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necessity of any fruits of holiness; and abused the doctrine of the Redeemer's all-sufficiency, to the encouragement either of licentiousness of practice, or of a career marked by no active deeds of benevolence and love. To neither of these capital heresies, does the language of the Apostle afford the least degree of countenance; but, avoiding the opposite extremes of antinomianism, and legal justification, declares that the Lord of mercy beholds with satisfaction those good works, which are the offspring of a lively and vigorous faith implanted by divine grace within the heart. These fruits in the conduct God imperiously requires, as being the only legitimate proof of genuine religion. He smiles upon them with joy. He honors them as the marks of that principle of new life in the soul, by which the believer takes the Lord Jesus Christ as the object of his constant love, and daily imitation.
Little worth, then, my beloved brethren, as we are bound to regard the simple performance of an outward morality, equally bound are we to judge of faith only by its fruits; and to say to every professed believer, in the language of St. James, "Shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works."* This doctrine, accordingly, of the necessity, and the acceptable character, of those deeds by which a Christian proves the sincerity of his profession, is plainly recognised by our Church; when, in one of her Collects, she thus speaks: "Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by thee be plenteously rewarded, through Jesus Christ our Lord." And equally clear is the language of her Twelfth Article; where it is said, "Albeit * James, ii. 18. + Collect for Twenty-fifth Sunday after Trinity.
that good works, which are the fruits of faith, and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God's judgment; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith; insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known, as a tree discerned by the fruit." In compliance with these wholesome views, let us all, my hearers, in dependence upon the grace of God, shew forth before men the reality of a Christian's love for his crucified Master. Let us do good in every possible form; and then ascribe all the merit, and all the glory of our deeds, to that Lord and Saviour through whose Spirit alone they have been produced. Through this course of holy obedience, we may look forward with humble hope for our recompense of reward; and attain for ourselves in due season, if we labor and faint not, a share in that blessed welcome; "Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."*
From the mention of these contributions, by which his brethren had displayed their liberality to him in his necessities, the Apostle immediately passes to an observation full of comfort and encouragement. “But my God,” he exclaims, “shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory, by Christ Jesus :" in other words; Let me say to you, that your course of faith and love shall not be without its blessing; and the Father who is in heaven, out of the fulness of his treasures, shall provide for your every want: sustain you with temporal good things: and minister to you the still richer communications of his gracious Spirit.
It is easy for us, my brethren, to imagine the consolation
* Matt. xxv. 23.
which St. Paul would feel, in thus committing his kind benefactors into the hands of a faithful Creator. He was conscious, that, so far as their reward depended upon himself, they had nothing to expect: and, therefore, with cheerfulness cast them upon that merciful Providence, who watches over his servants for good, and "feeds them with food convenient."* The declaration here made by the Apostle is important, as stating unequivocally the truth, that the Almighty's believing people may look for his aid and presence, through all the periods of their pilgrimage. You observe the confidence with which he makes this observation: he consigns his friends to God, with perfect certainty as to the result: and, in this respect, entirely accords with all the representations of the Volume of life. Let us bring forward some few of the promises of God's word, relating to the temporal comforts of the believer. "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." "Trust in the Lord, and do good: so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed."§ Upon the authority of such assurances as these, all that remains for the children of God is to go on steadily in the path of duty; to look up to the Father, through Christ, as a reconciled Friend and Parent, and to obey, love, and glorify him; and, while they are thus doing, to believe that all necessary things, in the Lord's goodness and mercy, shall be poured into their bosom. Who ever counted, in this manner, upon the supply of his necessities, and found the expectation disappointed? Hear the testimony of dying Jacob: "The God which fed me all my life long unto this day." Listen to the
* Prov. xxx. 8. † Ps. xxiii. I. Matt. vi. 33. § Ps. xxxvii. 3. || Gen. xlviii. 15.
Psalmist's experience: "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread."* But, my brethren, there are wants besides those of the body; and it is cheering to perceive, that, in regard to all his spiritual necessities, the believer is sustained, through the whole series of the pages of life, with the same abundant declarations. Do you tremble at the power of temptation; and wish for strength from on high to preserve you firm against its assaults? The Father of mercies shall here supply your need; for he himself has given you the assurance, "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." Do you thirst for more ardent love to Christ; for more entire victory over the world; for a more complete conformity to the divine word, in your affections, tempers, and daily lives? All these things, precious as they are, the Lord of heaven shall bestow; they are covenanted to you in Christ Jesus; and there is not a principle of the divine life—not a support in sorrow-not a grace of true holiness-which is not promised to you on the infallible testimony of your Lord and your God. "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever."
receive, that your joy may be full."
"Ask, and ye shall
"If ye, being evil,
know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" These, then, are your prospects, as the servants of Christ. Only come to God through faith in his Son, and he takes you as his adopted children: he will continue to
* Ps. xxxvii. 25. I. Cor. x. 13. John, xiv. 16. § John, xvi. 24, || Luke, xi. 13.
you, through life, the blessings of his providence and grace: and you shall find, in the largest sense, the prediction to be true, "They that seek the Lord SHALL NOT WANT ANY GOOD
Having thus travelled over the whole range of topics, upon which he desired to speak to his Philippian friends, the Apostle brings them all to a close by a solemn ascription of praise. "Now," he exclaims, "unto God and our Father," or, as it might, perhaps, with more accuracy be rendered, "unto our God and Father, be glory for ever and ever. Amen." There is, probably, in this expression of honor to the Lord and Governor of the universe, something more intended than, at first sight, we might be disposed to imagine. One of the objects which St. Paul had in view, in the present Epistle to his absent friends, was to convey to them his deep sense of their liberality in the supply of his wants. This instance of their Christian love he had just been commemorating, in very exalted terms: and you will easily perceive, my brethren, that there was some danger in such an expression of commendation, from a person so distinguished in character and office. The minds of those to whom he wrote might, without some caution, have become vain and self-complacent; and, instead of being duly thankful to that divine grace which had inspired them with these good desires, might have forgotten the Creator in wicked idolatry of the creature. With well-timed regard, therefore, for the spiritual safety of his brethren, St. Paul leads them to that divine Author, who had made them to be what they were; and counsels them to give to Him alone, and to his great name, the acknowledgment that was due.
*Ps. xxxiv. 10.