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II. Compare this statement with several other important scriptures, which may serve to elucidate and confirm it.
It is the uniform declaration of the sacred writers, that all men shall be “ judged according to “ their works :" yet it is equally evident that faith, or unbelief, determines a man's state in the sight of God, as justified, or as under condemnation. “ He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved ; “ but he that believeth not shall be damned." “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth
my word, and believeth on him that sent me, “ hath everlasting life, and shall not come into “ condemnation, but is passed from death unto " life.”
“ He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the
name of the only begotten Son of God.”] The same instruction is implied in the vision of St. John. “ The books were opened : and another “ book was opened, which is the book of life; and “ the dead were judged out of those things, which
were written in the books according to their “ works; and whosoever was not found written in “ the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.'
The prophet Ezekiel, having shewn that “ the
ways of the Lord are equal," was led to state the characters of the righteous and the wicked; and then he adds, “ When the wicked man turneth
away from his wickedness, and doeth that which “is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive :
Repent and turn from all your transgressions, so
Mark xvi. 16. John iii. 18; v. 24, ? Rev. xx. 12-15.
iniquity shall not be your ruin.”] The true penitent therefore will not be condemned when
judged according to his deeds ;” though he must be so if the solemn process should be conducted according to the strictness of the law, without reference to the grace of the gospel, to which all these invitations and promises belong.
The atoning sacrifices of the Mosaic law, which typified the redemption of Christ, were offered upon mount Zion: and David, inquiring who should ascend and worship with acceptance on that holy hill, draws a character which entirely accords with that given of a true believer in the New Testament."2 Thus he shews us, which of the professors of true religion will stand accepted in the day of judgment: but this has nothing to do with such as openly neglect or oppose revealed truth, or refuse the salvation of the gospel.
In perfect harmony with these scriptures, our Lord describes his true disciples: “ Whosoever
shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, “ the same is my brother, my sister, and my mo" ther.”
“ Blessed are they that hear the word of “God and keep it.”3 This word or will of God doubtless has peculiar relation to Christ, and to the voice from heaven, “ This is my beloved Son, “ in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him :" and a moral or pharisaical decency of conduct most essentially differs from “ the obedience of faith." “ He that believeth not God hath made him a liar, “ because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that “ God hath given to us eternal life, and this life " is in his Son; he that hath the Son hath life, « and he that hath not the Son of God hath not “ life.”] The unbeliever, therefore, whatever his moral character may be, so far from “ doing the “ will of God,” disobeys his express command, and deliberately affronts his veracity.
2 Psal. xv.
1 Ezek. xviii. 27--30.
Our Lord closed his sermon on the mount with this remarkable passage. “Not every one that “ saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the
kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will “ of my Father which is in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not
prophesied in thy name i and in thy name cast “ out devils ? and in thy name done many won“ derful works i and then will I profess unto them, “ I never knew you, depart from me ye that work
iniquity. Therefore, whosoever heareth these
sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken “ him unto a wise man, which built his house
upon “ a rock; and the rain descended, and the floods
came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that “ house, and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these
say“ ings of mine and doeth them not shall be liken“ed unto a foolish man, which built his house “ upon the sand; and the rains descended, and “ the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat
upon that house, and it fell, and great was the “ fall of it.”? This passage evidently refers to the
!] John v. 10–12.
day of judgment; but it mentions none except those who “ call Christ Lord,” come to him, and “ hear his sayings.” His professed disciples therefore are exclusively intended; and living faith is described as distinguishable from dead faith by its holy fruits. Disobedient professors of Christianity will be condemned as “hypocrites," or " wicked and slothful servants ;” and avowed unbelievers as “ enemies who would not have the “ Son of God to reign over them.”!
But the solemn description of the great decisive day, given us by the judge himself, is most conclusive on the subject. In this important scripture, acts of kindness, shewn to believers for the sake of Christ, are the only deeds mentioned, as the reason for the rejoicing words addressed to the righteous, “ Come, ye
“ Come, ye blessed of my Father in“ herit the kingdom prepared for you from the
beginning of the world.” And no charge is brought against the wicked, but their omission of such duties, when the sentence is denounced, “ Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared “ for the devil and his angels." Yet it will then appear, that the righteous have performed many other good works of divers kinds, and that the wicked have been guilty of numerous other crimes and omissions. Why then did our Lord mention these things exclusively : Doubtless, because he supposed them to constitute the most conclusive evidence of genuine faith, or of unbelief. Beneficence, not springing from love to Christ, nor
Matt. xxv. 30. Luke xix. 21–27. ? Matt. xxv. 31--46.
exercised towards his disciples, his “ brethren” or representatives, cannot be here intended, as many have inconsiderately imagined, for who will say that an indiscriminate liberality, connected with an ungodly licentious life, will entitle a man to the heavenly inheritance? Or, if any
should venture on such an assertion, would they also allow that the want of this beneficence will expose a man to the awful doom here denounced, however free from vice, or adorned with other virtues, his character
have been > Or will any one maintain, that the liberality of infidels to one another, from whatever motive, answers to our Lord's words, “ I was hungry and ye gave me meat :“ for as much as ye did it to the least of these my “ brethren, ye did it unto me?”—Indeed a measure of the same absurdities attaches to every other interpretation of this passage; except that which goes upon the following principles, gathered from the several parts of the sacred volume. There is no salvation for sinners, except by the mercy of God through Jesus Christ; no interest in this salvation without faith ; no true faith, except that which “ worketh by love ;” no love to Christ is genuine which is not accompanied by special love to his disciples; and no love to the brethren is
unfeigned,” which does not influence a man to alleviate their distresses, supply their wants, and do them good, as he hath opportunity and ability. This love is “ the fruit of the Spirit:" where the Spirit of Christ dwells, all the fruits of the Spirit will be produced : and“ if any man have not the
spirit of Christ he is none of his.” A detail of particulars would not have suited the majesty of