Page images
PDF
EPUB

cited, taken simply by them- | And with regard to others, I selves, without knowing any conceive it would be no easy thing further from any other matter to prove, that any mere passage of scripture, or any oth- man ever did or ever will do er medium, we might perhaps more good than evil in the prebe ready to conclude, that those sent life. If heart-exercises as only will be raised to life, who well as external acts are taken have always done good, without into the account, it may be quesever doing evil. But aside tionable, whether the good from scripture testimony, it is deeds of the best man are so notoriously manifest, that all equal in number to his evil deeds. do evil in some degree that we | And it is very certain that the could not consistently expect positive worth, the real merit, of any would come forth to the re- his virtuous and holy exercises surrection of life, if all were and acts is far less than the deexcluded from this blessed re- merit of his sins. How then surrection who ever do evil. are we to understand Christ's And when we consult the scrip- assertion, that they that have lures, we find in them the fullest done good shall come forth to and most decisive testimony to the resurrection of life ; and the great and universal wicked- they that have done evil to the ness of mankind. How then resurrection of damnation ? And shall we distinguish those who wherein do the one differ from klo good from those who do evil, the other? since all do evil, to be sure at In order to set this matter in times? Shall we suppose, that a just light, it may be proper to by those who have done good, take a brief view of what is imChrist means those who, upon plied in and essential to doing. the whole, have done more good good, in the scriptural sense of than evil, so that, putting the the expression. I therefore ob- . whole together, their good deeds serve, outweigh, or are more nume- 1. Charity, that is, love, such rous than their evil ones; and I in kind as the divine law rethat they may therefore be said quires, is essential to doing to have done good ? Thus some good. No man doeth good, in have seemed to understand the the scriptural sense, until he matter.

begins to exercise and act from But if those only who have love, , be his external actions done more good than evil, were what they will. to come forth to the resurrection | Christ has taught us, that the of life, what room would there first and great commandment be to entertain the least hope of requires us to love the Lord our the salvation of such as are not God with all our heart and soul converted, and do not begin to and mind ; and that the second clo good, till near the close of is like it, in requiring the same life ? Upon this supposition, the affection in kind towards our thief on the cross, to whom neighbors, viz. that we should Christ said, “ This day shalt love them as ourselves ; and thou be with me in paradise," that on these two commande nust, it would seem, be exclud- ments hang all the law and the ed from the resurrection of life. I prophets. Therefore no man

Tenders any true obedience to good in an acceptable manner. God, before the love required For “ without faith it is imposbegins to exist in his heart; and sible to please God.” Heb. xi. 6. of consequence, before this, he “ In Christ, neither circumcisdoes not so much as begin to do ion availeth any thing, nor ungood. And with this agrees circumcision; but faith which his declaration, that “a good worketh by love." Gal. v. 6. tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; It is therefore required, that neither can a corrupt tree bring. whatsoever we do in word or forth good fruit.” And the deed, we should do all in the words of the apostle Paul, in 1 name of the Lord Jesus, giving Cor. xiii. 1, 2, 3. plainly im- thanks to God and the Father port, that if a man was enabled, by him. Col. iii. 1.7. But cerby the Spirit of God, to speak tainly, doing all in the name of with the tongues of men and the Lord Jesus, and giving of angels, and had the gift of thanks by him, implies faith in prophecy, and was endued with him. The spiritual sacrifices of an understanding of all-mysteries Christians are acceptable to God and knowledge, and with the by Jesus Christ; and therefore, faith of working miracles, so in order to be accepted, they that he could remove mountains, must be offered in his name, and had not charity or the spir- and presented to God by him. it of holy love, he would be no- i Pet. ii. 5. thing. And though he should ! In the sense now explained, bestow all his goods to feed the there is none of the human race poor and even give his body to that doeth good, no, not one, bebe burned, and had not charity, | fore he is born of God, quickenit would profit him nothing.-- ed by him, and become his Thus strikingly evident is it, workmanship, created in Christ that the spirit of holy love is unto good works. Antecedent implied in and essential to doing to this, all are dead in sin, and good in God's account.

walk according to the course of 2. A good work rightly per- this world, and have their conformed is done with a view to versation in the lusts of the flesh, the glory of God. Doing good fulfilling the desires of the fleshı implies acting with a view to a and of the mind, as the apostle good end, as well as from a good states at large in Ephes. ii. 1-10. principle, and performing the And according to the plain tethings which God requires. And nor of the scriptures, no man when the spirit of supreme love hath any evidence, that he is a to God prevails in the heart, the child of God, an heir of heaven, natural consequence will be an and shall come forth to the reshabitual regard to his glory. | urrection of life, until he begins And this is implied in every act to do good in the sense which of true, acceptable obedience. hath now been explained. " He For it is required, that whether that committeth or allowedly we eat, or drink, or whatsoever | practiseth sin is of the devil. we do, we should do all to the Whosoever is born of God doth glory of God. 1 Cor. x. 31. | not commit or practise sin. In Once more,

this the children of God are 3. Faith is essential to doing | manifest, and the children of

the devil: whosoever doeth not appear in the eyes of men, and righteousness is not of God.” | however numerous those ac, 1 John iii. 8, 9, 10. But eve- tions of theirs may have been ry one, who begins to do good which are correct in the view in the sense and manner now of the world. For it has been explained, shall come forth to proved, that none begin to do the resurrection of life, as one good in the divine view, so who hath done good, in contra as will be approved and accept: distinction from such as have ed of him, before they begin to done evil; and although he hath exercise that holy love to which committed many sins : because they are quickened by being born all the evil he hath done is for- of him. Antecedent to this, the given through Jesus Christ, and prevailing disposition of every so blotted out, that it shall never hunian heart is that carnal mind, be remembered or brought into that mind of the flesh, which the account against him, to his is ennity against God, but is of condemnation, in the world to such a nature as is totally inconcome. All who, in consequence sistent with real subjection to the of being quickened by God, re- divine law; and therefore they pent and turn to him through who are in the flesh cannot Jesus Christ, are interested in please God. the promises of that new coven- In view of what has been sta: ant, by which God has engaged ted and, I trust, proved by the to be merciful to their unright- scriptures, we may remark. eousness, and to remember their 1. That, notwithstanding the sins and iniquities no more. declaration of Christ which we And such are saved not at all have been considering, and other by virtue or upon the considera- | scripture declarations of similar tion of the good they have done, import, such as are far advanced or for the sake of it, but by | in life, and have hitherto lived grace through faith ; and their in sin, have no ground or reahaving done good is regarded son to be discouraged from renot as the ground or procuring penting and turning to God and cause of their justification, but, doing works meet for repentas the evidence that they had ance, merely because their fu: been born of God, and did be- ture good works, should they be lieve in Christ, and were his dis- ever so obedient for the time to ciples indeed, really in him. I come, would be few in compar.

From this account of the char-ison with their evil deeds. acter of those who have done They who are sensible that good, and who shall come forth they have hitherto been great to the resurrection of life, it will sinners, especially if far the readily appear that they, on the greatest part of their lives is ev. other hand, who have done evil, idently past and gone, when and shall come forth to the res- they read or hear that men are urrection of damnation, are all to be judged and rewarded acthose, and those only, who have cording to their works, and that always done evil and no good : those only who have done good and also, that all unrenewed will rise to life, whilst all those impenitent sinners are of this who have done evil will rise to character, however they may damnation, may be rearly, to

think or feel as though there I learn to do well ; and in case was no room for them to hope he doeth so, the same ground to for salvation-as though it was expect the resurrection of life. impossible that they should at- | It should however be remembertain to the character of such as ed, that from the time that any have done good, in opposition to one, whether old or young, turns such as have done evil, even if to God and begins in the scripthey should now begin to do tural sense to do well, he must good and persevere in well doing patiently continue in well doing the remainder of their life ; be-.to the end of life. For it is he cause their evil deeds would so that endureth to the end that vastly outweigh and outnumber shall be saved. If any think their good works.-Such dis- | they once began to do good, and couraging thoughts would be shall therefore rise to life, but well founded, if the scripture afterwards turn back to the ways doctrine was either, that those of sin and live in them, there is only, who have always done reason to think they were decei. good without ever doing evil, ved that they never did even would rise to life ; or, that the begin to do good in the sight of resurrection of life was confined God. For where God begins a to those, who have done more good work in men, he will pergood than evil upon the whole. | from it until the day of Christ. But this is not the meaning of the And those whom he hath begot. scriptures. The resurrection ten again to a lively hope by the of damnation awaits those only, resurrection of Jesus Christ from who have always done evil with-the dead, are kept by the power Øut turning from it and begin- of God through faith unto salvaning to do good; whilst, thro' tion. Again, the riches of divine grace and Though the aged sinncr, thro' the ample sufficiency of Christ's the sovereign grace of God, may atonement and righteousness, possibly become posessed of the every one who, before the close character which will be raised of his present life and state of to life, yet it should be further trial, finds .an heart to forsake remarked, his evil way and unrighteous 2. That the truths we have thoughts, and to return to been considering, clearly show God through Jesus Christ, it to be a matter of unspeakable and becomes truly obedient importance to all who have hith. to his revealed will, has all erto lived in sin, the younger as his sins so blotted out, that they well as the older, to repent and will not be brought into judg-turn to God without delay, and ment to his condemnation in to enter immediately on a course the world to come ; and his hav- of such well doing as the gospel ing done good, though only for requires. These plain scripa short time and in a low denture truths clearly prove, that gree, will mark the character, allimpenitent, christless sinners, which shall come forth 'to the the middle aged and the young resurrection of life. In this re- as well as the agerl, are now of spect, therefore, the aged sinner, that character, and belong to has the same encouragement as that class of mankind, that the young, to cease todo evil, and Christ says shall come forth to the devil: whosoever doeth not appear in the eyes of men, and righteousness is not of God." | however numerous those ac1 John iii. 8, 9, 10, But eve- tions of theirs may have been ry one, who begins to do good which are correct in the view in the sense and manner now of the world. For it has been explained, shall come forth to 1 proved, that none begin to do the resurrection of life, as one good in the divine view, SO who hath done good, in contra- as will be approved and accepte distinction from such as have ed of him, before they begin to done evil; and although he hath exercise that holy love to which committed many sins : because they are quickened by being born all the evil he hath done is for- of him. Antecedent to this, the given through Jesus Christ, and prevailing disposition of every so blotted out, that it shall never human heart is that carnal mind, be remembered or brought into that mind of the flesh, which the account against him, to his is enmity against God, but is of condemnation, in the world to such a nature as is totally inconcome. All who, in consequence sistent with real subjection to the of being quickened by God, re- divine law; and therefore they pent and turn to him through who are in the flesh cannot Jesus Christ, are interested in please God. the promises of that new coven- In view of what has been sta: ant, by which God has engaged ted and, I trust, proved by the to be merciful to their unright- scriptures, we may remark. eousness, and to remember their 1. That, notwithstanding the sins and iniquities no more. declaration of Christ which we And such are saved not at all have been considering, and other by virtue or upon the considera- scripture declarations of similar tion of the good they have done, import, such as are far advanced or for the sake of it, but by in life, and have hitherto lived grace through faith ; and their in sin, have no. ground or reahaving done good is regarded son to be discouraged from renot as the ground or procuring penting and turning to God and cause of their justification, but, doing works meet for repentas the evidence that they had ance, merely because their su: been born of God, and did be- ture good works, should they be lieve in Christ, and were his dis- | ever so obedient for the time to ciples indeed, really in him. I come, would be few in compar

From this account of the char- ison with their evil deeds. acter of those who have done. They who are sensible that good, and who shall come forth they have hitherto been great to the resurrection of life, it will sinners, especially if far the readily appear that they, on the greatest part of their lives is ev. other hand, who have done evil, idently past and gone, when and shall come forth to the res- they read or hear that men are urrection of damnation, are all to be judged and rewarded acthose, and those only, who have cording to their works, and that always done evil and no good : those only who have done good and also, that all unrenewed | will rise to life, wbilst all those impenitent sinners are of this who have done evil will rise to character, however they may | damnation, may be really, IQ

« PreviousContinue »