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Prophet to teach, the Priest to make atonement for, and the King to govern, His church and people. And they who followed Him, in due time received Him in these characters. They attended upon Him while He went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil, in order that they might receive the instructions of heavenly wisdom which He communicated to them; being assured that He was of a truth that Prophet that should come into the world, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world,85 and a Prince and a Saviour to give repentance and forgiveness of sins.86 They followed Him, that they might receive these blessings from Him. And they declared that all others who believed in Him should also receive them. We cannot follow Christ as to His bodily presence. But we must follow Him by believing in His name, as our only Saviour, if we would be blessed by Him. We must put our trust in Him as our Redeemer, who, having put away sin by the sucrifice of Himself, ever liveth, as the High Priest of His church, to make intercession for them that come unto God by Him. So that it is the privilege of those who look for pardon through His bloodshedding and death, to walk humbly with their God as their reconciled Father in Christ Jesus.
84 Acts x.38. John vi. 14,i.29, 86 Acts v. 31. 87 Heb. ix.26, vii.25.
When we consider the infinite holiness, and the almighty power of the Lord our God, we may well dread His presence, and be ready to adopt the language of Peter, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. But when we behold Him by faith, or by believing His holy word, which reveals Him as God in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them,88 then we are enabled to draw nigh to Him as our heavenly Father, that we may obtain from Him the blessings which He graciously bestows upon His children. Then we walk humbly with Him, having our fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 89 And we seek to be conformed to Him in soul and body, by the sanctifying grace of His Holy Spirit. Then we desire that He may rule in us, and reign over us; "to direct, sanctify, and govern both our hearts and bodies in the ways of His laws, and in the works of His commandments."
May we be enabled by His grace thus to forsake all, and to follow Christ; trusting in His redemption for the forgiveness of our sins, in His obedience for our justification in the Divine presence, and in His intercession for obtaining those blessings which we continually need. And may the same mind be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; that following the steps of His
88 2 Corinthians v. 19.
89 1 John i. 3.
most holy life, we may press forward in the narrow way to the kingdom of heaven, and may at length "come to those unspeakable joys which He hath prepared for them that unfeignedly love Him."
Now to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, Three Persons in one Jehovah, be ascribed, as is most justly due, all honour, glory, might, majesty, dominion, and praise, for evermore. Amen.
THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
THE EXCELLENT RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Matthew v. 20.
EXCEPT YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS SHALL EXCEED
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE SCRIBES AND
PHARISEES, YE SHALL IN NO CASE ENTER
INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
WHEN Our Lord Jesus Christ had described the character of His true disciples, in the beginning of His Sermon on the Mount, He proceeded to speak of the objections which were made to the religion that He came to establish in the world. And first He showed, that He did not come to introduce a new religion, but to enforce and fulfil that which had been revealed to mankind from the beginning. He did not come to destroy the law
or the prophets,90 but to establish the moral law, and to fulfil the prophecies which had been uttered by holy men of God in former times. And He therefore declared that those who instructed mankind in the precepts of the moral law, and exemplified them in their own life and conduct, from right motives and to right ends, would manifest themselves to be His true disciples, who should partake of His blessing both on earth and in heaven. From thence He proceeded to make the remark in the text.
The Pharisees had accused our blessed Lord of meaning to set aside the law of Moses. In return He reminded them that they made void the commandment of God by their tradition. In the verses that follow the text, our Saviour instructed the people as to the manner in which He upheld the law; that instead of endeavouring to relax its injunctions, or to set it aside, He insisted upon its spirituality, as requiring obedience not only to the letter, which is all that human laws can demand; but that the spirit of it was also to be regarded; and that therefore the commandment of God was, as the Psalmist expressed it, exceeding broad,91 since it reached to the thoughts and intents of the heart, and to the words, as well as to the actions of the life; whereas human laws can take cognizance only of the latter.
90 Matthew v. 17.
91 Psalm cxix. 96.