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sus Christ as our righteousness received by faith, and that in this concern works of every kind are absolutely excluded.
This is the capital doctrine of the Gospel; it is not only clearly asserted in innumerable passages both of the Old Testament and the New, but is St. Paul's express subject and design in his epistles to the Romans and the Galatians. Though he was yielding and compliant in many things of less importance, and was willing to become all things to all men, yet he would not give plaće, no not for an hour, to any who offered to invalidate this foundation-truth. He declares, that to mix any thing, to contend for any qualification or observance, as of necessary influence to concur with the perfect work of Christ in the justification of a sinner, is to darken, alter, and destroy the Gospel which he preached; and denounces an anathema against every one who should be guilty of this presumption, yea, though he should be if such * a thing was possible) an angel from heaven. How cordially he rested his own hope upon the truth which he proposed to others, he declares elsewhere, “ Yea, doubtless, and I count all
things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge “ of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered “ the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, “ that I may win Christ; and be found in himt, not “having mine own righteousness, which is of the I law, “ but that which is through the faith of Christ, the
righteousness of God by faith.”
* Gal. i. 8, 9.
+ Phil. iii. 3, 9. | Ex vous, of law: that is, of any law whatsoever, not of the law, as if he only meant the Jewish law. The article tõ seems here to be purposely left out.
If this is the Scriptural doctrine, let each one examine on what ground you stand. Has God appointed one way of salvation, and will any of you dare to propose another? This would be both wicked and dangerous: “ Other foundation can no man lay than that "which is laid, which is Jesus Christ*. please yourselves now with what you account your good works; but when God shall 66 lay judgement to the
line, and righteousness to the plummet t,” none will be able to abide his appearance, but those who can plead a righteousness perfectly answerable to the law's demands, which can only be found in Jesus Christ, the righteous one.
And as this doctrine is of so great and essential im. portance, beware how you listen to any other. Take heed how you hear $; be not influenced by the names, characters, or stations of men, when the salvation of your souls is at stake. Prize the liberty which, as Protestants and Britons, you enjoy, of bringing every doctrine to the trial of God's word, and freely use it. 1 account it my honour and happiness that I preach to a free people, who have the Bible in their hands. To your Bibles I appeal. I entreat, I charge you, to receive nothing upon my word, any farther than I prove it from the word of God; and bring every preacher, and every sermon that you hear, to the same standard. If this is the truth, you had need to be well established in it; for it is not the current and fashionable doctrine of the times. Let me then farther recommend to you (it is a direction our Lord has given), to examine doctrines by their effects : “ By their fruits ye shall know
1 Cor. iii. 11.
+ Isa. xxvii, 17. Mark, iv. 24. ; Luke, viii. 18.
“them*.” The truths of God, when faithfully preached, in humble dependence upon his blessing, will be attested by his power. At such times, and in such places, a visible change will soon be observable in some or more of the hearers: they cease to do evil, they learn to do well : they acknowledge God in all their ways, and glorify him before men, by living according to his precepts. And if you ask them the reason of this change, they will freely ascribe it to the blessing of God upon that sort of preaching, which by too many is accounted foolishnesst. : On the other hand, we are not afraid to challenge those who are most acquainted with men and books, to produce instances of the same effects wrought by any other doctrine than that which commends the Lord Christ in his person, offices, and power, as the only object of a sinner's hope. How much is said and wrote to tell people what they should be, and what they should do! yet where these principles are not enforced, there is nothing effectually done, nothing indeed attempted, beyond a formal round of dull and heartless service; a little something that looks like religion on the Lord's day, to appear in church at the summons of the bell, to repeat words because other people do the same, to hear what is delivered from the pulpit with little attention or affection, unless something occurs that is suited to exalt self, or to sooth conscience, and then to run with eagerness into the world again.
Or if here and there a person is truly touched by the secret influence and guidance of the Spirit of God, where this evangelical doctrine is not publicly maintained, the consequence always is, that they renounce
* Matth. vii, 16.
ti Cor. i. 21.
the things which they before held for truths, are brought into that way of thinking which is agreeable to St. Paul's doctrine, and receive it gladly whenever it comes in their way.
It must be allowed, however, at the same time, that there are counterfeit professors, whose religion lies in notions, and who, while they profess to believe in God, in works deny him; by reason of whom the ways of truth are evil spoken of*. This the apostles have taught us to expect; nay, it was so from the beginning, even while the apostles were themselves personally with the churches. To such St. James addresses the passage I have been reading to you, of which my text is the conclusion; and as I dare not hope that there are none such in this great assembly, it is highly proper, that before I conclude I shall take notice of a second proposition which naturally offers from the subject we have had in hand; and more especially from the reasoning of St. James, and from the words of my text.
2. That true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ has a prevailing and habitual influence upon the hearts and lives of those who possess it; and that they are vain men, and deceivers of themselves, who pretend to faith in him, while their lives and conversations show them to be enslaved to the love of the world, and the dominion of sin. The apostle, to inspire us with a just abhorrence of this false profession, makes use of two comparisons which are exceeding striking. May God open the eyes of those who are concerned in it, to perceive and tremble at the justness and horror of the resemblance.
1st, He compares it to the faith of devils : “ Thou
* 2 Pet. ü. 2.
“ believest there is one God; thou dost well. The “ devils also believe, and tremble*.”
Are there any here whom it is needful to address in this harsh manner? My dear brethren, bear with me; I wish you well, and would willingly rejoice in every good appearance; but, alas ! how little does it signify what you
believe, or what you say, unless your acknowledged principles have an effect upon your conduct !
Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ? so does Satan? Do
Do you believe the election of God, the sovereignty of grace, the perseverance of the saints? It is possible the devil may have a more extensive knowledge in these doctrines than the wisest of men; yet this benefits himn not; it is not want of knowledge, but want of love, that makes him what he is.
The only effect mentioned of the faith of devils is; that it increases, their terror, and aggravates their guilt: They believe (there are no sceptics in hell), and tremble. Is not this too much the case of some of you? If you knew less, you would be easier at least; and less inexcusable ; and yet perhaps you mistake
your state, and think yourselves on this account far less blamable than you really are. Perhaps sometimes, when you reflect sincerely on your ways, and how strangely you are hurried to act contrary to the convictions which the preaching of the Gospel forces upon you, you are ready to charge the Lord and his dispensations hardly, and to say, O that he would give me his grace! But if not, what can I do without it? Let conscience now speak faithfully, and it will tell you, that.if you are condemned, it will not be for what you cannot do, but for wilfully refusing to improve the power already given