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SERMON XIII.

Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power.—2 Thes. i. 11.

DOCT. Then is the pleasure of God’s goodness fulfilled in us, when we accomplish the work of faith with power.

1. What is the work of faith?

2. Why it is a sure note that the pleasure of God’s goodness hath its effect in us.

I. What is the work of faith? Two things must be explained—faith, and the work of faith.

First, In what sense faith is here taken. For a belief of the truth of the gospel, or a receiving the testimony which God hath given us in the word concerning salvation by Christ. So it was taken ver. 10, ‘Our testimony among you was believed.’ And presently he prayeth that God would fulfil in them the work of faith with power, the work proper to this faith. And so it is described 1 John v. 9-11, ‘If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; and this is the witness of God, which he hath testified of his Son: he that believeth the Son of God, hath the witness in himself; he that believeth not God, hath made him a liar, because he believed not the record which God gave of his Son: and this is the record, that God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.’ Where—(1.) Faith is made to be a receiving God’s testimony; (2.) That the sum of this testimony is eternal life, to be had by Christ; (3.) That this testimony is transmitted and conveyed to us by some unerring record, to which, if we give not credit, we put the lie upon God, rejecting a truth so solemnly attested; but if we do, we find the fruit of it in our own souls. I shall prove it by arguments.

1. That this truth is apt to produce the work here spoken of, that is, all holy conversation and godliness; for the gospel, or the doctrine of salvation by Christ, is a mystery of godliness: 1 Tim. iii. 16, ‘Great is the mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh,’ &c.; and 1 Tim. vi. 3, ‘If any consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness. ‘The doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ is said to be a doctrine of godliness; that is, apt to breed it in the hearts of men, as delivering the most exact way of serving and pleasing God, upon the highest motives and encouragements. So that men offer violence, and resist the force of it, if they be not made godly by it; as the apostle speaketh of some who, having a form of godliness, deny the power thereof, 2 Tim. iii. 5. By ‘a form of godliness’ I understand a map or model of christian doctrine, as μόρφωσις τῆς γνώσεως ἐν τῶ νόμω, Rom. ii. 20, is a scheme of legal knowledge, or a delineation of the truths which concern legal doctrine: ‘An instructer of the foolish, a teacher of babes, who hast the form of knowledge, and of the truth in the law.’ The meaning is, that, pretending to believe as christians, they do nothing like christians.

2. That where it is soundly believed and received, it will produce 314this effect: 1 Thes. ii. 13, ‘When ye received the word of God, which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.’ Let truths be never so weighty and conducing to such an end, yet they do not attain that end unless they be rightly received by a sure faith; for the manner of receiving is as considerable as the importance of the doctrine itself. As to a fruitful harvest and crop, there needeth not only good seed, but a prepared soil, so that the work may be brought forth into sight and view; it is not enough to look that we receive the word of God, or his testimony concerning his Son, but also how we receive it, as the word of God, or his message sent us from heaven, as if he had spoken to us himself by oracle and audible voice.

3. The power of God goeth along with the preaching of the word and receiving of it, that it may attain those ends to which it is appointed. With the preaching: Col. i. 29, ‘We preach Christ in you, the hope of glory, whereunto I labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.’ In publishing the doctrine of salvation by Christ, the power of God did effectually concur with him. So in receiving the word: 1 Thes. i. 5, ‘Our gospel came to you, not in word only, but in power also, and in the Holy Ghost, and much assurance.’ To gain them to Christ by this doctrine, there was a mighty working of the power of God. Well, then, this is the true notion of faith, which must be fixed here; a sound belief of the truth wrought in them by the power of God, whereby they receive God’s word as God’s word, and as it becomes those that had God’s testimony to secure them in their obedience and confidence. This needeth first to be stated, that we might the better proceed, and because there is an unusual66   Qu. ‘usual’?—ED. mistake of faith among christians, as if it were only a strong and blind confidence, which admits no doubt in the soul concerning their own salvation; a vain conceit, which both hardens the impenitent and discourageth the serious.

[1.] It hardens the impenitent, for this strong confidence of their own good estate may happen to be the greatest unbelief in the world; for in many it is a believing that to be true, the flat contrary of which God hath revealed in his word: 1 Cor. vi. 9, ‘Be not deceived; know ye not that the unrighteous cannot inherit the kingdom of God?’ They flatter themselves with the belief of the contrary, and if they can but bless themselves in their own hearts, and get the victory over their consciences and fears of wrath, and cry Peace, peace, loudly enough, they think all is well, and so embrace an imagination and dream of their own for true faith. This confidence is absolutely inconsistent with the doctrine of salvation by Christ.

[2.] It discourageth the serious, who foolishly vex their own souls, and disquiet themselves in vain, thinking they have no faith, because they have not such a peace as doth exclude all doubts and fears about their eternal estate, whereas faith is a receiving God’s testimony concerning his Son, or such an embracing of the doctrine of salvation by Christ, that we set ourselves about the duties required, that we may be capable of the blessings offered, even reconciliation with God, and the everlasting fruition of him in glory. The mistake of the nature of faith leadeth christians to most of their perplexities. Do you receive the 315word as the word of God, that will put an end to your scruples? then thankfully accept Christ as the offered remedy, and take his prescribed way to come to God; depend on his mercy, and continue in obedience to his precepts, and you will soon find that he is the author of eternal salvation to all that obey him, Heb. v. 9.

Secondly, What is the work of faith?

I answer in the general, all that work and business which belongeth to faith.

More particularly, let me tell you that there are two sorts of acts ascribed to faith, elicit and imperate, internal and external.

1. The internal and elicit acts of faith are assent, consent, and affiance.

[1.] Assent to the truth of the doctrine of salvation by Christ: 1 Tim. i. 15, ‘This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.’ It hath a just title to our firmest belief and choicest respect.

[2.] Consent; either to accept Christ for our Redeemer and Saviour: John i. 12, ‘As many as received him, to them gave he power to be come the sons of God.’ Jesus is made welcome to the broken-hearted sinner, they then open the doors to him, receive him with the dearest embraces of their affection, subjecting themselves to him as their Lord, and waiting for his salvation. Or receiving the word as it is stated into the form of a covenant: Acts ii. 41, ‘They received the word gladly,’ resolving to live by the rule, and earnestly to seek the happiness of that covenant God hath made with the world in Christ.

[3.] Dependence, called a trusting in Christ: Eph. i. 12, 13, ‘That we should be to the praise of the glory of his grace, who first trusted in Christ,’ &c. Leaving the weight of our souls, and all our eternal interests, on this foundation-stone, which God hath laid in Sion, or depending on his promises, and looking for the performance of them.

2. The external and imperate acts.

[1.] A bold and open confession of Christ, and owning his ways, not withstanding the sharpest persecutions. This is the work of faith, as put into the covenant: Rom. x. 9, ‘If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe with thy heart, thou shalt be saved.’ There the duty of a christian is made to consist of two parts; one concerneth the heart, the other the mouth. There is believing with the heart, which is the internal principle; the other for the mouth, and that is open confession or profession, in spite of all persecution and danger; for all christians are saved, either as martyrs or as confessors; and therefore christianity is called a profession: Heb. iii. 1, ‘Consider the apostle and high priest of our profession.’ And because this exposeth to danger, we must venture all to make this profession; and that is the reason why the kingdom of God is compared to a wise merchant man, that sold all for the pearl of price, Mat. xiii. 45, 46. It is the work of faith; therefore it is said, Heb. iii. 6, ‘Whose house we are, if we hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of hope firm to the end,’ παῤῥησίαν καὶ τὸ καυχημα τῆς ἐλπίδος; that is, if we undauntedly continue our christian profession and cheerfulness in all that befalleth us for Christ’s sake, knowing we can be no losers by Christ: Heb. x. 23, ‘Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, 316for he is faithful that hath promised.’ Here faith produceth its work, when we are fortified against the terrors of the world, and the dangers feared do not make us waver in the ways of Christ, or the profession of his name. And this is that work of faith which is accomplished with power, meaning the divine power; as Col. i. 11, ‘Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness.’ It is the grace and power of God that beareth us up under the afflictions we meet with in our christian course. So 2 Tim. i. 8, ‘Be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel, by the power of God;’ and here, ‘The Lord fulfil in you the work of faith with power;’ that is, complete in you all the good fruits of faith and patience; or enable you to bear christianity, whatever you suffer for embracing the truths of the gospel.

[2.] The next is ready obedience to the will of God, forsaking all sin, and walking in all newness of life to his praise and glory; then is our practice conformed to our faith. And faith is said to work by love, Gal. v. 6, that is, to produce holiness and obedience; when the drift and bent of our lives is for God and heaven, to please, glorify, and enjoy him. What we are to believe and do is the sum of religion, and the one i inferred out of the other. Doing ariseth out of believing, as the branch doth out of the root: 2 Peter i. 5, ‘Add to faith virtue.’ And therefore our obedience is called ‘the obedience of faith,’ Rom. xvi. 26, be cause it is animated and inspired by it.

Well, then, that which the apostle intendeth here is not the interior and elicit acts of faith, but the exterior and imperate; for the drift of his prayer is, that God would enable them to ride out the storm of those troubles which came upon them for the gospel’s sake. And a christian, in judging his condition, will better discern it in the external acts than the internal; for—

(1.) The upright cannot always discern the interior acts, or the strength of them, but the exterior are more sensibly and visibly brought forth in the view of conscience. God seeth what is in our hearts, but we see it not till the effects manifest it. The sap is not seen when the apples and fruits do visibly appear. Look, as we judge of the soundness of men’s repentance by the fruits thereof, otherwise men may be deceived, and think there is a change of mind when there is not. When John suspected the pharisees, Mat. iii. 8, he saith, ‘Bring forth fruit meet for repentance.’ Yea, to men of better temper than they, the apostle exhorted them to repent, and turn to God, and to do ‘Works meet for repentance,’ Acts xxvi. 20. So we judge of men’s fear of God not by the internal elicit act of reverence, but by departing from evil, Prov. viii. 13. Of their love by their obedience: John xiv. 21, ‘He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me;’ and 1 John v. 3, ‘This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.’ So of their faith, by their holy and heavenly walking. There is no faith in them that live an unsanctified life; but where men set their faces heavenward, make it their business to please God, here is true faith; they have received God’s testimony, and therefore upon the encouragement of his promises continue with patience in well-doing.

(2.) Hypocrites will pretend a strong faith, be ready to challenge them of injustice and injury that shall question their belief of the 317doctrine of salvation by Christ; but they deny in their practice what they assert in their words: Ps. xiv. 12, ‘The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.’ Atheism is a heavy charge, but how is it made good? Partly by their sins of commission: ‘They be corrupt and abominable.’ Partly by sins of omission: ‘There is none that understands and seeketh after God.’ It is not facing it out with big and stout words, that they are no atheists, and saying they do certainly believe there is a God; what could they do more in a way of sin, or less in a way of duty, if there were no God? So Ps. xxxvi. 4, ‘The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, There is no fear of God before his eyes.’ The current of a man’s life and actions doth best expound and interpret his heart. Every considerate man may collect from their actions they have no true sense of the being of God; for they are not watchful over their own ways, and their actions are so absolutely contrary to God’s laws, threats, and promises, yea, to all that is known of God, that certainly they do not believe there is a God, or are not in earnest when they think and speak so. It may be their mouths are not let loose to that boldness openly to deny or question God’s being; but their dealings are so false and detestable, that a man may certainly conclude they never expect to be accountable to God for what they do. So for the belief of christianity, many seem to believe as christians, but live as infidels; nominally they are christians, but really deny the faith: John viii. 31, ‘Then said Jesus to those Jews that believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.’ There are disciples in name and disciples indeed. Some take up the current opinions of the country where they live upon human credulity, but they have no force and efficacy upon them to change their hearts or lives. They talk as honourably of Christ as others do; but Christ will not take compliments for service, nor words for practice: Mat. vii. 21, ‘Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father.’ Or as it is, Luke vi. 46, ‘Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?’ Now how shall we confute men’s confident presumptions and boastings but by their lives? Fornication, drunkenness, gluttony, oppression, covetousness, are not the works of faith, but of that fleshly mind that possesseth men in their apostasy from God; and therefore the surest note will be holy conversation and godliness.

II. Then may we conclude that the pleasure of God’s goodness is fulfilled in us—

1. Because true grace is of an operative and vigorous nature, and if it lie idle in the soul, it is but an image and shadow of grace, some thing that looketh like it, but is not it. As, for instance, faith is but a dead opinion unless it break out into practice: James ii. 14, ‘What doth it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, and hath not works? Can faith save him?’ Talk as much of faith as you will, yet no man will believe that you are in earnest, and indeed look for salvation by Christ, when you plainly take the way that leadeth to hell. Faith is but a cold approbation of the ways of God, or some ineffectual liking of that course, which is overborne by a contrary bias, or love to earthly things: Rom. ii. 18, ‘Thou 318approvest the things that are excellent.’ True love will constrain us to live to God: 2 Cor. v. 14, 15, ‘The love of Christ constraineth us,’ &c. Hope will be seen, not by some naked cold thoughts of heaven, but by an earnest pursuit: Acts xxvi. 7, ‘To which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God, hope to come.’ It quickeneth to the use of all the means by which we may obtain it. Of all graces it is said, 2 Peter i. 8, ‘If these things be in you and abound, they make you that you shall not be barren and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ;’ that is, you will behave yourselves so as becometh good christians. Where graces are lively, they can never be without works, or such fruits as will tend to God’s honour; it will not let him be quiet, or have any peace in himself, till he do some thing considerable for God, as a thing that is ever seeking to break out.

2. Because the Spirit of God dwelleth and resideth in the heart, to keep these graces in continual work: John iv. 14, ‘A well springing up into everlasting life;’ and John vii. 38, ποταμοὶ ἐκ τῆς κοιλίας. It is springing up, it is flowing forth. A man is not to keep grace to himself, but to exercise it for the glory of God and the good of others. Therefore is the presence of the Holy Ghost necessary, that the grace which he hath wrought may not lie dead in sleepy habits, but be continually acted and drawn forth, in such lively operations as may demonstrate the cause whence they do proceed.

3. When the work of faith is accomplished, internal and external acts concur. There is a principle within, and there is the effect with out. Within there is faith, which is the most noble principle to produce a holy life, without which bodily exercise profiteth little, 1 Tim. iv. 8. Faith partly doth it, as an assent to those sublime and weighty truths concerning redemption by Christ which breed love; and so faith worketh, Gal. v. 6; and also the doctrine of everlasting life and death, which have great efficacy and moving power to sway us to obedience. Again, faith doth it as a hearty consent both of subjection and dependence. We consent to obey Christ, and trust him for our assistance, acceptance, and reward; all this is within, and without there is the effect of serious holiness and doing good, whatever we suffer for it, without which all our pretence of subjection to Christ, and dependence upon him, is but talk and empty prattle. Now, when both internal and external acts concur we have these advantages:—

[1.] We have a surer rule to judge by. We judge others by external works alone, for the tree is known by its fruits, Mat. vii. 16. Charity forbids us to pry any further; but we judge ourselves according to internal and external works together. If within there be a love of God, faith in Christ, hatred of evil, a delight in holiness, a deep sense of the world to come, and all this evidenced by a holy conversation, we need no further proof. If a man would make a judgment of his own estate, he must consider the temper of his heart and course of his life both together.

[2.] Our religion is more noble and better tempered; for though the internal acts in themselves are nobler and greater than the acts of the outward man; that is, considering them abstractly and apart; it is more to love God than to do an outward act of charity or piety, 319because the soul is more noble than the body; yet outward duties are most frequently greater than internal acts only; partly because in out ward duties it is supposed that both parts concur, both soul and body, and the operations of both are more than of one alone; partly because the nobler ends are obtained by both, more than by one only, for God is more honoured, and man benefited by them: John xv. 8, ‘Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit;’ and Phil. i. 11, ‘Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are to the praise and glory of God.’ Christ is not glorified by faith, but by the work of faith, as ver. 12 of this chapter. When it breaketh out in good fruits, then is Christ honoured. The reflection of the heat from the earth in ripe and pleasant fruits is more than the bare reflection of the heat alone from a dead wall. Take this rightly.

(1.) All outward duties are nothing unless they begin at the heart; they are but as the washing of the outside of the platter; therefore unless faith and love animate them, they are not valued by God: 1 Cor. xiii. 1-3, ‘Though I give my body to be burnt, remove mountains, give all my goods to the poor, speak with the tongue of men and angels, understand all mysteries,’ οὐδὲν εἰμὶ, I am never the better for it; for external acts, however materially good, are not valuable; unless they come from a rectified will, faith in Christ, and love to God, they are of no respect.

(2.) Where there is a right constitution of soul, if the external act be restrained by a natural and not a sensible impediment, there the internals are accepted. The lover’s mite cast into the treasury is more than ten times so much outward obedience from another man: 2 Cor. viii. 12, ‘If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, not according to that he hath not.’ If a man is resolved to obey God in all things, if he do according to his ability, he shall be accepted, though in some cases he is impeded and hindered; but now when both parts concur, the religion is well tempered; he believeth, and doth what his belief binds him unto.

(3.) The next and last advantage is this: those outward acts which flow from an internal principle move the heart again, and do increase the habit, and thereby a man is more confirmed in his gracious estate. As the right arm is bigger than the left, and is more ready for action, because by constant exercise it is fuller of spirits; so faith and all other graces are increased by much action; partly of their own nature, and partly by divine reward. Do, and have more: ‘To him that hath shall be given,’ Luke viii. 18. There is a circular motion between the heart and the hand; the more men actually sin, the more prone they are to sin; as a brand that hath been once in the fire is more apt to take fire again, so grace exercised is rewarded with grace. The acts increase the faith and love which did first produce them, and we are still provoked to do more for God, and go on in the way which we have begun. Diligence is the means, and God’s blessing is the cause of all increase; not only contrary acts, but a remission of acts doth weaken habits. God, that punisheth sin with sin, doth also reward grace with grace. Well, then, these three advantages we have by this concurrence—the note is more sure, the religion is the better tempered, and the grace is increased.

4. When the work of faith is accomplished, both objective and 320subjective grace hath its proper end and use, for they both tend to put us upon work. Objective grace is the doctrine of the gospel. Subjective is the powerful impression of the soul.

[1.] For objective grace. All truths are revealed in order to a holy life, not barely to make us wiser, but better. The scriptures were not written to try the strength of men’s wits, who can most accurately distinguish and conceive of these things; nor the strength of their memories, who can most firmly retain them; or the plausibleness of their discourse, who can most eloquently speak of them; but the readiness of their obedience, who will most readily set themselves to the practice of them: Mat. vii. 24, ‘Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, I will liken him to a wise man, that built his house upon a rock;’ that is, he that believeth and practiseth my commands, he buildeth his confidence well: Ps. cxix. 48, ‘My hands will I lift up to thy commandments, which I have loved;’ that is, I will make it my endeavour to practise them. Whatever love we pretend, if our hands be remiss and faint, it is not accepted with God. Getting knowledge, it is but like having tools, and tools are in order to work, otherwise they lie by and rust. Speculation is useless and idle if it tend only to curiosity, and not to practice.

[2.] Subjective grace. All that internal grace that is given to us by Christ was given to this end; life, not that we might have it, but use it for God. The new creature was not made as a statue to gaze upon, but that he may walk, and perform all the functions and offices which belong to the new creature: Eph. ii. 10, ‘We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which he hath before ordained that we should walk in them.’ We are new made to this end and purpose. Christ died to restore us to this captivity77   Qu. ‘capacity’?—ED. and ability, and hath given us his Spirit to this end. Now graces are imperfect till their end be obtained, whilst they remain as idle and useless habits; but they are perfected when they have their use. So by works faith is said to be perfected, James ii. 23, that is, hath obtained its end. So 1 John ii. 5, ‘Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected;’ that is, hath produced its consummate act, to which it tendeth; then the force of it is discovered, whereas before it suffered a kind of imperfection. The plant is perfect when it ariseth into stalk and flower, and begins to seed.

5. Practice giveth us experience of the comfort of that religion which we embrace by faith, so that the man is confirmed greatly in believing those supernatural revelations, which before he received without that help: 1 John v. 10, ‘He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.’ But when hath he the witness within himself? When he hath a testimony in his own bosom, when he cometh to practise what he believeth. It is a ravishing thing to understand heavenly doctrine, and see the apt proportion and connection between ends and means: Prov. xxiv. 13, 14, ‘My son, eat thou honey, because it is good, and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste: so shall the knowledge of wisdom be to thy soul, when thou hast found it; then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.’ The delights of the mind do far exceed those of the body; there is a ravishing sweetness in the study and contemplation of truth, such as the epicure findeth 321not in the most exquisite entertainments of sense; especially when this contemplation is employed about divine truths, such as reconciliation with God and eternal life. But the pleasure of contemplation is nothing to the pleasure of practice, for then we find these things verified and confirmed in ourselves. Contemplation giveth us only a sight, but experience a taste, and so we are more deeply and intimately affected with them: 1 Peter ii. 3, ‘If so be we have tasted that the Lord is gracious,’ Besides, the delight of contemplation is more vanishing, but the taste of these things is kept up on our hearts by a serious and constant obedience; it abideth with us, and the pleasure is more durable; it is but a flash of joy that is stirred up by contemplation, but the delight of practice and fruitful obedience is constant, solid, and permanent. Every holy action is rewarded by peace of conscience, and our right to heaven is more confirmed.

6. A christian will be judged at the last day, not by what he hath believed, but by what he hath done; not by what he hath approved, but by what he hath practised. Many profess faith and love, but if it be not verified in our practice, they are not accepted with God: 1 Peter i. 17, ‘If ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear;’ Rev. xx. 12, ‘The dead were judged according to their works.’ God will judge men according to their works, and what they have done in the flesh, whether it be good or evil: John v. 29, ‘They that have done good shall rise to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.’ So that according to the doctrine of Christ, we must be judged, not by faith, but by the work of faith; and shall be either justified or condemned at the last day, according as our faith hath been barren, or else operative and fruitful in good works; even though we be judged according to the law of grace, this must be the process.

Use 1. Information. That we should not judge of our spiritual condition by an airy religion, that consists in contemplation only, nor rest in an idle faith: James ii. 20, ‘Show me thy faith by thy works;’ for faith without works is dead. The practical christian is most sure to be guided right in point of opinion: John vii. 17, ‘If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God.’ To have more solid comfort: John xv. 11, ‘These things have I spoken, that my joy may remain in you.’ And certain acceptance with God at the last day: Mat. xxv. 21, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant,’ &c. It is not the sharp wit, the firm memory, the nimble tongue, but the fruitful life, the obedient practice, which then will be respected. If our work do not correspond with our faith and profession, it is a practical lie and cheat, which God will soon find out and discover.

Use 2. For caution. See that your work be the work of faith. Moralities are not kindly, unless they proceed from love to God and faith in Christ: ‘For without faith it is impossible to please God/ Heb. xi. 6; and till we be married to Christ we cannot bring forth fruit to God, Rom. vii. 4. All that justice, temperance, charity, is but a mock grace and bastard holiness, as the children born before marriage are illegitimate. Good works are but wild fruit, unkindly, till they have this principle; there is no living to God that can be carried on to 322any purpose till we are persuaded of his love in Christ, who hath purchased pardon and life for us. Yea, we are utterly unable to live to God without the grace of the Redeemer: Gal. ii. 20, ‘The life I now live is by the faith of the Son of God.’ The knowledge of him and the mysteries of his grace is our great motive, and his Spirit is our proper principle and cause of holy living.

Use 3. To press us to accomplish the work of faith.

1. This may be well afforded, if we consider what Christ is, and what he hath done for sinners, and what he will do; our obligations past, our privileges present, and our hopes to come. When we consider what Christ hath done for us, and is, and will be to us, have we the heart to refuse any of his commands? Out of what rock were we hewn, that we can stand out against all these charms of grace? Unnatural, unthankful creature, that canst deny a loving Saviour, who requireth nothing of thee but what is for thy good!

2. The divine power is engaged for thy defence: Eph. in. 16, ‘That he would grant you according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might;’ and Eph. vi. 10, ‘Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might;’ 2 Peter i. 5, ‘Give all diligence to add to your faith virtue.’ You will meet with difficulties in carrying on the work of faith; but be not discouraged, God is on your side, and Christ will bear all your expenses to heaven. He that was perfected by sufferings will not suffer you to be destroyed by them. You conquer not in your own strength, but by the power of his Spirit. Say then, 2 Tim. i. 12, ‘I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him unto that day.’

3. Other faith will be a snare and temptation to you, besides that which produceth its proper work, which is an invincible resolution to deny the importunities of the flesh, and to despise all terrors of sense; yea, to forsake all things rather than be unfaithful to Christ. Other faith, that consists in loose and slight apprehensions of grace, destroys thou sands. Consider how many abuse the mercy of God and the merits of Christ, and turn grace into looseness or laziness.


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