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but whether it has been dressed, and re- SERM. ceived any help from the care of the hus- X111. 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

XIII.

SERM. pretend to cultivate the field is to derogate

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

X111.

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 binderance 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; “ sbew 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,

XIII.

SERM. Scripture, or on the other hand that the

indulgence of any vice is approved ; therefore we may conclude with the Apostle, that in the practice of virtue we are secure thus far, that “against such there is no law;" whereas all impurity and immorality of every kind is particularly condemned in Scripture, and shewn to be in constant opposition to the spirit of God. Nor is it any

where said that Christ will save sinners persisting in their sins, but that those sinners only shall “ save their souls alive," who, repenting of their past disobedience, shall turn away from the wickedness” they have been in the habit of committingnot those who expect to be saved upon such easy terms as the Sadducees and Pharisees, who ran to partake of John's baptism, but those who adopt his admonition, and are careful in the conduct of their lives, to

bring forth fruits meet for repentance ;" that is, to practise and cultivate such virtues as may manifest their sincere conversion, and their just abhorrence of all iniquity, so hateful in the sight of God.

And

XIII.

And now to conclude—“ May the God of SERM. Peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the

sheep, through the blood of the everlasting 6 covenant, make you perfect in every good s work, to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through

Jesus Christ : to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be ascribed as is most due

all glory, might, majesty, and dominion, now and ever.

SERMON.

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