Page images





[blocks in formation]

THE subject of the first Book was FAITH, or THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. The second treats of THE WORSHIP or LOVE OF GOD.1

The true worship of God consists chiefly in the exercise of good works. Matt. xvi. 27. " then he shall reward every man according to his works." Rom. ii. 13. "not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified." Philipp. i. 11. "being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ." iv. 8. "whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things: those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do; and the God of peace shall 1 See Book I. p. 12, note.





Tit. ii.

be with you." 2 Tim. iii. 17. "that the man of God perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." 11, 12. "the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world." iii. 8. " this is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God may be careful to maintain good works.' James i. 22. "be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." 2 Pet. i. 5, &c. "besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge.... &c. for if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."


BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD WORKING IN US. John iii. 21. "that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God." 1 Cor. xv. 10. " by the grace of God I am what I am; and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain, but I laboured more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.' 2 Cor. iii. 5. "not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God." Gal. v. 22. "the fruit of the Spirit is love.... gentleness, goodness, faith." Eph. ii. 10. we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." v. 9. "the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth." Philipp. ii. 13. "it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."


THROUGH FAITH. John xv. 5. "he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing." Heb. xi. 6. "without faith it is impossible to please him." James ii. 22. "seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?" that is, how faith (to use a logical expression) constitutes the form of the works, and endows them with the

quality of goodness; and how it is itself consummated by the works, as by its end and natural product.


As to the position of divines, that the essential form of good works is their accordance with the decalogue, so far as they are there prescribed, it is not easy to discover how this can be the case under the gospel. St. Paul certainly teaches a different doctrine, throughout the whole of Romans and elsewhere; declaring explicitly, Rom. xiv. 23. that "whatsoever is not of faith is sin." He does not say, "whatsoever is not of the decalogue, is sin," but "whatsoever is not of faith ;" it is therefore an accordance with faith, not with the decalogue, that ought to be considered as the essential form of good works. Hence, if I observe the sabbath in compliance with the decalogue, but contrary to the dictates of my own faith, conformity with the decalogue, however exact, becomes in my case sin, and a violation of the law. For it is faith that justifies, not agreement with the decalogue; and that which justifies can alone render any work good; none therefore of our works can be good, but by faith; hence faith is the essential form of good works, the definition of form being, that by which a thing is what it is.3 With regard to the passages in which mention is made of keeping God's commandments, 1 John ii. 4. iii. 24. and elsewhere, it seems reasonable to understand this of the precepts of the gospel, in which faith is uniformly put before the works of the law. If then in the gospel faith be above the works of the law, it must be equally above its precepts; for works are the end and fulfilling of precepts. Since therefore under the gospel, although a man should observe the whole Mosaic law with the utmost punctuality, it would profit him nothing without faith, it is evident that good works must be defined to be of faith, not of the decalogue; whence it follows that conformity not with the written, but with the unwritten law, that is, with the law of


2 See the Fifth Homily: Mede, B. I. Disc. 39. Bull, Vol. I. Sermon I. on Hos. x. 12.

[blocks in formation]

Imputed becomes theirs by faith, his merits

To save them, not their own, though legal works.

Paradise Lost, XII. 408.

the Spirit given by the Father to lead us into all truth, is to be accounted the true essential form of good works. For the works of believers are the works of the Spirit itself; and though such can never be in contradiction to the love of God and our neighbour, which is the sum of the law, they may occasionally deviate from the letter even of the gospel precepts, particularly of those which are merely special through a predominating regard to the law of love; as was shown by Christ himself in the abolition of Sabbatical observances, as well as on several other occasions.5 See Book I. chap. xxvii. on the Gospel.

TO THE GLORY OF GOD. Matt. v. 16. "let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." 1 Cor. x. 31. "do all to the glory of God." Philipp. i. 11. "being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God."

[ocr errors]

Gen. xv.


THE ASSURED HOPE OF OUR OWN SALVATION. "thy exceeding great reward." Prov. x. 9. "he that walketh uprightly walketh surely." v. 25. "the righteous is an everlasting foundation." v. 29. the way of Jehovah is straight to the upright." xi. 18, 19. "to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward." xii. 3. "the root of the righteous shall not be moved." xiii. 21. "to the righteous good shall be repaid." xv. 24. "the way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath." xvi. 17. "he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul." xx. 7. " the just man walketh in his integrity; his children are blessed after him." Psal. xv. 1, 2. "Jehovah, who shall abide in thy tabernacle ?" &c. Isai. xxxiii. 14, &c. "who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire?.... he that walketh righteously." 2 Cor. vii. 1. " having therefore these promises, let us cleanse our

selves." Gal. vi. 8. "he that soweth to his flesh, shall of his flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." Philipp. iii. 14. " I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Heb. xi. 6. "he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them

See Book I. page 362, note 2.

« PreviousContinue »