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tion of the virtue of the death of Christ unto them; besides, the whole course of life which they commend under this name, is neither appointed in, nor approved by, the gospel. And some of those who have been most renowned for their severities therein, were men of blood, promoting the cruel slaughter of multitudes of Christians upon the account of their profession of the gospel, in whom there could be no one evangelical grace; for no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
(2.) The ways and means which they prescribe and use for the attaining of it, are such as are no way directed by the divine wisdom of Christ in the Scripture; such as multiplied confessions to priests, irregular ridiculous fastings, penances, self-macerations of the body, unlawful vows, selfdevised rules of discipline and habits, with the like trinkets innumerable. Hence, whatever their design be, they may say of it in the issue, what Aaron said of his idol, I cast the gold into the fire, and there came out this calf:' they have brought forth only an image of mortification, diverting the minds of men from seeking after that which is really and spiritually so. And under this pretence, they have formed a state and condition of life, that hath filled the world with all manner of sins and wickedness; and many of those who have attained unto some of the highest degrees of this mortification, on their principles, and by the means designed unto that end, have been made ready thereby for all sorts of wickedness.
Wherefore, the mortification which they retain, and whereof they boast, is nothing but a wretched image of that which is truly so, substituted in its room, and embraced by such, as had never attained any experience of the nature or power of gospel-grace in the real mortification of sin.
15. The same is to be said concerning good works; the second evangelical duty whereof they boast.
The necessity of these good works unto salvation, according unto men's opportunities and abilities, is acknowledged by all. And the glory of our profession in this world, consisteth in our abounding in them; but their principle, their nature, their motives, their use, their ends are declared and limited in the Scripture, whereby they are distinguished from what may seem materially the same, in those which
may be wrought by unbelievers. In brief, they are the acts and duties of true believers only; and they are in them effects of divine grace, or the operation of the Holy Ghost; for they are created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath ordained, that they should walk in them.' But the principal mystery of their glory, which the Scripture insists upon, is, that although they are necessary, as a means unto the salvation of believers, yet are they utterly excluded from any influence unto the justification of sinners; so there was never any work evangelically good, performed by any, who were not before freely justified.
Unto these good works, those with whom we have to do, lay a vehement claim, as though they were the only patrons of them, and pleaders for them: but they have also excluded them out of Christian religion, and set up a deformed image of them, in defiance of God, of Christ, and the gospel: for the works they plead for, are such, as so far proceed from their own free will, as to render them meritorious in the sight of God. They have confined them partly unto acts of superstitious devotion, partly unto those of charity, and principally unto those that are not so; such are the building of monasteries, nunneries, and such pretended religious houses, for the maintenance of swarms of monks and friars, filling the world with superstition and debauchery. They make them meritorious, satisfactory, yea, some of them, which they call of supererrogation, above all that God requireth of us, and the causes of our justification before God. They ascribe unto them a condignity of the heavenly reward, making it of works, and so not of grace, with many other defiling imaginations; but whatever is done from these principles, and for these ends, is utterly foreign unto those good works which the gospel enjoineth, as a part of our new or evangelical obedience. But having, as in other cases, lost all sense and experience of the power and efficacy of the grace of Christ, in working believers unto this duty of obedience, unto the glory of God, and benefit of mankind, they have set up the image of them, in defiance of Christ, his grace, and his gospel.
These are some of the abominations which are pourtrayed on the walls of the chamber of imagery in the church of Rome; and more will be added in the consideration of the
image of jealousy itself, which, God willing, shall ensue in another way. These are the shadows which they bet ke themselves unto, in the loss of spiritual light to discern the truth and glory of the mystery of the gospel, and the want of an experience of their power and efficacy unto all the ends of the life of God, in their own minds and souls. And although they are all of them expressly condemned in the letter of the Scripture, which is sufficient to secure the minds of true believers from the admission of them, yet their establishment against all pleas, pretences, and force, for a compliance with them, depends on their experience of the power of every gospel truth unto its proper end, in communicating unto us the grace of God, and transforming our minds into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ.
This sermon was preached at a Fast, Dec. 22, 1681.
TO THE READER,
UPON the desire of some, interested in the publication of this sermon, I have perused it, and do communicate these my thoughts concerning it.
There appears unto me in it those two things, which do above all others commend any sermon, or any other book; namely, most weighty and seasonable argument, with very judicious and methodical management.
If I am able to judge, the management speaks, 'arma virumque,' the man and his furniture. And it is like its great author, well known to this age, and like to be so unto future ones, by his writings in more than one language. There is a favour due unto all posthumous pieces, of which sort this is; but there is little need that this piece seems to have of it.
As for its argument, it is very salvation; and that not merely personal, or domestical, but national. This, if any thing, will be acknowledged momentous; and now, if ever, it must be acknowledged seasonable. Now, in this our day, 'known only to the Lord.' Nay now, that it is neither day nor night, as the prophet speaks. Now that city and country are crying, 'watchman, what of the night? watchman, what of the night?' Now, that the three frightful signs of approaching night are so upon us; I mean, shadows growing long, labourers going apace home, and wild beasts going boldly abroad. Quis talia fando temperet à lachry
In a word, here is that which will sufficiently recommend itself to all serious readers. It is the com