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! HE Occasion on which our blessed

, For out of the Heart proceed evil Thoughts was this:

The Scribes and Pharisees, who were the Teachers and Expounders of the Jewúh Law, and whose Business it was to give the true Meaning of it, instead of that did grosly pervert the real Design, Sense, and Meaning of it; put erroneous and false Glosses upon it, and many times imposed, their own Traditionis upon the People in The Place of it. And yet none pretended a more strict Observance of the Law than they. Insomuch that we find them in the Beginning of this Chapter, with an usual Arrogance, demanding of our Saviour, Why do thy Disciples transgress the Tradition of the Elders. For they wash not their Hands when they eat Bread. ver. 2. To which our Saviour gives this Answer; viz. That they of all Men had the least Reason to tax his Disciples with the Neglect of such a Ceremony as washing before Meat; as if that were such an Invasion upon Tradition, and a crying Sin ; when they themselves were guilty of a much greater, in endeavouring to vacate the Obligation of the fifth Com

mandment,

mandment, by fallly supposing a Case which would discharge them from honouring and relieving their parents; and so making void the Commandments of God by their own Tradition, with a Witness. Their Corban, Mark vii. 11, 12. was an effectual way to cover their Avarice, and they could not have invented a more colourable Pretence to varnish over their most fordid and unnatural Temper than that was.

And indeed this was their common Method, when they had any wicked Design in Hand, then to seem most religious : And when they made long Proyer's, "twas but too sure a Sign of their devouring Widows Housės. And for this Reaa fon our Blessed Lord doth so often and so feverely rebuke them; particularly here, where after he had given them such an Anfwer as he did, he exposeth and layeth them open to the People, and centures the Vanity and Hypocrisy of all their religous Pretenfions. And directing his Discourse to the People, He affures them that true Religion consistech not in such outward Washings and Cleansings, and ceremonious Purgations; but in the spiritual and inward Purification of the Mind and Soul, the Fountain of all our Thoughts and Imaginations, and of our Actions, the Product of them. That if the Heart be

pure and holy, the Thoughts, and then the Actions, will be so too: By if the Heart be foul and wicked, the Iffues of it will be correspondent. When the Spirit of a Man is truely seasoned with Religion, it will shew itself in all the beauteous and lovely Fruits of Righteousness. But when the Principle is vicious and debauch'd, the Effects must and will be filthy and abominable. That a Man is not defiled by any material Thing that he either eats or drinks, but by his own Imaginations, Delires, and Affections; The Things which come out of him. For out of the Heart proceed evil T boughts, Murders,

Adulteries, Fornications, Thefts, False-witnefes, Blafphemies; these are the Things which defile a Man :- But to eat with unwassed Hands defileth not a Man.

All the ceremonious Part of the Jewis Law aim'd at, and terminated in this. Their Ceremonies were Significations and Types of Matters under the Gospel. And their frequent Washings and Cleansings, were to denote the Spiritual Purifying of the Heart and Soul.

'Tis true, God injoined them to be observed for a time, the Ignorance and Nonage of the Jews requiring such a material and gross Way of Instruction : But these were all abolithed and done away, at the

Coming

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Coming of the Messiah; when the Son of God himself became our Divine Instructor and Teacher, and informed Mankind of the Nature of that rational and spiritual: Worship, which God did expect from us, and would be acceptable to him. That it was the Devotion of the Soul, the Purity of the Heart, the Spirituality of the Thoughts, that living Sacrifice alone, that would please God who is an Infinite Spirit, and prepare us for the refined Joys of Heaven, and the exalted Pleasures of Seraphims :: And consequently, that the greatest and moft important Duty incumbent on Mankind, was to govern the Heart and subdue the Thoughts. This then, in short, was the Occasion of our Saviour's Speaking these Words ; which did effectually humble these proud Pharisees, whose whole Religion was mere Pomp and outward Shew; and confifted merely in broad Phylacteries, an affected Garb, and demure Looks; while these gaudy and painted Sepulchres, were within full of all manner of Rottenness and Uncleanness : And at the same time lets us fee a Description of true Religion, and how excellent and noble an Jostitution that is, which extends to the inmoft Recesses of the Soul, and so tends to refine the very Thoughts of the Heart, and to fit Men for the pure State

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of Angels. And therefore, 1sYar above all other Institutions that ever were in the World before.

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CH A P. II.

TH

HE next Thing proposed to be

handled is the vafe Advantage of well-governing of our Thoughts, in order to the Purposes of Religion in general. Now this Advantage is. very great and obvious: Every Person must be convinced that the most proper and only way for a Mao to live well, is to begin at his Heart; to put his Thoughts into a true Order and Government. For otherwise, there can be no Uniformity in his Piety. The good A&tions that he doth are broken and imperfect; and he is apt every now and then to make fresh Work for Repentance, by returning to his old Sins. But this Advantage of the well-governing our Thoughts will be the better seen by some Particulars.

Firf then, a Care of our Thoughts is the greatest Preservative against actual Sins. "Tis a most certain Truth, that the greateft Sin that ever was committed was at first but a Thought. The fouleft Wickedness, and most monstrous Impiety, arose

from

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