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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 grace 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 are “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 one. The Judge demands—“What hast 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. Othou 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 of fer 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
duity to serve the interests of thy kingdom in the world.” Thus you have Paul and James reconciled. Thus you have good works provided for. The aphorism of the physicians is—“By the deeds of the arm you may form your judgment of the state of the heart.” The actions of men are surer indications than all their sayings of what they are within. But there is yet another consideration by which you must be zealously affected for good works. You must consider them as a part of the great salvation which is purchased and intended for you by your blessed Saviour. Without a holy heart you cannot be fit for a holy heaven—“meet for the inheritance of the saints in light;" which admits no works of darkness; where none but good works are done for eternal ages: but a holy heart will cause a man to do good with all his heart. The motto on the gates of the holy city is, “None but the lovers of good works to enter here:” it is implied in what we read —“Without holiness no man shall see the Lord:” yea, to be saved without good works, were to be saved without salvation. Much of our salvation consists in doing good works. When our souls are enlarged, it is that we may do such things. Heaven is begun upon earth when we are so engaged. Doubtless, no man will reach heaven who is not so persuaded. I shall inention but one more of those principles in which good works originate; it is that noble one of GRATITUDE. The believer cannot but inquire, “What shall I render to my Saviour?”—the result
of the inquiry will be, “With good works to glorify him.” We read, that “faith worketh by love.” Our faith will first show us the matchless and marwellous love of God in saving us; and the faith of this love will work on our hearts, till it hath raised in us an unquenchable flame of love to Him who hath so loved and saved us. These, these are to be our dispositions—“O my Saviour! hast thou done so much for me? Now will I do all I can for thy kingdom and people in the world. O! what service is there that I may now do for my Saviour and for his people in the world?” These are the principles to be proceeded on; and on them I will observe a notable thing. It is worthy of observation, that there are no men in the world who so much abound in good works, as those who have abandoned every pretence to merit in their works. There are Protestants who have outdone Papists in our day, as well as in those of Dr. Willet. No merit-mongers have gone beyond some holy Christians, who have performed good works on the assurance of their being already justified, and entitled to eternal life. I observe that our apostle, casting a just contempt on the endless genealogies, and long, intricate pedigrees, which the Jews of his time counted so much upon, proposes in their stead “Charity, out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned;” as if he had said, “I will give you a genealogy worth ten thousand of theirs:—First, from faith unfeigned proceeds a good conscience; from a good conscience proceeds a pure heart; and from a pure heart proceeds charity to all around us. It is admirably stated.
Opportunities to do good are talents for which we must give an account.
IT is to be feared that we seldom inquire after opPoRTUNITIES of DoING Good. Our opportunities to do good are our talents. An awful account must be rendered to the great God concerning the use of the talents with which he has intrusted us in these precious opportunities. We frequently do not use our opportunities, because we do not know them: and the reason why we do not know is, because we do not think. Our opportunities to do good lie by unregarded and unimproved; and so it is but a mean account that can be given of them. We read of a thing which we deride as often as we behold it: “There is that maketh himself poor, and yet hath great riches.” This is too frequently exemplified in our opportunities to do good, which are some of our most valuable riches. Many a man seems to reckon himself destitute of these talents, as if there were nothing for him to do; he pretends he is not in a condition to do any good. Alas! poor man, what can the do? My friend, think again, think often: inquire what your opportunities are: you will certainly find them to be more than you were aware of.