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MATTHEW v. 48, Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father

which is in Heaven is perfect.

$$9%e*RACTICE is the End of all

Precepts and Exhortations : Р

Laws are therefore enacted,

that Subjects may obey: ExYROS

hortations are therefore added, that they may be encouraged to do their Duty, It must then be a very great Absurdity to make

any thing, in its own Nature impracticable, the Subject-matter either of Command or Advice, And does not the Text seem liable to this Objection? Is there any thing which Men have more Reason to think impossible to them, than to arrive at the Perfections of the Deity? Why then are we VoĻ. III,

X commanded

commanded or exhorted to be perfect, ever as our Father in Heaven is perfect, since nothing but Disappointment can be the Issue of our strongest Endeavours after this Perfection, from which we stand excluded by the unalterable Laws of Nature ? This Difficulty is too obvious to escape any one's Notice. Some therefore tell you, that the Text contains only Matter of Counsel or Advice, but not of Precept or Command, and with this Softening they think the Difficulty may be digested ; as if it were more reasonable, or more becoming an inspired Teacher, to advise than to command Impossibilities : Whereas the only Difference in the Case is, that in Matters of Command we must either obey or suffer, in Matters of Counsel only we have a greater Latitude allowed us ; so that with respect to ourselves it is more tolerable to be advised than to be commanded to Things impracticable : But, with respect to the Lawgiver, it is one and the same Thing, and his Reason and Equity can be no more justified in advising, than in commanding Impossibilities. Others tell you, that it is not Equality, but Quality of Perfections that is enjoined in the Text; that is, we are commanded to aim at the same Perfections with God, though not in the same Degree;

that,

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that, as God is just, and righteous, and merciful, so must we endeavour to be just, and righteous, and merciful, though not to the same Degree of Extent that God is. This Exposition avoids the Difficulty complained of; for there is nothing extraordinary in commanding Men to imitate the Perfections of God in a Degree suitable to their own Nature and Ability. But then this is an Exposition, not arising from the Circumstances of the Text, which lead us to a more extensive View.

In the 43d Verse our Saviour says, Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy Neighbour, and hate thine Enemy. In the 44th Verse he corrects the Partiality of this Law; But I say unto you, Love your Enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. In the 45th and 46th Verses, he confirms his own Precept from the Example and Authority of God : That ye may be the Children of your Father which is in Heaven; for he maketh his Sun to rise on the Evil and on the Good, and sendeth Rain on the Just and on the Unjust. For, if ye love them which love you, what Reward have ye? Do not even the Publicans the same? And

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commanded or exhorted to be perfect, ever as our Father in Heaven is perfect, since nothing but Disappointment can be the Issue of our strongest Endeavours after this Perfection, from which we stand excluded by the unalterable Laws of Nature ? This Difficulty is too obvious to escape any one's Notice. Some therefore tell you, that the Text contains only Matter of Counsel or Advice, but not of Precept or Command, and with this Softening they think the Difficulty may be digested ; as if it were more reasonable, or more becoming an inspired Teacher, to advise than to command Impossibilities : Whereas the only Difference in the Case is, that in Matters of Command we must either obey or suffer, in Matters of Counsel only we have a greater Latitude allowed us ; so that with respect to ourselves it is more tolerable to be advised than to be commanded to Things impracticable : But, with respect to the Lawgiver, it is one and the same Thing, and his Reason and Equity can be no more justified in advising, than in commanding Impossibilities. Others tell you, that it is not Equality, but Quality of Perfections that is enjoined in the Text; that is, we are commanded to aim at the same Perfections with God, though not in the same Degree;

that,

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that, as God is just, and righteous, and merciful, so must we endeavour to be just, and righteous, and merciful, though not to the same Degree of Extent that God is. This Exposition avoids the Difficulty complained of; for there is nothing extraordinary in commanding Men to imitate the Perfections of God in a Degree suitable to their own Nature and Ability. But then this is an Exposition, not arising from the Circumstances of the Text, which lead us to a more extensive View.

In the 43d Verse our Saviour says, Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy Neighbour, and hate thine Enemy. In the 44th Verse he corrects the Partiality of this Law; But I say unto you, Love your Enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. In the 45th and 46th Verses, he confirms his own Precept from the Example and Authority of God : That ye may be the Children of your Father which is in Heaven; for he maketh his Sun to rise on the Evil and on the Good, and sendeth Rain on the Just and on the Unjust. For, if ye love them which love you, what Reward have ye? Do not even the Publicans the same? And

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