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They are the Lord's own words; Depart from me, I never knew you, ye workers of iniquity. “The Lord knoweth them that are his." But they that are his, “walk religiously in good works :” and whoever worketh iniquity, is known to Him indeed, fatally kn wn, as Judas was known, to be “a son of perdition : but he is not known as one who has been redeemed by his blood, renewed by his grace, and preserved by his love, that he may be presented faultless" before the throne of God. For “they that are Christ's," and are known by Him as his people, have "crucified the flesh with the affections and
And this is their seal: “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity.
THE TRUE FOUNDATION.
MATT. vii. 24-29.
24. “ Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them,
I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock : 25. “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew,
and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a
rock. 26. “ And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them
not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon
the sand : 27. “ And the rains descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew,
and beat upon that house; and it fell : and great was the fall of it." The similitude in this passage is every way exact. Men build a house, looking to future time. And they look to future time, when they "take the yoke of
3 2 Tim. ii. 19.
5 See Jude 24. 6 Gal. v. 24.
7 2 Tim. ii. 20.
Christ upon them. They are in life, nay, in health, and in strength, but they look to the time of weakness, and of age, and of death, and of judgment : and against that season they lay a foundation and provide a refuge.
Neither is it enough, to lay a slight and inadequate foundation, and build what they may design to be a refuge. The man is called wise, who builds on a sure foundation, and lays it on a rock. Will a builder say, that because it is calm weather, or low water when he builds, he will neglect his foundation, and place his house on the sandy shore ? For a while indeed it might stand ; just as while a man is well, or prosperous, or busy, he may feel no alarm, be sensible of no danger, and find no want of a just title to religious confidence. But the house which stood secure while all was calm, rocks and totters when the storms arise. All within is hurry, confusion, and alarm. So it is with the TÂàn who heareth these sayings and doeth them not : who has named the name of Christ, and said unto Him, Lord, Lord, but has not made the Gospel his rule of life, nor been zealous to do the will of his Father which is in heaven. Such nominal religion is a sandy foundation, which will neither stand in the hour of death, nor in the day of judgment. It will not stand in the hour of death : for a man will feel reminded then of what he had before forgotten, that “ without holiness no man can see the Lord;" that the Saviour condemned those who “ called Him Master and Lord,” and “ did not the things which He said.” Neither will it stand in the day of judgment: for Christ has Himself declared, that He will reply to such as trusted in their church to save them, and in their christian name to save them, and showed no other signs of being in his faith :-I never knew you, ye that work iniquity.
Here then is sufficient reason why we should never be satisfied, as though“ we had already attained,
1 John xiii. 13.
either were already perfect;" but should be constantly pressing onward in the course of obedience, and sanctification, and fervent zeal. Nothing else will avail in the season of trial. An inexperienced person might stand by an architect, who was clearing away the loose or sandy earth where a house was to be built, and was perhaps laying down arches or driving in piles, at a great expense of time and trouble; he might see this, and ask, why so much labour should be employed on what was to be buried underground, and to make no part of the building. The answer is,
were we to build without a foundation, or not to make that foundation deep and strong, the house might endure for a while ; but when the wintry storms arise, and the swelling stream beats vehemently against it, that is, at the very season when you most need a safe and comfortable shelter, you would be forced to leave it, and go elsewhere for security.
So it is with regard to the state of the heart before God. While we are employed in the active concerns of life, and engaged in the daily business which occupies our minds, a slight stay is enough for a man; he sees himself better than others, he sees others worse than himself; he performs some religious duties, he does not often fall into gross sins ; so he lulls his conscience, and contents himself with a general hope that there is no need of more thought or more fear ; he trusts that he is within the christian covenant, and that God will receive him into his kingdom.
But the storm comes at some time or other; the tempest of affliction, or of sickness, or of approaching death. This is the trial of religion, for it is against this trial that religion is to prepare us.
And then the man who has made no more than a nominal profession of faith in Christ, and has never laboured to adorn his Saviour's doctrine by a pure and holy conversation, by resisting the sin of his heart, by “abounding in the work of the Lord;" he feels that this is no time for deceiving his own soul, as he may have done hitherto, by vain words. He feels that a merely outward profession was not the faith intended by the command, “ Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;" that it was not merely outward profession which Paul was making, when he“ brought under his body, and kept it in subjection;" that outward profession is not the faith required by St. James, who insists that we show our faith by our works ;" that it is not outward profession which will be recompensed by the blessed words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Those who had prophesied in the name of Christ, and cast out devils, and done many wonderful works, had made more outward profession than he can have to show. Yet they are rejected ; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Now, therefore, is the time for laying a foundation which will stand good at the last. We must not be satisfied, unless, when we look into ourselves and examine our lives, we have “the testimony of our conscience," that it has been our purpose, our prayer, our labour, to be “neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ:" but to add to our faith, virtue, and knowledge, and temperance, and patience, and brotherly kindness, and charity.
Observe, however, that there is nothing in this to contradict the general language of the Gospel ; nothing to imply that a man's own righteousness is to be the ground of his confidence. This would indeed be to build our house upon the sand. · By grace we are saved ; not of works, lest any man should boast.”3 But the truth here declared, is another truth, no less to be insisted on, that the practice of a Christian must be as peculiar as his faith; that the faith in which he professes to live, must shine in his actions, must speak in his words, must breathe in his spirit and temper. Then though the floods may come, and the winds blow, and the stream beat against your house, it shall not be shaken ; for it is founded upon a rock. For “ though your earthly habitation is dissolved,” you have a habitation secured for you in the heavens, whose builder and maker is God; where no storms shall rage, no tempests ever threaten; but all shall be a perpetual calm and sunshine, in the presence of God and of the Lainb.
3 Eph. ii. 9.
2 See 2 Pet. i. 5–8.