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religious performances, are not barely unacceptable, but abominable, yea an abomination (in the abstract) unto the Lord. The same thing is again asserted, chap. xxi. ver. 27. which plainly shows us the judgment of Solomon in this matter. And hence we learn, that all the works of those who have no saving faith in Christ are odious and abhorred of Almighty God. We may observe, sacrifice is here opposed to prayer in the next clause; for when the Jews offered sacrifice, they generally joined prayer with it. This text, therefore, teaches us, that both the prayers and the sacrifices of the wicked are equally displeasing in the sight of God. Some make an ill use of this text, and from hence take occasion to omit prayer; for say they, the prayer of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, and, therefore, we think it better not to pray at all. Thus the devil deludes them. Such persons ought to consider, First, It is not the design of the inspired writer to deter men from prayer, but only to warn them against praying with their hearts full of impenitency and infidelity. The use, therefore, we are to make of this text, is not to omit praying at all, but to approach the Lord in an acceptable manner; which we can do no otherwise, than by drawing near to the throne of his grace through faith in his dear Son, and lifting up of holy hands in prayer without wrath and doubting. 1 Tim. ii. 8. Secondly, the omission of prayer is a sin of itself, and in its own nature; whereas the prayer of the wicked is not a sin in itself, but in respect of the form or manner of performing it, viz.

because evangelical faith is wanting. Although, therefore, the prayer of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, yet their omission of prayer is a much greater abomination. The wicked then had much better pray as well as they can, than not pray at all. Thirdly, It is true, indeed, if men pray against sin in general, any one sin in particular, and yet indulge themselves in the wilful and habitual practice of it; what hypocrisy is all this! To be sure such prayers must be very loathsome and detestable in the eyes of the Almighty; but then if persons are awakened to a sense of their wickedness, if they groan under the burden of it, and desire to be delivered from it, will you say, that their prayers are an abomination to the Lord? This can never be; else what is the meaning of that promise in Isaiah, Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. This shows how groundless this cavil is. And the truth of all is, men are willing to omit prayer, and so the devil and their own wicked hearts furnish them with many pleas and pretences to excuse themselves.

Our per

Our Saviour delivers this doctrine, John, xiv. 6. No man cometh unto the Father but by me. sons and our performances are both accepted of God upon the same foundation; but our persons are not accepted without faith in Christ, neither, therefore,

are our performances. This text then is a plain proof, thut none of our good works are pleasing to God, till we have faith in his Son Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Apostle Paul, in many places, asserts this truth. Thus Rom. viii. 8. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. Flesh here denotes the same as the minding of the flesh, ver. 6. i. e. the unregenerate state of man. All who are in this state cannot please God, and the reason is, because they have no faith in the Mediator; for, as St. John saith, Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God, 1 John, v. 1. So, on the contrary, those who are not born of God do not believe. Therefore, unregenerate and unbelievers, are terms convertible; and, therefore, of these latter, as well as the former, the apostle affirms, that they cannot please God; he does not say, they cannot so easily, they cannot so exactly, they cannot so perfectly; but he speaks simply and absolutely, they cannot; to let us know they cannot please him in any measure or degree, Let them do what they will or can, still so long as unbelief is in their hearts, this poisons all their services, and makes their best works unacceptable and offensive to Almighty God.

So, again, chap. xiv. ver. 23. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. Whatsoever work or action does not

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spring out of faith,* as the fruit out of the tree, is sin, and so, consequently, must be displeasing to our heavenly Father. It is true, the holy apostle delivers this sentence particularly, concerning eating divers or all kinds of meats, which some weak christians lately converted from Judaism scrupled; the divine teacher, therefore, here admonishes such scrupulous persons to abstain, informing them, that since they questioned the lawfulness of it, it would be sin in them to eat; although to others, who had no doubt or scruple concerning it, it would be no sin at all, ver. 2-23. But then we are also to observe, that the apostle lays this down as a general maxim in christian divinity, and, accordingly, we are to take it in a large sense; and so it teacheth us, that all our good works without faith are nothing worth ; they are sinful, yea, sin itself, saith the apostle. And I remember the Church of England in one of her Homiliest makes this use and application of this text.

The same infallible Author speaks the same language, Heb. xi. 6. But without faith it is impossible to please him, viz. God. The apostle, in the words foregoing, had testified that Enoch pleased God; whence it inevitably follows, that he must have been a believer in Christ, for without faith in him it is

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* Εκ Πεσεω

+ Of Good Works.

absolutely impossible to please God. And, as Enoch could not please God without faith, so neither can any other person. This, therefore, is universally true, that none of our services, how specious or perfect soever they may seem, can please God, if they are not done in the faith of Christ. And, thus, I think I have said enough, to prove and establish iny first proposition. This, and the forementioned my texts, evidently declare, that no good works, acceptable to God, can possibly be done by us, before we believe in the Saviour, and are justified.

From what has been said, we infer,

I. The necessity of faith in the Redeemer.

II. The utter impossibility of justification by works.

I. How necessary is faith in the Redeemer? Neither our persons, nor our services, are accepted of God without it. How earnestly then should we seek after this grace? How unwearied should we be in the pursuit of it? All the good works you do are displeasing to God, unless they spring from a living principle of faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. Never, therefore, give any rest to your soul, till you find this gracious principle wrought in you. Cry day and night to God, to implant it in your heart. is faith in Christ, which recommends both our persons and our performances, to the acceptance of our

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