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ĝun a good work in them, they were infinitely worse than nothing.
. 2. This doctrine affords an animating encouragement to exertions for the salvation of sinners; even in the darkest times, and when there is the least hu. man prospect of any success. When the gospel is openly rejected by many ; and when its peculiar doctrines are opposed by many more, and seem to be falling into general disregard and contempt. When iniquity abounds, and the professed love of religion waxes cold. When forsaking religious assemblies is the manner of some, and very little attention in them is the manner of almost all. When such is the case in particular societies, or generally in a land, the consolation in our text still remains. As it was in the days of Elijah, and as it was among the Jews in the days of Paul, “ Even so at this time, there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” And this is sufficient encouragement for faithful ministers, patiently to labor and suffer. Says the apostle to Timothy ; “ I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”
3. Hence no sinner has reason to look upon his own case as altogether hopeless, as long as this life lasts. Were it not for the doctrines of election, and of divine sovereignty in effectual calling the doctrine that an unknown number will infallibly be saved, and that God hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, a sinner fully sensible of his total depravity, might well sink in utter despair. But in this valley of Achor--in the depth of legal humiliation, there is thence a door of hope.
4. Hence those who entertain a more comfortable hope, from an apprehension that a work of special grace is actually begun in them, should still give dil
igence to make their calling and election sure. It is a great thing to be certain of one's election to eternal life. The only way to put this out of doubt and uncertainty, is to be sure of one's effectual calling; and to be sure of this, so as not to be deceived, is a difficult thing. Subtil is the grand deceiver. Deceitful is the human heart. Many are the ways of fatal self-deception. The apostle to the Hebrews, having given an awful warning of the terrible consequence of apostacy, after hopeful good beginnings, says, “ But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.” This charitable persuasion was grounded on the good fruits which had been seen in many of them. Nevertheless he adds, “ And we desire that every one of you do shew the same dili. gence, to the full assurance of hope unto the end.” Frequent are such exhortations to the most hopeful professors. I shall conclude with one of these ; 2 Cor. xiii. 5, “ Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith ; prove your own selves : know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates ?”
EPHESIANS II. 10.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto
IT is of importance that good men should know, and be ever ready to acknowledge, that all their goodness is from God; and that for this, as well as for pardon and justification, they are indebted to free grace. This is the doctrine here inculcated upon the Ehpesian christians. Having spoken of the resurrection of Christ by the mighty power of God, the apostle begins this chapter with sying, “ And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” And he goes on to remind them of the extreme vileness and wretchedness of their former condition and character ; when, according to the general course of this fallen world, they had walked in all manner of evil ways, under the guidance of the first grand apostate, who was the assumed and chosen God of rebel men. This was said to those who had lately been converted from the laciviousness, debaucheries, and abominable idolatries of Paganism : but the apostle freely confesses that even the Jews, of whom he himself was one, were no better by nature than the heathen, nor less the heirs of divine wrath. That the recovery of either of them to a state of holiness, and to the hope of heavenly happiness, was of the rich mercy and wonderful love of God. To impress more deeply upon them, a proper sense that their whole salvation was of free grace, he observes that the only thing in them whereby they became entitled to it, was believing in Christ; and that a heart thus to believe had been given them, and was not of their own acquirement; that this gift was before they could have done any thing to the glory of God, inasmuch as they were at that very time first made capable of any works truly good ; and that to all the works of righteousness which they would ever be able to do, they had been freely pre, destinated long before. See ver. 8, 9, and the whole of ver. 10, “ For by grace are ye saved through faith ; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God : Not of works, lest any man should boast : For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
The doctrine in our text, 'intended for present discussion, is only this,
That fallen men must be new-created, before they can do any works truly good.
It is proposed, in the ensuing discourse, · I. To explain this doctrine : · H. To prove it; and,
In the first place, I shall endeavor to explain the doctrine by showing wherein this new creation consists; or what prerequisite to good words is so totally