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which the Christians to whom he wrote, experienced; he has respect to what they found under persecution, as appears by the context. Christ thus manifesting himself, as the friend and saviour of his saiuts cleaving to him under trials, seems to have been represented of old by his coming and manifesting himself to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the furnace. And when the apostle speaks of the witness of the Spirit, in Rom. viii. 15-17, he has more immediate respect to what the Christians experienced in their exercises of love to God, while suffering persecution; as is plain by the context. He is, in the foregoing verses, encouraging the Christian Romans under their sufferings, that though their bodies be dead because of sin, yet they should be raised to life again. But it is more especially plain by the verse immediately following, ver. 18. For I reckon, that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. So the apostle has evidently respect to their persecutions, in all that he says to the end of the chapter. So when the apostle speaks of the earnest of the Spirit, which God had given to him, 2 Cor. v. 5, the context shews plainly that he has respect to what was given him in his great trials and sufferings. And in that promise of the white stone, and new name, to him that overcomes, Rev. ii. 17, it is evident Christ has a special respect to a benefit that Christians should obtain by overcoming, when tried, in that day of persecution. This appears by ver. 13, and many other passages in this epistle to the seven churches of Asia.

Object. 2. Some also may be ready to object against what has been said of Christian practice being the chief evidence of the truth of grace, that this is a legal doctrine; and that this making practice a thing of such great importance in religion, magnifies works, and tends to lead men to make too much of their own doings, to the diminution of the glory of free grace, and does not seem well to consist with that great gospel-doctrine of justification by faith alone. Which way

But this objection is altogether without reason. it is inconsistent with the freeness of God's grace, that holy practice should be a sign of God's grace? It is our works being the price of God's favour, and not their being the sign of it, that is the thing which is inconsistent with the freeness of that favour. Surely the beggar's looking on the money he has in his hands, as a sign of the kindness of him who gave it to him, is in no respect inconsistent with the freeness of that kindness. It is his having money in his hand as the price of a benefit, that is the thing which is inconsistent with the free kindness of the giver. The notion of the freeness of the grace of God to sinners, as that is that is revealed and taught in the gospel, is not, that no holy

and amiable qualifications or actions in us shall be a fruit, and so a sign of that grace; but that it is not the worthiness or loveliness of any qualification or action of ours which recommends us to that grace. Free grace implies, that kindness is shewn to the unworthy and unlovely; that there is great excellency in the benefit bestowed, and no excellency in the subject as the price of it; that goodness goes forth, and flows out, from the fulness of God's nature, the fulness of the fountain of good, without any amiableness in the object to draw it. And this is the notion of justification without works, (as this doctrine is taught in the scripture;) that it is not the worthiness or loveliness of our works, or any thing in us, which is in any wise accepted with God, as a balance for the guilt of sin, or a recommendation of sinners to his acceptance as heirs of life. Thus we are justified only by the righteousness of Christ, and not by our righteousness. And when works are opposed to faith in this affair, and it is said that we are justified by faith and not by works; thereby is meant, that it is not the worthiness or amiableness of our works, or any thing in us, which recommends us to an interest in Christ and his benefits; but that we have this interest only by faith, or by our souls receiving Christ, or adhering to, and closing with him. But that the worthiness or amiableness of nothing in us recommends and brings us to an interest in Christ, is no argument that nothing in us is a sign of an interest in Christ.

If the doctrines of free grace, and justification by faith alone, be inconsistent with the importance of holy practice as a sign of grace; then they are equally inconsistent with the importance of any thing whatsoever in us as a sign of grace; any holiness, or any grace in us, or any experiences: for it is as contrary to the doctrines of free grace and justification by faith alone, that any of these should be the righteousness which we are justified by, as that holy practice should be so. It is with holy works, as it is with holy qualifications: it is inconsistent with the freeness of gospel-grace, that a title to salvation should be given to men for the loveliness of any of their holy qualifications, as much as that it should be given for the holiness of their works. It is inconsistent with the gospel-doctrine of free grace, that an interest in Christ and his benefits should be given for the loveliness of a man's true holiness; the amiableness of his renewed, sanctified, heavenly heart; his love to God, his experience of joy in the Holy Ghost, self-emptiness, a spirit to exalt Christ above all, and to give all glory to him, and a heart devoted unto him. I say, it is inconsistent with the gospel-doctrine of free grace, that a title to Christ's benefits should be given out of regard to the loveliness of any of these, or that any of these should be our righteousness in the affair of justification. And yet this does not hinder the importance of

Just so it is

these things as evidences of an interest in Christ. with respect to holy actions and works. To make light of works because we are not justified by them, is the same thing in effect as to make light of all religion, all grace and holiness, yea, true evangelical holiness, and all gracious experience: for all is included, when the scripture says, we are not justified by works.By works in this case is meant all our own righteousness, religion, or holiness, and every thing that is in us; all the good we do, and are conscious of; all external acts, all internal exercises of grace, all experiences, and all those holy and heavenly things wherein the life, power, and very essence of religion consist; all those great things which Christ and his apostles mainly insisted on in their preaching, and endeavoured to promote, as of the greatest consequence in the hearts and lives of men, and all good dispositions, exercises and qualifications of every kind whatsoever; and even faith itself, considered as a part of our holiness. For we are justified by none of these things: if we were, we should, in a scripture-sense, be justified by works. And therefore if it be not legal, and contrary to the evangelical doctrine of justification without works, to insist on any of these, as of great importance in evidence of an interest in Christ; then no more is it thus, to insist on the importance of holy practice. It would be legal to suppose that holy practice justifies by entitling us to Christ's benefits; but it is not legal to suppose, that holy practice justifies the sincerity of a believer, as the proper evidence of it. The apostle James did not think it legal to say, that Abraham our father was justified by works, in this sense. The Spirit that indited the scripture, did not think the great importance and absolute necessity of holy practice, in this respect, to be inconsistent with the freeness of grace; for it commonly teaches them both together; as in Rev. xxi. 6, 7. God says, I will give unto him that is athirst, of the fountain of the water of life freely; and then adds, in the very next words, He that overcometh shall inherit all things; as though behaving well in the Christian race and warfare, were the condition of the promise. So in the next chapter, the 14th and 15th verses, Christ says, Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and enter in through the gates into the city: and then declares 15th ver. how they that are of a wicked practice shall be excluded.Yet in the two following verses, with very great solemnity, Christ invites all to come, and take of the water of life freely; I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright and morning star.And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth, say, Come. And let him that is athirst, come: and whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely. So chap. iii. 20, 21. Behold, I stand at the door and knock: If

any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and sup with him, and he with me. But then it is added in the next words, To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me on my throne. And in that great invitation, Matth. xi. Come unto

Come

me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest; Christ adds in the next words, Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls: for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light; as though taking the burden of Christ's service, and imitating his example, were necessary in order to the promised rest. So in that great invitation to sinners to accept of free grace; Is. lv. Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money: come ye, buy and eat, yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price: even there, in the continuation of the same invitation, the sinner's forsaking his wicked practice is spoken of as necessary to the obtaining of mercy; ver. 7. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. So the riches of divine grace in the justification of sinners, is set forth, with the necessity of holy practice, Is. i. 16, &c. Wash ye, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes, cease to do evil, learn to do well, seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. now, let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. And in that most solemn invitation of wisdom, Prov. ix. after it is represented what great provision is made; and how all things were ready, the house built, the beasts killed, the wine mingled, the table furnished, and the messengers sent forth to invite the guests; then we have the free invitation, ver. 4-6. Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, (i. e. has no righteousness) she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. But then in the next breath it follows, Forsake the foolish and live, and go in the way of understanding: as though forsaking sin, and going in the way of holiness, were necessary in order to life. So that the freeness of grace, and the necessity of holy practice, which are thus joined together in scripture, are not inconsistent. Nor does it at all diminish the honour and importance of faith, that its exercises and effects in practice should be esteemed its chief signs, any more than it lessens the importtance of life, that action and motion are esteemed its chief signs.

So that in what has been said of the importance of holy practice as the main sign of sincerity, there is nothing legal; nothing derogatory to the freedom and sovereignty of gospel-grace; no

thing in the least clashing with the gospel-doctrine of justification by faith alone without the works of the law; nothing in the least tending to lessen the glory of the Mediator and our dependence on his righteousness; nothing infringing on the special prerogatives of faith in the affair of our salvation; nothing in any wise detracting from the glory of God and his mercy, exalting man, or diminishing his dependence and obligation. So that if any are against the importance of holy practice as explained, it must be only from a senseless aversion to the letters and sound of the word works; when there is no reason in the world to be given for it, but what may be given with equal force, why they should have an aversion to the words holiness, godliness, grace, religion, experience, and even faith itself: for to make a righteousness of any of these, is as legal, and as inconsistent with the way of the new covenant, as to make a righteousness of holy practice*.

It is greatly to the hurt of religion, for persons to insist little on those things which the scripture insists most upon, as of most importance in the evidence of our interest in Christ, under a notion that to lay weight on these things is legal, and an old covenant-way. To neglect the exercises and effectual operations of grace in practice, and insist almost wholly on discoveries, and the method of the imminent exercises of conscience and grace in contemplation-depending on an ability to make nice distinctions in these matters, and a faculty of accurate discerning in them, from philosophy or experience-is highly injurious. It is in vain to seek for any better, or any further signs, than those which the scriptures have most expressly mentioned, and most frequently insisted on, as signs of godliness. They who pretend to a greater accuracy in giving signs-or, by their extraordinary experience, or insight into the nature of things, to give more distinguishing marks, which shall more thoroughly search out, and detect the hypocrite-are but subtle to darken their own minds, and the

"You say you know Christ, and the love and good-will of Christ towards you, and that he is the propitiation for your sins. How do you know this? 'He that saith I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar,' 1 John ii. 4. True, might some reply, he that keeps not the commands of Christ, hath thereby a sure evidence that he knows him not, and that he is not united to him; but is this any evidence that we do know him, and that we are united to him, if we do keep his commandments? Yes verily, saith the apostle, 'Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.' And again, ver. 5. Hereby know we that we are in him.' What can be more plain? What a vanity is it to say, that this is running upon a covenant of works?-O beloved, it is a sad thing to hear such questions, and such cold answers also, that sanctification possibly may be an evidence. May be? Is it not certain? Assuredly to deny it, is as bad as to affirm that God's own promises of favour are not sure evidences thereof, and consequently that they are lies and untruths.-Our Saviour, who was no legal preacher, pronounceth, and consequently evidenceth blessedness, by eight or nine promises, expressly made to such persons, as had inherent graces, Matth. v. 3, 4, &c."-Shepard's Sound Believer, p. 221, 222, 223.

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