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make the sacrifice. Such is our way of judging in temporal things; and it is by appealing to our conduct in common life, that our SAVIOUR often teaches us spiritual wisdom. "If," says He, "thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee;" that is, if there be any thing, however dear to thee, which causes thee to sin, part with it, and remove it far from thee; for it is better to enter into life, having one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. As it is wise in the case of the body to preserve the life at the expense of having only one eye: so it is wise, also, in the case of the soul, to sacrifice the dearest object rather than to retain it at the hazard of the life of the soul. So, also, if our right hand offend us, we are told to "cut it off, and cast it from us; for it is better to enter into life having one hand; than having two hands, to be cast into hell fire." Our SAVIOUR, by repeating his expression, increases the strength of His remark: and by speaking of plucking out an eye, in the one case, and of cutting off a hand, in the other, He seems to intimate, that not one favourite object only, but every favourite object which proves an occasion of sin, must be sacrificed. In one of the other Evangelists, (St. Mark, ix. 44, 46, 48,) He is represented as awfully addressing Himself to our fears on this subject, by adding the words, "where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." He, who so loves his sin as to say that he cannot part with it, would do well to weigh these tremendous words of CHRIST. It may be hard to part with a favourite sin; but it is still harder to dwell with everlasting burnings. It may be a painful task to remove ourselves out of the way of a temptation; but it will be still more painful, after having been taken in the snare of the Devil, and led captive by him at his will, to share the condemnation of that Evil Spirit, and to be commanded to depart, accursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his Angels.

The fear of hell is often a salutary and most necessary fear. Many a man would never break from his sins with

out it. Our lusts and passions are often very importunate; they seem as if they would not be refused indulgence. They are not always to be checked by fears of an inferior sort. The condemnation of the soul must be set before men, as the sure consequence of persisting in the indulgence of a favourite passion; for CHRIST himself hath said it. Even the compassionate SAVIOUR hath said it. He, who was so merciful as to go about healing all manner of sick-He, who came down from heaven to save us, and to die for us, nevertheless cannot, will not, save us, (as is plain from this as well as from many other passages,) if we will hold fast our iniquity. We ought, therefore, to learn, from this metaphorical expression of CHRIST, the danger of living on in any wilful sin.

But we may also learn from it, secondly, the peril of remaining in the way of temptation. Some persons, finding themselves repeatedly betrayed into great guilt, and being much wounded in their consciences, resolve to yield no more to the sin which has so often grieved them, and determine, also, to avoid in some degree those societies, those circumstances, and those places, which have proved the occasion of their falling. They resolve to avoid these in some degree, but not in a sufficient degree; for, if the sin be fallen into again and again, it is then rendered plain by experience, that they ought to remove themselves still farther from temptation. But they will not advance a sufficient length in the case in question: that is, they will not proceed so far as to contradict some worldly companion who is their tempter; or to sacrifice some worldly interest which is their snare; or to abstain from some scene of dissipation, where their virtue is put to greater trial than it can bear. Such persons, though they have made, it is true, some feeble opposition to the tyrant sin which has possession of them, can by no means be said, according to the strong language of our SAVIOUR, to have plucked out their right eye, or to have cut off their right hand and cast it from them. They have as yet been on the plan of sparing

themselves; they have not had the heart to pay the price which is necessary for their deliverance; and hence they continue enslaved. Let such persons gather instruction from these words of CHRIST. Let them remember that even the most innocent thing, if it prove a snare, must be plucked out, and cast from them, though it be done with as much pain as if they were plucking out the eye, or cutting off the hand, which is most dear to them.

It is better surely to do this, it is better surely to affront our friend, to sacrifice our profit, or to absent ourselves from our accustomed place of entertainment, than having kept our friend, having increased our wealth, and having retained our amusement, to be cast into hell fire. It is better to be safe landed in Heaven, though at the expense of having in this world bereaved ourselves of some things which seemed as dear to us, as if they had been a part of ourselves. It is better to enter into life halt or maimed, than, having two eyes or two hands, to be cast into hell fire; where, as already quoted from St. Mark, "the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."


ST. MATTHEW, V. 31, 32.

It hath been said, whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:

But I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causes her to commit adultery; and whosơever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

CHRIST in this place, extends the law of Moses; for that law had allowed divorces to take place in cases in which CHRIST no longer permits them. It however had never been intended, that divorces should become so light and

easy as they were become among the Jews. Whilst, therefore, the Pharisees were loosening the obligations of the law, CHRIST was giving to it additional strictness. The case was this: The law of Moses was suited to the age in which it was given, and to the dispensation of religion under which the Jews lived; and not, in all particulars, equally accommodated to the new dispensation which was introduced by CHRIST. For Christianity, by affording a clear knowledge of GoD, and of all the doctrines of the Gospel, brought men under stricter obligations. Moses allowed some things to subsist for a while among the Jews; and this among the rest; on account of the hardness of their hearts, as is observed by CHRIST in the 19th ch. of this Gospel: "but from the beginning," our SAVIOUR there adds, "it was not so ;" and He now, therefore, as the new law-giver of the Jews, enjoins a stricter rule, both on them, and on all his followers. CHRIST goes farther than Moses, in several particulars. CHRIST sometimes speaks where Moses is silent. CHRIST, at other times, extends to the spirit, what Moses had chiefly spoken of in the letter. CHRIST carried every part of morality to a sublimer height.

Two things may be observed in this passage. First, let us learn from it how strictly Christians ought to think of the bonds of marriage. Let us not lend an ear to that false philosophy which would utterly break these bonds, as well as all others—which would allow men again to obtain divorces according to their humour; a philosophy which would thus throw back the world into that state in which the Jewish people were left only for a while, and on account of the hardness of their hearts; and out of which CHRIST hath delivered us. The prohibition of CHRIST is like all his prohibitions, merciful. How hard is the situation of the children of those who are divorced! and on this ground how inexpedient is it to multiply divorces! a child often needs the aid, almost equally, of its father and of its mother towards its education and support in life. How mischievous, also, to the parents is a system of unre

strained divorce! If all men were to marry with the knowledge that they might, when they pleased, send away their wife, how light a ceremony would marriage become. And how dismal, in particular, would be the case of the female sex. Among other reasons for valuing Christianity, let us value it on account of this law against arbitrary divorce.

Our other remark is general. Let us learn, from this passage, to consider CHRIST as calling us, in every respect, to greater purity of morals than was attained in the ancient periods of the world. The Gentiles were left chiefly to the light of their own conscience. They had no written law of GOD. The times, therefore, of their ignorance GOD is said in Scripture to have winked at; though now He hath "commanded all men every where to repent,"* and to "believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ."t

The Jews had a dispensation of religion which was dark compared with ours. They, had, indeed, more instruction, than we, in many ceremonials of worship: and, since the LORD was their king, and their nation a theocracy; they had a code of laws relating to civil government. In all that regards the substance of religion, the Jewish dispensation was certainly inferior. To them the doctrines of our Gospel were less clearly taught; and the rule of morals was less strictly and spiritually laid down.

Let us, then, remember, that we, Christians, are called both to higher spirituality in our devotion, and to a stricter morality. Let us reflect, that as, in a heathen, many things were winked at by GOD, which would not have been equally winked at in a Jew; so also were many things tolerated in a Jew, which will not now be allowed in a Christian. Among the Jews, polygamy was practised; and though not expressly allowed, it seems not to have been directly condemned. The minds of men were in those ages more dark, in many respects, than the light, in which we live, allows us to conceive. We have had line upon line, and

* Acts xvii. 30.

+ 1 St. John iii. 23.

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