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tion to the righteousness of God. And lo! Protestant divines have fallen back again into the sink of Popery, maintaining the merit of works: as every man must do, who talks of the dignity and rectitude of human nature, of the dignity of sinful nature, and of the rectitude of fallen nature, of natural religion, of the moral sense, and of the moral scheme, and of the fitness and relation of things : for these systems are big with con, tradictions, unless man be able of himself to discover and to practise such duties as will render him acceptable to God. And indeed, metaphysical writers have ascribed to blind fallen nature both this will and power, maintaining that every one may find within himself
the rule of right, and obligations to follow it.” Bi. shop Butler's Sermons, p. 32. But what saith the scripture ? Positively and expressly it speaks of man's having neither will nor power, unless they be given him of God. Being sinful in heart and life he lies under sentence of condemnation by the just law of heaven, and like an attainted rebel he cannot do a legal act, until he be pardoned. Jesus Christ is the foundation of this pardon; and until we are accepted through his righteousness, our best works have in them the nature of sin. This is scripture, and the doctrine of our church. And can you believe a man to be a friend to either, who wants to establish the merit of works? Can he be a sound Protestant, or a good church of England. man? No, he cannot. Certainly, my brethren, you would condemn him with one voice. Away then with all the metaphysical rubbish, which has long obscured the scripture doctrine of acceptance; for the love of the Lord Jesus, and of his flock for whom he shed his blood, let us hear no more of the religion of nature of that religion which finds us and leaves us children of wrath : for the sake of your own present and eternal peace let all metaphysical systems of the religion of nature be no more your favourite studies. You have the holy scripture in your hands; whither would you go, but to it for the words of eternal life ? And does it not
until he an attailemnation heart and they sees of mathe
teach you that Jesus Christ came into the world to redeem us from the miseries of our fallen nature ? And whose cause then are these men defending, who want to establish a religion founded on that nature, from which Christ came to redeem, us? Good God! what an attempt is this, for Christian men, Christian ministers, ambassadors of Jesus Christ, not only to preach up the religion of nature, as if nature was not fallen, but also to make this religion of nature the foundation of revealed. What a monstrous paradox is this, natural religion the foundation of revealed ? Is not this taking away Jesus Christ the sure foundation, which God hath laid, and putting the religion of nature under him as a foundation to bear him up, and thus trying to lay another foundation, which if God be true no man can lay. The folly, the guilt, and the danger of this proceeding are so evident upon the principles before laid down, that I shall not urge the matter farther at present, only if there be here any admirers of this metaphysical and unnatural religion, it may be useful to them to consider, what this religion can do for them, even as they understand it, which the religion of the Bible has not promised to do for them in a more full and ample manner, especially with respect to their performing an holy obedience, of which Jesus Christ is the sole foundation, which is the third inference from what has been said. · Until you are accepted in Christ you cannot do any good works: because your whole nature is corrupt, and nothing but corrupt fruit can grow upon it. Are you then seeking for an holy nature, that in it you may perform an holy obedience ? Are you then praying to God to be renewed in the spirit of your mind, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that his will may become yours, his word your study and delight, his Spirit your guide ? And is it the desire of your soul, that you may be enabled to run cheerfully in the way of God's commandments unto the end ? Is Christ the foundation of this great work? And are you convinced you want grace from him every moment to carry it on ? Then bring this conviction into practice. Let it operate in your lives. Where would you seek his grace, but in the means of grace ? And when your persons are accepted through the righteousness of
Christ inputed to you by faith, then God will accept ", your attendance upon these means, but not before.
Then he will be found of you in them, will give his blessing to the use of them, and will enable you to abound in every good word and work to the praise of his glory. The scripture is express, that we are created in Christ Jesus unto good works. We can bear no fruit until we be grafted into him the true vine. Our church is exceeding clear upon this head. To their authorities we must submit, and we shall find the happy effects of embracing them, if they dispose us to seek, until God gives us a new nature with new faculties and affections, and enables us to bring forth much fruit to the praise of the glory of his free grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved : for then we shall find the present comforts of the gospel sweetly drawing us on in the way of duty, until we be at last presented perfect in Christ Jesus. Perfect and .complete in him, but not in our own righteousness, we shall be presented before God the Father without spot of sin to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us.
To these truths every Christian assents. He lays no other foundation for his present and eternal happiness than Jesus Christ, and he is a sure foundation : for he is the author and finisher of the faith, the author to begin it here in grace, the finisher to end it, when faith shall be swallowed up in vision. As he is the author of all the works of creation, so he is the author of all the works of redemption, by whom they begin, through whom they are carried on, and in whom they will be completed: “ For I am Alpha and Omega, “ says he, the first and the last, which was, which is,
by his ovaleth all thingsod and Sand eyes, antion and the
“ and which is to come, the Almighty." He is the Lord God omnipotent, by whom all things were made; by his over-ruling providence they are supported: for he upholdeth all things by the word of his power. He is the most blessed God and Saviour in the offices of a prophet to enlighten our blind eyes, and to be our wisdom, of a priest to atone for the pollution and the guilt of our sins, and to be our righteousness, and of a king to destroy in us the dominion of sin, and to be our sanctification. And be is God the Sovereign Judge, before whose awful tribunal we must all soon appear. View Jesus Christ in these exalted stations, where he sits far above all principalities and powers, as the first and the last in the works of creation, providence, redemption, and final judgment, and then see whether you can exalt him high enough. Is not this. almighty God and King far above all blessing and praise ? You cannot sufficiently extol the works of creation. Survey them with a philosopher's eye, and they will appear great and wonderful in wisdom and power, affording an unexhausted subject of praise. And how then shall we be able to magnify their Maker, who is great above all his works ? Especially great and marvellous are thy works, O Lord God atmighty, in the redemption of a sinful world : For when you glorify the Lord Jesus for this inestimable mercy, exalt him as much as you can, for even yet will he far exceed, and when you exalt him, put forth all your strength and be not weary; for you can never go far enough. How should we upon earth go far enough, when the glorified spirits, who try to exalt him as much as they are able, yet fall short ? He will always, to eternity he will be above all blessing and praise. The thousands, thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand, who are now standing round his throne, admiring his perfections, and singing the song of Moses and the Lamb, when they put forth all their strength and are not weary, still they can never go far enough. And when all the sons of God who shouted for joy at
the first creation, shall again join their voices upon the number of the elect being perfected, still he will far exceed their most exalted song. Angels and men with their highest strains of praise cannot come up to the greatness of our Lord's merit. Let the heavenly song be continued through millions of ages, yet the God whom they celebrate is infinite, and their praise therefore must fall short of the subject. The perfection of the almighty Creator, and the love of the all-merciful Redeemer, are, to the redeemed of the Lord, subjects which eternity cannot exhaust. O that it may be your happiness and mine to lay Jesus Christ and him only, for the foundation of all saving knowledge, of all ac*ceptance with the Father, and of all holy obedience, that having spent our time here by the strength of his grace in his service and to his glory, we may be admitted to see his perfections, and to be happy in the enjoyment of them, and may join our grateful hearts and voices with the blessed company of angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect, in singing the eternal hymn of thanks and praise. So be it Lord Jesus, to The honour of the Father, and to the glory of the eternal Spirit, three persons in one Jehovah, whom the church militant now worships, and the church triumphant praises for ever and ever. Amen.