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latter may be absolutely necessary to the SERM. reaping the harvest we desire, and stand in XIII. 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 XIII. 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 text. 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;


but whether it has been dressed, and re- SERM. ceived any help from the care of the hus- XIII. bandman. And this is so, I believe, in regard to all our moral actions. It will not be enquired whether God's grace has supernaturally purified our hearts, or the application of Christ's merit operated unconditionally to our entire justification, but whether, considering the gracious promises made to us of the help and cooperation of God's holy spirit, and the glorious hopes afforded us of reconciliation through the blood of Christ, we have so far done our part, as that these transcendent benefits may be applied to us. In all cases it would seem to have pleased God so to order matters, that man should do something to help himself; and those who are willing to set mankind free from the obligation of the works of righteousness, would act consistently if they were to endeavour to set them free also from manual labour. To pretend that to attach any merit at all to works of holiness is to derogate from the stupendous efficacy of Christ's atonement, is just as reasonable as to say, that to pretend

SERM. pretend to cultivate the field is to derogate XIII. from the power of God, who in so marvellous and inexplicable a manner has prepared the soil for the growth of plants, and appointed the kindly influences of the sun and air, to bring them to maturity: in either case it would be folly to confound the two questions, for only one is necessary. We need not enquire whether God could accomplish the same ends without our co-operation. No one but an atheist would think of denying such a truism; but the question that alone concerns us is, whether it appears from Scripture that God meant to deal with us so unconditionally? Now I think it has been shewn, that in the visible order of things, it has pleased God to leave something for man to do, even to supply his bodily wants, and therefore surely we have good ground to conclude from analogy, that all his higher wants would not be supplied without some cooperation on the part of man. But the word of God is beyond all reasoning from analogy; and if that does not inculcate the constant practice of every virtue, and dis



countenance and condemn every vicious SERM. indulgence, there is no meaning in words. It is of no avail to lay such a stress, as some do, upon Christ's having shed his blood to save sinners; for he that is most righteous in obedience to God's laws, is perhaps most of any sensible of his imperfect endeavours, and therefore most ready to confess himself a sinner, so that he is in the way of salvation at all events. To pretend that we may be saved merely by the intrinsic merit of good works, is entirely a superstition of the Church of Rome, and has been already so exposed as scarcely any longer to demand our notice: but to expect to be saved without good works, or without any hinderance from our evil doings, is so to confound matters that scarce a single text of Scripture remains intelligible. To any that attempt to deceive us by such vain. doctrines, St. James supplies us with an answer, which we should do well to adopt ; "shew me thy faith without thy works, and I "will shew thee my faith by my works.' Undoubtedly none can prove that the practice of any virtue is discountenanced in Scripture,


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