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yet has not been fruitsul in good Works—This will be the sinal Test, to prove our Sincerity towards God; and the eternal Judgment will turn
upon this Evidence. The great Judge of^the
World wili quickly appear, and his Reward will be with him, to render unto every Man according at his Works have been; and then he will inflict on thofe who are contentious and do not obey the Truth, but obey Unrighteoufnefs, Indignation and Wrath, Tribulation cunt Anguifh, Rom. ii. 8, 9
As. therefore it is not a- small Matter to inhabit the dreadsul Flames of Hell, the Seat of enraged Justice and burning Vengeance, through eternal Ages, it cannot but be of the greatest Importance to take Pains to escape it; to repent and obey the Gospel, to watch and pray, to be active and diligent in all the Ways of Religion, if so be we may be accounted worthy to escape that tremendous Misery, and made meet to /land before the Son of Man. We have no other Choice before us but to be holy here, or unhappy for ever. We mustobtain Grace from God, and live to him in the Exercise of Grace, or be separated from his Presence for ever, as unmeet Objects of his Favour. And will not all readily acknowledge, that the former.is insinitely to be preserred by every one, who has any just Value for his present Interest, or forhis eternal Happiness !—How absurd is it in the View of common Reason, to love Death, or chuse an evident Token of Perdition, by being the Servants of Sin, and obeying it in the Lusts thereof!
1 hope, Sir, 1 have now answered not only your Question, but your Kxptctation. And yet that I m3y obviate all Mistakes, I will endeavour to give yon a Review qf the whole, in some plain samiliar and practical Directions.
Is you suppofe yourself in an unregenerate State, be found most earnestly diligent in the Duties of Religion, in the Use of the Means of Grace, and in Endeavours of a Consormity of Lise to the Will of God, as the Way in which God will be enquired of by you, that he may bestow his converting and sanctifying Grace upon you—It is true, that God is the sovereign Author and Donor of his own special Favours; but it is also true, that he has given you no Encouragement to hope for them, in any other Way but that of Duty.—In this Way therefore do you be found; pleading with him for the Influences of his Holy Spirit, to draw you to Christ, and to work the Work of Faith with Power in your Soul. In this Way you may hope in his Mercy, not indeed for the Sake of your Duties, but for the Sake of Christ's insinite Merits, and the boundless Grace and Goodness of the divine Nature- But in the Neglect of this Way of Duty, you have not the least Encouragment from the Word of God, to hope for the renewing Influencei of the blessed Spirit; without which you are undone eternally.
However, though even an unregenerate Man must thus strive to enter in at the firait Gate, you must yet consider and realize to yourself, that you are Utterly uncapable of that Obedience which the Gospel requires, without Faith in Christ.—Faithis the sirst Act of evangelical Obedience, the Root of all other Graces, and the Principle of a'.l such religious Duties as God will own and accept. For without Faith it is impossible to pleafe God, Heb. xi. 6. You must live in the Spirit, before you can walk in the Spirit. Your sirst Business therefore is, not only earnestly to pray to God, that he would draw you to Christ; but you must endeavour to look to this precious Saviour, as to a sufficient Fountain of Ff all all Grace, trusting your Soul in his Hands, with encouraging Hope of Justification by his Righteousness, and Sanctificati»n by his Spirit. If yaffl Faith be sincere, you thereby lay a Foundation ot spiritual and acceptable Obedience: But if not, the best Works that you can persorm, will be only external, hypocritical, legal and slavish Persormance).
- You must therefore be brought to act Faith
in Christ for Holiness, as the Beginning of that Salvation which you hope to obtain from him. You are not to look upon a Lise of Holiness and spiritual Obedience as the Condition of your Salvation, but as the Salvation itself, which you hope for, actually begun in your Soul; and you have as much Warrant from the Invitations and Promises of the Gospel, to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for this Renovation of your Nature by his Spirit, as for the Justification of your Person by his Blood, or for an eternal Inheritance with the Saints in Light. And you must accordingly depend upon him for it, and ask it of him in Faith, or never obtain it.
I have propofed these Things to you, upon the Supposition that you have not satisfying Evidences of a converted State—Let us now then suppose the Case to be otherwise; and you comfortably persuaded, that you have experienced the hjppy Change. An humble and chearsul Dependence upon Christ for new Supplies of Grace, must still be the Source of your persevering Obedience. Go on then to trust in him; and you will find that he will not sail your Expectations. You will find that his Grace is sufficient for you.
But do not deceive yourself with an Imagination of your trusting in Christ, amidst a Course of sinful Negligence and Inactivity. Remember, thatgood Works are of indispensable Obligation, and of absolute Necessity in the Respects before mentioned.
Yo« You must not only trust in Christ to sulsil his good Pleasure in you j but you must live to him in the Exercise of that Grace and Strength which you derive from him.—In an humble Considence in his sanctifying and quickening Influences, you must take heed to yourself, and keep your Soul with all Diligence; you must see to it, that your Heart be right with God; that you delight in the Law of the Lord after the inward Man; that you maintain a strict Watch over your Affections as well as Conversation; that you neglect no known Duty toward God or Man; that you caresully improve your Time, and other Talents committed to your Trust; and endeavour, in a constant Course, to maintain a holy, humble, fruitsul thanksul Lise. And remember, that one Instance of good Works, which God requires of you, is a daily Repentance of your sinsul Desects; and a daily Mourning after a surther Progress in Holiness—After an Espousal to Christ by Faith, this is the Way, and the only Way of Comfort here and Happiness hereaster.
That I might set this important Point in as clear a Light as possible, I have laboured to represent it in difserent Viewe; and thereby have necessarily run into seme Repetitions, for which I depend upon your CandourNow, That the Lord would bless my Endeavours for your best Good, is the Prayer of,
LETTER XVII. Wherein the Nature of the Believer's Union to Christ is briefly explained, and the Nece/fify of /'/ asserted and defended.
IF you mean no more by your " Ignorance of the "Nature of that Union to Christ, which I so os"ten mentioned," but that you cannot form anyadequate Idea of this incomprehensible Mystery, it is nothing wondersul. There are Multitudes of Things whofe Existence you are most intimately acquainted with, yet of whofe special Manner of Existence you can have no Idea.—You have no Reason therefore to doubt of the Believer's Union to Christ, because you do not understand the Mode of it, any more than you have to doubt of the Union of your own Soul and Body, because you do not understand the Mode of it. It is a sufficient Consirmation of the Truth of this Doctrine, that it is revealed in the Word of God. It is sufficient for our present impersect State, to know so much os the Nature of this Union as God has been pleased
to reveal in the blessed Oracles of Truth. It it
your Mistake to suppofe that " our Divines do but *' occasionally mention this Doctrine; but don't pre"tend to explain it." Numbers of Divines have written well upon the delightsul Subject; tho', Icon* sess, it is too little considered by many of our practical Writers (as it ought to be considered) as being theFoundation of both ovxPraclice and Hope. Were it more distinctly considered, more particularly explained, and more frequently insisted upon, improved and applied, both from the Pulpit and the Press, ^tban it is, it would be a probable Means to