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SER M. again. And if the judgment of God fhould overCLXXXIII, take us, before we have renewed our repentance, and
reformed our lives, we should be found in the number' of “the ungodly, who cannot stand in judg« ment.” So that, as it concerns us to make hafte out of an impenitent state, so no less to order our conversation afterwards with great vigilancy and care: lest by relapsing into our former fins, and being surprised in them by the judgment of God, we fall into condemnation.
3. Let us neglect no opportunity of doing good, but always be employing ourselves, either in acts of religion and piety towards God, or of righteousness and charity towards men, or in such acts as are fub ordinate to religion ; I mean the works of a lawful calling, in which, if we demean ourselves with diligence and good conscience, we may be said to serve God, and to live in his fear, because we are govern'd by the rules of religion, all the while we are about our worldly business, and providing for the neceflities of this life in an honest and industrious way.
More particularly, we should ftri&ly charge ourfelves, according to our estate and opportunities, to be very much in the works of mercy and charity; rêmembring that our SAVIOUR hath represented this as a special matter of enquiry at the judgment of the great day, how we have acquitted and difcharged ourselves in duties of this kind, and that no-' thing does more immediately qualify us for the mercy of God, when we shall come to stand before his judgment-feat, than to have shewn mercy to our brethren: as on the other hand, the scripture hath terribly threatned, that “ he shall have judgment without
« mercy, that hath shewed no mercy.” By these SERM. and all other acts of a good life, we shall be in a Lxxx111: constant readiness and preparation for the coming of our LORD. And, oh, what a happiness and comfort will it be to us, to be found by him thus employed! - Blessed is that servant whom his LORD “ when he cometh shall find so doing.” I proceed,
4. We should often review our lives, and call ourfelves to a strict account of our actions, that “ judg6 ing our seives, we may not be judged,” and condemn it. « by the Lord.” This frequent examination of our felvés will give us to understand our errors and miscarriages; which, if we seriously confider, must needs prompt us to repentance, and engage us in purposes and resolutions of amendment. And the practice of this is certainly the best way to keep our accounts clear, and to prevent that hor: rible' confusion which we shall be in, if judgment fhould surprise ús unawares, when we have the guilt of great and manifold fins unrepented of, lying upof our consciences, like a heavy weight, ready to fink us into eternal perdition. Besides, that this strict and frequent exainination of our actions, will be an excellent means to make us more careful for the futurě to avoid those faults and miscarriages which we have observed in ourselves before. We should be ashamed to fall into thofe errors again, for which we have fo lately and feverely censured and condemned ourselves.
5. Another part of our preparation for the coming of our Lord; is, an humble trust and confidence in the virtue of his death and passion, as the only meritorious cause of the remission of our fins, B 2
SERM, and the reward of eternal life. Tho' we be regeneCLXXXIII. rated and renewed by the Holy Ghost, and by
the assistance of God's grace enabled to perform works of righteousness, and, as is said of Zachary and Elisabeth, 6 to live in all the commandments « and ordinances of the Lord blameless ;” that is, in the general course of our lives, to yield a sincere obedience to the laws of God : yet because
in many things we offend,' and our best righteousness is very imperfect, and falls extremely short of that exact and strict duty, which the law of God requires; and if it were perfect, our obedience for the future could make no reparation to the justice of God for past sins and transgressions; therefore we cannot hope for our own righteousness to be justified and accepted with God, and upon the merit of it to have our fins pardon'd, much less to be rewarded with eternal life. God indeed of his infinite mercy is pleased, upon our repentance, to pardon our sins past, and upon our sincere obedience to give us eternal life ; and without these qualifications we shall never be made partakers of these blessings; except we repent, our fins shall not be forgiven ins; and " without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” But then it is not for the merit of our repentance and righteousness, that these blessings are conferr’d upon us; but for the meritorious obedience and sufferings of our blessed Saviour: that nost acceptable sacrifice of himself, which he offer'd to God in our stead, and in our behalf, hath purchaSed and procur'd these benefits for us, and “ we are " accepted in his beloved Son,” and “ justified free. “ ly by his grace through the redemption that is in “ JESUS CHRIST;"), and therefore " not for
« any works of righteousness which we have done, SERM.
CLXXXIII. “ but of his mercy he saves us." And here we are to fix our hopes of justification and salvation, viz. upon that perfect propitiation and satisfaction, which CHRIST by the sacrifice of himself once offer'd hath made for the sins of the whole world. For the alone merit of this sacrifice, God is graciously pleased to forgive us all our sins, upon our true repentance, and to reward our sincere, tho' very imperfect obedience, with eternal life. So that “ through “ faith in the blood of CHRIST,” not by confidence in ourselves and our own righteousness, “ we obtain remission of sins, and eternal life.” And it is not only in itself great arrogance, but great ingratitude to our blessed redeemer, “ who “ gave himself for us,” to ascribe that to the merit of our own righteousness, or the merits of the saints, which nothing in heaven or earth, but “ the pre“ cious blood of Christ, who was a lamb with“ out spot or blemish,” could have purchased for us. And it is argument and encouragement enough to holiness and obedience of life, that without it we cannot see God; and by it we are qualified for that happiness which Christ hath purchased for us, and, as the apostle expresseth it, are made meet “ to be “ partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.”
6. And lastly, to awaken and maintain this via gilancy and care, we should often represent to our minds the judgment of the great day, which will certainly come, tho' we know not the time of it. And if any consideration in the world will make men watchful and diligent, certainly this will, that the judgment of God continually hangs over them, and may seize upon them at any time; nay, for B 3
SERM.ought we know, the judgment of God may now CXXXI, be “ standing at the door," and be ready to rush
in upon us, whilft we are so negligent and secure.
And if this be a mark and token of the general