« PreviousContinue »
tency; they may even live in some sinful neglect or practice, through ignorance or mistake; but they cannot habitually commit known sin. They search out their faults; and, as they discover any, repent of and forsake them. "Their hearts are "sound in the Lord's statutes, and they shall "never be ashamed."
In this course of believing obedience, the disciples of Christ encounter many temptations, struggle with various discouragements, and are exposed to sharp trials. The contempt and hatred of the world, the assaults of the tempter, the peculiarities of their circumstances, dispositions, and habits, and the chastisements of their heavenly Father, combine to try their patience. Perseverance and constancy, in following the dictates of conscience, expose them to the charge of obstinacy and perverseness, or subject them to heavy losses and difficulties; while inward conflicts, permitted to humble and prove them, sometimes make them ready to faint and despond. Yet they "patiently "continue in well-doing;" they submit to the will of God under afflictions, meekly bear injuries, wait the appointed time for the fulfilment of the Lord's promises, and persevere in the path of upright obedience. They seek for blessings which cannot be expected in any other way: and are ready to say, "Lord to whom shall we go? thou "hast the words of eternal life." Their religion resembles a river, which still continues to flow, though sometimes with a fuller current, and at others with a diminished stream: while that of the hypocrite resembles a land-flood, now impetuously deluging the fields, and then wholly dis
appearing. But to those who thus " patiently "continue in well-doing," and to them only, will the righteous Judge at last assign the eternal inheritance. "He that continueth to the end shall "be saved."
We need not enlarge on the reverse of this character. "Unto them that are contentious, and do "not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness; indignation and wrath; tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil." Such persons, instead of believing the gospel, and in humble repentance embracing the promised salvation, "contend" against it, " contradicting and "blaspheming." They dispute against the strictness of the divine law or justice, and the sentence denounced against transgressors. They oppose their own reasonings against the express testimony of God, in respect of the mysteries of redemption; and venture to," charge him foolishly," as if they were more wise and righteous than He. Being thus" contentious, they do not obey the truth; they will not submit to God, repent of sin, believe in Christ, separate from the world, or “walk in "newness of life." For" they obey unrighteous
ness:" sin, in one form or other, has dominion over them; and their unbelief is the effect of a depraved heart and a rebellious will, which it tends reciprocally to confirm and render more desperate. To all these the righteous Judge will recompense "indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish ;" not regarding their outward privileges or distinctions, but deciding impartially according to their works: for, "there is no respect of persons with "God."-Let us then,
II. Compare this statement with several other important scriptures, which may serve to elucidate and confirm it.
It is the uniform declaration of the sacred writers, that all men shall be "judged according to "their works :" yet it is equally evident that faith, or unbelief, determines a man's state in the sight of God, as justified, or as under condemnation. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; "but he that believeth not shall be damned." "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, "hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto "life." "He that believeth not is condemned 'already, because he hath not believed in the "name of the only begotten Son of God." The same instruction is implied in the vision of St. John. "The books were opened: and another "book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things, which "were written in the books according to their "works; and whosoever was not found written in "the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."2 The prophet Ezekiel, having shewn that "the ways of the Lord are equal," was led to state the characters of the righteous and the wicked; and then he adds, "When the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness, and doeth that which "is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive :— "Repent and turn from all your transgressions, so
'Mark xvi. 16. John iii. 18; v. 24.
2 Rev. xx. 12-15.
iniquity shall not be your ruin."
The true penitent therefore will not be condemned when judged according to his deeds;" though he must be so if the solemn process should be conducted according to the strictness of the law, without reference to the grace of the gospel, to which all these invitations and promises belong.
The atoning sacrifices of the Mosaic law, which typified the redemption of Christ, were offered upon mount Zion: and David, inquiring who should ascend and worship with acceptance on that holy hill, draws a character which entirely accords with that given of a true believer in the New Testament." Thus he shews us, which of the professors of true religion will stand accepted in the day of judgment: but this has nothing to do with such as openly neglect or oppose revealed truth, or refuse the salvation of the gospel.
In perfect harmony with these scriptures, our Lord describes his true disciples: "Whosoever "shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, "the same is my brother, my sister, and my mo"ther." "Blessed are they that hear the word of "God and keep it."3 This word or will of God doubtless has peculiar relation to Christ, and to the voice from heaven, "This is my beloved Son, " in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him :" and a moral or pharisaical decency of conduct most essentially differs from "the obedience of faith." "He that believeth not God hath made him a liar, "because he believeth not the record that God
1 Ezek. xviii. 27-30.
3 Matt. xii. 49, 50. Luke xi. 28.
2 Psal. xv.
gave of his Son. And this is the record, that "God hath given to us eternal life, and this life "is in his Son; he that hath the Son hath life, "and he that hath not the Son of God hath not "life." The unbeliever, therefore, whatever his moral character may be, so far from "doing the "will of God," disobeys his express command, and deliberately affronts his veracity.
Our Lord closed his sermon on the mount with
this remarkable passage. "Not every one that "saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the 66 kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will "of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not
prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast "out devils and in thy name done many won"derful works? and then will I profess unto them, "I never knew you, depart from me ye that work iniquity. Therefore, whosoever heareth these
sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken "him unto a wise man, which built his house upon 66 a rock; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not; for it was founded upon "a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not shall be liken"ed unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand; and the rains descended, and "the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the "fall of it."2 This passage evidently refers to the
1 John v. 10-12.
Matt. vii. 21-27. Luke vi. 46-49.