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SERMON XII.

Salvation, not by Works, but by Grace through Faith,

EPHESIANS ii. 8, 9, 10.

For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of your. selves, it is the gift of God: Not of works lest any man should boast; for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them.

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THE Apostle here asserts, in general terms, that our salvation is of grace. This is an obvious con clusi on from the doctrine already proposed and prov ed. If, when we were dead in sins, God hath quickened us and raised us up with Christ, our salvation can be only in a way of grace; for they who are dead, surely can do nothing which should deserve so mighty an interposition for their recovery.

In what sense our salvation is of grace the Apostle next explains. It is not of ourselves; it is the gift of God. That which is a gift from God, without any right of demand on our part, is of grace. As the gospel finds us involved in guilt, slaves to the world, and children of wrath, we can pretend no claim to salvation: If we obtain it, we must be wholly indebted to divine mercy.

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This truth the Apostle farther illustrates by stating the manner in which we are saved. We are saved by faith, not of works, lest any man should boast.-The great condition of our salvation is faith; and this in its nature includes a reliance on the promise of God. And if salvation comes to us in consequence of our trusting in the promise which God has freely made, it comes only by grace. Not of works, lest any man should boast. Works, indeed, are necessary to salvation, for God hath ordained that we shall walk in them: But works give us no cause of boasting; for we are created in Christ Jesus unto good works.

We will here consider, How we are saved by faithillustrate the influence that works have in our salvation -and shew that our salvation, though connected with works, is not the less of grace.

I. We will consider, How we are saved by, or through faith.

The salvation here intended the Apostle describes in the former chapter, and in the preceding verses of this. It is a deliverance from that ruined state into which the apostacy has plunged us, and a restoration to the divine favor with all its happy effects. It is begun here in the pardon of sin; it is completed in the enjoyment of the glorious riches of the heavenly inheritance, and in our sitting with Christ Jesus, who is now on the right hand of the throne of God.

The faith, through which we are saved, is expressed by "our trusting, and believing in Christ, after we have heard the word of truth and the gospel of our salvation." This faith is accompanied with a divine power which quickens and raises the soul, once dead in sin, to a spiritual life in conformity to the pattern of Christ. The fruit of faith is our being sealed and sanctified by the spirit of promise, and having in our souls an earnest of the future inheritance.

To form an idea of the nature of saving faith, we need only to consider, what we ourselves are, and what

the gospel of Christ is. We are fallen, guilty creatures, children of disobedience, worthy of death. The gospel is a discovery of the way of salvation through Jesus Christ. Faith, therefore, is the consent and submission of the soul to this way of salvation. It is such a persuasion, that Jesus is the Son of God and the Saviour of men, and such a desire and expectation of salvation through him, as engages us to commit our souls to his care, and devote our lives to his service. The operation of faith, is to cast down our vain imagina. tions, to humble within us every high thing which exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

When we are said to be saved by faith, these two things are implied, That without faith we cannot be saved; and that all who have faith will be saved.

1. The expression implies, that without faith we cannot be saved.

This is the express doctrine of our divine Saviour. "If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. He that believeth not is condemned already. He shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him."

Faith is necessary in the appointment of God. As salvation is his gift, so he has stated the terms on which he will bestow it; and it is absurd to expect it on any other. Obstinate unbelief is a refusal of that plan of salvation, which his wisdom has fixed; and therefore a rejection of salvation itself.

Faith is necessary in the nature of the case; for when salvation is offered in a particular way, our refusing to accept it in this way, discovers such pride and perverseness of heart as render us incapable of enjoying it in any way.

Whatever knowledge we have of the doctrines of the gospel, if this knowledge is not accompanied with such a belief of those doctrines as gives them a humbling

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and purifying influence, it cannot save us. The knowl edge of religion, if it is only speculative, is, like other speculative knowledge, useless and vain. If a man have all knowledge, and have not charity, he is nothing. Knowledge puffeth up; but charity edifieth.

Morality without faith will not save us. Morality, indeed, in the largest sense of the word, comprises the whole of religion-not only external good works, but a right temper of heart-not only the social virtues, justice, truth and honesty; but the graces of piety, love to God and faith in the Redeemer. But morality, taken in the vulgar sense for the external practice of virtue, and a freedom from gross impiety and wickedness, will not avail to our salvation. There must be purity of heart: And wherever this takes place, there will be a humble submission to, and reliance on that glorious Mediator, whom God has appointed and revealed. It is morally right, that we should regard all beings according to their known relations to us. And since Christ is exhibited to us in the character and relation, of a Redeemer, it is as reasonable and necessary, that we should regard and trust him in this relation, as that we should love and fear God. And it is as absurd for us, who enjoy the gospel, to pretend to virtue and piety without faith in Christ, as without reverence to the Deity.

2. The expression in the text implies, that all who have faith will be saved.

This the gospel expressly declares and promises in a variety of terms and phrases, which are so familiar to you, that I need not rehearse them.

When we read those passages which contain the promises of salvation to faith, we must always keep in mind, what the gospel means by faith-not a mere assent to, and profession of the truth; but such a belief as purifies the heart and governs the life. Salvation is promised to repentance and to obedience, as well as to faith; for these are all connected together, and each in

cludes the other. Faith supposes a conviction of sin and a sense of guilt; for without these we shall not feel our need of salvation, nor apply to Jesus for it. A soul humbled for sin, and seeking deliverance from it, will form resolutions against it, and purposes of new obedience. It is therefore absurd to say, that a believ er will be saved by his faith, though he continues in the practice of sin; for the indulgence of sin is inconsistent with faith. A believer, through error of judg ment, infirmity of nature, or force of temptation, may, contrary to his general disposition, be betrayed into particular miscarriages; but there cannot be allowed any customary disobedience to the gospel, where real faith exists, because that is contrary to the nature of faith.

Whoever believes with the faith, which the Apostle describes in this epistle, will be saved; for he has the promise of salvation-he is prepared for it-God has wrought him to it and already given him the earnest of it. Whatever his former life has been-whatever crimes he has committed-whatever guilt he has contracted, yet, on his thus submitting to the government, and relying on the power and grace of Christ, he is justified and accepted: His sins are forgiven, and his eternal happiness is secured. As his past sins, now sincerely repented of, do not exclude him from favor, so neither will his future imperfections nullify his pardon; for he lives by faith in the Son of God, and his faith operates to vigilance, seifexamination and renewed exercises of repentance. "There is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not af ter the flesh, but after the Spirit." I proceed,

II. To shew what place and influence works have in our salvation. The Apostle says, "We are not saved of works, lest any man should boast;" and yet adds, "We are created to good works, which God hath or dained that we should walk in them." He signifies, that works have some concern in our salvation; but not

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