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SERM. support of the opinion, that faith alone, unaccompanied by good works, is sufficient unto salvation.
It is very evident that when St. Paul makes use of the words election, vocation, adoption, justification, and some others of the like tenor, he does not always apply them to the final judgment; that is, he does not always mean that those who are elected, called, adopted, or justified, have already obtained, or shall certainly obtain, the kingdom of God. Recollect to whom his epistles were addressed, to those who had once been heathens, who had worshipped gods of wood and stone, or men frail and wicked as themselves, and who had no certain rule to live by, and scarce knew the difference between virtue and vice; but who had now embraced the christian religion, had become acquainted with the knowledge, which that inculcated, and entitled to the rewards, which that held forth. This acquisition of the laws, and this title
to the blessings of the gospel, thus bestowed SERM. on the heathens, the Apostle calls their "being elected, adopted, justified;" and these privileges he affirms them to have obtained without previous good works, but merely by the free grace of God, on their only believing in the truth of the religion which he had sent down. Whenever then St. Paul talks of justification without works, he always means this first justification, men being made christians; but this is a very different thing from final justification at the last day, to which holiness, virtue, good works, are indispensably necessary.
As to the expression of justification without the works of the law, it sometimes means without an observance of the rites and ceremonies of the law of Moses, which some early christians insisted to be requisite; but, with respect to the moral part of that law, our Saviour and his apostles constantly deB 3
SERM. I am a believer, I can commit all these enot.
mities unchecked or undisturbed by my conscience. Honour and honesty may here be alledged as restraints upon me; with some men I grant they would, but with far the majority they will be found feeble ties against the allurements of passion, supported by the hopes of impunity. You see then into what absurdities the idea of the sufficiency of faith without works leads; you perceive what a world this would be, if such a persuasion were universally prevalent.
Let us not then separate those two friends which agree so well together, religion and morality; let us not content ourselves with taking up the shield of faith, but let us put on, at the same time, the whole armour of righteousness; it is that alone which can empower us to withstand the assaults and be victorious over the malice of our grand adversary; it is that alone which can enable us to appear with decent confidence before the tri
bunal of our judge and Saviour. They wor- SERM.