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IV. They, who in their obedience, attain to the greatest height which is possible in this life, are so far from being able to supererogate and to do more than God requires, that they fall short of much, which in duty they are bound to do.8
V. We cannot, by our best works, merit pardon of sin, or eternal life, at the hand of God, by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come, and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom by them we can neither profit, nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins;
sire that every one of you do show the same diligence, to the full assurance of hope unto the end ; that ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Isa. lxiv. 7. And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities. See also 2 Pet. i. 3, 5, 10, 11, and 2 Tim. i. 6, and Acts xxvi. 6, 7, together with Jude 20 and 21 verses.
& Luke xvii. 10. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants : we have done that which was our duty to do. Job ix. 2, 3. But how should man be just with God? If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand. Gal. v. 17. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
b Rom. iii. 20. Therefore by the deeds of the law, there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Rom. iv. 2, 4, 6. For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not before God.-Now to him that worketh, is the reward not
but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants ; i and because, as they are good, they proceed from his Spirit; and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God's judgment.
VI. Yet notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him, not
reckoned of grace, but of debt. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works. Eph. ii. 8,9. For by grace are ye saved through faith ; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. Psa. xvi. 2. O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee. See also Tit. iii. 5, 6, 7. Rom. viii. 18, 22, 23, and Job xxxv. 7, 8.
i Luke xvii. 10. See letter (5), p. 91. j Gal. v. 22, 23. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.
k Isa. Ixiv. 6. But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. Psa. cxliii. 2.
And enter not into judgment with thy servant; for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. Psa. cxxx. 3. If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand ? See also Gal. v. 17, and Rom. vii. 15, 18.
1 Eph. i. 6. To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved. 1 Pet. ii. 5. Ye also, as lively stones, are built up & spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Gen. iv. 4. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his
as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreprovable in God's sight;." but that he, looking upon them in his Son, pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections."
VII. Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands, and of good use both to themselves and others; o yet because flock, and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering. With Heb. xi. 4.
m Job ix. 20. If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse. Psa. cxliii. 2.
2 Cor. viii. 12. For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. Heb. vi. 10. For God is not unrighteous, to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. Matt. XXV. 21, 23. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things : enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
• 2 Kings x. 30, 31. And the Lord said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel. But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart; for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin. Phil. i. 15, 16, 18. Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife, and some also of good will : the one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds.—What then ? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice.
they proceed not from a heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right manner, according to the word ;9 nor to a right end, the glory of God;' they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God.' And yet their
P Heb. xi. 4, 6. By faith Abel offered unto God & more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and by it, he being dead, yet speaketh.-But without faith it is impossible to please him : for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. See Gen. iv. 3, 4, 5.
9 1 Cor. xiii. 3. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Isa. i. 12. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts ?
* Matt. vi. 2, 5, 16. Therefore, when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues, and in the streets, that they may have glory of men.. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.—And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues, and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.-Moreover, when ye fast, be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance ; for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
· Hag. ii. 14. So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the Lord ; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean. Tit. i. 15. Unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. Amos v. 21, 22. I hate, I despise your feastdays, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me burnt-offerings, and your meat
neglect of them is more sinful, and displeasing unto God. t
OF THE PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS.
THEY whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.
II. This perseverance of the saints depends, not upon their own free-will, but
the immutability of the decree of election, flowing
offerings, I will not accept them; neither will I regard the peace-offerings of your fat beasts. See also Hos. i. 4; Rom. ix. 16, and Tit. iii. 5.
* Psa. xiv. 4. Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge ? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the Lord. Psa. xxxvi. 3. The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he hath left off to be wise, and to do good. Job xxi. 14. Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. See also Matt. xxv. 41, 42, 43, 45, and Matt. xxjii. 23.
· Phil. i. 6. Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. John x. 28, 29. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father which gave them me, is greater than all: and none is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. See also 1 John iii. 9; 1 Pet. i. 5, 9, and Job xvii. 9.