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ON THE NECESSITY OF GOOD WORKS.
ST. JAMES ii. 26.
As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without good works is dead also.
TITUS iii. 8.
This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God, might be careful to maintain good works.
ROM the first rise of christianity down to SERM. this present time, there has always existed a set of designing or deluded men, calling themselves christians, who have maintained the doctrine of faith in opposition to that of good works; who have imagined, or preVOL I. tended
SERM. tended to imagine, that a belief in the life, death, and resurrection of our Saviour, and in the miraculous circumstances which accompanied each, would exempt them from the practice of the moral virtues, and leave them to the free indulgence of their lawless and unruly passions.
This doctrine of theirs they have grounded on certain selected passages of scripture, which they have explained in such a manner, as to make them contradict all the rest of it. They tell us of the frequent and vehement assertions of St. Paul, "of justification by the free grace of God," and "of being saved by faith alone," and "by faith without the works of the law;" and these expressions they so interpret as to make them counteract the whole design of religion. Salvation, say they, is the free gift of God; it is not of debt but of grace; it is not bestowed in consequence of any actions of ours, but gratuitously given through God's boundless mercy;
mercy; a lively faith in the merits of our SERM. Redeemer is alone requisite on our parts; what we do is out of the question; we have but firmly to believe, and we shall be entitled to an inheritance of life eternal.
I propose in this discourse to endeavour to overthrow this pernicious opinion, first, by explaining what learned men have in ge neral agreed to be the real meaning of the passages which appear to make for it: se
condly, by laying before you some strong and clear quotations from the scriptures, in which the virtues of a good life are insisted on as indispensably necessary to salvation; and lastly, by proving, from common sense and reason, the absurdity of expecting the favour of God and the rewards of Heaven on any other terms than by adding to sound faith good works.
And first, I will explain what learned men have, in general, agreed to be the real meaning of the passages, which are brought in B 2 support