« AnteriorContinuar »
We know not how much good those around us some times reap, from an observation of the purity, benevolence, and zeal, of their fellow Christians.
Those who are called of God, are stirred up to an holy emulation at the view : faith the Apostle to the Hebrews, Wherefore seeing we also are compafed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the hn tbat doth fo easily befet us, and let its run with patience the race that is set before us. All those who walk arighat become patterns with others, so that ye were, faith the Apostle Paul, enfamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achain. And those who are not yet effectually called by the grace of God, may be brought over to the love of the truth, by a conversation becoming the Gospel. Thus speaks the Apostle Peter, Likewise ye wives, be in subjection to your own busbands ; that if any obey not the word, they also may, without the word, be won by the conversation of the wives ; baving a good cana science ; that whereas they Speak evil of you as of evil doers, they may be afoamed, who falsely accuse your good conversation in Chrift. To promote the spiritual good; the best interest of all around us, is an object worthy of men, and of Christians; and the probability that we may, by any just means, effect this, should induce us to make it our endeavour ; but their best good cannot be promoted so fuccessfully any other way, as by a patientia continuance in well doing, and manifesting our love to God by a holy practice.
3. In this way too our own good is promoted.
It is by a good conversation, that the security of our hearts, the integrity of our consciences, the foundness of our faith, and in a word, the truth of all our graces are clearly manifested, cherished, and increased. If we content ourselves with saying, Lord, Lord; and do not the S 4
tbings which be faith, our profesion is plainly insincere ; it is hypocrisy. If we maintain not a conversation becoming the Gospel, our consciences are defiled, our faith is dead, inactive and useless.
By a good conversation, the presence of the Holy Spirit in us is testified to our own peace and comfort. All the various graces of the Christian are so many fruits of the Spirit, wrought in him by the Holy Ghost; and therefore, a holy practice proves the presence of the Holy Spirit with us.
In this way, too, is gained the assurance of God's love, and outward evidence is given of our ele&tion and salvation.
Besides, by such a walk many judgments are either prevented or removed, softened or fanctified ; and what is still a greater blessing, destruction from the Almighty will be happily avoided :-Hereby shall we escape from deserved and unutterable despair, and get into the path of life, the way of peace, and the happy road to joys un.. speakable and full of glory. How great, my hearers, will be the gain of piety, both here and hereafter!
Thirdly, I come now to consider a little the necessity of good works. .
The importance and necessity of good works can be easily maintained, without ascribing to them any merit or any influence in our justification, and although we press not the doing of good works as being meritorious, yet there are forcible reasons or arguments, from which we may urge the great neceflity of them. And,
1. They are highly necessary, as being commanded and expressly required by God himfelf.
Whatever God requires in his word, must be done. Obedience is necessary, and therefore holiness of heart and life is indispensably necessary. That good works are
conflatul Jaying faith the maintain the Bible." by any,
required of Christians will not be doubted by any, who are in the least acquainted with the Bible. Let ours also, faith an Apostle, learn to maintain good works for necefJary uses; and faith the same inspired writer, This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they who have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works, these things are good and profitable unto men. Where the word of a king is, there is power; and is there no authority in the precepts of Heaven? No obedience due to the commands of the li. ving God ? How dwelleth the fear and love of God in those men who violate the divine law, and trample on the dread authority of the Most High? Surely a holy walk with God is necessary, since it is enjoined by himself.
2. Good works are the way to the kingdom of God.
For though they are by no means to be considered as the cause of our reigning in heaven, yet without them we shall never attain to the kingdom ; we shall never see God; so speaks the Apostle Paul, Without holiness no man shall see tbe Lord. The sum of felicity consists in the enjoyment of the ever blessed God. They who being born of God by the regenerating influences of the Holy Spirit, live a holy and humble life, shall know by sweet and happy experience, that in the presence of God there is fulness of joy, and at his right hand, to which distinguished honour they shall soon be happily advanced, there are pleasures for evermore.
3. Good works are an evidence or demonstration of our faith.
The Apostle James, speaking of the faith of Abraham, and how it was proved to be genuine, says, Seeft thou how faith wrought with bis works, and by works was faith made perfect. And a fruitless inactive faith, which produceth not the fruits of righteousness, is by the fame
- Apostle Apostle denominated, a dead faith. Works are therefore necessary, as evidences of our faith; and in this way only can it be proved to be genuine, a true and living faith.
To evidence our faith is of great importance, and highly necessary, as without it, it is impossible to please God, or to escape eternal wombe that believeth not fall be damned. How vastly necessary then are good works, as they are a demonstration of the truth and reality of our faith?
4. The not doing of them merits eternal death.
For although we must disagree with those who suppose that doing good works merits everlasting life, yet we know that the most exquisite torments of the damned, will be no more than the just reward of their impious deeds.
Whatever stores of wrath are reserved for the wicked, they are but the treasures which guilty finners have hoarded up for themselves.-But after thy hardness and impenitent beart, faith St Paul, treasures up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God; and the same inspired writer tells us, that the wages of hon is death. If then indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, shall be upon them who obey not the truth, and on every soul of man that doth evil, how necessary are good works? How careful should we be to walk in the way of God's command. ments? With what diligence and zeal ought all men to serve the Lord in their day and generation ?
5. The necessity of good works will appear, if we consider them as expressions of our gratitude. It is indeed true, that when we have done all those things which are commanded, we may still say, we are unprofitable servants. However, by doing what we are commanded, according to our ability, we show ourselves grateful children of
our Father, who is in Heaven. And I think this is an argument of more weight with an ingenuous child of God, than any motive which can be drawn from merit, or the supposed worth of our obedience. For 'when the Christian pondereth on the free grace, and boundless mercy of God, in giving his own Son, in accepting the returning finner for Christ's sake, in pardoning all his fins, and in reserving for him everlasting life, it tends so to inflame his heart with love and gratitude, that he is al. ways ready to do whatsoever he thinks may be wellpleasing in the light of God, even to the utmost of his power.
Gratitude to God is our duty; it is a delightful and neceffary duty; it is, and will be performed by all that love God. But good works are the genuine fruits of a grateful disposition, and without them, it will never be suitably expreffed. Hath the blessed God loaded us with benefits, and followed us with loving kindness and tender. mercies, and shall his people, shall any who call thema felves Christians, break his laws, and trample on the authority by which they are enacted? Can any suppose. that such conduct will be a grateful return to the Father of our mercies? Oh! what a rich gift was that, when God gave us his own Son? Is it for this, that poor sinners despise and disobey him, and rush on the bucklers of the Almighty?
I shall now proceed to make some application of the fubje&.
1. This subject teacheth us, that those who walk not in God's ways, cannot be esteemed his affectionate people., For whoever hath a due regard to the Supreme Jehovah, whoever truly fears and loves him, will testify his regard to him by a devout and holy conversation. Inward af. foction to God will make us fear, and fly from the very,