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fore, he exhorts his Hearers to be exemi- Se RM. plary in the Performance of those moral IV. Duties, and backs his Exhortation with these two strong Arguments : "; Firft, THAT not only they themselves, but others also, would receive Benefit .by them, and be: incited to praise God for his Blessings bestowed upon them through their Hands. And, ..
Secondly, That others, allured by the Amiableness of their good Works, would be induced to follow their Steps, and to imitate their shining Example, and hereby glorify their Father which is in Heaven: Let your Light fo fine before Men, that they may see your good Works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven. .
THAT, by Light here, is meant the Light of good Works, is plain from the Words which follow in the next Chapter, Mat. vi. where our Saviour tells us, that the Light 22. of the Body is the Eye ; but the Light of a Christian's Soul, or rather of his Life and Conversation, are good Works': If therefore the Light which is in us be :Darkness, how great is that Darkness!
And therefore the State of Nature and
Serm. bath called you out of Darkness into his
IV. marvellous Light. For as, in the greater Um World, Light is one of the moft excellent Pet ii. and beautiful of God's Creatures and the
Medium through which the Perfections of all the rest are discovered, and their Benefits conveyed down to us : So in the lefser World (as Man was called by the Philosophers) the Knowledge of our Duty, and the Conformity of our Actions to this Knowledge, is that alone which can render our Lives happy and desirable ; and as, at the Creation of the World, all other Things were obscured, and wrapped up in Darkness and Confusion, until Almighty God, by the Power of his Word, created Light : So is it with Man in his natural Estate, his Soul is full of Darknefs and Obscurity, Ignorance and Error, until God enlightens his Soul with the Gifts and Graces of his Holy Spirit, shews hiin what it is he ought to do, and enables him to govern his Affections, Words, and Actions, by the Dictates of fanctified Reason. If, therefore, the Day-far from on high is risen in our Hearts, if our Souls are enlightened, by the good Grace of God, let us make it appear to the World, by the Fruits of a good Life, and by becoming eminent Examples of Piety and
Goodness ; laying out ourselves in good SERM. Actions that others, seeing our good Works, IV. may glorify our Father which is in Hea-n ven. From the Words thụs explained, I shall Thew, 1. What is here meant by good Works, or
what Qualifications are necessary to de : nominate a Work good. . II. Į SHALL lay down fome Motives and
Encouragements, to engage us to be.. come eminent and exemplary in the
Performance of good Works.
with an Inference or two,
I. What is meant by good Works, or, what Qualifications are necessary to denominate a Work good.
But here I beg Leave to premise, that by good Works I mean, not such Works, as are perfectly and intirely good, such as are exactly agreeable to the Law of God in every particular, and in every Circumstance; for it is not in the Power of the best Man to perform any such good Work: The Evangelical Prophet has long since told us, that the best and most perfect of our religious Performances are tainted with Sin ; But, by good Works, is meant, such
SERM.good Works as God has promised to accept of IV, for the Sake of his dear Son, who has atpo toned for our Sins, and offers up our
Prayers and good Works to his Father,
is that Faith, without which it is impof- SERM, fible to please God, viz. the Belief that IV." our blefied Saviour died to attone for our Sins, and to make up the Defects of . our Words and Actions, and to present them holy and undefiled in the Sight of God.
It is from the Assurance of this Faith, that we can approach with Confidence, and offer up our Prayers at the Throne of Grace, in the prevailing Name of our Saviour and Redeemer. And, if our good Actions do not proceed from this Principle of Faith in Jefus Chrift, they will be fo far from being shining Lights, that they will be only Splendida Peccata, varnished Sins; and then, how can we imagine that our good Works should light others to Heaven, when we ourselves enter not in through Unbelief. Those Persons Heb. iv.. who have not heard of a Saviour, and 6. yet live up to the Principles of Natural Religion, may have such Allowance made them, as we Christians cannot reasonably expect ; and it is very probable that God, out of his wonderful Goodness and Mercy, may apply the Merits of Christ's Death and Paffion to such Persons who never have had the Means nor Opportunity to believe on him.