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Now, the danger of this notion is great: it opposes God's plan, and is totally unfit for mankind. None do good works, worthy of salvation. are sinners before God. "There is none righteous, no, not one." Who, then, can, by his good deeds, earn heaven? Who can say, that eternal life is the wages of his good conduct? One sin deserves eternal death; "for the wages of sin is death." So then, if we would reach that happy place above, we must go thither by free grace; we must enter, as having no right in ourselves: "for the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Look again at those words of St. Paul: "To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." Now this is the doctrine at which men stumble; although every man living ought to bless God for it, both in this life, and to all eternity. "How?" say they; "shall a man that worketh not have a better chance of salvation than one who works? Will God justify the ungodly for their faith, and not accept the few good works that another poor creature tried to do? At this rate, Faith is every thing, and Works are nothing!" To all this, let me answer: "You have well said, that faith is every thing, and works are nothing." But mind, in what sense this is said. It is in the matter of our acceptance before God. cepted through our faith in Christ, because faith receives and honours Christ. Faith joyfully confesses that Christ, by his precious blood-shedding,
We are ac
has obtained the pardon of all our sins, and reconciliation with God. Both St. Paul and St. James agree in the necessity of good works, springing from faith but the justification of the ungodly does not spring from any worthiness, either in our faith or in our works; all comes from Christ, of whom faith lays fast hold. The humbled believer thankfully accepts the righteousness of Christ: that righteousness covers him, and hides all his sins. So then, in the justifying of the ungodly, faith is every thing, and works are nothing.
But, think you that the believer in Jesus is an idler? Just the contrary. His faith "worketh by love." If he had a faith without works, it would be a dead faith. But he desires to "abound in every good word and work." Only now he works, not for wages, but from love.
We sometimes hear it objected, "Oh, then, if only we have faith, we may live as we please." In St. Paul's days this objection was made; which he answers thus. He supposes foolish men to say, "We may continue in sin, that grace may abound." As if they had said, "However much we sin, we are sure to be pardoned: the more sin, the more grace." The moment St. Paul hears this, he immediately cries out, with holy anger-God forbid! It cannot be must not be. "How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein ?" The thought of allowing sin any how, would ruin man, and dishonour God. Know ye not that true believers are one with Christ; and, as Christ rose from the dead,
so do they arise from their former sinful living?— Do not deceive yourselves. If you have a saving faith, you will not any more fashion yourself after the former lusts in your ignorance. You will put off the old man, and put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Think, then, and carefully examine; first, whether you have saving faith in Christ; and next, whether you bring forth the fruit of good works, from love to Him. Faith, and works, must both be in you, if you would be saved. would be saved.
Make the tree
good, and the fruit will be good. If you love this Saviour, show your love, by bearing the cross with Him. Crucify the old man. You know what the old man is it is your old Self, your former Self: it is what we all are, before we believe unto salvation. Every man, before he has a living faith, is "a body of sin": but when he is brought to life by Christ, he no more serves sin. I would leave with you, then, these two most weighty questions:“Have you saving faith in Christ?”—and, “Are you daily crucifying the flesh, with the affections and lusts?"
O God, who hast reconciled us unto thyself by the precious blood of thy dear Son; we would thankfully acknowledge that we are not our own. We are bought with a price: we are bound by all thy commands; and yet more by the gracious terms
of thy Covenant, to present ourselves unto thee a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto thee, through Jesus Christ.
Let thy Holy Spirit, Lord, write on our minds the law of love, that we may with our whole hearts keep thy commandments, and delight to do thy will. As we have yielded our members as instruments of sin, so now may they be made instruments of holiness, unto thee, our God. By the purifying influences of thy Spirit, mortify in us all carnal affections; fill us with holy resolutions; and enable us, effectually, to fulfil our vows to thee. Let love, and joy, and peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, with meekness and temperance, and every fruit of thy Spirit, abound in our life and conversation. And thus prepare us, O Lord, for the everlasting enjoyment of thy Blessed Self in heaven above, through the merits of our only Mediator and Advocate, Jesus Christ!
A HEAVENLY MIND, AND HOLY LIFE.
COLOSSIANS iii. 1-7.
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth, fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience :
In the which ye also walked sometime, when ye lived in them.
THE true believer in Christ is as a man risen from the dead, and come to life: for by faith he obtains a new life from Christ. He is united to Christ; and what Christ is, that he is. Before his conver
sion, he was dead in trespasses and sins; but the Spirit of Christ, entering into him, has made him a living man.
O do you, who call yourself a Christian, examine whether your heart has been thus changed! For if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
It was by Almighty Power that Jesus burst open the grave, and rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. It is by the same Almighty Power that a sinner is raised from the death of sin, unto the life of righteousness.
And now his affections ascend towards heaven; for Christ, his Lord and Life, is there. He loves to draw nigh to him, in supplications and prayers. With the eye of faith he beholds the bleeding Lamb; he views the multitude of angels and saints around the throne; he wonders at the mystery of redeeming love; he begins to join in the everlasting song ; and is ready to cry out, "Lord, I am thine, and Thou art mine, for ever!"
The most pious Christian is not always enjoying these heavenly delights. He is sadly distracted