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it should always be remembered, that the change to be hoped for by our duties, religious frames, or moral conduct, must be in ourselves, and not in God. “ He is of one mind, and who can turo him? He is the Lord, he changeth not.”
We are therefore not to look to our good works, but to the Redeemer's merits, and the infinite 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 because this will render God more willing to bestow it, but because it is the way which God has appointed, to render us more disposed and ready to receive it.
It is an imagination very unworthy of God, to suppose that we can move him to the exercise of compassion, whose very nature is goodness and love itself; that we can excite any mercy in him, whose infinite mercy endures for ever; or that we can procure any change of purpose in him who is “ without any variable ress, or shadow of turning.” When the glorious God treats with us, as if he were a partaker of human affections and passions, this is mere condescension to our weakness, we being incapable to behold him as he is. Surely it is not to lead us into apprehensions, that he is “ altogether such a one as ourselves.” Our business therefore is, to come to Christ and learn of him," to bow our necks to his yoke, to do good works from faith in Christ, and out of love and obedience to him; and in that way to hope in God for mercy, for Christ's sake, and for his own sake, and not for ours. We are to obey him as a gracious Sovereign, and to hope in him as the sovereign author and donor of his own favours.
e are to hope in his mercy, not because we can allure him to the exercise of it, or recommend ourselves to him by any thing we can do; but because he is “ infinite in goodness, and delighteth in mercy.” The gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
may add, we are not to do good works with a view to qualify us for our reception of Christ by faith, or for our interest in him.
Multitudes seem most dangerously to deceive their souls in this matter. It is but too common a case for men to quiet their consciences, and to entertain hopes of salvation, from apprehensions that they endeavour to be found in a way of duty—they endeavour to mortify their lusts, and to live a holy life; and, therefore, though guilty of many defects, both in their duties and conversations, they hope God will accept them upon Christ's account; that the merits of Christ will make op the defects of their performances, and his blood cleanse them from the guilt of their sins. If they should fall into some more gross and enormous sins, or grow careless and remiss in duty, they will then, perhaps, fall into a panic, and terrify themselves with apprehensions that Christ will not accept such as they are; but when they have reformed their conduct their fears blow over, and they revive their hopes that they shall yet obtain mercy for Christ's sake. And what is the natural language of all this, but that they shall obtain an interest in Christ by their good works, and when they have done their part he will do the rest, will make up the defects of their attainments, and give such a value to their sincere (though imperfect) obedience, that this shall
recommend them to the favour and acceptance of God; as though the glorious Redeemer undertook our ransom for no other end than to render our de lo ficient duties meritorious, and our sins innocent and inoffensive. This legal and self-righteous principle seems generally to obtain with the careless, carnal world; and when sinners come under conviction of their guilt and danger, they are yet influenced by the same legal disposition, though it appear in another form. What distressing fears and terrors do they usually agonize under! How impossible is it to give them any sensible view of “ the hope that is set before them !” But what stands in their way? Their sins are great, their hearts are hard, their duties formal and hypocritical, their corruptions prevalent; that they cannot think Christ will accept such as they are, and therefore they dare not venture their souls and their eternal interests upon
him. Were the case otherwise; could they subdue these stubborn hearts, could they get a victory over these corruptions, sanctify these depraved affections, and be more spiritual in their duties; or, in other words, could they themselves begin their own salvation, then they could depend upon Christ to carry on the work in their souls, and then they could hope that God would accept them for Christ's sake. But all this is to substitute our own righteousness in the place and stead of the righteousness of Christ; or, at best, to divide the work of our salvation between Christ and ourselves. Will
you bear with me, Sir, if I am forced to express my fears that you are yet under too great remainders of this unhappy disposition. I rejoice in
your recovery from your late dangerous mistake. I cannot but hope that you have “chosen the good part, which shall not be taken from you." But what mean the frequent returns of your desponding bours? Whence do your hopes and fears bear proportion to your present frames ? What occasions those many dark apprehensions, not only that you have not yet an interest in Christ, but that you shall never attain to it? I entreat you to consider that Christ came to save sinners; and that we must come to him and trust in him as sinners, having no qualification of our own to entitle us to his favour, nothing but our guilt and pollution, and his sufficiency to plead for our acceptance with and interest in him. In proportion as you look to your own qualifications to recommend you to Christ, so far you practically make a Saviour of your good works, and reject the terms of salvation by Jesus Christ. As it is certain that you can have no good works, which are acceptable to God for any saving purposes, till you have faith in Christ; so it is also certain that you need not seek for any in order to your cheerful trust in him and dependence upon him, to justify you by his righteousness, to sanctify you by his Spirit, and to “ make you an heir according to the hope of eternal life.” The Gospel brings glorious tidings of salvation to perishing sinners. It exempts and excludes none who will come to Christ for life, who will come to him as lost sinners, under a sense of their guilt and unworthiness; who will “buy of him wine and milk, without money and without price;" and who will “ take of the water of life freely.” Be their sins ever so great, w his blood will cleanse them from
all their sins." Be their hearts ever so hard," he will take away their hearts' of stone, and give them hearts of flesh.” Be they ever so destitute of any gracious qualification, “ of his fulness they shall receive even grace for grace.” Whatever their case be, they may safely trust in him, as the author of eternal salvation. But this, alas ! is the misery and ruin of multitudes who are pretending to seek salvation by Christ, that they are for dividing the work of their salvation between him and them: and by subtracting the honour of their salvation from him, who will do all or nothing for them, though “ they follow after the law of righteousness, they do not obtain it; because they seek it, not by faith, but, as it were, by the works of the law." Here, then, you see that good works have no place at all. We are to look after no recommending qualifications for an interest in Christ; but to come to him guilty and miserable as we are, that he may be all and in allbe all to us, and do all in us and for us. " He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
I must further add, that we are not to do good works, in expectation that we shall by them obtain a title to the future inheritance.
Heaven is a purchased possession. Our title to it, our qualification for it, our perseverance in the way that leads thither, and our eternal enjoyment of the glorious inheritance, are all purchased by the blood of Christ. In all these respects, “ Christ Jesus is our hope;" and when “we rejoice in hope of the glory of God,” we must " rejoice in Christ Jesus, having no confidence in the flesh.” It cannot be too deeply impressed