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as authoritative and obligatory, as if it were the highest and the chief. ... i .
Nor, .: ... ;....''; .. •. ,• i ., .
(2) Is one Command less than another, as if it were less necessary to be performed in order to Eternal Life.
The breach of the Least Commandment doth as certainly shut the soul out of heaven, and shut it up under wrath and condemnation, as the breach of the greatest. • ,n u..
In neither of these senses, therefore, must the words be understood; as if our obedience were required more remissly, or left more arbitrary, to the one than to the other; or as if the observation of them all were not equally conducible unto happiness, or the transgression of them equally liable unto punishment. ,',i ,i
2. When, therefore, Christ speaks of the Least Commandment, the expression may admit of a twofold signification.
(1) That herein he alludes to the common and corrupt doctrine of the Scribes and Pharisees, distinguishing God's Commands into great and small, y.'i'. ;.T''ij^s"i.:; i;:..ii .:. .,:
The Great Commandments they held to be those only, which concerned the external acts of religious worship; such as fastings, and washings, and sacrifices, and scrupulous tithings, with various gifts and offerings: these were their Great Commandments. But, for inward concupiscence, for unmortified lusts, for vain thoughts and sinful desires, these, they, as a generation, corrupt in themselves and corrupters of others, taught, as the Papists now do, either to be no sins at all; or, at most, but venial, so long as they did not break forth into act. And, truly, the greater part of this chapter k spent''m. setting forth the evil of those sins, that the Jews accounted to be light and small: as, to be angry with our brother, to call him Raca, or Thou Fool: v. 22. to harbour inward motions of concupiscence: v. 28. to use divorce: v. 32. common swearing: v. 34. private revenge: v. 39. Now, says our Saviour, I am so far from destroying the Law and the Prophetsjeither by: my doctrine or by my practice, as these men falsely accuse and calumniate me; that, contrariwise, I teach that the violation of those Commands, which your Doctors, the Scribes and Pharisees, account small and little, will bring with them a heavy guilt and sore condemnation: for, whosoever breaks those Commandments, that are commonly vilified and called least, shall be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. (2) Those Commandments, which are great, in respect of the Lawgiver, may yet be the least, in comparison with other Commands of the same Law, which are indeed thought greatest. '\
Now this comparative inequality in the Commandments is taken from the inequality of the objects, about which they are conversant. Some of them concern our duty to God: others concern our duty to Man. Now because man is infinitely less than God, therefore those Commands, that relate to our duty towards man, may be called less than those Commands, that relate to our duty towards God. Hence, when the lawyer put a case to our Saviour, Mat. xxii. 36. Master, whichis the great commandment in the Law? our Lord answers him, Thou shait love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This, says he, is the first and great commandment.
Sometimes, this inequality ariseth from the latitude, that every Command hath inife' This latitude relateth to our thoughts, to our words, and to our actions. Now because a thought may be said to be less than a w.ord,and a word may be said to be less than an action; therefore, that part of the Commandment, that requires holiness in our thoughts, may be said to.be less than that, which requires holiness in our speech; and that part of the Commandment, which requires holiness in our speech, than that, which requires holiness in our lives and action's-;-:!.'n.".ain': •;i:'' ..-•w. :--' . •'••*. •'i•'-• , ., "Jfiam
,,-Now, says our Saviour, he, that sins against man, as well as he, that sins against God; he, that sins in a thought, in a word, as welias he, that sins in his actions and conversation; he, that breaks these least commandments, shall be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. And, in *his.sense,' I take the words. .•:::••
.Atid thiis you! see wfhat ,is meant by the Least Commandment.
»y-\\ Mww vi ,ryt^\ im. !.!£/: r.i tv. .\<i -: -. },\\'z wi^u; ••'• oJ iiSLThe. Second thing we are to inquire into, is, What We are TO UNDERSTAND, BY BEING THE LEAST -IN TUB KINGDOM OF HEAVENi) '."•'- i (--.- . ';- 1 '•: III , /IM .'• / •"i •''
By.tije. Kingdom of Heaven may be meant, either the Kingdom of Grace set up in the Church on earth; and thus the word is so frefquently-made use:bf in Scripture, that I need not turn you to any places: or, else, by the Kingdom of Heaven may be meant the Kingdom of Glory, established in the highest heavens. . ',;«.! .<io. i: ..-.: \\> -'.
If. we take the Kingdom of Heaven here in the Text for the Kingdom of Grace, that is, for the Church and people of God here on earth, then the sense runs thus: He,'that- breaketh the least commandment, and teacheth men so, shall be no true member of the Church of Christ. - -' ' -> r :o .But, if we take the Kingdom of Heaven here spoken of to be the Kingdom of Glory, then the meaning is, He, that breaks the least commandment, shall be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven; that is, he shall not enter into heaven at all. Minimus vocabi/ur in Regno Ccelorum; ei Jortassc idea nonerit in Regno Coelorum, ubi nisi magni esse non possunt; as St. Augustin speaks: " He shall be the least in heaven; that is, he shall not be there at all, because in'heaven there are none but great and glorious ones/' i !\it''' :•' - ---! a*-nii 'in .-J. c: '-.\ . - v-. ...;..»,.. -i'. (..i. ,: ...-,..'., !•..:..... yi iRif. '» . You see, then, what a heavy and most dreadful doom Christ hath passed upon-those things, that the world call.| little and trivial sins: they exclude out of heaven; and will, without repentance and a pardon interpose, sink the soul down to the lowest hell irrecoverably. , ,, ... 'ihs^-ib -m '^i
-.•;Now, because the generality of the world, yea and of pro,. lessors also, do too commonly allow and, indulge, themselves in Little Sins, I have therefore made choice of this subject, on purpose to convince you, if it may.tbe, of, the great evil that lurks under them, and that great wrath thatwill follow upon them: that, as you would, out of your great care for your precious and immortal soid's eternal welfare^,abst^n from the" commission of nq^qrious and, self-condemnipg, ;sins,; ,spi you would labour to keep yourselves tree frqrn these Lj^tle :§ins, which, though less scandalous, yet are not le^pe^njciousyand destructive, ,\ , n ,:j: .,: .,;a], ,;| < ,in< «i; ,:,! luo^Aiin i\M And this Ishall.iendeavqur to dojinwthe/pr^se/fu^oft (^;this oPftPtopoft^WtB •i-iiru,// :i,,,-j /: ui I/iov.- Mii vntto yarn i, i:q
hni: ;'".'-i::ai.'i /buO lo \i-nin?. -iiii tvjd ,3'••.7 1: •-•• .oti vaivi si': .J THAT LITTLE, SINS: CARRY, IN T^E^GREAT GUILT,, .AND: :W<lLjL
WQ..^TER JHEM A SQ^E AN^^yvj^Nfikw^ (his y>!
He, that breaketh the least commandment, shall in no wise enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
.-'^L'ln Seating up'ontnis subject/-'because' f'irUend nMo insist long upon it, I shall only lay down some DEIVtOWSTRATTONS' OF THE',TRUTH:v Of THfe DOCTRINE, and then make some Use and Application of it.
i. The great evil and danger that there is in Little Sins appears in this, that THE LEAST SIN IS A MOST HIGH AFFfiONT AND Provocation Of The Great God. An infinite holiness is opposed, and an infinite justice is incensed, by them.
Though I am not of the opinion of the Stoic Philosophers, that all vices are equally heinous: yet this I account certain; that there is, in the least sin, as flat a repugnancy and contradiction to the holy will of God, as in the greatest.
Hath not God forbidden vain thoughts and idle words, as strictly as he hath forbidden murder, adultery, blasphemy, and hatred of himself, with all those abominable sins that defile the mouths of those that name them? And is it not as much his will, that he should be obeyed in those commands, as in these? Have you any more dispensation in the Scripture to speak an idle word, than you have to blaspheme the Name of God? have you any more liberty allowed you to swear little-Oaths, than you have to swear and ban by whatsoever is sacred and holy in heaven or dreadful in hell? or to take the reverend Name of God in vain, more than to curse him to his very face? are you more permitted to think evil against your neighbour, than you are to murder him? No, certainly: no such dispensations can ever be found in the word of God: and, I assure you, God will never dispense with any sin, farther than he hath revealed; and why then will you dare' tb dispense with yourselves more in Little Sins, than in Great Sins? J--' • 'i' m'n-wi
1 "Oh, our consciences will never bear with'&ny patience those great and crying sins." "' ''• '":o°•i' '-'''°,-'
'Will they not? and do you think that God's holinessW91 bear with your Little Sins? Believe it, these Little Sins do arm God's terrible power and vengeance against you. And, as a page may carry the sword of a great warrior after him, so your Little Sins do, as it were, bear the sword of God's justice, and put it into his hands against you. And wde tinto us, lf'the holy and jealous God deal in fury with us, for our small-provocations. ....
"ii o:: iii' iitJti ,j- vOiii. .' i.: - I. ... '' . .-... ••J Jiv.i tiil
ii. EVERY LITTLE SIN IS A HEINOUS VIOLATION OF A HOLY AND STRICT LAW, THAT GOD HATH GIVEN US TO BE THE RULE OF OUR LIVES,' •"'"' 'j| uu..
The least sin takes the Two Tables, and, in a worse sense than Moses did, dashes and breaks them in pieces. , .'
iii. That you may see what a complicate evil every sin is, take this too; which, though it be a paradox, yet is a most sad truth; that THE COMMISSION OF THE LEAST SIN MAKES YOU GUILTY OF THE GREATEST SIN; YEA, GUILTY OF ALL SIN IMAGINABLE.
Hear this, therefore, and tremble, all you that allow yourselves in vain thoughts or idle words; and think with yourselves, "Pish! this is but a thought: this is but a word." No : it is not only a vain thought, or an idle word: it is blasphemy: it is hatred of God: it is murder: it is adultery: it is idolatry. You will say," This is strange doctrine." If it be, it is the Apostle's doctrine: James ii. 10. Whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. ,. „'.
As, therefore, thou wouldst not be found guilty in the Great Day of the Lord of all that even hell itself was ever impeached for, see that you abhor the commission of the least sin; for the least sin will involve thy soul in the greatest guilt. And the Apostle gives an evident reason of this: ver. 11. For he, that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now, if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the Law. ..
The worst thing, that can be found in all the sins that ever were committed, is the contempt of God's authority. Now there is as much wretched contempt of the authority of the Great God, in the commission of Little Sins, as there is in the commission of Great Sins. It is the same God, that saith, Do not take my name in vain, who saith, Do not blaspheme me: the same God, that saith, Do not murder, hath said also, Be not angry with thy brother causelessly. Now what is it, that makes blasphemy and murder such heinous sins? Truly, the venom and rancour of them lie in this, That the authority of that Great God, who hath forbidden them, is slighted and trampled under foot; and is it not so by Small Sins?
Nay, let me add,
iv. The Authority Of The Great God Seems To Be More DeSpised BY THE COMMISSION OF SMALL SINS, THAN BY THE COMMISSION OF GREAT SINS. »"'.. y. «.'
Doth it not argue great contempt of God, when you will not obey him in a matter, that you yourselves count small and inconsiderable? You think, it may be, it is not of much moment or concernment what your thoughts be, nor what your words are: