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treaty, that as you love your soul, you would leave off unprofitable disputes; and not distract your mind, and carry away your thoughts from practical godliness, by such an earnest application to these controverted points : but fee to it, that you come to the footstool of divine grace, as a loft unworthy perishing finner ; that you depend only upon the riches of God's free sovereign grace, to draw you to Christ, and give you an interest in him; that you look to Christ Jesus alone for righteousness and ftrength; and chearfully trust in him as a safe foundation of confidence and hope. See to it, that the life which you live in the flesh, be by the faith of the Son of God: and as you look to his righteousness only for the safety of your Itate, fo likewise repair by faith to his fulness for all supplies of grace, whereby you may make a progress in holiness. See to it, that you do not quiet your conscience with a dead faich : but always reinember, that be who hath this hope in Christ, purifies himself even as be is pure: and that as your person cannot be justified, but by faith in Christ, so your faith cannot be justified but by a careful diligence in maintaining good works. Having therefore with the heart believed unta righteousness, be you in an humble dependance upon Christ, fedfast and unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; and your labour will not be vain in the Lord.

That you may be kept by the power of God through faith, and receive the end of your faith, the salvation of your soul, is the prayer of,

Sir,

Yours, c.

LETTER XVI. Wherein is considered in what

Respects Good Works are NECESSARY; and our OBLIGATIONS to them represented and urged.

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SIR,

OUR observation is just, that it would be un

• suitable and unseasonable to make apologies for This further trouble (as you are pleased to call it) after

• I have given you so many assurances of my chearful

readiness, to contribute all in my power to your best • intereft. Indeed, Sir, I have found nothing troublesome in the whole progress of our correspondence, ex: cepting some dark apprehensions of late, left you would frustrate the grace of God, in seeking righteoufnefs, not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. But it now greatly animates my endeavours to serve you, to find those fears on my part so happily removed, by find. ing the difficulties on your part obviated, in that im:

portant point, and you satisfied with respect to the • foundation of your hope.' I am senable, that the principles, which I have been pleading for, are com. i monly loaded with opprobrious invectives, as being « destructive of an holy life, and subversive of morality 6 and godliness. But I think I have already given you fusficient evidence, that all these insinuations are mere calunnies: and that there is no other possible foundation, than what I have represented to you, for a life of true holiness and piety. I appeal to your own observation and experience, whether in general there be any that live more holy lives, and more honour their profession, than they who most strictly adhere to the doctrine of special grace, and depend upon Christ alone for righte. ousness and strength : and whether they, on the contrary, who depend upon their good works for a title to the di. vine favour, do not too commonly shew the weakness of their foundation, by the carelessness and unfruitful. ness of their lives.

The question which you propose, is however worthy of a distinct consideration. • How far and in what re. • spects are our good works necessary to salvation ?'

In order to give you a proper view of this case, it will be needful to answer this question both negatively and positively: or to fhew you wherein our good works ought to have no place, nor be at all looked to or de. pended upon; and then to shew you wherein good works ought to have place, and in what respect they are neceflary to every Christian indeed, that would entertain a well-grounded hope of eternal life

In my negative answer to this question, I must firk observe, that we are not to do good works in order to

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change God's purposes and designs towards us ; or to excite his benevolence and compassion to us. I suspect it is too common a case, for men to depend upon their penitent frames, their duties, their reformations, their works of charity, or other religious exercises, as what will excite affections, pallions, or compassions in the glorious God, correspondent to what they find in them. selves. And thence whence conscience upbraids the finner for his past provocations to God, he hopes to ap: pease his displeasure by his remorse, by his duties or by his more careful future conduct; and now he is deliver. ed to do all these abominations, his account is ballanced, and he begins upon a new score. Thence it is, that his hopes and fears bear proportion to his frames and carriages. Every serious pang, every religious duty or mo. ral practice, which his conscience approves, will raise his dejected hopes ; and give him comforting expecta. tions of the divine favour. But it should always be remembered, that the change to be hoped for by our duties, religious frames, or moral conduct, must be in ourselves, and not in God. He is of one mind, and who can turn him? He is the Lord, he changeth not. We are there. fore not to look to our good works, but to the Redeemer's merits, and the infinite mercy of the divine nature, as wliat will render God propitious to us. Though we are only to hope for mercy in a way of duty, it is not tecause this will render God more willing to bestow it, but because it is the way which God has appointed, to render us more disposed and ready to receive it. It is an imagination very unworthy of God, to suppose, that we can move him to the exercise of compassion, whose very nature is goodness and love itself, that we can excite any mercy in him, whose infinite mercy endures for ever, or that we can procure any change of purpose in him who is without any variableness, or Madow of turning. When the glorious God treats with us, as if he were a partaker of human affections and passions, this is mere condefcenfion to our weakness ; we being incapable to behold him as he is. Surely it is not to lead us into apprehensions, that he is altogether such an one as our. selves. Our business therefore is, to come to Christ and learn of him, to bow our necks to his yoke, to do good

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works from faith in Christ, and out of love and obedience to him; and in that way to hope in God for mercy, for Christ's fake, and for his own fake, and not for ours. We are to obey him as a gracious fovereign ; and to hope in him as the fovereign author and donor of his own favours

. We are to hope in his mercy, not because we can allure him to the exercife of it, or recommend ourselves to him, by any thing we can do: but because he is infinite in goodness, and delighteth in mercy. The gifts and cal. ling of God are without repentance, Rom. xi, 29. I

may add, we are not to do good works with a view to qualify us for our reception of Chrift by faith, or for our interest in him. Multitudes seem most dangerously to deceive their souls in this matter. It is but too com. mon a case for men to quiet their consciences, and to entertain hopes of falvation from apprehensions, that they endeavour to be found in a way of duty, they endeavour to mortify their lufts, and to live a holy life; and therefore, though guilty of many defects both in their duties and conversations, they hope God will accept them up on Chrift's account, that the merits of Chrift will make up the defects of their performances, and his blood cleanse them from the guilt of their fins. If they thould fallinto some more grofs and enormous fins, or grow

careless and remiss in duty, they will then perhaps fall into a pan. nick, and terrify themselves with apprehenfions, that Christ will not accept such as they are : but when they have reformed their conduct, their fears blow over, and they revive their hopes, that they shall yeť obtain mercy for Christ's fake. And what is the natural language of all this, but that they shall obtain an interest in Chrift by their good works, and when they have done their part, he will do che rest, will make up the defects of their at. tainments; and give such a value to their fincere (tho' imperfect) obedience, that this fhall recommend them to the favour and acceptance of God. As though the glorious Redeemer undertook our ranfom, for no other end than to render our deficient duties meritorious, and our sins innocent and inoffensive. This legal and felfrighteous principle feems generally to obtain with the careless carnal world. And when finners come under conviction of their guilt and danger, they are yet infu.

enced by the fame legal disposition, though it appear in another form. What distresling fears and terrors do they usually agonize under ? How impossible is it to give them any sensible view of the hope that is set before them! But what stands in their way? Their fins are great, their hearts are hard, their duties formal and hypocritical, their corruptions prevalent, that they cannot think Christ will accept such as they are; and therefore they dare not venture their fouls and their eternal interells upon him. Were the case otherwise, could they subdue these stubborn hearts, could they get a victory over these corruptions, sanctify these depraved affections, and be more {piritual in their duties; or in other words, could they themselves begin their own salvation, then they could depend upon Christ to carry on the work in their souls; and then they could hope, that God would accept them for Christ's fake. But all this is to substitute our own righteousness in the place and stead of the righteousness of Chrift; or at best, to divide the work of our salvation between Christ and ourselves. Will

you bear with me, Sir, if I am forced to express my fears, that you are yet under too great remainders of this unhappy disposition. I rejoice in your recovery from your late dangerous mistake. I cannot but hope that you have chosen the good part, which shall not be taken from you. But what mean the frequent returns of your desponding hours ? Whence do your hopes and fears bear proportion to your prefent frames? What occasions those many dark apprehensions, not only that you have not yet an interest in Chrift; but that you shall never attain to it? I entreat you to consider, that Cbrist came to save linners ; and that we must come to him and trust in him as finners, having no qualification of our own to intitle us to his favour, nothing but our guilt and pollution, and his sufficiency to plead, for our acceptance with and interest in him. In proportion as you look to your own qualifications to recommend you to Chrift, fo far you practically make a Saviour of your good works ; and reject the terms of salvation by Jesus Christ. As it is certain that you can have no good works, which are acceptable to God for any saving purpoles, till you have faith in Christ ; so it is also certain,

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