 9. The Scribes, or Advocates, who were of the Pharisees side, having entirely addict­ed themselves to their Cause, and Service, were of the same Opinion with the Pharisees in all things; stifly maintaining their Doctrines, Prin­ciples, and Traditions, and being commonly Men of Learning, were in equal esteem with the Pha­risees; the rather, because what the Pharisees boldly and proudly asserted, the Scribes endea­voured to prove from Records, and Monuments of Antiquity, and such Writings, as they judged proper for their purpose: I know some think, they were the Elders of the Sanhedrin, and the Chief Expositors of the Law; but if we compare the Account, the Scripture gives of them, with what the Talmudists say of them, they seem to have been such Men, as I have described them; nor did their Office, and Learning debar them from being Interpreters of the Law, but qualifie them rather for that Employment. In a word, What Maldon [...]in c 2. Matth. the Canonists are, and have been of late Years to the Pope, the same were the Scribes to the Phari­sees, defending their pretended Rights, and Pri­viledges, and Authority and Traditions, with all [Page 6] the Zeal, and Passion, as is common to Men, who designedly espouse an Interest or Faction; and in­deed, one Egg is not liker another, than Phari­saism, and Popery are, as were an easie Matter to prove in several Instances, but that I have more material Thing to tell You. Let us go on there­fore, and

II. Consider, What their Righteousness was, and wherein it consisted.

And to understand the Mystery of it, I shall in the first place, represent to You the Particulars of their Righteousness, as they are Recorded by the Evangelists; and then shew, wherein it was defective, that we may be the better able to di­stinguish, and see, how our Righteousness is to exceed theirs.

1. The Particulars of their Righteousness; and they were these following. They gave Alms, Matth. vi. 2. They pray'd, Matth. vi. 5. and pray'd very long, Matth. xxiii. 14. They fasted, and when they fasted, disfigured their Faces, and looked ruefully, Matth. vi. 16. They fasted two days in a week, Luc. xviii. 12. They praised God, and gave him thanks for his Mercies, Luc. xviii. 12. They were no scandalous Offenders, Extortiorers, Unjust, Adulterers, Luc. xviii. 11. [Page 7] They were very ready to resolve Cases of Con­science, Matth. xxiii. 16. They taught the Do­ctrine, and maintained the Law of Moses, Matth. xxiii. 2, 3. They Garnish'd, Adorned, and Beautified the Sepulchres of the Prophets of old, Matth. xxiii. 29. They had a great Veneration for the Traditions of their Church, Marc. vii. 2, 3, 4. They were very punctual in paying Tithes, or the tenth part of the Fruits of the Earth, that fell to their share, Matth. xxiii. 23. They car­ried their Phylacteries about with them, where­ever they went, which were certain pieces of Parchment, wherein were written some Senten­ces, or Sections of the Law, particularly of Exod xii. and xiii. and Deut. vi. and xi. and these they tied to their Wrists and Fore­heads, and made them very broad, Matth. xxiii. 5. They were often Purifying and Washing themselves, not only their Hands and Wrists, [...], as Theophylact speaks, up to the El­bow, but their whole Bodies too, especially, when they came from the Market-place, being fearful, lest some filthiness, contracted by converse, should stick to them, Mark vii. 3. They took great pains to make Proselytes, and Converts to their Religion, for they compassed Sea and Land to do it, Matth. xxiii. 15. They were so strict, [Page 8] or so nice rather, that they were afraid of touching a Person, who was counted an open, and scandalous Sinner; would not only not Eat with him, but not so much, as Touch him, which was the reason, why the Pharisee, in whose House Christ Dined, found fault with our Saviour, for suffering himself to be touch'd by a Woman, who had been a notorious Sinner, Luc. vii. 39. And this is the account the Scrip­ture gives of them.

St. Epiphanius adds, that many of them would Vow very strict Chastity, and Abstinence from the Partners of their Beds, some for Four years, some for Eight, and some for Ten. They were [...]. Epiph. l. 1. adv. Haer. [...]. Epiph. Ibid. very watchful against all Nocturnal Accidents, and partly to prevent them, and partly to awake the sooner to Prayer, they would Sleep upon Boards not above nine Inches broad, that falling or rolling off from those Boards on the Ground, they might go to their Devotion; some would stuff their Pillows with Stones and Pebles, and some would venture even upon Thorns, for that purpose. Besides their Tythes, they separated their First-Fruits, and the Thirtieth, and Fiftieth part of their Incomes to Pious Uses; and, as to all Vows, and Sacrifices, no Persons were more punctual to pay or discharge them, than they.

[Page 9] This was the Righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees. All this looks well, and hath a very good Gloss. And one would wonder at first sight, how Christ could find fault with these Per­formances. One would think, that in stead of blaming, he should have commended them for so doing: How many Thousands are there in the World, that do not do half so much in matters of Religion; and some would look upon them­selves as extraordinary Saints, if they came up to what the Scribes and Pharisees did, so far are they from dreaming of going beyond them.

But have not You seen some counterfeit Pearls, so Artificiously contrived, that the ignorant Spectator hath taken them for truly Oriental? Have not you seen some curious Limner, draw Infects and Butterflies, with that Life, that one would take them for Living Animals? The same may be said of the Righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees. As specious, as glo­rious as it look'd, it was perfectly of the Na­ture of the Glow-Worm, and shined bright in that dark Night of Ignorance, but view'd by Day-light was nothing but a squallid Worm, a mere Skeleton of Devotion; which leads me,

[Page 10] 2. To shew You the Defects of their Righ­ousness, and they will appear from the following Particulars.

1. They laid the Stress of their Devotion up­on the Opus Operatum, the bare Outward Task and Performance, without any regard to the In­ward Frame; very indifferent whether their Minds at the same time were season'd with a due sense of Gods Greatness, and their own Im­perfections: Just as the People of the Church of Rome at this Day will say so many Credo's, so many Pater Noster's, so many Ave Maria's, and fancy, they have done admirably well, when they have absolved their Task, though their Minds, or Thoughts all the while, like the Evil Spirit in Job, have been wandring to and fro in the Earth: And I wish, too many, who profess themselves Members of the best Church in the World. I mean, the Church of England, did not split their Vessel against this Rock; I am sure, the Scribes and Pharisees did: They made no account of the inward Frame, but rested in the Shell, and thought God would be pleased with the staying of a Bullock, or Lamb, or He-Goat; and they measured the Goodness of their Prayers by their Length and Number more, than by the great Sense they had of the Shekinah, or [Page 11] Divine Presence, whereas an humble and de­vout Mind in the Religious Service, was the thing God required at their Hands, Matth. xv. 8.

2. They were very Zealous for the Ceremo­nial part of Religion, but very reguardless of the Moral, and more Substantial part of it, hot as Fire, for the one, cold as Ice, with respect to the other. The neglect of a Ceremony, anger'd them more, than the omission of a sober, and pious Conversation, much as the Greeks at this day look upon breaking a Fast of the Church, as a more heinous Crime, then Killing, or Mur­thering a Man, and to this purpose Christ tells the Pharisees, Matth. xxiii. 22, 23. Wo to you Scribes, and Pharisees, Hypocrites, who strain at a Gnat, and swallow a Camel: Ye pay Tithe of Mint, and Cummin, and Anise, and have omitted the weightier matters of the Law, Judgment, Mercy and Faith.

3. They were abominably selfish in all their Religious Undertakings, for, all their Works they do to be seen of Men, saith our Saviour, Matth. xxiii. 5. This was the Worm that corrupted their Alms, their Prayers, their Fasts, their Self-De­nials, their Mortifications, and all they did, even a design to advance, and promote their profit, interest and credit, and to gain the Applauses, [Page 12] and Admirations of Men, and though they made long Prayers, yet it seems, it was to devour Widows Houses, Matth. xxiii. 14. Their very Doctrines were suited to their Profit and Interest, as Transubstantiation, Purgatory, Private Masses, Indulgences, Auricular Confession, &c. in the Church of Rome are invented to aggrandize the Honour and Profit of the Priest, so the Tenents, they held, were accommodated to their gain and Lucre, for they taught the People, that there was greater Holiness in the Gold of the Tem­ple, than in the Temple, and greater Sanctity in the Gift upon the Altar, than in the Altar it self, thereby to oblige the People, to bring Gold, and Gifts into the Temple, whereby the Priests, who were of the Order of the Pharisees, suckt no small advantage, Matth. xxiii. 16, 17.

4. They took care to purifie the outward Man, but took none to cleanse the Heart and the Soul. Such Acts of Piety and Devotion, as were stately, and savour'd of Pomp, and ser­ved to attract the Eyes of Spectators, they were for, and of this Nature were all their External Severities, and Rigors, and Revenges, they used upon themselves. But, as to Mortifying their inward Pride, and Rancour, and Hatred, and [Page 13] Malice, and Covetousness, and love of the World, they were so great Strangers to it, that they did not think it part of their Religion, which makes Christ tell them, Thou blind Pha­risee, cleanse first that which is within the Cup and Platter, that the out side of them may be clean also: Wo unto you Scribes and Pharisees; for ye are like unto whited Sepulchres, which ap­pear fair unto Men, but within are full of Rot­ten Bones; even so, ye appear outwardly Righte­ous unto Men, but within, are full of Covetous­ness, Matth. xxiii. 26, 27.

5. Though they own'd, professed, and taught the Law of Moses; yet in effect, they preferr'd their wild and phantastick Traditions before it. Not to mention their common Proverb, That the Words of the Scribes, i. e. of their Tradi­tionary [...] Divines, were more Lovely than the Words of the Law, where it was so, that the Law, and the Tradition clasht, they Interpreted the Law by the Tradition, not the Tradition by the Law, and hearken'd more to the dictate, and suggestion of a groundless and whimsical Tradition, then to an express Text of the Writ­ten Word of God; as is evident from what Christ tells them, Matth. xv. 3. Why do ye Transgress the Commandment of God, by your Tradition, for [Page 14] God Commanded, saying, Honour thy Father and thy Mother; and, he that Curses Father and Mother, let him die the Death; but ye say, Who­soever shall say to his Father, or to his Mother, though ready to Starve and Perish, for want of Necessaries, it is Corban, it is a Gift, I have Dedicated it to the Temple, by whatsoever thou mightest be profitted by me, and Honour not his Father, or his Mother, he shall be Free. Thus have ye made the Commandment of God of no effect, by your Tradition.

Indeed, where Men invent new Doctrines and Articles of Faith, there the good Old Word of God will do them no Service, but they are forced to make, and run to Traditions, and broken Cisterns which can hold no Water.

6. To Sum up all. They were very severe and strict in keeping some Commandments of God, but very supine and negligent as to others. They hated Extortion, but were Malicious to a Prodigy; they would not be Drunk, but were abominably Proud; they were for giving Alms to People of their own Sect, but look'd upon it as Sinful, to releive a poor Samaritan. They were for strictness of Life, before Peo­ple, and Spectators, but loose and wicked in Secret, they abhorred Adultery, but were Slaves [Page 15] to Ambition and Vain-Glory: They bound heavy burthens on other Mens Shoulders, but would not touch them with one of their Fin­gers, and while they pressed a severe observance of the Sabbath Day, forgot, they were to rest from Sin, and Envy, as well, as from servile Labour, Matth. xii. 12, 13, 14.

Indeed this was one of their pernicious Tradi­tionary Principles, That if a Man or Woman were but industrious in the Practice of any one Command of God, though they neglected the other Precepts, that service was sufficient to en­title them to a [...] to the Portion of the Blessed in another World. To be short, they served God at the best, by halves, were quick­sighted as Eagles, in spying out other Mens faults; but blind as Moles in discovering their own, and while they divided their Affections, betwixt God and the World, allow'd the World the far greater share.

These were the Distempers and Diseases of the Righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, and how we are to exceed them, is the third particular, I am to speak to.

III. Except your Righteousness shall exceed the Righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees; and [Page 16] how, or, in what Things we are to exceed them, is soon guess'd at; for 'tis evident from the pre­ceding Discourse, that it must be in Sincerity, in Simplicity, in Humility, in Charity, and in Uni­versality of Obedience.

1. In Sincerity, in being that within, which we seem to be without. Christ is not against ex­ternal Devotion, hath no dislike of an outward Profession, never declared against decent exter­nal Ceremonies; but he requires, we should be Devout and Serious within, as well as without, and take care that what we do without, do arise from a sense of God within; and that a rellish of Spiritual Things in the Soul within, do put us upon Devotion without; that the Heart and the Lips, and the Hands, be all of a piece; and moreover, that we use the same diligence to Mortifie our inward Lusts, which we use to re­strain our selves from evil Actions in Company, or, in the presence of Men. In a Word, that we do not only pretend to Religion, but Practice it; not only talk and dispute, and entertain our selves with Speculations, and Discourses of it, but Live up to the Holy Rules of it; not only make Profession of it, but shew out of a good Conversa­tion, our good Works with Meekness of Wisdom, as it is said, Jam. iii. 13.

[Page 17] 2. In Simplicity, and having pure and holy Ends in our Religious Actions, and particularly in our Religious Severities, and Self-Denials, ends suitable to the Holiness of God, and the Edifi­cation of our Neighbours; in a word, ends Ra­tional, and such as may be justified before God and Man. This is part of the single Eye, we read of, Matth. vi. 22. Indeed, the Ends and Designs of Actions, make a strange alteration in their Worth and Value, render them either Good or Bad, either Commendable or Abominable, either Sacrifices of Righteousness, or, Sacrifices of Fools. Christ is so far from discouraging his Followers from Religious Self-Denials and Se­verities, that his Doctrine and Discipline presses nothing more, insomuch, that the greater Your Self-Denials are, the better Christians You are. But, the right end, is the thing our Master pres­ses, and insists upon. Fast and Pray, and con­tinue in Prayer a long time, spend whole hours in it, if Your Strength, and Sense, and Affecti­ons will serve; give Alms, and give very liberally; deny Your selves in a Thousand Vanities, the World doats upon; Mortifie Your Bodies in a decent manner, but take heed of secret hopes of Meriting by all this, and of secret Designs, either to promote Your Worldly Profit and Interest, or, [Page 18] to gain the Commendations and Admiration of Your Neighbours, or, to make God amends for some Sins, You are loath to part withal. Have no Worldly Ends in all this, but let a Sense of Your Duty, and Your Gratitude to God, and and an earnest desire to Crucifie the Flesh, to die to the World, to imitate the Saints of Old, to encourage Your selves in a Spiritual Life, and to prepare for Heaven and Happiness. Let these be the Principles and Motives that put You upon all this, and You will undoubtedly exceed the Righteousness of the Scribes and Pha­risees.

3. In Humility; not only in having a just Sense of our Errors, and many Infirmities, which render us unworthy to appear before God, with­out the Assistance and Intercession of a Mediator; not only in abhorring our selves for those many defects, which cleave to our best Services, not only in accusing our selves before the All-seeing Eye, as Wretched, Naked, Poor, Blind and Miserable, from a Sense of his Infinite Majesty and Purity, but also in having low and humble Thoughts of our Religious Performances, ac­knowledging that by the Grace of God, we are what we are, and that by the Influence of that Grace, those Performances are wrought, and con­fessing [Page 19] from the Heart, when we have done all that we are Commanded to do, that we are un­profitable Servants, and have done no more, then what was our Duty to do. This humble Tem­per Luk 17. 10. the Scribes and Pharisees were very great strangers to, who look'd upon their Religious Services, as Things which God was obliged in Honour, and Equity to look upon and Reward; Pride, Self-Conceitedness, and Self-Admiration, mingling with almost all they did; and they did not, would not know, what a contrite and humble Heart meant, and what it was to lie low before God, with a deep Sense of their Un-wor­thiness, and of the great Imperfection of their Services; and though they Fasted often, yet that was not so much to arrive to an humble Sense of their Corruptions and Infirmities, as to in­crease their Merits, and to do Things which might Challenge Gods kinder Inclinations; and this was the Rock against which these Men stum­bled: And, as they were unacquainted with true Humility toward God, so they understood not, what it was to condescend to Men of low Estate. In Humility therefore we are to exceed them; in Humility toward God and Man; for, as there is nothing that separates more betwixt the Crea­tor, and the Creature, than Pride and Self-Conceitedness, [Page 20] for which reason, God is said to behold the Proud afar off, so nothing unites Heaven and Earth, God and the Soul, more than Humility; for thus saith the High and Lofty One, who inhabiteth Eternity, I dwell in the High and Holy Place, with him also, that is of a contrite, and humble Spirit, Es. lvii. 15.

4. In Charity, or, a compassionate Temper toward all sorts of distressed Persons, I say, all sorts, for that of the Pharisees was narrow and sneaking, and confined to People of their own Sect. I need not tell you, that Charity consists not only in giving Alms, that's but one part of it; nay, it may happen so, that it may not be so much, as a part of it, according to the case St. Paul puts, 1 Cor xiii. 3. where he makes it possible, for a Man to bestow all his Goods to Feed the Poor, and yet to have no Charity. Had Almsgiving been all the Charity, that was necessary to Salvation, the Scribes and Pharisees had been considerable Men, for they were free and liberal enough of their Purses toward Men of their own Party; but Charity is a larger and nobler Virtue; if it be of the true Eagle­kind, an unfeigned Love of God is the cause of it, and the effect is ever answerable to the Beauty which produces it. St. Paul hath given so ge­nuine [Page 21] a Character of it, 1 Cor. xiii. that it's im­possible to mistake the Nature of it, except Men be willfully Blind. It extends its Arms not only to all sorts of Objects, whether Friends or Foes, whether Relations or Strangers, but as far as its Ability reaches, and opportunity offers it self to all sorts of Distresses: It doth not only Feed and give Drink, and Cloath and Visit, but Ad­monish too, and Reprove, and Teach, and Entreat, and Counsel and Advise, and help and assist, and sometimes Correct and Punish. It embraces Enemies, and like the wounded Earth, receives even those that cut, and digg'd it, into its Bosom; and like the kind Balsom Tree, heals those, that made Incisions upon it. It Judges favourably of Pious Heathens, much more of Pious Christi­ans, though differing from it in Opinion; it Damns none, whom God hath not Damned; in a word, it works no Evil to its Neighbour, but is ready unto every good Word and Work. And in this Charity, we are to exceed the Righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees.

5. In Universality of Obedience; or, in mak­ing Conscience of the several Commands of the Gospel, of one, as well as of another. Then, we exceed them, without any danger of being over Joh. 15. 14. much Righteous, when at the same time, that [Page 22] we are fervent for Circumstances in Gods Wor­ship, we are not forgetful of the substantial part of Religion, when we do not let our Publick Devotion justle out our private, nor the private the publick; when we do not make the Practice of one Precept, an argument to justifie our neg­lect of another, nor excuse our not doing Good, by our not committing of Evil, but are impar­tial in our Obedience, and cheerfully submit, not only to the gentler, but harder Injunctions of the Gospel, not only to such as are agreeable, but to those also, which are contrary to our natural Temper and Inclination.

The Pious Christian will not easily get the better of the Righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, except his Obedience becomes larger, and spreads more than theirs. Had these Men carried on their Obedience to that Extent, I speak of, as St. Paul, a Pharisee, and the Son of a Pha­risee afterward did, there would not have been greater Men in the World then they; and the Proverb, which was unjustly made concerning them, would not have been altogether Palse, viz. If there were but two Men to be Saved, the one would be a Scribe, the other a Pharisee.

And these are the particulars in which our Righteousness is to exceed that of the Scribes [Page 23] and Pharisees. If it doth not, we shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. The Danger, and the Last Part, which will deserve our Exa­mination.

IV. The Danger. Except Your Righteousness shall exceed the Righteousness of the Scribes, and Pharisees, Ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

This Word, one would think, should rouze every Soul here present, and put us all upon a se­rious Inquiry, Whether our Righteousness doth actually exceed the Righteousness of the Scribes, and Pharisees: If it doth not, we hear our Doom. And can any Man think, Christ was very serious in saying so, without being concerned, how to prevent, and escape that fatal Exit? All Ye, that have any Care of your Salvation, and beleive another World, and know, what the Terrors of the Lord mean, and what it is, not to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; Awake, awake, (why should you not, when Your Great Redeemer calls?) and take this Threatning into serious Consideration. Either it will be fulfilled, or not: If it will not be ful­filled, where is Christ's Veracity? If it be, where is Your Security?

[Page 24] I say unto You; Thus the Commination be­gins; which shews, the Thing is firm, and like the Laws of Medes and Persians, unalterable. Our Master, even He whom we believe to be God, as well as Man, hath spoke the Word. He that is Truth it self, hath said it, and thus it must be, nor will all the Intreaties of Men and Angels oblige him to depart from his peremptory De­claration.

You that hear, and now read all this, cannot pretend Ignorance, that you did not know the dreadful Consequence of this Neglect. We sug­gest, we intimate so much to you; we pull you by the Sleeve, we proclaim these Words in your Ears, as poor, as mean, as inconsiderable Crea­tures, as we are; I would to God, they might sink into your Hearts! We beg of You, to lay aside your Divertisements, and your Businesses for a while, and allow this Threatning some Atten­tion of Mind.

If you go no farther in your Righteousness, than these unhappy Men did, not all your Cries at last, Lord, Lord, open to us; Not all your Tears, and Calls, Lord, have Mercy upon us! Not all your Arguings, and Pleadings with God; Not all your Dying Groans, not all your Mournful Ac­cents, will open the Kingdom of Heaven to you [Page 25] If you go no farther than these Men, by this Rule of Christ, you must inevitably be Misera­ble, and all your Wealth and Grandeur and E­states and Relatives, cannot help you: If you go no farther, you sink into a State of Hypocrisie, and I need not tell you, that the Portion of Hy­pocrites, is a very sad Portion, for it is to be cast into outward Darkness, where there is Howling and Gnashing of Teeth, so saith your Master and mine, Matth. xxiv. 51.

In speaking to You, I speak to Christians, even to Men, who believe, that to enter into the King­dom of Heaven, is beyond all the Bliss, that this, or Ten Thousand Worlds do afford; and, that not to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, is to be Wretched and Miserable, Odious and Contemp­tible, beyond Expression, and to Groan in Tor­ments to Eternal Ages: This is the Notion You have of these Things, as You own Your selves Christians. Men, Fathers and Brethren, Do you believe the Prophets? Do you believe the Apo­stles? Do you believe the Son of God, that came into the World to save Sinners? I know you be­lieve, and surely this is Motive sufficient to suffer the Word of Exhortation▪

If therefore any of you have hitherto laid the stress of your Devotion, upon the External Task, [Page 26] and been Strangers to the inward frame of Mind, which is in the sight of God of great Price: If you have been Zealous for small, little, inconsi­derable Things in Matters of Religion, and have wilfully neglected the more Substantial and Self-Denying part of it: If you have been Selfish in your Acts of Piety and Righteousness, and been Devout and Good, for Wordly Ends more than from a Sense of your Duty: If you have taken some carc to Purifie your outward Man, from Cla­morous and Scandalous Sins, and have been careless of rectifying what is amiss within you, even of subduing that immoderate Love of the World, and Pride, and Revengefull Thoughts and De­sires, and Anger, and wrathful Temper, and o­ther secret Sins, which do so easily beset you: If you have thought it your Duty, to observe some of the greater Commandments of the Gospel, and made no Conscience of the lesser. All this Fabrick must be pulled down, undone and unra­vell'd, and you must turn over a new Leaf, and apply your selves to a true Gospel Life and Tem­per; else, there is no entring into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Flatter not your selves with the Merits and Sufferings, and Death of Christ Jesus, for poor Sinners. I grant, I own, this is a very Glori­ous, [Page 27] and comfortable Truth, and there is no sin­cere Beleiver, but confesses to thy Praise and Glory, O Blessed Jesu! That there is no Name under Heaven given, whereby Men may be Sa­ved, but thine alone. But still it is this exceed­ing the Scribes and Pharisees in their Righteous­ness, that must give you a Title to the benesits of the Death of Jesus Christ: By this the Pardon of your Sins, which was purchased by that Death, must be sued out, and applied, and ren­dred comfortable to your Souls; and, if the Death of Christ doth not kill in you that Hypo­crisie and Partiality, which made the Righteous­ness of the Pharisees defective, that Death can­not, will not, profit you.

All the Christian World knows, that the de­sign of Christ's dying for Sinners, was, That they which Live, should not henceforth Live unto them­selves but unto him, that Died for them, and rose again. They are the express Words of the Holy Ghost, 2 Cor. v. 15. and it is as certain, that you cannot Live unto him, that Died for you, except your Righteousness be a Righteousness without Guile, and therefore beyond that of the Scribes and Pha­risees.

[Page 28] I suppose you are sensible, that Christ cannot contradict himself; when he spake these Words, He knew he was to Die for Sinners, yet to these Sinners, for whom he was to Die, he protests, Except your Righteousness shall exceed, &c. And therefore certainly, the Mercies of his Death can­not clash with our Duty; and whoever means to enjoy the benefits of that Death, must Die to the Righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, and a Righteousness more Rational, an Evangeli­cal Righteousness must Live in him, even that which St. Paul speaks of, Phil. iii 9. And that's the Life of God, as it is called, Ephes. iv. 18.

If we are to exceed these Men in their Righ­teousness, we must do more than they did and if we do more, can we do less, than what hath been hinted in the preceding Particulars of Sin­cerity, Simplicity, Humility, Charity, and Univer­sality of Obedience? for these Qualifications rectifie what was amiss in the Righteousness of these Men, and set us in the right way, from which those Self-Conceited Men deviated, and wandred in a Wilderness of Vulgar Errours.

Should any of you be so Unfortunate, (what I say here, is nothing but a plain and easie Com­ment upon the Commination of the Text) I say, should any of you be so unfortunate, as to come [Page 29] before the Gate of the Kingdom of Heaven, and be denied entrance there; how like a Thunder­bolt would this strike you! and yet I see not, how it is possible to prevent it, if these Words of Christ make no impression upon you, or do not oblige you to go beyond these Men in their Acts of Devotion and Piety.

Their Righteousness was an External, Mecha­nical, starcht kind of Righteousness; it was not Free, not Natural, and they took no care to re­form their Thoughts, Desires, Lusts, Affections, and such Things as Human Laws take no notice of; and it's to be feared, that this is the Disease of too great a number of Christians: Nay, Thou­sands there are, which do not come up to so much, as the Negative Virtues of the Scribes and Phari­risees: They were no Drunkards, no Swearers, no Whoremongers, no Adulterers, and yet, how many that profess themselves Illuminated by the Gospel of Christ, are so, and worse than so? and if even those, who do not exceed the Righte­ousness of these Men, shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, how shall those, that are not so good as they? And but that Unbelief, and Stupidity reigns so much in the Hearts of Men, certainly here is enough to fright them from the Carnal Life they lead.

[Page 30] There stands before the Gate of the Kingdom of Heaven, an Angel with a Flaming Sword, as much, as there did before the Gate of Paradise, to keep out all those, who voluntarily chuse Death before Life, and do not you chuse Death before Life, when you had rather forfeit your share in the Kingdom of Heaven, then exceed the Scribes and Pharisees in their Righteousness?

Surely it must be a dismal and deplorable Con­dition, when Men have flattered themselves all their Life time, with hopes of entring into the Kingdom of Heaven, to find themselves at last thrust out, and may not this be the condition of some of you? And is not the very possibility of it enough to oblige you to Purifie and Cleanse your Righteousness, and to take care, that none of the Leven of the Scribes and Pharisees stick to it?

Here on Earth, Men Fight for a great Estate, and venture Fortune, Friends, Interest, Hone­sty, Life, and all: Strange! The Kingdom of Heaven should lie under that Misfortune, that Men must be entreated to enter into it, and yet will not be prevailed with after all to enter. Yes, you'll say, we all are very ready to enter into it, were it not for the hard Conditions that are re­quired; and do you really think the Conditions [Page 31] so hard? Would you think them so, if you lay Howling in Eternal Flames? Certainly, nothing would seem hard then, and why should it seem so now, when it is evident and apparent, you are in danger of those Flames?

Behold! God is ready and willing, to succour, to assist, to support, and to strengthen you, that your Righteousness may Triumph over Righte­ousness of these Hypocrites. The same Spirit, the same Grace, the same Influences, the same Assistances, he hath afforded to St. Paul, to St. Peter, to Lydia, to Martha, to Mary, to Magda­lene, to the Jaylour, to the Penitent Publican, to Zachaeus, to others, the same he offers to you all. But then, if these kind offers be slighted and re­jected, and a Farm, a Yoak of Oxan, or some thing worse be preferr'd before it, it is not God so much, that deprives you of the Kingdom of Heaven, as you your selves. Were you actually possess'd of this Kingdom of Heaven, you would wonder at the Folly and Madness of Men, who can complain, that the Conditions are hard, when such a Glory, such a Bliss, such a Kingdom is to be had, a King­dom for which the Apostles, and the Primitive Beleivers, whose Faith, and Constancy, we Admire, forsook Father and Mother, and Lands, and Houses, and all that was dear to them in this [Page 32] World. I could give you such a Description of that Kingdom, as should make all the Glories of this World look pale, and dim, and dark, in Compari­son of it: But I forbear.

Were such Considerations as these, made use of in the cool of the Day, I mean, when your Thoughts are cool and composed, and the Grace of God upon your Endeavours, earnestly implo­red, they would inspire you with Courage Invin­cible, to go not only beyoud Heathens and Phi­losophers, but beyond Scribes and Pharisees in Righteousness, and in the serious Exercises of Virtue and Self-Denial.

It's possible, you may not remember all the Motives, I have given you, but one thing you will be able to Remember, which contains all that I have said, and that's the Text, and there­fore I repeat it once more, Except your Righteousness shall exceed the Righteousness of the Scribes and Pha­risees, ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.


This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. This Phase I text is available for reuse, according to the terms of Creative Commons 0 1.0 Universal. The text can be copied, modified, distributed and performed, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.