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2. Those who desire to come to God
"Beware lest you attempt for a moment to find any other way
than that marked out for you by Christ. He must be your only way of access to God. We do not say that you are not to walk in the way of holiness, (for the scripture asserts the contrary in the strongest termsh) but this we sày; It is the blood of Christ, and not your own holiness, that must reconcle you to God; and it is the spirit of Christ, and not your own natural
powers, that must enable you to believe in him, or to serve him. Submit to this at once;i for you must be brought to it, if ever you would enter into the kingdom of heaven. You cannot come to God in prayer, but by Christ; much less can you be admitted to him in heaven. Even Christ himself, as the sinner's representative, entered into heaven by his own blood:k thing not therefore that ye shall enter in by any other way.] 3. Those who have already come to God
[Yes; blessed be God, many have come, through Christ as their way, and by Christ as their life: and 0, whither are they going to their Father's house, whither Christ is gone before to prepare a place for them! What a joyful thought! every day and hour brings them nearer to their home! and, for aught they know, they may arrive at those blissful mansions within the
space of a few months, or days, or even hours! Regard not then if your road be occasionally rough; but keep in it; press forward; turn not from it even to the end; and, “ when Christ, who is your life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”]
h Isaiah xxxv. 8.
i Rom. x. 3.
k Ileb. ix. 12.
CCCLXXXVI. CHRIST THE ONLY FOUNDATION.
1 Cor. iii. 11. Other foundation can no man lay, than that is
laid, which is Jesus Christ. THERE is not any thing more injurious to the church of God than a party-spirit: yet even in the apostolic age did it begin to distract the Christian community. At Corinth it prevailed, and rose to an alarming height: and St. Paul was obliged to exert all his influence in order to counteract it. He reminded the partisans, that, as “God's building,” they should be cemented together
with brotherly love: that they should study to shew themselves worthy of the place they held in the church, in expectation of that day when all their works should be tried by fire: and that, instead of fomenting strifes and divisions, they should unite with each other in cleaving stedfastly to the one foundation, whereon they stood.
The declaration in the text is plain, and of infinite importance
To enter more fully into it we shall consider I. What foundations men lay for themselves
Every man has some foundation for his hope. Though there are many shades of difference in the sentiments of different men, yet their grounds of hope may be reduced to two; 1. Their own goodness
[Some think that nothing but gross sin can expose them to the wrath of God. They therefore congratulate themselves as having never done any thing to merit his displeasure. Others imagine that they may trust in the good works that they have done. They have, in their own apprehension, been regular in their duties to God and man: nor can they conceive that they should have any reason to fear. Thus, like the Pharisee of old, they thank God that they are not as other men; and are filled with self-complacency, because they are punctual in the observance of certain duties.] 2. Their own works and Christ's merits united
[Many, who see, that their own works cannot justify them according to the strict tenor of the law, yet hope that they will, according to the milder demands of the gospel. If they see that these will not suffice, they will look to Christ to supply their deficiencies. If they see, that such an union is impracticable, and, that Jesus must be their only foundation, they hope, however, that he will save them for their works sake. Thus they either avowedly profess to participate with Christ the honour of their salvation; or, while they pretend to give the honour of it to him, they look for the original and moving cause of it within themselves. Like the Judaising Christians, or the Gentiles whom Peter misled, they unite the law to Christ; as though Christ needed to have something superadded to him, to render his death effectual. At all events, if they find their error in this respect, they will regard their works as their warrant to believe in Christ; and will expect mercy at his hands, not so much because his grace is free and all-sufficient, as because they have something in themselves, which may deserve his notice and regard.]
• Luke xviii. 11, 12.
ó Acts xv. 5.
c Coal, ji, 12, 14.
These plans of salvation however will be found very erroneous, if we enquire II. What is that foundation which God has laid
Nothing can be more clear, than that he has not laid either of those, which have been before mentioned
[He often describes his people as performing good works: and often promises them, under that character, eternal life. But he always represents us as sinners, and as standing in need of his mercy. And he has sent his Son into the world for that very reason, because none could obtain mercy by any works of their own. Nor has he less clearly shewn, that works are wholly to be excluded from the office of justifying. He has told us that salvation must be wholly of grace or wholly of works. That every degree of boasting is excluded from that salvation which he has revealed. And that the persons, whom he justifies, are ungodly, and without any works whatever to recommend them.f]
Christ is the one foundation which he has laid in Zion
(He “has set forth his Son to be a propitiation for sin:” and every sinner is to build his hope on Christ alone. Christ is the foundation laid in the covenant of grace. The same is laid in all the promises. The same was exhibited in all the types. The same is laid also in the gospel. We are expressly told that there is no other.' Nor indeed can there be any other to all eternity.]
The necessity of building upon this will appear, while we consider III. Why no other can be laid
Many reasons might easily be assigned: but one or two may suffice
f Rom. iv. 5.
*d Rom. xi. 6. e Rom. iii. 27. Eph. ii. 8, 9.
| Acts iv. 12. m Ver. 9.
1. Any other would be unworthy of the divine architect
[God himself is the architect;m and must have all the glory of beginning and perfecting this building. But, if men were to found their hopes on any thing but the Lord Jesus Christ, they would have whereof to glory." So far as respect was had to any merit in them, so far might they ascribe the honour to themselves. Even in heaven their song must differ from that of the redeemed. Instead of giving all the glory to God and to the Lamb,o they must take a portion of it to themselves. But this would be utterly unworthy, of God to suffer. Indeed he has told us that he never can nor will suffer it.P We may be sure therefore that no such way of salvation shall ever be established, as leaves man at liberty to boast. We shall be rewarded according to our works, and in some respect for our works; but the only ground of acceptance, either for our persons or our services, is in Christ alone.)
2. No other would support the weight that is to be laid upon it
[Whatever our souls need in time or eternity must be derived from that, which is the foundation of our hope. Our pardon must be obtained by it; our peace flow from it; our strength and righteousness be given us on account of it; and eternal glory be bestowed on us, as the reward of it. And can we build our hope of such things in any degree on our own works?
Can we, who, if we had done all that is commanded us, should be only unprofitable servants, imagine, that we can in any respect merit such things, when we have done nothing that is commanded us, at least, nothing perfectly, or as we ought to have done it? Surely such an hope would soon appear to be a foundation of sand; and would infallibly disappoint us to our eternal ruin. Yea, the very persons who build on such a foundation, almost invariably deny, that any man can be assured of his acceptance with God; they account such an assurance to be an enthusiastic delusion; which is a clear acknowledgment of the insufficiency of their foundation to bear this weight.] INFER
1. How needful is it to enquire what foundation we are upon!
[If we build but a common habitation, we are careful on what foundation we raise it. How much more care should we exercise, when we are building for eternity! Let us enquire, whether we have been deeply convinced of the insuf. ficiency of our own goodness, and of the impossibility of unit. ing any works of ours with Christ's atoning sacrifice? And let us examine whether Christ's obedience unto death be our only hope, our only confidence? We never can be saved, unless, with Paul, we utterly renounce the filthy rags of our own righteousness, and desire to be found clad in Christ's unspotted robe.]
n Rom. iv, 2. PI Cor. i. 29, 31. Eph. ii. 8, 9.
o Rev. v. 13, 9 Eph. 1. 6.
2. How secure are they who are built upon the Lord Jesus Christ!
[Christ, on whom they stand, is justly called “a tried stone, and a sure foundation.” He never yet failed those who trusted in him. The vilest of mankind have found him able to save them to the uttermosta He is a Rock to those who trust in him; nor shall the gates of hell prevail against them. Let all believers then rejoice in their security; and hold fast the profession of their faith without wavering:")
3. How careful should we be, what superstructure we raise upon him!
[While Christ is the foundation of our hope, we are also to build upon him all our works. But our works will all be tried by fire. If they be not such as tend to his glory, they will be burnt up as hay, and wood, and stubble. If they be truly good, they will stand the trial, like gold, or silver, or precious stones. Let us then give diligent heed to our works. We may suffer loss in heaven, though we should not suffer the loss of heaven. Let us then seek
" a full reward." While we renounce good works in point of depende ence, let us practise them from love.to our Redeemer. Thus shall we put to silence our adversaries; and adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour.]
Isaiah Ixiv. 6. Phil. iii. 9. Isaiah xxviii. 16.
. u Heb. x. 23. * Ver. 11-14. ! Ver. 15.
* Matt. xvi. 18. 2 2 John 8.
CCCLXXXVII. THE GUILT AND DANGER OF NOT
1 Cor. xvi. 22. If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ,
let him be Anathema, Maran-atha.
EVERY religion has some characteristic mark where. by it may be distinguished from all others—The leading