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ciples, Repent, and be baptized,' or received into the covenant, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins,' Acts ii. 38.
And lastly, That the faith, repentance, and obedience, of all who covenant with God in Christ Jesus, should terminate in the love of God and man, is manifest both from reason and revelation. Reason tells us, that, although God is to be feared both for his justice and power, yet that our duty to bim, when improved by repeated meditations on his excellence, and grateful recollections of his goodness, ought to end in an ardent and lasting love of a Being so infinitely glorious in himself, and so full of compassion towards us. It also tells us, we ought to love those who are joined to us by one common nature, especially when to the ties of humanity those by which we are united to one another, and to God, are added. Revelation tells us the same thing. When the Pharisee asked our Saviour this question, 'Which is the great commandment in the law ?' Jesus said unto him, • Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets,' Matt. xxii. 35–37. 39, 40. Well, therefore, might St. Paul say, that “ love is the fulfilling of the law,' Rom. xii. 10. and that charity is greater than faith and hope,' 1 Cor. xiii. 13.
I might have taken a much greater compass both in the reasoning, and textuary proof of the conditions on which salvation is offered us through the blood of our Redeemer Christ Jesus; but I have said enough to hearers who may, if they please, consider the subject more at large, and who, by the assistance of God's word, can easily see and judge for themselves.
However, while I am thus proving, that the conditional tender of salvation through the blood of Christ, instead of encouraging us to sin, calls us to newness and holiness of life; I foresee it will be objected, that, if this be the case, our covenant founded in that blood is but a covenant of works, after all; from whence it will follow, that we gain nothing by the death of Christ. Now this objection acquires a still greater degree of strength, when it is considered, that higher purity and holiness are expected of Christians than of other men, even on account of the covenant, and of the sacrifice that procured it. God hath not called us to uncleanness, but unto holiness,' 1 Thess. iv. 7. We are obliged henceforth to walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But we have not so learned Christ.'-No; We must put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt, according to the deceitful lusts; and must be renewed in the spirit of our mind; that we may put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness,' Eph. iv. 17—20. 22—24. “It is now high time to awake out of sleep. - The night is far spent, the day is at hand; we must therefore cast off the works of darkness, we must put on the armour of light; we must walk honestly, as in the day, not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; for we have put on the Lord Jesus Christ,' Rom. xiii. 11-14. Forasmuch, then, as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, we must arm ourselves likewise with the same mind; for he that hath suffered in the flesh, hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh, to the lusts of men, but to the will of God,' 1 Pet. iv. 1, 2. How is the blood of Christ, who offered himself without spot to God,' to cleanse us? Is it not by purifying our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God?' Heb. ix. 14.
I answer, It certainly is; and surely, if it produces this effect, we have therein an immense advantage. If, in the death of Christ, we see more clearly than ever the abominable heinousness and danger of sin, we must, from his cross, hear the loudest call to repentance. If, by his blood, he hath obtained the pardon of all our past sins duly repented of, we have undoubtedly, in that pardon, the most comfortable encouragement to newness of life.
We are no longer tempted, as the men of Judah were in the days of Jeremiah, to say, 'There is no hope, and therefore we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the
imagination of his evil heart, Jer. xviii. 12. It is not so with those who are made the sons of God by Christ Jesus. They know, that when he shall appear, they shall be like him. Every man, therefore, that hath this hope, purifieth himself, even as he is pure,' 1 John iii. 2, 3. For we are saved by hope, Rom. viii. 24.
Besides, is it not an immense advantage, that we, who were ' by nature the children of wrath, even as others,' Eph. ii. 3,“ have power now given us to become the sons of God,' John i. 12. that we, “who were sometime alienated, and enemies in our mind, by wicked works, yet now hath Christ reconciled in the body of his flesh, through death, to present us holy, and unblameable, and unreproveable, in the sight of God?' Col. i. 21, 22. While God considered us as enemies, all we did was displeasing to him, not excepting our best actions, which were done without any regard to his will or service. But now that Christ hath made peace for us through the blood of his cross;' Col. i. 20. and hath redeemed us that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons;' Gal. iv. 5. 'God dealeth with us as with sons,' Heb. xii. 7. ' and, because we are sons, hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,' Gal. iv. 6. If, then, this Holy Spirit lovingly 'chasteneth us’ at one time, Heb. xii. 6. and bestoweth his fruit of love, joy, peace,' upon us at another, Gal. v. 22. if he also helpeth our infirmities,' Rom. viii. 26. if it is by him that we have faith,' 1 Cor. xii. 9. that “our souls are purified in obeying the truth,' 1 Pet. i. 22. that we are sanctified,' 1 Cor. vi. 11. that we have 'power, and love, and a sound mind,' 2 Tim.i. 7. how can we look upon ourselves as hardly dealt with by the covenant, for requiring reformation and good works of us, since, at the same time that we are commanded to use our utmost endeavours to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling,' we are also assured, that it is God which worketh in us both to will, and to do, of his good pleasure ?' Phil. ii. 12, 13.
When we consider the powerful instruments made use of by the Holy Spirit to keep us within the terms of the covenant, we shall be the more clearly convinced, that infinite wisdom, as well as mercy, is employed in the scheme of our salvation ; and shall blame ourselves alone, if we are not happy. All the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testament were wrought to satisfy us, that the Scriptures are the word of God. Being satisfied of this, we then hear God speaking to us the words of eternal wisdom, and enforcing his injunctions, not only with the most affecting examples, with temporal blessings and judgments, but with sanctions of infinite weight. And, that our attention may be perpetually awakened, and fixed on these things, he hath solemnly sanctified a seventh part of our time, which is to be spent in learning our duty, in searching the Scriptures, in examining ourselves, and in meditating on all the proofs and motives wherewith the faith and practice of a Christian are enforced. He hath also instituted a ministry to assist us in every part of this important work; and given us a covenant, contained in two solemn ordinances, which, by an awful promise, or vow, binds the whole of his religion on our consciences. Now the Holy Spirit, who is the fountain both of faith and good works, communicates to us the necessary portions of grace, through the word, through the sabbath, through the ministry, and through the covenant of God, which we enter into by the one sacrament, and continually renew by the other.
Such means can hardly fail of success in any man who diligently applies them. But, forasmuch as there is no man who liveth, and sinneth not,' the door of mercy is still open, provided we repent, and do our best to amend what is amiss in our behaviour; for we are the children of God, who knows we are but dust, and looks upon us, through the merits of Christ our head, with all the patience and pity of a compassionate father, who willeth not the death of any sinner, much less of that poor sinner whom he hath adopted for his own child.
Let us not therefore say our case under covenant is hard, because it ties us to faith, and reformation of manners; for Christ. saith, “My grace is sufficient for you. Come, therefore, unto me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' “Provided you do but feel the weight of your own sins, and apply to me for relief, I will lighten you of that load ; and, in lieu of it, will lay on you a 'yoke that is easy, and a burden that is light;' namely, the covenant purchased with my blood, which, both on ac
count of the peace it brings with it, and the assistance I will give you in keeping it, you will find to be not only easy, but delightful.” Neither let us say we believe in the merits of Christ, who hath already suffered the punishment of our sins, and therefore we may persevere in sin, forasmuch as God will not punish it over again in us; for Christ will say, 'I never knew you; depart from me ye that work iniquity. Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil, and his angels.' And St. James saith, What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? Know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead. Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?'
We are not to run into extremes, nor to wrest one part of the Scripture to a sense opposed by another. He understands not the word of God, who thinks we must give up this passage of St. James; or others of St. Paul, where the chief stress is laid on faith. “To him that worketh,' saith the latter, Rom. iv. 4, 5, is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. And, in the foregoing chapter, at the twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth verse, he saith, Where is boasting? It is excluded. By what law? of works ? Nay; but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude, that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law.'
To shew the perfect consonancy of the Spirit speaking by these two writers, nothing more will be needful, than to observe, first, That the faith which St. James tells us is not sufficient alone to justify us, is an historical, unfruitful faith ; whereas that which St. Paul says justifieth without the deeds of the law, is a lively operative faith ; for none of the scriptural writers lay greater stress on the necessity of repentance and holiness, than he. Secondly, That the works recommended by St. James, are works done in consequence of a lively and operative faith ; whereas those condemned by St. Paul, are works done before, or without faith. Thirdly, That St. James does by no means exclude the necessity of faith; nor St. Paul, of works done in consequence of faith;