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who were invited, are distinguished into three SERM. sorts: first, those who were asked and did not come, by which are meant, those who had the gospel proposed to them and did not embrace it: secondly, those who came, but had not on a wedding garment, those who had faith in Jesus, believing him to be the Christ, but were not new clad with a true repentance and amendment of life: thirdly, those who were invited and had on the wedding garment; those who both believed the gospel, and practised the precepts which it enjoins. Here you may observe, that belief without practice is equally condemned with unbelief: Bind him, says the king, speaking of the guest without a wedding garment, hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. They only were allowed to remain at the feast, to sit down in the kingdom of heaven, who both attended to the invitation of the king and came properly prepared ;
SER M. pared; who both acknowledged Christ to be the Son of God, and followed that course of life which he pointed out. It is likewise very worthy of your notice, that in all the places where our Saviour speaks of the day of judgement, the sentence follows on doing or not doing, without any mention of believing. In the fifth chapter of St. John are these words, "the hour is coming, in the which all that are in their graves shall hear my voice, and shall come forth, they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. In the seventh chapter of St. Matthew, speak. ing of the same day, he says "depart from me ye workers of iniquity." In the thirteenth, "the Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire." And again in the sixteenth chapter: "For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of
of his Father, with his angels, and then he SERM. shall reward every man according to his works."
This you will find invariably to be the manner of proceeding in all the other places of scripture where our Lord speaks of the last day; acceptance or condemnation are con stantly annexed to doing or not doing, without any notice of believing: let me not, however, be misunderstood. I do not mean that faith in Christ is unnecessary; on the contrary, in those who have the gospel proposed to them it is absolutely necessary, but that faith which shews itself in a good life, is alone a faith unto salvation.
What doth it profit a man (saith St. James) though he say he hath faith and hath not works; can faith save him? Faith without works is dead, being alone; by works faith is made perfect. As the body without the spi rit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. To conclude this head, it is evident beyond
SERM. yond all dispute, from the whole tenor of the scriptures, that purity of conduct, as well as firmness of belief, is absolutely essential to enentitle us to a place in the mansions of the blessed. But lastly, even if the scriptures had not spoken so expressly, the absurdity of expecting the favour of God, and the rewards of Heaven, on any other terms than by adding to a sound faith, good works, is evident from common sense and reason. God, it is universally agreed, possesses in the most perfect degree the attributes of purity and holiness; is it then at all credible that a being of this kind should send down, and reveal to his creatures, a religion which should let loose the reins to every corrupt passion, and authorize them in the indulgence of every evil inclination which should hold forth to them the promise of eternal happiness on the sole condition of yielding their assent to some few points of faith, but should leave them under the same slavish submission to their lusts
in which it found them? It is not credible; SERM. every suggestion of sense and reason cries out against it. For consider whither such a position would carry us! Religion only aims to regulate our belief: very well; I firmly credit all which it requires of me, and on this ground I look for the rewards which it promises, let my practice be what it may; I will only take care not to subject myself to the punishment of human laws, and I will be as wicked as interest invites or impels me, fearless on this account of any after reckoning in futurity. Am I avaricious? I will take every opportunity of defrauding my neighbour of his property. Am I revengeful? neither the reputation nor the person of him who has accidentally injured me, or whose interest interferes with mine, shall be sacred from my attacks. Am I sensual? Let my friend beware of me; I will seduce from him the affections of his wife, or I will rob him of the innocence of his child; for so long as