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Of the neceffity of good works.


TIT. iii. 8.

This is a faithful faying, and these things I will that thou affirm conftantly, that they which have believed in GoD, might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto




The third fermon on

this text.

Come now to the fecond thing I propofed, which S E R M. was to answer an objection or two, to which the, preaching in this kind of doctrine may seem liable. First, that this is to advance and fet up morality. Secondly, that this feems to contradict St. Paul's' doctrine of "juftification by the free Grace of GoD "in JESUS CHRIST," and " by faith without the "works of the law." I fhall endeavour to answer both these.

First, that this is to advance and fet up morality. To which I answer two things.

I. That if by morality men mean counterfeit virtue, and the fpecious fhew of juftice, and charity, and meekness, or any other virtue, without the truth and reality of them, without an inward principle of love to God and goodness, out of oftentation and vain-glory, or for fome other by and finifter end, fuch as probably were the virtues of many heathens, and it is to be feared of too many Chriftians; if this be that which the objectors mean by morality, then we do affure them that we preach up no fuch morality, but thofe VOL. XI.



SER M. virtues only which are fincere and fubftantial and CCIX. real, the principle and root whereof is the love of

GOD and goodness, and the end the honour and glory of GoD, and a neceffary ingredient whereof is fincerity and truth. It is righteoufnefs and true holinefs, the fincere love of GoD and our neighbour, real meekness, and patience, and humility, and fobriety, and chastity, and not the glittering fhew and appearance, the vain and effected oftentation of any of these virtues, which we perfuade and prefs men so earnestly to endeavour after.

Not that I believe that all virtues of the heathen were counterfeit and destitute of an inward principle of goodness; God forbid that we should pass fo hard a judgment upon those excellent men, Socrates, and Epictetus, and Antoninus, and feveral others, who fincerely endeavoured to live up to the light and law of nature, and took fo much pains to cultivate and raise their minds, to govern and fubdue the irregularity of their fenfual appetites and brutish paffions, to purify and refine their manners, and to excel in all virtue and goodness. These were glorious lights in thofe dark times, and fo much the better for being good under fo many disadvantages, as the ignorance and prejudice of their education, the multitude of evil examples continually in their view, and the powerful temptation of the contrary cuftoms and fashions of the generality of mankind.

Nor were they wholly deftitute of an inward principle of goodness: for though they had not that powerful grace and affiftance of God's holy Spirit which is promised and afforded to all fincere Christians (as neither had the Jews, who were the peculiar people of GOD, and n covenant with him) yet it is very credible, that fuch perfons were under a fpecial care and


providence of GOD, and not wholly deftitute of di- SERM. vine affiftance, no more than Job and his friends, mentioned in the old teftament, and Cornelius in the new, who furely were very good men, and accepted of GoD, though they were Gentiles, and " aliens "from the common-wealth of Ifrael, and strangers "from the covenant of promife;" but yet not excluded from the bleffing of the Meffias, though they were ignorant of him, as many of the Jews likewife were, nor from the benefit of that great propitiation, which in the fulness of time he was to make for the fins of the whole world.

So that there is no need fo uncharitably to conclude (as fome of the antients have done, not all, nor the moft antient of them'neither) that there were no good men among the heathen, and that the brightest of their virtues were counterfeit, and only in fhew and appearance. For there might be several good men among the Gentiles, in the fame condition that Cornelius was before he became a Chriftian; of whom it is faid, whilst he was yet a Gentile, that "he was a "devout man, and feared GOD, and that his prayer "and his alms were accepted of GOD," a certain fign that they were not counterfeit. And if he had died in that condition, before CHRIST had been revealed to him, I do not see what reasonable cause of doubt there can be concerning his Salvation; and yet it is a moft certain and inviolable truth, that "there is no "other name under heaven given among men, where

by we must be faved, but the name of JESUS; "neither is there falvation in any other." And good men in all ages and nations from the beginning of the world, both before the law, and under the law, and without the law, fuch as "feared GoD, and wrought * righteousness," were accepted of him in that name,

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SERM. and by the meritorious facrifice of that Lamb of God, which in refpect of the virtue and efficacy of it, is faid to have been "flain from the foundation of the "world."

II. But if by moral virtues be meant those which concern the manners of men, from whence they feem to have taken their name, and which are in truth the duties commanded and enjoined by the natural or moral law, and are comprehended under those two great commands (as our bleffed SAVIOUR calls them) "the love of God, and our neighbour;" I say, if this be the meaning of it, than we do advance this kind of morality, as that which is the primary and fubftantial part of all religion, and most strictly enjoined by the chriftian. To which purpose our SAVIOUR tells us, Matt. v. 17. That "he was not come "to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfil "them." And ver. 19. "Whofoever therefore "fhall break one of the leaft of thefe commandments, " and teach men fo, fhall be called the leaft in the kingdom of heaven; but whofoever fhall do and "teach them, fhall be called great in the kingdom "of heaven;" that is, under the difpenfation of the gofpel. So that this is a principal part of the chriftian religion, to teach and practife the duties of the moral law. This the Pharifees were defective in, placing their religion in external and little things, but neglecting the great duties of morality," the weightier "matters of the law, mercy, and judgment, and

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fidelity, and the love of GOD." And therefore he adds, ver. 20. "I fay unto you, except your " righteousness exceed the righteoufnefs of the Scribes "and Pharifees, ye fhall in no cafe enter into the king"dom of heaven." Is it not poffible in more exprefs and emphatical words to enjoin the obfervation


of the duties of the moral law. And then for that great principle and rule of moral justice, “to do to all men, "as we would have them to do to us." Our SAVIOUR enjoins it as an effential part of religion, and the fum and fubftance of our whole duty to our neighbour, and of all the particular precepts contained in the law and the prophets, Matt. vii. 12. "Therefore all "things whatsoever ye would that men should do to

you, do ye even fo to them: for this is the law "and the prophets." And St. Paul most exprefly declares, that he was fo far from weakning or making void the obligation of the law by his doctrine of juftification by faith, that he did thereby confirm and establish it, Rom. iii. 31. "Do we then make void "the law through faith? GOD forbid; yea we esta"blish the law."

So that moral duties and virtues are the fame with christian graces, and with that holiness and righteoufnefs which the gofpel requires, and differ only in name and notion. They are called virtues, with relation to the intrinfical nature and goodness of them, and graces, with refpect to the principle from which they flow, being the fruits and effects of the gracious operation of the Spirit of GOD upon our minds. And it hath been a very ill service to religion to decry morality, as fome have done, not confidering that moral duties are of primary obligation, and bound upon us by the law of nature; and that christianity hath reinforced and feconded the obligation of them by more powerful motives and encouragements. But I proceed to the

Second objection, viz. that this difcourfe feems to be contrary to St. Paul's doctrine" of juftification "by the free grace of GOD in JESUS CHRIST, by "faith thout the works of the law."


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