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Of the necessity of good works.
TIŤ. iii. 8.
thou affirm constantly, that they which have be-
I Come now to the fecond thing I proposed, which S E R M.
was to answer an objection or two, to which the. Chi preaching in this kind of doctrine inay seem liable. The third First, that this is to advance and set up morality. sermon on
this text. Secondly, that this seems to contradict St. Paul's doctrine of “ justification by the free Grace of God “ in Jesus CHRIST," and " by faith without the
works of the law.” I shall endeavour to answer both these.
. First, that this is to advance and set up morality. To which I answer two things..
I. That if by morality men mean counterfeit virtue, and the fpecious thew of justice, and charity, and meekness, or any other virtue, without the truth and reality of them, without an inward principle of love to God and goodness, out of oftentation and vain-glory, or for some other by and sinister end, such as probably were the virtues of many heathens, and it is to be feared of too many Christians; if this be that which the objectors mean by morality, then we do assure them that we preach up no such morality, but those VOL. XI. B
SER M. virtues only which are sincere and substantial and ССІХ.
y real, the principle and root whereof is the love of God and goodness, and the end the honour and glory of God, and a necessary ingredient whereof is sincerity and truth. It is righteousness and true holiness, the sincere love of God and our neighbour, real meekness, and patience, and humility, and sobriety, and chastity, and not the glittering shew and appearance, the vain and effected oftentation of any of these virtues, which we perfuade and press men fo earnestly to endeavour after. .
Not that I believe that all virtues of the heathen were counterfeit and destitute of an inward principle of goodness; God forbid that we should pass fo hard a judgment upon those excellent men, Socrates, and Epictetus, and Antoninus, and several others, who fincerely endeavoured to live up to the light and law of nature, and took so much pains to cultivate and raise their minds, to govern and subdue the irregularity of their sensual appetites and brutish passions, to purify and refine their manners, and to excel in all virtue and goodness. These were glorious lights in those dark times, and fo much the better for being good under so many disadvantages, as the ignorance and prejudice of their education, the multitude of evil examples continually in their view, and the powerful temptation of the contrary customs and fashions of the generality of mankind.
Nor were they wholly destitute of an inward principle of goodness: for though they had not that powerful grace and assistance of God's holy Spirit which is promised and afforded to all sincere Christians (as neither had the Jews, who were the peculiar people of God, and n covenant with him) yet it is very credible, chat such perforis were under a special care and
providence of God, and not wholly destitute of di- SERM.
ССІХ. yine affiftance, no more than Job and his friends, mentioned in the old teftament, and Cornelius in the new, who surely were very good men, and accepted of GOD, though they were Genciles, and so aliens “ from the common-wealth of Israel, and strangers < from the covenant of promise;" but yet not excluded from the blessing of the Messias, though they were ignorant of him, as many of the Jews likewise were, nor from the benefit of that great propitiation, which in the fulness of time he was to make for the fins of the whole world. .
So that there is no need so uncharitably to conclude (as fome of the antients have done, not all, nor the most antient of them'neither) that there were no good men among the heathen, and that the brightest of their virtues were counterfeit, and only in shew and appearance. For there might be several good men among the Gentiles, in the same condition that Cornelius was before he became a Christian ; of whom it is said, whilft he was yet a Gentile, that “ he was a " devout man, and feared God, and that his prayer " and his alms were accepted of God," a certain sign that they were not counterfeit. And if he had died in that condition, before CHRIST had been revealed to him, I do not see what reasonable cause of doubt there can be concerning his Salvation; and yet it is a most certain and inviolable truth, that " there is no “ other name under heaven given among men, where« by we must be saved, but the name of JESUS; “ neither is there salvation in any other.” And good men in all ages and nations from the beginning of the world, both before the law, and under the law, and . without the law, such as “ feared God, and wrought 6 righteousness,” were accepted of him in that name,
SER M.and by the meritorious sacrifice of that Lambof God,
which in respect of the virtue and efficacy of it, is said to have been “ Nain from the foundation of the “ world.”:,
II. But if by moral virtues be meant those which concern the manners of men, from whence they seem to have taken their name, and which are in truth the duties commanded and enjoined by the natural or moral law, and are comprehended under those two great commands (as our blessed Saviour calls them) “ the love of God, and our neighbour ;" I say, if this be the meaning of it, than we do advance this kind of inorality, as that which is the primary and substantial part of all religion, and most strictly enjoined by the christian. To which purpose our Saviour tells us, Matt. v.17. That “ he was not come "s to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfil " them.” And ver. 19.“ Whosoever therefore " shall break one of the least of these commandments, 6 and teach men so, shall be called the least in the • kingdom of heaven ; but whosoever shall do and “ teach them, shall be called great in the kingdom " of heaven ;” that is, under the dispersation of the gospel. So that this is a principal part of the christian religion, to teach and practise the duties of the moral law. This the Pharisees were defective in, placing their religion in external and little things, but neglecting the great duties of morality, “ the weightier " matters of the law, mercy, and judgment, and “ fidelity, and the love of God.” And therefore he adds, ver. 20. " I say unto you, except your co righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes " and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the king“ dom of heaven.” Is it not possible in more express and emphatical words to enjoin the observation
of the duties of the moral law.. And then for that great SERM.
CCIX. . principle and rule of moral justice, “to do to all men, “ as we would have them to do to us." Our SAVIOUR enjoins it as an essential part of religion, and the sum and substance of our whole duty to our neighbour, and of all the particular precepts contained in the law and the prophets, Matt. vii. 12'. “ Therefore all " things whatsoever ye would that men should do to “ you, do ye even fo to theni : for this is the law " and the prophets,” And St. Paul most exprelly declares, that he was so far from weakning or making void the obligation of the law by his doctrine of justification by faith, that he did thereby confirm and establish it, Rom. iii. 31. “ Do we then make void " the law through faith? God forbid ; yea we esta" blish the law.".. · So that moral duties and virtues are the same with christian graces, and with that holiness and righteousness which the gofpel requires, and differ only in name and notion. They are called virtues, with relation to the intrinsical nature and goodness of them, and graces, with respect to the principle from which they flow, being the fruits and effects of the gracious operation of the Spirit of God upon our minds, And it hath been a very ill service to religion to decry morality, as some have done, not considering that moral duties are of primary obligation, and bound upon us by the law of nature ; and that christianity hath reinforced and seconded the obligation of them by more powerful motives and encouragements. But I proceed to the
Second objection, viz. that this discourse seems to be contrary to St. Paul's doctrine “ of justification “ by the free grace of God in Jesus CHRIST, by so faith thout the works of the law."