Imatges de pàgina
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ON GOOD WORKS.

ROMANS VI. 22, 23.

But now being made free from sin, and be

come servants of God, ye bave your fruit unto boliness, and the end everlasting life.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of

God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ
our Lord.

Of all the motives which should ac- SERM. tuate the Christian to lead a good life, that Xiv. which ought to be the most efficacious and prevailing, is commonly altogether overlooked and neglected, or else made too much of. To lead a good life, or to endeavour to do so, through the mere hope of future reward, or dread of future punishment, is acting from a low and mercenary principle in comparison with the motives that should operate upon the true

Christian,

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XIV.

SERM. Christiani, and stimulate him to works of

righteousness. Besides, Christianity does really not promise us any thing future as a reward of virtue, strictly so called ; not as a recompence for the worthiness of the work, but as proceeding from God's mere bounty. To virtue in all its branches we were bound, long before Christianity prevailed among us.

The law of the Lord written in our hearts would have laid us always under the obligation of strict obedience to it, independent of any promises which the Gospel holds forth. We never were, nor ever shall be, free from this obligation ; but how far we are to look for a reward for our obedience, it would well become us to consider. There is a short but very apt parable to this purpose to be found in the Gospel of St. Luke, which, though it may not perhaps strike you at the first hearing, yet I shall not despair of proving to you that it is greatly connected with what I have been saying. 66 And the

Apostle said unto the Lord, increase our faith. And the Lord said, If ye bad faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say

or unto

XIV.

66 meat.

unto this sycamine tree, be thou plucked up SERM.

by the root, and be thou planted in the sea, 66 and it should obey you.

But which of you having a servant ploughing, or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field: go and sit down to

And will not rather say unto him, make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird

thyself, and serve me till I have eaten and drunken, and afterwards thou shalt eat and " drink? Doth be thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded bim? I trow not. So likewise

ye,
when

ye

shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants, we have done that which was our

duty to do.Now this parable sets the matter in the right light. Whatever we may suppose, we have no title to reward for obeying the commandments of God; it is our bounden duty, let what will come of it. The parable indeed cannot set it in its full light, because among ourselves there is always something due to a good and faithful servant; and as he is our fellowcreature, we may owe him even thanks for

his

XIV.

SERM. his care and fidelity, but between God and

us the case is different-God receives nothing from all our services; If thou be - righteous," says Elihu to Job, what

givest thou bim, or what receiveth be at thy band?" To which we may add the remark of the holy Psalmist, “ Thy goodness reachetb not unto him.God is above all wants, and therefore in reality in need of no services; but he is supreme above all things, and therefore he may promulgate his laws freely, and require strict obedience. But from what I have been saying, let it not be imagined I am depreciating good worksfar from it. They are not the less amiable for being necessary, but as the case stands with us Christians, we have a nobler hope, than what can arise from any prospect of recompence strictly due to our just deeds. And the text I have chosen may serve to open your eyes to the truth of what I have been urging. In the text, two things are very prominent and noticeable: we are there called the servants of God-death is said to be the wages of sin, but that the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ

our

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