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SERM. Thus do these Sons of Reason act most VI. unreasonably, and justly forfeit that Title, they so much glory in : For the Point may be left to themselves to determine, which is most agreeable to right Reason, to pay the greater Regard to the Divine Attributes, or to their own doubtful Surmisings, and whether they ought to prescribe Times and Seasons to their Maker, or receive Laws from him. If God be infinitely wise, and good, and true, it must surely become us to acquiesce in all his Dispensations, and perform his Will according to that Increase of Light, which he has been pleased gradually to throw in upon us. If his unerring Providence did not see fit to discover his whole Councel concerning Mankind to the Gentiles of old, who lived before Christ came into the World, they are to be pitied for the Knowledge they wanted, and commended for making some Use of what they enjoyed, in labouring, though ineffectually, to recover human Nature out of the ruinous State, into which it was sunk.
But their Misfortune would be our Fault ; that Ignorance and Corruption, which might once be winked at, would now wear a very
Serm. criminal Face amidst the Opportunities of VI. gaining so much more Knowledge and Pu
rity: Our Obligations must increase with our Abilities ;---and that Measure of Righteoufness, which God may be satisfied with in a State of Nature, cannot answer his just Expectations in a State of Grace. There is not the same Reason for it, and this therefore is the Condemnation of such, as pretend to govern themselves by the Lessons of Morarity, that. Light is come into the World, and Men loved Darkness. better than Light, because their Deeds are evil (1). Could Man's Understanding, uninformed, furnish out a perfect Scheme of Duty, or his Will, unaided, carry it thoroughly into Execution, such Self-sufficiency might be allowed superior to any foreign Helps, but when this appears far from having been the Condition of the wisest and best of Men,---that Reafon and Nature can go very little Way towards discovering and performing religious Obligations, witness the Philofophers of old, who were quite at a Loss for a regular Plan of them, and differed as much among themselves, as they do from us ; must it not then be very surprising, that any who live where the pure Gospel is laid before them, and is
continually (1) St. John ïïi. 19.
continually founding in their Ears, should Serm. yet go about to establish their own Righ- VI:. teousness, and not submit unto God's?
WERE their moral Attainments as excellent, as they boast them to be, still they must be as unprofitable to themselves, as to God, and no just Grounds of claiming a Title to his Favours. And if their very Virtues are imperfect, what shall be said of their Vices ? What can they plead to extenuate their Transgressions? Here they are perfectly benighted, and are tossed on the boundless Ocean of Uncertainty, unless Revelation clears up the Prospect, God's Word directs their Course, and his Spirit fills their Sails, and so at last they are brought safe into the Haven of Reft, which remains for the People of God (m).
In short, Other Foundation can no Man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus (n). This being God's Ground-work, standeth sure, and whoever erecteth his System of Righteousness on any other, the Event will prove him to be a weak Builder, and to have fixed his Edifice upon the Sand. Had we no firmer Bottom to ground our Hopes upon, the Im
(m) Hcb. iv. 9.
(n) 1 Cor. iii. 11.
Serm. prudence of trusting, to what is so very pre| VI. carious, might be excusable, but for us who
may build on the Rock of Ages, no Excuse can be admitted.
But besides the Error of those, who entirely disclaim God's Righteousness, and labour to introduce their own, there is another on this Subject maintained not by Infidels, but Believers, and it is that the Righteousness; solely intended by our Saviour, is his Righteousness, imputed to such, as embrace the Gofpel, and profess his Religion.
And here it must be acknowledged, with all Thankfulness, that it is the singular Glory of the Gospel to have discovered, how the Demerit of the Sinner is wiped away by the Merit of the Saviour ;---How we are in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto 115 Wisdom, and Righteousness, and San&tification, and Redemption (0). But is there any Shadow of an Argument for asserting, that because we who were sometime Enemies, are rconciled to God by the Death of his Son (P), and are freely admitted, of mere Grace and Favour, into the Covenant of Pardon and Salvation for his Sake and not our own,
therefore (0) 1 Cor. i, 30. (p) Rom. . 10.
therefore under this gracious Covenant, no- SERM. thing is required of us to perform, that we VI may stand fast in it, nothing stipulated by us, besides a confident Claim of Interest; in the Atonement of the Son of God? When the Nature and Circumstances of that Redemption loudly call for a Behaviour suitable to the redeemed of the Lord, 'which is, that they hould depart from Iniquity, and henceforth live not unto themselves, but unto bin wha hath so dearly bought them. ... . sar!
· If Christ fulfilled all Righteousness in his Life, and suffered for Sin by his Death, do not the Scriptures declare what Effect these · Mercies ought to have upon us ? Do they not teach us, to die unto Sin always, as be died for Sin once? Do they not oblige us, having our Consciences purged by his Blood from dead Works, to serve' the Living God as and to walk before him unto all well pleasing ? And do they not altogether condemn such as walk not like Friends" bút Enemies of the Cross of Chrift? Without giving them the least Ground for the Presumption of thinking, that they have a good Title to the Benefits of Christ's Satisfaction, though they pay no Regard to his Commands,---that his
P Righteousness (9) Heb. ix. 34..