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ALL ARE TRANSGRESSORS OF THE LAW,
JOHN vii. 19.
KEEPETH THE LAW.
I have, in several Discourses, according to the measure of divine assistance, endeavoured to unfold unto you the vast contents of the Law; and those various duties, that are summarily comprehended in those Ten Words, which the infinite wisdom of God hath given us as an Epitome and Abridgment of all Morality.
I well know and am assured, that there never was, neither can there be, any treatise so exact and particular, as to drain this whole subject; for, since it comprizeth in it the Whole Duty of Man, in every particular occurrence and action of his life; since the variety of circumstances is almost infinite, and yet these circumstances specify our actions, and make them morally, either good or evil; and since every Precept extends its branches, so far, as to enjoin every man's duties collaterally, which yet it doth not touch directly, and to forbid very many sins by consequence, which it dòth not immediately prohibit: therefore, I cannot but judge it next to an impossibility, minutely to reckon up every sin and every duty, methodically; to rank and dispose them every one under that particular Command, to which they do properly appertain.
The serious contemplation of this boundless extent of the Law occasioned the Psalmist to say, Ps. cxix. 96. that he had seen an end of all perfection : he had taken the dimensions of all other things; and found them such, as an inquisitive mind might describe the whole limits and compass of them. But thy commandment is exceeding broad: not for the indulgence it gives; for so it is exceeding narrow: the broad way is not the Way of God's Commandments; but that, which leadeth down unto destruction : but broad it is, in respect of its comprehensiveness ; as it reacheth to every thought of our souls, and every action of our lives, and every, circumstance of both. ii
And, therefore, since the Law of God is of such an unmeasurable latitude; as astronomers take only the more con spicuous and remarkable stars into their constellations, but leave innumerable others, with which the heavens are every where thick studded, to the casual observation of the beholders : so I have contented myself to remark unto you those duties and sins, which are most eminent'; and to reduce them into order under those several precepts, where they are either required or forbidden, leaving innumerable others to your own private observation.
I hope that what hath been spoken of them, hath not been as water spilt upon the ground, or a sound only scattered and lost in the air. For these things are of infinite concernment to us. The knowledge and practice of them is as much worth, as heaven and eternal life. And, I may say unto you, as Moses to the Israelites, I have set life and death before you: life, if ye will hearken and obey; but eternal death and destruction, if ye refuse and rebel,
Entertain not any low and debasing thoughts of the Law. Think not the preaching of it unworthy the freedom of GospelTimes or of Gospel-Spirits. I know that a company of flush notionists, who are very willing to shake off the yoke from their necks, and to deliver themselves rather from the conscience than from the power of sin, have clamoured against this way of pressing duty, and enforcing the authority of the Law, as Legal Preaching; and have blasphemed it, as contrary to that liberty which Christ hath purchased for us, and much beneath the spiritual attainments of those that are made perfect in him. And I fear lest some of that corrupt leaven may still remain in the spirits of too many, who delight only to hear of the riches of free grace, the privileges of saints, the all-sufficiency and willingness of Christ to save them; and can melt themselves away in the very sweetness and tenderness of their souls, under such glorious discoveries. But, if obedience and good works be pressed: if we preach to them concerning Righteousness, Temperance, and Justice; and those moral duties of the Law, which respect our deportment towards men, as well as those which respect the worship and service of God: this is flat and