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which can be drawn up now, to those who have frequently assertedThat we have changed our doctrine of late, and do not preach now, what we did some years ago. Any man of understanding may now judge for himself, when he has compared the latter with the former
8. But some may say, I have mistaken the way myself, although I take upon me to teach it to others. It is probable many will think this, and it is very possible that I have. But I trust, whereinsoever I have mistaken, my mind is open to conviction. I sincerely desire to be better informed. I say to God and man, "What I know not, teach thou me!"
9. Are you persuaded you see more clearly than I? It is not unlikely that you may. Then, treat me as you would desire to be treated yourself upon a change of circumstances. Point me out a better way than I have yet known. Show me it is so, by plain proof of Scripture. And if I linger in the path I have been accustomed to tread, and therefore am unwilling to leave it, labour with me a little, take me by the hand, and lead me as I am able to bear. But be not displeased if I entreat you, not to beat me down, in order to quicken my pace: I can go but feebly and slowly at best; then I should not be able to go at all. May I not request of you, farther, not to give me hard names, in order to bring me into the right way. Suppose I were ever so much in the wrong, I doubt this would not set me right. Rather, it would make me run so much the farther from you, and so get more and more out of the
10. Nay, perhaps if you are angry, so shall I be too: and then there will be small hopes of finding the truth. If once anger arise, ute xavos (as Homer somewhere expresses it), this smoke will so dim the eyes of my soul, that I shall be able to see nothing clearly. For God's sake, if it be possible to avoid it, let us not provoke one another to wrath. Let us not kindle in each other this fire of hell: much less blow it up into a flame. If we could discern truth by that dreadful light, would it not be loss, rather than gain? For, how far is love, even with many wrong opinions, to be preferred before truth itself without love? We may die without the knowledge of many truths, and yet be carried into Abraham's bosom. But if we die without love, what will knowledge avail? Just as much as it avails the Devil and his angels.
The God of Love forbid we should ever make the trial! May he prepare us for the knowledge of all truth, by filling our hearts with all his love, and with all joy and peace in believing.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME V.
XXIV, Second Discourse; Matthew v. 5—7.
XXVII. Fifth Discourse; Matthew v. 16-20.
SALVATION BY FAITH.
Preached at St. Mary's, Oxford, before the University, on June 18, 1738.]
"By grace ye are saved through faith," Eph. ii. 8.
1. ALL the blessings which God hath bestowed upon man, are of his mere grace, bounty, or favour; his free, undeserved favour; favour altogether undeserved; man having no claim to the least of his mercies. It was free grace that "formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into him a living soul," and stamped on that soul the image of God, "and put all things under his feet." The same free grace continues to us at this day, life and breath, and all things. For there is nothing we are, or have, or do, which can deserve the least thing at God's hand, "All our works, thou, O God! hast wrought in us." These, therefore, are so many more instances of free mercy: and, whatever righteousness may be found in man, this is also the gift of God.
2. Wherewithal then shall a sinful man atone for any the least of his sins? With his own works? No. Were they ever so many or holy, they are not his own, but God's. But indeed they are all unholy and sinful themselves, so that every one of them needs a fresh atonement. Only corrupt fruit grows on a corrupt tree. And his heart is altogether corrupt and abominable; being "come short of the glory of God," the glorious righteousness at first impressed on his soul after the image of his great Creator. Therefore, having nothing, neither righteousness nor works to plead, his "mouth is utterly stopped before God."
3. If then sinful man find favour with God, it is "grace upon grace!" If God vouchsafe still to pour fresh blessings upon us, yea, the greatest of all blessings, salvation; what can we say to these things, but "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift !" And thus it is. Herein "God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died" to save us. "By grace, Grace is the source, faith the
then, are ye saved, through faith." condition, of salvation.
Now, that we fall not short of the grace of God, it concerns us carefully to inquire,
I. What Faith it is through which we are saved?
II. What is the Salvation which is through faith?