By GILBERT TENNENT, A. M. Minister of the Gospel in Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA. Printed by W. BRABFORD at the BIBLE in Second-street, MDCCXLV.



[...]AL. ii. 16. Knowing that a Man is not justify'd by the Works of the Law, but by the Faith of Jesus Christ; even we have believed in Jesus Christ; that we might be justified by the Faith of Christ, and not by the Works of the Law: For by the Works of the Law shall no Flesh be justified. Page 7.
[...]M. iii. 31. Do we then make void the Law through Faith? God forbid: Yea [...]e establish the Law. P. 99
[...]. iii. 31. Do we then make void the [...]aw thro' Faith? God forbid. P. 134
The same Text. P. 186
[Page] SERMON V.
PHIL. ii. 12.13. Work out your own Sal­vation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good Pleasure. P. 249
The same Text. P. 311

The Nature of JUSTIFICATION opened:


By GILBERT TENNENT, A. M. Minister of the Gospel in Philadelphia.

Publish'd at the Desire of the Hearers.

Rom. iii 28.

Therefore we conclude, that a Man is justified by Faith without the Deeds of the Law.

Rom. xi. 5, 6.

Even so then at this present Time also there is a Remnant according to the Election of Grace. And if by Grace, then it is no more of Works; otherwise Grace is no more Grace. But if it be of Works, then it is no more Grace: Otherwise Work is no more Work.

Titus iii. 8.

This is a faithful Saying, and these Things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have be­lieved in God, might be careful to maintain good Works: These Things are good and profitable unto Men.

PHILADELPHIA: Printed by W. BRADFORD, at the Bible in Second Street, 1745.

[Page iii]



THE following Discourse treats [...]pon a Foundation-Point of the Christian Religion, which it concerns all to un­derstand well, and which I fear, many have but very superficial Notions of: This has doubtless a bad Influence upon their other religious Sentiments and Practice.

There is no other sure Foundation b [...] CHRIST JESUS, if we build not upon him [Page iv] for Pardon, Peace and Happiness, the Fa­brick will surely fall, (debile Fundamentum fallit opus.) I have endeavoured to open this grand Article of Religion in the plainest Manner I could, that so the weakest Minds may have just Conceptions of it.

The Light in which I have set this Point, is agreeable to the Series of sacred Scripture, and the harmonious Suffrage of the reformed Churches of Scotland, Holland, France, Geneva, England, Germany, &c. express'd in their Confessions of Faith; which altho' licentious Wits, who are disposed to be as loose and inconsistent in their Sentiments as Morals, may deride and burlesque as slavish Systems beneath their Notice, will notwith­standing be esteemed by the Sober and Judicious, as instructive and valuable Summaries of divine Truth, so long as there be any Remains of true Religion in these Nations!

Its affecting to think how Mankind are inclin'd to run from one extreme to another. Some who have left the Principles of Armi­nius, not thorowly understanding the Doc­trines [Page v] of Grace, run into the contrary ex­treme of Antinomianism, which is as disho­nourable to Religion, and injurious to the Interest of it as the other, if not more so!

Now as Vertue consists in a Mediocrity between two Extremes, so do the Doctrines of Religion, and especially this of Justification, we should therefore beware, least while we labour to shun Scilla, we rush upon Caribdis.

I had no Intention of publishing this Dis­course when I preach'd it, having offered to the Publick a Sermon upon Justification some Years agone, but was induced hereto, by con­sidering the Difficulty and Importance of the Subject, and the wrong Notions that many have of it, with design to give check to them. I was also inform'd, that a few of the Hearers were dissatisfied, and many more entertain'd with a Method of handling the Subject different from what they had heard; and therefore to remove the unreasonable Censures of some, and satisfy the Desires of others, I consented to its publication; not [Page vi] knowing that it had committed any Thing worthy of bands or of death. May it please the God of Truth to bless what is here offered for the Good of his Church, I add no more, but remain thine and the Churches Friend and Servant,


Knowing that a Man is not justify'd by the Works of the Law, but by the Faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ; that we might be justified by the Faith of Christ, and not by the Works of the Law: For by the Works of the Law shall no Flesh be justified.

MY Brethren! As God the Father has from Eternity purposed to confer saving Benefits upon the Elect in Time *, so the Son of God in consequence hereof has made a Purchase of them by his Blood and Obe­dience ; and these very Benefits does the Holy Spirit apply in time to the Heirs of Salvation . Before which Application by the Holy Spirit's Influence, and Union of the Elect to Christ by Faith, they have no actual Right to the Blessings of Redemption, but are Children of Wrath and under con­demnation. [Page 8] . Jesus Christ must be made of God to us (i. e. by application) Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification and Redempti­on . The Elect must be sanctified by the Spirit unto Obedience, and sprinkled with the Blood of Jesus *: And hence Christ and his Benefits are frequently compar'd in Scrip­ture, to such Things as do not profit us without Application; such as Cloaths, Meat, Drink and Medicine. ** Meat not eaten will not nourish us, Drink not drunk will not refresh us, a Garment not put on will not warm us, and Medicines not applied will not heal us: And therefore we may safely assert, that the Application of Re­demption to the Soul, by the Holy Spirit's Influence, is as necessary in its Place in order to Salvation, as the Purchase of it by Christ's Blood and Obedience. As we are not condemn'd actually, on the Account of the Sin of our first Parents, until we actual­ly exist and are united to them naturally, by partaking of a vitiated Nature derived [Page 9] from them: So neither are we actually justified by the Righteousness of the second Adam, until we are spiritually united to him as our mistical Head by Faith . But so soon as this Union is obtain'd, an actual Communion in the Benefits of Redemption immediately ensues, among which Justifica­tion is a primary and principal one: Of this the Apostle treats in the Words of our Text. To understand which let it be considered, that the Occasion of writing this Epistle to the Churches of Galatia, (a Country in the Lesser Asia) was partly to reprove and re­duce some Members of these Churches, who had as shamefully as perilously Apos­tatiz'd from the important Doctrine of Jus­tification by Faith alone, thro' the corrupt Influence of some false Teachers who crept in among them, and taught the Necessity of Circumcision and other Works of the Law, in order to the Justification of a Sin­ner before God; and this they did with a political Design, to screne themselves from that Persecution which all the Christians [Page 10] were then expos'd to who were not Cir­cumcis'd; and in order to promote their new and pernicious Doctrine, they pursued the Method which is common to Hereticks and Seducers in every Age of the Church, viz. They made great Shews of Religion, commended themselves, traduc'd and vili­fied the Apostle Paul, insinuating that he was no Apostle, that he had learn'd all he knew, from James, Peter and John, and yet differ'd from them in Doctrine and Practice, as well as from himself. Now the Apostle does not only in this Epistle labour to re­claim the erring Galatians, but likewise to vindicate his Character from the unjust and invidious Charges of the false Teachers: To this purpose the first and second Chap­ters of this Epistle are chiefly spent· The inspir'd Writer does therein prove himself to be a true Apostle, and not to have learn'd what he taught from Peter, James or John, but that he had it by Revelation from Jesus Christ. In the Verses immediate­ly preceeding our Text, the Apostle shews that he was so far from receiving the Gos­pel he preach'd from Peter, that he faith­fully [Page 11] reprov [...]d him for his judaizing Dissi­mulation, and then in the plainest Terms asserts Justification to be by Faith only. Knowing that a Man is not justified by the Works of the Law, but by the Faith of Jesus Christ, i. e. being perswaded that a Person is not freed from the Guilt of Sin, and adjudg'd righteous in the Sight of GOD by Acts of Obedience to the Law of Moses, either Ceremonial or Moral; but by Faith in Christ, which as an Eye beholds and as a Hand applies his Righteousness. The moral Law was doubtless intended by the Apostle as well as the Ceremonial: ‘For it is Manifest, that altho' this Questi­on about Justification by Works began about Circumcision, and Works done in Obedience to the Ceremonial Law, yet the Determination of it extended farther; for the Apostle by the Law understands that Law by which is the Knowledge of Sin . Now the Knowledge of Sin is neither, only or chiefly by the Cere­monial Law; nor did ever any of those [Page 12] against whom the Apostle argueth, think that Men could be justified by Obedi­ence only to the Law contain'd in Or­dinances; nor could boasting be excluded if Men might be justified by Works done in Obedience to the Moral Law: Nor was it the Violation of the Ceremo­nial Law only that wrought Wrath, and expos'd Men to the Curse. The A­postle proceeds to say, even we have believ'd in Jesus Christ that we might be justified by the Faith of Christ, and not by the Works of the Law. Here observe that the A­postle represents Justification not as a Thing past but future, and as following Faith; as if he had said, ‘We Jews as well as the Gentiles, are in a State of Wrath and Condemnation before Faith, not­withstanding of our Religious Priviledges, which being made sensible of, as well as the utter Insufficiency of any Acts of Obedience we have or can perform, to free us from the Guilt of Sin, and acquire for us a Right to Happiness; and being [Page 13] perswaded of the Safety of entire De­pendence upon the Righteousness of the Mediator for our Acceptance with God, we have consented to embrace him upon Gospel Terms, and reject all Refuges be­sides him, and that because, by the Works of the Law shall no Flesh be justified, i. e. no mortal Man can rea­sonably expect, or ever attain to be de­clar'd Righteous before God, on the Ac­count of his Obedience to the Law of God, because of its Imperfection.’

From what has been said it appears, that the Point to be discours'd upon from this Text, is the Manner of a Sinner's Justification before God. It cannot be Jus­tification before Men, or the evidencing of the reality of our faith to them that is here intended; for good Works would not then be wholly rejected, being of princi­pal Use in that Case; by those, as the Apostle James observes, our Faith is shewn or disco­ver'd. i. e. Its reality is manifested to others, and evidenc'd to our selves. And [Page 14] hence he concludes that a Man is justified by Works and not by Faith only, i. e. in the sight of Men. High Pretences to and a great Bluster about Faith and Ex­periences, when these Things are not crown'd with a holy and humble Conversation, are justly rejected by the Sober and Judici­ous, as Instances of Hypocrisy and Delu­sion. That Faith that don't produce good Works is dead and unprofitable, and therefore cannot be the Instrument of our Justification before God. What has been said serves to remove the seeming Contrari­ety between the two Apostles Paul and James and shew their Harmony: To which let me add, that they wrote to different Sorts of People, Paul directed his Discourse of Justification without Works to Pharisees, and such as were of a Self-righteous Cast, who depended securely upon their Acts of Obedience, and tho't thereby in some De­gree at least to procure the divine Favour: These ambitious Babel-builders, the Apostle Paul labours to shake from the Summit of [Page 15] their Self-righteousness in point of Depen­dence, that so being made poor in spirit, they might learn to submit to, and lean alone upon the Mediator's Righteousness for acceptance with God.

But the Apostle James had to do with a Club of Libertines, who made high Pre­tences to Faith and Justification by it, while they went on in a Course of Impiety in Practice: These hardy Hypocrites he takes to task and shews the Vanity of their Pre­tences, by declaring, that that Faith that justified us before God, was a vital active Grace, productive of good Works; and that good Works were necessary to evidence to the World about us, the Truth of our Faith and the reality of our Justification, whatever lawless Libertines might unjustly mutter against them notwithstanding! But to return: As it is not Justification before Men that is intended in our Text, as ap­pears from what has been said; so neither is it a Justification in the Sight of Con­science, for good Works are of great Use [Page 16] to evidence thereto the Safety of our State: Hereby (says the Apostle John) we do know that we know him, if we keep his Command­ments; and he that saith I know him, and keepeth not his Commandments, is a Lyar and the Truth is not in him : (And elsewhere he assures us) that if we say we have Fel­lowship with him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the Truth; but if we walk in the Light, as he is in the Light, we have Fellowship one with another : i. e. If we go on in a Course of Holiness, which is here call'd Light, we have an Evidence of true Communion with God, which is a Fruit of Reconciliation to him.

It remains therefore, that it is Justificati­on before God only, that the Apostle treats of in our Text, and asserts to be by Faith without the Works of the Law. This be­ing the Substance and Scope of the Text, I shall in order to prepare it for Improvement, speak upon the two following Heads, viz:

  • I. Attempt to explain the Nature of Justification. And
  • [Page 17]II. Prove that it is without the Works of the Law.

That the Word justify is not to be taken in a moral Sense, as intending a real, inward Change of the Temper and Disposition of the Soul, as the Papists imagine, (for that is properly call'd Sanctification) but in a Law-Sense, as importing a juridical Act of God, whereby as a Judge he acquits the Sinner from Guilt and accepts him into Favour, appears from the following Considerations, viz.

First, From the etymological Derivation of the Word justify, it is deriv'd from a Word that signifies Right, as judicially pro­nounced according to law. *

Secondly, From its common Acceptation in Scripture, the Passages that treat of Jus­tification can admit of no other than a Law-Sense; and hence the judicial Process is describ'd in the sacred Writings; mention is made of the Law accusing, and of the Guilty arraign'd, as being without Apology, [Page 18] having their Mouths stopt; and divine Justice is likewise represented as demanding Punishment. * And Christ is set forth as an Advocate pleading our Cause, by the important Argument of his Sufferings, and thereby of his Satisfaction to Justice; and hence the Apostles John and Paul inform us, that we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous, who ever lives to make Intercession for us ; and elsewhere Christ is said to appear as a Lamb slain in the midst of the Throne, ** and that his Blood speaks better Things than the Blood of Abel ††. The Scrip­ture also mentions a Throne of Grace before which we must come, and speaks of God as a Judge, passing the Sentence of Abso­lution. ¶¶

Thirdly, Justification in Scripture is op­poss'd to condemnation; to this Purpose are these Words of the Apostle in his Epistle to the Romans, viz. Who shall lay any Thing to the Charge of God's Elect? It is God that [Page 19] Justifieth, who is he that condemneth? * Now as Accusation and Condemnation are in Judgment, so by consequence is Justi­fication.

Fourthly, The equivalent Phrases in Scripture whereby our Justification is de­scrib'd, relate to Judgment or a Course of Justice; hence our Lord saith, that he that believeth on him that sent him, shall not come into Judgment; for so the orignal Word primarily signifies; it is likewise call'd Reconciliation, remission of Sin, and imputing of Righteousness. ‡‡

Well, seeing the Word Justify, is evi­dently a Law-Term, and alludes to civil Courts of Judicature, it will therefore help us to understand Justification, if we com­pare it with the Process of Civil Courts, which consists especially in three Things, viz. (1st.) A Person is charged with guilt. (2dly,) He pleads to his Charge. (3dly,) If the Plea be relevant or sufficient, he is discharg'd by the Judge; thus it is in Jus­tification.

[Page 20]1st. The Elect are charg'd with guilt by the Law and Justice, and hence the Apo­stle assures us in his Epistle to the Romans, that whatsoever the Law says, it says to those that are under the Law; that every Mouth may be stoped, and all the World may become guilty before God. Here observe my Brethren, that the Elect before they are enabled to believe in Christ, are under the Law and guilty before God, (or in his Sight) now what is guilt, but an Obligation to suffer eternal Punishment for Sin? The Almighty having made reason­able Creatures capable of moral Govern­ment, was pleased to give them a Law to direct them in it, and that arm'd with the Threatning of eternal Death against the Transgressor; the Threatning being but equal to the demerit of Sin, and necessary as a Guard to screen the Law from Insult and Contempt; and God having denounc'd it, his Justice and Truth were engag'd to see to the Execution of it upon the Trans­gressor: Now we have sinn'd or transgress'd [Page 21] the Law, and therefore are bound by the Threatning annex'd to it to suffer Punish­ment.

2dly. The Sinner being accus'd, must plead for himself, either in his own Person or by Proxy or Advocate, for Silence gives consent to the Condemnation. The English Law orders those that won't plead to be press'd to Death. If a Person be not ac­cus'd, he may be indeed prais'd but can­not be justify'd, and if he is accus'd he must plead or die. Now

3dly. What shall the Sinner plead? he can­not plead not guilty truly, for we have all sinn'd and come short of the Glory of God. And E­very Sin deserves Death and the Curse of God: Yea as the Apostle James observes, he that offends in one Point, is guilty of all: * i. e. He despises that Authority by which all are established, and becomes infected with a Disposition to violate all.

And a false Plea will not avail to Justi­fication, except there be some defect in the Judge, Evidence or Law, neither of [Page 22] which can be justly apply'd to the present Case, for God is inviolably Holy and in­flexibly Righteous: Conscience is as a thousand Witnesses, yea and all Events happen under the Judges Eye and Cogni­zance; to him the Darkness is as the Light, and the Night shines as the Day. Add to this, that the Law by which the Sinner is to be try'd is holy, just and good. * An inva­riable Standard of Equity, the very copy and exemplar of the moral Excellencies of the di­vine Nature. Well, seeing the judge is im­partial, the Evidence demonstrative, and the Law strictly and unalterably Just, grounded on the Nature, Reason and Relations of Things; then it follows necessarily, that a false Plea instead of serving our Interest, does but increase our Guilt and Danger.

Indeed the Angels that never fell, or Adam in Innocency, might plead not guilty and be justified upon the Plea, but this our Apostacy from God has rendred impossible for us.

[Page 23]We being guilty, there remains but one of the three Pleas for us to make that I know of. The

First of which is Mercy, for Mercy's sake, and indeed this is not to plead at all, but beg; and were a Person discharged so, it wou'd be pure Pardon but no Justification; for there shines no Beam of Justice in such a Discharge, and truly such a Way of re­moving Guilt, does not suit with the governing Wisdom, Justice and Truth of God, or with his Holiness, which disposes him to hate Sin and manifest his Indigna­tion against it. I may add, that such a Method of removing Guilt, interferes with the publick Good of the Universe, by bringing into contempt tho Governor of it, and that Law by which it should be rul'd, the Observance whereof tends so much to its true Interest: How can the Honour of the Law be preserv'd, or the Design of Government answer'd, when the rebellious Violaters of it are ever pardon'd [Page 24] with Impunity, without any Satisfaction made equal to the Offence? We are sure that such a Method of proceeding is con­trary to the Sentiments and Practice of Mankind in the Affairs of civil Govern­ment.

Nor will a Composition, or as some term it, an Acceptilation answer the Design of Government: i. e. When something is ac­cepted which is far from an Equivalent to the Guilt contracted; e. g. as if a Creditor should accept of a few Pence instead of a Thousand Pounds which was due; this is in Substance the same with a free Pardon, and therefore the Reasons that militate against the one, do likewise hold good against the other, to which for the Sake of brevity I shall not add, but proceed to a

Second Plea, which is proper Payment, and this is also vain, for the Sinner cannot do it himself without being eternally miserable, and the surety has not done it for him. To understand which let it be considered, that Payment, properly so call'd, is when that is precisely perform'd, which was in the Obligation in all its Circumstances and [Page 25] Accidentals in which the Creditor is obliged to rest satisfi'd, and by which the Debtor is freed without any Grace. This does not take Place in Redemption my Brethren, for the Mediator did not endure all those bodily and spiritual Penalties threatn'd by the Law, such as the Pestilence, Deafness, &c. Neither did he bear our spiritual Death or the Eternity of Hell Torments. I say our Lord did not endure those Penalties now mentioned precisely and circumstanti­ally, according to the Letter of the Law's threatnings, consider'd as they respect Man already fallen, and under a Reprieve. The Law obliged all Sinners to suffer personally, universally and eternally. But Christ was no Sinner realy or inherently, being holy harmless and undefil'd, otherwise he could not be a surety for Sinners, and would be unworthy of our Trust: And there­fore, when he is said to be made Sin and a Curse for us, who knew no Sin, no more is intended then that the Guilt of the Sins of the Elect was reckon'd to him as their Sure­ty [Page 26] or Representative, or which is the same, the Punishment due for their Sins, was laid upon him under the aforesaid Character, and that he was made a Sacrifice for their Iniquities. Altho' the blessed JESUS by his Father's Constitution became one with the Elect in Law, and is our Kinsman by his Incarnation, which prepare the Way for his redeeming us, yet he is not one Person with us naturally.

Christ Jesus was but one Man, (in respect of his human Nature) and did not suffer eternally, otherwise he would be suffering now, which we are assur'd by the Testi­mony of the inspir'd Writings is false, and therefore proper Payment cannot be truly plead.

The Almighty was not oblig'd in strict Justice (without Respect had to the Co­venant of Redemption) to accept on the Account of the Elect what Christ did and suffered for them. And hence there sure­ly was Grace in the Proposal, and Ac­ceptance of this Scheme, as well as there is in the Application of it to us.

[Page 27]In the mean Time as our Sins are call'd Debts in a large and less proper Sense, so that by which their Guilt is remov'd may be call'd Payment in the same Sense.

3dly. The only Plea therefore, that remains for a poor guilty Creature, is to ask Pardon and Mercy on the Account of some equivalent offer'd to divine Justice, whereby it is appeas'd and the Honour of the Law supported. This the Sinner can­not offer for himself, being both imper­fect and finite: Whereas Sin is objective­ly Infinite, being committed against an infinite God, and a Breach of infinite Obligations to him. Now Justice requires that there be a Proportion between the Crime committed and the Satisfaction paid; but it is impossible from the Nature of Things that a finite Cause should pro­duce infinite Effects, and therefore the Sinner must have recourse to what Christ has done and suffer'd as Mediator, which is properly call'd a Satisfaction: By which, not that precisely which is in the Obliga­tion to the Creditor, is perform'd, but something equivalent (or of equal Value) [Page 28] which the Creditor in strict Justice is not oblig'd to accept, and therefore in Satis­faction, some Moderation of Right or Grace is required, by which strict Justice is not urg'd. ‡*‡

[Page 29]The Satisfaction of our Lord may be therefore discrib'd thus, viz. That it is that mediatorial Act of Christ, whereby being put in the Room of elect Sinners he [Page 30] offer'd a Ransom to God equivalent to their Guilt, and so purchas'd Reconciliation to God for them.

Here observe that three Things are ne­cessary to make Satisfaction, viz. The In­nocency of the Person satisfying; his volun­tary Substitution in the Room and Place of others; and a sufficient Price of Redemp­tion equivalent to the Guilt of Sin.

The Person satisfying must be Inno­cent, for he that is under personal Guilt has need to satisfy for his own, and there­fore cannot satisfy for anothers Sins, now our Lord was holy harmless, undefil'd, the immaculate Lamb of God.

There must be also a voluntary Sub­stitution in the Room and Place of the Guilty, that so the Person satisfying may represent them and endure Penalties due to them. This Substitution (or standing in the Place of others) was prefigur'd by all the Jewish Sacrifices, and especially by the Scape-Goat. ‡* Morover our Lord is call'd in Scripture our Surety, †‡ who as all acknowledge, is substituted in the [Page 31] Room of the principal Debtor to the Cre­ditor. Thus JESUS in the eternal Covenant of Redemption consented that his Soul should be made a Sacrifice for Sin. *‡* In Consequence whereof, the Father is said in the New-Testament to make him Sin for us who knew no Sin, that we might be made the Righteousness of God in him: And likewise the Son is said to give his Life a Ransom for many; †¶ the Origi-Word signifies a Ransom-price. ‡‡ More­over our Lord is said to have bore our Sick­nesses, and to be made a Curse for us; ¶¶ to have laid down his Life for his Sheep, the Just for the Unjust, that he might bring them to God; ¶‡ to have born our Sins in his Body on the Tree; (i. e. the Punish­ment due for them) and, to be deliver'd for our Offences. * All which Places of Scripture, and many more of the like Kind, do plainly prove that the Mediator stood in the Room and Place of the Elect.

[Page 32]Another thing necessary in Satisfaction, is a sufficient Price of Redemption equi­valent to the Demerit of Sin; this the sa­cred Scriptures do also frequently ascribe to the Mediation of Christ: Hence we are said to be bought with a Price, and to have Redemption thro' his Blood, the forgive­ness of Sins according to the Riches of his Grace. Yea Christ is said to have re­deem'd us (perfectly) from the Curse of the Law, being made a Curse for us: * And elsewhere we are told, that he entred once into the holy Place, having obtained eternal Redemption for us: ‡‡ And by one Offer­ing perfected forever them that are sanc­tify'd: And he himself declared upon the Cross, that it is finished. †† i. e. all was compleated by his Obedience and Sufferings that was necessary to satisfy di­vine Justice and purchase eternal Happiness for his People.

But in order to understand this important Point, it will be necessary to enquire, what [Page 33] is the Ransom Christ has paid, and wherein appears its equivalency to the demerit of Sin?

Now the Ransom Christ has offered, was not the essential Sanctity or Righteousness of his divine Nature, for this could neither be offered or accepted for our Guilt, this he had from Eternity, but the Scriptures speak of a Ransom in Time; neither could that Righteousness be made any way ours, unless we became God and were united to him, either essentially, as the Persons of the Trinity among themselves are one in Es­sence, which is impossible in it self and blasphemous to imagine, or personally as the human and divine Nature are united in the Person of Christ, which is also absurd and blasphemous; for there is (but) one God and one Mediator between God and Man, the Man Christ Jesus. And truly if the Righteousness of the divine Nature cou'd be made ours, (which is impossible) it wou'd destroy the Necessity of that Righ­teousness, which was purchased by the Life and Death of our dearest Lord, because being infinite, it would be alone sufficient.

[Page 34]Nor is the Ransom the great Redeemer paid, the original and inherent Righteous­ness of his human Nature, because that was necessary in the Person of the Mediator, as a previous (or foregoing) Qualification, in order to his making of Satisfaction: The Priest that was to offer for us, must of Necessity be holy and harmless, one that knew no Sin, and was a Stranger to Guile and Deceit. * The inherent Righteous­ness of our Lord, may more properly be call'd, the Righteousness of his Person than of his Merit.

But positively, the Ransom paid by Christ to divine Justice, consists in the Obedience he perform'd to the Law of God as Medi­ator, and in the Sufferings which he endured for the Sins of the Elect in their Room and Place; and hence he is said, to be made of a Woman, made under the Law, to redeem them that were under the Law, that we might receive the Adoption of Sons. And we are expresly said to be redeem'd by his precious Blood and Death: And assur'd [Page 35] that by the Obedience of one, many are made Righteous. ‡‡

Now that the Ransom our Lord offered was equivalent to the Demerit of Sin appears thus: The Guilt of all the Elect could be no more than infinite, for more cannot be in the Nature of Things; now the Price that Christ paid could not be less, if it be considered, that it was not corruptible Things, such as Silver and Gold, but the precious Blood of the spotless Lamb of God, (yea) of the only begotten Son of God, yea my Brethren of God himself. i. e. of a Person who was truly and really God-Man. Add to to this, that our Lord suffer'd in the most perfect Manner, both willingly and pati­ently: In the Volumn of thy Book, (said he) it is written of me: Lo, I come to do thy Will, O God, and thy Law is within my Heart. He was led as a Lamb to the Slaughter, and as a Sheep before her Shear­ers is Dumb, so he opened not his Mouth. He not only endured Severities from Men in Name and Body, but which was in­finitely [Page 36] more, he trod the Wine-Press of his Father's Wrath alone, and of the People there was none with him. This passive Obedience of Christ answers in Substance to, or is an equivalent for the Law's Penalty threatned against Transgressors.

And the active Obedience of Christ to the Law, by which he fulfill'd all Righteous­ness, * answers the Law's Precept, or is an Equivalent for our want of that perfect Obedience which the Law requires; it was necessary that as Sin had reign'd to Death, so Grace should Reign by Righteousness to eternal Life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. †† A Dignity of Meriting belong'd to the Obedience of Christ on account of the Per­fection of the Work and infinite Excellen­cy of the Worker.

By performing without Defect the pre­cept of the Law, he acquired a Right to that Reward which is promis'd to the Obedient.

And the Person obeying, being infinite in Excellency and Glory, not only merited [Page 37] a Freedom from Evil, but a Right to all Kinds of Good.

The Merit of our Lord dosn't spring wholly from any Covenant, as the Merit of our first Parents did.

Nor meerly from a Kind of Congruity, from which, without any Debt or Promise, the Almighty does sometimes confer an outward Reward in Consequence of the good Works of the unregenerate; hence it is said, after a Relation of the Kindness of the Egyptian Midwives to the Israelitish Women, therefore God dealt kindly with them. ‡‡

But Christ's Merit arises also from the condignity of his Obedience, inasmuch as not only a divine Person, one in the Form of God and equal to him obey'd, but the Obedience it self considered, as proceeding from God-Man was not due; the Law only obliges Men to Obedience, not GOD-MAN; the Law oblig'd the Guilty to suffer, but not the Innocent.

It is well observ'd by Doctor Ridgley, ‘That the Satisfaction demanded by the [Page 38] Justice of God, for the Expiation of Sin, must contain in it two Things: Namely 1st, It must be of infinite Value, otherwise it would not be sufficient to compensate for the Injuries offered to the divine Name by Sin, which is objectively infi­nite. And’

2dly: ‘That it must bear some Simili­tude or Resemblance as to the Matter of it, to that Debt which was due from those for whom it was given. Here we must consider, that the Debt due from us was two-fold.’

1st: ‘A Debt of sinless Obedience, whereby the Glory of God's Sovereignty may be secur'd, and the Honour of his Law maintain'd:’ This Debt is still justly demanded, because we have lost the Power of performing it thro' our own Default.

2dly, ‘A Debt of Punishment propor­tioned to the Demerit of Sin, as the Re­sult of the condemning Sentence of the Law, which threatned Death for every Transgression and Disobedience.

[Page 39]Now the Satisfaction Christ has made, has these Ingredients; the Person satisfying, was and is of infinite Dignity, which can­not but derive an infinite Value on his Per­formances and Sufferings as a Surety; and what he did and suffered did bear some Similitude to the Debt we ow'd, as to the Matter or Substance of it: e. g. He per­fectly obey'd in our Place the Precept of the Law and endured the Penalty of Death. As to natural or temporal Death, he bore it strictly and properly, as well as some Resemblance of a spiritual Death, in his being Deserted by his Father, and in Con­sequence thereof, enduring his Father's Vengeance in a Degree to us incompre­hensible, which his Groans, his bloody Sweat in the Garden and Out-cry on the Cross sufficiently Evidence! And altho' our Lord did not endure eternal Death in respect of Duration, which Doubtless must be the Design of the Threatning as it re­spected fall'n Man: Yet as Doctor Ridgely observes, ‘The infinite Value of Christ's Sufferings, did compensate for their not [Page 40] being Eternal.’ And it ought also to be considered, that the eternal Duration of Death, ‘Does not belong to the Essence of Punishment, but results from the Con­dition of the Punished, when they are such that they cannot pay the Debt ano­ther Way.’

From all which Considerations complex­ly considered, it appears that the Obedience of Christ was of infinite Value, and there­fore an equivalent Satisfaction to Justice for the Sins of those he represented: And seeing that the active and passive Obedience of Christ, was not due from him to the Law, considered as God-Man, it might be therefore imputed to others.

But because this Point of the Satisfac­tion of Christ, is of infinite Moment in the Christian Religion, I wou'd therefore offer the following Hints before I proceed far­ther, in Confirmation and Illustration of it.

Natural Reason instructs us that there is a God, from whom all Things are deriv'd, and by whom they are govern'd.

[Page]This supreme Being having made intel­ligent Creatures capable of moral Homage, it was but reasonable that he should give them a Law to direct them in it, especi­ally seeing they cou'd not know such Pre­cepts as took their Rise from his absolute So­vereignty, (which deserves Honour, as well as his other Attributes) without some Inti­mations from himself.

A Law being given, it's highly reasonable that Obedience to it should be enforc'd by Penalties equal to the Transgressions thereof.

Now seeing by every Violation of the Law, the infinite Majesty of the Legisla­tor is affronted, and infinite Obligations to serve him, which the Creature is laid un­der, by reason of the essential Excellency and communicative Goodness of God are broken, therefore an infinite Guilt is con­tracted by every Sin.

This Guilt, the Judge and Legislator, because of his natural Holiness, his govern­ing Wisdom, Truth and Justice, cannot pass by without an equal Satisfaction.

But this the Sinner cannot perform, be­cause he is finite, and therefore either he [Page 42] must suffer eternally, or a Surety under­take for him, and do and suffer in his Room and Place, what he was and is uncapable of.

Now the Person that so interposes must be Man, that he might be capable of suf­fering, for the Deity is impassible; and it is but just and reasonable that the Nature that sinn'd shou'd suffer, that the Sin of Man should be punish'd in Man.

And indeed it is as necessary, that the Person interposing be God, that so the human Nature shou'd be Supported under its Sufferings, which being equal to the Demerit of Sin, and consequently infinite, wou'd otherways destroy it. It is also ne­cessary, that the Mediator should be God, that so an infinite Dignity might be put upon the Sufferings and Obedience of his human Nature by its Union to the Divine, that so the Satisfaction made might be Equivalent to the Debt contracted.

Now there is no God-Man but our JE­SUS; it remains therefore, that he is the only Mediator, who by performing the Righteousness of the Law, hath purchas'd [Page 43] for the Elect a Freedom from the Guilt of Sin, and a Right to eternal Happiness. This Right purchas'd for the Elect by their Surety, 'twas previously concerted in the Covenant of Redemption, should be apply'd to them in Time by Faith. It must be confess'd that the Father and the Son who devis'd the Scheme of the Sinners Happi­ness, without their Council or Consent, had a Right to determine the Time when, and the Order in which an actual Right to it should be confer'd. I may add, that the Son's offering not the proper Payment in Specie in all Circumstances which the Law requir'd, gives farther Light and Force to this Argument; not to say that it is rea­sonable to suppose, that the Order should be such as does consist with the Holiness of God and Wisdom of his Government, which is not like to be answered, unless Faith be considered as the Instrument of a Sinners Justification before God.

The Right purchas'd for the Elect is kept in the Hand of the Mediator, until [Page 44] the Time for their actual Investiture appointed by the Decree of God, and agreed on in the Covenant of Redempti­on, comes.

Then is the elect Sinner arraign'd by Justice for the Violation of the Law, which Charge being true the Sinners Mouth is shut, and all his Pleas are silenc'd: But Christ the Faithful Advocate interceeds with the Father, and urges that the Claim of Right he bought by Blood for them, be now communicated to them, and they ab­solv'd.

The Advocates Plea is immediately ac­cepted, and Orde [...] given that the Sinner be put in actual Possession of the Priviledges purchas'd for him.

To this End therefore the Holy Spirit forms Faith in the elect Sinner, and ena­bles him thereby to accept the Redeemer.

Hereupon immediately God, as a Judge, acquits him from Guilt, declares him Righteous, and receives him into Favour, only on the Account of the Righteousness of Christ imputed to him.

[Page 45]This Brief Representation of the Man­ner of a Sinners Justification, which I have given, is grounded on that Train of Scrip­tures which assert Justification to be by Faith, and is particularly agreeable to and hinted by those Places of sacred Scrip­ture, that speak of Christ's being first de­livered for us and (then) given to us, and with him all Things; ‡‡ and that it is gi­ven us in behalf of Christ to believe: Here it is intimated that Faith is confer'd on the Elect, as what is of right due, on Account of Christ's purchase. And hence we are said, to receive Faith at the First thro' the Righteousness of God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Add to this the continual Intercession of Christ in Heaven, and it fully proves the labouring Point. To what purpose is his Advocate-ship, but to procure the Application of the Benefits he has purchas'd to those he represented at the Time and in the Order prefix'd?

I may add that it is also in Substance agreeable to the harmonious Sentiments of [Page 46] the reform'd Protestant Churches in their Confessions of Faith.

Having spoken something concerning the Term Justification, together with its Allu­sion to Civil Courts, and Mode, I shall proceed to offer a brief Gloss upon the venerable Westminster Assembly's Descrip­tion of its Nature, which is as follows, viz. Justification is an Act of God's Free Grace, whereby he pardoneth all our Sins and accepteth us as Righteous in his Sight, only for the Righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and receiv'd by Faith alone.

Now there are these following Particulars contain'd in the aforesaid Description which deserve our Notice, viz.

First, The Author of Justification, and that is GOD. This the Apostle positively asserts in his Epistle to the Romans in the fol­lowing Words, It is God that justifieth It is against God that Sin is committed, and therefore none can forgive it authorita­tively but him. Jehovah alone is Judge of all the Earth, and Author of that Law [Page 47] by which Man is to be rul'd, and according to which Judgment must pass; and there­fore it is only he that can acquit from the Violations of it, and judicially declare Per­sons to be Righteous: Without this in our Favour our justifying ourselves, * or others justifying us, will be to no avail. ‡‡

Secondly, The General Nature of Justi­fication, an Act, the General Assembly call it so, and not a Work as I conceive for two Reasons:

1st. To prove that the Change produc'd by it is only relative of the State, and not real or inward of the Temper and Dispo­sitions of the Soul. We come into the World in our fallen State, under a twofold melancholy Disorder, viz. Moral and Pe­nal, i. e. we are not only under the Power and Pollution of Sin, but likewise under the Guilt of it, or expos'd by it to Con­demnation. Now Sanctification cures the former, and Justification the latter. Suppo­sing a Person was condem'd to die for Re­bellion, and at the same Time labour'd under bodily Diseases, such as the Leprosie and Consumption, you know the removing [Page 48] of the Sentence of Condemnation would not heal the Diseases; a proper Application must be made to them of a suitable Medi­cine besides the other, otherwise the Person would still be miserable.

2dly. Another Reason is to signify that the Sentence of Justification passes upon the Sinner at once; when he believes, in a Moment his State is alter'd he is no more under the Law, (i. e. as a Covenant of Works) but under Grace. There is there­fore now, no Condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the Flesh but after the Spirit. Here observe that in the Apostles Judgment the Elect, before a vital Union to Christ, are under Condemnation, but being united to him by Faith they are freed from it entirely and at once; seeing Justification respects the Person he must be either wholly justified or condemn'd, there is no Medium. There are, no doubt, various Degrees of our Per­swasion of this Matter respecting ourselves; but that does not alter the Case at all, for ye know my Brethren that there is a vast [Page 49] Difference between the Knowledge of a Thing and the Thing itself.

From what has been said it appears, that Justification is no immanent Act of God, for all such are Eternal, nor are they distinct from God himself; but the Act of Justification is at the Time of believing and not before, and has an Effect without him; it terminates on the Sinner, and makes a relative Change respecting his State.

Neither does the Notion of an immanent Act answer the End of Justification, which is to free the Sinner from Law Charges, whereby he was before impleaded, and therefore we may safely assert, that Justi­fication, as it proceeds from God, and al­ters the State of the Person upon whom it terminates, is a transient Act. But,

Thirdly, Another particular in the As­sembly's Description is, the impulsive or first moving Cause of Justification, and that is Free-Grace. The Fountain from which the Act of Justification flows is pure Grace, this the Apostle asserts in his Epistle to the Romans in the following Words, being justi­fied [Page 50] freely by his Grace. The first Wheel that sets all the rest in Motion is the un­merited unexcited Kindness of God, or the Good Pleasure of his Will. Justification is an important Priviledge which all are by Nature equally unworthy of, and e­qually unable to acquire or requite; and yet it is conferr'd on some, which manifests the Glory of Sovereign Grace, and shews us that God hath Mercy on whom he will have Mercy. ‡‡ We are all by Nature like Children lying in the open Field in our Blood and Polution, in the most ruinous and expos'd Circumstances; and yet even then the gracious God has Compassion on the Elect, and says to them Live. ¶‡

Fourthly: The next Particular in the aforesaid Description, respects the Parts or Branches of Justification, which are these two, viz. Pardon and Acceptance.

Now Pardon is properly a cancelling, or dissolving the Sinners Obligation to suffer Punishment, by vertue of the Threatning of the Law against Transgressors. Pardon supposes (1st,) a Law given for the Govern­ment [Page 51] of Mankind, and that recommended by Sanctions or the Threatning of Pu­nishments against Delinquents, &c. without this it wou'd be but an Advice, and no Law, properly speaking. (2dly,) It sup­poses a Breach or Transgression of the Law, which the Apostle John calls Sin. (3dly) It supposes an Obligation to suffer Punish­ment for Sin, arising from the Sanction of the Law. On the other Hand, Pardon im­plies the Removal, not of the intrinsick Evil or Desert of Sin, for that always re­mains vile and deserves Punishment, but only of the aforesaid Obligation to suffer it by reason of the Law; tho' there be no Con­demnation to those that are in Christ Jesus, * yet there is something condemnable in them, and hence the Psalmist pronounces a Blessing upon those whose Iniquity is for­given, and whose Sin is covered.

When a Person is Justify'd, all his Sins past are actually pardon'd, and a Remedy is given in the Righteousness of Christ against Sins to come; which before they are par­don'd [Page 52] must be lamented, and the Righte­ousness of Christ apply'd, by the renew'd Exercise of Faith. I acknowledged, (said the Psalmist) my Transgressions unto thee, and thou forgavest the Iniquity of my Sin. And hence we are instructed in the Pat­tern of Prayer our Lord has given us, to pray daily for the Remission of Sins. Sins not committed, cannot be forgiven actual­ly; where no Guilt is, it cannot be taken away.

Altho' Justification be properly of the Law-State of the Person and unalterable, * so that the Partaker of it shall never by Sin come under the Condemnation of the Law, as a Covenant of Works, being un­der another Dispensation, the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, having made him free from the Law of Sin and Death.

Yet the Dispensation of Grace under which the Believer is, has also its Sanctions; and hence its call'd, the Law of Christ. ‡‡ Jehovah hereby requires Obedience of his [Page 53] People, ¶¶ and threatens to chastise their Iniquities with Rods; †† and assures them that he is provok'd with their Impieties. ‡‡ Now this expossedness of the justify'd Per­son to the Corrections of the Almighty, both outward and inward, is a Kind of Guilt, which may justly excite an awful Fear of God, * and is not to be remov'd without the Exercise of Repentance and Faith.

But to proceed: The other Part or Branch of Justification, is God's accepting of us as Righteous in his Sight; and hence the believing Elect are said to be made Ac­cepted in the Beloved; Jehovah first ac­cepts their Persons, and then their Perfor­mances; and hence he is said, to have had a Respect to Abel and to his Offering. Tho' the Almighty does not find in us such an inherent Righteousness as the Law requires, yet on the Account of the Righ­teousness of Christ imputed to us, which is equal to the Demands of the Law, he [Page 54] authoritatively Declares us Righteous as a Judge; and therefore in this respect, he beholds not Iniquity in Jacob, and Peverse­ness in Israel. Now by this judicial De­claration, the believing Elect are entitled to Happiness; and therefore it is represent­ed, as a Crown of Righteousness given by the righteous Judge. This leads me to a

Fifth Particular contain'd in the Assem­bly's Description; and that is the merito­rious Cause, or Matter of our Justification, which is the Righteousness of Christ, viz. Of his Life and Death. That this is equal to the Demands of the Law and Justice, and therefore a sufficient Foundation for Justification, I have before shewn, and therefore for the Sake of Brevity, must only add, an Instructive Answer of the Reverend and Ingenious Mr. David Clark­son, to an Objection of some, against the Necessity of the Imputation of Christ's ac­tive Obedience, because of the suppos'd Sufficiency of his passive without it, to free [Page 55] from Punishment, and procure a Title to Happiness. To this Objection, he replies in the following Manner: ‘Indeed we should not separate what the Lord hath not disjoyn'd: The Obedience and Suf­ferings of Christ are not disjoyn'd in themselves, in their Virtue or Effects. Not in themselves: He suffered in all his Obedience, and obeyed in all his Suffer­ngs.—There was Obedience in all his Sufferings, because he suffered in Complyance with his Father's Will: And there was sufferings in all his Obe­dience, because his Acts of Obedience, were Acts of Humiliation and Abase­ment, all perform'd by the Son of God in the Form of a Servant.’

‘Nor in their Virtue: His Obedience was both meritorious and satisfactory; and his Sufferings were both satisfactory and meritorius. His Obedience was not only meritorious, but also satisfactory; if not as Obedience, yet as it was Penal.’

‘And his Sufferings were not only sa­tisfactory, but also meritorious; if not [Page 56] as they were great, yet as they were obediential.’

‘Nor in their Effects: His Sufferings could not have satisfied Justice, without his perfect Obedience. Because Suffer­ings, simply considered, without Obe­dience, find no Acceptance with God; his perfect Obedience could not have procur'd for us a Title to Life; for this we could not have, unless freed from Condemnation by his Sufferings.’

I proceed to enquire how Christ's Righteousness becomes ours?

Now this the Assembly observes is done two Ways, viz. by Imputation and Faith. And

First: God imputes the Righteousness of Christ to the believing Elect: By imput­ing, we understand God's reckoning, or placing to our Account, what was done and suffered by Christ as a Surety in our Room and Place, as much as tho' we had done and suffered these Things in our own Per­sons. This the sacred Scriptures assert, [Page 57] while they signify the Blessedness of the Man unto whom God imputeth Righteousness with­out Works; and declare that Christ was made Sin for us, that we might be made the Righteousness of God in him. And else­where he is call'd, the Lord our Righteous­ness, * and the End of the Law for Righ­teousness, to every one that Believeth. And we are farther told, that as by one Man's Disobedience many were made Sinners, so by the Obedience of One, shall many be made Righteous. †† i. e. when they believe.

Surely if ever Man be Justify'd, he must have a Righteousness to justify him equal to the Demands of the Law; the Judge of all the Earth must needs do right, and there­fore cannot pronounce those Just that are not so; in that Degree the Law requires, either inherently or imputatively, the Sanc­tions of the first Covenant, because of the Justice and Truth of God establishing them must be fulfill'd; hence our Lord himself assures us, that till Heaven and Earth pass, [Page 58] one Jot or one Tittle shall in no ways pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled. ‡‡

Now there is no Righteousness but that of the blessed Jesus, that can answer the Law's Demands. The Law requires perfect and perpetual Obedience, and threatens Death for the least Defect. But we have all sinn'd and come short of the Glo­ry of God. * There is not a just Man on Earth that doeth good and sinneth not. If we say we are perfect, our Mouth shall prove us perverse. If we say we have no Sin, we are Lyars and the Truth is not in us. ¶¶

So that without another Righteousness besides our own, we cannot be sav'd. Now the Righteousness of Christ cannot be made ours any other Way than by Imputation; his individual Righteousness cannot be in­fus'd into us, individual Actions and Pas­sions terminate in the Subject of them. I may add, that the aforesaid Imputation is sufficient to our Justification appears thus, viz.

[Page 59] First: The Covenant of Works tho' it made no mention of a Surety, yet it did not exclude one, in case there ever should be a Necessity.

Secondly: The active and passive Obedi­ence of Christ as a Surety, answer'd the Law's Precept and Sanction; yea magnified it and made it honourable, and so gave room for the Display of those divine Perfections, which were engag'd to issue the Threats of the first Covenant; and thus God may be Just, and yet the Justifier of him that be­lieves in Jesus, and declare his Righte­ousness in the Remission of Sins that are past thro' Christ's Propitiation.

Thirdly: The Almighty having in infi­nite Condescension provided a Surety and accepted of his Satisfaction under that Character, as appears by his Release from the Prison of the Grave, and triumphant Ascension to the Seat of the Blessed. He was taken from Prison and from Judgment, delivered for our Offences and raised again for our Justification; God [Page 60] manifest in the Flesh and justified in the Spi­rit; i. e. openly acquitted, as his Peoples Representative, by his Resurrection from the Dead, which was perform'd thro' the holy Spirit's Agency. As Mediator he of­fered a Sacrifice to God of a sweet-smelling Savour. The Apostle lays great Stress up­on the Resurrection of Christ, while he assur'd the Corinthians, that if Christ be not raised their Faith was vain, and they were yet in their Sins: The Reason is this: The Lord Jesus being Arrested by Justice as the Surety of the Elect, in order to pay the Debt they ow'd; if he had continued under the Arrest, it wou'd have prov'd his Insolvency, or Inability to perform his Engagements; but having pay'd the Debt, or finished his Purchase, God hath raised him up, having loosed the Pains of Death, because it was not possible he should be holden of it. Now I say, the Father having accepted what our Lord did and suffered as a Surety, it is but reasonable that he should impute what he did and suffered to those whom he repre­sented, at the Time and in the Manner [Page 61] prefix'd by his Purpose. Which brings me to speak upon the

Second Way by which the Righteousness of Christ becomes ours, and that is Faith; 'It is received by Faith alone.' say the Assembly.

When a Person believes, he has a right to conclude that he is Justified, and to claim all the Privileges that issue from it, and not before. This is what we Term Justification by Faith, which therefore can­not be before Faith; for that which con­veys a Claim of Right, must it self neces­sarily exist before the Claim conveyed by it.

The sacred Scriptures frequently repre­sent Justification to be by Faith; thus it is said in the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, the Scriptures foreseeing, that God WOULD Justify the Heathen thro' Faith, preach'd before the Gospel unto Abraham. And elsewhere it is said, seeing it is one God who SHALL Justify the Circumcision by Faith, and the Uncircumcision through Faith. * [Page 62] Now it was not written for his Sake alone, that it was imputed to him, but for us also to whom it SHALL be imputed, if we believe on him. There are many other Places of Scripture of the like Tendency, the Words of which I have not Time to men­tion. And therefore proceed to observe, That the Nature of that Faith by which we are Justify'd is well represented by receiving Christ. * This not being capable of a natural, must needs be taken in a mo­ral Sense, and as such considered, it supposes

1st: A firm assent of the Mind to the Declarations of the Gospel, respecting Christ's Person and Offices, viz. That he is God-Man, every Way able and willing to save the Sinners, that take their Flight to him, from all the Evils and Miseries they labour under; and that he is cloath­ed with Authority by his Father for this purpose. ‡‡

2dly. It supposes the Judgment's high [Page 63] Aprobation of Christ, particularly in the aforesaid respects.

3dly. It supposes an entire renouncing of all other Refuges as insufficient to satisfy divine Justice, and save them from Sin and Ruin.

2dly. It implies the Wills consent to accept of Christ as the Gospel offers him, viz. Deliberately after having counted the Cost, freely as the Gift of God, ** and fully in his Person, Offices and Rela­tions, together with his Law and Cross. ‡‡

2dly. It implies an entire Dependance on him for Justification and Salvation. †*

3dly. It implies a sweet Complacence in him, and the Way of Justification thro' his Righteousness alone, without any Mix­ture of ours as a Concause. The humbled Sinner is willing to resign himself to Christ's Guidance and Government, to lean alone upon his Merit for Acceptance, and to ascribe to him all the Glory of its Happi­ness, this Gospel Method of Salvation it is pleased with, and heartily acquiesces in. *‡

[Page 64]Now Brethren the Faith that I have mention'd, as it is preceeded with a distres­sing Sense of Sin and Danger, such as ex­cites to the most anxious enquiries and the most earnest Use of all appointed Means for relief, * So it is followed with good Effects upon the Heart and Practice: The governing Temper of the former is hea­venly, and the general Tenor of the lat­ter is Holy. That Faith which is the Instrument of Justification purifies and humbles the Heart, overcomes the World, and works by Love.

Now we are justified by Faith not con­sider'd as a Work, for then we should be justified by Works, but as a Mean or In­strument apprehending the Person and ap­plying the Righteousness of Christ to us. There is no worth in Faith to merit our Justification, when a Begar stretches out his Hand to receive a Purse of Gold, it is not the Hand but the Gold receiv'd by it that enriches him: And it should be farther observed that Faith is the Gift of [Page 65] God †* wrought in us by his Almighty Power, †† which we cannot exercise without the renewed Influencies of the holy Spirit. * Observe farther, that it is Faith alone that receives the Righteousness of Christ to the Justification of a Sinner, Faith indeed is not alone in the Person justified, no, by no Means! For Faith being a Part of the new Creature, all the other Train of Graces included therein must needs be con­nected with it. Justification and Sanctifi­cation, tho' they be really distinguish'd, yet are never separated: That Man that is justified before God has really the Principles of Sanctification in himself.

But tho' Faith be not alone in the justi­fied, yet it justifies alone, (instrumentally) And hence the Righteousness apprehend­ed by it is call'd the Righteousness of Faith, not the Righteousness of Repen­tance, Love or any other Grace.

It has pleas'd God to employ the Grace of Faith in the Business of Justification ra­ther than any other Grace; because of its [Page 66] fitness for this Office: The Eye is employed in seeing, the Ear in hearing, and not the Foot, because of their Fitness for such Functions. Thus seeing we are justified not by giving to God any thing that we do, but by receiving from God what Christ has done for us: Faith being the only receiving Grace, is therefore only fit for this Office, the other Graces have their Exercise and Use in order to Salvation, * but do nothing towards our puting on the Robe of Christ's Righteousness. Faith humbles the Crea­ture and sets the Crown upon the Head of Christ: This the Apostle's Query proves in his Epistle to the Romans, when speaking of Free Justification before God he en­quires, where is boasting then, it is excluded, by what Law, of Works, nay but by the Law of Faith. But to illustrate this Matter a lit­tle further let it be observ'd, that our ac­tual Union or Relation to Christ is the Ground of our actual Right to his Be­nefits: And hence we are told, that he that hath the Son hath Life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life: And that [Page 67] Christ Jesus is made of God Righteousness to such as are in him: †† And that the Elect are made accepted in the beloved. ** The Marriage Relation of the Wife to the Husband is Doubtless the Ground of her Joint Interest in his Estate: Communion is founded in Union, being united to or made one with Christ, we have Communi­on in his Benefits.

Now Fath is (upon our Part) the Bond of the aforesaid Union. And hence it is represented in Scripture by coming to Christ, * receiving of him, leaning upon him, as well as by eating his Flesh and drinking his Blood: ‡‡ And those that want Faith are represented in Common, be they Elect or not Elect, as in a State of Distance, of Death, of Wrath. Hence it is that the Blessed Jesus lamented the Case and Course of the unbelieving Jews, that they would not come unto him that they might have Life. ‡† And Paul declares in his Epistle [Page 68] to the Ephesians concerning some converted elect Persons, that they WERE by Nature Children of Wrath even as others, i. e. before Faith Wrath was their Inheritance, or belong'd to them by Right, or according to Law and Justice as well as to the non Elect: But now since they were quickned the Case was altered, their State was chang'd. Faith therefore justifies as it unites to Christ, for as our natural Union to the first Adam is the Ground of our Condemnation, so our spiritual or mistical Union to the Second, is the Ground of our Justification.

What has been said is Doubtless intend­ed by the Westminster Assembly, when they tell us ‘That Faith only receives the Righteousness of CHRIST. i. e. In Contradistinction from every other Grace in us, and all the Works of Holiness and Righ­teousness done by us.

The Representation which the Church of England give of Justification in the eleventh Article, is exactly agreeable to that of the Westminster Assembly, which I have explained and is as follows, viz. ‘We are accounted Righteous before God, [Page 69] only for the Merit of our Lord and Sa­viour JESUS CHRIST by Faith, and not for our own Works or Deservings. Wherefore that we are justified by Faith only, is a most wholesome Doctrine and very full of Comfort, as more largely is express'd in the Homily of Justification.’ This leads me to the

II. General Head, which was to prove, that Justification is without the Works of the Law.

Now this is not only expresly asserted in the Words of our Text, but likewise in other Places of Scripture: To which let me add the following Arguments, viz.

First. The Law requires a Perfection of Obedience in order to Justification by it, and denounces a Curse upon those that want it. Now seeing we are destitute of that perfect and inherent Righteousness, in Habit and Act which the Law requires; * it is impossible we should be justified by it; neither will it avail to reply that the aforesaid Perfection was necessary under the [Page 70] Law, but not under the Gospel; for the Relaxation made under the Gospel is not that an imperfect Righteousness shou'd be accepted for a perfect one; for thus the Justice of God would be wrong'd: Neither is it consistent with the Truth of God to declare those Righteous, that are not per­fectly so, either inherently or by Imputation. But the Relaxation made under the Gospel, consists in accepting of the Righteousness of the Surety, in the Room of that which the Law required of the Sinner personally.

Secondly. We have broken the Law, and cannot make Reparation equal to the Of­fence, and less than this, divine Justice will not accept. Our after Obedience, upon the Supposition it was perfect, (which in the mean time cannot be reasonably expected from imperfect Creatures) wou'd not make Satisfaction for our past Disobedience; the Reason of which is this: We are under a double Debt to God, viz. Of Duty and Penalty; as Creatures, we owe the former to God's Law, and as Transgressors we owe the latter to his Justice; now the Payment of the one, cannot discharge the other, [Page 71] which is of a different Kind. Let me add, that the Penalty threatned, being equal to the Demerit of Sin, is such as we can't endure without being eternally miser­able. *

Thirdly, We can't be justify'd by Works, because that Works done before Faith are not pleasing to God, but full of Sin; and so soon as Faith is given, it immediately re­ceives Christ, and so we are Justified be­fore we perform Works that are spiritually Good. And hence the Almighty is said to Justify the Ungodly: †† i. e. Such as have never done any acceptable Service to God. The Church of England speak ex­cellently upon this Point, in the 13th Ar­ticle, which is as follows: ‘Works done before the Grace of Christ and the In­spiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God, for as much as they spring not of Faith in Jesus Christ; neither do they make Men meet to receive Grace, [Page 72] (or as the School Authors say,) de­serve Grace of congruity: Yea ra­ther for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the Nature of Sin.’

Fourthly, We cannot be Justified by Works, because then the Reward wou'd be reckon'd of Debt and not of Grace; but the Reward is of Grace, and hence the Man is describ'd as blessed, to whom God im­puteth Righteousness without Works: And if of Grace, it is no more of Works, other­wise Grace is no more Grace. But if it be of Works then it is no more Grace: Other­wise Work is no more Work. To be justi­fied freely, (which the Word Grace sig­nifies) without any Regard to our Works, as Causes thereof either in Part or in whole, and to be justify'd partly or wholly by Works, are absolute and unreconcileable Inconsistencies.

Fifthly. Seeing the Righteousness of CHRIST is perfect and of infinite Value, [Page 73] equal to the Demands of the Law and Justice, as has been before prov'd, then there is no need of adding ours to it with Design to purchase in Part our Justification be­fore God: And truly this Notion is Inju­rious to the Honour of CHRIST as Media­tor, for it interpretatively says, that his Sa­tisfaction is incompleat; and if the Case were so, surely ours could never compleat it, because it is at least imperfect. * And thus no Flesh could be saved.

6thly. We cannot be justified by Works, because that thus Man would have Cause of boasting, which the Apostle assures us is excluded, Not by the Law of Works but by the Law of Faith. It tends to puff up the Pride and Vanity of the Creature to imagine that there is any Merit in his Works. And how unreasonable is the Supposition, that we should merit Good from God by returning to him what is his own?

7thly. It is reasonable to conclude, that we are justifi'd in the same Manner that [Page 74] Abraham the Father of the Faithful was. Now this was by Faith, for says the A­postle, If Abraham were justified by Works, he hath whereof to Glory: But he denies that he had Cause of glorying before God, and therefore he was not justified by Works, No he believed God and it was imputed to him for Righteousness. In the mean Time, as the Apostle James observes, this Faith of Abraham by which he was justified, was a living Operative Principle which evidenc­ed its Reality by good Works, that flow'd from it as Streams from a Fountain.

8thly. Our Righteousness answers not the Demands of the Gospel no more than of the Law, and so falls short of every Rule of Righteousness. The Gospel requires Perfection as well as the Law, to imagine the Contrary is in other Words to say, either that the Imperfections of Believers are no Sins, or that the Gospel allows of Sin, both which are equally absurd.!

It is true the Gospel promises the Par­don of Imperfections to believers [...]on the Exercise of Faith and Repentance, which [Page 75] the Law does not, yet in the mean Time it obliges to the Contrary, and therefore cannot accept of that as a Righteousness for Justification, which falls short of its own Demand, unless it be supposed to declare those Righteous which, according to its own Prescriptions, are not so, and this would be to assert what is false in Fact: He that is Imperfect is Guilty, then sure­ly the Righteous God will by no means quit such, except they have another Righteous­ness than their own to screen them from divine Vengeance.

Surely as the Prophet expresses it, we are all as an unclean Thing, and all our Righteousnesses are as filthy Rags. ** We have lost our Original Integrity, and in the Room thereof contracted the vilest Polu­tion and Depravity, which has spread thro' all our Powers, and consequently mingles with and taints every Principle and Spring of Action, and makes them of a base Allay. ‡‡ This Sentiment had much Im­pression upon the Heart of Job, as appears by the following strong Lines of his, If I [Page 76] wash my self with Snow Water, and make my Hands never so clean, yet shalt thou Plunge me in the Ditch, and mine own Cloaths shall abhor me. Behold I am vile what shall I answer thee? I will lay my Hand upon my Mouth. ¶* I have heard of thee by the hear­ing of the Ear, but now mine Eye seeth thee, wherefore I abhor my self and repent in Dust and Ashes. * And if our inherent Righteousness be thus Defective, it will necessarily follow that so are all the Acts that proceed from it, the Streams cannot, in the Nature of Things, be better than the Fountain from which they proceed: And hence the Wise Man assures us, that there is not a just Man upon Earth that do­eth Good and sinneth not. †* The Apostle Paul laments the Principle of Corruption that was in him in the Language of A­gony and bitter Passion! O wretched Man that I am! and freely confesses that he was thereby hindred from doing the Good that he would, and led (in some Instances an unwilling) Captive to the Evil he would [Page 77] not. ‡* And James likewise asserts that in many Things we offend all. ** Now how can such a Righteousness answer ei­ther the Demands of the Law or Gospel? ‘A Man (says Bishop Hopkins) might more reasonably expect to buy Stars with Counters, or to purchase a Kingdom with two Mites, than to think to pur­chase the heavenly Kingdom, by paying down his own Duties and good Works which are no Ways profitable to God, and bear no more Proportion to the In­finite Glory of Heaven than a single Cy­pher to the numberless Sands of the Sea.’

Not to add, that if any Righteousness of ours was the Matter or Cause of our Justification before God, the Covenant of Grace would be unhing'd, and a Covenant of Works put in the Room of it. Pray what was the Reason why the Covenant of Nature was call'd a Covenant of Works? But because Man's Righteousness and O­bedience was therein to be the Ground and Reason of his Acceptance.

[Page 78]To assert that there is more Grace in the new Covenant than in the Old, will not alter the Case, so long as the Condition of both is supposed to be the same, be­cause that more or less in Degree does not alter the Kind. And hence we may con­clude, that the Notion of Justification by Works, either in whole or in Part, subverts the Gospel of Christ, and pretends to lay another Foundation for Mans Happiness than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ; for this supposes that not the pure Grace of God and the Righteousness of Christ, is the Cause why one differs from another as to the State of his Soul, but Mens Virtue and Goodness. The Apostle there­fore charges those that Preach such Doc­trine as perverters of the Gospel of Christ, as Preachers of another Gospel, and denoun­ces a Curse upon them in his Epistle to the Galatians. * And elsewhere he declares, that Israel that followed after the Law of Righteousness, did not attain to the Law of Righteousness, (and that for this Reason) because they sought it not by Faith, but as [Page 79] it were by the Deeds of the Law, i. e. The Carnal Jews sought after Justification, partly on the Account of their own Works, and not as the Free-Gift of God, and therefore did not attain it: And in the following Chapter he farther confirms this by saying, that some of the Jews had a Zeal of God, but not according to Know­ledge, for they being Ignorant of God's Righteousness, and going about to establish their own, have not submitted themselves to the Righteousness of God, i. e. The Graceless Jews, not having an affecting Apprehension of the Necessity and Sufficien­cy of the Righteousness of the Media­tor to their Justification, which was of God's finding out and Acceptance, but endea­vouring in the Room thereof to establish their own Virtue or Goodness as a Ground of Pardon, they did not become Subjects to the Mediators Righteousness, but proud­ly rebell'd against the Way of Salvation by it. This Gloss the Emphasis of the original Word will justify. ‡‡

[Page 80]I proceed now to the Improvement, in which I must be but very brief. And

[Page 81] First: What has been said serves to re­fute the false Notions of the Papists, who blend Justification and Sanctification toge­ther; of the Socinians, who deny the Sa­tisfaction of Christ; of the Arminians, who deny his Substitution in the Place of Sin­ners, and mix Works with his Righteous­ness as the Concause of a Sinners Justifica­tion before God; of the Neonomians, who imagine that a new Law is made which accepts of less than perfect Righteousness, or perfect Satisfaction, for the Sinners Jus­tification before God; and of the Antino­mians, who imagine that the Elect are justified before Faith, either from Eternity, or at least from the Time of Christ's Death.

Seeing that the Ransom which Christ offered to divine Justice, was not proper Payment in all Circumstances, then it ne­cessarily follows, that God pardons freely: [Page 82] We are not only beholden to Christ for Satisfying, but to God the Father for Ac­cepting thereof! Herein is Love, without Peer or Parallel!

And it likewise naturally and necessarily follows from the same Principle, that none hath or can have, any actual Interest in, or Benefit by Redemption, 'till they com­ply with the Terms prescribed by the Fa­ther and Son, seeing the injured Lawgiver was at liberty to accept of Satisfaction or not, he hath of Necessity the Right to pre­scribe his own Terms, when and how he will admit the Sinner to an actual Claim to the Benefits of it. And surely, the Me­diator is engag'd with equal Tenderness, to promote the Interests of both Parties, seeing he possess'd the Nature of both, and therefore must needs concur, that the Ap­plication of his Satisfaction be made in such a way as is consistent with the Honour of God, his Law and Government, which End cannot be attain'd without establishing Faith as the Mean of it, and urging Holi­ness as the Way to Happiness.

[Page 83]It is true, a Surety in a strict Sense, only represents the Debtor and minds his In­demnity, and when he pays the pecuniary Debt in kind, the Bond is cancell'd. But our Lord is a Surety only in a large Sense, for he is a Mediator as well as a Surety, a Friend to both Parties, engag'd by Na­ture and Office, to seek the Honour and Interest of both; besides what he paid as before observ'd, was an Evquivalent, and this in Consequence of an Agreement with the Father, respecting the Plan of Man's Happiness, which was surely well ordered in all Things.

Our Case God-ward, my Brethren, is not properly that of Debtors, but that of Criminal-Subjects, and God's Aspect to­wards us, not strictly that of a Creditor, but that of a Rector and Judge; and there­fore the Part Christ acted, was not in a strict Sense that of a Surety, paying the very Debt in Kind, in every Circumstance, and so Discharging the Bond, but that of a Mediator, expiating our Guilt by Satis­faction.

This rightly understood, saps the Foun­dation [Page 84] of the Antinomian Delusion, con­cerning eternal Justification. To which I may add, that if the Person must first be charg'd with Guilt before he be Justi­fy'd, as has been before prov'd, then eternal Justification must fall to the Ground. If it be suppos'd, that Sin is charg'd as well as discharg'd from Eternity; it may be re­ply'd, that then Men wou'd be con­demn'd and Justify'd at once, because there is no prior or posterior in Eternity, which is an unreconcileable Contradiction.

The Wit of Man can never reconcile the Notion of eternal Justification with the Doctrine of original Sin, the Current of the Scriptures, the Convictions of the Holy Spi­rit before Conversion, the Necessity of Faith, Repentance and Holiness. If it be suppos'd that any were Justify'd from Eternity, they have lost it by the Fall of Adam, and so need a new Justification: We have not only the infallible Testimony of the sacred Scriptures without us, that before Faith we are Guilty before God, and under Condem­nation; but such as are convinc'd of Sin, have the Witness of God's Spirit within [Page 85] them, to the same Truth: And hence the Spirit of God is call'd, a Spirit of Bondage to fear. The Notion of eternal Justifica­tion, destroys the absolute Necessity of Faith, Repentance and Holiness; for accord­ing to it, upon the Supposition an Elect Per­son went on in a Course of the grossest Impieties, such as Murder, Uncleanness and Robbery till Death, and never believ'd or repented, the Almighty wou'd have no more to charge against such a Person, than against the Angels that never sin'd! It tends to make Sin of the most crimson Kind, appear to be but a meer Trifle unworthy of our Fear or Sorrow, and so to banish all Holiness from the Earth, yea and to era­dicate all Civil Society!

Objection 1st. Christ was a publick Per­son, and as such Justified.

Answer. What then, as none are guilty of Adams Sin actually, until they exist and partake of the same Nature; so none are actually Justify'd, till by Faith they are united to the second Adam.

Obect. 2d. God's Nature is unchangea­ble [Page 86] and his Love eternal, and therefore the Elect were Justify'd from Eternity.

Ans. I deny the Consequence; tho' God is not Changeable, we are; and there is a manifest Difference between the Pur­poses of God and the Execution of them: Altho' God did from Eternity purpose to create the World, yet it was not created till Time began; and this being done ac­cording to God's Purpose, makes no Change in God. As to the Love of God, the usual Distinction of Divines concerning it is just, viz. that of Benevolence and Complacence; the former signifies God's gracious Purpose from Eternity, of conferring special Good upon the Elect in Time. The latter in­tends, the actual conferring of the Good design'd, together with the Suitableness of the State and prevailing Temper of the Elect to the approbative Will of God; on which Account he is represented as taking Delight in them when converted. Now it is only in the former Sense that God is said to love the Elect before Conversion. Be­sides [Page 87] it should be considered, that God's Love is no Passion in him, as Love is in us, and therefore only intends the Posture of his Will towards the Object, either in Respect of Purpose before Time, or Approbation in Time, agreeable to his Purpose before it. Neither is their any Inconsistency in this, that an Elect Person upon whom God intends to confer special Good in Time, should be, in Respect of his present State, expos'd to the Condemnation of the Law before the Good design'd be confer'd; for God's Purpose does not alter the State, till it be put in Execution; and this is what orthodox Divines intend by God's Love and Hatred, respecting the Elect before Conversion.

Object. 3d. Things to come are present with God, one Day, is with him as a Thou­sand Years.

Answ. Things to come are not present with God actually, but only in respect of his Knowledge and Purpose respecting their Futurity. If Things to come were actually present with God, then these Absurdities will unavoidably follow, viz. That all [Page 88] Things are Eternal, and that they are and are not at the same Time and in the same Sense! Besides the same Rule wou'd hold as to Things past, and then we must say concerning the World, that it is still a Creating in the Sight of God, and that the Flood now covers it, and that the People of Israel are passing thro' the Red Sea: Who sees not that this is rediculous? Surely Jehovah looks not on Things in a false Light. What wild Work wou'd it be, if we shou'd form our Prayers according to the aforesaid Scheme? For thus we must now pray for the Protection of Adam in Paradise, of Noah in the Flood, and of Lot in Sodom [...]

Object. 4th. Justification by Faith, is but a Manifestation of Justification.

Ans. But how can this be? Surely it is not so in Relation to God, for known to him are all his Works from the Beginning. And as to others, it is not Faith alone that makes our Justification manifest to them, but principally good Works that flow from it, as the Apostle James observes. Nor can [Page 89] it be justly understood, of the Manifestation of Justification to our selves, for then all that believe would know that they are Justified at all Times, which is contrary to the express Declaration of God's Word, that assures us, that such as fear God and obey the Voice of his Servant, do sometimes walk in Darkness and see no Light. Again the Scripture excludes our own inherent Righteousness and Works, from any Agen­cy in that Justification which is by Faith: But to say that all the Graces of the Spirit and Duties of Gospel Obedience, are ex­cluded from being of any Use in the Ma­nifestation of our Justification, is to con­tradict both Scripture and Reason; hereby, (says the Apostle John) we do know that we know him, if we keep his Commandments. To suppose that the Apostle should take so much Pains to state the true Notion of Justification, and to defend it against the carnal Jews and false Teachers, and mean no more than a Manifestation which we might be sav'd without, and which is as uncertain as the Wind, is most Ridiculous!

[Page 90]To certify us of our Good State, is not the Design of the first Act of Faith, but of after Acts; and hence the Apostle ob­serves concerning the Ephesians, that after they believed, they were sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise.

If Faith only gave us the comfortable Knowledge of our State, then it would alter our Frame but not our State; but the Scriptures declare the Contrary, while they inform us, that hereby we obtain a Right to become the Sons of God.

Object. 5th. The sacred Scriptures re­present, that God was reconciling the World to himself, not imputing their Trespasses to them: And that Christ has made Peace thro' the Blood of his Cross: And that the Grace of God in Christ was given us before the World began.

Ans. The aforesaid Places of Scripture, can consistently with the Current of Scrip­ture, the Analogy or Proportion of Faith, and Dictates of right Reason, be supposed to mean no more than these Things fol­lowing: [Page 91] (1st.) That there was a gracious Purpose of God from Eternity, to vouch­safe Blessings on the Elect in time. (2dly,) That there was a sufficient Foundation laid in the Covenant of Redemption, as well as in the Sufferings and Obedience of Christ in pursuance of it, for the purchasing and securing the actual Reconciliation of the Elect in time. (3dly,) That there was and is a Sufficiency of Grace treasur'd up in Christ as the Head of his Church and Fountain of Influence, to be communicated to the Elect upon their Closure with him; which in some Places of Scripture, is re­presented by the Time past, to shew the Certainty of the Event: For the same Rea­son, the Coming of our Lord to Judgment, is represented by the Apostle John as pre­sent, tho' it be future: Behold he cometh with the Clouds!

It's well observ'd by Professor Haliburton, ‘That upon Christ's yielding the Satisfac­tion demanded, there did result a Right for the Elect, to Freedom from the Curse, and to all the Benefits of his Purchase: This Right is not what the Lawyers call, [Page 92] Jus in re, but Jus ad rem. 'Tis more properly said, there is a Right for them, then that they have a Right; since they know not of it, it is not actionable by them, nor is it actually Vested in their Persons, yet with God it is righteous, that they for whom Justice is satisfy'd, a Price paid, Redemption purchas'd, &c. shou'd at the Time and in the Order agreed on, be put in actual Possession of those Privileges.’

To say that the Elect are Justified from Eternity, is in effect to say, that nothing sin'd from all Eternity, and that nothing was Justified, which is absurd! For the Elect before they Exist, are nothing in re­spect of actual Sin.

If it be Objected that what has been said, will oppose the Decrees: I Answer, no not at all! For the Decree considers future Beings and future Actions, but Justifi­cation respects Persons present, or existing, and Actions past, and hence God is said, to Just [...]fy the Ungodly. But can a Person [Page 93] be actually Ungodly before he has a Being? The Almighty decreed from all Eternity to glorify as well as justify the Elect, are they therefore actually Glorify'd from Eternity? If it be said that there was more than a Decree, viz. Christ's Engagement as a Surety to redeem the Elect. Ans. What then, so there was a Covenant Engagement between the Father and Son, that Christ should be made a Curse for his People in Time: And was he therefore actually made a Curse from all Eternity? No surely!

To assert the Elect are actually justify'd and actually condemn'd at the same Time, is as gross a Contradiction as to say that Light is Darkness, and Darkness is Light, it is impossible in the Nature of Things: Such as are actually justify'd are actually freed from Condemnation, and therefore can't at the same Time be actually under it. But I must conclude these polemical Hints, and proceed to mention a

Second Infference from what has been before said, and that is the comfortable State of Believers. Who these are I have before shewn, by explaining the Nature of Faith, [Page 94] which I advise the Reader to examine himself by.

Now such as do find in themselves the Characters of Faith have Reason to rejoyce under the most gloomy Aspects of Provi­dence: For however Men may condemn them God will not, there is no Condemnati­on to those that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the Flesh but after the Spirit. *

And we may likewise learn the Neces­sity and Excellency of Faith thro' which alone we can be justified, and that the Greatness of Sin is no Bar to believing, seeing the Righteousness of Christ is able to make the most Crimson Sins white as Snow; and that it is freely offer'd to all Believers.

To conclude, justified Persons should be exceeding humble, seeing that boasting is excluded by the Law of Faith, and Holy also in all Manner of Conversation, evi­dencing thereby their Justification to the World about them. I conclude in the Words of the Apostle Paul to Titus, That being justified by his Grace we should be made [Page 95] Heirs, according to the Hope of eternal Life. This is a faithful saying, and these Thngs I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believ'd in God, might be care­ful to maintain good Wooks: These Things are good and profitable unto Men.


Vindicae Legis: OR, THE LAW established by FAITH.

THREE SERMONS, PREACH'D AT PHILADELPHIA, February the 24th, and March the 10th, 1744-5. On ROMANS III. 31.

By GILBERT TENNENT, A. M. Minister of the Gospel in Philadelphia.

Rom. vii. 12.

Wherefore the Law is holy; and the Commandment holy, and just, and good.

John xiv. 15.

If ye love me, keep my Com­mandments.

PHILADELPHIA: Printed by W. BRADFORD, at the Bible in Second Street, 1745.


Do we then make void the Law through Faith? God forbid: Yea we establish the Law.

A JUST View of the Harmony that subsists between the Law and Gos­pel, is of great Importance in the Christian Religion: To promote this, is therefore the Design of our present Meditations, to which the Text I have chosen directly leads.

To understand which let it be consi­dered, that the Apostle Paul having in the preceeding Verses of this Chapter, prov'd at large by a Train of close Reason­ing, that the Justification of a Sinner be­fore God is by Faith only. Foreseeing that some wou'd be tempted to abuse that pre­cious Doctrine of Grace to the Contempt of the Law; in order to prevent this vile Abuse, he proleptically States the Objecti­on of such by way of Query or Interroga­tion, and rejects it with a vehement Ne­gation, [Page 100] or with great abhorrence! Do we then make void the Law by Faith? The Objection more fully Stated is this: ‘The Apostles by their Doctrine of Justificati­on by Faith, make the Law unprofitable, useless, vain; they abolish and abrogate it, and destroy all Obligation to obey it.’

The Apostle replies with a God forbid! As if he should say, I abhor the Thought! That so valuable and excellent a Rule of Life should be made void! O dreadful, detestable Suggestion! This Objection is the same in Substance with the slanderous Report which some spread concerning the Doctrines of Grace, which the Apostles preach'd, affirming that ‘they said, let us do Evil that Good may come.’ This Ca­lumny Paul rejects with equal Detestation, in the following Words, whose Damnation js just: * i. e. Sayeth Poole, ‘Their Dam­nation is just, who teach such Doctrine and Practice accordingly; or they justly deserve Damnation, who calumniate the Apostles and publishers of the Gospel, [Page 101] and raise false Reports and Slanders of them:— Who affirm we say or hold, that Evil may be done that Good may come thereof. * Now seeing the abolishing the Moral Law as a Rule of Action, tends to destroy all Holiness entirely, (as I shall afterwards labour to make evident) it must needs be a great Evil; and if this be done that Good may come, it is in Substance what the Apostle rejects with so much Warmth in the preceeding Part of this Chapter!

It is the Moral Law that the Apostle here Discourses of, for in this Chapter he shews that both Jews and Gentiles are un­der Sin by breaking of it: Now the Gen­tiles were not under the ceremonial Law, and so could not transgress it, and there­fore it must needs be the Moral Law that is intended in our Text.

Besides it is certain that the Gospel Dis­pensation of Faith, does make void the ceremonial Law; when the Substance came the Shadows fled away, the Types must [Page 102] needs give Place to the Antitype, that Hand-writing of Ordinances was nail'd to the Cross of Christ. But in what Sense does the Apostle oppose making void the Moral Law?

I answer, not as a Covenant of Works; for himself elsewhere shews, that it is in that Respect made void to Believers, and asserts, that they are not under the Law but under Grace. Since Man's Apostacy, the Law cannot give Life as a Covenant thro' our Default, forasmuch as it requires a Per­fection of Obedience to that Purpose, which we have rendered ourselves unable to per­form. It is therefore the Destruction of the Moral Law as a Rule of Life, or its Obligation to Obedience under that Cha­racter, which the Apostle opposes.

To make this the more easy to be un­derstood, let it be considered, that a Law in general may be thus describ'd, viz. That it is a Rule of Duty, or of Things to be done and avoided, prescrib'd by the Almighty, and enforced by the Threatning of Punishment upon the Transgressor.

[Page 103]Now there are two Kinds of Laws, namely, positive and moral: The former take their Rise entirely from the Legisla­tor's Pleasure, and enjoyn Things that are not essentially or intrinsically Good in their own Nature, antecedent to the Command, and are therefore Good only because com­manded, and Evil because forbid: Of this Kind was the primitive Prohibition, of ab­staining from the Fruit of a certain Tree, which before, was no doubt, lawful to be eaten: of this Kind was also the ceremo­nious Observances of the Jewish Church, and likewise their judicicial or political Laws, at least such of them as were pe­culiarly adapted to the State of the Jewish Nation: These Commands are alterable because they are not grounded on the in­trinsick Goodness and Reasonableness of Things, but upon the Legislator's Pleasure.

But the latter, viz. moral Preceps, have an essential Equity and Reasonableness in them, they conform us to the Attributes and Actions of God, which are the Pa­tern of our Imitation; they are exactly adapted to the Frame of Man's Faculties, [Page 104] and to his Condition in the World, and serve to maintain the Primitive Dignity of human Nature, and good of Society, and therefore cannot be altered; for the Things are enjoyn'd because they are good, and for­bidden because they are in themselves Evil.

This Law is call'd Moral, to distinguish it from positive and ceremonial Institutions; and likewise the Law of Nature, because it was at first, as to the Substance of it, made C-onatural to Man, and, as it were, engraven on the human Soul (or Consci­ence) when it came at first out of the Hands of God. But Man's understanding being darkned, and his Will and Affections being deprav'd by Sin, there was need of a Second Edition of it for our Direction in Practice; which God in infinite Condescention gave in two Tables of Stone upon Mount Sinai.

This Law does virtually contain in it an Obligation to believe and obey what God should afterwards reveal and enjoin, and therefore all positive Precepts of a Divine Original were and are establish'd by the Moral Law, during the Time appointed for their Continuance.

[Page 105]This Law was never given to any since the Fall of Man with Design to obtain Justification before God by Obedience to it, tho' many carnal Persons took it in this Light to their great Prejudice, but was added to the Covenant of Grace, because of Transgressions, as an Appendix to promote its grand In­tention by convincing Sinners and direct­ing Saints, and so it is not against the Pro­mises of God but greatly serves them by making Offences to abound in the Unrege­nerate, i. e. as to their View of them and by working Wrath, i. e. Making them sensible of the Wrath they deserve for Sin, and so disposing them to accept the Redeemer by Faith, and by guiding Be­lievers in the Paths of Purity, and hum­bling them for their Defects.

And tho' under the Gospel Dispensati­on, the Church being come to mature Age, Believers are not under so severe a Discipline as obtain'd during the Jewish OEconomy, but are freed entirely from the Bondage of the Ceremonial Severities as well as from so frequent an Inculcation of the Terrors of the Moral Law, attended [Page 106] with but obscure Discoveries of Gospel Grace, which were necessary to prepare the Jewish infant Church to embrace with readiness a brighter and milder Dispensati­on, and so may be said to be no longer un­der the Law as a School-Master; yet they need it as a Rule of Practice.

Now the moral Law was given to inno­cent Man, both as a Rule of Duty and a Covenant of Life. Man was not only to be directed by it as a Rule enforc'd with a Penalty, but it was given also in the form of a Covenant, a promise of Happiness being annex'd to Man's perfect Obedience to it, together with the positive Precept before mentioned.

The Moral Law therefore can be sup­pos'd to be made void, but in two Re­spects, viz. Either as a Covenant or as a Rule.

Now it cannot be the former Sense that the Apos [...] opposes, because he in other Places asserts, that Believers are dead to it in that respect, and therefore it must be the latter, for in no other Lights can the moral Law be considered than these.

The Phrase make void, signifies to render [Page 107] unprofitable and vain to abolish, antiquate, Abrogate.

The Apostle farther observes, that in­stead of making void the Law (i. e. as a Rule) by Faith, we establish it. The Word establish * signifies to make a Thing stand the more firmly, and maintain its Honour. By Faith we are to understand by a Me­tonimy the Doctrine of Justification by Faith, of which the Apostle had been be­fore discoursing, or the Gospel Dispensati­on in general, so that from the Words of our Text we may gather this Position, viz. That the Doctrine of Justification by Faith or Gospel Dispensation, instead of mak­ing void the moral Law as a Rule of Life, does farther establish it.

In discoursing upon which I shall,

I. Offer some Considerations tending to manifest that the moral Law as a Rule of Life is not, nor cannot be made void. And

II. Shew how it is establish'd by the Doctrine of Justification by Faith, or Gospel [Page 108] Dispensation, and then proceed to the Im­provement.

To confirm and illustrate the first Head of Discourse, I shall only offer the few fol­lowing Particulars, viz.

1st. Man is necessarily under a Law to God, he having received his Being and all his Benefits from him, it is but reasonable that he should return some grateful Ho­mage for them.

Besides as the infinite Excellency of the Supreme Being deserves religious Reve­rence, so it is but reasonable that it should be offer'd, and especially by Creatures who had received Power adapted to that De­sign: But how shall this be acceptably per­form'd without a Law? Hence we may conclude that the infinitely Wise God, who has made nothing in Vain, has given in­telligent; Creatures a Rule to direct them in his Service, and this indeed the sacred Scripture assures us of.

2dly. This Law being Moral, grounded on the Nature of our Relation to God and one another, must needs be perpetu­ally binding at least as a Rule, because it's [Page 109] Foundation is invariable. viz. The Na­ture of God and the Reason of Things: And hence it is that the Moral Law has such honourable Epithets given it in Scrip­ture as these following, viz. The Royal Law,—the perfect Law of Liberty,—a spiritual Law,—yea that it is Holy, Just, and Good.—i. e. It hath an intrinsick and invariable Goodness which changes not with Time; it is the Copy of God's Moral Excellencies; the pure Miror in which we may behold his amiable and untainted Per­fections: The Relation therefore between God and Man, as a Creator and Creature, Governor and Subject, must be extinguish'd, before an Obligation to the Duties which result from it can cease; God must cease to be God, and Man must cease to be Man before the Obligation of the latter to obey the former expires and terminates. And hence our Lord assures us, That he came not to destroy (or dissolve *) the Law, but fulfil it, and that till Heaven and Earth pass, not one jot or tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law till all be fulfiled. And in our [Page 110] Text the Apostle Paul asserts, that the Law instead of being made Void by Faith, is there­by establish'd; and elsewhere he informs us, that we are not without Law to God, but under the Law to Christ. *

If it be objected that the same Apostle tells us that the Believer is dead to the Law, by the Body of Christ. It may be reply'd, That the Apostle speaks not there of the Law as a Rule of Duty; for in that Sense he calls it in the same Chapter Holy, Just and Good, but as a Covenant of Works: In this Respect all that believe are dead to it, i. e. they do not expect Justification on account of their Obedience to its Precepts, but desire to be found in Christ not having their own Righteousness, which is of the Law, (i. e. not depending upon it for Acceptance with God) but that which is through the Faith of Christ, the Righteousness which is of God through Faith.

The Apostle likewise considers the Law in the same Sense, viz. as a Covenant of Works; when he says in another Place, [Page 111] That Believers are not under it, else he would not consist with himself.

But it may be again objected, That the Law is said not to be made for a Righteous Man.

I answer with Doctor Witsius, ‘That there are two Things to be considered in the Law of God, since Sin has had it's Entrance in the World, viz. A Rule and Direction to Obedience, and a Power of restraining from Disobedi­ence by Terror and Condemnation: When therefore the Apostle teaches, that the Law is not laid upon a good Man, he does not Design that, concerning its first and principal Work which is Essential to it, but concerning the other which is Accidental and came by Sin, from which justified Persons are freed by Christ.’ * And that which tends to [Page 112] confirm this Gloss, is that the Apostle af­ter the aforesaid Words, immediately makes mention of the grossest Kind of Sinners: Doubtless the Terrors of the Law are of Service to restrain some such in a Measure, otherwise civil Society would be destroy'd. It is certain that Believers are free thro' Christ from the Condemnation of the Law, and that it's principal Use to them is not to affect their fear by its Threats, but to inform their Judgments and direct their Practice by it's Precepts: They are chief­ly influenced by the free ingenuous Prin­ciple of Love that inclines them to obey the Law of Choice, which the unregene­rate are drove to against their Inclination. But some other Interpreters do not without Reason think, ‘That the Original Word translated, made for, * would have been better translated, laid upon; to signify that the Holy Law of God is not laid upon a Righteous Man as a Burthen, as it is upon the Wicked.’ Such as fear God value his Law above the finest Gold, and it is sweeter than Honey to their Taste. [Page 113] None of God's Commandments are grievous to them. But on the Contrary the Wicked look upon the Law of Liberty to be a State of Bondage, and Obedience to it a Weariness.

The Sum of the Moral Law, as our Lord observes, is love to God and our Neigh­bour; and can any imagine, that the Law enjoyning this, should not be of perpetual Obligation? Can it be thought, with any Shadow of Reason, that God would destroy, by any succeeding Dispensation, what is so just and Reasonable, and thus deface his own Image? It cannot be!

It is true, the Moral Law was originally given to innocent Man, for two important Purposes, viz. As a Rule to direct his Obedience, and as a Covenant between God and him, by keeping of which, he was to expect, according to the Promise of God, a confirmed State of Blessedness; but on the Contrary, nothing but Misery and Death. * Now as soon as Man broke the Law, it become weak through the Flesh: i. e. [Page 114] Unable to give Life or Justify as a Cove­nant thro' our Default, and on the contrary, expos'd to condemnation all the human Race; and hence it's call'd, a Mi­nistration of Death and Condemnation. This all unconverted Sinners are under, not having complied with the Term of the New Covenant, they are under the Curse of the Old: ‡‡ And hence it is said to hold (or bind) the Unregenerate; ** it binds them to Death and Hell. This indeed Believers are delivered from, yet they are under the Law as a Rule. But to proceed

III. Almighty God having given a Law of inflexible Equity, for the Government of his intelligent Creatures, the Perfections of his Nature were and are engag'd to Support its Honour; particularly his Wis­dom, Holiness, Justice and Truth.

To destroy a reasonable and Righteous Law, which is expressive of the Beauty of the divine Nature, and adapted to support the Dignity, and compass the single and social Benefit of the Human, wou'd argue [Page 115] Weakness and Want of Wisdom. What is the Law of Nature or the Moral Law? but the Obligation of the rational Creature, to admire, adore, love and obey his Crea­tor, (and to express this by all those po­sitive Duties, which God may from Time to Time by his Sovereignty require,) and for the Sake of his Creator, to love his Brother sincerely, perseveringly, effectu­ally. This Law is so noble and rational, so conducive to promote God manifesta­tive Glory, as well as our Honour and Be­nefit, that our Happiness consists in Con­formity to it; and therefore it contains the highest Reflection upon God's Wisdom and Goodness, to suppose that he would destroy it, or suffer the Honour of so excellent a Rule of Government to be eclips'd! which it certainly wou'd be by a Satisfaction less than the Demerit of Sin. This famous Mr. How has well express'd in the following Lines: ‘It were mani­festly more honourable and worthy of God, not to have exacted any Recom­pence at all, than to have accepted in the Name of a Sacrifice, such as were [Page 116] unproportionable, and beneath the Value of what was to be remitted and confer'd; for what had been lower, must have been infinitely lower: Let any thing be suppos'd less than God, and it falls immensely short of him; such is the Distance be­tween created Being and uncreated, that the former is as nothing to the latter; and therefore bring the Honour and Majesty of the Deity to any thing less than equal Value, and you bring it to nothing; and this had been quite to loose the Design of insisting upon a Recompence, it had been to make the Majesty of Heaven cheap, and depreciate the Dignity of the divine Government, instead of rendring it August and Great.’ * And to make it a Maxim of Government, that no Offender shou'd be punish'd tho' of the most enor­mous Kind, in case he profess'd Penitence, wou'd be to render all Sanctions insignifi­cant Scare-crows, and of no Moment and Validity; or to declare in other Words, that there was no great Danger in Sin, and [Page 117] that the Transgressors might easily escape with Impunity, which tends to destroy all Government!

Nor will the untainted Holiness of God endure the Destruction or Disparagement of that Law, which is so bright an Ex­pression of its Beauty and Purity, the inva­riable Rectitude of the divine Nature, whereby he is infinitely removed from all Moral Evil which is essential to God, and represented in the sacred Volumn as his peculiar Glory, inclines him to hate and therefore to punish Sin, or a Transgression of his Law as its contrary. The Oppositi­on of God to Sin results from the glorious Purity of his Nature, which therefore he cannot dispense with; and hence he is re­presented, as of purer Eyes than to behold Iniquity; that Sin is the abominable Thing that he hates; * and therefore that Sin­ners cannot stand before this holy Lord God. Yea we are told by the Prophet, that his Soul loaths them; this therefore indispensa­bly requires the perpetual Duration of the [Page 118] Moral Law, as a Standard or Scale of Action and Rule of Government, as well as equal Reparation made for the Dishonours done to it by Sin.

And can we with Reason suppose, that the inflexible Justice of God, which is es­sential to his Being, and in its Nature dis­poses and determines him to give to every one his due, will at the same time incline him to pass by the Transgressions of his Law with Impunity, or pardon them with­out an equal Reparation: Will not the su­preme Lord and Judge of all do right? Has not himself assur'd us, that he will by no means clear the guilty. Far be it from God, says Elihu, that he should do Wicked­ness, and from the Almighty that he should commit Iniquity; for the Work of a Man shall he render unto him, and cause every Man to find according to his Ways, In the same Strain speak Job and Joshua; If I Sin then thou markest me, and will not [...]oquit me from mine Iniquity. Ye cannot serve the Lord, for he is a holy God, he is [Page 119] a jealous God, he will not forgive your Transgressions nor your Sins: i. e. without equal Satisfaction. ** What is the Relative Justice of God, but a Display of his Ho­liness in the Government of intelligent Be­ings, whereby he not only prescribs a Law as the supreme Lord, but executes the Sanctions of it, or dispenses Rewards and Punishments as supreme Judge? Neither does the Almighty's insisting on Satisfaction, as has been represented, in the least dis­parage his glorious Sovereignty; for as ju­dicious Mr. How observes, ‘It hath not been said that God can forego none of his Rights, it's plain he doth when hav­ing a Right to punish a Sinner, he by Pardon confers on him a Right to Im­punity; but he cannot do it to the Pre­judice and Dishonour of his glorious Ex­cellency's, and the Dignity of his Go­vernment; and therefore if some Repa­ration were requisite to his doing it, consistently with the due Honour and Reputation thereof, Justice towards him­self [Page 120] required, he should insist upon it, which is no more a Detraction from his Absoluteness, than that he cannot lye, or do any thing unworthy of himself; he is so absolute, that he can do whatever he pleases, but so just, that he cannot be pleas'd to do an unrighteous Thing,’ Excellent Doctor Owen hath offered the following Confirmation of what was before observ'd: ‘What God cannot do in respect of one divine Attribute, he can do it in respect of none; or that which cannot be on account of one essential Property, can­not be by all.’ * The Reason of which is so evident, viz. a Necessity of Harmo­ny among the divine Attributes, or Jeho­vah's Self-consistency, that it need not be mention'd.

Again, the inflexible Truth of God re­quires Satisfaction; the Law being violated divine Truth is engag'd to execute the Threatning of Death which was denounc'd against the Sinner, that thus he may make good what he had declar'd to be his Re­solution, [Page 121] Jehovah had and still does de­clare by his Law, that the Soul that Sinneth shall die: Now unless this Sentence be ex­ecuted upon the Sinner or a Surety in his Place, the Truth of God fails. ‘There is, (sayeth Doctor Edwards) a Dispo­sition in every Legislator, that enclines him to execute Threatnings annex'd to his Law upon Transgressors, without which they wou'd be insignificant.—These Things (saith he) are to be found in all Laws, and all Lawgivers, whether hu­man or divine, the Reason being the very same, and common to them all.’

Surely the sacred Rights of divine Go­vernment must be inviolably preserv'd, as well as the Honours of divine Justice and Truth, the faithful Guardians of the Law maintain'd.

Can Sin that exposes to the Curse, vacate the Law that denounces it? Can the Crea­tures Rebellion lessen the Creator's Autho­rity, or Right to his Obedience? Shall the voluntary Iniquities of Worms, make the [Page 122] great Jehovah quit his Throne and re­nounce his Claim of Right? No surely!

To suppose that the Gospel frees us from the Moral Law as a Rule of Life, is to cast a most dishonourable Reflection upon it, and make it unworthy of our Acceptance: For thus it would militate against right Reason, against all the valuable Interests of Society, against our own Honour, Comfort and Happiness, against the Image of God, yea God himself! It is no Liberty, but base Bondage and Slavery, to be depriv'd of the Law as a Rule; the Law of God, is a Law of Liberty, and it is sweet Freedom to obey it from Faith and Love; but it's vile Slavery to serve Sin and run after the Whims of our deceitful Hearts, wild Ima­ginations, or the Delusions of the Devil transform'd into an Angel of Light. Christ has not come to allow a Liberty to Sin, by his Gospel and Grace, but to destroy the Works of the Devil. Pious Doctor Cotton Mather, puts the Request of one who holds the licentious Principle I am opposing into the following Language, which naturally flows from it, and serves [Page 123] to beget a Horror of it in all that fear God, viz. ‘Great God I pray thee to allow me the Sacrifice of my Saviour, that it may defend me from thy Wrath, to which my Sin will otherwise expose me, and let it excuse me in my Neglect of thy Worship and Service, and let me be indulg'd now to trample on thy Law, to blaspheme thy Name, to assault thy Throne, and to do all that thy grand Enemy the Devil can tempt me to. Language fit for none but the Mouth of a Devil; and yet when this Thought is working in the Heart, I may make the more bold with Sin, because the Blood of my Saviour will shelter me from smarting for it: This, this, is the Language of it; you cannot imagine that a justifying Faith, will commit so enormous a Villany!’ But I proceed to the

II. Propos'd, which was to shew how the Moral Law is establish'd by the Doc­trine of Justification by Faith, or Gospel Dispensation. And

[Page 124]1st. The Grace of Faith which is the Instrument of Justification, establishes the Moral Law various Ways, viz. by its An­tecedent, Nature, Concomitants and Effects.

The Antecedent of Faith, namely, Con­viction of Sin, establishes the Law; for by this the Sinner is alarm'd out of his Secu­rity, and arraign'd before the Bar of the Law, and made to confess the Purity of its Precepts, and Equity of its condemna­tory Sentence, together with his Desert thereof by Sin. Convinc'd Sinners know that they are Guilty before God, and there­fore their Mouths are shut, and all their Pleas silenc'd. Now the Moral Law is the Ordinary Mean of Conviction, for by this is the Knowledge of Sin.

Yea the very Nature of Faith establishes the Law, for what is this but a receiving of CHRIST as a KING and LORD as well as a SAVIOUR, * and this cannot be with­out consenting to obey that Law which is the Rule of his Government. The Erand of Faith to CHRIST is certainly for Holi­ness, as well as Pardon: Christ has come by [Page 125] Water as well as by Blood to deliver from the Tyrany of Sin as well as from the Guilt of it, and as such true Faith receives and desires him, and therefore in its Nature it includes a Regard to the Rule of Holiness the Moral Law: And hence the Psalmist valu'd it above the finest Gold, and it was sweeter than Honey to his Taste, and de­clares that he esteem'd all God's precepts con­cerning all Things to be Right, and ad­mir'd the Extent and Perfection of them. I have seen (said he) an End of all Per­fection, but thy commandment is exceeding Broad.

Again the Concomitants of Faith establish the Law: Faith is but a Branch of the new Creation, the Nature and Genius of which God himself represents by writing his Law upon the Heart, ** which surely signifies the Infusion of a Holy Principle of Action inclining to honour, love and obey the Moral Law: All the Graces infus'd in Regeneration dispose to Holiness; and in­deed God himself is glorious in Holiness. [Page 126] Now Regeneration is but a renewing us after his Image, without Holiness we cannot see God, or assend his Holy Hill. ‡‡ ‘Now what is Holiness (as Doctor Mather justly observes) but a continual Concern to have the great God glorified by the Observation of the Law that he has given us?’

And the Effects of Faith do also establish the Moral Law, a true justifying Faith pu­rifies the Heart, and Works by Love. Well if it purifies the Heart, it must needs dispose to regard the Rule of Purity, and if it Works by Love to God, it must needs produce a Respect to his Image, which is his holy and righteous Law. Can one sincerely love a Person and slight his Picture that is well drawn? And is not Love the fulfiling of the Law? But one remarkable Effect of Faith, which the Prophet Zache­riah mentions, is to bewail with Bitterness our Breaches of the Law, the Words are these, And I will pour upon the House of David, and upon the Inhabitants of Jerusa­lem the Spirit of Grace and Supplications, and they shall look on me whom they have [Page 127] pierced, and mourn for him as one mourneth for his only Son, and shall be in Bitter­ness for him, as one that is in Bitter­ness for his first Born. Here observe, that mourning for Sin thro' a believing View of a pierced Redeemer, whom we have crucifyed by it, is a new Covenant Promise: And what is Sin but a Transgression of the Law? Well seeing Faith in a crucified Saviour inclines us to mourn over the Breaches of the Law, it hereby puts great Honour upon it in confessing its Justice, Equity and Obligation. And I cannot but observe likewise under his Head, that the Almighty himself declares, that his writ­ing his Law in the Heart is a Blessing of the New Covenant, after those Days saith the Lord I will put my Law in their inward Parts, and write it in their Hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my Peo­ple. And elsewhere walking in God's Law and Statutes, is represented as a Pro­mise of the New Covenant by the Prophet Ezekiel, and I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my Statutes, [Page 128] and ye shall keep my Judgments and do them. Keeping God's Statutes is here likewise represented as a Fruit of Conversion, as appears by comparing the Scripture just now quoted, with the preceeding Verse. Again,

2dly. The Doctrine of Justification by Faith, or Gospel Dispensation, establishes the Moral Law by Proposal, Precept, Pro­mise, President, and Gratitude.

It establishes the Law by proposing a Righteousness equal to its Precepts and Pe­nalties, viz. The Righteousness of the Mediator God-Man, perform'd in our Na­ture in Obedience to the Law; And hence he is said to be made of a Woman made under the Law. Hereby the Law was magni­fied and made Honourable, more than it would have been by the perfect Obedience or endless Sufferings of the whole rational Creation; for by this God himself was, as it were, brought to it's Bar! Hereby the Equity of the Law's Penalty was so­lemnly and openly declar'd before Men and Angels: What is the Language of [Page 129] CHRIST'S Sufferings but that the Violation of God's Law is an infinite Evil? Else why did Jesus endure so much for it, and tread the Wine Press of his Fathers Wrath alone? Sacrifices and Offerings could not a­vail, nor Ten Thousand Rivers of Oyl, nor the yeilding of our first born as Victims to expiate our Guilt, nothing else than the precious Blood of the Son of God could at one for our Crimson Iniquities in violat­ing the Divine Law! Well, if the Transgression of the Law be so great an Evil, the Law itself must needs be Holy and Good; and indeed if it were not so the Blessed God would not stand so much upon the Honour of it, as to make his own beloved co-equal Son endure such intollera­ble Anguish and Agonies to repair it, as the Evangelists represent! What is the Righ­teousness of Christ, which Faith relies on for Justification, but Christ's Conformity to the Law, and Sufferings for our Breaches of it? By both which it is honoured, and its Equity and Excellency establish'd!

Moreover the Gospel Dispensation call'd the Law of Faith, of which Justification [Page 130] by Faith is a principal Branch, establishes the Moral Law by Precept, while it en­joins us to be Holy in all Manner of Con­versation, as he who hath call'd us is holy. * Now what is this Imitation of God in Holiness but a Conformity to the Moral Law, the Rule of Holiness? And hence Christ preach'd the Law, and urg'd Obe­dience to it, but if thou wilt enter into Life, keep the Commandments. This was our Lord's Answer to one that ask'd him what good Thing he should do that he might have eternal Life? And immediately after our Saviour shews that by the Commands he meant the Moral Law, by mentioning some of the Precepts of it. The Blessed Jesus frequently inculcated the Moral Law, and likewise clear'd it from the false In­terpretations of the Pharisees; and Per­sons are commended in the Gospel for obey­ing the Moral Law. **

And did not the dear Redeemer exactly fulfil it's Righteousness and conform to its [Page 131] Precepts? And has he not hereby left us an Example that we should follow his Steps.

The Dispensation of Faith does likewise establish the Law by promising to assist us in Obedience to it. * When Man had broken the Law, and thereby rendered himself unable to obey it to Perfection, an Aversi­on against it was contracted, and it's Au­thority slighted: But Faith by proposing Pardon for Imperfections, and promising Assistance, enlivens our Hope, conciliates our Regard, and procures our Obedience. It is a Soul supporting Promise of the New Covenant that Sin shall not have Dominion over us.

Again the Dispensation of Faith, or Doctrine of free Justification by it, esta­blishes the Law in Point of Gratitude. The pure Grace and Love that God gives his People to partake of by the Gospel, can­not but powerfully constrain them to inge­nuous Gratitude to so Blessed a Benefactor! For Love is surely Love's Load-stone, the greater the Love is that is expressed towards us, the more by Consequence must our Love [Page 132] be inflam'd by it. Now Love being the great Source of acceptable Service, the grea­ter the Cause the more noble and abound­ing will be the Effects! Surely the Lan­guage of the Soul on this Occasion, must be like that of the Psalmist, What shall I render to the Lord for all his Benefits to­wards me? Being redeem'd by so great a Price, Gratitude must constrain them to glorify God by their Bodies and Spirits which are his. But how can this be done without Obedience to his Law, and avoid­ing all that is contrary to it? Surely the dying Love of Christ for the Sins of his People, and the Consideration of their Bodies being Members of Christ, and Tem­ples of the Holy Ghost, are powerful Ar­guments to detest and avoid Sin, and a­bound in the Duties of Holy Obedience, and these are suggested by the Law of Faith.

Faith, by opening to our View at once the unsearchable Riches of Divine Love, and the dreadful Glories of Divine Justice in the Redeemer's Death, tends to in­cite our Love and alarm our Fear; and by both, to procure our Obedience to [Page 133] God's Law and Reverence of his Majesty! And it likewise raises our Hope by assuring us that we shall reap if we faint not in our Religious Diligence.

Let what has been said, my dear Bre­thren, excite you to esteem and value God's Holy Law in your Judgments, and to conform thereto in your Practice, but in the mean Time beware of depending up­on your Obedience for Acceptance. La­bour with that Earnestness and Steadiness as tho' you could gain Heaven by your Works, and after ye have done all ye can, depend no more upon them than if ye did nothing. On the one Hand, let us avoid the Error of the Arminians and Pa­pists who depend upon their Works: And on the other, let us with equal Care avoid the Antinomian Sloth and Negligence, let us walk in the middle Way between these two Extreams. May GOD bless his Word: I add no more at present.

[Page 134]



Do we then make void the Law thro' Faith? GOD forbid.

HAVING, in a preceeding Dis­course, briefly spoken upon what is express'd in this Text, I am now to treat upon what is suppos'd by it: While the Apostle rejects with so much Abhorence, the Notion of making void the Law, it's Dignity and Excellency is hereby necessarily suppos'd. This therefore is the Point I have at present in view, in discoursing upon which I purpose,

I. To shew the Honours which Almighty GOD put upon the Law at it's Promulga­tion. And

II. Explain the excellent Characters or Properties which are ascrib'd to the Moral [Page 135] Law in sacred Scripture, and then offer some Improvement from the whole.

But before I insist upon the Method propos'd, I shall beg leave to premise a few Words concerning the various Ac­ceptations of the Word LAW. The Latin Word for it, is deriv'd from Participles that signify reading and binding, because Laws were wrote to be read by all, and have a binding or obligatory Power: * And hence they are frequently compar'd in Scrip­ture to Bands; thus the Psalmist represents the Wicked, as setting themselves in Op­position to and conspiring against the LORD and his anointed, saying let us break their Bands asunder and cast their Cords from us. These Children of Belial would not be subject to CHRIST as a KING, but base­ly renounc'd Allegience to his Govern­ment; they would not have this Man to rule over them; they were impatient of restraint, and would not come under the Obligation of his Laws and conform them­selves to their Direction; they judg'd them [Page 136] a Burthensome Imposition upon their Liber­ty and Pleasure, and therefore were deter­min'd to reject their Authority and violate their Inclosures▪ But for this arrogant Re­bellion the Almighty threatens to have them in Derision, and vex them in his sore Dis­pleasure: And Jeremiah complains of some in his Time, that they broke the Yoke and burst the Bands. * They insolently refus'd to be controul'd in impious Courses by the Bands of GOD's Law, and would not bear the Yoke of his Government, but broke through and burst in Pieces, with presump­tious Violence their Obligations to their Sovereign. The Greek Word for Law is deriv'd of a Verb, which signifies both to rule and distribute. The Moral Law is not only the Rule of Practice, but of Judgment: The final Distribution of Rewards and Punishments shall pass according to this LAW.

Some learned Men observe, that the He­brew Word for Law is deriv'd from a Root that signifies to teach or point out the Way, [Page 137] because Men are instructed by it concern­ing their Duty.

This Word is taken divers Ways in Scrip­ture, either (1st.) more largely for the whole Word of God, * the whole Old Testament, the whole Jewish Oeconomy, or Dis­pensation of God's Worship to that Nation: And hence it is said that the Law was gi­ven by Moses, and for the five Books of Moses as distinguish'd from the Prophets and Psalms. It is likewise taken for the Psalms themselves, ** and sometimes it intends the ceremonial Law, in which Re­spect it is said to be a Shadow of good Things to come. ‡‡ Sometimes by a Synecdoche it only intends the Condemnation of the Law; in which Sense these Words of the Apostle to the Galatians are to be under­stood, against such there is no Law. ††

Sometimes it is taken strictly for the mosa­ick Dispensation, as oppos'd to the New-Testament, in which Sense these Words of Paul to the Hebrews are to be under­stood, [Page 138] for the Priesthood being changed, there is made of Necessity a Change also of the Law, a Disanulling of the Commandment going before, for the Weakness and unprofitableness thereof. The Weakness and unprofitableness of the mosaick Dispensation to many, arose chiefly from their Abuse of it, in expecting Pardon and Sanctification by it, without mind­ing the Promise, which preceeded it Four hundred & thirty Years, to which it should have led them: They depended on their outward Obedience, and slighted Christ and his Sacrifice, which prov'd fatal to them. The following Words of John the Evan­gelist are to be taken in the same Sense, for the Law was given by Moses, but Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ: i. e. Thro' Moses as God's Minister and Servant, a more obscure and terrible Dispensation was introduc'd, which many abus'd in the Manner before represented to their Ruin. But Jesus Christ has brought in by the Gospel, a brighter and more comfortable Dispensation, which hath a Glory that ex­celleth; [Page 139] it is attended with clearer Light, and for the general, with larger Distribu­tions of Grace and Comfort, than the legal Dispensation. Sometimes the Word Law is taken strictly, for the Covenant of Works precisely, as contradistinguish'd from the Covenant of Grace; in which Sense the Apostle to the Romans says, that Believers are not under the Law but under Grace. * But more generally it signifies the Ten Com­mandments; and this is undoubtedly the Sense of it in our Text as has been before prov'd.

Now the Dignity of the Moral Law, ap­pears from the following Considerations, viz.

First: Almighty God put Honour upon it, in the Manner of its Promulgation; it was given forth with the most awful Solemnity, and Ensigns of commanding Majesty, that thereby Reverence and Obedience might be procur'd to it. The great God himself spoke all the Words of the Moral Law, and at the Time of the giving of it Jehovah de­scended in visible Glory from the Mansions of Light, the Seat of his special Residence upon Sinai's Mount; which the Psalmist [Page 140] represents with great beauty and grandeur of Diction; He bowed the Heavens and came down, he rode upon the Cherubims, and did fly upon the Wings of the Wind, he made Darkness his Pavilion round about him, at his Presence the Earth shook, and the Foun­dations of the Hills were moved, and parti­cularly (as it were for fear of the descend­ing God) Sinai trembled, and was wrap'd in Fire and Smoke!

The Terrors of that Day were likewise encreas'd, by the loud and long Blasts of a Trumpet, by successive Peals of Thunder and Flashes of Lightning, which opened a most tremendous Scene!

To what has been said we may add, the divine Injunction, that the People must prepare themselves to hear the LAW; they were to sanctify themselves and wash their Cloaths: Now tho' this was a cere­monious Usage peculiar to the Jewish Oe­conomy, yet doubtless the Sanctification of the Heart was thereby signified. They were also to abstain from conjugal Liber­ties, [Page 141] that they might attend on the Hearing of the Law with greater Solemnity!

And Bounds were set to the Mount that none might touch it, in order to create a Reverence of that Law that was then to be proclaim'd!

Secondly: Another Instance of Honour put upon the Moral Law, was the writing of it upon Tables of Stone by the Finger of God: By which we are doubtless to understand his Power and immediate Operation: This was surely design'd to represent in a fami­liar Manner, the eminent Dignity and per­petual Duration of the Moral Law.

Thirdly: Jehovah's repairing the Tables after they were broken, is an additional Argument for the Dignity of the Law: Jehovah commanded Moses to hew two Tables of Stone like unto the First, and promis'd that he wou'd write upon them the Words which were in the first Tables, that Moses broke: * Here it is evident, that the writ­ing upon the second Tables, was done im­mediately by God himself, like that of the First.

[Page 142] Fourthly: The Shine upon the Face of Moses was so great, that the Israelites could not stedfastly behold him without a Vail. This the Apostle Paul applies to the Mi­nistration of the Law, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, and acknowledges that it had a great deal of Glory in it, but such as was to vanish; not that the Law it self was to vanish, no by no Means! but only that particular Dispensation of it of which he speaks, which was attended with many Ceremonies and Types, that when the Antitype came, of their accord evanished.

When the Apostle calls the Law, a killing Letter, a Ministration of Death and Condemnation; he speaks of it only ‘as separate from, and set in Opposition to the Gospel, which it never was (says excellent Mr. Flavel) since the Fall, but by the Ignorance and Infidelity of unre­generate Men.’ * Again

Fifthly: The Preservation of the Law in the Ark, and that by vertue of the Or­der of God, is another Evidence of its [Page 143] Dignity and Excellency: To which might be added, the Time of Moses's being on the Mount at the giving of it, and his Preservation for the Space of Forty Days, without Meat or Drink, which doubtless was a Miracle wrought in Honour of the Law of God. But I proceed to the

II. Propos'd, which was to shew the Excellency of the Moral Law, from the Characters or Properties ascrib'd to it in the divine Word.

Now the Moral Law has the following Characters in Scripture, viz.

First, It is call'd the Royal Law, to sig­nify that it is enjoyn'd by the Authority of God as a King; and if so, then it must needs be an Instance of Loyalty to obey it, and of Rebellion against the King and Lord of all, to disclaim and reject it. The royal Law is the King's Law: i. e. ‘The great Law, which is the same to all rich and poor, the common Rule by which all are to act, as the King's Way: i. e. the great, plain Way, in which all are [Page 144] to travel.’ * This Sense of the Words the Apostle James confirms, by saying in the same Verse, if ye fulfill the Royal Law according to the Scriptures, ye do well: Now that he means the Moral Law, ap­pears plainly from what is express'd in the same Text, thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy self. The Word fulfil, or as the Original may be rendred, perfect, con­sidered in connexion with the preceeding and following Verses, can intend no more than a sincere Endeavour to keep all the Precepts of the Law impartially, which he opposes to their Partiality in the Law, by respecting some Precepts and neglecting others.

This Law is full of royal Majesty, both on the Account of the Author and Matter of it; it is enjoyn'd by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who has Power to bind and loose the Consciences of Men, and is only able to save and destroy; and the Equity of its Matter, does likewise esta­blish its universal and unceasing Empire, [Page 145] and venerable Majesty; and hence it is the same with the Law of Nature, from which, as a Fountain, all other good Laws do spring, to every of which it is superior and by which they are all judg'd, but it is judg'd by none!

Secondly: Its a spiritual Law: We know says the Apostle Paul, that the Law is spi­ritual, we know it both b [...] Inspiration and Experience; the Law is spiritual in respect of its Author, Extent and Tendency, God who is a Spirit has formed it, and made it extend to the Spirit or Soul of Man; it not only regulates our overt Ac­tions, but prescribes Bounds to our Thoughts and Desires, as appears from our Lord's Explication of it. It requires spiritual Duties, such as pure Love to the blessed God, Faith in his Word, and a Reverence of his Majesty, as well as outward Acts of Obedience from spiritual Principles, and therefore it tends to make those that are subject to it, spiritual in the Frame of their Minds, and so con­form them to that God who is a Spirit.

[Page 146] Thirdly: It is a holy Law; the Law is holy, and the Commandment holy: ‡‡ The Law is not only holy in respect of its Au­thor, but likewise in regard of its Nature and Effects; it proceeds from a holy God, and [...]joyns universal and persevering Ho­liness upon the Creature; it is holy in all its Branches, and especially in its Precepts, which recommend nothing but what is pure and holy, and agreeable to the divine Will; and hence the Psalmist assures us, that the Commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightning the Eyes: * Particularly the the Law is holy in respect of the Duties towards God which it enjoyns, such as a Dedication of our selves and our all to God's Glory and Service, with Trust, Reverence and Love.

It is a christal Image of the blessed God, in it, as in a Glass, we may behold a bright, a beauteous Emblem of his Justice and Pu­rity; and indeed the Design of the Law is to conform us thereto, and of this, thro' the holy Spirit's Influence, it is a happy [Page 147] Instrument; and hence is the following [...]pression of the Psalmist, thy Word is very pure, therefore thy Servant loveth it: And elsewhere, the Words of the Lord are pure Words, as Silver try'd in a Furnace of Earth, purified seven Times. The whole Word of God, and especially his Law, is perfectly Pure and inexpressibly Precious!

4thly. It is a Just Law. This is especi­ally applicable to the second Table of it, the Precepts of which require the strictest Justice and Equity in our Dealings with Men, and forbid the Contrary, they require that we should do to others what we would they should do unto us. This, says our Lo [...] is the Law and the Prophets, * i. e. [...] the Substance of the second Table o [...] the Law, according to the Explication thereof by the Prophets: The Law is just and reasonable, grounded upon the plainest Maxims of natural Equity and Right; agreeable hereto is that beautiful Expression of the Psalmist, the Statutes of the Lord are Right, rejoycing the Heart.

5thly. It is a good Law. This the A­postle [Page 148] Paul asserts, not only in his Epistle to the Romans, but likewise to Timo­thy, in these Words, knowing the Law is good, if a Man use it lawfully. The moral Law is always good absolutely, or in it self considered, because it is the Image of the Divine Excellency, and grounded upon the invariable Nature, Reason and Relation of Things; neither does the abuse thereof any more affect or alter it in this Sense, than the abuse of Christ or the Doctrines of Grace alter them.

But the Law is only good relatively, or in respect of us when we use it agreeable to its Design: The Apostle confirms his Po­sition respecting the Goodness of the Law by his own and others Experience. We know, i. e. we Apostles, we Christians know by Experience, that the Law is Good, it has had good Effects upon us. ‘It works Goodness, (sayeth Mr. Pool) in the observer of it, and is conducive to his temporal and eternal Good.’

Not only the Author of the Law is Good, [Page 149] incomprehensibly and inexpressibly Good, essentially and communicatively Good; but the Matter thereof is good also. What can be more rational than the Fear of God, Faith in him, and Love to him, and Acts of Homage and Worship flowing from such noble Principles which are recommended by the first Table of the Law? And what can be more rational in itself, and ne­cessary for us, (in its Place) than the Du­ties of Justice and Charity recommended by the second?

Things that are meerly positive, are Good because they are commanded, and therefore alterable; but Things that are Moral are commanded because they are intrinsically Good, and agreeable to that eternal Justice and Goodness that are in God himself: And hence it necessarily follows, that to suppose that God may command contrary Things (in a moral Sense) is to suppose that God may contradict his own Nature and so deny himself, which is Blasphemous?

And indeed the Contrary of the Moral [Page 150] Precepts, does not only destroy all Religion, but likewise civil Society at a Stroke!

Neither did the Command of God to Abraham to slay his Son, and to the Isra­elites to borrow Jewels of the Egyptians, contradict the Precepts of the Moral Law: For in the former Instance the Sovereign Lord of Life and Death did but give Au­thority to Abraham to take away a Life which he was the sole Author of, and therefore could remove when he pleas'd; but Murder is the taking away of a Life without just Authority. And in the lat­ter Instance, the Almighty, who made all Things, and is consequently absolute Ow­ner of them, did but transfer the civil dependant Right of the Egyptians to the Israelites; and this indeed was but a just Compensation for their hard Services. May not the Lord do with his own what he pleases? But Theft is the taking away what belongs to another without just Authority or Right.

And it may be farther observ'd, that the Egyptions gave their Vessels freely to the Israelites, neither did they ask them again [Page 151] when they left that Part of the World but drove them away with the Vessels in haste; neither was the other Precept to Abraham absolute, but only a Command of Tryal.

But to proceed. The Matter of the Law is Good, not only in respect of it's Precepts but Sanctions. It is accompany'd with Promises both of spiritual and temporal Good, as appears from the second and fourth Commands: It was therefore wicked in the heretical Manichees (who infested the Church about the fourth Century, whom blessed Augustine faithfully oppos'd) to say that the Law was only Carnal, and had only carnal Promises; whereas it is certain that the Jewish Church had for Substance the same Faith, which we now, thro' divine Goodness, enjoy. And the Threatnings annex'd to the Moral Law are Just, and therefore Good.

Again, the Law is Good in regard of it's Use. Now the Use of the Moral Law, is either general to all Men or particular to some. And,

1st. ‘The Moral Law is of Use to all Men, (say the Westminster Assembly in the [Page 152] larger Catechism) to inform them of the holy Nature and Will of God, and of their Duty, binding them to walk accordingly; to convince them of their Disability to keep it, and of the sinful Polution of their Nature, Hearts and Lives; to humble them in Sense of their Sin and Misery, and thereby help them to a clear Sight of the need they have of Christ, and of the Perfection of his O­bedience.’

The Moral Law is a Declaration of God's Will to Mankind, respecting their Duty to him and each other, obliging them to personal, perfect and perpetual Obedi­ence.

As we are Creatures we are Subjects, he who gave us Being has a Right to demand Obedience from us, to what he prescribes.

And tho' we have made ourselves un­able to perform perfect personal O­bedience to the Law, yet God's Right to it remains firm; our Sin cannot lessen that: And tho' Provision is made through Christ for the Justification of our Persons upon believing, and the Acceptance of our sin­cere, [Page 153] tho' imperfect, Services thro' him; yet are we bound by the Law as a Rule to seek after a Perfection of Holiness in our own Persons, and to lament from Love our Defects. The Design of Christ's coming into the World was to strengthen the Obligation of the Law as a Rule, by Arguments of Ingenuity and Gratitude in­stead of dissolving it. Here observe,

1st. That the Law informs all Men of the Holy Nature of God and their Duty to him: The divine Perfections are impress'd on the Moral Law in large, legible and in­delible Characters; his Sovereignty in de­manding Obedience; his Wisdom, Holiness and Righteousness in the Nature of the Du­ties requir'd, which are reasonable, pure, equal, and his Goodness in their Use and Bene­fits to us: What is the Language of the Law, but Holiness towards God and Righteousness towards Man?

2dly. The Moral Law binds the Con­sciences of all Men to Obedience, so that none have Reason presumptuously to con­clude to their Ruin, We may live as we list, and who is Lord over us? And indeed [Page 154] the Wisdom and Goodness of God shine with equal Glory and Lustre in continuing our Obligation to Obedience as the Way to future Blessedness: This Method tends to prevent the pregnant Woe and Ruin which would ensue the Withdraw of our Al­legiance from our Creator and Sovereign Lord.

3dly. The Moral Law being spiritual, pure, perfect, the exact Model and in­flexible Standard of Integrity has a noble Tendency to shew us that we are carnal, impure and imperfect. When this Law by the Spirit's Influence enters into the Soul and Conscience, then does Sin abound in our View, in respect of its Number, Aggrava­tions and Demerit; and thus we are con­vinc'd of our Inability to fulfil it, and humbled under a Sense of Sin and Misery, as well as thereby induc'd to behold our absolute Need of a Redeemer's Obedience together with the Perfection of it, to an­swer the Law's Demands.

But the particular Use of the Moral Law either respects the Unregenerate or Regenerate. Now,

[Page 155]In respect of the Unregenerate the Law hath a five-fold Use,

(1st) To convince them of Sin: And hence the Apostle Paul says, he had not known Lust, except the Law had said thou shalt not covet. What shall we say then? Is the Law Sin? God forbid! Nay, I had not known Sin but by the Law. The A­postle rejects this Inference with Abhorrence, viz. Because that Sin sometimes takes Oc­casion to rage the more, because of the Law's Restraints; that therefore the Law it­self is Sin, God forbid! says he: * When the Sun shines upon the Dunghil it sends forth a more noisom Smell, of which its pure Beams are not the Cause, but Occa­sion only. The Apostle farther informs us, that he was alive without the Law once, but when the Commandment came, Sin re­viv'd and he died: i. e. Before the Law of God was brought home with Power to his Conscience, he had a false Peace and a false Hope; but so soon as the Law came in its Spirituality and Power, he lost [Page 156] them, and saw he was a dead Man; and elsewere we are told, that by the Law is the Knowledge of Sin. —It's true the Holy Spirit is the efficient Cause of Con­viction, but the Law is the Instrumental.

(2dly.) The Law is of excellent Use to condemn for Sin. And hence the Apo­stle informs us in his Epistle to the Romans, That what Things soever the Law sayeth, it sayeth to them who are under the Law: That every Mouth may be stopped, and all the World may became Guilty before God. * The Condemnations of the Law shut the Sinners Mouth, and silence his Self-righteous Pleas.

(3dly.) The Law is good to restrain from Sin; and hence it is said, to be added because of Transgression. The Law is added as it were, as an Appendix to the Covenant of Grace, to promote the great Design of it, by convincing of, and restraining from Transgression! The Terrors with which t [...] Law is arm'd, tend to deter the Unrege­nerate from those Impieties which otherwise [Page 157] they would commit: Indeed without this, human Society could not well subsist, how­ever pious Souls are influenced chiefly by nobler Motives. Self is the main Spring of the Actions of the Unregenerate, and on this Account the Threatnings of the Law are peculiarly adapted to influence their Fear; and this seems to be the Apostle's Scope, when he says, that the Law is not made for a righteous Man, but for the Un­godly, and Sinners, Unholy and Prophane.

(4thly.) The Law is of excellent Use to drive Sinners to Christ for Shelter and Safe­ty, thro' a Sight and Sense of their Un­donness, and Helplesness without him. To this Purpose the Apostle speak [...] in his Epis­tle to the Galatians, in the following Words: Wherefore the Law was our Schoolmaster, to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justify'd by Faith. * The Law as a Schoolmaster, scourges rebellious Sinners out of their Security and Sloth, and makes them flee for Refuge to the Hope set before them, as the Avenger of Blood did the [Page 158] Manslayers of old, to the City of Refuge appointed for their Reception. The Law by opening the Sinner's deadly Wounds, compels him to seek in haste and earnest the Balm of Gilead, and the Physician that is there; till this, Christ is neglected, for the Whole need no Physician, but the Sick; and hence the Apostles us'd alarming Me­thods in their Sermons, in order to rouze a secure World, and constrain them to fly as for their Lives, from future Wrath to Christ; Knowing the Terrors of the Lord (says blessed Paul) we perswade Men. Christ is therefore said to be the End of the Law, * which respects not only his Fulfilment of its Demands, by his active and passive Obedience, but also signifies that he is pointed to by i [...], as it is added to the Co­venant of Grace. It Storms the Sinner out of his false Refuges, and shuts him up to Christ as the only Door of Hope, in whom we may obtain the Righteousness of the Law. To the same Purpose, these Words of the Apostle to the Galatians are [Page 159] very full and conclusive; For I through the Law am dead to the Law, that I might live unto God: i. e. I through the Law as an Instrument, am become dead to all Obedience to the Law as a Covenant; or in other Words, through the Application of the Law to my Conscience by the holy Spirit, I am drove from all Expectation of Justification by Obedience to it, and this every Man must feel or Experience, before he lives to God's Glory as his highest End; without which single Eye, as our Saviour expresses it, we are in Darkness, and all our sacred Service is unacceptable, because it issues chiefly from a selfish, Principle.

(5thly.) The Law of God is also a Mean of Conversion to him: This is expresly asserted by the Psalmist in the following Words; The Law of the Lord is perfect converting the Soul. If it be said, that the Law in the aforesaid Scripture, is to be tak­en in a large Sense: I answer, what then, it does not weaken the Argument, except it be taken in such a Sense as to exclude [Page 170] the Moral Law, which cannot be prov'd,: It is absurd to suppose, that the Psalmist under the Term Law, should recommend all the Word of God, except that of which he spoke expresly; especially considering that the Moral Law, together with its Ex­plication, was the chief Part of the Scrip­tures at that Time.

Nor is it reasonable to imagine, that our Lord in his first Sermon, wou'd have used a Method which had no direct Tendency to convert his Hearers. Now we are sure that that Sermon was spent in opening the Law, in freeing it from the false Glosses of the Pharisees, and in urging the Duties of it.

Why should that Influence and Effect, be deny'd to any Part of the Word which the Spirit of God ascribes to the Whole? All Scripture is said to be profitable for Doc­trine for Reproof, for Correction, for Instructi­on in Righteousness, that the Man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished into all good Works. * Now seeing every Part of the [Page 161] Scripture hath its partial Fitness to produce the aforesaid Effects, why shou'd any Part be rejected? Is not the Word in general compar'd, to Seed sown that bringeth forth Fruit.

Neither Law or Gospel have any physical or inherent Vertue in them, to convert Men to God; for then Persons wou'd be always converted at the Hearing of them, which we know is not fact. Take the Gospel as well as the Law without the Spirit, and it is, as to Influence, but a dead Letter. The Word of God concurs to Conversion only objectively and morally. As an Object it presents Truths to the Mind, directs, in­forms and perswades, in a moral or rati­onal Way, but has no abiding, efficacious Influence without the Spirit's Concurrence; in that Respect it is like the Pool of Bethes­da, whose Waters had no healing Influ­ence, but at such Seasons when an Angel descended and troubled them.

Now seeing the Law hath that objec­tively in it, which may work exceedingly [Page 162] upon the Heart when accompanied with the Spirit's Influence, then why may it not be used instrumentally, as well as the Gospel in the Conversion of Sinners? When that pure Glass is opened in its spiritual Ex­tent and divine Excellency, by which it resembles the Nature of God himself, why may not the blessed Spirit accompany it, to enflame the Heart with love to the Au­thor of it?

If the Law may be bless'd for the in­crease of Grace, why not to the beginning of it? but it, doubtless is to the former. Do not pious Souls know by Experience, that the Law helps to humble them, and con­sequently incites them to prize Christ the more? Why therefore may it not be a Mean of the latter, namely Conversion? But to this, that saying of Paul to the Ga­latians is objected, viz. received ye the Spi­rit by the Works of the Law, or by the Hearing of the Faith?

Ans. The Meaning of the Place, as ap­pears by the Context is this: That the [Page 163] Galatians were not made partakers of God's Spirit, either in his ordinary or extraordi­nary Gifts, by the corrupt Doctrine of the false Teachers, (who had not long before too easily seduced them from the Simplicity of divine Truth, by blending or mixing the Righteousness of Christ and Works to­gether, in the Point of Justification,) but before while they heard the pure Doctrine of Christ; and therefore that it was their Folly, having begun in the Spirit to end in the Flesh. As by the Hearing of Faith, we are doubtless to understand the Doctrine of of Faith, so by the Works of the Law, the Doctrine of the Works of the Law, which the false Apostles taught.

It is unfair and unreasonable, for any to compare the Law considered without the Spirit, with the Gospel attended with it, for by the same Rule, we may prefer the Law before the Gospel: e. g. We may suppose a Minister opening the Duties of the Law in imitation of our Lord, * and the Spirit concurring therewith to the Con­version [Page 164] of Men: And on the other Hand, suppose one preaching the Gospel in all its Riches and Charms, without the Spirit's Influence and no Effect produc'd.

Having shewn the relative Goodness or Usefulness of the Law to the Unregenerate in divers Instances, I proceed to shew its Use to the Regenerate. Now to such the Law is a Rule, to direct them in their Du­ty to God and Man, without which we cannot discern the Depth of Sin. According to this Rule, as explain'd and recommended by the Doctrines and Precepts of the Gospel, and the Grace of God we ought to walk: Let us, says the Apostle to the Philipians, walk by the same Rule, and mind the same Thing: There is an Allusion in this Figure to Ar­chitects, Soldiers or Racers, who all have a Rule to act by, or a certain Measure of their Motions prescrib'd and prefix'd, to which they should conform with exactness: While the Apostle mentions the same Rule, he surely had in his Eye some certain, well-known Cannon or Rule, which had the Stamp of divine Authority upon it, by be­lieving, [Page 165] loving Conformity, to which, (as a Mean) God's Israel may expect Peace; and this can be no other than the M [...]al Law explain'd, &c. as before; for besides this there is no certain, compleat, well-known Rule of Action, enjoyn'd upon us by divine Authority.

Now the Law as a Rule, is of excellent Use to regenerate Persons, in the following Respects.

1st. It discovers Heart Sins: The Apostle had not known the Evil of Lust, if the Law had not said, thou shalt not covet. * There is more Pollution in us than we do or can discover; Who can understand his Errors, says the Psalmist, cleanse thou me from se­cret Faults. Now the Law of God be­ing exceeding broad and spiritual, requiring Holiness in our Thoughts, Dispositions and Designs, and forbiding the Contrary, must needs have a Tendency to discover to us our spiritual and secret Impieties.

(2dly.) By the aforesaid Discovery, it tends to humble us, and consequently to [Page 166] drive us from a Dependance upon our own Wisdom, Power and Righteousness to Christ, for understanding, Pardon and Strength: When we are made to see how far we come short of that Righteousness the Law requires; nothing tends to humble us more, and make us loath our selves and all we do! which is a Blessing promis'd by the New Covenant, as the Prophet Eze­kiel informs us: And there shall [...]e remem­ber your Ways and all your Doings, wherein ye have been defiled, and shall loath your selves in your own Sight, for all your Evils that you have committed. * And therefore we should study the Law more and more, and pray to Jehovah in the Psalmist's Strains, open th [...]u mine Eyes, that I may behold won­drous Things out of thy Law.

It is surely Ignorance of God's Law, that makes Men proud and Self-righteous, and conceit that they are perfect. What made the Pharisees so confident upon a false Foundation, so Conceity and full of Prejudice against Christ and his Gospel, [Page 167] but their Ignorance of the Spiritual Extent of the Law? This puffed them up with ambitious Disdain of others, and enclin'd them to say, as the Prophet expresses it, stand by thy self, come not near to me, for I am holier than thou, and therefore thou are not good enough to converse with me, I am not as other Men are, or even as this Publicans * Nothing makes Men more odious to God, than a proud Conceit of themselves and Contempt of others; these are as Smoke in the Nostrils of God, Smoke that comes from a Fire of wet Wood that has nothing in it but what is offensive.

(3dly.) The Law tends to make us prize Christ by shewing us our need of him. After Paul was enlightned and alarm'd by the Law, he was the inclin'd to prize Deliverance by Christ: Jesus Christ is certainly a Believers Life, to me to live is Christ, ‡* i. e. The Grace of Christ was the Spring of his Life, the Glory of Christ was the Scope of his Life, and the Offices of Christ the Support of his Life: The [Page 168] true Believer lives daily upon Christ in his Offices, Prophetical, Priestly and King­ly. Now the Law by shewing him his Ignorance, Guilt and Weakness, incline [...] him to seek Light from Christ as a Pro­phet, Pardon from Christ as a Priest, and Stength to conquer Sin and perform Duty from Christ as a King, and thus he is led by the Law to come up out of the Wilderness of this World leaning on his beloved. *,

(4thly.) The Law excites to Duty, both by its Precepts and Penalties: As a Good it rouses the Believer out of his Sloth and Security, and excites him to work out the Work of his Salvation with fear and trembling. Altho' the Regenerate have a new Nature, which disposes them to Ho­liness, and are principally influenced to Obedience from Love; yet they need the Discipline of Fear: Nor is there any in­consistency between a predominant Love to God as a Father, and a Fear of offend­ing by Sin, as well as the Consequences of the Offence.

[Page 169]I may add, that the Law is of singular Service to the People of God, in bringing them to a compassionate and merciful Frame of Spirit towards others that have fallen, by shewing them their own Defor­mities and Blunders! And as this is a noble Attainment in it self, so it is of great Use in promoting the Good of Society. ‘The Law is likewise of great Use to Believers, (as the Westminster Assembly justly observe) in shewing them how much they are bound to Christ for his fulfiling it, and enduring the Curse thereof in their Stead and for their Good, and thereby to pro­voke them to more thankfulness, and to express the same in their greater Care to conform themselves thereunto as the Rule of their Obedience.’

The Believer is under a peculiar and superadded Obligation to obey the Law, for he is not only bound by God's Sove­reignty, over him in common with others, as he is God's Creature, but he is constrain­ed by the dying Love of Christ, as he is a Believer. Now inasmuch as the Precepts and Penalties of the Moral Law being [Page 170] exact and great, they serve to shew the Riches and Greatness of the Redeemer's Love, who was willing to be made under the Law, and did fulfil its Demands for us; and thus our Gratitude is incited, which cannot be better express'd then by a willing, unfeigned, unfainting, universal Obedience to God's Law, which we owe to God as our rightful Lord and Sovereign, our Crea­tor, Benefactor and Father; to Christ as our King and Redeemer, and to the Holy Spirit as our Sanctifier.

But beside these spiritual Benefits of the Moral Law to the Unregenerate and Rege­nerate, which have been mentioned, the Law promotes the temporal Good of both; this is the Guardian and Barrier of all that is naturally dear to us; hereby our Names and Estates, our Liberties and Lives are protected from Injustice and Violence!

But I proceed to offer a Word of Im­provement. And

First: Methinks what has been said concerning the Use of the Moral Law, should excite you to examine your Consci­ences, whether you have found the afore­said [Page 171] Effects of it in your selves? O! have ye felt its convincing and condemning Power? Have ye been thereby thro' the Influence of God's Holy Spirit, brought to see not only the Evils of your Practice, but also that Fountain of Corruption in the Heart from which they proceed? Particularly have ye been convinc'd of your Unbelief? Your total Want of true Faith and Inability to Believe, as well as your utter Unworthiness of the Gift of Faith from God? O! were ye ever made sensible that ye were in a perishing State with the Prodigal? And has the Spirit of God become a Spirit of Bon­dage to fear to your Souls? Shewing you thro' the Condemnation of that righteous Law ye have broken, the Greatness, Cer­tainty and Eternity of that Misery you were thereby expos'd to, in such a strong Light as to affect your Souls with bitter Anguish and Distress, and excite anxious Enquiries after the Way of Deliverance therefrom? And were ye Restless, till being made to despair of your own Wisdom, Power and Righteousness, and of sufficient Help from any meer Creature, ye were enabled by the Holy Spirit, upon a Discovery of [Page 172] Christ's Sufficiency and Willingness, (to help poor sin-sick Souls that fly to him for shelter) to venture your wounded, weary Souls by believing upon him, as the only Foundation of Acceptance with God? And have ye been since enclin'd to love the holy Law of God as a perfect Rule of Life, because of its Author, its excellent Properties and Effects? And has it been your chief Desire and Endeavour in gene­ral to conform to it in Heart and Practice, from Love to him as a Father, and Fear of him as a Master and Lord? And have your Defects therein been for the general your chief Grief? If you can answer with a good Conscience in the Affirmative, you are sincere and in a gracious State. O! what cause have ye to love God, my dear Brethren, to exalt him and rejoice in him, in all Changes of outward Circumstance! O how distinguishing and affecting is the Mercy of God towards you! in bringing his blessed Law to your Hearts, and you thereby to the holy Jesus? And that while many others sit as senseless Stones under the same Word; the very Sermon [Page 173] which was bless'd to your Conviction or Conversion, perhaps some poor, ignorant, conceity Creatures in the same Assembly, cavil'd with and snarl'd at, and went away and told gross Lies about it, in order to blacken the Speaker instead of getting Good by it. O admire! admire! the rich, the glorious Grace of God! and let that Law that the blessed God has made a Mean of such Good to your Souls, be ever esteemed by you; take it as the Rule of your Prac­tice, meditate upon it all the Day, and let it be the chief Labour of your Life to con­form to it in Heart and Conversation. O make Use of the Law of God to convince you of Sin, to humble you for Sin, and ex­cite you to thankfulness and practical Ho­liness. Dear Brethren! Let not your Re­ligion lie chiefly at the Tip of your Tongues, but watch your Hearts, and bring forth the Fruits of Holiness or Obedience to God's Law in your Lives.

But alas! how much is the Case of such to be pitied and lamented, who want the aforesaid Experiences! All ye to whose Hearts the Law of God has not been [Page 174] brought in its condemning Influence, who have not seen the false Grounds of your Hopes, the Filthiness of your Hearts, and the Badness of your States, and who have never been shut up to Christ as the only Door of Hope by the Law, are false-hearted Hypocrites!

And what ground is there to suspect the State of such who grow weary of Obedi­dience to God's Law, and look upon it to be a State of Bondage? i. e. In other Words, it is bondage to be Holy, in their Opinion; for Obedience to God's Law, from Love to God and regard to his com­manding Authority, is the very Nature of Holiness, as I have prov'd before: They therefore neglect the stated Performance of Duty in their Closets and Families, and count this Christian Liberty, whereas it is only a fleshly Gratifying the wicked Sloth of Nature: Christian Liberty is a Freedom from Sin, and not from Righteousness; as free (says the Apostle Peter) and yet not using your Liberty as a Cloak of Malicious­ness, but as the Servants of God. Those that are Christ's Freemen, are God's Ser­vants, [Page 175] and do manifest it by Obedience to his Authority. Christ has never purchased by his Blood, a Liberty, or rather a Li­cence for any to commit Wickedness. O! its a Sign of an unholy Heart in any, to be weary of the Yoke of God's Precepts, and to say with the Wicked, let us break their Bands asunder, and cast their Cords from us. Those that are sincerely Holy, love God's Law, it is their Meditation all the Day, and they look upon Obedience to it, to be sweet Liberty!

But on the Contrary, obstinate Trans­gressors break the Yoke, and burst the Bands. Sirs! it is a dreadful Instance of Wicked­ness, to pretend that the Gospel or Grace of God, frees from Obedience to the Law; that is, to make the Gospel an Instrument of the vilest Iniquity, and to say in other Words, that it gives Men licence to re­nounce God's Authority over them, and rise up in Rebellion against his Crown and Scep­ter! or that it has put an End to all Ho­liness in those that accept it. No worse Dishonour can possibly be put upon the Gospel by the Sons of Men than this! [Page 176] Whereas on the Contrary, it is the Design of the Gospel, to deliver us from the Hands of our Enemies, that we may SERVE him without fear, (i. e. slavish Fear) in Ho­liness and Righteousness before him all the Days of our Life; to destroy the Works of the Devil, and to make us zealous of good Works.

My Brethren! The World and the Church have been infested with Libertines of this Cast for a long Tract of Time: The Epi­cureans were Libertines among the Pa­gans, and so were the Saduces among the Jews, who were very Heretical in their Principles, and had no regard to the divine Law. And there were some such among the Christians in the Time of the Apostles, whom Paul represents as speaking in the following Language: Is the Law Sin? and elsewhere, shall we continue in Sin that Grace may abound? i. e. Since we are de­livered from the Condemnation of the Law, may we not take Encouragement from thence, to cast off the Law altogether, and go on in Sin? To which the Apostle re­peatedly replies with great Indignation and [Page 177] Abhorrence, God forbid! God forbid! And in another Place after having mentioned a scandalous Report that some spread about of the Apostles preaching, as if it was of this Tenor, Let us do Evil that Good may come; He rejects the Charge with the same Abhorrence in these Words, Whose Dam­nation is just! * And not long after the Nicolatians, Gnosticks and Valentinians troubled the Church with the same pesti­lent Principles, and encouraged them­selves in the greatest Immoralities. Of the Principles and Practice of the former, the Lord Jesus expresses a great Abhorrence [...] these Words; And this thou hast, that [...] hatest the Deeds of the Nicolatians, which I also hate. So hast thou [...]so, them that hold the Doctrine of the Nicolatians, which thing I hate! The Holy God hates such Doctrines and Deeds as are contrary to his Law! Corrupt Principles naturally lead to evil Practice: And in the Time of Augustine the Manichees and Marcionites cast contempt upon God's Holy Law, whom that ex­cellent [Page 178] Servant of God faithfully oppos'd; * And the Aetians and Eunomians who liv'd in the same Age, arriv'd to that shameless Pitch of Wickedness as to hold that the Commission of and Continuance in the vilest Crimes, would do no harm to such as were partakers of their Faith. And since the Reformation from Popery, the Antinomians have brought great Scan­dal upon the Doctrines of Grace, and done much Injury to practical Religion, they receive their Name from their Opposition to the Law of God. The first of them that appear'd was one John Agricola, of Isleby, in Germany, who abus'd some unguarded Expressions of Luther's Writings, contrary to his Intentions, whom Luther oppos'd: But the first of them that appear'd in England was one Eaton, who wrote a Book call'd the Honey Comb, &c: Whatever [Page 179] Charity be exrecis'd towards the Persons of such who thro' Ignorance are led astray into some of their Notions, but do not Practice accordingly, yet certainly there is no Charity due to the Principles themselves, for they have a Tendency to destroy Re­ligion entirely.

I would advise such to weigh well the Characters that God gives his Law in the Scriptures, and consider the Danger of Op­posing it while Repentance is to be had. O! that such would look into the perfect Law of Liberty, and be doers of the Work of Holiness, for in obeying the Moral Law they will do well,

[Page 180]And such conceity ignorant Bablers are to be reprov'd who make a Noise about Christ and his Blood and Justification, while they slight the Law and oppose Obe­dience to it: These, as Natural brute Beasts, speak Evil of the Things they un­derstand not; such should especially be swift to hear, and slow to speak, slow to Wrath, and consider of the Mischief they are doing to the Souls of Men by their confus'd and in­considerate Speeches! Yea all that go on in a Course of any Kind of Wickedness may be judg'd contemners of the Holy Law of God, Whoremongers and Adulterers God shall judge: These shall be especially punish'd who walk after the Flesh, in the Lust of Uncleaness: These filthy Vermine shall not enter into the Kingdom of God, but be burnt in the Flames of Hell, except they repent; and Thieves and Liars shall have their Portion in the Lake that burns with Fire and Brimstone. He that sows to the Flesh shall of the Flesh reap Corruption; but he that sows to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap Life everlasting. The Ax is laid to the Root of the Trees, every Tree [Page 181] that brings not forth good Fruit, shall be hewn down and cast into the fire. Know ye not that the Unrighteous shall not inhe­rit the Kingdom of God? Be not deceived, neither Fornicators, nor Idolaters, nor A­dulterers, nor Effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with Mankind, nor Thieves, nor Covetous, nor Drunkards, nor Revilers, nor Extortioners, shall inherit the Kingdom of God. The Curse of the broken Law lies upon all such Transgressors, and except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.

And now I must conclude this Discourse with a few Words of intreaty to diffe­rent Sorts of Persons. And

1st. I exhort the Secure to use the Law as a Mean to convince and alarm them out of their deep and dangerous Sleep. Think, Sinners, that ye have broke the Law, and are therefore held by its Curse to suffer eternal Fire: Whatsoever the Law says, it says to those that are under it; that every Mouth may be stop'd, and the whole World become Guilty before God. Inas­much as ye have not comply'd with the Terms of the Gospel, ye are under the Law, [Page 182] i. e. bound by its Precepts to perfect Obe­dience upon Pain of Death for the least Default: For cursed is every one that con­tinueth not in all Things that are written in the Book of the Law to do them, and bound, by its Penalties, to endure the Wrath of God, because ye have broke the Law. O dreadful Case! Look into this pure Glass and see what filthy Creatures you are in Heart, in Speech, and in Practice: The habitual Corruption of Nature that is in you, in as much as it is contrary to eve­ry Precept of the Law, and permanent, it is therefore a Breach of the whole Law at once, and a constant Breach of it every Moment; and all your Thoughts, Words and Actions, inasmuch as they come from unrenew'd Nature, are therefore tainted with Sin, he that is in the Flesh cannot please God; so that ye deserve Damnation for the Iniquity that cleaves to every one of them, O dreadful! O let the Con­demnation of God's Righteous Law come into your Hearts, and scorch you into Life and Sense; awake, Sinners, awake, before the Burnings of the Damned arrest you, [Page 183] and there be no Remedy: What meanest thou O sleeper? Arise, call upon God that thou perish not. And

2dly, I exhort the convinc'd and wounded, to use the Law as Mean to drive them to the dear Redeemer. Poor Sinners! you feel that you are condemn'd by the Law, and that ye cannot fulfil it: O therefore hasten as for your Lives, to an Almighty and merciful Saviour, who is able to save to the uttermost, all that come to the Father by him, and will by no means cast them out. Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the Sins of the World! And rest by Faith your wounded weary Souls upon his Blood and Obedience, and ye shall be saved! There is a Balm in Gilead, there is a Phy­sician there! But O be careful of quenching Convictions, and of false ease! If your Trouble be but superficial, use the Ham­mer of the Law to fasten the Nail, and drive it to the Head!

3dly, I exhort the Converted to esteem, love and obey God's holy and righteous Law, whatever contempt others cast upon it, O let it be dear to you to the Death! [Page 184] Be not deceiv'd, my Brethren, with the Nonsense of Enthusiasts, who make a Se­paration between Duty and Priviledge in Religion; to say that it is a Priviledge to do that which is not commanded in religi­ous Worship, is to say, in other Words, that it is a Priviledge to commit Iniquity; for in God's Worship what is not com­manded is forbid! and therefore doing what is not commanded in the Case afore­said, is like offering strange Fire, very abominable and provoking, it is a Breach of the second Commandment; and tho' the Thing be commanded which we do, yet if we have not a respect to the Com­mand in the doing of it, it is Will-worship, and voluntary Humility, it is a Serving of our selves and not God, yea it is Rebellion against him, for therein we disclaim his Authority, and obey our own Will as our Lord and Master! On the contrary, to serve God truly, is both our Duty and our Pri­viledge; it is our Duty, because he enjoyns it, and our Priviledge, because of the Ho­nour, Pleasure and Profit that attend it.

It is a great Honour to have free access [Page 185] to the Throne of so great and glorious a Sovereign! It is an unspeakable Pleasure to have intimate Communion with so graci­ous and blessed a Being! And eternal Ad­vantage follows upon the sincere Service of God; Godliness is profitable unto all Things, having the Promise of the Life that now is, and of that which is to come. They which have believed in God, must be careful to maintain good Works; these Things are good and pro­fitable unto Men. O it is the Beauty and Glory of Religion! that the great God has graciously made that which is our Duty, as we are his Creatures, our Priviledge, as we are his Children, and that not only by giving us his Presence therein, but by open­ing before us the sure Prospect of eternal Felicity, to be obtain'd in this way of Ho­liness or Obedience to his Law! Which may God help us to persevere in to the Death, that so through Christ, we may obtain a Crown of Life, that shall never fade away. Amen, Amen!

[Page 186]


ROMANS iii. 31.

Do we then make void the Law through Faith? God forbid.

DEAR Brethren! Seeing the right Understanding of the proper Use of the Law of God, together with its Dignity and Excellency, is of so great Moment in Religion, I hope you will not think it strange that I have repeat­edly insisted upon so important a Subject, and especially considering, that it is somewhat difficult to explain and state in an easy Light, to the Overthrow of all the Cavils and So­phisms with which it has been obscur'd and oppos'd, either by the Designing or Inju­dicious: This I could not do in a very narrow Compass, and therefore have been led reluctant to Proxility.

[Page 187]I have been likewise induced, my Bre­thren, the more to ruminate upon this Sub­ject, because it is much misunderstood by some, and slighted by others in the present Day!

It is certainly our Duty in a special Man­ner, to labour to understand well those precious Truths, that are controverted in the Times and Places in which we live, (especially if they concern practical Reli­gion, and have considerable Influence upon it) that so we may be preserv'd from the Infection of the Times, and glorify God as his Witnesses, in bearing a judicious and faithful Testimony to God's Truths, how­ever they are ignorantly opposed by some, and basely disserted and betrayed by others!

It is as the Apostle Peter observes, the ignorant and unstable, that wrest the Scrip­tures to their own Destruction: It is these simple, silly Souls, that false Teachers deceive with their good Words and fair Speeches, and therefore it is no wonder they cry out against Head-Knowledge, because it ob­structs the Spread of their erroneous, in­consistent [Page 188] and nonsensical Sentiments, tho' in the mean time, the God of Truth on the contrary denounces his awful Judg­ments upon the Ignorant, this is a People of no Understanding, and therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will shew them no fa­vour.

My Dear Brethren! forget not to ab­hor and oppose that vile Popish Notion, that Ignorance is the Mother of Devotion! If they had said that it was the Mother of Superstition, Enthusiasm and Nonsense, they wou'd have said right, but true Reli­gion is grounded in Knowledge. I pass from this to observe, that I have in the preceeding Sermon, endeavour'd to shew you, the Dignity and Excellency of the Moral Law, by mentioning the Honours that the blessed God put upon it at its Promulgation, as well as by explaining five honourable Characters, that the Holy Scriptures assign to it. What remains now, is to offer some more scriptural Characters or Properties of the Moral Law, to answer [Page 189] some Objections, and then proceed to the Improvement of the whole. The

Sixth Character therefore that I wou'd mention, is, that it is a perfect Law. Now the Law of God is perfect in the following Respects, viz. Essentially, Extensively, In­tensively, and Finally.

The Law is perfect in its Nature and Essence, so as to contain in it a compleat Rule of all things, that are to be done and a­voided by every one, towards God and towards his Neighbour; so that there is no Work truly and properly Good, which does not agree with it, and is not prescrib'd by it. Whatsoever is neither commanded nor forbid by it, is in its Nature indiffe­rent, and left to Men's Liberty, except that Liberty be restrained by some possitive Precept.

The Moral Law is likewise perfect ex­tensively, in respect of its Parts, it enjoyns Love to God and Man, and therein in­cludes all the Duties we owe to both; and therefore the People of Israel were forbid [Page 190] to add any Thing to it, or diminish any thing from it.

Again the blessed Law of God is perfect Intensively, in respect of Degrees; it re­quires perfect Love, the most supreme, transcendent and intense Affection, tha [...] which greater cannot be, as I shall shew afterwards.

Add to this, that the Moral Law is per­fect Finally, in respect of its orginial Use and Design; it could give Life to the perfect Observers of it: This the Almighty him­self declar'd to Moses in these Words, ye shall therefore keep my Statutes and my Judgments, which if a Man do he shall live in them. * Man's contracted inability to keep the Law to Perfection, is his own Fault, and therefore cannot be justly charg'd upon the Law of God.

The Perfection of the Law appears from the Design of Christ's coming, which was not to destroy, but to fulfil it. The original Word, by a Hebraism, signifies to do what was enjoyned by it.

[Page 191]The Lord Jesus fulfill'd the ceremonial Law, by shewing in himself the Truth of all its Types and the Substance of all its Sha­dows: And he likewise fulfill'd the Moral Law two ways, viz. Doctrinally and Prac­tically. He faithfully Opened, solidly Con­firm'd and nervously Vindicated its Doc­trine by his Preaching; and he perfectly and constantly conform'd himself to its Pre­cepts, as a Rule in his Practice. Had he corrected the Moral Law, he would have destroy'd but not fulfil'd it; and indeed if the Case was so, the Law must be either imperfect before, or made so by the Cor­rection, both which are equally absurd!

But it is evident, my Brethren, from the sacred Records, that our dear Redeemer has not given other Precepts in the New Testament, either by himself or his Apo­stles, than what were delivered by Moses, neither has he offered any other Explicati­on upon them than what was inculcated by the Prophets, and hence the Command of Love is called by John, both old and new. * [Page 192] Old, in respect of its first Promulgation un­der the Old Testament Dispensation, and new in respect of Renovation and Illustra­tion under the Gospel. Brethren I write no new Commandment unto you, but an old Commandment which ye had from the Be­ginning: And hence we may safely con­clude, that the Moral Law is perfect. To suppose that God gave an imperfect Law at first, is to charge him with Want of Wisdom, Holiness or Fidelity, and to ima­gine that Christ alter'd it, is to impute Iniquity to him, both which are blasphe­mous!

No my Brethren! Christ has added no new Precept to the Law of a Moral Na­ture, the Prophets of the Old Testament, and our Lord under the New, do but ex­plain it, and add not any Moral Duty different from it; the Law of the Lord is perfect converting the Soul, the Testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple: The Statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the Heart.

[Page 193]It is true, under the Old Testament Dis­pensation, many Things were express'd more obscurely and grosly, yet the Duties commanded were as spiritual as under the Gospel; the Differences as to the Mani­festation of Duties, is not in Kind but Degree only: This will appear by the fol­lowing Induction of Particulars, viz.

First. The Law requir'd Faith. The first Table of it enjoyn'd Persons to take the Lord for their God in a covenant Way; which cannot be done without Faith. The Almighty commanded the People of Israel to worship in an acceptable Manner, which necessarily supposes Faith.

Secondly. The Law under the Jewish Dispensation requir'd Love, and that in the highest Degree of Eminence; and hence our Lord in his Explication of the Moral Law observes, that the Sum of it is Love. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy Heart, and with all thy Soul, and with all thy Mind, and with all thy Strength: this is the First Commandment, and the Se­cond is like, namely this, thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy Self: There is none other [Page 194] Commandment greater than these. Does or can the Gospel require stronger Love, than what our Saviour shews to be demanded by the Law? No surely! For more cannot be in the Nature of Things.

Thirdly. It required spiritual Aims in religious Worship. And hence the Lord complain'd, that some of the People of Israel fasted, but not to him; and on this Account Israel is condemn'd, as an empty Vine, because he brought forth Fruit to him­self: * But on the contrary, how spiritual and noble were the Aims of the Prophets Mica and David? who spake in the fol­lowing Language: I will bear the Indigna­tion of the Lord, because I have sinned against him. Against thee, thee only have I sinned.

Fourthly. The Law prefer'd Mortification and internal Piety, before outward Services. And hence the Psalmist assures us, that a broken and contrite Heart was more ac­ceptable to God, than burnt Offerings and Sacrifices. The Prophet Isaiah likewise †† [Page 195] expresses in the strongest Terms, God's Ab­horrence of all external Acts of Religion, when due care is not taken to get the Heart sanctify'd and the Life reform'd: To what Purpose is the Multitude of your Sacrifices unto me? Sayeth the Lord: I am full of the burnt Offerings of Rams, and the Fat of fed Beasts: bring no more vain Obla­tions: Incense is an Abomination unto me — Your New Moons and your appointed Feasts my Soul hateth, they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them: Your Hands are full of Blood: Wash ye make ye clean, put away the Evil of your doings from before mine Eyes. * Now what can be more spiritual and excellent than this, to prefer inward Graces to outward Duties?

Fifthly, The Law under the Jewish Dis­pensation, required a Worship issuing from the Heart; to make this evident let it be only considered as a general Rule, that whatsoever Moral Duty the Prophets urge, they do it as explainers of the Moral Law; their Instructions and Inculcations respect­ing [Page 196] Things of Moral Nature, are but the unfolding of the Law!

Now how often is the Heart required under the Old Testament? To this pur­pose are the following Passages recorded by Solomon and Jeremiah, My Son give me thine Heart, and let thine Eyes observe my Ways. Plow up your fallow Ground, and take away the fore-skins of your Heart, ye Men of Judah. * And elsewhere the Jews were enjoyn'd, to make them a new Heart. To turn to God with all their Hearts, and with Fasting, and with Weeping, and with Mourning, and to rent their Hearts and not their Garments.

It is true, the most were unacquainted with the spiritual internal Part of Religion, and rested upon Externals: And isn't it so now under the Gospel Dispensation? Yes surely! But such as were truly Reli­gious, labour'd to get their Hearts duly engag'd in God's Service; an Instance of this we have in the Psalmist, who pray'd, [Page 197] that God would unite his Heart to fear his Name. * Our Thoughts and Affections are apt to be divided and scattered in Acts of Worship, partly by reason of our in­ward Corruptions, and partly by Tempta­tions from without, which obstruct both our Comfort and Benefit: This the Psal­mist was aware of, and therefore prays a­gainst a divided Heart.

Sixthly. The Law under the Jewish Dispensation required Joy, or Complacence in God, more than in Creatures; and is not this a high Pitch of Spirituality recom­mended by the Gospel? Hence we are bid to rejoice in the Lord always: i. e. We should seek the Seed of divine Joy by Conversion, and a Right to it by Justifica­tion, and use all proper Means to acquire and preserve a Temper of Mind dispos'd to constant Complacency in God's Attri­butes, Word and Works, and express this outwardly on all proper Occasions; for every Thing, as Solomon observes, is beautiful in its Season: And we are else­where [Page 198] commanded to set our Affections on the Things above, and to have our Conversa­tion in Heaven.

And had not Asaph this divine Temper of Mind? How scr [...]phick and sublime is his Language? Whom have I in Heaven but thee? And there is none upon Earth that I desire besides thee. * Did not Joh esteem the Words of God's Mouth more than his necessary Food. And the Psalmist prefer them to Gold for worth, and Honey for sweetness. How did his Soul at Times cry out after God—and at other Seasons rest in him? And when banish'd, his chief Desire was to see God in the Beau­ties of Holiness, while in the mean Time he is entirely silent about his Crown, his Court, his Kingdom! Agreeable to this was the Temper of the Prophet Habakkuk, who would rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of his Salvation; altho' the Fig Tree did not Blossom, and there was no Fruit in the Vine, but the Labour of the Olive [Page 199] fail'd, and the Fields yielded [...] Meat; and altho' the Flock was cut off from the Fold, and there was no Herd in the Stalls.

Seventhly. The Law under the Jewish Dispensation requir'd Self-denyal, enduring the Cross, and the Imitation of Christ. For when we are commanded to love God above all, we are consequently commanded to deny all, and endure all for him, that we may be call'd to in the Course of Pro­vidence, rather than forsake his Truths and Service. Without this the Sincerity of our Love cannot be manifested, and while the Law prescribes so frequently our Imitati­on of God, it at the same Time enjoyns the Imitation of Christ, who is the true God. And what is the Imitation of Christ requir'd, but in respect of those Moral Vertues of which the Law is Rule, un­der which Christ as Man was made, and to which he perfectly conform'd?

And what shining Examples have we, my Brethren, of the Vertues now men­tion'd, under the Jewish OEconomy? [Page 200] What Self-Denyal did Abraham express, in leaving his native Soil? And in his At­tempt to slay his darling Son! The Son of the Promise, the Son of his aged Years, and of his pregnant Hopes; the Staff of his Comforts in [...]he Wane of Life; yet having a divine Injunction, he immediately denies all that is naturally dear, and by superior Resolution surmounts the strong Tyes of Nature, and passionate Yernings of a Father's Bowels, and takes the sacri­ficing Knife to give the mortal Stroke! O amazing Prodigy of Self-denyal! Be a­stonish'd ye Heavens, and wonder O Earth at this! And how glorious likewise is the Instance of Job, who under a Complication of the most distressing Calamities of various Forms, bore the formidable Shock with unbroken Magnanimity, and bless'd his God! Pray Brethren, does any Instance of the Saints Self-denyal under the Gospel ex­ceed these? No surely! And to these we might add, the Example of Moses, who refus'd to be call'd the Son of Pharaoh's Daughter, chusing rather to suffer Affliction with the People of God, than to enjoy the [Page 201] Pleasures of Sin for a Season, esteeming the Reproach of Christ greater Riches than the Treasures of Egypt: And we should like­wise take the Prophets (as the Apostle James observes) for an Example of Suffering, Affliction, and of Patience.

And altho' the Law does not directly and formally command Repentance, because it opens 10 Door of Hope to a Sinner, and so it properly belongs to the Gospel, yet it is referr [...]d materially and indirectly to the Law, because by that a Rule of good living and pleasing God is prescrib'd, which is the Scope of Repentance. It should be also observ'd, that under the Duties en­joyn'd by the Law towards God and our Neighbour, Duties that respect our selves are included, without which the other cannot be perform'd.

Altho' the Jewish Dispensation was not so clear as the present, yet you may see that some who were diligent in God's Ser­vice, arriv'd to great Eminence in good­ness: Where is there any under the Gos­pel that exceed?

We declare with the reform'd Churches, [Page 202] in Opposition to the Manichees, Turks, Pa­pists, Scocinians, Arminians, Antinomia [...]. and Enthusiasts, that our Lord, excepting a few positive Precepts, has made nothing Duty now, which was not so before.

The Law is perfect, as has been prov'd before; and to that which is perfect no­thing can be added of the like kind; and hence the People of Israel were enjoyn'd, not to add to it or detract from it. *

Altho' the Gospel far exceeds, in res­pect of the Remedy prescrib'd for poor Sin­ners, and the Display of divine Grace therein, yet there cannot be a more ex­cellent Way of Holiness than the Moral Law prescribes, because of its conformity to the divine Nature.

Nothing greater or more noble can be requir'd, than those Duties recommended by the Moral Law, which have been men­tioned. The Moral Law not only points to the best End, but prescribes the best Mea­sures to attain it.

Nor did our Lord in his Sermon on the [Page 203] Mount, correct or increase the Moral Law, but only remove the Rubbish of the false In­terpretations of the Pharisees, that so it might break out and shine in its own na­tive Beauty and Glory.

As to those Passages in the Writings of the Apostle Paul, wherein he speaks dimi­nutively of the Law, they are to be under­stood either of the ceremonial Law, that Hand-writing of Ordinances which was nail'd to the Cross of Christ, or of the whole Jewish Dispensation, compar'd with that brighter Dispensation of [...]e Gospel which we enjoy, or of the [...]al Law consider'd as a Covenant of Work, or de­pended on for Justification. We are sure that Paul speaks highly of the Law, and therefore cannot speak meanly of it in the same Sense, otherwise he is not consistent with himself, which is absurd to suppose! He himself gives us a Key to open those Difficulties, by assuring us in his Epistle to Timothy, that the Law is good if a Man use it lawfully. * It is the abuse of the [Page 204] Law which the Apostle opposes, in most Places where he seems to speak diminu­tively of it. Now the Law is abus'd va­rious Ways, viz.

(1st.) When Men turn it into frivolous and unprofitable Disputes, when they darken it with obscure and impertinent Questions of no Moment, and do not la­bour to lead Men to Christ by it: This is doubtless what Paul reproves some false Teachers for in his Epistle to Timo­thy, desiring, says he, to be teachers of the Law, understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. * These Teachers gave heed to Fables, and endless Geneo­logies, turn'd from Faith, Love and a good Conscience to vain jangling, and were but Ignoramusses in respect of Knowledge: But after the Apostle had reprov'd the a­foresaid Bablers he immediately adds, Knowing this that the Law is good, if a Man use it lawfully. He mentions this to open his Meaning, and shew that it was not the Law it self he spoke against, but the abuse of it.

[Page 205](2dly.) The Law is abus'd when it is interpreted in a gross and carnal Manner, so as to restrain it's Meaning to Externals. This the Pharisees of old were Guilty of, whose corrupt Glosses ou [...] Saviour exposes in his Sermon on the Mount, shewing that it extended even to the Thoughts and Desires of the Heart. And the Papists do likewise corrupt the Law in making it in a great Part to be as a Council and not Obligatory, and by making the Power of Man the Measure of his Duty.

(3dly.) The Law is abus'd when Men oppose it to Christ; and this was doubtless the great Error of the Jews, against which the Apostle argues in his Epistles to the Ro­mans and Galatians, their labouring to mix the Righteousness of Christ and Obedi­ence to the Law together, as the Matter of their Justification before God, was to op­pose them to each other, for if it be of Grace it is no more of Works.

(4thly.) When Persons, with the Pa­pists and Arminians, look for Justification as the certain Consequence of their Obedi­ence to the Law, and imagine that they [Page 206] can commend themselves thereby to God, and lay him under any Obligation to for­give their Sins. This is to establish a Way of Justification of Debt, and not of Grace: This is injurious to the Sovereignty of God, and darkens the Glory of divine Grace: This opens a new Covenant of Works, flatters the Creatures Pride, and fixes him upon a false Foundation, it is not of him that willeth, or him that runneth, but of God that sheweth Mercy.

(5thly) The Law is abus'd when any, with the Manichees and Antinomians, re­ject it as a Rule of Life, and consequently judge Obedience to it unnecessary. This is in other Words to reject Holiness alto­gether, as appears thus, If Sin be a Trans­gression of the Law, as the Apostle John observes, then it follows by the Rule of contraries, that Holiness is a Conformity to it: But if the Law be utterly rejected, how can it be conform'd to? And without Ho­ [...] how shall any Man see the Lord?

If the Law should be rejected, because we have not a Power to keep it per­fectly, then the Gospel must be rejected too [Page 207] by the same Rule; for who can believe and repent to Perfection? To do a Thing out of Love to God and Obedience to his Law are not inconsistent; for the one is but a Fruit of the other. If ye Love me (said the Blessed Jesus to his Disciples) keep my Commandments: he that hath my Com­mandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me. * Agreeable to this the Apostle John observes, He that sayeth I know him, and keepeth not his Commandments, is a Lyar, and the Truth is not in him: But whoso keepeth his Word, in him verily is the Love of God perfected. Surely those that love God sincerely, will be thereby inclin'd to regard his Authority. Adam while he stood obey'd from Love, and yet had a Respect to the Command: And was there not a Commandment laid upon CHRIST to fulfil the Law for us? And yet he did it out of Love. The Mother of Moses had a Command to nurse him, and yet she obey'd from Love.

[Page 208]Its in vain to pretend, to advance the Grace of God in Opposition to the Law; he that destroys the one, must the other also. Who will regard the Physician, but the Sick, or behold the brazen Serpent but the Wounded, or fly to the City of Re­fuge, but the pursued? If Christ and the Law could be under the Old Testament together, why not under the New?

Shall Obedience to the Law be utterly rejected because it dosn't Justify? Then Faith it self must be rejected also, for that dosn't justify considered as a Work: Be­cause Gold cannot be eaten, is it therefore of no use, and must it be cast away? But to proceed,

(7thly) It is a Law of Liberty: This the Apostle James asserts in the following Words; But whoso looketh into the perfect Law of Liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful Hearer, but a doer of the Work, this Man shall be blessed in his deed. * i. e. In the way of sincere Endea­vours after the Knowledge of our Duty, [Page 209] by a careful inspecting into the Meaning of the Moral Law, and a believing, loving, persevering Performance thereof. In Obe­dience to said Law, a Man can only expect Blessedness hereafter, and possess true Li­berty here. This Sense of the Words is agreeable to the general Scope of this E­pistle, which is to demonstrate the Neces­sity, Excellency and Advantage of good Works, in opposition to Libertines, who depended upon a dead, ineffectual Faith, and outward Priviledges unimproved, as well as to the preceeding and following Ver­ses, which press practical Holiness and shew the Insufficiency of external Priviledges, and pious Pretences without it.

To confirm what has been said, I shall beg leave to offer a Translation of a Gloss that learned Mr. Pool has in his Criticks upon the aforesaid Place of Scripture, which runs thus: ‘Or Secondly, the Moral Law, which he opposes to the ceremonial, up­on the Observation of which they de­pended; see Heb. vii. 19. For the Law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better Hope did, by which we draw [Page 210] nigh unto God. Heb. xi. 9. Which was a Figure for the Time then present, in which were offered both Gifts and Sacri­fices, that could not make him that did the Service perfect, as pertaining to the. Conscience: and x. i. For the Law hav­ing a Shadow of good Things to come, and not the very Image of the Things, can never with those Sacrifices,—make the comers thereunto perfect. Which is call'd, (1st) Perfect, as Ps. xix. 7. Rom. xii. 2. because it contains a perfect Rule of living. (2dly) a Law of Liberty, and that either (1st) It condemns all Transgressors freely, without respect of Persons, sparing none. Compare Jam. ii. 12, 13. So speak ye and so do, as they that shall be judged by the Law of Liberty. For he shall have Judgment without Mercy, that hath shewed no Mer­cy. Or (2dly) From the Subject, because it agrees with Christian Liberty; Gal. v. 13, 14. For Brethren, ye have been call'd unto Liberty; only use not Liberty for an occasion to the Flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the Law is fulfill'd in one Word, even in this, thou shalt love thy [Page 211] Neighbour as thy self. In which Sense it agrees well with the Scope of this E­pistle, which is, that Christians may be instructed not to abuse their Christian Liberty to Licentiousness and a Contempt of the Law of God, but to use it to Obedience. Or (3dly) From the Adjunct, i. e. The Law is now free from a Yoak of Ceremonies which was joyn'd to it under the Old Testament Dispensation: Gal. v. 1. Stand fast therefore in the Li­berty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the Yoak of Bondage. Or (4thly) From its Effects in the Regenerate, whom it frees both from its Rigour and Condemnation by the Satisfaction of Christ, and from the Dominion of Sin by the Grace of Christ conjoyn'd with it; because the Law is a Rule of Life which the Holy Spirit uses, to make Persons know and perform their Duty to it, and that they may obey the Law, not with servile Fear but freely, and with voluntary Obedience, Rom. vii. 25. I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the Mind [Page 212] I my self serve the Law of God; and viii. 15. which undoubtedly is true Liberty.’ * John viii 36. 2 Cor. iii. 17. If the paralel Place, viz. Jam. ii. 10, 11, 12. be com­pared with the Text which I have offered, the aforesaid Gloss upon it fully confirms the Sense that has been given. Obedience, my Brethren, to the Moral Law from right Principles, or in other Words, sincere Holiness, is true Liberty, and the Contrary is base Bondage; 'tis as perilous as slavish, to follow the wild Freaks of our own un­certain, tho' heated and confident Imagina­tions, or the transform'd Impulses of a satanick, ambitious Spirit! But to proceed,

(8thly) The Moral Law is a pleasant Law, considered as a Rule of Life, and as it is ad­ded to the Covenant of Grace. I say it is pleasant to all good Men, and that for this Reason, because it is perfectly Holy. Con­verted Persons having a holy Principle im­planted in them by the blessed Spirit, are thereby induced to love Holiness, and therefore they love God not only because of [Page 213] his Mercy, but also because of his Holiness. The Purity of God's Nature appears dear and venerable to them, and hereby they in some Degree imitate the Example of the Seraphims, who are much delighted with the Views of God's Holiness, and in pleas­ing transport proclaim its Glory, as the Prophet Isaiah witnesseth. And now in­asmuch as the Moral Law is a bright Em­blem of Jehovah's Purity, they cannot but be delighted with its Beauty; for therein, as in a Glass, they behold the Holiness of God, which is exceeding agree­able to their new Nature: And hence the Psalmist represents it to be the Character of a good Man, that he delights in the Law of the Lord, and meditates in his Law Day and Night. * And he expresses his own Love to it and Delight in it in the following Manner: I hate vain Thoughts, but thy Law I do love. Thy Testimonies have I taken as a Heritage for ever: For they are the rejoicing of my Heart. O how love I thy Law! It is my Meditation all the Day. Thou through thy Commandments [Page 214] has made me wiser than mine Enemies, for they are ever with me. * How sweet are thy Words to my Taste, yea sweeter than Honey to my Mouth. Thy Word is a Light to my Feet, and a Lamp to my Paths. All these Expressions, and many more of the like kind, are in the cxix Psalm. There­in we are also told, that Rivers of Waters run down the Eyes, (of that Man after God's own Heart) because that Sinners did not keep God's Laws. And elsewhere he informs us, that the wicked dislike the Restraints of God's Law, and therefore combine together to break its Bands and cast away its Cords from them. Horror (saith he) hath taken hold upon me, because of the Wicked that forsake thy Law. It is time for the Lord to work, for they have made void thy Law. The Prophet Ne­hemiah likewise gives the Wicked the same Character, Nevertheless they were disobedi­ent and rebelled against thee, and cast thy Law behind their back. ‡‡ Graceless Sin­ners speak much of God's Mercy, and seem [Page 215] to be pleased with it from a selfish Prin­ciple; but being under the Government of Sin, they have by consequence an Aversion against its contrary, namely Holiness, and therefore dislike the Rule of it God's Law: And hence we are told that the carnal Mind is Enmity against God. The Law of God forbids the Evils they love, and con­demns them for them; and so makes them uneasy, and therefore they have a Grudge against it, and want to cast it off, that so their Fancy or Lust may give them Law.

Once more: The Moral Law is a per­petual Law. The Righteousness of God's Testimony is Everlasting.—And every one of his righteous Judgments, endureth for ever. *

The Law of God is not only necessary for the Ungodly to bring them to true Religion, but it is many ways necessary for the People of God as a Rule, and that even under the Covenant of Grace: For this Co­venant does not only contain the Promise [Page 216] of Grace and Glory upon God's Part, but also an Engagement upon ours to evan­gelical Obedience. As God promises to be our God, in respect of Protection and Por­tion, so we promise to be his People, in regard of Love, Reverence and Obedience. * Yea I may say, my Brethren, that the Mo­ral Law is necessary, as a continual Rule to Believers, on the Account of God the Fa­ther, Son and Holy Ghost; yea and like­wise on account of Grace here, and Glory hereafter.

God the Father who takes us into his Family is hereby related to us, both as a Father and Lord; and to him therefore under those Characters, we for ever owe Honour and Obedience. This the Almighty himself informs us of by the Prophet Ma­lachi; A Son honoureth his Father, and a Servant his Master. If then I be a Father, where is my Honour? And if I be a Master, where is my Fear?

And God the Son bears not only the Re­lation of a Prophet and a Priest to us, in [Page 217] instructing us by his Word, and satisfying divine Justice for us by his Blood and Obe­dience; but also of a Head and King, who works in us and rules us by his Spirit. In the former respect he fulfilled the Law for us, and in the latter, he in some degree fulfils the Law in us. Two Things he re­quires of us, namely, that we be united to him by Faith, and so partake of his Merit, and express our Love by a Conformity to our Head in Obedience to his Commands; and hence his Death is represented, not only as a Price of Redemption, but a Pat­tern for our Imitation: He has left us an Example, that we should follow his Steps.

The Holy Spirit who consecrates us as the Temples of his Residence, has not only the Office of a Comforter but Sanctifier: In the former Respect he comforts us against the Curse of the Law, and in the latter he conforms us to its Precepts.

Yea, my Brethren, the Grace of God confer'd upon us, requires Obedience to the divine Law, as the proper Fruit of that divine Seed, as an Expression of Gra­titude for so great a Benefit, and the very [Page 218] Mark to which it is directed. Holiness is the great Design of our Election, Redemp­tion and effectual Vocation. * Surely the true Grace of God teaches to deny all Un­godliness and worldly Kusts, and to live so­berly, righteously and godly in this present World. And what is this but to obey the Moral Law? And dosn't the Glory that we expect, shew the Necessity of the Con­tinuance of the Law as a Rule? For be­lieving, loving Obedience to it, has the Respect of a Medium to that End, with­out which we cannot attain it. It has likewise a Reference to eternal Blessedness, as a Way to a Mark, Seed to the Harvest, and the first Fruits to the whole Vintage. Yea it is the choicest Part of our Happi­ness, to be conform'd to the blessed God in Holiness, by Obedience to his Law.

Did not Christ and the Apostles confirm and commend the Moral Law, to be ob­serv'd by all? Thou shalt Love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart and with all [Page 219] thy Soul, (said the blessed Jesus) this is the first and great Command. ** Owe no Man any Thing but Love, (says Paul) for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the Law. If ye fulfil the Royal Law ye do well, (says James.) I write no new Com­mandment unto you, (says John) but an old Commandment, which ye had from the begin­ning. Yea we are commanded, to hear Moses and the Prophets, and therefore to obey their Commands, without which the other wou'd be vain and to no purpose. They have Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them. * And altho' this was spoken by Christ to the Jews of his own Time, yet because the Argument of our Lord's Discourse is not special, but general to all, both Jews and Gentiles, who would escape eternal Torment; therefore all such ac­cording to our Lord's Direction and Com­mand, must hear Moses and the Prophets.

Altho' Christian Liberty, my Brethren, frees us from the Curse of the Moral Law, [Page 220] the Yoke of the Ceremonial, the Rigour of the Jewish Dispensation, the Tyranny of the Devil, and Bondage of Sin, yet it does not free us from the Necessity of Obe­dience to God, which is indispensable from every Creature considered as such. What tho' Persons be regenerated and adopted, yet they remain God's Creatures still; yea these Mercy's lay them under greater Obli­gations to Obedience: A Liberty from Sin necessarily infers, the Servitude of Grace; Being then made free from Sin, ye became the Servants of Righteousness. Yea our Liberty consists in Subjection to God, for it is not a fleshly Liberty, that indeed is incon­sistent with the Moral Law, but a spiritual Liberty, which agrees well with it and is inseparable from it. The Words of the Apostle to the Galatians are excellent to this purpose; For Brethren ye have been call'd to Liberty, only use not Liberty for an occasion to the Flesh.—For all the Law is fulfill'd in one Word, even in this, thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy self. * Here it is [Page 221] as plain as well can be, that Paul judged a Freedom from the Law as a Rule, a fleshly Liberty. And truly so it is, an abominable, filthy Liberty, to be abhor'd by all that fear God!

And why is the Gospel sometimes call'd a Law? the Law of the Spirit of Life, but to shew, that there is a wise Constitution of God under the Gospel Dispensation, without a Complyance with which, we can have no Benefit by its gracious Propo­sals; and also to signify that the Gospel is not without the Moral Law, which is now indeed propos'd to Believers, in a more mild and gentle Dress, than obtain'd un­der the Jewish OEconomy; but neverthe­less it still obliges all rational Creatures to Obedience that enjoy it.

But the perpetual Duration of the Moral Law, as a rule of Life to all intelligent Crea­tures, appears especially from the follow­ing Considerations namely, the Depend [...]e [...] of the Creature upon God; the Nature of its Precepts; the Difference between them and the ceremonial Law as well as from their Conformity to the Divine Na­ture, [Page 222] and their sameness for Substance with the Law of Nature.

That the Creature is necessarily Depen­dant on God, is a self evident Proposition; for otherwise it would not be a Creature, In God we live, move and have our Being. Now, an Obligation to obedience flows necessarily from this, as appears thus: Je­hovah has a Right to the Creature's Service, not only because of the Independance, Self-existence and transcendent Perfection of his Being, but because he is the Author of the Creature's Being and all its Benefits. Now seeing the Almighty gave to Man a Capacity to perform Acts of Worship and Obedience to his Creator, it is but reasonable that the Almighty should re­quire his Due. And on the Contrary its very unreasonable to imagine that God gave Powers to his Creatures to no pur­pose, or cast off all Care about them! It is equally absur'd to suppose, either that God should make his rational Creatures for no valuable End, or that he should not propose proper Means to attain it, or cease requiring a Compliance with those Means!

[Page 223]Again let it be considered, my Brethren. that if the Moral Precepts be alterable, then they are only of a positive Nature; and if so, the Almighty might either not have enjoyned those Things, or have en­joyned the Contrary, and so according to this Scheme the Blessed God might not only have neglected giving a Law to the reasonable Creature to love and Worship him, but have commanded him to blas­pheme and disobey his Creator, to believe in no God at all, or to worship false Gods, yea to worship the very Devil himself! And so the worst of Crimes would commence Virtues, viz. Atheism, Blasphemy, and Lying, &c. because commanded, which is so monstrous that it needs no Confutati­on! The Almighty cannot command such Things without denying himself, and con­tradicting his own Nature: GOD is Holy and True, and therefore it is contrary to his Nature to command what is base [...]nd false!

And indeed, Brethren, if the Precepts of the Moral Law might be disanull'd, there would then be no Difference between it [Page 224] and the Ceremonial, and so no greater O­bligation to Obedience to the one than the other, and consequently no greater E­vil in violating the one than the other; and so the Man that touched a dead Body, or eat swines Flesh, would be guilty of as great a Crime as he that blasphemed the Name of God, or murdered his Father, which is quite rediculous to imagine!

Nor can the Moral Law as a Rule be destroy'd, because of it's Conformity to the Divine Nature, it is the Rule of God's I­mage in Man, in which Jehovah has ex­press'd his Righteousness and Holiness: Now it is unreasonable to think that God would destroy his own Image.

Without Conformity to the Moral Law we cannot imitate the Example of God, to which we are so frequently urg'd in Scripture, and therefore its Observation is [...]oyn'd as often as Holiness is recommended therein, and especially where we are en­joyn'd to imitate God, and to be Holy because he is Holy; and thus it follows by a neces­sary Consequence, that the Moral Law is unalterable, and of perpetual Obligation.

[Page 225]Moreover, Sirs, the Moral Law, as to it's Substance, is the same with the Law of Na­ture, which is immutable, and founded in the reasonable Nature of Man.

By the Law of Nature I understand the Light of Nature, or the practical Notions of the Difference between Moral Good and Evil, which we receive with our Nature; or a practical Rule of Moral Duties, which was originally impress'd on the human Mind when Man was first form'd, to which all Mankind are by Nature oblig'd.

Altho' this Law of Nature was much broken by the Fall of Man, yet that there be some Remains of it in all, we have a­bundant Evidence from Scripture, Conscience, the consent of Mankind, and the Voice of Reason.

The Holy Scriptures assure us, that the Gentiles, who had not the Law, (i. e. the written Law of Moses) did by Nature the Things contain'd in the Law, and so were a Law to themselves, and shew'd the Work of the Law written in their Hearts. And does not the Conscience of every Man in­form him, that Good is to be done, and [Page 226] Evil to be avoided? What else is the Source of those Uneasinesses for secret E­vils which do not fall under the Cog­nizance of human Laws, with which the Wicked are tormented, and all their brutish Delights allay'd with the Forebodings of future Misery?

If there was no Law of Nature, why should the most savage and uncultivated Nations own a supream Being, and that he is to be adored as well as our Parents ho­nour'd, and justice maintain'd? Whence flow all the Laws of Nations respecting Honesty and Justice, if there was no na­tive Rule of Right implanted in the hu­man Mind?

And Reason likewise gives its Suffrage to the Reality of the Law of Nature thus: Seeing the Creature as such depends una­voidably upon its former, and is govern'd by him phisically, it is absur'd to suppose that it should not be govern'd by him also in a Moral Way, agreeable to its Nature, which cannot be without a Law. It therefore follows that either Man must be [Page 227] made independant, or have a natutal Law impress'd upon his Mind!

And indeed innumerable Inconsistences follow the contrary Sentiment, e. g. If nothing be in its Nature Just, but that which Men judge profitable to them, then it follows that Men are born for themselves and not for the Glory of that Being to whom they owe their Original! Or for the Good of Society, and then all Things would be equally lawful, to love God, or hate him; to honour our Parents, or cut their Throats! Thus every Man's Lust would be his Rule of Actions, and so a Scene of Confusion and Blood would open to the utter Destruction of the Hu­man Race! If the Law of Nature be de­stroy'd, my Brethren, then are the Founda­tions of civil Justice unhing'd, from which Fountains issue Human Laws: Hereby a Way is open'd to Atheism in Principle, and the most sordid Evils in Practice, so that all Religion, Virtue, Order and Government are hereby entirely subverted, and left ex­piring in the Agonies of Death.

Now the Law of Nature and the [Page 228] Moral Law are the very same in Sub­stance, the same Duties towards God and Man, which are prescrib'd by the Moral Law, are contain'd in the Law of Nature: The Sum of the Moral Law, as I have before observ'd, is to love God and our Neighbour, and this is the very Law of Nature: All the Precepts of the Moral Law are impress'd on rational Nature, and may be discover'd by its Light: There is nothing in them but right Reason dictates or approves of; nothing but what belongs to all Nations in all Ages of the World; nothing but what is necessary to Human Nature to obtain its proper End, and therefore it ought to be of perpetual Obligation; for rational Nature is ever the same, and like itself, and consequently so must that which is grounded upon it.

The Difference between the Moral Law and the Law of Nature, is only in Acci­dentals and Circumstantials as follows: What is contain'd in the Law of Nature, is more clearly and distinctly declar'd in the Moral Law. The Law of Nature was much obscur'd by the Fall of Man, and [Page 229] therefore there was need of a Renovation of it: The Law of Nature was wrote upon the Mind of Man, and binds all; but the Moral Law upon Tables of Stone, and belongs to those that are privileged with the Knowledge of it: The Law of Na­ture has nothing but what is Moral in it; but the Moral Law contains some Things that are positive or ceremonial, not in its Pre­cepts but in the Arguments exciting to the Performance of them. Thus the first Command is enforc'd by an Argument of Gratitude peculiar to the Israelitish Na­tion, viz. God's bringing them out of Egypt. And so as to the Fourth, tho' the Duty en­joyn'd be Moral, namely the Dedication of a seventh Part of our Time, or one Day in Seven to the Worship of God; yet the Specification of one Day rather than another for that purpose is only positive and therefore alterable; for there is no real Difference in the several Parts of Time as to their Nature, all Time is alike in itself, and therefore equally fit for Reli­gious Worship: And thus it evidently ap­pears that the Specification of one Day [Page 230] rather than another cannot be moral Na­tural, or grounded upon the Nature and Reason of Things. This, learned Mr. Pool represents in the following Manner. ‘The Moral Law required no more than one Day of Seven to be kept as a Day of Holy Rest, not this or that particu­lar Day; the Jews learn'd it from the Ceremonial Law, as Christians learn theirs from Christ's and the Apostles Practice. Nor is it any Objection a­gainst this that the seventh Day from the Creation is mentioned in the Law to those who know how to distinguish betwixt the Precept and the Argument, the Seventh from the Creation is not in the Precept but in the Argument: For in Six Days, &c. Now there is nothing more Ordinary than to have Arguments of a particular temporary Con­cernment used to inforce Precepts of an eternal Obligation; where the Pre­cepts were first given to that particular People, as to whom those Arguments were of Force, an Instance of which is in the first Commandment as well as [Page 231] in this: As on the other side Arguments of universal Force are oft annext to Pre­cepts which had but a particular Obli­gation upon a particular People for a Time. Thus in the Ceremonial Law we often find it is an Argument to in­force many Ceremonial Precepts: For I am the Lord thy God. *

I may add that what has been said is farther confirm'd by an Argument or Ex­citement of a temporary Nature, which is annex'd to the 5th Commandment, That thy Days may be long upon the Land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. This certainly intended the earthly Canaan which was promis'd to the Jews, and so had something in it peculiar to that Nation which does not extend to us. Now I say excepting those Arguments mentioned, which are annex'd to the First, Fourth, and Fifth Commands, the whole Moral Law is the very same with the Law of Na­ture, and therefore perpetually binding.

The Law of Nature being Natural, [Page 232] Universal, and Rational, must needs en­dure to the last Period of the Line of Time. And the Moral Law being the same in Substance with it, must needs be of the same Duration.

But I proceed to the Improvement of this Subject. And First: From what has been said, you may learn the Necessity of preaching the Moral Law, seeing it is a Mean of so many and important Benefits to the Unconverted and Converted, and that those who neglect it do great Injury to the Souls of Men, and use a Mean which tends but to deceive Men and flatter them to their Ruin! He is a foolish Builder, that pretends to raise the Fabrick before he lays the Foundation, or attempts to lay it without digging, in order to it. He is a foolish Physician, that pretends to cure a Lethargy by Anodynes. He is a foolish Surgeon, or something worse, that pretends to cure an old Ulcer without probing it and searching it first. He is also a foolish Farmer, that pretends to sow before he plows. To sound the comfortable Strains of Peace and Pardon, and a Saviour's Blood, [Page 233] only in the Ears of a secure World; tho' it pleases them and may possibly move the softer Passions of some; yet like a lul-a-by, it tends to rock or soothe them into a deeper Sleep of Security to their endless Destruction! Such Preachers daub with untempered Mortar, and slay the Souls of Men by promising them Life, as the Prophet expresses it.

Such Ministers as have preach'd the Law most, have been most successful; witness Hooker, Hildersham, Baal, Bolton, Rogers, and an Army of others of precious Memory. And here give me leave to mention the Testimony of one of the most learned and pious Divines of the English Nation, I mean the Reverend Doctor John Owen, who in his Treatise of Justification speaks thus:

‘Let no Man think to understand the Gospel, who knoweth nothing of the Law. God's Constitution and the Nature of Things themselves, have given the Law the Precedency with respect unto Sinners; For by the Law is the Knowledge of Sin; and Gospel-Faith is the Souls acting for [Page 234] Deliverance from that State and Condi­tion, which it is cast under by the Law. And all those Descriptions of Faith, which abound in the Writings of learned Men, which do not at least include in them a virtual Respect unto this State and Condition, or the Work of the Law on the Consciences of Sinners, are all of them vain Speculations! There is nothing in this Doctrine which I will more firmly adhere unto than the Necessity of the Convictions mentioned, previous unto true believing, without which, not one Line of it can be understood aright, and Men do but beat the Air in their Con­tentions about it.’ * If any will call us legal Preachers, because we preach the Law; we Answer, that we follow our Lord's Example in so doing, and if they will reproach us for our imitating him, we hope our Master will support us under those unjust Censures, that condemn his Practice as well as ours, and in such Com­pany we need neither be afraid or asham'd.

[Page 235] Secondly: We may learn that there is a beautiful Harmony between the Law and Gospel, they mutually honour and establish each other. The Law sends us to Christ for Justification, and Christ sends us back to the Law for Direction. The Law helps us to see the absolute Need of the Gospel, and the Gospel opens before us the transcendent Excellency of the Law. O let us admire the Wisdom, the Good­ness, the Holiness and Love of God, dis­play'd in this Harmony!

Thirdly: From what has been said, we may learn the Danger of rejecting the Law of God. This strikes at the Foundations of the Christian Religion, and directly tends to destroy it entirely! For

Hereby an awful Bar is put in the Way of Conviction, Faith, Repentance, Conver­sion, Justification, Consolation, and so by consequence of eternal Salvation! How shall poor Sinners be convinc'd if that Law be destroy'd by which is the Knowledge of Sin? And is there any probability that such as are whole in their own Eyes, will apply in earnest to Christ for a Cure? [Page 236] Or that those who see no Danger, will fly by Faith to the Refuge set before them?

If there be no Law their can be no Transgression of it, or in other Words, no Sin: And if there be no Sin, what need is there of Repentance? Shall People repent over what is not? No surely! And what need is there of a Saviour, to deliver from nothing?

And if the Moral Law is destroy'd, does not Justification fall with it? For is not that a Sentence judicially pronounc'd ac­cording to Law? And how cruel and per­nicious is it to rob poor Sinners of a Mean of their Conversion to God?

Neither can their be any such Thing as Sanctification or Holiness upon Earth, with­out the Moral Law. For what is Sancti­fication, but an inward and outward Con­formity thereto, or a renewing us after the Image of God, which is his Law? With­out this, all Acts of Virtue and Religion, inasmuch as they are neither requir'd by God, nor done in Obedience to his com­manding Authority, (according to the Scheme I propose) are all Superstition and [Page 237] Will-worship; and consequently instead of being pleasing to God, do provoke his In­dignation; because they imply a Reflection upon his Wisdom, Goodness or Fidelity; as if he either knew not how to furnish his Creatures with a perfect Law for their Direction, or wanted Goodness and Faith­fulness to act in pursuance of his Wisdom!

When Men reject the Law of God, they renounce Interpretatively, his Dominion over them, and commence their own Lord's and Masters. And as to their Acts of Ver­tue and Religion, this Query spoils them all, Who hath required these Things at your Hands? And how shall those that are con­verted, prize Christ as a Fountain, when the Glass that discovers their Blemishes is broken and cast away? Or how shall they live daily upon his Offices, without a Sight of their Need of them?

Nor is Ignorance of our Sins in Heart and Life, the Way to true and real Hu­mility: For how shall those be discovered to us, without comparing our selves with that Law of God, of which Sin is a Trans­gression?

[Page 238]And are we like to extol the Glory of pure pardoning Grace, while the Sins for­given are hid from our View by rejecting the Law of God?

Is there any Perfection of the blessed God, more venerable and amiable than his Holiness? Of this the Seraphs shout with Joy and Transport, saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts! And certainly a Gladness, and Satisfaction arises to the Saints on Earth in some degree from a View thereof. Now does it not tend to mar their Joy and Satisfaction in this At­tribute, when the Law, that Image of the divine Purity is rejected? Surely in keeping God's Commands there is a great Re­ward.

If our Peace and Joy be not built upon a right Foundation, they are worse than none. And is the Foundation like to be well laid, while we are ignorant of our Sins thro' a Slight of the Law of God, the appointed Mean of Self-Knowledge?

Not to say that it is hard to conceive how any should be acquitted at the last [Page 239] Day, if that Law were destroy'd which is to be the Rule of Judgment.

From what has been said, considered complexly, methinks this Conclusion na­turally and freely flows, viz. That the rejecting the Moral Law, directly tends to destroy all Religion and Vertue at one dreadful Stroak, and consequently, to plunge Mankind in a Deluge of Impiety, Confusion and Ruin? To the Law and to the Testimony (as the Prophet Isaiah speaks) If they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no Light in them. * The Lord complains and threatens by the Prophet Ho­sea in the following Language: My People are stroyed for lack of Knowledge. Because thou hast rejected Knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no Priest to me: Seeing thou hast forgotten the Law of thy God, I will also forget thy Children. The Words of God by the Prophet Malachi are likewiie remarkable upon this Head: For the Priests Lips shall keep Knowledge, and they should seek the Law at his Mouth; [Page 240] — But ye have departed out of the Way, ye have caused many to stumble at the Law, therefore have I made you also contemptible and base before all the People, according as ye have not kept my Ways, but have been partial in the Law. * And our Lord him­self in his Sermon on the Mount, after he had asserted, that he came not to destroy the Law,—and that not one Jot or Tittle shou'd pass from it till Heaven and Earth pass, he says, Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least Commandments, and shall teach Men so, he shall be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. If it be objected against what has been spo­ken upon this Subject, That the Life of Christ is a sufficient Rule without the Law, I answer: If Christ had sustain'd all the Characters or Relations that are among Men, for any considerable Space of Time, and all that he had said and done had been recorded; no doubt it would have been [Page 241] a compleat Explication of the Law, and therefore, a perfect Directory for our Prac­tice. But inasmuch as Jesus Christ did not sustain all Relations, had but a short abode in the World, and many Things he said and did are not recorded; ther [...]fore his Life is not a sufficient Rule to us without the Law; neither do we find that it is any where recommended to us in Scripture as such. His Practice was entirely perfect and without Stain, and therefore so far as it is reveal'd to us, it is both our Honour, our Duty, and our Priviledge to imitate it, (excepting such extraordinary Cases that concern'd him peculiarly as Mediator) but what is not reveal'd we know not, and therefore cannot imitate.

Nor is it reasonable and safe for us to follow our Hearts as Rules or Guides, see­ing they are by Nature deceitful and despe­rately Wicked. And there are too much of the Remains thereof in the best of Men, which Paul bewail'd over in very moving Strains; saying, O wretched Man that I am, who shall deliver me from this Body of Sin and Death? And Peter was so far deceiv'd [Page 242] by it, as to dissuade his Lord from suffer­ing! Yea all the Apostles were so sensible of it, that they groan'd within themselves, waiting for the Redemption of their Bodies! The Case being so, Solomon justly observes, that he who trusts in his Heart is a Fool, simple indeed in the worst Sense.

And to expect the Direction of God's Spirit, while we neglect or contemn the Means God has appointed for our Instruc­tion, is great and dangerous Presumption; for all these Things God will be enquir'd of. i. e. apply'd to in the Use of proper Means. To follow immediate Impulses either wholly without the Scriptures, or without exa­mining such Passages thereof as are brought to our Minds by the sober Use of our Reason, in comparing Scripture with Scrip­ture, and considering the Consequences of different Interpretations, and their Agree­ment with or Disagreement from the Analogy of Faith, exposes to all Manner of Inconsistency and Delusion: The De­vil has hereby an awful Opportunity to betray us into the most perilous Principles, under the Appearance of an Angel of [Page 243] Light, or guise of Truth and Good, and we have no Defensative: For without the humble Use of Reason, how can we try the Spirits by the Word, or have any just and consistent Apprehension of its meaning? In short by this Notion the Scriptures are rendered Useless to us in Effect; for its much alike whether we want the Scriptures altogether, or want the true Knowledge of them in Funda­mentals: For it is by the Notion we have of the Meaning of the Scriptures that we are directed in Practice, and not by them considered absolutely. It's absurd to sup­pose, that an infinitely Wise God would first give Reason to his Creatures, and then order them to cast it entirely away in or­der to become Religious; that is, first to commence Beasts before they become Christians.

But some object against the Law, that Place of Scripture in the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, where it is said, That the Law is not of Faith. I answer with Turretine: ‘That the Law is said not to be of Faith, not as it is taken largely for [Page 244] the whole Mosaick OEconomy, but strictly for the Moral Law abstracted and separated from the Promises of Grace, in which Sense the Self-righteous Jews understood it, who sought Life by it; for that Faith was commanded in the Sinai Covenant is evinc'd.’

Let us therefore, my dear Brethren! be entreated to esteem and value God's holy Law, whatever Contempt others cast upon it; let it be dear to us to the Death, more precious than fine Gold, and sweeter than Honey!

O Brethren! let us avoid with all Care and Caution, the Abuses of the Law before mentioned; beware that ye depend not upon your Obedience to it for acceptance with God: And likewise take care that ye do not oppose Law and Gospel to each other, or advance the one to the others prejudice, for in so doing ye wound the Christian Religion, as well as your own Souls exceedingly! O there is a sweet Har­mony between them, which we have rea­son to admire and adore God for! And indeed the Thoughts and Knowledge of [Page 245] this blessed Harmony and mutual Subser­viency, tends to strengthen our Belief in the Divinity of the Christian Religion!

O ye unconverted Souls! use and apply the Law's Threatnings to alarm you out of your Iron Slumbers. Let the legal Lancet run into your secure Hearts and open your Wounds, that ye may be sick of Sin and flee to Jesus!

Surely it is Ignorance of God's Law that makes some despise it. If we may slight that, we may also the whole Old Testa­ment with it, which is for the most part but an Explication thereof. And if the Old Testament be destroy'd, what shall become of the New that is built on that Foundation? Let us therefore study the Law, and pray to God that he wou'd shew us the Breadth of it, and wonders con­tain'd in it.

Let the People of God be entreated to observe it as the Rule of their Practice. Obey it, dear Brethren! from a Principle of Love to God, and with an Eye to his Glory: And lean on Jesus by Faith, that [Page 246] for his sake your Imperfections may be pardon'd and your Acts of Obedience ac­cepted; and thus ye may expect that Peace will be upon you and the Israel of God. Which may God grant for Christ's Sake. Amen.


Vindicae Operum: OR, THE Necessity of GOOD WORKS Vindicated.


By GILBERT TENNENT, A. M. Minister of the Gospel in Philadelphia.

2 Pet. i. 5, 6, 7,—11.

And besides this, giving all Dili­gence, add to your Faith, Vertue; and to Vertue, Know­ledge; and to Knowledge, Temperance; and to Temperance, Patience; and to Patience, Godliness; and to Godliness, Brotherly-Kindness; and to Brotherly-Kindness, Charity,— For so an Entrance shall be ministred unto you abundantly, into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

PHILADELPHIA: Printed by W. BRADFORD, at the Bible in Second Street, 1745.

[Page 249]


PHILIP. ii. 12, 13.

Work out your own Salvation with fear and trembling.

For it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do, of his good Pleasure.

THE Design of Knowledge in Reli­gion, my Brethren, is Practice; and without the latter, the former will only serve to encrease our present Guilt and future Punishment: To him that knoweth to do good, and doth it not, to him it is Sin. And that Servant which knew his Lord's Will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his Will, shall be beaten with many Stripes. *

[Page 250]Nor have the People of God any Writ of Exemption from Obedience to their Creator and Father. It is so far from this, that they are under special Engagements thereto, by Reason of the distinguishing Expressions of God's Kindness towards them.

This the Text which I have chosen to discourse upon at present, represents in strong Terms: To understand which, let it be considered, that the Apostle therein ad­dresses the Saints at Philippi, and exhorts them to practical Holiness by divers Argu­ments.

Having mentioned in the Preceeding Verses, the Obedience and Humiliation of Christ, together with the blessed Fruits thereof, he takes occasion from thence, to excite them to religious Diligence and humble Holiness. Let this Mind (i. e. humble Mind) be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Who being in the Form of God—took upon him the Form of a Ser­vant [Page 251] —and became obedient unto Death.— Wherefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a Name above every Name.—

It is as if the Apostle shou'd say, Seeing the blessed Jesus who is God over all, has, to purchase our Salvation, assum'd human Nature in its humblest Form, and became obedient therein to the Law to Death, and that of the most abasing and formidable Kind; ye shou'd be hence induc'd to use all Diligence, to get the purchas'd Salvati­on apply'd really and satisfactorily to your own Souls at present, as well as to ob­tain encreasing Meetness, for the full En­joyment of it in the Life to come.

And to encourage them herein, the Apo­stle not only uses an endearing Compellation in his Address, but prudently commends them for their past Diligence; Wherefore my beloved, as you have always obey'd, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence. Work out your own Salva­tion. He excites them to persevering Obe­dience to God's Law and Gospel, and es­pecially [Page 252] in his absence, that so it might ap­pear to all, that not meerly a Reverence to their Pastor, but a prevailing Love to Christ and their own Souls constrain'd their Obedience; and likewise because in his Absence their Danger was encreas'd, thro' the Want of his Councils and the Presence of Seducers. Work out your own Salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do, of his good Pleasure. These Words contain three Things worthy of Observation, viz. I. A Duty is enjoyned, Work. II. The Manner of performing it is prescrib'd, work out your own Salvation with fear and trem­bling. And III. Arguments exciting hereto are mentioned; It is your own Salvation, and it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do, of his good Pleasure. I shall therefore in discoursing upon this Subject, endeavour to explain the aforesaid Particu­lars, and then proceed to the Improvement.

I. The Duty enjoyn'd, is pactical Holiness, or Obedience to God's Law. And hence the Apostle commends them for their Obedi­ence, [Page 253] in the first Part of the Verse; Where­fore my Beloved, as ye have always obeyed.

Here it may be enquir'd, what is requir'd to acceptable Obedience? (or good Works.)

I answer these four Things are necessary to constitute it; namely, a good Principle, a good End, a good Rule, and a good Mode. And

First. There must a good Principle, viz. a renew'd, believing Heart. And hence the Apostle observes to Timothy, That the End of the Commandment is Charity, out of a pure Heart, and of a good Conscience, and Faith unfeign'd. * And our Lord informs us, That a good Man out of the good Trea­sure of his Heart, bringeth forth good Things: And an evil Man out of the evil Treasure, bringeth forth evil Things. And that a corrupt Tree cannot bring forth good Fruit. But that whatsoever is born of the Flesh is Flesh. And the Apostle Paul informs us, That he that is in the Flesh cannot please [Page 254] God. * And that without Faith it is im­possible to please him. Unless the Foun­tain be good, the Streams cannot be so that proceed from it. The Salt of convert­ing Grace must therefore be cast into the Spring of our Action, and as our Saviour directs us, we must make the Tree good, that the Fruit may be good. But

Secondly. Another Thing that is necessa­ry to constitute a good Work, is a good End, and that is the Glory of God: To this as our highest Mark or Scope, all our Actions, whether natural, civil or religious shou'd be directed; and to this, every Thing else shou'd be subordinated; Whe­ther in eating or drinking, or whatsoever we do, we should do it all to the Glory of God. For the want of this, the Worship of the Pharisees, tho' specious in appearance, was rejected. In all religious Actions, we should more especially, actually intend God's Glory; for our aiming at the chief Good shou'd then be most express, and not interrupted by any other Intentions. [Page 255] But in civil and temporary Matters, it is not precisely necessary, that the Glory of God be always actually intended (tho' that shou'd be attempted as much as may be.) If in the mean time, the Glory of God be the virtual and general Scope, to which all our Works are referr'd. Our dear Re­deemer lays much Stress upon the Sinceri [...] of our Intentions, and informs us, that our Eye be single our whole Body is full of Light, but if otherwise, full of Darkness: i. e. If in the Course of our Actions we do not aim at God's Glory above all, it is an Evidence of our being in a dark and dismal State towards God!

Thirdly. A good Rule is likewise neces­sary to constitute a good Work, or accept­able Obedience. Now this Rule is the Law of God, not ceremonial, which direct­ed the Worship of the Jews, in Things peculiar to the Infant State of the Church, under that (comparatively) dark and terrible OEconomy. Forasmuch as that prefigured the Mediator to come, as the Shadow the Body, he being come it is abrogated. * [Page 256] Nor is this Rule the Judicial Law, which directed the Jewish Commonwealth in ci­vil Matters, forasmuch as that was in a great Measure peculiarly adapted to the political State and Circumstances of that Nation, which were in some respects singu­lar, particularly considered as a Theocrasy, and under a ceremonious Dispensation, and was never given to the Gentile World as a Rule of Judgment, but to the Jewish, it necessarily follows, that it must expire with the Dissolution of the Jewish State. (at least so far as it peculiarly respected it) Nor are we under any formal Obligation to a Law, that was never impos'd upon us by divine Authority, or ever was adapted in many of its Stroaks to our Circumstances. The grand Design of the Scriptures, is not to suggest general Maxims of civil Policy, but Rules of holy Living. The Scope of the sacred Volumn is not to make us subtle Politicians, but sincere Christians; not to give us Rules of Judging about the Rights of Kings to their Crowns, but to direct us in the Way to a Crown of Life that shall never fade away.

[Page 257]It remains therefore, that it is the Moral Law that is the perpetual Rule of human Action; this therefore we must have in view in our sacred Service, and to this un­alterable Scale of Holiness, we must strictly and invariably conform, * and without a Regard to this, in our Acts of Obedience, in vain do we worship God, teaching for Doctrines the Commandments of Men. Wherefore (says the Apostle to the Colo­sians,) if ye be dead with Christ, from the Ru­diments of the World; why—are ye sub­ject to Ordinances; touch not, taste not, handle not, (which are to all perish with the using) after the Commandments and Doc­trines of Men? Which Things have indeed a Shew of Wisdom, in will Worship, and Hu­mility. To all such, the Almighty God may propose the following silencing Ques­tion; Who hath required this at your Hand?

Fourthly. Another Ingredient in a good Work, is a good Mode, or Manner of Per­formance; [Page 258] i. e. It must not be only out­wardly, but inwardly conformed to the Law of God, which is a spiritual Law, and requires Purity in the Thoughts and Dispositions of the Soul. *

Now Obedience to God's Law is call'd a Work in our Text, to signify its Difficulty, and the Pains that must be taken to per­form it to purpose.

We have many Things to do, in relati­on to God, our Neighbour and our selves; which to perform in their proper Season and order, in a constant and harmonious Series, is attended with no little Difficulty!

Yea the very Duties that respect our selves, are numerous and not of easy Per­formance; to use all appointed Means with seriousness and steadiness, to obtain a Prin­ciple of Grace, to pluck out our right Eyes, and cut off our right Arms: i. e. To for­sake our darling Sins, which are to us, while unrenew'd, in respect of affection, like those Members of our Bodies. O how hard and Difficult is it!

[Page 259]And when converted, to continue in the steadfast and earnest Use of all instituted Means, in order to obtain the exercise of every Grace proper for all the various Occasions of Life, as well as to attain and retain the Growth of Grace, the Assu­rance of Grace, and Perseverance therein to the End: and that contrary to the Ten­dency of strong Corruptions from within, and innumerable Temptations from the De­vil and World without. (i. e. both in re­spect of the Objects of it, and the Men of it) is exceeding Difficult.

And it is peculiarly so to deny ourselves; to undo all that we have done amiss by repeated Acts of Penitence; to crucify our vicious Propensities; to maintain a humble Confidence in God; a transcendant Affection to him, and unfaling Complacence in him, in the Midst of Sins, of Sorrows and Temptations of various Forms: And hence it is that our Lord compares accept­able Obedience or sincere Holiness to a straight Gate and narrow Way, and as­sures us, that but few (i. e. comparatively) are possessors of it, Enter ye in at the [Page 260] strait Gate; for wide is the Gate, and broad is the Way that leadeth to Destruction, and many there be that go in thereat; because strait is the Gate, and narrow the Way that leadeth unto Life, and few there be that find it. * And elsewhere we are inform'd that the Righteous are scarcely (i. e. difficult­ly) saved.

Again it is call'd a Work of Salvation, to shew us the Necessity of Obedience in or­der to the Possession of Salvation in the future World, as well as the inseparable Connection, by Virtue of Divine Promise between Good Works or Holiness here and Happiness hereafter.

Sometimes the Word Salvation in Scrip­ture intends no more but a Deliverance from some great Danger or Calamity: And thus when Israel were inviron'd round with inextricable Difficulties, the Egyptian Ar­my behind them, and the Red Sea before them, and impervious Eminencies or im­passible Mountains on each Side, Moses bid them stand still and see the Salvation of [Page 261] God. But more generally the Word Sal­vation, signifies a spiritual Deliverance from Sin, and the Miseries consequent upon it, begun by Grace here, and perfected in Glory hereafter. When our Lord visited Zaccheus, and conferr'd spiritual Mercy's upon him, he inform'd him, that that Day, Salvation came to his House: i. e. At that Time, a Right to Salvation was confer'd upon him by Justification, and the Begin­nings of Salvation were implanted in him by Regeneration and Consolation. But the Word generally signifies the full Enjoyment of God in the Life to come; and in this Sense it is undoubtedly to be taken in our Text. Work out your own Salvation: i. e. diligently Study and faithfully Perform these Duties that relate to your eternal Salvation; that tend to clear up your Title to it, and make you meet for the Possession of it. This Phrase does in strong Terms represent, the Necessity and Usefulness of the good Works of the Faithful to promote their Salvation; and hence it is frequently represented to us as a Reward, which is not meeted out to us for our Works, but [Page 262] according to them; God will render to eve­ry one according to his Works; to them who by patient Continuance in well-doing, seek for Glory and Immortality eternal Life. *

But in vain do the Papists infer a Merit of Works from this Text! The good Works of the Saints, cannot deserve eternal Hap­piness, for the following Reasons:

1st. Because they are imperfect, all our Righteousnesses are as filthy Rags: Imper­fection cleaves to the best of our Services, on which Account we need Forgiveness, as our Lord informs us in the Pattern of Prayer he has given us, and therefore can­not merit any good at the Hand of God.

2dly. Believers owe all to God, and there­fore can merit nothing of him, by offering to him what is his own. They are God's Servants; they are not their own but bought with a Price: Now it is the Property of a Servant not to be Sui Juris, at his own Dispose or Command. They cannot dis­pose of themselves or their Time, or their Work, because all these belong to their [Page 263] Master: And how then can they deserve any thing by doing what they are bound to do? And hence our Lord speaks to his Disciples in the following Words; Likewise when ye shall have done all these Things that are commanded you, say we are unprofitable Servants: WE HAVE DONE THAT WHICH WAS OUR DUTY TO DO. If a Master rewards his Servant for doing his Duty, it must be pure Liberality and not Merit.

Besides, Believers receive all the Good they possess from God, It is God that work­eth in them, to will and to do of his own good Pleasure, and they have nothing but what they have receiv'd. * Who hath first given to God and it shall be recompenced to him again? The Case being so, they cannot possibly merit, by returning to God what is his own, for that is but an Act of Justice. Again

3dly. Good Works are rewarded meerly out of God's Mercy and pure Grace, and therefore not of Merit, for these are opposed [Page 264] to each other; and hence we are told, that it is not by Works of Righteousness that we have done, but thro' his Mercy he hath saved us.

4thly. Eternal Life is given to Believers, by Way of Inheritance, and therefore not by way of Merit; for the one is a Gift and the other is a Purchase; If Children then Heirs, Heirs of God and joynt Heirs with Christ. * If the Inheritance be of the Law, it is no more of pro­mise, but God gave it to Abraham by promise. i. e. If Salvation be confer'd for our Obedience to the Law, it is no more of Promise.

5thly. The good Works of Believers are not equal in value to eternal Life, and therefore cannot diserve it; for I reckon (says the Apostle) that the Sufferings of this pre­sent Time, are not worthy to be compared with the Glory that shall be revealed in us.

Now the Sufferings which the Saints of choice endure for Christ, are the best In­stances [Page 265] of their Obedience; and therefore if those do not merit Happiness, far less their other Services. In order to demerit, there must be an Equality in Worth between the Work and the Reward; but the Re­ward is infinite in Value and Duration, and our Works are both finite and imper­fect; now between these there is no Pro­portion of Equality, but on the contrary an infinite Disproportion.

6thly. Eternal Life is the Gift of God, and therefore not deserved by our Good Works; It is your Fathers good Pleasure to give you the Kingdom. The Wa [...]s of Sin is Death, but the Gift of God is eternal Life. * Observe the Antithesis between the two; Death is inflicted in a way of Justice as the desert of Sin, as the Wages of a Hireling are due for his Work. But eter­nal Life is the Gift of God, free and alto­gether undeserved by us: Gift or Grace and Debt are certainly oppos'd; what we properly owe, we cannot be said properly to give, and so e contra.

[Page 266]I may add, that seeing the Saints cannot do any thing that profits the Almighty, or recompence him for Benefits receiv'd, it is unreasonable to imagine that they should merit more; Our Goodness does not extend to God, neither is it any Gain to him that we are righteous. If a Son cannot return equal to his Father, for the Being he hath receiv'd instrumentally from him, how much less can he requite God, from whom he hath originally receiv'd his all?

And indeed the Papal Notion of Merit is Dishonourable, both to God, the Father and the Son!

It eclipses the Fathers Liberality, and subjects him to his Creature. The greater any good is, the more communicative and liberal it is. Now he that gives freely, is more liberal than him that gives out of Debt or Desert.

And he that owes another, (according to Justice) is in some Measure subject to him; the Borrower (as Solomon observes) is Servant to the Lender. And therefore [Page 267] if the Almighty be a Debtor to fallen Man, on Account of any Merit in his Works, he would not act so freely as if no such Obligation lay upon him.

Nor can the Merits of Works be clear'd of derogating from the Redeemers Glory; for whoever merits any Thing, acquires a Right either in whole or in part to that which he had not before, and thus there wou'd be something in eternal Life which Christ had not merited, which is absurd in it self and inglorious to Christ! It is in vain to pretend that Christ hath purchas'd for his People a Power of meriting, for this is in other Words to say, that the Satis­faction of Christ is incompleat, and that he needs the Help of others to perfect what he left unfinished! It is more for the Redeemers Honour to purchase all himself, than to enable others to do it, either in whole or in part: As he is more bountiful who gives another a large Inhe­ritance out of his own proper Goods, than he that enables him to purchase an Estate by his Labour.

[Page 268]To work Salvation does not signify to effect it, but to labour about it, to do those things that have a Relation to it; and in this Sense the original Word is frequently taken in Scripture. *

But tho' from what has been said it ap­pears, that the Popish Notion of the Merit of Works cannot be fairly inferr'd from these Words; yet they strongly assert the Necessity of good Works in order to Salva­tion, against the Antinomians and Liber­tines.

To understand which, let it be observ'd, that Works may be considered in a three-fold Light, viz. as respecting Justification, Sanctification or Glorification. In respect of Justification, they are neither antecedents, efficient or meritorious Causes, but Conse­quents and declarative Signs: In respect of Sanctification, they are Ingredients that constitute and promote it: In respect of Glorification, they are Antecedents and Means, which tend to promote our Meet­ness for the Possession of it; they bear the [Page 269] Relation to it of a Way to the End of a Journey, of the beginning of a Thing to its full Completion: For Grace is the beginning of Glory, as Glory is the Consumation of Grace. But to confirm and illustrate this important Point, let the following parti­culars, respecting the necessity of Good Works, be duly weighed, viz.

1st. Good Works are Necessary, as the Way to the Kingdom of Heaven by di­vine Appointment, tho' they are not the Cause of our reigning there, as Bernard excellently observes. And hence we are said to be his Workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto Good Works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. * And elsewhere we are told, that without Holiness no Man shall see the Lord. Tho' eternal Blessedness be not strictly and properly a Reward, yet it is gi­ven in some respect after the Manner of a Reward: Inasmuch as the Elect are not admitted to the Possession of it (ordi­narily) till they have laboured for God, [Page 270] nor are they treated as Conquerors, until they have fought Jehovah's Battles, they must run the Race of Holiness before they possess the rest of the Crown of Happiness: And hence the Apostle informs the Thes­salonians, that God from the Beginning chose them to Salvation thro' the Sanctifica­tion of the Spirit and belief of the Truth. *

2dly. Good Works, or Obedience to the Law of God, make us meet to be partakers of the Inheritance of the Saints in Light. Besides a Right to the Inheritance, a Meetness to enjoy it, is also necessary, which consists in a Temper of Mind fitted for, or attemper'd to the Business and Enjoy­ments of the heavenly State, without which they cannot make us Happy. Now this Temper of Mind, which is so necessary from the Nature of Things, in order to our Happiness, is Holiness in Heart; which is encreas'd by Good Works. The actual Exercise of Grace has a natural Tendency to enlarge and confirm the Principle of Grace as well as engages the [Page 271] Promise of Divine Influence to that End: And hence the Almighty has told us by the Prophet Isaiah, that he will meet those that wait upon him in his Way, and work Righteousness. * And elsewhere we are commanded to ask; and informed that in so doing, we shall receive. Doing Good is certainly the Way to grow better, we get Grace while we act it, the more we use our Limbs, the more nimble we grow; abounding in good Works, encreases the Principle from which they proceed, and so ripens us for Glory; Those that wait up­on God shall renew their Strength. And tho' the blessed God is the principle Effi­cient, in preparing us for future Blessedness, yet under him we act, and with him we concur, being drawn we run, and thro' his Spirit we mortify the Deeds of the Body, that we may live.

3dly. Good Works are necessary to evi­dence our Faith, our Love our Sincerity; and hence is that notable Expression of the Apostle James, Shew me thy Faith without [Page 272] thy Works, and I will shew thee my Faith by my Works. Tho' Faith as it works does not justify, yet it is only a working Faith that does justify. That Faith is only of the right Stamp, that purifies the Heart and Works by Love. Now seeing Faith is the Root of good Works, by these Fruits therefore, we must discern the Tree from which they spring. Our Love is likewise hereby evidenc'd to be real, and not in Word and in Tongue only; If ye love me, (says our Lord) keep my Commandments.— And he that saith he loveth me, and keepeth not my Commandments, is a Lyer, and the Truth is not in him.

And do not good Works make our Since­rity evident, not only to others but to our selves? To this purpose Hezekiah mentions them, when he had received a Message of Death by the Prophet; I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in Truth, and with a perfect Heart, and have done that which is good in thy Sight. * Yea my Brethren, good Works [Page 273] do evidence our eternal Election and effectu­al Vocation; and hence we are enjoyn'd, to give Diligence to make our calling and Election sure, and inform'd, that if we do these Things we shall never fall, but have an abundant Entrance ministred to us, into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. *

4thly. Good Works are necessary to glorify God, to imitate Christ, to Comfort our selves and edify our Neighbour; Herein (said the blessed Jesus) is my Father glorified, that ye bear much Fruit, so shall ye be my Dis­ciples. The more the Beauty of Grace appears, the more God is glorified; now it opens it Oriency and unfolds its Riches and Charms when it is exercised in good Works. Grace in the Creature, is but the Imitation of some divine Attribute in God to which it corresponds; and therefore the more we exercise it in Works of Piety and Charity, the more we manifest Jeho­vah's Excellencies, or as the Apostle phras­eth it, shew forth his Virtues. And thence [Page 274] it is evident, that good Works are the most effectual Way of glorifying God, because they offer the most convincing Demonstra­tion of his adorable Excellencies to Men.

It is certainly our Duty as well as Pri­viledge, to imitate the blessed Jesus; and hence we are commanded, so to walk even as he walked. * And he is said, to have left us an Example, that we should follow his Steps. Now Jesus Christ obey'd the Law, and therefore so must we, if we say we abide in him: The dear Redeemer was not only inherently, but actively holy, he went about doing good.

Moreover, good Works promote our own Comfort exceedingly, and that not only as they are the Way, in which we can only expect, with Reason, the Fulfilment of God's gracious Promises towards us; but as they prevent much Guilt, which would be contracted by spiritual Sloth, and farther our Assurance of being in a gracious State! Surely to him that ordereth his Conversation aright, will be shewn the Salvation of [Page 275] God. Negligence grieves the blessed Spirit, whereby we are sealed to the Day of Redemption; causes the Life of Grace to languish, and blots our Evidences for Heaven. But on the contrary, good Works, give a Spring to our Joy in God, by giving Evidence to the Sincerity of our Faith in him, as well as the Reality of our other Graces. Habits are known by their Act­ings, and we judge of a Fountain by its Streams. Now it is the Knowledge of our Covenant Interest in God, that is the Source of Sweetness; the Comfort of a Believer ebbs and flows with that; and therefore those that desire the Comfort of Grace, must be diligent in the Exercise of Grace. I might add, that the Approbation of Con­science in a Course of religious Labour, to­gether with the grateful Gust, that attends the Exercise of Grace therein, is no small Part of a Christians Delight, and therefore no inconsiderable Incentive to good Works.

Again, my Brethren, our Neighbours Edification is promoted by good Works; and [Page 276] hence our Lord enjoyns us, to let our Light so shine before Men, that they may see our good Works, and glorify our Father which is in Heaven. * And we are likewise bid to shine as Lights in the World, that those who seek to accuse our good Conversation in Christ, may be asham'd: i. e. Thro' their not finding just Matter of Accusation a­gainst us. The Apostle Peter exhorts Wives to the Performance of their Duty, that by their Conversation their Husbands may be won to Christ. By these Instances it appears, that good Works have a noble Tendency to excite Men to glorify God, to silence Gainsayers, and to bring Men to Conversion.

5thly. Good Works are pleasing to God; to do good and to communicate forget not, for with such Sacrifices God is well pleased. The Holy God delights in Holiness, and in those good Works which are the proper Fruits of it; hence is that of the Psalmist, the righteous Lord loveth Righteousness, his Countenance beholdeth the upright. God [Page 277] delights first in himself, and next in his nearest Resemblance, which is Holiness. Good Works come from God, and there­fore no Wonder he Delights in them!

Having spoken upon the Duty enjoyn'd in our Text, I proceed to Discourse upon the Manner of performing it therein pre­scrb'd, which is the

II. General Head. Now we should per­form the Duties of Obedience required of us.

1st. Painfully and Earnestly: This is doubtless intended by the Word Work; and hence we are commanded in other Places of Scripture, to strive to enter in at the strait Gate; and inform'd, that many shall seek to enter in but shall not be able. * The original Word signifies to agonize: i. e. to labour as in an Agony. We are likewise commanded, to run so that we may obtain. So to fight that we may lay hold on eternal Life. So to wrestle, that we may be able to stand. ** And we are [Page 278] dehorted from fainting in our Minds, and growing weary in well-doing; and assur'd, that we shall reap if we faint not. And are not the fervent Prayers of the Righteous, said to avail much? Now have all those Expressions no Meaning? Or can we strive, run, wrestle and fight, by loitering or doing nothing? Pray is there any Need to caution us against fainting, and growing weary in well doing, if we have no Work to do at all?

2dly. We must labour perseveringly; Work out the Work of your Salvation; per­fect what ye have begun, continue in your religious Course, until ye reach the Mark. It is in the second Creation as in the first; God does not finish his Work at once, but by Degrees. The Work of Salvation even as Conversion, is sometimes in Scripture ascrib'd to God and sometimes to Men, to signify that God is the Principle Cause, and Men only subminstring Causes, whose Pains are required to promote it. To begin well in Religion, without Continuance, [Page 279] will not do, it is only those, that per­severe to the End that shall be sav'd: such who begin in the Spirit, and end in the Flesh, such who have known the Way of Righteous­ness, and turn from the Holy Command­ments,—to their former Pollutions, like a Dog to his Vomit; the latter End is worse with them than the Beginning; it had been better for them, not to have known the Way of Righteousness. * The Backslider in Heart shall be filled with his own Ways. If any Man draw back, he draws back to Perditi­on. My Soul (saith the Almighty) shall have no Pleasure in him. Time Believers have a flush of Affection for a while, like a Land Flood in Summer, they seem to run well for a Time, and set out fair for Hea­ven, as Lot's Wife out of Sodom for the Mountains, but by and by they are hindred, by and by they are offended at strict Reli­gion, grow weary in well-doing, and tack about to find a broader and easier Way, they can't bear the Thoughts of constant Labour, frequent Sorrow for Sin, of run­ing, [Page 280] wrestling and fighting till they die! Will the Hypocrite, (says Job) always call upon God? Hence the Almighty com­plains of the wicked Israelites, in the fol­lowing affectionate Strains; O Ephraim! what shall I do unto thee? O Judah! what shall I do unto thee? For your Goodness is as a Morning Cloud, and as the early Dew it goeth away. As our Lord observes, No Man having put his Hand to the Plough, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God. O the Injury, that Backsliders and Apostates do to the Honour and Interests of Religion! Wo to the World, because of Offences! that come thro' their Means, and so they exceedingly grieve the Spirit of God, and are in danger of committing the unpardonable Sin!

But the Time requires that I shou'd pro­ceed to some Improvement from what has been spoken. And

First. From hence we may learn, the Falsehood and Danger of the Popish Doctrine of a Merit in Works on the one Hand, as [Page 281] well as of the Antinomian Doctrine on the other, which casts contempt upon good Works, and represents Obedience to the Law as unnecessary.

Both these Doctrines are equally unrea­sonable in themselves, dishonourable to God, and detrimental to us. Those who being ig­norant of the Righteousness of God, and go about to establish their own, rebel against the Government and Righteousness of Christ, and rob him of his mediatorial Crown and Dignity. Such who seek after Righteousness, as it were by the Works of the Law, shall not attain it: i. e. Such who think to deserve Good at the Hand of God by their Works, or (while uncon­verted) thereby to ascertain their Salvation in regard of the Promise of God, they build the Fabrick of Happiness upon their own Righteousness, and so turn their Backs on Christ and trample upon his Merit, without which there is no Salvation!

And those likewise do as great Dishonour to God, who run into the contrary Ex­treme, and imagine that God by his Gos­pel and Grace, has freed us from Obli­gations [Page 282] to obey his Law as a Rule of Prac­tice. This is to turn the Grace of God into Wantonness, and make the Gospel a Pillow to Sloth and Laziness, a Mystery of Iniquity, Rebellion and Mischief, unwor­thy to be receiv'd by any reasonable Crea­ture! Those who do not seek, are never like to find; those that strive not, shall not enter into the strait Gate; those who work not, are not like to obtain the Reward; those who run not, cannot with reason ex­pect the Rest prepar'd for the People of God; The Kingdom of Heaven suffers Vio­lence, and it is the Violent, (and none but they,) that take it by Force. Know ye not, that the Unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. Be not deceiv'd, neither Fornicators, nor Idolaters, nor Adulterers, nor Effeminate, nor Abusers of themselves with Mankind, nor Thieves, nor Covetous, nor Drunkards, nor Revilers, nor Extor­tioners, shall Inherit the Kingdom of God.

The proud Pharisee that depends on his Works, and the lazy Libertine, that ne­glects them, are like to dwell together in the same Hell; Those that compass themselves [Page 283] about with Sparks of their own kindling, and walk in the Light thereof, shall lie down in sorrow. The Pharisee that boasted of his Performances, and said he was not as other Men, but fasted, gave Alms, &c. went away unjustified, and the unprofitable Servant that hid his Talent in a Napkin, was cast into utter Darkness.

Truth and Duty lie in the midle between these two Extremes. O therefore! let us be careful, lest while we labour to avoid the one, we run into the other. But

Secondly. I may take occasion, my Bre­thren, from what has been said, to enquire of you, what is your Case and [...]ourse? Are you at Work about your Salvation, or are you idle? Are you asking who shall shew you any (temporal) good? Or are ye enquir­ing the Way to Zion, with your Faces thi­therward, weeping as ye go? O! is this your anxious Enquiry, Men and Brethren, what shall we do to be saved? I would to God that this were the Case of all of you that are unconverted. O it will never do till it comes to this!

[Page 284]If you are at work, let me ask you again, what are your Works? And how do ye Work? Have your Works the Properties of a good Work, before mention'd and ex­plain'd? Do they proceed from a right Principle? Are they directed to a right End, regulated by a right Rule, and per­form'd in a right Manner? Do ye work with a View to Salvation? earnestly, inces­santly and humbly, with fear and trembling, being sensible of your Unworthiness of Mercy!

If your Works have the aforesaid Ingre­dients, give to God the Glory of his Grace vouchsafed upon you; for who has made you to differ from others, and what have ye that ye have not received? And why should you therefore glory as though you had not receiv'd it. In the mean time, take the Comfort of the Grace conferr'd, which is the Seed of Glory. There is a certain Con­nection, my Brethren, between such good Works, as have been now mentioned, and eternal Blessedness; For God is not unjust to forget your Work and Labour of Love. Therefore, my beloved Brethren, be ye sted­fast, [Page 285] unmoveable, always abounding in the Work of the Lord, for as much as ye know, that your Labour is not in vain in the Lord. But Perseverance is not to be expected without your Concurrence and Diligence.

And therefore evidence the Reality of of your Grace by your Lives; Bring forth Fruits meet for Repentance, and think not to say within yourselves, that you have A­braham to your Father, for unless you do the Works of Abraham, you are not his Chil­dren, (in a saving Sense.)

Don't imagine, my Brethren, that your Work is over when you are converted, and that you have then nothing to do, but to sport and play, like the Leviathan in the Waters, or to sing like the indolent Gras­hoper upon the Land, who spends the sum­mer Season in careless, fruitless Singing one Kind of Song, till it meets unprepar'd, the Winter cold; go to the Ant thou Slugard, consider her Ways and be wise; which hav­ing no Guide, Overseer or Ruler, provideth her Meat in the Summer, and gathereth her Food in the Harvest.

[Page 286]Sirs, your Salvation Work is but just be­gun when ye are converted; then and not till then ye have a Capacity to perform spi­ritual and acceptable Service, which was given you to be improv'd and increas'd by Diligence to the Praise of its Author, your own Comfort and Salvation.

You have much to do for God, your Neighbour, and your own Souls: The Com­mandments of God are exceeding broad. The Duties required of us, tho' they be all reasonable, are many, and difficult to be perform'd.

The Time you have to do this Work in, is short and uncertain, and much of it (as to some of you) already spent; and but little, it may be fear'd, is done, at least compar'd with what is due from us and with the Attainments of others. Alas! For our Leanness and low Stature in Reli­gion, how little have we done for the good God? (who has done so much for us) And how much against him? O let this excite our Sorrows, and incline us to abound in Religious Labours! Awake my Bre­thren, awake to your Work, and move [Page 287] not like Snails * in the Christian Course, but imitate the flamie winged Diligence of the Seraphims in God's Service; and so run that ye may obtain, for your Salvation is near­er than when ye believ'd.

O! be intreated to work the Works of God while it is Day, for the Night cometh when no Man can work. The Night of Death hastens fast towards us, and threatens to cover us with its sable Shades, to put a final Period to our Labours here, and hide us in the Retreats of Darkness and Oblivion! And dear Brethren, to what purpose has the Blessed God kindled the Torch of Conscience within us, and set the Sun of Truth in the Hemisphere of the Church above us, but to light us to our Labours? And shall we waste our Master's Candles and not do his Work? God for­bid! O, while ye have the Light walk in it, and work by it, least God in just Judg­ment gives you up to strong Delusions to be­lieve Lies: Or chastise your Iniquities with [Page 288] other Rods which may break your Bones and make your Lives miserable! In a Course of Negligence you are in danger of being made Major-misabibs, a Terror to your selves and all about you; or a scandal and reproach to your present Pro­fession, by falling into damnable Heresies in Principle, or enormous Evils in Prac­tice!

Tho' your Work be great, my Brethren, yet your Support therein is great also, your Success sure, and the Crown before you immortal and glorious!

It is true, of our selves we are very Weak, and not able to think, much less to Will or do Good: But in CHRIST we are Strong, thro' him we can do all Things; and he it is that works in us both to will and to do of his own Good Pleasure: And in­deed when we are Weak, then are we Strong, i. e. when we are most sensible of our own Weakness, then do we receive most Strength from him.

Nor do we run as uncertain of the Issue, our Perseverance is secur'd by the Me­diator's perfect Satisfaction, by his perpe­tual [Page 289] and prevalent Intercession, as well as by the Purpose, the Promise, the Power, and Covenant of God: His Purpose is in­variable; his Promise faithful; his Power Almighty, and his Covenant eternal. In Respect of the Duration of its Benefits, which are therefore call'd sure Mercies, our Life is related to and wrap'd up in the Life of Christ; the Members of whose Body we are. So that as long as the Head lives, the Members cannot dye (spiritually): And hence is that precious saying of our dearest LORD to his Desciples; Because I live, ye shall live also; while the ungodly walk in a vain shew, and vex themselves in vain; while they Labour in the Fire, and weary themselves for very Vani­ty. While they are cross'd with a Succes­sion of Disappointments, and grasp after a Dream, a Shadow, which often flies from their Embraces; and if obtain'd disappoints their Hopes, and does but whet instead of satisfying their Desires! We seek a solid and satisfactory Good which we are sure, thro' Grace, of obtaining in the Way of Means: Being confident of this very Thing, [Page 290] that he which hath begun a Good Work in you, will perform it until the Day of Jesus Christ. And, dear Brethren, the Good we seek when obtain'd, will more than ballance all our Labours and Sufferings in quest of it: It is Spiritual, Sublime, Immense, Noble, Eternal; as it will suit the Nature of our Souls, so it will exceed their Expectations, and equal their Duration and Desires!

But it may be, some here present rest satisfied with Works which are Good only as to the Matter of them, without attend­ing to or being concern'd about the Man­ner of Performance. To such I shall on­ly say, that some of the Pharisees were, as to the Letter of the Law, blameless, in Regard of outward Conformity, and yet our Lord assures us, That except our Righteousness exceeds theirs, we cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.

And some others it's probable, are going on in a Course of Works that are materially Evil, in a Course of open Impiety and Pro­phaneness: Sirs, the Master you [...] [...]e is a Tyrant, his Work is Slavery and his Wa­ges Death!

[Page 291] The Way of Transgressors is hard, they travel with Iniquity, and draw Sin (as it were) with Cart Ropes: i. e. Their Evil Courses cost them much Labour and Solici­tude. It's hard to extinguish all the Remains of Reason and of Conscience, and entirely to banish all Fear of a future Judgment, Starts of Thought concerning the Evil Day, will croud into your reluctant Minds, not­withstanding of all your preventive Mea­sures, and mix Wormwood and Gaul with your brutish Delights.

And likewise as your Master Satan is an Usurper, and has no Right to your Service, so he is rigorous and inconsistent in his Demands, and is never satisfied with the Homage of his Vassals!

But that which completes the doleful Scene, is the Terribleness of the Reward for which you Work, while ye persist in Sin and Impenitence: It is a Reward, my Friends, of Darkness, of Death, of Mi­sery and Ruin!

The Wrath of the avenging God will be adequate to all the Circumstances of your Crimson Guilt, in wounding your selves, [Page 292] and slighting the Remedy provided by in­dulgent Heaven, and in pouring Contempt upon the great Salvation set before you by the Gospel, and purchas'd by no less a Price than the BLOOD OF GOD? O dreadful Portion! O unsupportable, una­voidable, and eternal Vengeance! How awful art thou? Sinners what Mind can conceive, or Tongue express your doleful Doom? Believe it Sirs, it is a fearful Thing to fall into the Hands of the living GOD! Who hath measured the Waters in the Hollow of his Hand, and meeted out the Heavens with a Span; who hath compre­hended the Dust of the Earth in a Mea­sure, and weighed the Mountains in Scales, and the Hills in a Ballance. Before whom the Pillars of the Earth tremble, and are astonished at his Reproof: Before whom all Nations are as nothing, and counted less than Nothing and Vanity: His Head and Hairs are white like Wool and Snow; and his Eyes are as a Flame of Fire; and his Feet are like unto fine Brass, as if they burn'd in a Furnace; and his Voice as the Sound of many Waters. He has in his [Page 293] Right Hand seven Stars, and out of his Mouth goes a sharp two-edged Sword; and his Countenance is as the Sun shining in his Strength. O Sinners! how will ye be able to bear up under the Terrors of the final Ad­vent of this great God from Heaven to Earth? When all Nature shall be in the ut­most Agony, behold he cometh with the Clouds, and every Eye shall see him, and they also which pierc'd him, and all the Kindreds of the Earth shall wail because of him! O how will you be able to behold him descend­ing to the Judgment Seat, in all the Pomp of Heaven, with shining Millions round about him, in their most gorgeous Robes of Beauty and Light, while the Earth TREM­BLES, the Heavens THUNDER and BURN, and the Ocean ROARS! How will ye be a­ble to behold him on his awful Throne, which shall be like the fiery Flame, and his Wheels as burning Fire, a fiery Stream shall issue from before him, Thousands of Thou­sands shall minister unto him, and ten Thou­sand times ten Thousand shall stand before him, while the Judgment is set and the Books are opened. O the woful Plight of the [Page 294] Impenitent in that Day! Poor bereav'd Creatures! They shall have none in Hea­ven or Earth to help them. How will you cry to the Mountains to cover you from the Face of the Lamb that sits upon the Throne? How will you tremble before the dreadful Bar of the GREAT GOD when you hear your condemnatory Sentence denounc'd by the Mouth of CHRIST? Go ye accursed into everlasting Burnings prepar'd for the Devil and his Angels.

O the Horrors of being for ever separat­ed from the blessed God, and all the Sweets of Paradise! And sunk in the gloomy Vault of Fire, Horror, Despair, Revenge and Grief! Under the Weight of the Wrath of Omnipotence, the Upbraidings of your own guilty Minds, the Reproaches of Infi­dels and Insults of Devils. Poor Sinners! your Labour and your Sorrow might now be of Service to your Souls; but then the Time, the Time of Mercy is expir'd and gone, and never to be recall'd! Then your passionate Bewailings of the Loss of Time, of Talents and Salvation, will be to no purpose, all in vain and too late!

[Page 295]O the Self-revenge that will then tear your wretched Souls! For your present Madness and your Guilt; In Hell (says our dearest Lord) will be weeping and gnashing of Teeth.

And is this the Reward ye labour so hard for? Yes surely! Tho' you have it not in view, it is the certain Consequence of your impenitent Impieties, He that sows to the Flesh, shall of the Flesh reap Corruption. Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. And are ye poor Sinners, fond of your own Destruction? Why hasten ye so fast to Ruin? Why labour ye so hard for Death and Hell?

But others it is probable are slothful and indolent, and neglect religious Labour al­together; such I wou'd accost in the fol­lowing Language: Why stand ye all the Day idle?

Is there not a vast Eternity before you, to which you are fast hastning, and from which there is no returning?

Have ye not precious and immortal Souls within you, which are of a noble Original, spiritual Nature and perpetual [Page 296] Duration? And must be in a little Time perfectly Happy or inexpressibly Miserable there! And that unalterably, according to your State and Conduct in this Life, in which you are Candidates for Eternity! Is not the glorious God a blessed Master? Who in regard of his incommunicable and essential Excellency, deserves your Service, and in regard of his Communications of being and Good to you, has a right to it in Point of Justice and Gratitude; Shall a Man plant a Vineyard, and not eat of the Fruit of the Vineyard? (milk a Flock, and not drink of the Mi [...] of the Flock? Add to this, that Jehovah h [...]s All-sufficiency, to make you happy in his [...]rvice, and to this his Goodness enclines him.

And is not the Work to which he calls you, possible, necessary and noble?

Tho' ye cannot change your Hearts, or perform spiritual and acceptable Service by your own Strength, and that partly because ye want a spiritual Principle, yet the Almighty has graciously propos'd to confer this, and to give together with it, his Assistance and Influence, to such as wait upon him in [Page 297] the Way of Duty: I say, there is a pro­bability of obtaining these Mercies in this Way, while the Impotent wait at the Pool of Duty, for the Moving of the Waters, and try to stretch out their withered Arms. The gracious God is wont in a sovereign Way, at Times to move the Waters, and give Healing and Strength.

And if a Probability of Success, is the only Spring of all that Labour and Indus­try about temporal Things which fills this lower Globe, why should it be thought too small an Incentive to religious Dili­gence? Seeing that the Business of Religion we are not equal to, and the Benefits of it we cannot deserve!

It is absolutely necessary, my Brethren, to labour for the Salvation of your Souls; What shall a Man give in Exchange for his Soul, (said our dearest Lord) if he should gain the World, and loose the same? May I not then address you Sirs! in the Language of our Redeemer to Martha; Martha, Martha, thou art careful about many Things, but one Thing is needful: NEEDFUL above them all, and what is [Page 298] that, but to serve God sincerely, in order to secure the Salvation of your Souls? This, this, is the better Part, which shall not be taken away. Wherefore then do ye spend your Money for that which is not Bread, and your Labour for that which sa­tisfieth not? Incline your Ear to God, and comply with his gracious Injunction in our Text, that your Souls may live. Work out your own Salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of his own good Pleasure.

Nor has the Work to which you are call'd, any thing mean and sordid in it, but is entirely rational, sublime and noble; this tends to exalt the degenerate Nature of Man to the Pitch of its primitive Dignity and Beauty, by conforming it to the blessed God. This advances that Reason which is an Emblem of the divine Intelligence, and by which Man is distinguish'd from the Beasts that perish, to its just Prehe­minence above, and Empire over the Wilds and Mutines of brutal Sense and Passion!

And dear Friends! is not the Reward [Page 299] great, which by divine Order follows your being enabled to perform the Work of Obedience, in the Manner before express'd. And hence it is call'd, an eternal Weight of Glory, and compar'd to a Crown, and Kingdom; and the Place where it is en­joyn'd, is set forth in the sacred Volumn, by all the rarest Beauties and richest Ob­jects of this lower World; the Streets are of Gold, the Walls of Jasper, and the Gates compos'd of various Jewels; there is the River of Life, and the Tree of God, whose Fruits are refreshing and ravishing, and whose Leaves heal the Nations. There the sable Shades of Night, can have no access, but perpetual Day triumphs in its bright Meridian, without the least Vicissitude of Clouds, Darkness or Eclipse!

There the redeem'd enjoy a perpetual Rest from every Evil and Misery, which in this Life they either feel or fear, and possess a Good worthy of their exalted Na­tures, and equal to their Desires and Hopes, the Issue of which, is a Joy superior to that of the Harvest and of Victory, which never terminates!

[Page 300]And have ye not, my Brethren, been call'd to this Work, by divers of God's faithful Servants at different Seasons, with compassion and importunity? And the Re­compense of Reward set before you, t [...] which you should have an Eye in your religious Labours! Why then do ye stand all the Day idle?

How vast is the Disparity between the different Masters, Works and Wages, which now court your Choice? God and the De­vil, Holiness and Sin, Heaven and Hell!

Is there any Comparison between a right­ful and indulgent Sovereign, who is the Fountain of Being, of Beauty and Perfecti­on, who possesses every Thing that is great and good, that is valuable and venerable, and a Rebel, Usurper and Tyrant, who is cover'd with Baseness and Deformity, and breathes Cruelty and Blood?

Is there any comparison between Con­formity to the purest Excellency, and fol­lowing the Conduct of brutal Appetites, or Satan's Dictates?

Are ye at any Loss, my Brethren, to determine in so plain a Case, whether ye [Page 301] will chuse GOD or the Devil, Liberty or Slavery, Life or Death? O amazing Stu­pidity! Why halt ye between two Opinions? [...] God be God, serve him, but if Baal then [...]llow him.

You know, Sirs, that the Work which ye [...]ve to do is difficult, the Space you have to do it in contracted and transient; you know not, what a Day may bring forth; your Life is but a Vapour, which appears for a little Time, and then vanishes away. And yet on this Breath that plays up and down your Nostrils, on this slender Thread, hangs the Weight of your eternal Weal or Woe. O if this Buble breaks, this brickle Thread is cut, while you are negli­gent of your Salvation-Work, you are ruin'd for ever! And dear Sirs! What innumer­able Accidents is it liable to? O! how can ye keep from trembling, when ye think of pale Death, and the Consequences of it to you, in your present Condition? Sirs! Sirs! ye may be arested by it in a few Moments, and put beyond Hope of Recovery, if ye do not awake to your Work! O how [Page 302] dreadful is it, to be in the Iron Arms of Death, in a graceless, christless State!

The beauteous Morning of Life has expir'd with some of you, which is a Sea­son best adapted to the Labours of Reli­gion, and has expir'd in vain; and with others it is past mid-Day; and some draw near a setting Sun: And yet are (spiritually) Idle, and have not struck one right Stroak towards their SALVATION; but are sleep­ing securely under the pregnant Vengeance of Heaven, amidst the Dangers of Death, amidst the awful Thunders of Sinai, and gentler Charms of Gerezim; they'l neither be alarm'd nor alur'd to their WORK. O the Infatuation of Mankind! wonder ye Heavens, and be astonish'd O Earth at this!

My Friends, it is no small MERCY that ye are under a Command to labour for SAL­VATION, and that there is any Encourage­ment given by GOD of obtaining it in this Way.

To be WITHOUT LAW and COM­MANDS, is the unhappy PRIVILEDGE of the DEVILS and DAMNED SPIRITS, inasmuch as GOD intends no MERCY for [Page 303] them he neither requires or receives any DUTY of them!

O if the Almighty did send a Message of Mercy to those forlorn Spirits, intimat­ing that in the Way of OBEDIENCE, or working for their SALVATION, there was not only a Possibility but a Probability of obtaining LIFE and BLESS; there would be a joyful JUBILIE among the DAMN­ED! All Hell wou'd rejoyce, and every Inhabitant of that dark abode, wou'd with gladness shake the massey Shackles with which it is bound! Yea it is probable, they would stoop to the severest Service to obtain that Happiness which they feel so much the Want of, and which you now so basely slight!

Do you grumble at the Strictness of the Law, and want to be freed from it as a Rule of Duty? a Rule which all the Choirs above, both of Saints and Seraphims with Delight obey, and shall be under (in respect of all its Stroaks that respect pure unem­bodied Spirits) to all Eternity. And do you count that a PRIVILEDGE to be [Page 304] delivered from the HAPPINESS of HEAVEN, O strange!

Well if it will be any Comfort to you, I must inform you, that you may have this Lust gratify'd in Hell: There the damned are freed from this dreadful LAW which you count so heavy a YOKE: There the Almighty requires no more DUTY, no LOVE, no OBEDIENCE, no REPEN­TANCE: If you count this a Priviledge I shall not envy your Happiness, but pity your Infatuation! and pray to be deliver'd from your lawless Comfort, and kept eter­nally under the Law to God!

See Brethren, the Pains and Labours many take to amass the momentany Triffles of Time, which are unsatisfactory in their Nature, and of short and uncertain Dura­tion; they rise up early, and sit up late, and eat the Bread of Care and Sorrow; and all to secure what has no abiding, what cannot help them in their greatest Extremities; such as distress of Conscience, the Ap­proach of Death and Judgment. And will you not take as much pains to secure [Page 305] your Salvation as many do, to load [...] with thick Clay.

See the pains that many take to damn their Souls by the most effronted Impieties! They belch out blasphemies against the bles­sed God, and implore his Vengeance on them! They rush upon the Bosses of his Bucklers! O the Madness of Sinners! Who wou'd think that Men cou'd so far dege­nerate, as to out-do the very Devils in Im­pudence! O Sirs! will ye not be entreated, to take as much pains to obtain Salvation, as those abandon'd Wretches take to damn their Souls, seeing that if ye do it, it's like­ly you'll succeed. See the Pains the dear Redeemer took to purchase Salvation! Be­hold the Labours and Sufferings of his Life! Behold the Sorrows of his Soul, which caus'd a bloody Sweat in the Gar­den, and an out-cry on the Cross, Eloi, Eloi, lama Sabacthani!— And can you see a Saviour unweariedly Labouring, yea sweating Blood to purchase your Salvation, and be utterly unconcern'd and indolent about your own? O strange Stupidity! O horrid Madness! O Rock! O Ada­mant! [Page 306] See the Pains that Satan takes to prevent your Salvation. Look how the Proteus changes Shapes to compass his De­sign! Sometimes he appears like an Angel of Light, and sometimes he roars and rages like a Lyon rampant, seeking whom he may devour. O how subtle is he in his Stratagems, and unwearied in his Applications! And will ye not take as much pains for the Salvation of your Souls, as Satan does to damn them?

See the Pains that the faithful Servants of Christ take, to countermine the Enemy and his Emissaries! To bafle their bloody In­trigues, and to rescue your Souls out of their bewitching Wites, as a Bird out of the Snare of the Fowler. They address you with Bowels and Sollicitude, and wou'd rejoyce to hear of your serious Inquiries after Salvation. Your accepting their Message, wou'd be the greatest Kindness you can ex­press to them. Why will you blast their Labours and break theirs Heart by your Obstinacy? Shou'd not you in reason be more concern'd for your own Salvation than they? Now then we are Ambassadors for [Page 307] Christ, as tho' God did beseech you by us. We pray you in Christ's stead ye be reconciled to God. See the Gladness that spreads thro' all the Courts above, on occasion of the Conversion of a Soul; the Father, Son and Spirit rejoyce! the joyful Cherubs clap their Wings and shout the Honours of victorious Grace; and all the shining Ranks of Saints and Seraphims, joyn in harmonious Hosan­nahs to God and to the Lamb that sits upon the Throne, and every of them strikes his golden Harp.

Again Brethren, consider that the Soul of Man is a restless, active Being, that it will be painful in its chase of something, and cannot be at rest, so that it is but turning its Motions into a religious Channel, and then its like to have a happy Issue!

And now, Sirs, will ye, can ye, dare ye be idle after all?—Well, I must leave the Matter to God, and appeal to him, that I am clear of your Blood, if you per­sist in your Indolence!

But perhaps, some poor Sinners Heart thaws by this Time, and asks with seri­ousness, what shall I do to be saved?

[Page 308]Besides what has been already said in answer to this Question, I would add at present these few Words: Labour orderly, begin at the right End of your Work, and try to lay the Foundation first: Examine your State towards God impartially, by his Word, and when you come to know that it is bad, think often on the Badness and Miseries of it, and pray for a Sense of them, as well as of your utter inability to deliver your selves from them; Repent of your Sins and believe in the Lord Jesus; and O be­ware of quenching the convincing Operati­ons of his Holy Spirit!

But I must turn me to the Saints of God, and offer a Word of Council and Excite­ment to them, and then conclude. My very dear Brethren! Be not lifted up with Enlargements, nor cast down when ye want them; Consolation is no Part of our Sancti­fication, you may travel when its Cloudy, as well as when the Sun shines out. Be humbled for your Imperfections, but not discourag'd by them, for ye are compleat in Christ, and your Right to Happiness is founded alone upon his Blood and Obedi­ence, [Page 309] by all means encourage your Faith in the Promises, lean on Jesus as a Prophet, for Direction respecting the Matter of your Labours, lean on him as a King to help you in the Manner of them, and lean on him as a Priest for the Acceptance of them all.

Dear Brethren! Be excited to persever­ing Diligence, for it is as reasonable and amiable now, as when ye at first believ'd. O beware of forgetting your first Love, and falling from your first Works; and if any have been guilty of this, remember from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first Works, least a displeased Jesus come unto you quickly, and remove your Candlestick out of his Place, except ye repent.

Think on the noble Examples of heroick Faith, unbroken Patience, and unfainting Diligence that shone with peculiar Glory and Lustre, in the Lives of many of God's Army that have gone before you to Glory, who were under no stronger Engagements and had no greater Encouragements thereto than you, nay divers of them in some respects not so much, because of the bright­er Dispensation you enjoy. O then, let us [Page 310] work out our Salvation with fear and tremb­ling! Let us follow those, who by Faith and Patience inherited the Promises. I shall conclude this Discourse with the Advice of the Apostle Paul to the believing Hebrews, which runs thus; Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a Cloud of Witnesses, let us lay aside every Weight, and the Sin which doth so easily beset us; and let us run with Patience the Race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Au­thor and finisher of our Faith. Who for the Joy that was set before him, endured the Cross, despising the Shame, and is set down on the right Hand of the Throne of God.

[Page 311]


PHILIP. ii. 12, 13.

Work out your own Salvation with fear and trembling.

For it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good Pleasure.

MY Brethren! The three principal Things in the Christian Religion, are Knowledge, Faith and Prac­tice, without which it cannot subsist.

The Object of Religion, the blessed God, is to be known and believ'd in as the first Truth, lov'd as the chief Good, and obey'd as the supreme Lord.

The Subject of Religion, Man, must have his Mind enlightned with the Knowledge of Truth, his Will adorn'd with the Belief of it, and Love of Good, as well as his Life beautified with practical Holiness, or good Works.

[Page 312]The very Essence of Religion requires or includes Knowledge and Worship, and therefore it is frequently represented in Scripture under the Character of Doctrine and Truth, and eternal Life is ascrib'd to it.

And the End of Religion, namely Hap­piness, includes the Knowledge of God, Faith in him, and Conformity to him, or Obedience. In Heaven the Saints will see Jehovah as he is, and be like him; there Knowledge, Faith and Obedience will be perfect.

The sacred Scriptures propose to us Doctrines to be known, Promises and Threatnings to be believ'd, and Precepts to be obey'd; and indeed the one prepares the Way for the other.

Without Knowledge, Faith is enthusiasti­cal Rashness and Delusion, and without Faith, Knowledge is but barren Speculation; without Knowledge, Practice is blind Super­stition, and without Faith, formal Devoti­on!

It is the last of the Three that I am to discourse upon at present, namely, Practice, [Page 313] or Good Works, which are indeed the Fruit and Design of the former.

In the preceeding Sermon, after an In­troduction, I observ'd, that there be three Things contain'd in the Text, viz.

  • I. A Duty enjoyn'd.
  • II. The Manner of performing it pre­scrib'd. And
  • III. Arguments exciting thereto mentioned.

These Things I propos'd to insist upon in their Order, by Way of Explication, and then to proceed to the Improvement.

The first General Head of this Method I then spoke upon, and labour'd to open the Properties of Good Works, as well as to unhinge the Popish Doctrine of Merit upon the one hand, and to establish the Necessity of good Works on the other, against the Antinomians. I likewise spoke a little up­on the

Second General Head, Which was to shew, how the Duties of Obedience, or Good Works, shou'd be perform'd. In speaking upon which, I mentioned two Particulars, name­ly, that they shou'd be perform'd, pain­fully [Page 314] and perseveringly. I therefore pro­ceed now to observe,

III. That we must work with fear and trembling, by which we are not to under­stand, a slavish Fear, or distrust of God, For this is very prejudicial to our Progress in Piety, it provokes our God, dejects our Minds, and mars our Councils and Per­formances. It is doubtless, therefore, more generally, a filial or child-like Fear, that is here recommended to the People of God: And particularly, (1st) It is a Fear of Reverence respecting God's Majesty, Where­fore we receiving a Kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have Grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably, with Reverence and godly Fear, FOR OUR GOD IS A CONSUMING FIRE. A holy Awe of the Greatness, Justice and Glory of God, should ever possess our Minds. (2dly) In relation to our selves, it is a Fear of Modesty, Humility, Self-suspicion and Self-diffidence; the same humble Mind should be in us, which was also in Christ Jesus: The Apos­tle Paul was among the Corinthians in weakness, and in fear, and in much tremb­ling. [Page 315] * Let us therefore fear, lest a Pro­mise being left us of entring into his Rest, any of you shou'd seem to come short of it. Be not high Minded but fear. (3dly) In Relation to the Dangers with which we are environ'd, it is a Fear of Sollicitude; and hence Paul informs us, that he kept his Body under, least having preach'd to others, he himself should become a cast-away. We should in Dangers distrust ourselves, and with anxious Care and eager haste, fly to Jesus, as the only hiding Place from the Wind, and covert from the Tempest, firmly trusting in him, and closely cleaving to him, as the Child in the Mother's Arms on the top of a Precipice; so much the more as it fears a Fall, will, with the greater eager­ness and sollicitude, embrace and cleave to its Parent for Protection from the im­minent Danger. (4thly) In respect of Temp­tations, it is a Fear of Caution, disposing us to avoid the Appearances of Evil; and to pray that we be not led into Temptation. The gracious Soul fearing to offend his [Page 316] Father, and knowing his own Weakness, to withstand Temptations to Error in Principle or Practice, does therefore in his general Course endeavour with care to a­void them: The burnt Child dreads the Fire, but Hypocrites not having sincere Love to Truth or Holiness, and presuming upon their own Strength, are prophanely bold, to the Roproach of God's Name, and their own Dishonour and Prejudice. If we shou'd be jealous over others, (with blessed Paul) and fear least by any Means, as the Serpent beguiled Eve through his Subtilty, so their Minds should be corrupted from the Simpli­city that is in Christ; we should have a godly Jealousy over our selves much more, for Charity begins at Home, tho' it shou'd not end there. *

The Fear of God is certainly the Cha­racter of a truly religious Person; and hence Job is describ'd, to be one that feared God, and eschewed Evil. Indeed it is the Foundation of all Religion.

Now a gracious Person does not only [Page 317] fear the Goodness of God, least he shou'd displease and loose it by unworthy Behavi­our; and hence we are bid to keep our selves in the Love of God; and indeed the Use of Means to this End is very con­sistent with God's Promises. * ‘Fear (saith Augustine) is the Flight of the Soul least it shou'd loose what it l [...]ves.’ The dutiful Child fears to offend its Parents, and the chaste Wife fears to displease her Husband.

I say, the gracious Person does not only fear God's Goodness, but his Justice; the Threatnings of the divine Word, should, and do influence his Fear.

The infinitely wise God has implanted no Power or Passion in the human Soul in vain, they all serve when regulated in their Motions and Tendencies, one uniform, noble Design, worthy of their Author and original Situation.

And this is indeed the grand Design of the Christian Religion, which is admirably [Page 318] adapted to affect every of them; this by its Precepts fires our Love; by its Doctrines, Naratives and Proposals, it strikes our Ad­miration and Ingenuity, our Gratitude and Grief. By its Threatnings it alarms our Fear, and by its Promises allures our Hope, those cardinal Springs of Action!

Jehovah never devis'd a Religion, to de­stroy any Power or Passion he himself had form'd, but only to direct them to proper Objects, and regulate their Degrees of Mo­tion; which being observ'd, they conspire in harmony to promote God's Glory, and the Creature's Honour, Comfort and Bene­fit in his Service.

Every Affection shou'd therefore be ex­ercis'd upon its proper Object, as the Love of God is the incentive of our Love, so is his Justice (together with the Threatnings of his Word which are the Declarations thereof) the Object of our Fear. By these (in part) the Spirit of God as a Spirit of Bondage to fear, brings the Soul to a Clo­sure with Christ at first, and by these Threatnings it is afterwards influenc'd (in part) to walk in the Way to Blessedness.

[Page 319]There is a Fear of God's Judgments, which hath not only God's Spirit for its Author but Concomitant; and hence he is call'd a Spirit of Fear. * This Method the Holy Spirit uses with us, while we sojourn in these clay Tabernacles, to in­fluence us to Obedience.

Otherwise to what purpose are the Threatnings propounded to Believers so fre­quently in the Holy Scriptures? Unless it be to excite their Fear? Surely Paul un­derstood the Gospel thoroughly, and yet he enjoyns Believers in our Text, to work out the Work of their Salvation with fear and trembling. And elsewhere he Exhorts them, to serve God acceptably with Godly Fear; and that because God is a consuming Fire. And did not our Lord urge his Dis­ciples to fear him, that after he hath killed, hath power to cast into Hell. The Psal­mist expresses the solemn Sense he had of the Judgments of God in the following Manner; My Flesh trembleth for fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy Judgments!

[Page 320]Altho' the Command of God, be the ground or formal Reason of our Obedience, yet the Fear of him shou'd be a subordi­nate Motive.

And indeed there is a beautiful Harmony between the Grace of Fear, and Faith, Love, Hope and Joy.

Faith produces Fear, and Fear confirms Faith; By Faith Noah being warn'd of God, of things not seen as yet, mov'd with fear, prepar'd an Ark. * All Men shall fear (saith the Psalmist) and trust in him. Faith by giving the Soul a View of God's Justice and Holiness, produces a Fear of Reverence, and this disposes the Soul the more to believe the certainty of God's Judgments!

And Love without Fear, would become secure and irreverent, and Fear without Love would become slavish and tormenting! There is nothing more fearful than an in­genuous Love, and nothing more loving than a filial Fear.

There is also an admirable Harmony [Page 321] between Fear and Hope; without Fear, Hope wou'd degenerate into Presumption, and without Hope, Fear wou'd sink into Desperation.

Nor is there any inconsistency between Fear and Joy, for Fear qualifies Joy, and makes it reverent, and becoming a depen­dent Being; and Joy sweetens Fear and makes it pleasing and delightful. And hence we are bid to rejoice with trembling. * And the Man is pronounced blessed, that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his Commandments. I proceed now to the

III General Head of Discourse, which was to shew, why we shou'd perform the Duties of Obedience required of us. And

First: This is the Command of God; Work out your own Salvation with fear and trembling. But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of Conversation. Follow Peace with all Men, and Holiness, without which no Man shall [Page 322] see the Lord. Put on Bowels of Mercy, Kindness, humbleness of Mind. * They who have believ'd in God, should be careful to maintain good Works. God is our unalterable and rightful Lord and Sovereign, to him we, owe by the strongest Claims of Right, Homage and Service, seeing it is from him we have deriv'd our all, and on him we have a continual Dependance; his Will is therefore our Law, to which we are oblig­ed to conform, with the utmost Readiness and profoundest Reverence; and in this Way only we can reasonably expect his Acceptance. But when this is refus'd, a rebellious unequal War is commenc'd a­gainst Heaven.

Secondly: It is a Work of Salvation; Work out your own Salvation; and therefore its an honourable, pleasant and profitable Work.

The Work of SALVATION is honoura­ble, in respect of its Author, Nature and Consequences.

The Author of this Work is honoura­ble, [Page 323] no other than the glorious God; he it is that has enjoyn'd it, and him we serve in the Performance of it. It's accounted an Honour to attend the Person of an earthly Potentate, but herein we attend the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and that as feated on his gracious Throne, and have therein the noblest Seraphs for our Companions.

And indeed the Nature of this Work is honourable, tending to enoble our reasonable Nature, by conforming it to the Divine. Are not the pious Dispositions and Actions we are called to, the very same for Sub­stance that the Angels are continually em­ploy'd about? The Nature of the Service enjoyned upon us is spiritual, pure and pre­cious. Besides the Consequence hereof is honourable; for thus we are not only the Servants but the Friends of God; ye are my Friends, said the blessed Jesus to his Dis­ciples, if you do whatsoever I command you. * And is any Title more honourable than this, to be the Friend of God? This was [Page 324] the Honour to which the blessed Abraham was advanc'd, and with which he was adorn'd.

Again, my Brethren, the Work of Sal­vation is a pleasant Work; Wisdoms Ways are Ways of pleasantness, and all its Paths are peace. The Psalmist speaking of the Commands of God, declares, that they are sweeter than Honey, and the Honeycomb. And what can be intended by this, but that they are lovely in themselves, and that Obedience to them is delightful?

Now this Delight in Obedience, springs in part from the Suitableness thereof to the New Nature that is in gracious Persons, which gives a spiritual and general Byass to all the Powers of their Souls; and there­fore cannot but make (holy) Actions, which are agreeable to that fix'd Principle, easy and pleasant, especially when Grace is in exercise. It is on this Account our Lord assures us, that his Yoke is easy, and his Burden is light. He does not make his Yoke easy by lessening it, but by conforming our Dispositions to it. And hence the A­postle informs us that he delighted in the [Page 325] Law of God, after the inner Man: i. e. So far as he was renewed he loved it, and was naturally enclin'd to obey it, and therefore delighted therein. The new Na­ture is as prone to obey the Law, as a Fountain to send out its Streams; and therefore its compar'd to a Well of Water, that springs up to eternal Life. But be­cause our Sanctification is imperfect, there­fore the Flesh lusts against the Spirit, and hin­ders us in Acts of Obedience, so that we cannot do the Things that we would. And thus our sacred Service is stain'd, our Peace broken at Times, and our Pleasure mar'd. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

But the Delight in Obedience, likewise results from that Communion with God which is enjoyn'd therein; this gives rest to the weary Soul, and is as Marrow and Fatness to the Hungry, yea it is the very Life of Life. The blessed God meets in mercy those that work Righteousness, and gives them Communications of Light, of Love, of Peace, of Joy; and hence the Psalmist observes, that those have great [Page 326] Peace, that love God's Law.—And that in keeping his Commandments there is a great Reward.—This is our rejoycing, says the Apostle Paul, that in Simplicity and godly Sincerity, not with fleshly Wisdom, we have had our Conversation in the World.

And is not the Work of Salvation profit­able, my Brethren? Yes surely! For God­liness hath not only the Promise of this Life, but of that which is to come. If we seek first the Kingdom of Heaven, and the Righ­teousness thereof, all other Things shall be added to us, says our dear Redeemer: i. e. We shall have that Measure of the Things of Time, and that Degree of Comfort in them, which is most for God's Glory and our Benefit. And can we reasonably desire more? But our Reward of Mercy, is prin­cipally to be expected in a future World; there, there, our Salvation shall be com­pleat and perfect. Now there [...]re three Properties of that Salvation, in the Expec­tation of which we labour, that may justly incite our Diligence, viz. it is great, in­comprehensible eternal.

It is a great Salvation, not only in res­pect [Page 327] of the Price which was laid down to purchase it, the Blood of the Son of God, but also in respect of the Evils we are thereby delivered from, and the Blessings we are instated in. There is a perfect Free­dom from all moral and penal Evil, from Sin and all the gloomy Train of Miseries introduc'd by it, which affect our Names, Bodies, Estates and our Souls. In Heaven there is a perfect Rest prepar'd from them all! There we shall be freed from every Remain of Evil, and all Tears shall be wip'd away.

And on the other Hand, how great are the Blessings that are there possess'd? Such as an immediate Vision of the blessed God, a perfect Conformity to him, an uninterrupted Communion with him, and unceasing Joy and Praise thence issuing! Then the glorify'd shall see Jehovah as he is, and be made like to him in Purity and Perfection! O the pleasing Transports that must result from an immediate View of the unvail'd Beauties of the Deity! The orient Glories of IM­MANUEL, and all the open'd Charms of [Page 328] his Word, and Works of Creation, Redemp­tion, and Providence.

Another Property of this Salvation is, that it is incomprehensible; Eye hath not seen, neither has Ear heard, nor has it entred in­to the Heart of Man to conceive, the Great­ness of that Glory that is reserv'd for the People of God.—Beloved now are we the Sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. The richest and strongest Images we can form, faint before the Glories of Paradise! Our Minds in their most exalted Flights, cannot project ade­quate Ideas of it, and our Speech is lost in Obscurity when we attempt the Theme.

In the mean time we may be permitted to say, that it is an eternal Salvation, a Happiness that shall know no Interruption or End; and hence the Place where it is enjoy'd is call'd a City, that hath Founda­tions, whose builder and maker is God. It is perfectly freed from all the Changes and Vicissitudes to which the Things of Time are Subject.

[Page 329] Thirdly: Another Argument us'd by the Apostle in our Text, to excite to Obedi­ence, is the Property that Believers have in Salvation; Work out your own Salvation. Property is certainly the Spring of Labour and Sollicitude about the Things of Time, and shou'd it not be much more so about the Things of Eternity, which infinitely excel them in Importance and Duration? If you are wise here, you are wise for your selves, but if foolish you alone must bear it. It is your own Salvation, Brethren, which you are entreated to secure. And will ye not be concern'd about it, and labour for that Meat which will never perish?

Some that neglect others Business, are careful about their own, because of their Property. Well, here is an Eternal and most important Property, the one Thing needful, which exceeds in Value all the rest; and which unless it be secur'd, all is lost; For what shall a Man give in ex­change for his Soul, if he shou'd gain the whole World and loose the same?

And forasmuch as it is highly proba­ble, that there are different Degrees of [Page 330] Glory, as well as of Misery, and that those who have made the greatest Advances in Holiness and Usefulness are made Partakers of the former. This is no inconsiderable Excitement to religious Diligence; He that gain'd ten Talents, was made Ruler over ten Cities; and those that turn many unto Righte­ousness, are said to shine as the Stars for ever and ever, i. e. with distinguish'd Lustre. But the

Fourth, and last Argument, which the Apostle useth in our Text, to excite the believing Philippians, and us thro' them, to work out the Work of your Salvation with fear and tremblings, is this, that it is God which worketh in us, both to will and to do of his own good Pleasure. This Ar­gument is adapted to work upon our Gra­titude, our Fear and our Hope, as appears thus:

It is a great Instance of divine Goodness and Condescension, that he freely and with­out any desert of yours, works in you by his holy Spirit a Disposition and Capacity to do good; and therefore, Ingenuity and Gratitude for so great a Benefit, should con­strain [Page 331] you to comply with his blessed Ope­rations.

It is a holy and sovereign God who, works in you of his own good Pleasure, who if ye do not comply with his Influences hum­bly and speedily, will be provok'd to with­draw them, and chastise your neglect; tho' he will not take his loving Kindness away, or suffer his Faithfulness to fail; yet he will chastise your Iniquities with Rods, and your Transgressions with Stripes. This Conside­ration may justly alarm your Fear.

It is a gracious God who works in you, both to will and to do: And this may Sup­port your Hope; tho' you are not equal to the Work requir'd, God is able and willing to help you, in case you stir up your selves to lay hold upon him, and labour to improve the Grace ye have receiv'd; and this he has given you a Proof of, in his working in you both to will and to do of his own good Pleasure.

Having endeavour'd to explain the Par­ticulars contain'd in our Text, I now pro­ceed to the Improvement. And

First. What has been said serves to in­form [Page 332] us, of the Folly and Danger, of the Principles and Practice of the Antinomians and Libertines, who slight the Law of God, and good Works done in Obedience to it, with a View to a Reward of Grace. They cry up Faith and Grace, to the Disparage­ment of good Works, as if we had nothing to do but fold our Arms with the Sluggard, and expect to be carried to Heaven on our Couches. But the Religion of Christ, is a Mistery of Godliness, and his Doctrines the Truth according to Godliness, pure Religion and und [...]fied, is active and laborious, it disposes to visit the Widow and the Father­less, and to keep our selves unspotted from the World; and to add to our Faith Vertue, and to Vertue Godliness, and to Godliness Bro­therly-Kindness, and to Brotherly-Kindness Charity. But to shed Light upon the Sub­ject, let me briefly answer the most mate­rial Objections against what has been said. And

1st. Some Object, ‘That urging of good Works is prejudicial to Christ's Merit.

Answer. If we urged good Works, to be [Page 333] perform'd with the same Intention that Christ did them as Mediator, namely to satisfy divine Justice, and purchase a Title to Happiness in any degree, it wou'd be derogatory to Christ's Merit, I confess, but when we urge them to be perform'd with a very different Design, namely, out of Gratitude to God, and with a View to obtain by them, (as appointed Means for that end) a greater Degree of Meetness for the actual Possession of that Happiness which we have a Right to, only thro' Faith in his Blood and Obedience, it sweetly Harmonizes with his Merit.

The dear Redeemer, has not only pur­chas'd Glory for his Elect, but Grace to prepare them for it, which he enjoyns the unconverted to seek; and hence they are commanded to make them a new Heart. Even Simon Magus was advised to pray, if peradventure the Thoughts of his Heart might be forgiven him. And this Grace the converted are enjoyn'd to improve. Good Works are one End of the Redeem­er's Purchase; who gave himself for us (says the Apostle to Titus) that he might [Page 334] redeem us from all Iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar People zealous of good Works.

Object. 2d. "Urging of Works is dero­gatory to free Grace by which we are sav'd."

Ans. No! For tho' God gives his Grace freely of his own sovereign Pleasure, when and to whom he pleases; yet such is his Wisdom, that he generally (in order to incite his reasonable Creatures to Diligence) gives Grace and increase of it in the Way of Means; and therefore he has told us, that for all these Things he will be enquir'd of, and COMMANDS us to ask, that we may receive. Besides it should be consi­der'd, that there is a Difference between a Right to Salvation, and the Possession of it: the first is altogether by Grace, but the latter is not to be expected without Works; (if there be any Opportunity to perform them) for without Holiness no Man shall see the Lord.

Object. 3d. ‘To urge Men to work out their Salvation is vain and impossi­ble.’

[Page 335] Ans. It is a Mistake: The unconverted may abstain from many Evils they commit, and seriously wait upon God in the Per­formance of commanded Duty, which if they do, and labour to avoid depending thereupon, there is a Probability of their obtaining Mercy.

Besides the Calls that are given them, have a Tendency to convince them of their Impotency, and so to humble them and prepare them for divine Grace, (I mean in respect of Order.)

Add to this, that they are Means of di­vine Appointment, which God is wont to bless for that end.

As to the converted they have a Prin­ciple of Grace, and so may stir up them­selves in some sort to lay hold on God; they may strive for the Exercise of Grace and the Improvement of what they have receiv'd; and it is in this way only, that they can with reason expect it; To him that hath shall be given.

Object. 4th. "To urge Works is Legal.'

Ans. If Works are urg'd with a Design to Merit by them, it is legal in a bad [Page 336] Sense, and so sinful and dangerous; For such as seek after Righteousness as it were by the Works of the Law, shall not obtain Righteousness, but to urge them as the Way to the Kingdom of Heaven, and as Expressions of Thankfulness to God, is no more than what Christ and his Apostles have done, and if any will presumptuously call them legal, they declare their own Shame. Now to do good Works with the Design before mentioned, is to be legal in a good Sense: i. e. conform'd to the Law; or in other Words, it is to be Holy; and therefore those Libertines that object against it, they make Holiness it self Matter of Reproach.

The Term Legal is much abus'd by the Antinomians; hereby the Ignorant are amus'd and prejudic'd against Repentance and Holiness, by empty Sounds that they do not understand. The English Word legal, comes from the Latin Word lex, a Law; so that etymologically, (or originally,) it signifies what belongs to the Law. Custom has put a bad Sense upon the Word since the Reformation from Popery, to denote a De­pendance [Page 337] upon Works or Obedience to the Law for Justification, or a being discou­rag'd in the Way of Obedience, because of lamented Imperfections, while we be­lieve and are sincerely laborious. Both these Things are doubtless very bad, and to be avoided. Now the Word is only properly used in a bad Sense when it is applied to them; but it is basely abus'd when applied by way of Invective against Care and Labour in Obedience to the Law of God. The original Meaning of the Word legal is good, it signifies a Regard or Conformity to the Law; or in other Words to be holy; and the bad Sense that has been put upon it in later Times is improper and figurative; so that to say a Man is bad because he is legal, or careful to conform to the Law, is to say in other Words, that he is wicked because he is holy, which is no very strong Argument to prove the Point.

But my Brethren, I hope you will not suffer your selves to be prejudic'd against Truth and Holiness by ignorant Invectives, empty Sounds, and misapply'd Words.

[Page 338]If any are for a GOSPEL that rejects Obedience to the Moral Law, there is no such Gospel in the BIBLE, Christ nor his Apostles never preach'd such a Gospel, but the contrary: It is a MYSTERY of INIQUITY and MISCHIEF: From such a Gospel good Lord deliver us!

Object. 5th. ‘If we are elected we shall be sav'd, whither we Work or not.’

Ans. The secret Purposes of God, are not the Rule of our Duty, but his Word; Secret Things belong to God, but Things revealed, to us and to our Children. And such as are elected, are chosen to obe­dience thro' Sanctification of the Spirit and Belief of the Truth. Wherefore we are commanded to make our Calling and Election sure. First, we must comply with God's gracious Calls, and then our Election will be made sure to us, but not otherwise.

Object. 6th. ‘To press Repentance is not suitable to the Gospel.’

Ans. That Repentance is a Gospel Duty, will appear by the following Considerations, viz.

It is commanded by God under the Gos­pel-Dispensation; [Page 339] but the Times of Ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all Men every where to repent. * And the Author to the Hebrews represents Repen­tance, to be a foundation-Principle of the Doctrine of Christ.

This was the End of Christ's coming into the World, as well as of his Exaltation; and hence he himself informs us, that he came not to call the Righteous but Sinners to Repentance. And elsewhere it is said, him hath God exalted with his right Hand, to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give Repentance to Israel and Remission of Sins.

This is one Promise of the New Cove­nant, and a Fruit of Faith, as the Prophet Zachariah instructs us; And they shall look on him whom they have pierced and mourn. **

This, a Seal of the New Covenant, name­ly Baptism confirms; and hence it is call'd, the Baptism of Repentance, ‡‡ and John is said to baptise to Repentance. ††

To this are made the Promises of the [Page 340] New Covenant, by Christ himself; blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be com­forted. *

This is prescrib'd by the Gospel, as the Way to Pardon and Life; Repent ye there­fore (says Peter to the Jews) and be con­verted, that your Sins may be blotted out. Repent therefore of this thy Wickedness (says the same Apostle to Simon Magus) and pray God, if perhaps the Thoughts of thy Heart may be forgiven thee.

The Apostles and Brethren at Jerusa­lem, when they heard that the Gentiles had also receiv'd the Word of God; they glorified God saying, than hath God also to the Gentiles, granted Repentance unto Life.

When the convinc'd Jews enquired of Peter and the rest of the Apostles, what they should do to be saved? he advised them to repent, for the Remission of Sins. ** This our dear Lord and his Apostles preach'd, yea he began and ended his preaching with Repentance; At that time [Page 341] (says Mathew) Jesus began to preach, and to say, repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. * And Luke mentions these Words of Christ to his Disciples after his Resurrection, and said unto them, thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third Day, and that Repentance and Remission of Sins should be preach'd in his Name among all Nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Repentance, my dear Brethren, was one of the principal Subjects of Paul's Ministry; Whereupon, O King Agripa! I was not disobedient to the heavenly Vision, but shew­ed first to them of Damascus, and at Jeru­salem, and throughout all the Coast of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should REPENT and turn to God, and DO WORKS MEET for REPENTANCE. And elsewhere when he gives a summary Account of his ministerial Labours, he says, that he kept back nothing that was profitable, [Page 342] but testified both to the Jews and Greeks Repentance towards God, and Faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Peter preach'd it to the Jews; then said Peter unto them, repent and be baptized every one of you for the Re­mission of Sins, and ye shall receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

And the Apostle John declar'd it to both Jews and Gentiles in these Words; If we say we have no sin, we deceive our selves and the Truth is not in us: If we confess our Sins, he is faithful and just, (i. e. to his Promise) to forgive us our Sins, and to cleanse us from all Unrighteousness. *

The Apostle Paul calls it, a GODLY SORROW— a Repentance not to be re­pented of; and rejoyc'd that the Corinthi­ans sorrowed after a godly sort. Now seeing that Christ ordered Repentance and Remission of Sins to be preach'd in his Name, to all Nations, as before observed, it evidently appears, that this is one impor­tant [Page 343] Branch of the COMMISSION Christ gives to his Ministers, and there­fore is one Character by which we may be assisted in judging who they are. I may add to what has been said, that Repentance is excluded by the Covenant of Works, there is no Place for Repentance there, no Plank after Shipwreck; * it requires no­thing but perfect Obedience, and neither enjoyns nor admits Repentance, for it ad­mits not of Pardon; and where there is no Forgiveness, there can be no Place for Repentance; Repentance and Forgiveness come in therefore by the New Covenant. From what has been said upon this Head, considered complexly, you may see, that if there be any Gospel-Duties at all, Re­pentance is one, and therefore that those who reject it, as legal, understand not what they say, nor whereof they affirm, and have found out a PRETENDED GOS­PEL different from what Christ and his Apostles preach'd.

[Page 344]Let me therefore exhort you, my Bre­thren! to the Exercise of Repentance, and other good Works; Work out the Work of your Salvation with fear and trembling; and O bewail your past Defects. To this you are obliged many ways, viz.

First: By the Covenant of Grace, which consists of two Parts, namely, God's Pro­mise to you, and yours to him. As he has promis'd to be your God, so ye have pro­mis'd to be his People: i. e. to behave suit­able to the Character of such. God's gra­cious Promises to assist in the Perfor­mance of Duty, does not weaken but strengthen our Obligations thereto.

The Promise of Grace proceeds from all the sacred Three, who equally concur to the Work of Redemption, and because of their different Manner of Operation, bear a peculiar Relation to us thereby. The first Person of the Trinity, as a Father, adopts us into his Family; the Second, as a Head and Redeemer, ransoms us and unites us as a Body mystical to himself; the third Person as a Sanctifier, consecrates us as his Temples; from all which a three­fold [Page 345] Necessity of Obedience results, name­ly, that we may live suitable to the Duty and Character of Sons of God, of Mem­bers of Christ, and of Temples of the Holy Ghost, being zealous of good Works.

Secondly: We are obliged to good Works by the Doctrines of Grace, which the Gospel opens, which are not meerly Speculative and entertaining to the Mind, but Practical, which affect and renew the Will, regulate the Affections, and reform the Practice; they are Truths that sanctify the whole Man. * A Law of Spirit and Life, which frees us from the Law of Sin and Death. Which make us not without Law, but under the Law to Christ. The Doctrines of Grace are a Mystery of Piety, the Religion they explain and inculcate, is pure and undefiled.

Thirdly: We are obliged to good Works, by the State of Grace and Liberty into which the Gospel brings us, which is a spi­ritual Freedom from the Curse of the Law, the Tyranny of the Devil, and the Domi­nion [Page 346] of Sin, not a FLESHLY LICENCE, that frees us from Obedience to God's Law, but such a Liberty as engages us the more to love and serve the blessed God, both in Point of Duty and of Gratitude; being then made free from sin, says Paul to the believing Romans, ye became the Servants of Righteousness * And elsewhere he ad­dresses the believing Gala [...]ans thus; For Brethren ye have been call'd unto Liberty, only use not Liberty for an Occasion to the Flesh.

Fourthly: We are obliged to good Works by all the Benefits of Grace, whether re­lative or real, whether in purpose or per­formance, whether past, present or to come; For [...]he Grace of God that bringeth Salva­tion, hath appear'd to all Men, (to all Na­tions of Men, to all Orders of Men) teach­ing, us, that denying ungodliness and worldly Lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present World. The Doc­trines of Grace do not only teach this, but the Gifts of Grace oblige and dispose to it.

[Page 347]Good Works are propos'd to us as the Effects of eternal Election, which is past; and hence we are said to be chosen, before the Foundation of the World, that we should be Holy. *

And good Works are likewise represent­ed, as the Fruits, Signs and Seals of Grace present; but the Fruit of the Spirit is gen­tleness, Meekness, Temperance. As the Branch cannot bear Fruit of it self, except it abide in the Vine. No more can ye, says our Lord, except ye abide in me. The Foundation of God standeth sure, having this Seal, the Lord knoweth who are his. And let every one that nameth the Name of Christ depart from Iniquity.

Yea, my Brethren, good Works are also represented as the Seed, First-fruits and Earnests of Glory future; He that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap Life everlasting; and not only they, but our selves also, which have the First-Fruits of the Spirit. We groan within ourselves, waiting for the Redemption of our Bodies.

[Page 348]The Holy Scripture represents good Works as having a Respect to Happiness in the coming World, somewhat like that of Labour to the Reward, of Means to the End, of a Way to the Mark, of a Combat to the Crown; from all which considerations it appears, that good Works are so necessary to Salvation, that it cannot be obtain'd with­out them; and hence the Gospel pronoun­ces Condemnation upon all unholy and pro­phane Persons, and declares that they shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Dear Brethren, be excited for God's sake, and for your own Souls sake, to work out the Work of your Salvation, with fear and trembling. O consider, that this is the Design of the Father's electing Love, of the Death and Life of the Son of God; he dy'd to purchase Grace for it, and liv'd to give an Example of it. And is it not the great Design of the blessed Spirit's Office to promote this? To what but this tends every Line of the Book of God, and all Discourses drawn from it?

To promote this all Duties and Ordi­nances of Worship were enjoyn'd, and Pro­vidence [Page 349] in its various Aspects, either benign or adverse, bends as a well-drawn Line to this Center.

O therefore, let Love to God the Father, Son and Spirit and to our own Souls con­strain us to Obedience: And O let a Regard to the Glory of God and the Good of Mankind engage us thereto.

Sirs! All Incentives of Action conspire in this. O let Honour, Interest, Duty, and Gratitude allure, excite, and constrain you to work out the Work of your Salva­tion with fear and trembling.

But why should we Work with fear and trembling? I answer, because God requires and deserves it, and likewise it is suitable to our dependent State, and many ways promotes our Interest and Benefit.

The commanding Will of God is ex­press in this Matter, as our Text signifies; and this alone should be sufficient to de­termine the Compliance of all intelligent Creatures. But because we are naturally backward to our Duty, therefore other Arguments may be suggested.

The blessed God has not only a right to [Page 350] our Fear and Reverence, because he has made us by his Power, preserv'd us and provided for us, by his watchful and kind Providence; but he also deserves it on ac­count of his glorious Perfections, every of which are proper Objects of Fear, as well as powerful Incentives to it, when beheld in a just light. Particularly his unble­mished Purity, his almighty Power, his infinite Knowledge, and inflexible Justice, his awful Majesty and alluring Mercy.

How affecting is the Purity of God, my Brethren! Surely Jehovah is glorious in Holiness. This venerable Attribute of the Deity, demerits a Tribute of Reverence from all the intelligent Creation. While the noblest Seraphims behold it, they are o­vercome (as it were) by its superior Blaze and Beauty, into Transport and Extacy, and cry out holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts, the whole Earth is full of his Glory: they cover their Faces and their Feet with their Wings, as unworthy to behold it and to be beheld by it. * The Angels them­selves [Page 351] being Creatures, cannot bear the daz­ling Lustre of the divine Purity, but are [...]onscious of their infinite Distance from the divine Perfection, and therefore are full of Fear and Reverence in their Atten­dance upon God. How much more then should we who are impure Creatures of a meaner Mould? O! if we had clearer Discoveries of God's Purity, we should fear him more. When the Apostle Peter had a Glimpse of the Glory of Christ, be­ing overcome with its Lustre, he fell down at Jesus Knees, and said, depart from me, for I am a sinful Man O Lord. We can­not behold the natural Sun in his meridian Altitude, with our naked Eye long, be­cause its superior Brightness overcomes the weak Organs of our Sight.

And does not the Almighty Power of God deserve our Fear? A Power which has no Bounds but his own Nature and Will; a Power, by which with a Word and in a Moment, he spoke the stupenduous Fa­brick of Heaven and Earth into Being, and [Page 352] by which he supports them in their present Order: A Power by which he bounds the turbulent Deep with a Girdle of Sand, that it shall not again inundate the World: A Power, by which he binds the Winds in his Fists, and brings the Snow and Hail out of his Treasures, as well as the former and the latter rain: A Power, by which he thunders in the Heavens, and breaks the Councils of his Enemies on Earth, and does what he pleaseth in defiance of all Opposition of Men and Devils, in the Kingdoms of Nature, of Grace, and Pro­vidence: Who would not fear thee, thou King of Nations? who hast a sovereign absolute Empire over all. Fear him, saith our Lord, who is able to cast Soul and Body into Hell. As Jehovah is the most valuable Friend, so he is the most formidable Foe; For who knows the Power of his Anger, even according to his Fear, so is his Wrath; we cannot equal it, far less exceed it, in our most trembling, fearful Flights of Thought, because it is infinite, and all our Ideas are finite.

And surely, my Brethren, the infinite [Page 353] Knowledge of God, by which all things from everlasting to everlasting, are open at once to his Eye, is enough to strike your Souls with a solemn Awe of God. This Consideration much affected the Psalmist, (and well it might) Thou knowest (says he) my down-sitting and my up-rising, thou un­derstandest my Thought afar off, thou [...] passest my path, and my lying-down, [...] acquainted with all my Ways.—Such Know­ledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. The Darkness is as the Light to God, and the Night shines as the Day. O Sirs! the Thoughts of God's all-seeing Eye being continually upon us, beholding us in our most secure Retreats, is enough to make us fear and tremble be­fore him.

Add to this the inflexible Justice of God, which disposes him to render to all accord­ing to their Works; this is impartial in its Executions, it will not spare because of the Number or Quality of Transgressors, but render to them exactly according to the Degrees of their Guilt, and when the Time of Probation expires, it is inexora­ble; [Page 354] this excites Jehovah's Power, and awakes his Wrath to Arms; this makes his Vengeance burn and sparkle against in­dolent and obstinate Transgressors; this opens impending Clouds of Indignation, and makes them break into resistless Tor­rents of Woe, which drown Sinners in a suddain Death, and sweep them off the burden'd Globe, into a swift, certain, and eternal Destruction!

And how affecting likewise, dear Bre­thren, is the Majesty and Immensity of the blessed GOD! which fills Heaven and Earth, and infinitely surpasses the Bounds of Matter! Tho' the Globe we tread upon be very extensive, yet it is but a Point compar'd with the visible Heavens, and that, it is probable, is much exceeded by the third Heaven; and yet we are inform'd, that the Heaven of Heavens cannot contain God. The Sinner therefore cannot escape his Cognizance or Justice; this Thought affected the Psalmist, who speaks in the following Manner respecting it; Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy Presence? If I ascend up [Page 355] into Heaven, thou art there: If I make my Bed in Hell, behold thou art there. If I take the Wings of the Morning, and dwell in the uttermost Parts of the Sea; even there shall thy Hand lead me, and thy right Hand shall hold me. If we ascend Carmel's Top, or dive the Ocean's Depths, God is there. He is wise in Heart and mighty in Strength, who has hardened himself against God and prospered?

And does not the Goodness of God, lay us under strong and ingenuous Engage­ments to fear him? O is it not the vilest Ingratitude to offend such a faithful Friend, such an indulgent Father, such a bounteous Benefactor, and requite him evil for good? Will not therefore our fear of displeasing him, rise in Proportion to the Degree of our Love to him, and that in Proportion to the Degree of our Faith in his Promises, and View of his Excellencies?

Now Sirs, if we compare our Vileness with God's Purity, our Weakness with his Almightiness, our Ignorance with his Know­ledge, [Page 356] our Guilt with his Justice, our Cru­elty with his Goodness, may not this View make us fear and tremble before him? Moreover, is it not congruous to the State of a dependent Creature, to fear and trem­ble before his great Lord and Sovereign, to whom he owes, and on whom depends his All?

Yea, my Brethren, as the Fear of God is the distinguishing Character of his People, and the Foundation of all Religion, so the constant Sense of it, is of peculiar Service to promote its Interest in the Souls of Men: by this they are more conform'd to God in Holiness, and dispos'd to perform Acts of Worship to him, with a Decency and Reverence becoming a Creature to his Lord and Sovereign; and by this many hurtful Excesses are prevented; without this, we are like a Vessel that has large Sails but no Ballast, and is in the mean time beat upon with boisterous Winds and angry Waves; without this, our Faith degenerates into Presumption, our Love into an effeminate Fondness, our Hope into Impudence, our Joy into Froth and Lightness, our suppos'd [Page 357] Communion with God, into an undecent Ir­reverence, as if we were upon a par with him, who are but Worms of the Dust, that are crush'd before the Moth, and lighter than Vanity.

And indeed without the Fear of God, we are apt to be catch'd unawares, and fall heed­less and headlong into every sinful Snare that we are expos'd to. Abraham the Friend of God, excell'd in this ornamental Grace. After his extraordinary Vision, he speaks in the following Strain; How dread­ful is this Place? This is no other than the House of God, and this is the Gate of Hea­ven. And upon another Occasion, with what Reverence did he address God, say­ing, Behold I that am but dust and Ashes, have taken upon me to speak to God. O let not the Lord he angry! In fine, the Fear of God is the Root of all true Religion, the Law of God is the Rule of it, and Obe­dience to that Law, is the natural and ne­cessary Fruit thence issuing, all which Par­ticulars, are excellently represented by So­lomon in the Close of his Book of Ecclesi­astes, with whose Words I shall conclude; [Page 358] Let us hear the Conclusion of the whole Mat­ter, fear God and keep his Commandments, for this is the whole Duty of Man. For God shall bring every Work into Judgment, with every secret Thing, whether it be good or whether it be Evil.



PAGE 97 line 17, read Commandments; p. 115, l. 9, read effectually; p. 118, l 23, read acquit; p 190, l. 10, read original; p 193, l 5, read difference; p 218, l. 5 read Lusts; p 235, l 1 [...], read display'd; p 299, l. 7, read enjoy'd; p 319, l. 6, read clayie: p. 325, l. 19, read enjoy'd; p. 345, l. 15, read makes.

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