« AnteriorContinuar »
,with Astonishment. And what Returns does the glorious God expect from us, for all this ? No more than the Love and Obedience of our thanksul Hearts and fruitsul Lives. Mo more than to live to him, and delight in him, gratesully to receive, and faithfully to improve the Benesits he is bestowing upon US. He requires nothing of us but that we should be ready to every good Work, out of Love and Gratitude to God. How unworthy fhall we therefore be for ever, of one Smile of his Countenance, or the least savour and Kindness, if the insinite Goodness of God, his insinite Love and Compassion in Christ, does not constrain us to renounce our Lusts and Idols, and make it our delightsul Endeavour to seek and serve him ?—He may well expostulate with such, as with his antient People, Will ye thus requite the Lord, 0 fotlish People, and unwife I He justly may, and certainly will exclude such from the Glory and Blessedness of his eternal Praises, who have not Hearts to love him, and serve him, and praise him here' They who have ever tasted that the Lord is gracious, ami have any becoming Sense of their Obligations to him, Will study 'what they shall render to the Lord,for all his Benefits; they will delight in Endeavours to glorify him; they will be solicitously caresul of a constant Conformity to his Will, and take a peculiar Pleasure and Pains in following after Holiness.
%. As I have distinctly considered in ray last, Good Works are necessary Evidences of the Truth and Sincerity of our Faith in Christ. And I-need only add here, // is a faithful Saying, which cannot be too much insisted upon, thai they who pretend to have believed in God, must he careful to maintain good Works. All their Prosession of Religion, all their imaginary Faith in Cnrist, all their Peace and Joy, all their Appearance in the Cause of
Truth Truth, all their seeming Zeal for the Glory of God, the Interest of Religion, and the Converlion and Salvation of Sinners, or whatever else they may suppose Evidences of their renewed State, will prove but as sounding Brafs and a tinkling Cymbal, without a real Life of good Works. — Such are greatly to be pitied, who can- have Peace from any suppofed Experiences of Grace, while they walk- in the Imaginations of their own Hearts. The Lord Jesus Christ will own none as belonging to him, but those who are a peculiar People, in some measure zealous ofgood Works. He will in the Day of Acccounts declare to all others, that he never knew them; and sentence them to depart from him, as Workers ofnlijalty.——But to this 1 have spoken particularly already.—— And therefore fhall only subjoin here, that Obedience is the genuine Exercise, and therefore a necessary Evidence of Faith unseigned. What are goodWorks, but Works of Faith; orFaith in Operation, exciting other Graces to their proper Action and Exercise. Without we exemplify the Obedience of Faith, our Faith is vain.
6. Good Works are necessary to honour our Prosession, to adorn the Doctrine ot God our Saviour, and to bring Glory to his Name. There is Nothing insers a greater Scandal upon our holy Religion, than the unsanctisied Lives of its Prosessors. This gives Occasion to the Enemies of the Crofs of Christ to blaspheme his Name, and fpeak zvil ef the Way of Truth; to call Religion itself a Cheat; and judge all that make an Appearance of Holiness, to be Hypocrites and salse Pretenders. This casts a Stumbling-block in the Way of poor Souls, that are beginning to look Zion-ward; and proves a sad Temptation to Apostasy. This Iwr* dens secure Sinner, in their sinsul Courses; and pacifies their Consciences, from the Thoughts that
such who make Pretenoes to Religion, are impious and wicked, as well as they. And what is still worse, if while i.veseek to be justified by Chrif, we ourselves also are sound Sinners; this brings great Dishonour upon our blessed Saviour, as though he .were the Minister of Sin; and has a dreadsul Tendency to render the Means of Grace ineffectual, to quench the Spirit, and to drive the very Form, as well as Power of Godliness, out of the World - — You therefore see the Necessity of good Works and of a holy Lise, if we have any Value for the Interests of Christ's Kingdom in the World, any Pity to the precious Souls of Men, any Regard to the Honour of our blessed Saviour, and the holy Religion which we prosess ; and any Desire to escape having the Guilt of other Men's Sins, as well as our own, charged to our Account in the Day of Christ.—If there be any any Force in these Mid many other like Motives, to prompt us to a Lise of Holiness, we who prosess ourselves Christians, should approve ourselves a chofen Generation, a royal Priesthood, an holy Nation, a peculiar People, to shew forth the Praises of him who has called .ux out of Darkness into his marvellous Light, I Pet. ii. 9.—Indeed the chief End of Man is to glorify God 5 it is the Design of our Creation; and it is Jihe Design of our Redemption. For ye are bought 'with a Price; theresore glorif, God, in your Body, and in your Spirit, which are Gtd's, i Cor. Vi. 20. It is the Design of our Baptisrh and Prosession) and of all our Experience of the Operations of the. Spirit of Grace? and should be the Scope of all out Conversation and Practice.*——But, how shall we act in Correspondence to this Design, unless 'we care for the Things of the Lord, that we may be holy, both in Body and Spirit; diligently following every giod Work?' We should study, whatever we do, to do all lo the Glory of God, i Cor. x. 3 I. And to this Purpofe it is neceflary, that we follow mt that which is evil, but that which is good. For by breaking the Law, we dishonour God; but herein is he glorified, that we bear. much Fruit, in an exemplary and usesul Lise.
7. Good Works are likewise necessary to our inward Peace and Comfort.—We often see that Observation verified, that the Wickedare Hie a troubled Sea when it cannot rest, whofe IVaters casl us Mire and Dirt; and that there is no Peace to the Wicked. They mull have seared. Consciences indeed, who can have peaceable Minds in a Progress of Sin, and in the Neglect of practical Godlinesi. A truly tender Conscience will always remonstrate against the Indulgence of any Sin, either of Omission or Commission. And how unhappy and uncomfortable a Lise is it, to have our own Hearts condemning us; to have a Worm gnawing in oar Breasts, to have Conscience applying the Terrors of the Law, and representing to us our Guilt and Danger i And yet this cannot be avoided wir.'iout a Lise of good Works. We cannot have Grounds of rejoicing, but from the Testimony of our Consciences, that in Simplicity and godly Sincerity, not with ftest)ly Wisdom, but by the Grace of God, we have had our Conversation in the World, 2 Cor. i. 12.—As they who lire careless and sensual Lives, cannot have good Evidences of a renewed Nature and a sase State, they must necessarily be Strangers to that Joy and Comfort, which flows from the refreshing Views of an Interest in the Covenant of Grace, and from the Sense of our having the eternal God for our Father and Friend, compassionately to provide for us here, and to make us eternally happy in the Enjoyment of himself.—• They must likewise be altogether Strangers to the
unspeakable Consolation which flows from a Lise of Communion with God For this is never obtained without a Progress of Holiness and good Works —If therefore we would have the continual Feast of a peacesul Conscience; if we would enjoy a comfortable View of the divine Favour, and re-1 joke in Hope of the Glory of (.rod; if we would sind by blessed Experience, that the Ways s/"Wifdom are Ways of Pleafantnefs, and all her Paths Peace; if we would obtain the Sealings of the blessed Spirit, the Earnest of our eternal Inheritance, and the Foretaste of heavenly Happiness, which are Enjoyments vastly preserable to all the Pleasures of Sense, we must add to our Faith Virtue, and maintain a Lise of Holiness and good Works. For ifwefay, thot wt have Fellow/flip •wi/h him, and walk in Darknefs, •we lie, and do not the Truth, I Joh. i. 6. But then shall I not be ashamed, when I have Refped to all God's Commandments Great Peace have they uihich love his Lams; and nothing shall offend them, Psal. cxix. 6. i6j.
I might in several other Particulars exemplify to you the Neceslity of good Works: But you will probably acknowledge, that I have said enough already, to take off the Odium cast upon us, as if we denied the Necessity of good Works, in reserence to Salvation. I shall therefore only add,—•
8. Good Words -are necessary in Order to our escaping eternal Ruin and Misery.—I have shewn, you indeed, and I tltink sufsiciently proved, thaf they are not necessary as an Attonement for our Sin*, or as what will appease the Wrath of God, and procure us an Acquittance from Guilt, and a Right to be freed from Condemnation. Hut still it is nevertheless certain, that in Fact no Man will escape the amazing Horrors of eternal Perdition, Who has had Opportunity for a religious Lise, and