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expected in Judea, where he began his mi-SER nistry. For this end he worked many il- VI lustrious miracles, the most proper and ef-v"-" ~ fectual way for engaging the attention of disaffected and prejudiced men to his doctrine, and procuring it a fair hearing. The first condition, then, of obtaining any benefit by the gospel, must be, what the blessed author declares, believing it, or believing in him. Next, he requires repentance, or that men convinc'd of their former fists, of the evil of them, and the miseries to which they are thereby rendered obnoxious, should break them off with abhorrence and indignation, and return to a better mind and to a better course of life, bringing forth fruits meet for amendment. These are the true original terms of christianity, fix'd by our Lord Jesus Christ; who, when he came preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, said, (that is, this was the substance of his preaching,) the time isfulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye and believe the v gospel, Mark i. 14, 15.
But, when men became his profess'd subjects, embrac'd his religion, and entered into the kingdom'of God, upon these terms, or into the christian state j the general K. 2 laws,
SERM.laws, or rules of their obedience, were deVI. clared by him in his other discourses; par
^' ^r' 'ticularly in his sermon on the mount, and and most clearly aflatain'd by the example of his own life: and they appear to be no other than the moral law, the eternal and invariable law of nature, abridg'd in those moral, and perpetually binding precepts, which Moses gave to the Israelites, containing that love, confidence, submission, and obedience we owe to the deity j and the mutual offices of righteousness and charity we are bound to perform to one another. To this end the precepts of the law are vindicated from the defective and corrupt interpretations of the Jewish doctors, and a more strict purity and virtue enjoin'd by Jesus , Christ, than what was practis'd, or so much as understood by them. He exprefly declares to his hearers * except your righteousness jhalt exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye jhall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven; and all along, he uniformly pursues the same design throughout the whole course of his teaching; constantly requiring of all his disciples, sincere holiness and conformity to the will of
* Matth.v. 20.
God, as indispensably necessary to their ob-Serm. taining his favour, and the reward of eternal VI. life. He describes the future judgment with great clearness and solemnity) and assures us, that sentences will then be pronounced . according to our works: the righteous, that is, as he explains it, those who have abounded in the fruits of charity and beneficence, (hall inherit the kingdom prepared for them before the foundations of the world 5 but the wicked shall be adjudg'd to everlasting punishment.
If this be a true account of our Saviour's doctrine in the gospels, as I think it will plainly appear to every one who reads them. attentively to be, there can be no doubt concerning the terms of our acceptance with God, which he has fix'd. The conditions of our becoming the disciples of Christ are faith and repentance; to which, if we be sincere, the forgiveness of all our past sins is annexed; and the condition of our title to the final happiness Christ has promis'd to his disciples, is a persevering stedfastness in obeying the immutable moral laws of God; or in practising the virtues of sobriety, godliness, justice and mercy.
Serm. But, as I observed before, a controversy VI. arising among christians, in the very infancy
v"""v~",,of the christian state, about the necessity of observing the Jewish law, occasion'd by the high opinion which the Jews had of their peculiar and distinguishing privileges, and the excellence and perpetuity of the Mosaic institutions; the apostle Paul, to whom the ministry of the uncircumsion, or preaching christianity to the Gentiles, was especially committed, enters into this debate j and to determine it rightly, so, as according to his own expression, the truth of the gospel might continue in the church, he wrote several of his epistles. It is very evident, that he decides against the pretences of the Jews, and strenuously asserts the sufficiency of the gospel itself, without the addition of the law, which he pronounces unprofitable; earnestly exhorting christians to stand fall in the liberty, wherewith Christ had made them free, and not suffer themselves to be again entangled in a yoke of bondage. To this purpose he expresses himself in such terms, as tend to magnify the gospel, and show the necessity and usefulness of it j and the insufficiency of the law to the great ends . of religion, I mail in this discourse endeavour
vour to explain his tfoctrine of justifications Erm. by grace, without works, and by faith, as in VI. opposition to the law; which two ap- ~ ¥^'"J pear from the text to have a necessary connexion. Therefore it is of faith that it might be by grace, to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed, not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham.
In the first place, let us consider the meaning of this apostle's doctrine of justification by grace without works. That he teaches this is plain to any one who reads his epistles, Rom. in. 24. having largely prov'd, that all men had sinned and were corrupt, both Jews and Gentiles; that all had fallen short of the glory of God, and were concluded under wrath; he fays, they are justified freely by grace, thro' the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. And in the nth chapter, having discoursed of the rejection of the Jews, that is, the body of the nation for their disobedience [to the gospel, he says, that as formerly, in the days of Elias, when there was a general de<section of the Israelites to idolatry, God reserved to himself seven thousand who did not bow the knee to the image of Baal 5 so