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Lord Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our works or deservings: and, that we are justified by faith only, is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort :" yea the only doctrine that can melt down the heart of sinners, and make them constantly zealous of all sorts of good works if it is not made to supersede the justification of believers by the evidence of works, both in the day of trial and in the day of judgment.]
3. As all mankind are condemned by the covenant of works, he that believeth not [in the light of his dispensation] being condemned already and as by the covenant of grace, there is no salvation to be had but in Christ through faith so there is no mixing those two covenants without renouncing Christ and his gospel. He that stands with one foot upon the covenant of works, and with the other foot upon the covenant of grace: [he that talks of divine mercy, while his heart continues as regardless of it as if he were sinless] is in the most imminent danger of eternal ruin. He that says, "I will do first what I can to merit heaven, I will do my best; and Christ, I hope, will do the rest: and God, I trust, will have mercy upon me,' is yet without God, and without Christ in the world he knows neither the nature of God's law, nor that of Christ's gospel.
[This is, my dear hearers, the substance of the three articles, which eleven years ago I publicly laid down in this church, as the ground of the doctrine which I had preached and was determined still to preach among And I solemnly declare, that, to this day, I have not seen the least cause to reject any one of them as erroneous: though I must confess, that I have found abundant reason particularly to guard the second, against the daring attacks that Antinomians in principle, or in practice, make upon St. James undefiled religion, To return.]
We are undoubtedly obliged to do what we can, and to use the means of grace at all times and in all places; but to rest in those means, to suppose that they will save us, and upon this supposition, to be easy without the experience of [converting] grace in our hearts, is very absurd. It is a mistake as foolish as that of the man, who supposes that his garden will be the more fruitful for pipes, which convey no water; or that his body can be refreshed by empty cups.
The language of a penitent sinner is, "Lord I pray and hear, I fast and receive, I give alms and keep the sabbath ; but after all, I am an unprofitable servant.-I must work out my own salvation with fear and trembling, and yet] without thee I can do nothing; I cannot change my heart; I can not root up from my breast the desire of praise, the thirst of pleasure, and the hanker ing after gold, vanity, beauty, or sensual gratifications which I continually feel:
[Without thee] I cannot force my stubborn heart to repent, believe, and love; to be meek and lowly, calm and devout. Lord deliver me from this body of death; Lord, save or I perish."
Christ will have all the glory or none. We must be wholly saved by him, or lost for ever [for although we must be co-workers with him, by walking religiously in good works; and if we are not, we shall have our portion with the workers of iniquity; yet it is he that worketh in us, as in moral agents, both to will and to do of his good pleasure. It is he that appoints, and blesses all the inferior means of our salvation, therefore all the glory properly belongs to himalone.]
[All our pardons flow down to us, in the streams of his precious blood. All our life, light, and power are nothing but emanations from him, who is the Fountain of Life, the Sun of Righteousness, the wisdom and power of God, and in a word, Jehovah our Righteousness. All gracious rewardableness of the works of faith, all that aptitude of our sprinkled obedience unto eternal life, all that being worthy, which he himself_condescends to speak of, Rev. iii. 4. and Luke xx. 35, spring not only from his gracious appointment, but from his overflowing merits. comparison will illustrate my meaning.
You see the cheerful light that flows in upon us through those windows, and renders the glass as bright as the spring day. You know, that this brightness in the glass is not from the glass, which was totally dark some hours ago; a ft emblem THEN of the works of darkness, the works of unbelief; such works being as much devoid of rewardableness, as those panes were of light at midnight. Let us not forget then, that if our works are graciously rewarded, it is only when they are the works of faith, whose peculiar property is freely to admit the merits of Christ, and the beams of the Sun of Righteousness; just as it is the property of the transparent matter, which composes those windows, necessarily to admit the genial warmth and cheerful rays of the natural sun.
You have seen a glass perfectly reflecting the beauty of a person placed over against it. You have admired the elegant proportion of features, which composed her beauty; but did you ever see any man so void of sense, as to suppose, that the beauty was originally in the glass which reflected it; or that the lovely appearance existed without depending on its original; or that it robbed the living beauty of her peculiar glory? And shall any, on the one hand, be so full of voluntary humility, as to maintain, that Christ is dishonoured by the derived worthiness of the works of faith, whose office it is to receive, embrace, and trust in the Redeemer's original and proper merit? Shall any, on the other hand, be so full of Pharisaic pride as to fancy, that the
distinguished excellence of our good works, if we have any, springs from, or terminates in ourselves? No, my brethren : As rivers flow back to the sea, and lose themselves in that immense reservoir of waters, whence they had their origin; so let all the "rewardable condecency"* of our evangelical obedience flow back to, and lose itself in the boundless and bottomless ocean of our Lord's original and proper merits.
He, He alone is worthy,-properly wor thy! Worthy,—supremely worthy is the Lamb that was slain! Let us then always say, with the humble men of old, our goods are nothing unto thee, our good works cannot possibly benefit thee. What have we, great God, that we have not received from thy gracious hand? And shall we keep back part of thy incontestable property, and impiously wear thy robes of praise! Far be the spiritual sacrilege from every pious breast! As thine is all the kingdom and power; so thine be all the glory for ever and ever!
Keep we then at an awful distance from the gulph, which self-righteous Pharisees set between themselves, and the Justifier of those, who like the contrite publican, are sensible of their ungodliness. With indignaion rise we against the delusion of the. Romanists, who countenance the absurd and impious doctrine of indulgences, by the worse than Pharisaic doctrine of their works of Supererogation. Let us not only receive, and defend in a scriptural manner, the important articles of our Church, but with undaunted courage before men, and with penitential contrition before God, let us stand to our xivth article, which teaches us, after our Lord, to say before the Throne of inflexible justice, "We are unprofitable servants, even when we have done all that is commanded us." In point of strict equivalence, OUR best works of faith, our holiest duties, cannot merit the least reward. But O! may the humbling truth, keep us for ever in the dust! in point of strict justice our every bad work properly deserves infernal torments.
Through that dear Redeemer then, we receive all the favours, which the Father of mercies bestows upon us. Are our hearts softened? It is through the influence of his preventing grace. Are our sins blotted out? It is through the sprinkling of his atoning blood. Are our souls renewed? It is, by the communication of his powerful righteous
Are we numbered among God's adopt. ed children, and made partakers of his love ing Spirit? It is through a faith that receives * I need not inform my judicious readers, that I use the uncouth, barbarous expression of Dr. Owen, waidable condecency," to convey the meaning of our Lord, when he graciously speaks of our meriting or being worthy. If sick persons will not take a draught
but out of a certain cup, made in the height of a queer fashion, we must please them for their good.
him as the light of the world, and the life of men. The very graces, which the Spirit works in us; and the fruits of holiness, which those graces produce in our hearts and lives, are accepted only for Christ's sake. It is he who presents them to God, sprinkled with his precious blood, and perfumed with his meritorious intercession. Nor are the defects of our holiest things, any other way atoned for, than by the full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, which he made upon the cross for the sins of the whole world.
For Christ's sake, God has annexed certain rewards of grace and glory, to the works of faith, which Christ's Spirit excites us to; and, I repeat it, for the sake of Christ only, we receive the rewards promised to humble, evangelical obedience. All Christian believ ers say, Not we, but the grace of God in Christ." So far as their tempers and actions have been good, they cry out, "Thou hast wrought all our works in us." They all shout, "Christ FOR US, and Christ IN US, the hope of glory," They all ascribe "Salvation to the Lamb; and while they cast their crowns of righteousness and glory at his feet, they join in the grand Chorus of the church: "To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and dominion, for ever and ever." Thus, all is Christ; nothing without, nothing besides him. In a word, he is to believers, as the Apostle justly calls him, All in all.
Indeed, in maintaining the doctrine of free grace, I cannot but go even farther than our mistaken brethren, who suppose themselves the only advocates for it. They must forgive me, if I cannot be of their sentiment, when they insinuate, that they shall absolutely and necessarily be saved. For as reason dictates that absolute necessity vanishes before free grace; so Christ charges his dearest elect to fear God, as a righteous judge, who CAN cast body and soul into hell; yea, who can do it justly. No gracious promise therefore is made them, whose fulfilment in heaven as well as upon earth is not all of Grace, as well as of Truth, and all through the merits of Christ.
O ye precious merits of my Saviour, and thou free grace of my God; I, for one, shall want you, as long as the sun or moon endureth. Nay, when those luminaries shall cease to shine, I shall wrap myself in you; my transported soul shall grasp you; my insatiate spirit shall plunge into your unfathomable depths; and while I run the never-ending circle of my blessed existence, my overflowing bliss shall spring from you; my grateful heart shall leap through your impulse, my exulting tongue shall shout your praise, and
I shall strike my golden harp to your eternal honour.
Woe then to those, who teach sinners the double way, the Pharisaic way of salvation, partly by man's merits [according to the first covenant,] and partly by the merits of Jesus Christ [according to the second.] "If we, an angel from heaven, says St. Paul, preach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached, namely, that we are saved [i. e, pardoned, and sanctified] by grace, through faith, and that not of our selves, [not without an atoning priest and the Spirit helping our infirmities,] not (by the covenant) of works: it is the gift of God let him be accursed," Gal. i. 8.
(He really denies his Saviour, and tears the seamless robe of Christ's righteousness, who patches it with the rags of his own righ. teousness. [Or, to speak without metaphor, he denies our Lord's meritorious fulfilling of the law of innocence, he despises the Saviour's complete observance of the Adamic law of works, who being forgetful of his aggra. vated guilt, and regardless of his palpable impotence, refuses to submit to the law of faith, and to embrace the covenant of grace with an ardour becoming a poor, self-condemned, lost, and undone sinner. Nay, I go farther still:] he takes away the efficacy of Christ's atoning blood, who pretends to mend it by adding thereto the filthy drops of his own [Pharisaic] goodness, [in order to make a more complete satisfaction to divine justice.]
To conclude: By the covenant of works man has all the glory of his own salvation. Faith is made of no effect; Christ is entirely set aside, and works are placed on the Mediator's throne -According to the imaginary, mixt covenant of salvation by our own good works [so called] mended, with [some unscriptural notions and expressions about] Christ's merits; man has the FIRST share of the glory! Christ has only man's leavings. [The two covenants are confounded] works and faith [or rather, faithless works and faith, graceless works and grace,] contrary to my text, and indeed to common sense, come in together for a part of the honour [as if they were the primary meritorious cause of our salvation: whereas the good works of faith themselves are at best only the secondary, evidencing cause of our final salvation.]
But by the gospel all is set in a most beautiful order and exquisite harmony. The merits and sufferings of Christ, the Redeemer of the world,are the only "meritorious cause" of our salvation. The glory is entirely ascribed to him; and he alone sits upon thie throne as a Saviour; While proud man has his mouth stopped, or opens it only in the dust to extol redeeming love. Faith, whose office it is continually to borrow the merits of Christ, and to receive the quickening power of his
Spirit: Faith, I say, is the only instru mental cause of our free salvation [in the day of conversion.] It receives Christ and salvation, as the hand of a beggar receives an alms. And as for good works [properly so called,] so far are they from being left out of the gospel-plan, then they have a MOST EMINENT place in it: They are the DFCLARATIVE CAUSE of our free justification both in the day of trial and in the day of judg. ment :) A constant, uniform course of all sorts of good works, with an holy and hea venly minded conversation, being the only evidence of a lively and saving faith, [when it has time to shew itself by external works.]
Thus Christ alone merits, faith alone apprehends, and good works alone evidence salvation: Yea, they are the fruit of Salvation [begun]; for [all works meet for repentance spring from the free justification and initial salvation, in which we are put in our infancy; and] the love of God shed abroad in an [established] believer's heart by the Holy Ghost given unto him, is salvation itself; this love being the tree on which all good works grow, and making our gracious heaven below, as it will make our glorious heaven above.
[Although I confess with sorrow, that some years ago, when I had more zeal than prudence, I dropped among you guarded expressions, and did not always clearly distinguish between the "good works," so called, of unhumbled Pharisees; and the genuine obedience of penitent be lievers: yet I should wrong the truth, if I did not observe, that, as Antinomians have always loathed the doctrine of a believer's justification by works, so the Pharisaical world has always abhored the doctrine of a sinner's justification by faith. Hence it is that] the above-mentioned aspersion, with abundance of false reports, have been in all ages the lot of those, who have preached the gospel of Christ, that is, the glad news of free salvation through faith in his blood.
St. Paul bad the same objection continually cast in his face. "Do we then make void the law through faith?" says he in is own de fence, Rom. iii. 31: That is, by preaching salvation through faith we do hinder people from doing the good works commanded in the law?" God forbid ! Yea we establish the law," i. e. Our preaching is so far from superseding good works, that it [enforces them by the greatest variety of motives, and puts our hearers into [the best, not to say
the only method of doing them: for it shews them how, being sprinkled from an evil conscience, and having their heart purified by faith, they shall naturally [i. e. spontaneously] produce all sorts of good works, instead of bringing forth a few counterfeit ones. 'The apostle answers the same objection, Rom. vi. 1. "Shall we then, who are saved by grace through faith, continue in sin that grace may abound? Shall we omit doing good works; shall we do evil works, because salvation is not [by the covenant] of works, but by that] of grace?" God forbid! How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein !" As if he had said, Is not the faith which we preach, a faith of the operation of God? Is it not a powerful and ac. tive principle, that turns the heart from all sin, to all righteousness? Is it not a faith, by which we are made new creatures, and overcome the world? 1 John v. 1. 4.
people make such carnal objections like themselves," &c. Sermon on twelfth day.
Thus St. Peter, St. Paul, and our reformers, were accused of despising good works, because they exalted Christ, [and with an holy indignation trampled upon the works of unbelief, which are the foundation of all Pharisaic hopes :] I rejoice to be counted worthy of suffering the same reproach, with such a cloud of faithful witnesses. Nevertheless as the scriptures say, that we must not let the good that is in us be evil spoken of, I shall advance some arguments, which, by God's blessing, will either convince or shame my accusers.
You say, [you that are set against the doctrine of Salvation by Faith :] "that I preach against good works-that I run down good works,&c." but pray, do you know what good works are! I am afraid you do not, or else you would not accuse me so rashly: give me leave therefore to instruct you in this point.
[Suppose the lot of a minister acquainted with the priviliges of the Christian dispensa- All divines agree, that good works are of tion, is cast in a place, where these Pharisaic three sorts: 1. Works of piety towards God; delusions generally prevail; the first thing 2. Works of charity towards our neighbour; he has to do, is undoubtedly to uncover and and 3. Works of self-denial towards ourshake the false foundations, on which his selves. unawakened hearers build their hope. He must show them, that their partial, external, faithless obedience will never profit them. He must decry their imaginary good works, tear their filthy rags of fancied righteousness, sweep away their refuges of lies, and scourge their consciences with the curse of the law, till they see their nakedness, feel their guilt, and receive the sentence of death in themselves: Then and not till then, will they stand on a level with the poor contrite Publican, and
"Groan the sinner's only plea,
God be merciful to me!"
When a preacher is engaged in that important and thankless business, how natural is it for him, especially if he is yet young and inexperienced, to drop some unguarded expressions against good works; or, at least not to make always a proper distinction between the Pharisaical works of unbelief, which Isaiah calls filthy rags, and the works of faith which our Lord calls good works? And how glad are his adversaries, to have such a plausible pretence for throwing an odium upon him, by affirming that he explodes all sorts of works, even those for which our reward will be great in heaven!]
The devil fought against our Reformers with such weapons. All the books that Pa pists wrote against them, rang with the charge of their turning good works out of Christianity. Hear good Bishop Latimer, one of the best rivers that ever were; You will say now, Here is all faith, faith, but we hear nothing of good works: for some carnal
In the first class, which includes Works of Piety, divines rank public prayer in the church, family prayer in private houses, and [meditation, or] private prayer in one's closet: singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; reading the Bible and other good books; hearing the word preached or expounded; receiving the sacrament; keeping the sabbath day and festivals holy; confessing Christ before a wicked world: and suffering the loss of one's estate, of one's good name, or life itself, for the gospel's sake.
Now I appeal to every impartial hearer, yea and to thy own conscience, O man, who accusest me of preaching against good works whether I ever taught directly or indirectly, that we ought not constantly to attend public worship as well as private worship in our own houses, and perform secret worship in our closet:-Whether I ever spoke against singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; or against reading the Bible and other good books:-Whether I ever so much as hinted, that we ought not to endeavour so to dispatch our wordly business, as to hear [if possible] the word preached and expounded both on Sundays and working days :-Whether I ever intimated, that we can live in the neglect of God's ordinances, and break his sabbaths, without bringing upon ourselves swift destruction :-And lastly. Whether at any time I cried down, suffering reproach for Christ, and parting with all things, even life itself, to follow him and his doctrine.
Nay, do not you know in your own breast, that my insisting upon these good works and
encouraging all I can to do them, is what makes me to be despised and rejected by many, and perhaps by yourself? How can you then, without wounding your own conscience, accuse me of preaching against good works? Are you not rather the person that speaks against them! Are you not yourself one of those who say, that," For their part they see no need of so many sermons, lectures, and sacraments in the church: no need of so much singing, reading, praying, and godly conversation in private houses: no need of such strictness in keeping the sabbath-day holy, &c."
If you are one of them, who add detraction to infidelity, and bearing false testimony to open profaneness [or Laodicean] lukewarm ness. You decry good works yourself by your words, and your example; and when you have done, you lay the sin at my door; you say that I preach against them! O how will you reconcile this conduct, I shall not say to Christianity, but even to Heathen honesty! In the second class of good works, divines placed works of charity: and these are of two sorts, such as are done to the bodies, and such as are done to the souls of men. The former are (for the most part) enumerated by our Lord, Matt. xxv. They consist in giving food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty; infentertaining strangers, easing the oppressed, clothing the naked, attending the sick, visit ing the prisoners, [and burying the dead, from scriptural and not from Pharisaical motives.] Now will any one affirm, that I ever spoke a word against doing any one of these good works? Against doing them in a wrong manner, and to wrong ends, I have often spoken; and so have all the preachers, who do not daub the wall with untempered mortar: Christ first, Mat. vi. 2. St. Paul next, Cor. xiii. 1, 2, 3. and our church after them see the homily on fasting.-But I ask it again, Whoever heard me speak one word against doing them? On the contrary, have I not declared it again and again, that even "a cup of cold water, given in Christ's name, should in no wise lose its reward;" should certainly be rewarded with eternal life; [and do not some of you know, that within these two years, I have lost many of my religious friends, by making a stand for the evangelical worthiness of the works of faith?]
As for the works of mercy done to the souls of men, such as [giving a Christian education to our children and apprentices,] comforting the afflicted,encouraging the dejected,strengthening the weak, exhorting the careless, suc. couring the tempted, instructing the ignorant, sympathizing with mourners] warning the stubborn, reproving sin, stopping immorality, rebuking profaneness, and helping each other in the narrow way; it is known to many, that my name is cast out as evil by sabbath breakers, swearers, and _drunkards, for en
deavouring to walk in these good works my◄ self, and to make others walk in them.
And yet you, who possibly ridicule all these good works, and dream of being saved without them; you who do perhaps just the reverse of them, strengthening one another's hands in licentiousness and profaneness, in sabbathbreaking, swearing, or scoffing at every thing that looks like seriousness; you accuse men of despising or discountenancing good works! O tell it not in Gath, publish it not in Askelon, lest the very Philistines laugh at the glaring inconsistency of your works and conduct.
Good works of the third class, relate to keeping under he flesh, and all its sinful appetites. The chief of these works, are a moderate use of meat, drink, and sleep; self-denial. [in apparel, furniture, and equipage ;] chastity [in all its branches; subduing our slothful, rebellious flesh by] early rising, abstinence, fasting; [and, in a word, by taking up our daily cross, and following our abstemious, and yet laborious Lord.]
[Permit me to do as St. Paul,-to "speak as it were foolishly in this confience of boast. ing."] Have I not enforced the necessity of these good works both publicly, and from house to house? Have you not sometimes even gone away from this place of worship, secretly displeased at my insisting so much upon them; complaining perhaps, "that I went too far, or that no body could live up to what I preach;" and making hundred such remarks, instead of meditating upon these words of our Lord: "With man indeed it is impossible, but with God all things are possible?" and yet you now complain that I do not preach up good works. Pray, my brethren, be consistent : keep to one point, and not say and unsay: I can no more be too strict, and yet make too little of good works, than I can go east and west at the same time.-Only think,-and you will perceive that your very complaints justify me, that your sayings overturn one another, and that your own mouths prove you perverse.
You will probably say, "Have we not heard you affirm more than once that no body can be saved by his works: yea, that a man may go as constantly to church, as the Pharisee did to the temple, be as virtuous as he was, pay tithes exactly as he did, and be damned after all? Can you deny having preached this doctrine twenty times ?"
Deny it !-By no means. It is a doctrine for which, God being my helper, I am ready to go to the stake. It is the very doctrine, that I have established in the former part of this discourse: how then can I deny it?
Here methinks a Pharisee replies in triumph: "Well then, you plead guilty to the charge you confess that you have preached twenty times against good works."