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say, "Lord, forgive me my sins of omission!" Well, in the Name of God let us now from this day set about it with general consent. And I pray, let it never go out of your mind, that this is a duty which you cannot perform by proxy: unless in one case; unless you are disabled by your own pain or weakness. In that only case, it suffices to send the relief which you would otherwise give. Begin, my dear brethren, begin now, else the impression which you now feel will wear off; and, possibly, it may never return! What then will be the consequence? Instead of hearing the word, "Come, ye blessed-For I was sick and ye visited me:" you must hear that awful sentence, "Depart, ye cursed!-For I was sick and ye visited me not!"
THE REWARD OF THE RIGHTEOUS.
PREACHED BEFORE THE HUMANE SOCIETY.
MATTHEW XXV. 34.
"Come, ye blessed of my FATHER! Inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the Foundation of the World."
1. REASON alone will convince every fair enquirer, That God," is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." This alone teaches him to say, "Doubtless there is a reward for the righteous :" "There is a God that judgeth the earth." But how little information do we receive from unassisted reason, touching the particulars contained in this general truth! As eye hath not seen, or ear heard, so neither could it naturally enter into our hearts to conceive, the circumstances of that awful Day, wherein God will judge the world. No information of this kind could be given, but from the great Judge himself. And what an amazing instance of condescension it is, that the Creator, the Governor, the Lord, the Judge of all, should deign to give us so clear and particular an account of that solemn transaction! If the learned Heathen acknowledged the sublimity of that account which Moses gives of the Creation, what would he have said, if he had heard this account of the Son of Man coming in his Glory? Here, indeed, is no laboured pomp of words, no ornaments of language. This
would not have suited either the Speaker or the occasion. But what inexpressible dignity of thought! See him "coming in the clouds of heaven! And all the angels with him!" See him "sitting on the throne of his glory, and all the nations gathered before him!" And shall he separate them, placing the good on his right hand, and the wicked on his left? Then shall the King say-With what admirable propriety is the expression varied! The Son of Man comes down to judge the children of men! The King distributes rewards and punishments, to his obedient or rebellious subjects! "Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father! Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world!"
2. "Prepared for you from the foundation of the world." -But does this agree with the common supposition, That God created man merely to supply the vacant thrones of the rebel angels? Does it not rather seem to imply, That he would have created man, though the angels had never fallen? Inasmuch as he then prepared the kingdom for his human children, when he laid the foundation of the earth.
3. "Inherit the kingdom"-as being heirs of God, and joint heirs with his beloved Son. It is your right, seeing I have purchased eternal redemption for all them that obey me. And ye did obey me in the days of your flesh. Ye "believed in the Father, and also in me." Ye loved the Lord your God: and that love constrained you to love all mankind. Ye continued in the faith that wrought by love. Ye showed your faith by your works. "For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink : I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and in prison; and ye came unto me."
4. But in what sense are we to understand the words that follow? "Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and gave thee meat? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink?" They cannot be literally understood: they cannot answer in these very words: because it is not possible they should be ignorant, that God had really wrought by them. Is it not then maniVOL. X. S
fest, that these words are to be taken in a figurative sense And can they imply any more than that all which they have done will appear as nothing to them, will, as it were, vanish away, in view of what God their Saviour had done and suffered for them!
5. But the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto me.' What a declaration is this! Worthy to be had in everlasting remembrance! May the finger of the living God write it upon all our hearts !
I would take occasion from hence, first, to make a few Reflections on Good Works in general: Secondly, to consider in particular that Institution, for the promotion of which we are now assembled: and, in the third place, to make a short application.
I. 1. And first, I would make a few Reflections upon Good Works in general.
I am not insensible, that many, even serious people, are jealous of all that is spoken upon this subject: nay, and whenever the necessity of good works is strongly insisted on, take for granted, that he who speaks in this manner, is but one remove from Popery. But should we, for fear of this, or of any other reproach, refrain from speaking the Truth as it is in Jesus? Should we, on any consideration, shun to declare the whole Counsel of GOD? Nay, if a falseprophet could utter that solemn word, how much more may the ministers of Christ, "We cannot go beyond the Word of the LORD, to speak either more or less!"
2. Is it not to be lamented, that any, who fear God, should desire us to do otherwise? And that by speaking otherwise themselves, they should occasion the Way of Truth to be evil spoken of? I mean, in particular, the way of salvation by faith, which on this very account is. despised, nay, had in abomination by many sensible men. It is now above forty years since this grand scriptural doctrine, "By Grace ye are saved through Faith," began to be openly declared, by a few Clergymen of the Church of England. And not long after, some who heard, but did not
understand, attempted to preach the same doctrine, but miserably mangled it, wresting the Scripture, and "making void the law through faith."
3. Some of these, in order to exalt the value of faith, have utterly depreciated good works. They speak of them as not only not necessary to salvation, but as greatly obstructive to it. They represent them as abundantly more dangerous than evil ones, to those who are seeking to save their souls. One cries aloud, "More people go to hell by praying, than by thieving." Another screams out, "Away with your works! Have done with your works, or you cannot come to Christ!" And this unscriptural, irrational, heathenish declamation is called, Preaching the Gospel!
4. But "shall not the Judge of all the earth" speak, as well as "do right?" Will not "he be justified in his saying, and clear when he is judged ?" Assuredly he will. And upon his authority we must continue to declare, That whenever you do good to any for his sake; when you feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty; when you assist the stranger, or clothe the naked; when you visit them that are sick or in prison; these are not splendid sins, as one marvellously calls them; but "sacrifices, wherewith God is well pleased."
5. Not that our Lord intended, we should confine our beneficence to the bodies of men. He undoubtedly designed that we should be equally abundant in works of spiritual mercy. He died " to purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of all good works :" zealous, above all, to "save souls from death," and thereby "hide a multitude of sins." And this is unquestionably included in St. Paul's exhortation, "As we have time, let us do good unto all men :" good in every possible kind, as well as in every possible degree. But why does not our blessed Lord mention works of spiritual mercy? He could not do it with any propriety: It was not for him to say, "I was in error, and ye convinced me; I was in sin, and ye brought me back to God." And it needed not; for in mentioning some he included all works of mercy.