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Serm. But Faith, taken in its most extensive III. View of being the whole complex Duty and Homage of a Christian, contains them all, and is the Cause of our being justified, in the Way of a Qualification : This capacitates, whilst the other invests, not indeed absolutely or irrevocably, but conditionally ; and however firmly the gracious Compact is at first executed and then confirmed, yet it subsists in full Force and Vigour no longer, than we are diligent to maintain a sound, lively, and practical Faith.
HERE, and no where else, are we to look for the indispensable Condition, fitly disposing us for Pardon and Acceptance with God, not peremptorily ensuring these Blessings to us, as our own proper Right. When we have fully come up to the Terms of our Covenant, as we well may by the Divine Assistance, our Justification is notwithstanding a Gift, and not a Debt :---We cannot, after all we have done, strictly demand it :---We are justified freely by God's Grace (r). Because we are Sinners ftill, at the same Time that we are penitent Believers, and can by no Means claim the
(r) Rom. iii. 24.
Serm. Favour of the Almighty for the Sake of III. our own imperfect Righteousness; but must
afcribe it altogether to the Redemption of Jesus Christ.
What moved the infinite Being to contrive this amazing Work of Man's Justification, was certainly nothing else than his overflowing Mercy and Compassion. It was the boundless Love of the Father to Mankind, which induced him to send his only begotten Son; and the Love of the Son, which prevailed on him to come into the World for so glorious an End and Pur. pose; which was most compleatly answered by his Obedience and his Sufferings.
By that our Redeemer has sufficiently purchased for us a Discharge from the Guilt of Sin, and a Deliverance from the Condemnation of it: Our most vigorous Performances are found to be shamefully defective, when examined by the Law of Works; and our inherent Righteousness would never justify us, were we to be judged according to that Law : But Christ Jesus having in his own Person, as our Representative, fulfilled it, we are supported against its condemning Power by the Efficacy of his consummate Obedience.
SERM. And by his Sufferings a compleat Arone- III. ment being made for our Offences, we receive the Pardon of them, ---are accepted of God, and admitted to all the Privileges of the New Testament in his Blood; upon our complying with the Condition stipulated in it, and on which he fatisfied for us.
Now this Condition is Faith only, if we take it in its most enlarged Sense, as it implies under the full Notion of it Evan. gelịcal Righteousness or Christian Obedience : Whereas, if we consider it, as no other than a bare Aflent of Mind to the Truths of the Gospel, it is not the fole Condition of Justification, a virtuous Regularity of Life being also thereunto of Neceflity, required, whenever Time and Capacity are vouchsafed for performing it.
*. And this, I conceive, will plainly appear from observing, what those Works are, which are contrary to a justifying Faith, as well as what are included in, and are perfective of
· Our Apostle argues in the Text on the Sup position, that a. Man is not justified. by
SERM. the Works of the Law, and concludes, that III. by the Works of the Law Mall no Flesh be
j ustified : Where by Law it is evident, St. Paul primarily means the positive Dispensation of Mofes; and his Drift is to prove, that there shall not any one living be reputed just before God and entitled to a future Reward, as such, by Circumcision, Sacrifices, and the like legal Ceremonies.
The Jews were in general surprizingly zealous for the Law of their Fathers, endeavouring to impose the Yoke of ritual Observances upon the believing Gentiles; and against those it was chiefly, that the Apostle disputed, and took fuch Pains to fettle it for a first Principle, that we are justified by Faith, and not by Works. Here we have the main Ground of the Opposition we meet with in his Epistles between Shadow and Substance, Letter and Spirit, Type and Reality ; and see into the Purport of his Arguments against such, as strove to magnify the former, which he would de preciate, and to undermine the latter, which he would establish.
Not but there are other Works, bea sides those enjoined by the Jewish Law,
which are or may be opposed to Faith, as Serm. This is the instituted Condition of our being III. justified. And among these we must reckon even all moral Actions, imagined by the Performers to be of an entirely sinless Nature, and so perfect in every Respect, that they build their Justification upon them to the Prejudice of the Faith and Religion of Jesus. But Persons much more virtuous, I apprehend, than any of this Class, have never presumed to think a faultless Conversation to be in the Power of any mere Man, under the present depraved State of Humanity. Which therefore, as it cannot be pretended to without the most arrogant Boasting, is not expected from frail Creatures by an all-merciful God.
It follows likewise, that all manner of religious Services, how much foever exacted by believing, if they are relied upon as amply compensating for Justification, ought to be esteemed inconsistent with that Faith here recommended by St. Paul; the only valuable Consideration advanced being the infinite Merits of our Saviour Chrift. :
Yet it would be a very falfe Conclusion from hence to shut out all good Works