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the severity of its precepts and the dif. few of extraordinary abilities, but they ficulty of their practice; so that, al. were intended by the Divine Preacher though it is as natural for man to de. —and so we must receive them as sire to be happy as it is for him to standing monuments of his wisdom, as breathe, yet he had rather miss happi- standing rules for our direction. We ness and lose heaven itself, than seek must be satisfied, that upon our thinkthem in the way of holiness. For this ing, and speaking, and acting up to reason nothing speaks a language so the spirit, and agreeably to the prewelcome to the inmost desires of his cepts, of that sermon, in sincerity and carnal, unregenerate soul, as those to the best of our power, and upon maxims and opinions which would this alone, at all times, and upon all persuade him that it may be well with occasions, depends our eternal happihim hereafter without the absolute ne- ness; for it is a compendium of all cessity of his living here a chaste and that is wise, and good, and fruitful of virtuous life; which great mystery of consolation. He that hath faith in iniquity being carefully managed by the doctrines, and obedience to the the wily skill of the tempter Satan, rules, of his Saviour's sermon, will be and greedily embraced by a man's own saved : but he who either does not betreacherous affections, lie at the bot- lieve, or does not practice what Christ tom of all false religion, and is a therein revealed, hath no chance of canker at the root of every thing that finding the gates of eternal life. Hence is true and lovely.
we are warranted in drawing this imFind we not this, my brethren, in portant conclusion, that the sermon our daily experience, when we delivered by our Lord upon the Mount how, in the strength of this delusion, is not hard and rigorous, but mild and some hope to be saved by believing reasonable. I mean that what is well, some by meaning well, some by therein declared, however difficult it charitable deeds, some by much prayer, may seem to our corrupted nature, and others by shedding a few tears and unpleasant to our wild passions, which come from the eyes and not is yet practicable by every sincere from the heart? These men are wil. lover of God; because we know full ling to make great professions if you well, from the gentle nature of Christ, call not for practice; they will believe that if his creatures were not able to in any thing we teach them if we de- reduce his doctrines to practice both mand not good works. Ready to by faith and obedience, he loved the sacrifice if we are content to dispense | world too much to have made them a with obedience, they will hear as many necessary duty, and that to all withsayings of Christ as the Gospel con- out exception, and upon the severest tains, provided they are not required penalties. This is not like the conduct to do them. Now, to silence such of our merciful, affectionate Redeemer, shallow pretences, and dash to the Christ, who never laid on any man a ground such hopes as these, the mere burden too heavy for him to bear. fruit of an empty faith, was the grand The bruised reed he never brake, the object of our Saviour's sermon, as smoking flax he never quenched. must be evident to every one who Therefore that Christian, and he only reads that heavenly discourse with a who is so wise as to practice with view to profit by its lessons. Those heart and soul what he hears and sacred words of the Son of God were knows of the duties of Christianity, has not intended as counsels of perfection any good grounds to hope for the reonly to his Apostles and some select wards of it. And it is as vain and
foolish a thing to hope to be saved of his undertaking, otherwise he will without Christian obedience, as it is neither labour with industry vor perfor a man to expect any durable shelter severe unto the end. This, if he will or defence against the injuries of wind read the Gospel with a humble spirit, and weather, from a house which he (and no other spirit can understand it) hath built without any foundation upon he will find he can never accomplish the treacherous sand. A life thus void by his own strength, or through his of vital religion and the fruits of the own merits. What is the power of Spirit, will not bear the pressure of unaided man? Our Church says, man sorrow and affliction. The man who hath no power of himself to help him. flatters himself with such flimsy hopes self: and Christ, the founder of the hath built a structure which will fall church, declares its meaning: “With. when he most wants its shelter, and out me ye can do nothing.” So much bury him in its ruins.
for the strength of man. And, if posSo far, my brethren, our view of the sible, his merit stands lower. We pray text has been general; let us descend God in our liturgy not to weigh our to particulars, carefully following the merits but to pardon our offences, unbeautiful parallel which our Saviour worthy as we feel ourselves to gather draws betwixt the building ofan earthly up the crumbs under his table. And house and the structure of a Christian our Lord and Saviour hath for ever life ; our closest attention will be amply silenced the haughty pretensions of repaid.
each proud self-righteous Pharisee by And, First-The structure of a Chris- that notable doctrine. After all ye can tian life is like the building of a solid do, say–We are unprofitable servants.
house in this respect—they must both Here, then, is most evident the
be laid upon a good foundation. With-cessity of faith as a foundation-stone out securing this point, as you all for Christianity to rest upon. Our know, no builder that is wise has the faith presents to us Jesus Christ as the least expectation of finishing a safe and chief corner stone, the rock of ageslasting dwelling. And without the the foundation that cannot be movedsame security the Christian can have the first and last—the stability of as little reasonable hope of completing hope, and the certainty of salvation. such a structure of holy living and re- Of ourselves we are weak and sinful ligious habits as will support him in creatures, helpless, perplexed, and the day of trial, and survive the wreck ready to despond. He sends his Spirit of time.
in pity and in love, to strengthen, to The foundation on which a Christian sanctify, and to comfort us.
In ourstands is two-fold: it unites a stead selves, too, we have no merit. Refast faith and an honest purpose. A bellion is our character, ingratitude man must both believe well, and mean our soulest stain. He hath merit sufwell, and act well.
Thus to mean,
ficient for us all, atonement in his and thus to act, constitutes the honest blood to wipe away all our guilt. And purpose ; and it is of immense conse- he applies the obedience of his own quence to know that such an honest life, and the righteousness of his own purpose, or, if I may better so call it, death, to justify us, and recommend us conscientious principle, cannot exist to God. without a steadfast faith.
Before a In this view of our restoration, Christian sets seriously about building through Christ, from the ruins of our up a holy life, he must believe that he fall to the favour of heaven, and the has the means of ensuring the success glories of a redeemed state, faith is well described as able to remove mountains | by promising glory with himself and of error, infirmity, and sin. And his heavenly Father, but threatening thus hath been established one and us, and what can be more just? with the first foundation on which a Chris- everlasting banishment from him, if tian builds a steadfast faith.
we despise his authority, and trample The other part, namely, an honest upon his precepts. Thus an honest purpose, will be found equally essential purpose, connected with steadfast to the structure of a Christian life. faith, presents itself to us the cerThe first bishop of Jerusalem hath laid tain road to heaven and eternal hapdown this doctrine, and that great piness. Espoused in the bridal garApostle never wrote more true, “Faith ments of the church, faith, and works, without works is dead, being alone.” walk hand in hand. The heavenly Thanks to the infinite mercy of host applaud the holy union, and what God, Christ hath set us, that believe, God hath joined together let not man free from the bondage and burden of put asunder. Who can say too much sin, so that whatever might have been in favour of the honest purpose, the imputed to us on account of original religious zeal, the conscientious prinsin, the consequence of the fall of our ciple for which I am now contending? first parents, is done away by the It is this honest purpose which calls blood of our crucified Saviour, and the forth the vigour and activity of our healing waters of baptism. St. Paul love to Christ, and our obedience to sets this matter in the clearest light in the laws which he brought from heaseveral of his epistles, each tending to ven, by telling us, that God himself instruct us, that being born in sin and is well pleased to vouchsafe the best the children of wrath, we are made that He can give to the best that we the children of grace, and heirs with
can do. Christ to the heavenly inheritance. Be it, then, impressed upon all our
Yet so strangely prone are we, since minds, that the drift and design of rethe lapse of Adam, to evil, and so ligion is the active part of it. Proaverse to what is good and holy, that fession is only the badge. The soldier nothing is more necessary for our guid- of Jesus, who fights under the banners ance and security than good laws, of the cross, must not be content with bound upon us with the strongest showing the mere badge to the enemies sanctions, to keep us from utterly for- of his salvation-he must come forth feiting a second time the favour of a Christian warrior, arrayed in all the God, and to train us up for that hap- armour of God, with the sword of the piness which the Almighty has de- Spirit in his hand, the helmet of signed for us through the intercession righteousness on his head, bearing the of his Son. Therefore it is, that our shield of faith before him, and having, tender-hearted Saviour, ever watchful for his shoes, the preparation of the for our good, and incessantly mediat- Gospel of peace—he must fight for ing for our salvation, hath given us, victory till he hath subdued the last in his divine discourses, those rules of adversary of his spiritual leader—the life which would make us happy while world, the flesh, and the devil must lie we stay upon earth, if we would sin- prostrate at his feet. It is this which cerely live up to them. And how translates Christianity from a bare nokind, how gracious it is in that eternal tion into a real business, from useless friend, after he hath strictly com- speculations into substantial duties, manded us to respect and obey his and from an idea in the brain into an laws, to give us every motive to do so existence in the life. An upright conversation and a holy behaviour, truth, My Christian hearers, how fully temperance, charity, sobriety, and doth the preacher on the Mount inself-denial, these are the essential struct us, that the knowledge of our fruits of a justifying faith, the insepa- duty is no better than a tree which rable evidence of our becoming an heir produceth flourishing leaves, but year of immortality. For the grand decid- after year hath no fruit upon it; or, ing question at the last day, when in the higher simile of our divine Christ Jesus comes in the glorious Teacher, than a house built upon the majesty of heaven, will be—not what sand. From that Divine Preacher, we have said, not what we have pro- then, we gather the true notion of fessed, but what we have done more Christian edification, which his serthan others for religion and for God. vant Jude finely expresses by "building
The Judge of the universe tells us up ourselves in our most holy faith." the very words he will say to man. It is not, as an old divine says, the kind at that day. When all nations filling our heads with unprofitable shall be gathered before him, the Son of notions of religion, and pleasing our man shall separate them, as a shepherd itching ears with a variety of teachers, divideth his sheep from the goats. and pretending to be mightily moved Then the king shall say to them on his and affected by them, like a sort of right hand, “I was an hungered and people St. Paul mentions, who could ye gave me meat, I was a stranger and not endure sound doctrine, ever learn. ye took me in, naked and ye clothed ing, and never able to come to the me, sick and in prison, and ye visited knowledge of the truth. Sound reme, come ye blessed of my Father ligion, the religion which will save a inherit the kingdom prepared for you man, is in the power of the Spirit, from the foundation of the world.” But and in the faith of Jesus Christ, whose he will say to them on his left hand, example we must keep before us, to “Depart from me ye wicked into ever- grow in grace—to show, out of a good lasting fire, for I was hungry and ye conversation, our works with meekgave me no meat, I was a stranger and ness—to give all diligence to make ye took me not in, I was sick and in our election sure, by adding to our prison and ye never visited me.” They faith virtue, by being just towards will answer, that they remember not man and devout towards God. that they thus slighted the Saviour of These are exhortations of the Holy the world. When saw we thee, and Scripture. How much, therefore, to did not minister to thee.” Then will he be blamed, and how far short of the silence them with a consuming frown. glory of God are those persons, who, “Inasmuch as ye showed not mercy to having lived an uncharitable, or intemone of my hungry, naked, and afflicted perate, or ungodly life, still go the creatures, ye showed no mercy to me.” dangerous length of saying, We expect So true it is, that these empty pro- to be saved, because we firmly believe fessors of religion will make a thou. that, through the merits of Jesus sand excuses at the bar of God, but Christ, our sins are forgiven us. "hey will all avail nothing if charity
This is the Antinomian heresy, an be not there-we speak not of charity opinion which I trust in God will alone. Equally necessary to salvation never find its way into my congrega are all the other graces of religion ; tion. For it is a child of hell. To but the greatest of these is charity : such a one I would say, Who does by charity I mean the love of God and not believe that the sins of a man,
who trusts firmly in Christ, is for
given, provided he both hears the no happiness but that of pleasing him. sayings of his Saviour, and doeth Away, then, with all the empty vows them with a cheerful heart and an and fading promises of amendment honest purpose. Christ is an all-suf- which we so often hear from the lips ficient Saviour, but the Gospel hath of insincere and undecided Christians. conditions ; eternal glory is not the No more let them boast of their fond purchase of a base desire ; heaven is reliance upon the goodness of their not the reward of fruitless prayers and hearts, and the honesty of their intenof presumptuous wishes. Christ Jesus tions. The pretence of a good heart is, indeed, the only rock of our salvation. will never supplant the necessity of a Thanks be to God for that unspeak- good life. And very much may you able gift. So entirely do faith, and question both the goodness of that hope, and mercy, and life, center in man's heart, and the honesty of his him, that an unshaken belief of our intention, who doth not show both by pardon and acceptance with God the chastity of his conversation and through Christ's intercession, and in the purity of his life, that his principal virtue of his all-prevailing sacrifice, is desire is to do the sayings of Christ as the foundation, the only, the entire we'l as hear them. foundation we are to lay. There is, Strange that a rational being, who St. Paul says, no other foundation hath all this constantly sounding in that any man can lay than that which his ears, and applied to his conscience, is laid, which is Jesus Christ; and and he at the same time believing it to the deeper this foundation is laid the be true, can yet all the while be very better, for there is no limit to its little, if any, affected by it. Worse atoning efficacy, no end to its recom- than sandy is the foundation on which pence of glory. It could have saved he builds his house of hope. When the ten thousand worlds, if so many worlds winds, and the rains, and storms of had fallen. It is infinite, inexhaust- temptation, adversity, and affliction, ible, unchangable, everlasting. It is beat against that house, it is certain to the power and the wisdom of God. fall, and dreadful will be the fall of it.
My brethren, the matter is perfectly for such a vain and false professor clear. St. Paul long since laid it hopes to be saved against the very down, and we see every day we live, nature of that salvation which Christ with hearts more thankful, the beauty, brought down from the throne of the solidity, which his doctrine gave grace ; he hopes against every precept, to our religion when he writes—"By promise, and threatening of the Gospel; faith a man is justified,” and “God for- he hopes against our Lord's own words, bid that any man should glory savein the declared and enforced again and again ; cross of Christ.” But this faith must nay, he hopes against the very end be such a principle as the Founder of and design of the Saviour's coming our religion requires in his sermon on into the world, which was to redeem the Mount; it must be a vital obe- us from all iniquity, and purify unto diential, working, sanctifying faith, a himself a peculiar people, zealous of faith which, not fearing to wrestle good works. If such a man, shelterwith principalities and powers of dark-ing himself under the fortifications of ness, when the glory of God and the spiritual pride and its most impious good of mankind are concerned, de- offspring, self-righteousness, should monstrates to the world that the true lastly urge as his refuge, that having believer keeps his Saviour's command been elected, he cannot fall from grace, ments, because he loves him, and has I would answer, the conclusion may be