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II. The Messiah, his doctrine and religion are represented by a precious corner stone, judgment laid to the line and righteousness to the plummet, and to hailand to waters forming an overflowing scourge, by which the covenant with death is disannulled, the argument with hell destroyed, and the refuge of lies overflown. And
III. The vexation which the report of the doctrine, religion, and things of Jesus would cause his enemies, in the day of the manifestation of his power and grace.
The doctrine and religion of the old pharisees, the most religious sect among the Jews, being the natural fruits of their carnal evil hearts, were very justly represented by a covenant and an agreement with death and hell. St. Paul says; “To be carnally minded is death.” And Jesus, speaking to the pharisees, said; “ O generation of vipers! how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth good things; and an evil man, out of the evil treasure, bringeth forth evil things.
There never was but two sorts of religion in the world, the true and the false. True religion is the natural growth of a good heart; and false religion is the spontaneous production of an evil heart.-There never was but two doctrines in the world, the true and the false. The true doctrine is the offspring of the wisdom which is from above; and the false is the vain imagination of the wisdom which is from beneath. « The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy;" but the wisdom which is from beneath is directly the reverse; it is impure,contentious,unkind, inexorable, unmerciful, full of evil fruits, partial, and hypocritical.
This last was the doctrine of the pharisees, it was that leaven which had, in a great degree, leavened the whole Jewish nation, it rendered the pharisees and the people in general so inimical to Christ and his gospel.
This doctrine which is represented by a coverant with death, and an agreement with hell, may always be known by its enmity. Put it into whatever dress you may, call it by whatever name you please, represent it as the most precious of all treasures, all this does not alter its nature. Call it, if you will, the apostolic faith, the holy catholic, the evangelic, the Calvinistic, the Arminian, or the orthodox, if there be partiality, if there be an unmerciful spirit, and if there be an implacable wrath in it, it is a covenant with death and an agreement with hell. This doctrine may be taught by a renowned Gamaliel, it may have and command the influence of Colleges and eminent professors, it may be decoraed with gowns and bands, but it remains the same.
Lies and hypocrisy are its refuge. In his faithfulness to his adversaries, our Saviour did not fail to point out their hypocrisy, and the methods by which they deceived the people. He said ; “Wo unto you, soribes and pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye deyour widow's houses, and for a pretence make long prayer.” All such prayers were falsehoods; they were mere pretences, designed to deceive the people. For this species of hypocrisy, Jesus told them, that they should receive the greater damnation.
Again, the Saviour said ; “Wo unto you scribes and pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and, when he is made, ye make him two fold more the child of hell than yourselves.” This must have been done by falsehood and deceit.
“Wo unto you scribes and pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and the platter, but within they are full of extortion and
excess.” This again is all deceit. “Wo unto you scribes and pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness." All this was designed to point out their hypocrisy, in appearing to be righteous when they were full of iniquity.
“ Wo unto you scribes and pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, if we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.” All this again was hypocrisy, which proved them to be the children of those who killed the prophets. The Saviour further said to his enemies; “ Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers ! how can ye escape the damnation of hell ?”
Speaking to his disciples concerning the scribes and pharisees, Jesus said; “All their works do they to be seen of men: they make broad their philacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi."
When these hypocrites gave any thing to the poor, they would sound a trumpet before them in the Synagogues, and in the streets, that they might have glory of men. When they fasted they were careful to disfigure their faces and to appear with sad countenances, that they might appear unto men to fast. These solemn, but false indications formed the refuge of lies which suitably become the partial doctrine and illiberal religion which they professed and practiced, and which the prophet represented by a covenant with death and an agreement with hell.
We have already said that there never was but one false religion, that there never was but one
false doctrine; this false doctrine and spurious religion have always in all ages, do now, and will as long as they exist in the world manifest themselves by we righteous, and they wicked.
When the advocates of partial religion talk of the wicked, they always speak in the third person. « This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them.' He is gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. This is the native language of false religion. It is never heard to say, he is come to me a sinner, he receiveth me a sinner. It never says, “this is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”
When we say that there is but one false doctrine, we mean that all the doctrines invented by the wisdom of this world are one in spirit; they are partial, they are full of enmity, they have treasures of unmerciful wrath in them; in one word, you will always find that a false doctrine is unmerciful to sinners, but abundantly compassionate to the righteous. All the errors in the world are but one in this.
Those, who look on themselves as righteous, and view others as sinners, calculate largely on their own safety, on the rich rewards which they are to receive; but are full of expectations and horror on account of the vengeance that is coming on the wicked. This is the case with the pharisee in all countries, and has been in all ages. The old pharisees of Jerusalem, those of the christian church of every denomination are one character, of one doctrine, of one spirit, they all speak one language. They look out for an overflowing scourge to fall on the wicked, but they are secure.
To such people the mild, merciful doctrine of Jesus is an overflowing scourge; to such doctrine, that gospel which is as the rain, which distils as the dew is as a storm of hail which beats the tender herb to the ground.
To hear the news, to understand the report that grace, mercy, and peace are flowing to sinners through a kind Redeeiner is indeed a vexation. ; Let us, my hearers, notice soine of the instances of vexation occasioned by the goodness and mercy of the Saviour, which are recorded in the NewTestament.
But first let us observe bow exactly the pharisees were prepared to meet with disappointment and vexation. They expected a Messiah, and were looking out for him. They had no doubt but he would be one of their order, and would come to them as to the only righteous people on earth. They expected to receive his full approbation, and to hear all the anathemas which they had been in the habit of pronouncing on sinners, who had neglected to conform to their religion, reiterated by their Messiah accompanied with executive wrath.
Under these circumstances, and with such expectations, the chief priests, scribes, doctors of the law and pharisees, at Jerusalem, hear a report which is circulated about the city, of one Jesus, away in the extreme part of the country, in Galilee of the gentiles, who has undertaken to preach. In such a case it would be natural for them to inquire, who he was, and what sort of a man, and how he came inducted into the ministry. They soon learn that he is the son of a carpenter, and that he was baptised by that John, who, being possessed of the devil, had the audacity to call them, as holy as they were, a generation of vipers. This information gives them disgust.
Another report comes which states what this new preacher has insinuated respecting the scribes and pharisees; this report says, that the preacher has the impiety to tell bis hearers; “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." This is looked upon as