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CHA P. XXIV.
Of the Neceffity of obeying the foregoing Precepts.
MATTH. vii. 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27. Not every one that faith unto me, Lord, Lord, fhall enter into the kingdom of hea ven: But he that doeth the will of my Father, which is in heaven.
Many will fay to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophefied in thy name? And in thy name have caft out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profefs unto them, I never knew you: Depart from me ye that work iniquity.
Therefore, whofoever heareth these fayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wife man, which built his houfe upon a rock:
And the rain defcended, and the winds blew, houfe: And it fell not, upon a rock.
and the floods came, and beat upon that for it was founded
And every one that heareth thefe Sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the fand:
And the rain defcended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that houfe: And it fell, and great was the fall of it.
HE conclufion of this most excellent fermon of our Lord, does very aptly crown the whole with one general and most important doctrine, that the performance of his precepts, the living up in practice to that noble scheme of religion which he has left us, is the only effectual proof that we are Chriftians, the only fafe foundation for our hopes of heaven. Or if I may be allow'd to express his fenfe in other words, it is as follows;
"HAVING revealed to you the will of God fo "perfectly, that it is impoffible for you now to "be mistaken in your duty, I expect that ye, my "Difciples, fhould be as exact in your obedience, "as I have been in my revelation: For the bare "profeffion of my religion, the calling me Lord, "Lord, without a practice conformable to fuch a "profeffion, will be of no advantage to you at "the day of judgment. Many will fay unto me "in that day, Lord, have not we fufficiently prov"ed our difcipleship by our extraordinary zeal for "thy fervice, and great performances in thy name; "fuch as prophefying, cafting out devils, and do"ing many wonderful works? Thefe furely will "entitle us to thy favour and thy kingdom; ac"knowledge us therefore as thy followers, and "receive us into everlafting happiness. But my "anfwer to fuch vain pretenders will be, that
"though they taught my religion, yet fince they "did not practise it; tho' they caft devils out of others, yet fince they did not caft all wickedness “ out of their own hearts; tho' they wrought many wonderful works, yet fince at the fame time, they wrought unrighteoufnefs, they are no "difciples of mine. Hence from my prefence, all CC ye workers of iniquity. For without a ftrict and "confcientious obedience to my laws, in the course "of an holy and religious life, Christianity is but an empty name, zeal for it but a wrangling and " contentious heat, falvation but an idle and de❝ceitful hope. He therefore, who not only "hears my precepts but obeys them, who orders "his life and converfation by the rule of God's
word, as I have delivered it to him, is like a "wife man who lays the foundation of his house CC1 upon a rock, which thus founded ftands firm "and fecure against all the violence of winds and
waves. But he who grounds his hopes of ac"ceptance and falvation on any other bottom "than fuch fincere obedience, is like a man who "builds his house upon the fand, which not be
ing able to withstand the fury of a tempeft, or CC an impetuous tide, will certainly be beaten down "about him, upon the first attacks of either, and "thus his houfe fhall perish.
SINCE not our hearing only, but our doing of the will of God, is declared by the Author of our falvation to be the rock alone, whereon we may fafely build our hopes of it; my business must be to thew the meaning of this expreffion, or what is here to be understood by doing the will of God. It is, in general, the being obedient to Chrift's laws, the doing of thofe holy and righteous works which he ordain'd we fhould walk in, the ful filling all righteousness established in the Gospel, and delivered in this fermon. But to prefent you
with a more diftinct explication of this, we are to confider,
I. THAT however diligent, zealous and fuccefsful we may be in doing thofe things, which ferve to propagate and Support Chriftianity, or accidentally relate to it, as means and inftruments of true religion, 'tis not fufficient to reach the extent of what is comprised in this expreffion, of doing the will of God. Men are not therefore the true difciples of Chrift, and effectually entituled to falvation, because they can defend the truths of Chriftianity, or labour hard to gain profelytes to it, or even work miracles in behalf of it; not because they conftantly attend the preaching of God's word, the prayers of the Church, or private devotions of their own, or reading their Bible, or other inftructive books of religion at certain times of leisure. These things, tho' good and excellent in their kind, tho' of great ufe and fervice to the Church, tho' very advantageous to their own or other mens fouls, are yet but the means and inftruments, not the end and fubftance of religion. Attending diligently upon the outward means of grace, is a duty ncceffary to every Chriftian; but not for its own fake only; if we ftop there, 'tis all but vain formality and hypocrify: "Tis requifite with relation to faith and a good life, but if they lead us not effectually to thefe, they will never bring us to falvation. And therefore our Saviour declares, that at the day of judgment he will answer all fuch after this manner, I never knew you; that is, I never approved or allowed of thofe faculties and powers ye pretend to, as the condition of being my difciples; and yet that was the great power of prophefying, and doing miracles; as appears by the pretence they are brought in to make, Lord, Lord, have we not prophefied in thy name, and in thy name
have caft out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works. But fince the great condition of the Gofpel, is obedience to the law of righteousness; and that every one who nameth the name of Chrift, depart from iniquity; they who are as well workers of iniquity as workers of miracles, who preach the word of God, but practise it not, cannot expect the portion and inheritance of the difciples of Chrift. To this purpose is that difcourfe of St. Paul to the Corinthians, * Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, have the gift of prophefies, understand myfteries and knowledge, have a faith ftrong enough to remove mountains, if I have no charity with all thefe, I am nothing. And therefore tho' he allows the acquifition of fpiritual gifts for the fervice and edification of the Church; yet he there plainly prefers charity before all of that nature, as being the fubftance of that condition required by Chrift: for love is the fulfilling of the law, whereas the other is only the inftrument or ornament of it in the world. But then,
II. We are alfo to confider, that every sudden and imperfect act of religion, tho' it more immediately tend to holiness, and may be the beginning or a branch of it, every partial sketch of virtue and goodness, tho' neceffary and commendable, so far as it goes, is not therefore to be accounted fulfilling of the main condition, or fufficient to be called a doing of the will of God: For as the former might be compared to the producing of leaves, the yielding of fome ornament and protection to Chriftianity; fo this may be refembled to the bringing forth of buds and bloffoms, which yet arife not to the bearing of fruit. And it is very plain, that every inclination and good affection for religion, every