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$ERM, negligent and slothful, shall yield as much,
careful and industrious, then it will be
seek for glory and honour, and immortality,"
“ to be partakers of the inheritance of the SERM. “ saints in light," tell them, he never ceased X111.
for them that they “ should be fruitful in every good work,” if they could be perfectly fit to be partakers of the inheritance of heaven without? Why again in his Epistle to the Philippians, whom he expressly acknowledges to be united with him in “ the fellowship of the Gospel,” ver. v. ch. 1, does he also profess to make daily prayers for their advancement in moral righteousness, that they
may approve things that are excellent, be sincere, and “ without offence;" and that they “ be filled “ with the fruits of righteousness,” if these virtues were not of some real and actual importance to their characters as Christians ? But if good works can be of any importance, (as in the two latter cases), after God has “made us meet to be partakers
of the heavenly inheritance," by “ trans
lating us into the kingdom of bis dear son,” Col. i. 12, 13; and after our being admitted “ into the fellowship of Christ's Gospel," then I would contend that they are indispensably necessary, however little they 24
SERM. may contribute towards our eternal salvaXIII. tion; for if they are not necessary, it
would have been impertinent in the Apostle to have prayed for such graces in behalf of his converts of Colosse and Philippi, after acknowledging that they already stood in the situation of true servants of the blessed Jesus. Let them contribute ever so little to our salvation, I still maintain, that if they contribute any thing, they are of indispensable necessity. So small and insignificant a thing as a carpenter's nail, may be of indispensable necessity to the safety of the largest and most capacious ship that sails, not because it is beyond the power of God to support the vessel on the waves of the sea, though that nail were absent, but because it has pleased God so to order matters, that in the common course of things, the absence of that one small nail might leave an opening for the admission of the waters, to the sinking of the ship. We have no more cause to glory in our good works indeed, or to depend solely upon them, than to glory in, or rely entirely upon, our bodily labours in the field-the
latter may be absolutely necessary to the serm. reaping the harvest we desire, and stand in xu. need of; but after all it is God that giveth the increase. To pretend to any exclusive merit on the score of good works, would be as absurd as for him who dressed the tree to pretend to be the fabricator of the very substance of the fruit it produces; whereas he may reasonably approve his own care and prudence, if he has so corrected the juices of an austere fruit, as to make it more fit to be gathered and preserved, than to be severed from the stock, and cast into the fire. The commonest husbandman of us all would make no mistakes in this particular, and yet in point of analogy, I can scarce discern a single difference or distinction in the two questions before us. It matters nothing through what motive we are good and virtuous upon Christian principles. If only gratitude towards Christ is expected to incline us to practise good works, yet if they are admitted to be a test of gratitude, gratitude towards Christ is surely indispensably becoming, and good works of course equally
SERM. so. It is truly very strange that it could XII. ever have been made a question whether
good works are necessary or not; and I would almost venture to say, that from the whole tenor of Scripture every man, gifted with common sense, would have judged them to be necessary, had not the contrary doctrine tended to set us more at liberty in regard to our actions, and to present to us much easier terms of salvation than the constant practice of virtue and righteousness, to many people proves. But I would wish to draw another argument from my
It is not, I know, strictly an Evangelical text, nor yet even an inspired one, but yet it is of very respectable authority, and appears to me to be perfectly consonant to the doctrine of Christ and his Apostles. The comparison in my text expressly refers to the prudent care and management of the husbandman in regard to the product of his fields. The fruit declareth if the “ tree have been dressed;" it does not say, the fruit declareth whether it has received the benign influences of the sun, or has been watered by the rains from heaven;