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the latter; but are to be considered as particular precepts, given, not to all mankind, but to certain individuals, for speciai reasons and under special circumstances. Thus we are told, Matt. xix. 11. that it is good for those who have the gift of continence and can receive the saying, not to marry, whenever by remaining single they can more effectually promote the glory of God and the good of the church. Again, v. 21. whether the words of Christ are to be considered as precept or as simple counsel, it is certain that, had the young man to whom they were addressed fulfilled them in their utmost extent, he would have done nothing beyond what duty required, any more than Abraham when he led forth his son to sacrifice for the commands of God, whether addressed to mankind in general, or to a particular class, or to an individual, are equally obligatory on the kind, or class, or individual to whom they are addressed. In the example just cited, obedience to the general precept of loving God above all things was singled out as an instance of duty to be required from the self-sufficient young man, for the purpose of exposing his folly and unfounded confidence, and of showing him how far he was from the perfection to which he pretended. For it was not the selling all he had, which has been done without charity, but the leaving his possessions and following Christ, which was to be the test of his perfection. With regard to the other instance of celibacy, 1 Cor. vii. this is neither made expressly a matter of precept nor of counsel, but is left free to the discretion of individuals, according to seasons and circumstances. To the above may be added, that, if there be any such works as are here described, those precepts must needs be imperfect, which require to be amended by supplementary admonitions. If, moreover, these latter are, as is alleged, of a higher order of excellence than the precepts themselves, who shall be sufficient to fulfil them? seeing that no one is able to perform entirely even the requisitions of the law. Not to mention, that the name of counsels is sometimes applied to precepts of universal application, and of the most imperative necessity; as Rev. iii. 18. "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire." Lastly, that prayer for forgiveness, which by Christ's command we all daily offer, is utterly irreconcileable with the vain boasting of works implied in this doctrine

It is true that in matters of choice and Christian liberty, one work may be more perfect than another: 1 Cor. vii. 38. "he doeth well.... he doeth better." 2 Cor. xi. 23. 66 are they ministers of Christ? I am more;" but it is not less the duty of every one to do whatever may most effectually promote the glory of God and the edification of his neighbour. St. Paul, had he so chosen, needed not have preached the gospel without charge, 1 Cor. ix. 7, &c. but believing, as he did, that a gratuitous service would be less open to suspicion, and tend more to the edification of the church, he did nothing more than his duty in preaching gratuitously. No work of supererogation was performed by Zaccheus, when he voluntarily gave half his goods to the poor, Luke xix. 8. nor by the poor widow, when she cast into the treasury all that she had, Mark xii. 42. nor by the disciples, when they sold their lands and divided the produce among the brethren, Acts iv. 34; those who did such actions only proved that they loved their neighbours, and especially the believing part of them, as themselves. They were not however under any absolute obligation to give such extraordinary proofs of their love, Acts v. 4. for although perfection is proposed to all men as the end of their endeavours, it is not required of all.

Hence may be easily discerned the vanity of human merits; seeing that, in the first place, our good actions are not our own, but of God working in us; secondly, that, were they our own, they would still be equally due; and, thirdly, that, in any point of view, there can be no proportion between our duty and the proposed reward. Rom. vi. 23. "the gift of God is eternal life." viii. 18. "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Hence although Hezekiah asserts his uprightness in the sight of God, Isai. xxxviii. 3. "remember now, O Jehovah, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which was good in thy sight," he is so far from considering this as constituting any claim to reward, that he acknowledges himself indebted to the free mercy of God for the pardon of his sins: v. 17. "thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption, for thou hast cast all my sins behind my back." So likewise Nehemiah xiii. 22. "remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and

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spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy.' The declaration of God himself, Exod. xx. 6. is to the same purpose. Lastly, that of which God stands in no need, can deserve nothing of him.' Job xxii. 2, &c. can a man be profitable with God?" xxxv. 7. "if thou be righteous, what givest thou him?" Luke xvii. 10. "we are unprofitable servants.' Rom. xi. 35. "who hath first given him-?" See Book I. chap. xxii. on Justification.

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Opposed to good works are evil works; the vanity and bitterness of which are forcibly described by Isaiah, lix. 4, &c. "they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity; they hatch cockatrice' eggs-." Prov. ix. 3. "the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.” v. 5. "the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness." xiii. 15. " the way of transgressors is hard." xxii. 5. "thorns and snares are in the

way of the froward."

Matt. xii. 35. 66 a

A good man is known by his works. good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things." 1 John iii. 7. " he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous." He is described Job xxix. 11-25. "when the ear heard me, then it blessed me,' &c. and elsewhere.

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Sometimes, however, certain temporary virtues, or semblances of virtues, are discernible even in the wicked; as in Saul, 1 Sam. xix. and in the Jews, Jer. xxxiv. An outward show of liberality, gratitude, and equity, with a regard for the interest of his subjects, are visible in the king of Sodom, Gen. xiv. 21. See also the instance of Eglon, Judges iii. and of Belshazzar, Dan. v. 29.

The wicked man is described Psal. x. 3, &c. "the wicked boasteth of his heart's desire," &c. xiv. 1, &c. "the fool hath said in his heart-." Prov. i. 11, &c. "if they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood—.” iv. 14, &c. "enter not into the path of the wicked-." xxviii. 5, &c. "evil men understand not judgement."

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Either man's work or his own gifts. Sonnet XIX. 9.

CHAP. II.—OF THE PROXIMATE CAUSES OF Good Works.

THE primary efficient cause of good works, as has been stated above, is God.

The PROXIMATE CAUSES OF GOOD WORKS are naturally, in ordinary cases at least, good habits, or, as they are called, VIRTUES; in which is comprised the whole of our duty towards God and man. Philipp. iv. 8. 'if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise." 2 Pet. i. 5. "add to your faith virtue.” These are partly general, or such as pertain to the whole duty of man; and partly special, or such as apply to the particular branches of that duty.

The general virtues belong partly to the understanding, and partly to the will.

Those which belong to the understanding are WISDOM and

PRUDENCE.

WISDOM is THAT WHEREBY WE EARNESTLY SEARCH AFTER THE WILL OF GOD, LEARN IT WITH ALL DILIGENCE, AND

GOVERN ALL OUR ACTIONS ACCORDING TO ITS RULE.

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THE WILL OF GOD. Deut. iv. 6. "keep therefore and do them, for this is your wisdom-." Psal. cxix. 66. "teach me good judgement and knowledge, for I have believed thy commandments." v. 98-100. “thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies.... than my teachers.... than the ancients." Prov. xxviii. 5. "they that seek Jehovah, understand all things.' xxx. 5, 6. "" every work of God is pure. . . . add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." Rom. xii. 2. “be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." xvi. 19. “I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil." Eph. v. 15. "see that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.' James iii. 13. "who is a wise man, and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom." v. 17. "the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." 1 John ii. 3. "hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments." Hence the fear of the Lord is called wisdom, Job xxviii. 28. Psal. xxv. 14. "the

secret of Jehovah is with them that fear him." cxi. 10. "the fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom." See also Prov. i. 7. Eccles. xii. 15. " let us hear the conclusion of the whole

matter," &c. us wisdom."

of wisdom."

So also Christ, 1 Cor. i. 30. "is made unto

Col. ii. 3. "in whom are hid all the treasures

EARNESTLY SEARCH. Prov. ii. 4, &c. "if thou seekest her as silver-." James i. 5." if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him." Wisdom is readily found of such as seek her, and discloses herself to them of her own accord. Prov. i. 20, &c. "wisdom crieth without, she uttereth her voice in the streets." See also viii. 1, &c.

Wisdom is praised, Job xxviii. 15, &c. " it cannot be gotten for gold-." Prov. iii. 13, &c. "happy is the man that findeth wisdom.' iv. 5, &c. " get wisdom-.”

"hear, for I will speak of excellent things." "wisdom is better than weapons of war.'

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viii. 6, &c. Eccles. ix. 18.

Prov. xxiii. 9.

The treasures of wisdom are not to be rashly lavished on such as are incapable of appreciating them. "speak not in the ears of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of thy words." Matt. vii. 6. "give not that which is holy unto the dogs." Mark iv. 34. "without a parable spake he not unto them." 1 Cor. ii. 6. "howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect; yet not the wisdom of this world."

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To wisdom is opposed folly; which consists, first and chiefly, in an ignorance of the will of God. Isai. i. 3. "the ox knoweth his owner." v. 13. "therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge." Jer. v. 4. they are foolish, for they know not the way of Jehovah, nor the judgement of their God." viii. 7, &c. "yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times-." John xvi. 2, 3." the time cometh that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service; and these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me." xii. 10. "the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death." Eph. iv. 17, 18. "being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them." 7. 17. "be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." I Cor. ii. 8. "had they known it, they would

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