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to qualify them for the Kingdom of Heaven.—He therefore puts them upon examining into the Truth of their Faith, and Foundation of their Hope, and fhews them, by the Arguments already considered, what alone will justify their Prosession of Faith, and ^ive them good Grounds to conclude the Sasety of their State.
They therefore who over-magnify Works, and depend upon them as the Condition of their Justisication before God, are admonished by the Apostle Paul to consider, that they are building upon the Sand, and that they must renounce their salse Considence, or perilh. For by the Works of the Law shall no Flesh be justified; And if Righteoufnefs come by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain, Gal. ii. 16. 27. This solemn Truth does indeed, Sir, call for your earnest Attention.
On the other Hand, they who depredate good Works, and neglect them as of no Consequence to eternal Salvation, are called upon by the Apostle James to consider, how empty their Prosession, how dead their Faith, and how vain their Hope of Salvation is. For if Men may go to Heaven without Holinefs, why may not theDevilsgo there too, who have Faith (such as it is) as well as they? We must have a living Faith, or a dead Hope. Our Faith must purify our Hearts, and renew our Conversations; or leave us among the impure and ungodly for ever. It concerns every one therefore, fo to fpeak and fo to do, as they that shall be judged by the Lanv of Liberty, Jam. ii. 12.
Upon the whole then, as you are taught by the one Apostle, how dangerous it [is to build upon any other Foundation than Christ only; for Christ Jefus is our Hope, and other Foundation can no Man lay, than that is laid, which is Christ Jefus; so are yau admonistied by the other Apostle, that you
ca* can have no Interest in Christ nor Title to his Salvation, but by a Faith, which purisies the Heart, works by Love, and is justified'by a subsequent Life of Holinels and new Obedience.
The Extremes on both Sides of the Question are equally dangerous. He that joins^W Works with Faith, as equally the Terms or Justisication before God, virtually rejects the Saviour's Sufficiency; substitutes his <mm Righteoufnefs in the Room of the Righteoufnefs of God; and con's quently his Expectations must perish.—He that separates good Works from Faith, in his Lite and Conversation, as tho' they were not requisite to Salvation, will be found very unsit for the heavenly World, when the Decree brings forth, He that is filthy, Let him be filthy sIM.
Suffer me then to conclude, Sir, with an earnest Intreaty, that, as you love your Soul, you would leave off unprositable Disputes; and not distract your Mind, and carry away your Thoughts from practical Godliness, by such an earnest Application to these controverted Points; but see to it, that you come to the Footstool ol divine Grace, as a lost unworthy perishing Sinner; that you depend only upon the Riches of God's free, sovereign Grace, to draw you to Christ, and give you an Interest in him; that you look to Christ Jesus alone for Righteousness and Strength; and chearsully trust in him as a sase Foundation of Considence and Hope. -—See to it, that the Lise which you live in the Flesh be by the Faith of the Son of God; and as you look to his Righteousness only for the Sasety of your State, so 1ikewise repair by Faith to his Fulness for all Supplies of Grace, whereby you may make a Progress in Holiness.—See to it, that yon do not quiet your Conscience with a dead Faith; but always remember, that he who hath this Hope in Christ, purifies himfelf even as he is pure; and that as your Person cannot be Justisied but by Faith in. ,Christ, so your Faith cannot be justified but by a
caresul Diligence in maintaining good Works.. ■
Having therefore wilh the Heart believed unto Righteoufnefs, be you in an humble Dependence upon Christ, stedfast and unmoveable, al-ways abounding ut the Work of the Lord; and your Labour will not be in vain in the Lord.
That ye may be kept by the Power of God thro' Faith, and receive the End of your Faith, the Salvation of your Soul, is the Prayer of, Sir,
LETTER XVI. Wherein is considered in what Refpects good Works are necejfary; and our Obligations to them represented and urged.
YOUR Observation is just, that " it would be "unsuitable and unseasonable to make Apou logies for this surther Trouble [as you are pleaf** ed to call it"] aster I have given you so many As'* surances of my chearsul Readiness, to contribute *' all in my Power to your best Interest -Indeed, Sir, I have found nothing troublesome in the whole Progress pi our Correspondence, excepting some dark Apprehensions of 1-te, lest you would frustrate the Grace of God, in feeking Righteoufnefs, not by Faith, but as it •were by the Works of the Law. But it now greatly animates my Endeavours to serve you, to sind thofe Fears on my Part so happily removed, by sinding," the Difsiculties on your D d "Part "Fart obviated, in that important Point, and you "satissied with respect to the Foundation of your "Hope." 1 am sensible, that the Principles which I have b;en pleading for, are " commonly loaded "with opprobrious Invectives, as being destructive "of an holy Life, and subversive of Morality and "Godliness.,' But I think I have already given you sufficient Evidence, that al] these Insinuations are mere Calumnies ; and that there is is no other possible Foundation, than what I have represented to you, for a Lise of true Holiness and Piety. I appeal to your own Observation and Experience, whether in general there be any that live more holy Lives, and more honour their Prosession, than they vho most strictly adhere to the Doctrines of special Grace, and depend upon Christ alone for Righteousnefs end Strength; and whether they, on the contrary, who depend upon theirgood Works for a Title to the divine Favour, do not too commonly fhew the Weakness of their Foundation, by the Carelessness and Unsruitfnlness of their Lives.
The Question which you propofe, is however
worthy of a distinct Consideration. "How sar,
"and in what Respects are our good Works neces"sary to Salvation f"
In order to !pive you a proper View of this Case, it will be needsul to answer this Question both negatively and poftively; or to shew you wherein our good Works ought to have no Place, nor be at all looked to or depended upon; and then to shew you wherein good Works ought to have Place, and in what respect they are necessary to every Christian indeed, that would entertain a well grounded Hope of eternal Lise.
In my negative Answer to this Question, I must sirst observe, that we are not to do good Works in order to change God's Purpofes mi. Designs towards us; or to excite his Benevolence and Corns ajpon to
ns.—I suspect, 'tis too common a Case for Men to depend upon their penitent Frames, their Duties, their Reformations, their Works of Charity, or other religious Exercises, as what will excite Afsections, Paflions, or Compassions in the glorious God, correspondent to what they sind in themselves. And thence, when Conscience upbraids the Sinner for his past Provocations to God, he hopes to appease his Displeasure by his Remorse, by his Duties, or by his more caresul suture Conduct: And now he is delivered to do all thefe Abominations; his Account is balanced, and he begins upon a new Score. Thence it is that his Hopes and Fears bear Proportion to his Frames and Carriages. Every lerious Pang, every religious Duty, or moral Tractice, which his Conscience approves, will raise his dejected Hopes; and give him comforting Expectations of the divine B'avour. But it should always be remenibred, that the Change to be hoped for by our Duties, religious Frames, or moral Conduct, must be in cur/elves, and not in God. He is 'ifone Mind, and nvho can turn him? He is the Lord, he changethnot. We are therefore not to look to our good Works, but to the Redeemer's Merits, and the insinite Mercy of the divine Nature, as what will render God propitious to us.—Though we are only to hope for Mercy in a Way of Duty, it is not hecause this will render God more willing to bestow it; but because it is the Way which God has appointed, to render us more dispofed and ready to receive it. It is an Imagination very unworthy of God to suppofe, that we can move him to the Exercise of Companion, whose very Nature is Goodness and Love itself; that we can excite any Mercy in him, whofe insinite Mercy enduresforevei; or that we can procure any Change of Purpofe in him, who is 'without any Variablenefs, or Shadow of D d 2 turning.