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the words of this law that are written in this book, that we may fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD.”.
VI. All acceptable obedience must flow from a principle of living faith in the divine testimony, especially respecting Christ. “Without faith it is impossible to please God: he that cometh to God must · believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Heb. xi. 6. “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Rom. xiv. 23. What made Abraham's obedience of such value as to be noted in Scripture, was the fact that he believed God even contrary to appearances.
VII. The obedience to the law required of believers under the gospel must be evangelical ; that is, we are not to keep the commandments for the purpose of thus · meriting God's favour, nor are we to render our obedience in our own strength; but by the assistance or the grace of God. All attempts to climb to heaven by the ladder of our own works must utterly fail; and all our endeavours to keep the law in the strength of our fallen nature must no less certainly overwhelm us with disgrace. Colquhoun: “Heathen morality is external obedience to the law of nature, and may be termed natural religion. Pharisaical righteousness is hypocritical obedience to the law as a covenant of works, and is usually called legal righteousness, or the works of the law. True holiness is spiritual and sincere obedience to the law as a rule of life, in the hand of the blessed Mediator, and is commonly styled evangelical holiness or truc godliness.”
VIII. All right obedience must be performed with a just sense of our imperfections. We must never
present our obedience before God as being in itself deserving of any reward. Jesus Christ greatly insists upon this. One of his parables is on this very subject. “Which of you having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? and will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken ; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant, because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” Luke xvii. 7-10. The proper spirit in which to commend our labours to God's favourable regard is beautifully exemplified in the life of that eminent young man, Nehemiah. He was the most distinguished patriot and servant of God in his day. With great intrepidity he rebuilt the holy city. His sufferings and trials were sharp. Having given a modest and truthful record of what he had endured and accomplished, he offers such prayers as these: “Remember me, O my God, for good;” “Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and wipe not out my
good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, · and for the offices thereof.” But that we may in no
case misunderstand his real temper, he has left this prayer also on record: “Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy.” Neh. xiii. 14, 22, 31.
IX. The obedience we render must be universal. God allows no eclecticism in this matter. “Then
shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.” Ps. cxix. 6. “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.” Deut. xii. 32.
X. Our obedience must be perpetual. “I will never forget thy precepts.” Ps. cxix. 93. “Cursed is he that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them.” Stowell: “The authority of the moral law is founded in the perfection of God, and extends over all the creatures whom he has rendered capable of obeying it while that capability exists."
CHAPTER I X.
THE PLACE WHICH GOOD WORKS OCCUPY IN
A SYSTEM OF GRACE.
I. GREAT design of the gospel, so far as man
is concerned, is his restoration to holiness. Indeed, Jesus Christ "gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” God “hath chosen us in nim before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” And we are expressly said to be God's "workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Titus ii. 14; Eph. i. 4; ii. 10. So that election, redemption, and regeneration would all fail of their ends, if the subjects of them were not made holy.
II. It is only by good works manifest and open that Christians can afford to the world satisfactory evidence that their principles are better than those of other people. The world will judge of men’s real characters neither solely nor chiefly by their professions, but by their practice. This is right. Words are cheap. Actions speak louder than words. That is a just challenge of the apostle when he says: Shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” James ii. 18. Christ himself says to his disciples, “Ye are the light of the world. .... Let your light so shine before inen, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matt. v. 14–16. But if their works are no better than those of carnal men, they are of course subject to the rebuke, “What do ye more than others;" and their lives can be no proof of the divine origin of their religion. In the early ages of Christianity one of the most difficult stations to fill well was that of a Christian wife, who had a heathen husband; and yet that very position afforded an opportunity of holding forth the word of life to great advantage. See 1 Pet. iii. 1-6. To such Paul says, “ What knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband ?" 1 Cor. vii. 16.
III. Good works are in themselves pleasing to God; and for Christ's sake their imperfections are forgiven, and they are divinely rewarded. According to Scripture, our happiness hereafter will in an important sense be proportioned to our works here." Our good deeds will not be the cause, but merely the occasions of our receiving great and astonishing blessings. Even the penitent thief, who died on the cross, and whose public confession of Christ was one of the most illustrious acts of faith ever performed, shall not lose his reward. In accordance with these teachings speak the Scriptures. “Walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work." Col. i. 10. “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” 2 Cor. ix. 6. “Say ye to