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upon you, my brethren, to promote this much-desired reformation, I need not further urge at present, than by reminding you of a very awful truth, to which we have all set our hands, and may God set our hearts to act agreeably to it. What I mean is the 18th article of our church, wherein we have declared, “ They “ also are to be had accursed, that presume to say, 66 that every man shall be saved by the law or sect “ which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame “ his life according to that law, and the light of na“ ture. For holy scripture doth set out unto us only “ the name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.” In this article we have given in our public testimony before God and his church against the light and the law of nature, and with our own mouths have put both of them under the curse. And shall we with the same mouths afterwards preach up the light and law of nature, and pronounce them blessed ? God forbid. I hope his good Spirit will keep us free from this monstrous guilt, and enable us in all our preaching to set forth only the name of Jesus Christ whereby men must be saved.
But it may be here enquired, if man in a state of nature be at enmity with God, and can be accepted only through Jesus Christ, by what means shall he seek this reconciliation ? The scripture has given us this plain and easy method. God the Father accepts us through the all-perfect righteousness of Christ ; this righteousness is imputed unto us by faith ; and the true living faith is a divine grace wrought in the soul by the giver of every good and perfect gift. It is not the result of comparing evidence, and of giving the assent to the strongest arguments : for a man may do this without the least grain of saving faith : but it is, according to St. Paul, the gift of God And in another place he calls it one of the fruits of the Spirit And St. Peter says, it is God that purifieth the heart by faith. He enables the sinner, who finds his want of Christ's righteousness, to seek it, and to lay hold of it: for whoever
hungers and thirsts after Christ's righteousness, has a promise, that he shall be filled, even filled with peace and joy in believing that this righteousness is imputed unto him, and with the love of God, which is shed abroad in his heart by the holy Spirit. And if there be any truth in God or man, this promise is now ful. filled, and every one that enters into our Lord's kingdom finds righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Some persons think they can easily evade the force of this reasoning by suggesting it to be possible, that all this may be a delusion. If a man is not acquainted with the scripture marks of true faith, and is not careful to compare them with his own experience, possibly he may be deluded, and fancy, that God has accepted him, when he has not. But if he sets out deeply convinced of his want of faith, waits for it in the instituted way, in that way receives it, and the effects of true faith follow upon receiving it, then if such a person may be deluded, there is no certainty in the world. The scriptures were written to direct us in these points, and they are so plain, that the way-faring man, though foolish, cannot err therein. They have given us one infallible rule to guide our enquiries, which is to examine the nature of faith by its purifying virtue. Wherever the true faith is, it purifies the heart, cleansing it from the pollution and from the guilt of sin, and destroying also the dominion of sin, so that the believer daily grows in grace, and goes on in his Christian course, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. . .
If faith does not work thus in an holy life, it is indeed a delusion. What doth it profit my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, and have not works? If he have not a working faith, an active operative grace, purifying the heart from sin, and producing in the clean heart all the fruits of the Spirit, he wants the scripture marks of true faith ; and let him talk ever so much, and be ever so strongly persuaded of his acceptance
with God, he is in a dangerous delusion. It is but a dead thing, which he supposes to be the living faith : for it is written, “ As the body without breath is dead, “ so faith without works is dead also.” Works are the breath of faith. If it be alive it will breath, as certainly as the living body breathes. If it have no breath, no works to evidence its life, the scripture looks upon it to be a dead carcase; but if it breathes, and acts, and abounds in every good word and work to the glory of God, and to the service of men, then we may with as much certainty pronounce it to be the true faith, as we can pronounce the body to be alive, when it is able to perform all the offices of its animal life : for as the body while it breathes is alive, so faith while it works is alive also. In this case there can be no delusion : because we follow the sure rule laid down for our direction, By their fruits ye shall know them. How can we mistake the fruits of the Spirit for the fruits of the flesh? Is not every tree known by its own fruit? Do men ever think of gathering figs of thorns, or grapes of a bramble-bush? The fruits of grace, and of fallen nature, are as opposite as the two spirits which produce them. The one abounds in the works of the flesh, the other crucifies the flesh with its affections and lusts. The one fills the mind with spiritual pride, envy, and malice, the other begins with humility, and works by love. The one lives in open transgres. sion of the laws of God, the other conforms his words and works, and even the thoughts of his heart, to the standard of scripture. Can you see these different fruits, and be at a loss to determine, who is the author of each ? Surely we want no evidence to disprove the pretences of an adulterer, a fornicator, an unclean per. son, and the rest mentioned by the apostle. Their lives speak their want of faith. By their fruits we see that they have not the root of the matter within them, because they hold the truth in unrighteousness. They must either have deluded themselves, or else they are downright hypocrites : for it is of the very essence of
true faith to destroy sin, and to work in an holy obedience. When we are accepted in the Beloved, and faith in his blood has purified our hearts, then we are, through his grace, both prepared and also able to shew this work of faith in our lives and conversations; and this point comes to be considered under the third head, which was to prove, That Jesus Christ is the foundation of all holy obedience. But this I must leave for the subject of another discourse, and would only observe at present from what has been said, that since Christ is the foundation of all saving knowledge, it is our duty to seek it from him in all means of grace, and especially in the word : for the commandment is pure, enlightening the eyes. Whoever hears and reads it with humility and prayer, will find the eyes of his understanding enlightened. He will see clearly the things of God, and will see more clearly, than others can, the useful arts and sciences. If he study them under the direction of divine grace, and with a view.to the divine glory, the eternal light will shine into his heart, and give him more understanding than his teachers. And since Jesus Christ is the foundation of our acceptance with God the Father, let us seek to be accepted through faith, and never think of setting up any righteousness of our own in opposition to his. He is the Lord our righteousness, through whose merits imputed unto us by faith, God will receive us as just and righteous. And may the holy Spirit give you the practical conviction of these two important truths, that you may find the knowledge of the glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ, and may, through his allperfect righteousness, be presented before God the Father without spot of sin unto salvation; to whom with the Son and the holy Spirit, three persons in the unity of the Godhead, be equal glory, worship, and praise, in the church militant and triumphant, now and for ever. Amen.
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1 Cor. iii. 11.
Other foundation can no man lay, than that is laid,
which is Jesus Christ.
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FROM the scope and design of these words, which were opened in a former discourse, it was proposed to consider the following particulars :
First, That Jesus Christ is the foundation of all saving knowledge.
Secondly, He is the foundation of all acceptance with God the Father.
Thirdly, He is the foundation of all holy obedience. And,
Lastly, He is the foundation of our present and eternal happiness.
Under the first head it was proved, that man's natural ignorance and blindness in the things of God made it necessary he should be enlightened. Jesus Christ came into the world to open the blind eyes, and to be a light to them that sat in darkness. He says of himself, 5 I am the light of the world, and whosoever “ believeth in me shall not walk in darkness, but shall “ have the light of life.” He is as truly the light of the spiritual, as the sun is the light of the material world, and whoever seeks to be enlightened with any saving truth, must receive it from the gracious influence of his divine rays. And under the
Second head man's natural corruption, and actual sinfulness, were considered. The holiness, justice, and truth of God could not accept the sinner, while he lay in this state of pollution and guilt, and he could do nothing to deliver himself from it, but must have lived here and for ever separated from God, unless Jesus