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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 of good works. He will, in the day of accounts, declare to all others, that “ he never knew them;" and sentence them to depart from him, as workers of iniquity.” But to this I have spoken particularly already; and therefore shall only subjoin here, that obedience is the genuine exercise, and therefore a necessary evidence, of faith unfeigned. What are good works, but works of faith ; or faith 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 profession, to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour, and to bring glory to his name. There is nothing infers a greater scandal upon our holy religion, than the upsanctified lives of its professors. This gives occasion to the enemies of the cross of Christ to blaspheme his name, and speak evil of the way of truth; to call religion itself a cheat, and judge all that make an appearance of holiness to be hypocrites and false 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 apostacy. This hardens secure sinners in their sinful courses ; and pacifies their consciences, from the thought that such who make pretences to religion, are impious and wicked as well as they: and, what is still worse, if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinuers; this brings great dis
honour upon our blessed Saviour, as though he were the minister of sin, and has a dreadful tendency to render the means of grace ineffectual, to quench the Spirit, and to drive the very form, as well as the power of godliness, out of the world. You therefore see the necessity of good works and of a holy life, 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 profess; 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 force in these, and many other like motives, to prompt us to a life of holiness, we, who profess ourselves Christians, should approve ourselves" a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, to show forth the praises of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvellous light.” Indeed the chief end of man is to glorify God. It is the design of our creation, and it is the design of our redemption. “ For ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God, in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.” It is the design of our baptism and profession, and of all our experience of the operations of the Spirit of grace; and should be the scope of all our 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 good work.” We should study, whatever we do, to do all to the glory of God. And to this purpose it is necessary that we
“ follow not 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 useful life.
7. Good works are likewise necessary to our inward peace and comfort. . We often see that observation verified, that the “ wicked are like a troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt;" and that there is no peace to the wicked. They must have seared consciences indeed, who can have peaceable minds in a progress of sin, and in the neglect of practical godliness. A truly tender conscience will always remonstrate against the indulgence of any sin, either of omission or commission. And how unhappy and uncomfortable a life is it, to have our own hearts condemning us, to have a worm gnawing in our breasts, to have conscience applying the terrors of the law, and representing to us our guilt and danger? And yet this cannot be avoided without a life of good works. We cannot have grounds of rejoicing, but from “ the testimony of our consciences, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world.” As they who live careless and sensual lives cannot have good evidences of a renewed nature and a safe state, they must necessarily be strangers to that joy and comfort which flow 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 life of communion with God. For this is never obtained without a progress in holiness and good works. If, therefore, we would have the continual feast of a peaceful conscience; if we would enjoy a comfortable view of the divine favour, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God; if we would find, by blessed experience, that the ways of wisdom are ways of pleasantness, 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 preferable to all the pleasures of sense, we must add to our faith virtue, and maintain a life of holiness and good works. For “ if we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth." But as then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect to all God's commandments.” “ Great peace have they who love his law, and nothing shall offend them."
I might, in several other particulars, exemplify to you the necessity 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 reference to salvation. I shall therefore only add,
8. Good works are necessary in order to our escaping eternal ruin and misery. I have shown you indeed, and I think sufficiently proved, that they are not necessary as an atonement for our sins, or as what will appease the wrath of God, and procure us an acquittance from guilt, and a right to be freed from condemnation. But 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 life, and yet has not been fruitful in good works. This will be the final test, to prove our sincerity towards God, and the eternal judgment will turn upon this evidence. The great Judge of the world will quickly appear, and his reward will be with him, to render unto every man according as his works have been; and then he will inflict on those “ who are contentious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish.”
As, therefore, it is not a small matter to inhabit the dreadful 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 stand before the Son of man. We have no other choice before us, but to be holy here, or unhappy for ever. We must obtain 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 infinitely to be preferred by every one who has any just value for his present interest, or for his eternal happiness? How absurd is it, in the view of common reason, to love death, or choose an evident token of perdition, by being the servants of sin, and obeying it in the lusts thereof!