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SER M. fervice and obedience, as they are to him for the reward of it, which they challenge as of right and juftice belonging to them. Nay, fo high have they carried this doctrine, as to pretend not only to merit eternal life for themselves, but to do a great deal more in works of fupererogation, for the benefit and advantage of others; that is, when they have done as much as in ftrict duty they are obliged to, and thereby paid down a valuable confideration for heaven, and as much as in equal juftice between GOD and man it is worth, their furplusage of their good works they put as a debt upon GOD, and as fo many bills of credit laid up in the treasury of the church, which the pope by his pardons and indulgencies may dispense and place to whofe account he pleaseth. And thus by one device or other they have enervated the christian religion to that degree, that it has quite loft it's virtue and efficacy upon the hearts and lives of men; and instead of the fruits of real goodness and righteousness, it produceth little elfe but fuperstition and folly; or if it bring forth any fruits of charity, it is either fo mif-placed upon these chimeras (as hiring of priests to fay fo many maffes for the dead, to redeem their fouls out of purgatory) that it fignifies nothing; or else the virtue of it is spoiled by the arrogant pretence of meriting by it. So apt have men always been to deceive themselves by an affected mistake of any thing for religion, but that which really and in truth is fo. And this is that which the apostle St. Paul foretold would be the great mifcarriage of the last times, that under a great pretence of religion men fhould be deftitute of all goodness, and abandoned to all wickedness and vice, "having a form of godliness, but denying the pow"er of it," 2 Tim. iii. 5.
And though things have been much better fince SERM. that happy reformation from the corruptions and errors of popery, yet even among proteftants the malice and craft of the devil hath prevailed fo far, as to undermine, in a great measure, the neceffity of a good life, by thofe luscious doctrines of the Antinomians, concerning free grace, and the juftification of a finner merely upon a confident perfuafion of his being in a state of grace and favour with GOD, and confequently that the gospel dischargeth men from obedience to the laws of GoD, and all manner of obligation to the virtues of a good life; which doctrines, how falfe and abfurd foever in themselves, and pernicious in their confequences, did not only prevail very much in Germany, a little after the beginning of the reformation, but have fince got too much footing in other places, and been too far entertained and cherished by fome good men, who were not fufficiently/ aware of the error and danger of them. But bleffed be GOD, the doctrine of our church, both in the articles and homilies of it, hath been preferved pure and free from all error and corruption in this matter on either hand, afferting the neceffity of good works, and yet renouncing the merit of them in that arrogant fense, inwhich the church of Rome does teach and affert it; and fo teaching juftification by faith, and the free grace of GoD in JESUS CHRIST, as to maintain the indispensable neceffity of the virtues of a good life.
And thus I have done with the first reason, why it is fo fit and neceffary to prefs frequently upon 'Chriftians the indifpenfable neceffity of the virtues of a good life, viz. because men are and have ever been so very apt to deceive themselves in this matter, and fo hardly brought to that wherein religion mainly confifts, viz. the practice of real goodness. I fhall be brief upon the
II. Reason, namely, because of the indispensable neceffity of the thing to render us capable of the di vine favour and acceptance, and of the reward of eter nal life. And this added to the former, makes the reason full and strong. For if men be fo apt to decieve themselves in this matter, and to be deceived in it be a matter of fuch dangerous confequence, then it is highly neceffary to inculcate this frequently upon Christians, that no man may be mistaken in a matter of fo much danger, and upon which his eternal happiness depends. Now if obedience to the laws of God, and the practice of virtue and good works be necessary to our continuance in a state of grace and favour with GOD, and to our final juftification by our absolution at the great day, if nothing but holiness obedience can qualify us for the bleffed fight of GOD, and the glorious reward of eternal happinefs; then it is matter of infinite confequence to us, not to be mistaken in a matter of fo great importance, but that we "work out our falvation with fear and " and trembling," and "give all diligence to make "our calling and election fure," by "adding to "our faith and knowledge, the virtues of a good life:" that "by patient continuance in well-do
ing, we feek for glory, and honour, and immor"tality, and eternal life;" and that we fo demean our felves" in all holy converfation and godlinefs," as that we may with comfort and confidence "wait for "the bleffed hope, and the glorious appearance of "the great GOD, and our SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST; "who gave himself for us, that he might redeem
us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a pecu"liar people zealous of good works." That this is indifpenfably neceffary to our happiness, I have in my former difcourfe fhewn at large, from the great end
and defign of religion in general, and of the chrifti- SER M.
I know it hath been the great defign of the devil and his inftruments, in all ages, to undermine religion, by making an unhappy feparation and divorce between godlinefs and morality, between faith and the virtues of a good life; and by this means not only to weaken and abate, but even wholly to destroy the force and efficacy of the chriftian religion, and to leave men as much under the power of the devil and their lufts, as if there were no fuch thing as chriftianity in the world. But let us not deceive our felves; this was always religion, and the condition of our acceptance with God, to endeavour to be like GOD in purity and holiness, in justice and righteousness, in mercy and goodnefs, "to cease to do evil, and
to learn to do well." And this you will find to be the conftant doctrine of the holy fcriptures, from the beginning of the bible to the end. Gen. iv. 7. "If thou "doeft well, fhalt thou not be accepted ?" Pfal. xv. I, 2. "LORD, who fhall abide in thy tabernacle? "who fhall dwell upon thy holy hill? He that walk"eth uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and
fpeaketh the truth from his heart." Pfal. 1. 23. "To him that ordereth his converfation aright, will "I fhew the falvation of GOD." Ifa. i. 16, 17, 18. "Wash ye, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes, cease to do "evil, learn to do well, feek judgment, relieve the oppreffed, judge the fatherless, plead for the wi"dow. Come now, and let us reafon together, faith "the LORD. Though your fins be as fcarlet, they "mhall be as white as fnow." Ifa. iii. 10, 11. "Say "ye
SERM." ye to the righteous, that it fhall be well with him? CCVIII. "for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. Wo unto
"the wicked, it shall be ill with him: for the reward "of his hands shall be given him." Mich. vi. 8. "He "hath fhewed thee, O man, what is good; and what "doth the LORD require of thee, but to do juftly, to "love mercy, and to walk humly with thy God?"
And our bleffed SAVIOUR, in his fermon upon the mount, tells us plainly what manner of persons we must be, if ever we hope to be happy, and to enter into the kingdom of GOD; and wherein his religion confists, in righteousness, and purity, and meekness, and patience, and peaceableness; and declares most exprefly, that if we hope for happiness upon any other terms than the practice of these virtues, we "build 66 upon the fand." Acts x. 34. "Of a truth I per"ceive," fays St. Peter there, "that God is no re
fpecter of perfons; but in every nation, he that fear"eth GoD, and worketh righteoufnefs, is accepted "with him." Gal. vi. 7, 8. "Be not deceived, GOD "is not mocked: for whatsoever a man foweth, that "shall he also reap: for he that foweth to the flesh, " shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that fow"eth to the Spirit, fhall of the Spirit reap life ever<c lafting." Eph. v. 6. "Let no man deceive you "with vain words: for because of these things com"eth the wrath of GOD upon the children of disobe"dience.” 1 John iii. 7. "Little children let no man
deceive you. He that doth righteousness is righteous, "even as he is righteous." And here in the text, "This is a faithful faying, &c. These things are "good and profitable to men," acceptable to God, and honourable to religion, and the only way and means to eternal life, through the mercy and merits of JESUS CHRIST our bleffed LORD and SAVIOUR. SER