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Here we must all give glory to God, and say with St. James, Every good gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.
Upon this consideration the apostle proceeds to check the Christian Pharisee thus; What haft thou, that thou didft not receive? Nuw if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadft not received it ?Whence it follows, that though St. Paul himself glories in, and boasts of his disinterestedness, yet he did not glory in that virtue as if he had not received it ; No: he gave the original glory of it to Him of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things. The glory of bestowing original gifts upon us belongs then to God alone; and the original glory of the humility with which we receive, and of the faithfulness, with which we use those gifts, belongs also to him alone; although, in the very nature of things, we have such a derived share of that glory, as gives room to the reasonablenefs of divine rewards. For why should one be rewarded more than another; yea, why should one be rewarded rather than punished, if derived faithfulness does not make him more rewardable ?
As the preceding arguments (against the proper merit of works] will, I hope, abundantly satisfy all those who have not entirely cast away the Christian revelation, I pass to the old objection. “ If good works cannot (merit us heaven,] or save us, why should we trouble ourselves about them?”
I answer; (1) 6 We are to do good works, to fhew our obedience to our heavenly Father. As a child obeys his parents, not to purchase their estate, .but because he is their child [and does not chuse to be disinherited ;) so believers obey God, not to get heaven for their wages; but, because he is their Father, [and they would not provoke him to disinherit them. +]
(2) We + This argument is weak without the additions. Our Lord in. forms us that when the Father in the gospel says to his fair-spoken child, Son, Go work to day in my vineyard, he answers, I go Sir, and goes not ; And God himself says, I have nourished and brought up CHILD.
(2) 6 We are to abound in all good works, to be juftified before men [now, and before the Judge of all the earth in the great day;] and to shew that our faith is saving. St. James strongly insists upon this, chap. ii, 18. 51 Shew me thy faith without thy works, says he, and I will fhew thee my faith by my works : That is, Thou sayest, thou hast faith, [because thou wast once justified by faith ;] but thou dost not the works of a believer: thou canst follow vanity, and conform to this evil world : thou canst swear or break the fabbath; lie, cheat, or get drunk; rail at thy neighbour, or live in uncleanness: in a word, thou canít do one or another of the devil's works. Thy works therefore give thee the lie, and thew that thy faith is (now like] the devil's faith; for if faith without works is dead, how doubly dead must faith with bad works be! + But I will fhew thee my faith by my works, adds the apostle, i. e. By constantly abftaining from all evil works, and steadily walking in all sorts of good works, I will make thee confess, that I am really in Christ a new creature, and that my faith is living and genuine.
(3) Our Saviour told his disciples, that they were to 6 do good works, not to purchase heaven, but that others might be stirred up to serve God. You then, that have found the way of salvation by Christ, let your light fo Shine before men, that even they, who speak evil of the doctrine of faith, feeing your good works, may glorify your Father who is in heaven. 1 Malt. v. 16.
(4) We are to do good works out of gratitude and love to our dear Redeemer, who having (conditionally) purchased heaven for us with his precious blood, asks the small return of our love and obe
dience. but they have rebelled against me. Wo to the parents, who have such children, and have no power to cut off an entail !
+ If this single clause of my old sermon, stands, so will the Minutes and the Checks. But the whole argument is a mere jest, if a man that wallows in adultery, murder, or incest, may have as true, justifying faith, as David had when he killed Goliah.
dience. If you love me, says he, keep my commaadments,
Johu xiv. 15. [This motive is noble, and continues powerful so long as we keep our first love. But alas ! it has little force with regard to the myriads, that ra. ther fear than love God: And it has lost its force in all those, who have denied the faith, or made shipwreck of it, or cast off th ir first faith, and consequently their first love. The multitude of these, in all ages, has been innumerable. I fear, we might say of justified believers, what our Lord did of the cleansed lepers : Were there not ten cleansed ? but where are the nine ? Alas! like the apostates mentioned by St. Paul, they are turned aside after the flesh, after the world, after fables, after Antinomian dotages, after vain jangling, after Satan himself. 1 Tim. v. 15.]
(5) We are to be careful to maintain good works, [not only that we may not lose our confidence in God, 1 John iii. 19, &c. but also] that we may nourish and increase our faith or spiritual life; (or, to use the language of St. James, that faith may work with our works, and that by works our faith may be made perfeét.] As a man [in health, who is threatened by no danger,] does not walk that his walking may procure him life (or save his life from destruction:] but that he may preserve his health, and [add to his activity : So a believer, does not walk in good works to get [an initial life of grace, or a primary title to an] eternal life [of glory :) but to keep up and increase the vigour of his faith, by which he has (already a title to, and the earnest of] eternal life. For as the best health without exercise is soon destroyed, fo the strongest faith without works will soon droop and die. Hence it is that St. Paul exhorts us to hold faith and a good confcience, which fome having put
away + Formerly I did not consider that as Noah walked into the ark, and Lot out of Sodom, to save their lives ; so finners are called to turn from their iniquity, and do that which is lawful and right to save their souls alive. Nor did I observe, that saints. are commanded to walk in good works, left the destroyer overtake them, and they become sons of perdition. However, in Babel, luch capital oversights did me " much credit.“
away by refusing to walk in good works, concerning faith have made shipwreck.]
(6) 6 We are not to do good works to obtain heaven by them [as if they were the primary, and properly meritorious cause of our salvation | This proud, antichristian motive would poison the best doings of the greatest saints, if faints could thus trample upon the blood of their Saviour: Such a wild conceit being only the Pharisee's cleaner way to hell. But we are to do them, because they shall be rewarded in heaven. Ej To understand this we must remember, that, according to the gospel and our liturgy, God opens the kingdom of heaven to all believers : [because true believers are always true workers ; true faith always working by love to God's commandments. Next to Christ then, to speak the language of some injudicious divines,] Faith alone, when it works by love, takes us to heaven : [Or rather, to avoid an apparent contradi&ion, Faith and its works are the way to heaven:] But as there are stars of different magnitude in the material heaven, so also in the spiritual. Some who, like St. Paul, have eminently shined by the work of faith, the palience of hope, and the labour of love, shall shine like the òrightest stars, [or the sun :] and 67 others, who, like the dying thief and infants, have had [little or] no time to shew their faith (or holiness] by their works, shall enjoy a less degree of glorious bliss. But all shall ascribe the whole of their salvation only to the mercy of God, the merits of Christ, and the efficacy of his blood and spirit, Eh according to St. John's vision : I beheld, and lo a great multitude of all nations, and kindred, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, with palms in their hands, cloathed with robes, that they had washed, and made white in the blood of the Lamb: and [while our Lord said to them by his gracious looks, according to the doctrine of secondary, instrumental causes, Walk with me in white, for you are worthy, and inherit the kingdom prepared for you, for I was hungry and ye gave me meat, &c.] they cried [according to the doctrine of pri
mary and properly meritorious causes,] not" Salvation to our endeavours and good works;" but Salvation to our God, who fitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
[Thus, by the rules of celestial courtesy, to which our Lord vouchsafes to submit in glory; while the saints juftly draw a veil over their works of faith, to extol only their Saviour's merits; He, kindly passes over his own blood and righteousness, to make mention only of their works and obedience. They, set. ting their seal to the first gospel-axiom, shout with great truth, “ Salvation to God and the Lamb ! And He, setting his seal to the second gospel-axiom, replies with great condescension: Salvation to them that are worthy! Eternal falvation to all that obey me. Rev. iii. Heb.v.9.]
[Therefore, notwithstanding the perpetual as. saults of proud Pharisees, and of self-humbled Antimonians; the two gospel-axioms stand unshaken upon the two fundamental, inseparable doctrines of faith and works--of proper merii in Christ, and derived worthiness in his members. Penitent believers freely receive all from the God of grace through Chrift; and humble workers freely return all to the God of holiness and glory, through the same adorable Mediator. Thus God has all the ho. nour of freely beftowing upon us a crown of righteoulness, in a way of judicious mercy and distributive justice; while we, through grace, have all the honour of freely receiving it, in a way of penitential faith and obedient gratitude. To him therefore, one eternal Jehovah in Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, be ascribed all the merit, honour, praise, and dominion, worthy of a God, for ever and ever.]
Α Ρ Ρ Ε Ν DI X. HARP-lighted readers will see by this sermon,
that nothing is more difficult than rightly to di.