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and little bleffing difcerned? Why, furely temple-work and temple-reformation is laid afide: this is what the Lord complains of, by this fame prophet Haggai, chap. i. 2, 3, 4. "People fay, The time is not come, the time to build the Lord's houfe." Why, fays God, "Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this houfe ly wafte?" Thus many think, O it is not time to think of a public covenanted work of reformation ; to ply the ftate for the redrefs of church-grievances, and the like but, ah! is it time for us to dwell in our ceiled houfe, while the houfe of the Lord lies wafte? is it time for us to be confulting nothing but our own worldly eafe, profit, and fecurity, while God's temple is wafted? Oh! what will the world be to you, when your eye ftrings are breaking? What will the world be to you, when you fee Chrift coming in flaming fire? Is it time for us to be indulging ourselves in the enjoyment of outward conveniences, lands, and houfes, and yet no time to be concerned about temple-work, when the foundations are like to be deftroyed? But, what faith the prophet here? "Confider your ways: have you not been blafted and broken fince temple-work was neglected?" So may it be faid of us, Have we not been blafted and curfed many ways; broken, divided, and rent into a thousand pieces, because of our little zeal for templereformation? Is it any wonder then God fet our house on fire about our ears, when we are become fo coldrife in the zeal of his houfe, which fhould eat us up? I speak of all forts; both high and low, magiftrates, ministers, and people, without diftinction, as being all in our feveral stations defective with refpect to temple-reformation, according to our call, in the diftinct spheres of our activity. But, alas! our defection is gone to fuch a degree, that we can hardly speak of the defections of the day, without being mifconftructed. But I fpeak of such defections, whereof I defire to accufe myself among the first. However, I fay, we need not think ftrange, that it goes fo ill with the church, and that the Lord is not bleffing us as a church, when temple-reformation is fo much neglected.
Use 2. Our next ufe fhall be for trial and examination, if we are bleffed or curfed of God according as the foundation is laid or not: furely it is our duty to try whether or not we have built our fouls and our falvation upon the right foundation or not; "Examine yourfelves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your ownfelves; know ye not that Chrift is in you, except ye be reprobates?" Many lay a wrong foundation, and yet think the foundation is laid well enough: for example, fome build upon the fandy foundation of a name and profeffion; "They have a name to live, and are dead."-Some build upon the fhoulders of their progenitors, especially, if religious; The grandmother Lois, and the mother Eunice. Many follow their forefathers religion be what it will.-Some build upon the foundation of a negative goodness; "O "God be thanked, fay fome, I am no fwearer, drunkard, "whoremonger; "God, I thank thee, that I am not as "other men;" though I may have my faults, yet there. "are worfe folk in the world than I am; for I have al་་ ways a good heart towards God." Wo is me, for you, poor deluded wretch! if you knew yourfelf, you would fee yourself the chief of finners; yea, worse than a devil. Some again build upon the foundation of gracelefs graces, if I may fo call them. Thus many fay they have hope, but it is a falfe hope; they hope in the mercy of God, but yet it is a damning hope, an ignorant hope, a delufive hope; for, they were never begotten again to a new and lively hope, by the refurrection of Jefus Chrift from the dead; and they were never brought to despair in themselves. Many fay they have faith, but it is a cradle faith; "O! God forbid, fay they, but we believe in Chrift, and trust in God. "Bleffed be God, I have trusted in God all my days; "and I have always believed." And yet never faw their want of faith; were never convinced of their unbelief; never faw the need of God's power to work faith in them; and far lefs ever felt this power. I tell you, that cradle faith will lead you to hell, and not to heaven; for, it is a faith of the devil's making, and not of God's operation.-Some,
again, build upon the foundation of their great attainments: they do not want knowledge, perhaps; and, may be, they have fometimes floods of tears, at fermons, common motions, and meltings in duty; enlargements of natural affections in prayer; and ravifhments of joy now and then: but what a fandy foundation this is, our Lord Jefus witneffes, while he tells us of the ftony ground hearers, that hear the word with joy; yea, with a temporary faith; they receive it with joy; but they have no root in them, and fo all fails them in the iffue. Some, again, build upon the foundation of a legal righteousness and religious performances, while unacquaint with the foundation: this is not God's righteoufnefs; "They being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to eftablifh a righteoufnefs of their own, have not fubmitted themfelves to the righteoufnefs of God," Rom. x. 13.: the righteoufnefs of God is the righteousness of Chrift; for, "Chrift is the end of the law for righteoufnefs, to every one that believeth." Man, woman, do you know nothing of what it is to be divorced from the law, as a covenant of life and works, and fhaken off from confidence in the flesh, or expectations of God's favour by your duties or obedience to the law as a covenant? Let none miftake me, as if I were speaking against the law as a rule of life and holinefs: I fpeak of a divorce from the law as a covenant of works and condition of life; and am faving no more than what the apoftle fays, Rom. vii. 4. "Ye, brethren, are become dead to the law, by the body of Chrift, that you should be married to another, even to him that was raifed from the dead, that we fhould bring forth fruit unto God." And, Gal. ii. 19. "I thro' the law, am dead to the law, that I might live unto God;" intimating, that as none can perform a gofpel-obedience to the law, as a rule, until they be di-" vorced from the law as a covenant, and married to Chrift, in whom they are in cafe of bringing forth fruit to God; fo, that all who are built upon the foundation of a legal righteoufnefs of their own, they are stranger to true godlinefs, and upon a wrong foundation; and I infift moft upon this, because it is the most dangerous foundation that a man can be built upon; becaufe, being built upon
the righteoufnefs of the law, he thinks that he has the law of God upon his fide, and fo it is harder to convince him of the evil of his righteousness, than it is to convince a hundred profane wretches of the evil of their fins: and, therefore, the greatest of finners ftand fairer for heaven than felf-righteous perfons, Mat. xxi. 31. "Verily, I fay unto you," fays Christ, speaking of the self-righteous Pharifees, "that publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of heaven before you.?? This might be ftrange doctrine, indeed, to all legalifts, if it were not Chrift's doctrine. I must tell you, that you are all, by nature, married and wedded to the law, and to a legal righte oufnefs, built upon that foundation; and nothing can divorce you from that firft husband, but the almighty power of God's grace, revealing his Son in you. And, therefore, you little need any doctrine that tends to fofter up that natural conceit that you have of your own doing, as if God would be appeafed thereby. It is true, a fermon of good works is a noble fubject, providing it be evangelically treated: and prefuppofing, that the foundation of all good works is laid by union to Chrift, in whom all our good fruit is found. But, if I fhould preach a fermon of works and obedience to the law; and, perhaps, fhould only, at the conclufion of the fermon, give a short caution, faying, "Good people, mind "there is no merit; and that all your ftrength to do right, is from Chrift." Alas! the most common profeffor and ignorant gofpel hearer will own that is true, they may learn many orthodox fentences of that fort, but they are words of course, that they have learned by cuftom and conftant hearing; while yet their hope of pleafing God is ftill founded upon fomething done in them, or by them; being naturally glued to the law; and fo, they may profefs that there is no juftification by the works of the law, but by the faith of Chrift, or by the works of Christ received by faith; yet they continue as great enemies to the cross of Chrift, as the most profane perfons that ever lived; and, if they continue in that itate, fhall as furely perifh, with their righteoufness, as others, with their fins; for, "If righteousness come by the law, then Chrift is dead in vain." And yet fome cannot endure
endure to hear any thing fpoken againft felf-righteouf nefs; as if no perfon were in danger of being ruined thereby: whereas this is a great part of the ftrong man's armour, whereby he keeps poffeffion of fouls, and as if they were all new fchemers and Antinomians *that preach up the righteoufnefs of Chrift, as the alone fure foundation of the fpiritual temple, in oppofition to that natural and damnable felf-righteoufnefs. The apoftle of the Gentiles was charged thus in his day; but what is his vindication? Why, fays he, "Do we make void the law, thro' faith? Nay, we eftablish the law." We lead to a righteoufnefs whereby God can fave us to the credit of his law; to the honour of his holiness; to the fatisfaction of his juftice; and to the glory of all his perfectiAnd therefore, if I have obtained any favour and grace from the Lord, to be faithful to the fouls of people in my minifterial ftation, I must teftify and declare to you all that hear me, in the awful name and authority of the great and eternal God, who will call you and me to answer for what we do, before his dreadful tribunal, that whoever think to ftand in judgment upon the rotten foundation of any legal righteoufnefs, good works, duties, or performances of their own, they shall as furely perifh in their righteoufuefs, as ever any of the damned in hell perifhed in their fins; because this righte oufnefs of yours is but a finful righteoufnefs, and there is no falvation but by a perfect righteoufnefs. I fpeak not only to the grofly ignorant, but even to all the fe, who, though they may have found heads and found opinions, profeffing that there is no juftification by the works of the law; yet, are fo far from having a found heart, and a found faith, that they are feeking falvation, as it were, by the works of the law, as did Ifrael, Rom. ix. 31, 32.; but they perifhed in the caufe; "For, they ftumbled at that stumbling-stone," that fure and only foundation that I am fpeaking of. I muft fay, then, of all other foundations, befides this, that men are ready to build upon; I muft fay of them, as Chrift faid to his difciples, when they fhewed him the fabric of the mate
* The reafon of this accufation may be feen opened up, Vol. I. page 232. Vol. II. p. 304. 395. Vol. III. p. 44.