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"LORD, there was no man with thee, but there was SER M. " a woman, viz. thy mother."

CCXXVIII.

2. Nor can we our felves do any thing whereby we can merit these bleffings at GOD's hands. Confidering that we received our being, and all that we are and have from GOD, and upon account of these benefits are obliged to love him and ferve him to the utmoft; what a fenfelefs piece of arrogance is it to say, that a creature can merit any thing at God's hand? Whatever we give God is of his own, and when we have done all we can, we have done no more than our duty. And can any man challenge any reward for doing what he ought to do? Can any man make fatisfaction for a fault that he hath committed, by doing his duty? that is, by not committing another. It is a fure rule, Debitum debito non folvitur. We are indebted to GOD by the breach of his law but we cannot quit this debt, and fatisfy for this breach, by not breaking it again, because we owe to God all poffible obedience.

Befides that all our obedience is imperfect, and is fo far from meriting, that it ftands in need of pardon; and can a man demerit, and merit by the same action? Can he who deferves to be punished for an action, because he did it no better, deferve to be rewarded for the fame action, becaufe he did it fo well? And to fay that CHRIST hath merited that our imperfect obedience fhould merit, either fignifies only this, that CHRIST hath merited that our imperfect obedience should be accepted by GoD, notwithstanding it's imperfection; (and this is true, but nothing to the purpose of merit ;) or else it fignifies, that CHRIST hath merited that that which is nowife meritorious, fhould be fo; that is, that the nature of things fhould be altered; which is not only falfe, but fenfelefs.

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Secondly,

SERM.

CCXXVIIL.

Secondly, to perfuade us to live as we believe. If we profefs to believe the gospel to be true, then let our hearts and lives be fuitable to thofe truths which we believe. If we "believe JESUS to be the CHRIST, "the Son of GOD," we believe the doctrine which he delivered to the world to be from GoD, and confequently to be true; we believe the precepts of it are holy, and juft, and good, and that they are necefsary to be observed by us, as being in order to our peace and happiness; we believe that the promises of the gofpel are all yea, and amen," and shall every tittle of them be made good; we believe that the threatnings of the gospel fhall all punctually be fulfilled. Now how ought men to live that believe all this? Having a law given us which hath the fanction of fuch promifes and threatnings, ought we not to conform our lives to it; and charge ourselves with obedience to all thofe precepts of piety towards GOD, and purity and temperance in the government of our felves, and justice and righteousness in our dealings with others, which are contained in this new law of the gospel? If the gospel have promised eternal life and happinefs to thofe who do confcientiously abstain from sin, and follow holiness; "having these "promises," ought we not to "cleanfe our felves "from all filthiness both of flesh and spirit, perfect

ing holiness in the fear of GOD?" If the gospel hath threatned, that at the end of the world, CHRIST will "come in flaming fire," &c. if we believe these things fhall be, "what manner of perfons ought we "to be in all holy converfation and godlinefs?"

I have formerly fhewed at large, how unbecoming it is for any man, that profefleth himfelf a Chriftian, to live unfuitably to his profeffion; that. it is the greatest difparagement to the gofpel, and the highest

reflection

CCXXVIII.

reflection upon it that can be; and that it is infinite-SER M. ly dangerous to us; and though these be very proper confiderations, yet because I have formerly urged them, I fhall not now enforce my exhortation with these arguments; but fhall mention two other confiderations, and fo conclude.

First, if our lives be not anfwerable to our belief, our faith will be ineffectual to all intents and purposes. Secondly, a life unfuitable to our belief is the highway to infidelity and atheism.

First, if our lives be not answerable to our belief, our faith will be ineffectual to all real intents and purposes.

1. It will be ineffectual to give us the reputation of Christians among wife and difcerning perfons. We profess to believe the gospel; but if we live contrary to it, our profeffion is proteftatio contra factum, and therefore not credible; because our actions contradict it. The conftant tenor of a man's actions is a more credible and emphatical declaration of the inward fense of his heart, and fhews better what the man believes, than the most folemn profeffion in words. When our words are not confirmed by our actions, they are but an empty found, and fignify nothing. I may allude to that of St. Paul, 1 Cor. xiii. 2. "Though a man have all faith," yet if he be deftitute of the true effect of faith, charity, he "is but as a founding brafs, and a tinkling cym"bal." St. James doth very well fet forth the inefficacy of fuch a faith, by this fimilitude, Jam. ii. 15, 16, 17. "If a brother or fifter be naked, and "deftitute of daily food, and one of you fay unto "them, Depart in peace, be you warmed and filled; "notwithstanding ye give them not thofe things "which are needful to the body; what doth it pro

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CCXXVIII.

SERM. fit? Even fo faith, if it hath not works, is dead." Men are not fo eafily cozened, as we think they are. Difcerning men will not be imposed upon and put off with a formal and empty profeffion of faith, when there is nothing in our lives to answer it. It is not ftanding up in the church, and profeffing that we believe in GoD, and in JESUS CHRIST, that he was born, and died, and rofe again, and at the end of the world will come to judge the quick and the dead; that will perfuade men that we are Chriftians. Men will look into our lives, and examine our actions, and enquire into our converfations; by these they will judge of the truth and reality of our profeffion. Let us not delude our felves, and think to pass for Chriftians upon thefe terms, among any that know how to make a right judgment of things. We may cozen our felves, but we cannot cheat others, who are not fo partial to us, as we are apt to be to our felves. It is not our winking that hinders others from seeing

us.

Nay, I go farther; it is not an earnest contending for fundamental articles of our chriftian faith, if we live contrary to them, that will fatisfy any wife man that we believe them; much less an intemperate zeal for indifferent opinions in religion. Such were the doctrines concerning the neceffity, on the one hand, and the unlawfulness of circumcifion, on the other: but the affent to the one opinion or the other in thefe matters; "neither circumcifion availeth any "thing, nor uncircumcifion; but faith that worketh

by love; the new creature, the keeping of the "commandments of GOD," as the apoftle in feveral places expreffeth it. Men ftand much upon the title of orthodox, by which is usually understood, not believing the doctrine of CHRIST or his apoftles,

but

CCXXVIII.

but fuch opinions as are in vogue among fuch a par- SER M. ty, fuch fyftems of divinity as have been compiled in hafte by those whom we have in admiration ; and whatever is not confonant to these little bodies of divinity, though poffibly it agree well enough with the word of God, is error and heresy; and whoever maintains it, can hardly pass for a Chriftian among fome angry and perverse people. I do not intend to plead for any error; but I would not have chriftianity chiefly measured by matters of opinion. I know no fuch error and herefy as a wicked life. That man believes the gospel beft, who lives moft according to it. Though no man can have a worfe opinion of the Socinian doctrine than I have, yet I had rather a man should deny the fatisfaction of CHRIST, than believe it, and abuse it to the encouragement of fin. Of the two, I have more hopes of him that denies the divinity of CHRIST, and lives otherwife foberly, and righteously, and godly in the world, than of the man who owns CHRIST to be the Son of God, and lives Ike a child of the devil.

2. Such a faith as hath not an answerable life will be ineffectual to the purpose of juftification and falvation. So St. James tells us, it is a "dead faith, "and profits nothing," that no man is justified by it, nor will it fave any man. "CHRIST is the "author of eternal falvation to them whom" fo believe his doctrine, as to obey it he will come in "flaming fire, to render vengeance," not only "to "them that do not believe," but "to them that do

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not obey the gofpel." It will not be fufficient at the day of judgment, to plead our profeffion of faith in CHRIST, and to fay, LORD, LORD, have we not "prophefied in thy name, and in thy name have caft out devils, and in thy name have done many

"wondrous

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