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cies! But why cannot we carry on our designs with as much deep and copious thought as the men of evil arts? And why may we not lay out our spirits with as transporting a vigour to do the things which are acceptable to God and profitable to men, as those wretches manifest, when they “ weary themselves to commit iniquity?" To reprove certain ecclesiastical drones, who had little inclination to do good, Father Latimer used a course expression to this effect: “ If you will not learn of good men, for shame, learn of the devil; he is never idle," he goes about seeking what hurt he may do. Indeed, the indefatigable prosecution of the designs of some whom the word of God has called “ the children of the devil,” may put us to the blush.
Our obligations to do good are infinite: they do evil against all obligations. The compensation promised to them who do good, is encouraging beyond calculation: they who do evil get nothing to boast of; but “ evil pursueth the sinners. If the devil “ go about,” and people inspired by bim “ go about,” seeking what harm they may do; why may not we go about, and think, and seek, where and how to do good? Verily, it were worthy of a good angel to do so! O thou child of God, and lover of all righteousness, how canst thou find in thy heart, at any time, to cease from doing all the good that can be done, “ in the right ways of the Lord ?” Methinks, that word of the Lord
may be a burden to us: if we have a sense of honour in us, it will be so—66 The children of this world are in, (and for) their generation, wiser than the children of light;" yea, they pursue “ the works of darkness”
more vigorously than any of us “ walk in that light” with which our great Saviour hath favoured us.
Men should do good from proper principles.
To the title of Good Works belong those Essays to do Good, for which we are now urging. To produce them, the first thing, and indeed, the one thing that is needful is—A glorious work of grace on the soul, renewing and quickening it, purifying the sinner, and rendering him “zealous of good works;” “a workmanship of God” upon us, “ creating us anew, in Jesus Christ, unto good works:" and then, there is needful, what will necessarily follow such a work—that is, a disposition to do good works, on true, genuine, generous, and evangelical principles. These principles require to be stated before we proceed. When they are in activity they will carry us a great length.
It is, in the first place, to be taken for granted, that the end for which we do good works must not be designed as the matter of our justification before God: indeed, no good works can be done by us till we are justified; until a man be united to Christ, who is our life, he is a dead man, and what good works can be expected from such a man? They will be dead works. 66 Severed from me,” saith our Saviour, " ye can do nothing." The justification
of a sinner by faith, before good works, and in order to them, is one of those doctrines which may say to the popish innovations, “ With us are the greyheaded, and very aged men, much elder than thy father.” It was an old maxim of the faithful,“ Good works follow; they do not precede justification.” It is the righteousness of the good works done by our Saviour and surety, not our own, that justifies us before God, and answers the demands of his law upon us.
We, by faith, lay hold on those good works for our justifying righteousness, before we are enabled to perform our own. It is not our faith itself either as doing good works, or as being itself one of them, which entitles us to the justifying righteousness of our Saviour: but it is faith alone as renouncing our own righteousness, and relying on that of Christ, provided for the chief of sinners, by which we are justified. All our attempts at good works will come to nothing, till a justifying faith in the Saviour shall carry us forth to them.
This was the divinity of the ancients. Jerome has well expressed it—"Without Christ all virtue is but vice.”
Nevertheless, first, you are to look upon it as a glorious truth of the gospel, that the moral law (which prescribes and requires good works) must by every Christian alive, be the rule of his life. we make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” The rule by which we are to glorify God, is given us in that law of good works which we possess (I will so express it) in the ten coinmandments. It is impossible for us to be released from all obligations to glorify God, by a
conformity to this rule; sooner shall we cease to be creatures. The conformity to that rule, in the righteousness, which our Saviour by his obedience to it has brought in to justify us, has for ever“ magnified the law, and made it honourable.” Though our Saviour has furnished us with a perfect and spotless righteousness, when his obedience to the law is placed to our account; yet it is sinful in us to come short in our own obedience to the law. We must always judge and loathe ourselves for the sin. We are not under the law as a covenant of works. Our own exactness in doing good works is not now the condition of our entering into life; (wo unto us if it were!) but still the covenant of
holds us to it as our duty: and if we are in the covenant of grace, we shall make it our study to do those good works which were once the terms of entering into life. “ The whole law of goodliness remains," was the divinity of Tertullian's days. There must be such an esteem for the law of good works for ever retained in every justified person—a law never to be abrogated, never to be abolished.
And then, secondly, though we are justified by “ a precious faith in the righteousness of God our Saviour,” yet good works are required of us to justify our faith-to demonstrate that it is indeed “precious faith.” Justifying faith is a jewel which may
be counterfeited: but the marks of a faith which is not a counterfeit, are to be found in those good works to which a servant of God is inclined and assisted by his faith. It is by a regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, that faith is wrought in the hearts
of the chosen people; now the same work of grace which in regeneration disposes a man to fly by faith to the righteousness of his Saviour, will also dispose him to the good works of a Christian life; and the same faith which goes to the Saviour for an interest in his righteousness, will also go to him for a heart and strength to perform the good works which ordained that we should walk in them.” If such be not our faith it is a lifeless faith, and it will not bring to life. A workless faith is a worthless faith.
My friend ! suppose thyself standing before the judgment-seat of the glorious Lord-a needful, a prudent supposition; it ought to be a very frequent
The Judge demands—“ What bast thou to plead, for a portion in the blessedness of the righteous?” The plea must be, “ O my glorious Judge, thou hast been my sacrifice. O thou Judge of all the earth, give poor dust and ashes leave to say, My righteousness is on the bench. Surely, in the Lord have I righteousness. O my Saviour, I have received it, I have secured it on thy own gracious offer of it.” The Judge proceeds" But what hast thou to plead that thy faith should not be rejected as the faith and hope of the hypocrite?” Here the plea must be, “ Lord, my faith was thy work. It was a faith which disposed me to all the good works of thy holy religion. It sanctified me. It carried me to thee, O my Saviour, for grace to do the works of righteousness: it embraced thee for my Lord, as well as for my Saviour: it caused me, with sincerity, to love and keep thy commandments, and with assi