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every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it. Verse 8. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit, so shall ye be my disciples. Verse 14.
Verse 14. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. We have this mark laid down with the same emphasis again, John viii. 31. If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed. And again, 1 John ii. 3, hereby do we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. And verse 5. Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected ; hereby know we, that we are in him. And chapter iii. 18, 19, let us love in deed, and, in truth; hereby we know that we are of the truth.” What is translated hereby would have been a little more emphatical, if it had been rendered more literally from the original, by this we do know.....And how evidently is holy practice spoken as the grand note of distinction between the children of God and the children of the devil, in verse 10, of the same chapter ? « In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil.” Speaking of a holy, and a wicked practice, as may be seen in all the context; as verse 3. “Every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure. Verse 6.....10. “ Whosoever abideth in him, sinneth not; whosoever sinneth, hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you ; he that doth righteousness, is righteous, even as he is righteous : He that committeth sin is of the devil..... Whosoever is born of God, sinneth not..... Whosoever doth not righteousness, is not of God. So we have the like emphasis, 2 John, 6. This is love, that we walk after his commandments; that is as (as we must understand it) this is the proper evidence of love. So 1 John v. iii. This is the Jove of God, that we keep his commandments.” So the Apostle James, speaking of the proper evidences of true and pure religion, says, James i. 27. “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father, is this, to visit the fatherIcss and widows in their amiction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” We have the like emphatical expressions used about the same thing in the Old Testament, Job xxviii. 23. " And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of
the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding. Jer. xxii. 15, 16. Did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice ? He judged the cause of the poor and needy : Was not this to know me? Saith the Lord. Psal. xxxiv. 11, &c. Come, ye children, unto me, and I will teach you the fear of the Lord.....Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile ; depart from evil, and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” Psal. xv, at the beginning, « Who shall abide in thy tabernacle ? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill ? He that walketh uprightly, &c. Psal. xxiv. 3, 4. Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord ? And who shall stand in his holy place ? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart, &c. Psal. cxix. 1. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Verse vi. Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect to all thy commandments. Prov. viii. 13. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil.“
So the scripture never uses such emphatical expressions concerning any other signs of hypocrisy, and unsoundness of heart, as concerning an unholy practice. So Gal. vi. 7. « Be not deceived ; God is not mocked ; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. Be not deceived ; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, &c. shall inherit the kingdom of God. Eph. v. 5, 6. For this ye know, that no whoremonger nor unclean person, &c. hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ, and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words.
I John iii. 7, 3. Little children, let no man deceive you ; he that doth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous; he that committeth sin, is of the devil. Chap. ii. 4. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. And chap. i. 6. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. James i. 26. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Chap. iii. 14, 15. If ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom decendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, dev
lish. Psal. cxxv. 5. As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways, the Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity. Isa. xxxv. 8. An high way shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. Rev. xxi. 27. And there shall in no wise enter into it, whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie.” And in many places, “ Depart from me, I know you not, ye that work iniquity.”
ARGUMENT VI.....Another thing which makes it evident, that holy practice is the chief of all the signs of the sincerity of professors, not only to the world, but to their own consciences is, that this is the grand evidence which will hereafter be made use of, before the judgment seat of God; according to which his judgment will be regulated, and the state of every professor of religion unalterably determined. In the future judgment; there will be an open trial of professors and evidences will be made use of in the judgment. For God's future judging of men, in order to their eternal retribution, will not be his trying, and finding out, and passing a judgment upon the state of men's hearts, in his own mind ; but it will be, a declarative judgment; and the end of it will be, not God's forming a judgment within himself, but the manifestation of his judgment, and the rightcousness of it, to men's own consciences, and to the world. And therefore the day of judgment is called the day of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God, Rom. ii. 5. And the end of God's future trial and judgment of men, as to the part that each one in particular is to have in the judgment, will be especially the clear manifestation of God's righteous judgment, with respect to him, to his conscience; as is manifest by Matth. xviii. 31, to the end. Chap. xx. 8.... 15. Chap. xxii. 11, 12, 13. Chap. xxv. 19....30, and verse 35, to the end. Luke xix. 15....23. And therefore though God needs no medium, whereby to make the truth evident to himself, yet evidences will be made use of in his future judging of men. And doubtless the evidences that will be made use of in their trial, will be such as will be best fitted to serve the ends of the judgment; viz. the manifestation of the righteous judgment of God, not only to
tlie world, but to men's own consciences. But the scriptures do abundantly teach us, that the grand evidences which the Judge will make use of in the trial, for these ends, according to which the judgment of every one shall be regulated, and the irreversible sentence passed, will be men's works, or practice, here in this world, Rey. xx. 12. « And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened ;....and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. So verse 13. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell gave up the dead which were in them ; and they were judged every man according to their works. 2 Cor. v. 10. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, whether it be good or bad.” So men's practice is the only evidence that Christ represents the future judgment as regulated by, in that most particular description of the day of judgment, which we have in the Holy Bible, Matth. xxv. at the latter end. See also Rom. ii. 6, 13. Jer, xvii. 10. Job. xxxiv. 11. Prov. xxiv. 12. Jer. xxxii. 19. Rev. xxii. 12. Matth. xvi. 27. Rev. ii. 23. Ezek. xxxiii. 20. 1 Pet. i. 17. The Judge at the day of judgment, will not (for the conviction of men's own consciences, and to manifest them to the world) go about to examine men, as to the method of their experiences, or set every man to tell his story of the manner of his conversion ; but his works will be brought forth, as evidences of what he is, what he has done in darkness and in light, Eccl. xii. 14. « For God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” In the trial that professors shall be the subjects of, in the future judgment, God will make use of the same evidences, to manifest them to themselves and to the world, which he makes use of to manifest them, in the tempéations or trials of his providence here, viz. their practice, in cases wherein Christ and other things come into actual and immediate competition. At the day of Judgment, God, for the manifestation of his righteous judgment, will weigh professors in a balance that is visible. And the balance will be VOL. IV.
the same that he weighs men in now, which has been already described.
Hence we may undoubtedly infer, that men's works (taken in the sense that has been explained) are the highest evidences by which they ought to try themselves. Certainly that which our supreme Judge will chiefly make use of to judge us by, when we come to stand before him, we should chiefly make use of, to judge ourselves by. * If it had not been res vealed in what manner, and by what evidence the Judge would proceed with us hereafter, how natural would it be for one to say, “ O that I knew what token God will chiefly look for and insist upon in the last and decisive judgment, and which he expects that all should be able to produce, who would then be accepted of him, and according to which sentence shall be passed ; that I might know what token or ev. idence especially to look at and seek after now, as I would be sure not to fail then.” And seeing God has so plainly and abundantly revealed what this token or evidence is, surely if we act wisely, we shall regard it as of the greatest importance.
Now from all that has been said, I think it to be abundantly manifest, that Christian practice is the most proper evidence of the gracious sincerity of professors, to themselves and others; and the chief of all the marks of grace, the sign of signs, and evidence of evidences, that which seals and crowns all other signs—I had rather have the testimony of my conscience, that I have such a saying of my Supreme Judge on my side, as that, John xiv. 21.
« He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, le it is that loveth me;" than the judgment and fullest approbation of all the wise, sound, and experienced divines, that have lived this thousand years, on the most exact and critical examination of
# * That which God maketh a rule of his own judgment, 'as that by which he judgeth of every man, that is a sure rule for every man to judge himself by. That which we shall be judged by at the last day, is a sure rule to apply to ourselves for the present. Now by our obedience and works he judgesh
“ He will give to every man according to his works." Dr. Preston's Church's Carriage.