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fesfing these religions, on the fullest evidence of their truth, would be so far from being of any avail to men with respect to a future state, that if it do not lead to a vir. tuous life, it will greatly aggravate their condemnation, since they had been possessed of an important means of improvement, and an incitement to virtue, and had not made the proper use of it.
As, in this set of discourses, I propose to bring into view the most important particulars of the Gospel history, I shall now consider the morality that Jesus taught, and his manner of teaching it. But I would previpusly observe, that the instructions of Jesus were not delivered systematically. He did not propose to give regular lectures on the different branches of morals, in any particular order; as for example, respecting God, our fellow creatures, and ourselves, or any other equally formal. All his instructions were drawn from him by the circumstances in which he was. He well knew how, and what, the people had been taught, aid what farther and better instruction they needed; and as particular occasions gave a propriety
and force to what he said, he gave it them. And, in general, he was led from some present object or occurrence to fay what was most pertinent and striking: a method which was certainly calculated to make the deepest and most lasting impression. This naturally arose from all his teaching being given in the
way of conversation, as different persons, or companies, came in his way. And, besides healing the diseases of all who applied to him, he generally took the opportunity of saying what would be useful to them in a moral respect, tending to cure the diseases of the mind, which are infinitely more dan, gerous than those of the body.
But to give a clearer idea of the excellent morals that Jesus taught, and the stress that he laid upon them, I shall give a comprehensive view of all his instructions on this important subject; beginning with his observations of a more general nature, relating to the whole duty of man, and then proceeding to the consideration of particular virtues, those on which he laid more than usual stress; that we may know both, in general, what is required of us as Christians, and what particular virtues we are more especially expected to excel in.
Jesus having nothing materially new to teach, the whole of the moral law having been delivered by Moses and the prophets, whose writings contained the purest morality; he, in general, only reminded his hearers of their obligation to attend to them. Thus, when the rich young man applied to him to know what he should do to obtain eternal life, he replied without hesitation, (Matt. xix. 17) “ If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." Being again asked what commandments, he said, “Thou shalt do no murder, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, honour thy father and thy mother, and love thy neighbour aş thyself.” Also, when he was inveighing with just severity against the conduct of toe Scribes and Pharisees, he nevertheless said, (Matt. xxiii. 2) “ The Scribes and Pharisees fit in Moses' seat. All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not after their works, for they say, and do not.” He did not
set himself to oppose their teaching any farther than they corrupted the doctrine of Mofes and the prophets, or set it aside by their traditions.
Jesus makes the keeping his commandments, which were the same with those of God, the evidence and measure of our love to him. (John xiv. 21) “ He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loyeth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and manifest myself unto him." (John xv. 10) " If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." Again, he says, (verse 14) “ Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” Agreeably to this, when he was told that his mother and his brethren were inquiring for him, as he was teaching the people, he said, (Matt, xii. 48) “ Who is my mother, and who are my brethren?" Then pointing to his disciples, he said, “ Behold my mother and my
brethren. For whosoever shall do the will of my Father who is in haven, the 8
same is my brother, or fifter, or mother." Also when a woman, struck with admiration of him, exclaimed, (Luke xi. 27) 6. Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps
that thou hast sucked;" he said, “ Yea, rather blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” And when the Seventy on their return from their million are said to have rejoiced; faying to Jesus, (Luke x. 17) " Yea, even the demons are subject to us through thy name;" he replied, “ Rejoice not that the spirits are subject unto you; but, rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven."
Speaking, in his sermon on the mount, of men's general principles and views, and recommending to his hearers an attention to their interest in a future world, in preference to that in this, he said, (Matt. vi. 22) “ The light of the body is the eye. If therefore thine eye be single,” or clear, " thy whole body will be full of light; but if thy eye be evil,” or disordered, “ thy whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness !” i. e. if men's moral principles,