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thefe kind of licentious doctrines very frequently reflected on, and reproved by the Apoftles in their epiftles, and especially by St. Paul. The falfe Apoftles made the Chriftian religion a matter of mere fpeculation and difpute, but laid no weight upon the virtues of a good life. And therefore St. Paul, after he had charged Titus to inculcate upon Chriftians the neceffity of good works, immediately adds, But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and ftrivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain; intimating that the falfe Apoftles, instead of preffing the neceflity of a good life, did amufe people with these idle notions and difputes.
But to return to my text. This is a faithful faying. This kind of preface the Apoftle ufeth feveral times, but always when he is fpeaking of fomething that is of great weight and concernment to us, and which deferves our ferious attention and regard; as in 1 Tint. i. 15. This is a faithful faying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jefus Chrift came into the world to fave finners, 1 Tim. iv. 8. Godliness is profitable unto all things; having the promife of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful faying. And 2 Tim. ii. 11. 12. This is a faithful faying; if we be dead with him, we shall alfo live with him; if we fuffer, we fhall alfo reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us. And fo likewife here in the text, This is a faithful faying, that they which have believed in God, should be careful to maintain good works. By which you fee, that it is not a form which the Apoftle ufeth of courfe, and applies to any thing, but only to things of more than ordinary confideration and regard, fuch as are of the effence of Chriftianity, and fundamental to the belief and practice of it.
This is a faithful faying, wis's xy, a credible faying, that which every man that truly understands the na ture and defign of religion will readily affent to..
And this Iwill that thou affirm conftantly. He chargeth him to preach this upon all occafions, left the doctrine of juftification by faith and by grace, without any works of righteoufnefs preceding, fhould be turned into licenti oufness, as it had been by fome, and men should falfly conD 3
clude, that becaufe works of righteoufnefs were not neceffary before juftification, and to bring men into that ftate, they were not neceffary neither afterwards to our continuance in that state.
The Apostle indeed did teach that God did juftify the ungodly, by the grace of the gofpel, and faith in Christ, that is, that those who did fincerely believe and embrace the gospel, though they had been never fo great finners before, were juftified upon that faith; that is, all their former fins were forgiven, and they were received into the favour of God. But though works of rightecufness were not neceffary before their juftification, yet they are neceffary afterwards, becaufe the faith of the gofpel, and the embracing of Chriftianity, doth imply a ftipulation and engagement on our part, to live according to the laws and rules of the gospel, which do ftrictly enjoin all kind of virtue and goodness. The covenant of baptifm, by which we are entered into Chriftianity, doth contain on our part not only a profeffion of faith in Chrift, but a folemn promife to deny ungodliness and worldly lufts, and to live foberly, and righteously, and godly in this prefent world. So that it is the greatest mistake in the world to think, that because we are juftified by faith and the profeffion of Christianity, without works of righteoufnefs, therefore we are under no obligation to a good life: for faith in Chrift, and the fincere profeffion of the Chriftian religion, doth imply a good life, and an engagement to the practice of all virtue and goodness; which if we do not perform and make good, we fail in our part of the covenant, and thereby forfeit all the bleffings and benefits promifed therein on God's part.
Therefore it is obfervable, that the Apostle, after he had spoken of our juftification by grace, without works of righteoufnefs, gives this charge to Titus, to prefs the neceffity of good works upon thofe who did believe, and embrace the profeffion of the gofpel, as it were on purpofe to prevent all mistake and abufe of the doctrine of juftification by faith, and the free grace and mercy of God in Jefus Chrift, ver. 5. 6. 7. Not by works of righteoufnefs which we have done; but according to his mercy he faved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the re
newing of the Holy Ghoft, which he fhed on us abundantly through Jefus Christ our Saviour; that is, by our folemn profeffion of Chriftianity at our baptifm; that being juftified by his grace, we should be made heirs, according to the hope of eternal life. And then he adds, ver. 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; that is, that they who are thus juftified by the faith of the gofpel, fhould be fo far from thinking themselves hereby excufed from good works, that they fhould upon this account be more careful to maintain and practise them, because by the very profeffion of the Chriftian faith and religion, they have folemnly engaged themselves fo to do.
That they which believe in God; that is, who have taken upon them the profeffion of Chriftianity in their baptifm. For it is not improbable, that the Apostle, having fpoken of baptifm juft before, may, by this phrafe of believing in God, refer to that profeffion of faith made in baptifm, which began with these words, I believe in God; and then, they which have believed in God, are those who in baptifm have made a folemn profeffion of Chriftianity as if he had faid, these things I will that thou affirm conftantly, that all that profefs themselves Chriftians be careful to maintain good works. Or if by the phrafe of believing in God, we will understand an af fent to all divine revelations, more especially that of the gospel, and the Chriftian religion, the moft perfect that ever God made of his will to mankind, the matter will come much to the fame iffue.
Be careful to maintain good works. This phrase seems, in the latter end of this epiftle, to be ufed in a very reftrained fenfe; for labouring in an honeft calling, ver. 14. Let ours alfo learn to maintain good works for neceffary ufes, that they be not unfruitful. In the margin of your bibles you will find it rendered, to profefs honeft trades. Let ours alfo learn to profefs honeft trades for neceffary uses, that is, for the fupply of their neceffities: but in the text it feems more agreeable to the fcope of the Apostle's discourse, to understand the phrase of maintaining good works, for the practice of all Christian virtues, efpecially those which are more useful and beneficial to
human fociety; among which, diligence and industry. in an honest calling, is none of the leaft confiderable, becaufe it follows, these things are good and profitable unto And indeed these are properly works of goodnefs, which redound to the publick benefit and advantage.
But good works may well be taken in a larger fenfe for all forts of virtuous actions. And fo it is certainly ufed feveral times in this epiftle, chap. i. 16. Unto every good work reprobate, fpeaking of all profligate perfons who were loft to all virtue and goodnefs. Chap ii. 7. In all things fhewing thyself a pattern of good works, that is, an example of all kind of virtue. And chap. iii. 1. Put them in mind to be fubject to principalities and powers, to obey magiftrates, and to be ready to every good work; that is, to the practice of all goodnefs, of whatsoever is honeft and virtuous in itself, amiable and commendable in the fight of others, useful and beneficial to any.
Having thus explained the words, I come now to confider the two points contained in them.
Firft, The certain truth and credibility of this faying or propofition, that they which have believed in God, ought to be careful to maintain good works. This is a faithful faying; that is, a moft evident and credible truth. And,
Secondly, The great fitnefs and neceffity of inculcating this upon all Chriftians, that the Chriftian religion doth indifpenfibly require the virtues of a good life. Thefe things I will that thou affirm conftantly, &c. I begin with the
First of thefe points, viz. The certain truth and evident credibility of this faying or propofition, that they which have believed in God fhould be careful to maintain good works. This is a faithful faying, isos y, a faying worthy of credit, a moft certain and credible truth. And it will appear to be fo, whether we confider the great end and defign of religion in general, or of the Chriflian religion in particular.
I. If we confider the great end and defign of religion in general, which is to make us happy, by poffeffing our minds with the belief of a God, and thofe other
principles which have a neceffary connexion with that belief; and by obliging us to the obedience and practice of his laws.
1. By poffeffing our minds with the belief of a God, and of thofe other principles which have a neceffary connexion with it. Such are the belief of the divine perfections, of the infinite goodness, and wifdom, and power, and truth, and juftice, and purity of the divine nature; a firm perfuafion of his providence, that he governs and administers the affairs of the world, and takes notice of the actions of men, and will call them to an account for them; of the immortality of our fouls, and their endless duration after death, and confequently of the eternal rewards and punishments of another life. These are the great principles of natural religion, which mankind are in fome measure poffelt with, and perfuaded of, without any external revelation from God; and thefe are neceffary and fundamental to religion, as the Apoftle to the Hebrews declares, Heb. xi. 6. Without faith it is impoffible to pleaje God; that is, there can be no fuch thing as the practice of religion, without the belief of the principles of it; and what these are he tells us in the next words; He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently feek him.
But then we must not reft here, in the belief of a God, and the principles of religion; for this faith is not required of us for itself, but in order to fome farther end, which if it be not attained by us, the mere belief of the principles of religion is to no purpofe, neither acceptable to God, nor useful and beneficial to ourselves. God would not have imprinted the notion of himself upon our nature, he would not have difcovered himself to us, nor have required of us the belief of his being and providence, merely that we might know there is fuch a being as God in the world, who made us and governs us; but that this belief might have its proper influence upon us, to oblige us to the obedience of his laws, which are the proper caufes and means of our happiness. It will not avail us at all, nor is it in the least acceptable to God, for men to profefs that they know him, when in works they deny him, being abominable and difobedient,