Page images


CH A P. XXIV. Of the Necessity of obeying the foregoing


MATTH. vii. 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord

Lord, sall enter into the kingdom of hea ven : But he that doéth the will of my Fa

ther, which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord,

have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never

knew you: Depart from me ye that work

iniquity. Therefore

, whosoever beareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon

a rock : And the rain descended, and the floods came,

and the winds blew, and beat upon that house: And it fell not, for it was founded

upon a rock.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

And every one that heareth t/ ese sayings of

mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods.came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that

, house : And it fell, and great was the fall

of it.


HE conclusion of this moft excellent fermon of our Lord, does very aptly crown the whole with one general and most important doctrine, that the per

formance 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 Christians, the only safe foundation for our hopes of heaven. Or if I may be allow'd to express his sense in other words, it is as follows;

“ Having revealed to you the will of God so

perfectly, that it is impossible for you now to u be mistaken in your duty, I expect that yc, my “ Disciples, should be as exact in your obedience,

as I have been in my revelation: For the bare “ profession of my religion, the calling me Lord, " Lord, without a practice conformable to such a “ profession, will be of no advantage to you at " the day of judgment. Many will lay unto me “ in that day, Lord, have not we sufficientiy prov« ed our discipleship by our extraordinary zeal for

thy service, and great performances in thy name; “ such as prophesying, cafting out devils, and do“ ing many wonderful works? These furely will “ entitle us to thy favour and thy kingdom; ac" knowledge us therefore as thy followers, and “ receive us into everlasting happiness. But my “ answer to such vain pretenders will be, that

“ though



[ocr errors]



" though they taught my religion, yet since they “ did not practise it; tho' they cast

' devils out of others, yet since they did not cast all wickedness s out of their own hearts; tho' they wrought

many wonderful works, yet since at the same 6. time, they wrought unrighteousness, they are no s disciples of mine. Hence from my presence, all

ye workers of iniquity. For without a strict and “ conscientious 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 deç ceitful hope.

He therefore, who not only « hears my precepts but obeys them, who orders « his life and conversation by the rule of God's «c word, as I have delivered it to him, is like a " wise man who lays the foundation of his housc

upon a rock, which thus founded stands firm " and secure against all the violence of winds and

But he who grounds his hopes of acceptance and salvation on any other bottom “than such fincere obedience, is like a man who “ builds his house upon the fand; which not beq ing able to withstand the fury of a tempest, or

an impetuous tide, will certainly be beaten down “ about him, upon the first attacks of either, and " thus his house shall 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

safes ly build our hopes of it; my business must be to shew the meaning of this expression, or what is here to be understood by doing the will of God. It is, in general, the being obedient to Christ's laws, the doing of those holy and righteous works which he ordain'd we should walk in, the fulfilling all righteousness established in the Gospel, and delivered in this sermon. But to present you





[ocr errors]

with a more distinct explication of this, we are to consider,

I. That however diligent, zealous and successful we may be in doing those things, which serve to propagate and support Christianity, or accidentally relate to it, as means and instruments of true religion, 'tis not fufficient to reach the extent of what is comprised in this expression, of doing the will of God. Men are not therefore the true disciples of Christ, 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 constantly attend the preaching of God's word, the prayers of the Church, or private devotions of their own, or reading their Bible, or other instructive books of religion at certain times of leisure. These things, tho' good and excellent in their kind, tho' of great use and service to the Church, tho' very advantageous to their own or other mens fouls, are yet but the means and instruments, not the end and substance of religion. Attending diligently upon the outward means of grace, is a duty necessary to every Christian ; but not for its own fake only; if we stop there, 'tis all but vain formality and hypocrisy: 'Tis requisite with relation to faith and a good life, but if they lead us not effectually to these, they will never bring us to falvation. And therefore our Saviour declares, that at the day of judgment he will answer all such after this manner, I never knew you ; that is, I never approved or allowed of those faculties and powers ye pretend to, as the condition of being my disciples; 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 prophesied in thy name, and in thy name

[ocr errors]

have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works. But since the great condition of the Gospel

, is obedience to the law of righteousness; and that every one who nameth the name of Christ, 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 disciples of Christ. To this purpose is that discourse of St. Paul to the Corinthians, * Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, have the gift of prophefies, understand mysteries and knowledge, have a faith Arong enough to remove mountains, if I have no charity with all these, I am nothing. And therefore tho? he allows the acquisition of spiritual gifts for the service and edification of the Church; yet he there plainly prefers charity before all of that nature, as being the substance of that condition required by Christ: for love is the fulfilling of the law, whereas the other is only the instrument or ornament of it in the world. But then,

II. We are also to consider, 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' necessary and commendable, so far as it goes, is not therefore to be accounted fulfilling of the main condition, or sufficient 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 some ornament and protection to Christianity;

so this may be resembled to the bringing forth of buds and blossoms, which yet arise not to the bearing of fruit. And it is very plain, that every inclination and good affection for religion, every

[blocks in formation]


« PreviousContinue »