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The last fire will devour this world in the same wretched incogitancy, and stupid neglect to prepare themselves for judgment. “ As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the Son of man.” It is a divine and solemn warning, “ Behold, I come as a thief in the night: blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments, lest he be found naked,” without the robe of holiness, and be exposed to confounding shame in that day. When secure and careless sinners shall say, "peace and safety, sudden destruction will come upon them, as travail upon a woman with child,” as surprisingly, as irresistibly; " and they shall not escape.” But the “ wise foresee the evil,” and esteem it their incomparable interest to secure the favour of the Supreme Judge. It is the inference the apostle makes from the certainty of our appearing before the Righteous Judge, " wherefore we labour, that whether present or absent," in this or the next life, may be accepted of him.” 2 Cor. 5. 9. This was his great design, his chief care, his duty and his glory: never did any person more ardently aspire, and ambitiously endeavour for the obtaining a kingdom, than he did to secure his own

acceptance with the Lord. In order to this, I will lay down the rules of our acceptance in that day, and conclude the argument.

First. Unfeigned faith in the Lord Jesus is absolutely necessary, that we may be accepted. This is such a belief of his allsufficient merits, and his merciful inclination to save us, that the guilty and self-condemned sinner entirely consents to the terms of the gospel, as well as to the privileges of it, with a reliance upon his merits, and a resolution to obey his precepts. He is a “ Priest on a throne, a Prince, and a Saviour,” and so must be acknowledged and received. Upon this condition his righteousness is freely imputed to us for our justification unto life, without which we must perish in our sins. For,

(1.) The best saints are guilty, and deeply obnoxious to the law, and the judgment of God is invariably according to truth; so that appearing in their sins, they will be cast for ever. God's tribunal, like that of the severe Roman judge, is reorum scopulus, a rock that dashes in pieces all the guilty that come to it. Therefore the psalmist so earnestly deprecates; “ enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord; for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.” And the apostle, though a transcendent saint, divests himself of his own righteousness, that he may be entirely covered with the righteousness of Christ; and renounces all things, that “ he may be found in him as his surety" in that day of accounts, and obtain pardon by virtue of his satisfaction for sin. We cannot perfectly obey the commands, nor appease the displeasure of God: but the expiatory sacrifice of Christ propitiates the divine justice. This alone can make us stand in judgment before the “ fiery law,” and “the fiery tribunal,” and the “ Judge who is a consuming fire,” to all the guilty that appear

in their sins before him. The blood of the Mediator has sprinkled the throne of God in heaven; and our consciences being sprinkled with it by an unfeigned faith, we may appear before God the judge of all with a humble confidence, and enter into the holy of holies, the celestial sanctuary, with joy.

(2.) Not only the pardon of our sins, but the acceptance and rewarding of our services with eternal glory, is upon the account of our Saviour's complete righteousness. There are defilements in the persons, and defects in the works of the saints. Their most holy and fervent prayers are perfumed by the incense of his intercession, and so become grateful to God, Rev. 8. 3. Our best virtues are mixed and shadowed with imperfections ; but in him all graces were conspicuous in their consummate degrees. Our obedience, supposing it perfect, is of no desert: “ when we have done all, we are unprofitable servants :" but his obedience was infinitely meritorious by the union of the Deity with his human nature, and is the foundation of the excellent reward. Not that his merits derive a value to our works to make them worthy of eternal glory: as some noble mineral infused into water, that is in itself without taste or efficacy, gives it a medicinal tincture and virtue ; for this is impossible, since the infinite dignity of his person, and his most perfect habitual and actual holiness, that are the fountains and reasons of his merits, are incommunicable to our persons and works. But the active and passive obedience of Christ is so satisfactory and meritorious, that God is pleased graciously to reward with the crown of life the mean services of those who are by a lively and purifying faith united to him.

Secondly. Sincere obedience, that is a uniform and entire respect to all the commands of God, will alone be accepted in that day: for his authority runs through all, and binds them on the conscience, David had this testimony from God himself, that he " was a man after his own heart, that fulfilled all his will." And St. John refers the decision of our state to this, “ if our hearts condemn us” of any allowed sin of omission or commission, much more “ God will, who is greater than our hearts, and knows all things.” 1 John 3. 20, 21. But if the illuminated tender conscience doth not condemn us of insincerity, “ we have confidence towards God," that he will spare and accept us notwithstanding our frailties, and give free and safe access into his presence. The lives of many are chequered with a strange disparity, they are restrained from some sins of apparent odiousness, but indulgent to others; they are strict in some duties, but loose and slack in others, as if they hoped by way of commutation to be accepted of God; to expiate their delinquencies in one kind by supererogating in another. Some are painted pharisees in the duties of the first table, very exact in the formalities of outward devotions, but gross publicans in the duties of the second ; careless of justice and equity, and charity to men; others are in appearance strictly moral in the discharge of their duties to men, and negligent of their obligations to God. But partial obedience can never endure the trial of conscience, much less of God. For what is the weak light of our minds, to the pure eyes of his glory? It will make us liable to inward rebuke now, and to open confusion at the last. St. Paul's " rejoicing was from the testimony of his conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity he had his conversation in the world.” 2 Cor. 1. 12. And, as he expresses it in another place, it was his “ daily exercise to have a conscience void of offence towards God, and towards men.” Though our conquest of sin be not complete, yet our resolution and endeavours must be to mortify it in every kind. Though our obedience has not the perfection of degrees, we must be equally regarding the divine law. If there be any secret favoured sin, either of omission or commission, it will render our petitions unacceptable at the throne of grace, and our persons at the throne of judgment; “ if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear my prayer." The law requires the performance of our duty without abatement, or denounceth the penalty without allay or mitigation : the gospel has not relaxed the strictness of the law as it is the rule of life, but as it was the condition of obtaining life. Sincere obedience is accepted by that gracious covenant, where the legal perfection is wanting ; but that is indispensably required of all. I may illustrate this by a passage of Alexander the Great, who being desirous to learn geometry, applied himself to a skilful instructor in it. But his warlike disposition made him more capable to conquer, than to measure the earth; so that tired with the first propositions, he desired his master to make the scheme more clear and plain, and easy to him. * To whom the master replied, that the theorems of that science were equally difficult to all, and required the same attention of mind to understand them. Thus the gospel of mercy requires of all sincere sanctification, and serious endeavours to perfect holiness in the fear of God, and without this none shall be exempted from condemnation.

To the sincerity of obedience, I shall add a more restrained notion of it as respecting religion. The duties of piety consist of an outward and inward part; and the one without the other, is but as a carcass without a quickening soul. Now there will be an exquisite anatomy of the heart in that judgment, a discovery of all the principles and motives by which men were actuated ; and then he that is a saint inwardly, “ in the spirit,” who with pure aims and holy affections hath served God, shall have “praise of him.” And those who have used God to enjoy the world, that have assumed pretences of piety for secular ends, shall be reproved. This will be a cause of wonder in that day, that many “ who are highly esteemed by men” as excellent saints, 6 shall be an abomination to God.” That in the broad way to hell thousands go thither is sad beyond expression, but not strange at all : but that in the path of heaven any should descend to hell, is astonishing. That those who live without God in the world, in the profane neglect of his worship, in a dissolute disorderly course, should fall under condemnation, is believed of all: but that those who have appeared zealous in religion, shall be at last rejected, is contrary to universal expectation. And not only the gross hypocrite that deceives others, but he that deceives himself by the external practice of holy duties, without correspondent lively affections; that prays with that coldness as if he had no desire to be heard, and hears with that carelessness as if he had no desire to be sanctified by the word, and is conversant in other parts of divine service in that slight manner, as if he had no design to be saved, shall by a convincing upbraiding light see his wickedness, in dishonouring that God whom he pretended to worship, and neglecting his soul. When the upright as pure gold shall be more radiant by the fire, the insincere like reprobate silver shall not endure that severe trial.

* Cui præceptor : ista, inquit, omnibus eadem sunt æque difficilia. Sen. Ep. 51.

Thirdly. The frequent discussion of conscience, and reviewing our ways, is necessary in order to our comfortable appearing before our Judge. This is a duty of constant revolution : for while we are in flesh, the best saints, notwithstanding all their vigilance and diligence, are overtaken by surprisal, and sometimes overborne by strong temptations, and it is more necessary to beg for daily pardon, than for our daily bread. Under the law, if any one had by touching a dead body contracted uncleanness, he was to wash his clothes in the evening, and not to lie down in his uncleanness. This was typical of our duty, that we should wash away our sinful defilements every day in the purifying fountain of Christ's blood, “ that is set open for sin and for uncleanness.” And the method of the gospel to obtain the grant of pardon, and our comfortable sense, and the blessed effects of it is this, there must be a mournful sight, and serious acknowledgment of our daily sins, and a judging ourselves by the domestical tribunal in our breasts as worthy of condemnation. For though we cannot satisfy divine justice for the least sin, we nust glorify it; and with humility and fervency desire that God would graciously forgive our renewed sins, with unfeigned resolutions and care against them for the future. Thus we are to sue out our pardon for sins committed every day. And whereas many errors in regard of our frailty, and their fineness, do slip from us, we should with contrite spirits implore the divine majesty " to cleanse us from our secret sins," Psal. 19. 12. such as through ignorance or inadvertency escape from our observation. If we are obliged to be reconciled to an offended or offending brother before the night, and “ the sun must not go down upon our wrath,” much more to be reconciled to an offended God, that his displeasure may be atoned. The morning and evening sacrifice was a figure of the constant use of Christ's merits and mediation for us. The secure neglect of renewing our repentance for our renewed sins, deprives us of the comforts of the covenant, and will make the thoughts of judgment as heavy as mountains upon the conscience,

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