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saved without it; but then as to its being the cause of our salvation, or of salvation flowing or following from it, as its natural fruit, its due reward, its proper effect and consequence, it is no such thing. On this ground it resembles any other of our good works. It stands upon no other : I mean, it does not supersede at all the agency, the want, the efficacy of a Redeemer.
Observe, that I am speaking only of that repentance which is sincere. Of a planned, concerted, prefixed repentance, I account nothing ; because it is impossible it should ever be sincere. Observe also, that whatever has been said of the imperfection of our good works may be said against the imperfection of our repentance; it seldom attains to what it should be, as any one duty which we perform. But this also lies out of the question. For the present we contend, that even suppose it be proper, it has no necessary tendency to do away punishment; for in fact, it has not this effect, even in this world. If it cannot of itself do away punishment, it is impossible it can deserve heaven : if it cannot do the less, it cannot do the greater. When we refer, therefore, our salvation, which is the attainment of heaven, to some other and higher cause than either our virtue, or innocence, or our penitence, we judge not either superstitiously or enthusiastically upon the subject, but according to the truth of the case, rightly understood.
Something beyond ourselves is the cause of our salvation, is wanting even according to sound principles of natural religion. When we read in Scripture of the free mercy of God enacted towards us by the death and sufferings of Jesus Christ, then we read of a cause beyond ourselves, and that is the very thing which was wanted to us.
RELIGION NOT A MERE FEELING, BUT AN
MATT. VII. 21.
Not every one that sayeth unto me, Lord, Lord,
shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
These words are addressed to mankind at large. They are not, like some of our Lord's discourses, relative to the particular circumstances of those who stood round him at the time. Christ here speaks to all his disciples, in whatever country of the world they may live, or in whatever age of the world they might come to the knowledge of his name. He speaks, in this text, as much to those who are assembled here in his worship, as to the very people who received the words from his mouth. The words themselves are the conclusion of our Saviour's celebrated sermon on the Mount, and they close that divine discourse most aptly and solemnly.
When the fame of our Lord's miracles had drawn great numbers after him from every quarter of the country, from Galilee you read, from Decapolis, from Jerusalem, from Judea, and from beyond Jordan, he deemed that a fit opportunity to acquaint them with those great moral duties which they must discharge, if they meant to be saved by becoming his followers : for which purpose he went up into a mountain, for the conveniency, it is probable, of their hearing and of his own retirement, and also in imitation, perhaps, of Moses, who delivered the blessings and curses of the old law from the summit of a hill. When the people in great multitudes were assembled round him, he pronounced that great lesson of duty, that summing up of weighty precepts, that statement of Christian morals, and of a right Christian disposition, which
read in the 5th, 6th, and 7th chapters of St. Matthew ; and when he had finished the particular precepts he had given them, the several distinct commands which he enjoined upon his followers, he concluded with this reflection, which was applicable to them all, and was indeed the great point he wished to leave upon their minds, and not only upon theirs, but upon the hearts and souls of all who should afterwards profess his religion ; “not every one that sayeth unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven ; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”
It was very natural for those who attended our Lord to feel a glow of zeal and affection, to be transported with admiration, to cry out “Lord, Lord,” from the very fervency and ardour of their love and reverence, when they beheld the astonishing works which he wrought, and heard the words of salvation which flowed from his lips, or saw the sufferings which he underwent, or his meekness and resignation under them. It was natural for them, and the same. thing is natural for us. When we meditate at all upon these subjects—when we turn our thoughts towards the great author and finisher of our faith, the Lord Jesus Christ--when we reflect that he is our way and our life, that what we know concerning the life to come proceeds from him, that our hopes of attaining it are through him, that he is our guide and our instructor, our redeemer and mediator, that he came to lead his followers to heaven, that he laid down his own life to give them eternal life, that he still sits at the right hand of God to interest in our behalf-when we reflect, I say, upon the infinite, unutterable importance of saving our souls, and what he has done, and continues to do towards it-we cannot help crying out, “ Lord, Lord;" we cannot help feeling ourselves overwhelmed, as it were, with the vastness and immensity of the subject, and the deep obligation which we owe to the Saviour of the world. This sentiment is still more apt to come upon the mind when any worldly distress or affliction drives us to take refuge in religion-to fly for succour to God Almighty's protection, and to the dispensation of his righteous will in another world—“ to take hold,” as St. Paul speaks,“ of the anchor of hope,” and the strong consolation which is ministered to us by the Gospel of Christ. It is upon these occasions that we find religion to be our only stay, trust