ŇYe are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.Ó  Matthew 5:14-16

 

Here, Christ layeth down the second reason to induce His disciples, and in them all ministers, to preach the Word of God faithfully; as if He should say: By calling you are the light of the world, and your condition is such that all your sayings and doings are open to the eyes of men; therefore be ye careful that ye glorify God therein. The first part of this reason is in these words: Ye are the light of the world. The second is expressed by two comparisons in the words following: A city that is set on a hill etc. The conclusion is in the 16th verse.

 

 

I. For the first part: Ye are the light of the world. If ministers be lights, why saith the scripture that John Baptist was not the light of the world (John 1:8)? Answer: There be two kinds of lights: original and derived. Original light is that which is the cause of all light, and so Christ alone is the light of the world; and in this sense doth the scripture deny John Baptist to be that light. Derived light is that which shineth forth, but yet is received from another; and so John Baptist was a burning and a shining lamp (John 5:35). So were apostles lights, for God that caused the light to shine out of darkness, shined into their hearts, to enable them to give the light of knowledge in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6).

 

The use.

1. First, this title of light given to ministers sheweth the right use of the ministry of the Word. The whole world lieth in darkness, that is, in ignorance under sin, and so subject to damnation by nature. Now God hath ordained the ministry of the Word to be a light whereby this ignorance may be expelled, and they brought to the knowledge of their sins, and of the way that leadeth unto life (Acts 26:18), Paul must preach that both Jews and Gentiles may come from darkness to light.

 

2. Secondly, by this title, Christ sheweth how His Word is to be handled; namely, so as it may be a light unto menŐs minds and consciences, to make them see their sins and their great misery thereby; then to let them see the remedy from that misery, which is Jesus Christ; and lastly, to shew them that strait way of obedience in all good duties to God and man, which God requireth in this life of a Christian. Men may take long discourses upon a text of scripture; but that only is true preaching which gives this light of knowledge to the mind and conscience which leadeth men to God.

 

3. Again, the hearers of the Word must be admonished of their duties from this title:

 

(1) First, if ministers be lights in regard of their ministry, then every hearer must so apply his heart unto the preaching of the Word that it may enlighten his conscience with the knowledge of his sins, and of his misery by reason of them; as also, with the true knowledge of Christ, and of the will of God, which may guide him in obedience; otherwise this holy ordinance turneth to his deeper condemnation.

 

(2) Secondly, every hearer must learn PaulŐs lesson (Eph. 5:8), Ye were anon darkness, but now ye are light in the Lord; walk as children of the light; that is, look what the Word teacheth, which is this light; that do. When the time is dark wherein we walk, we use torches and candles, that so we may see the right path. Behold, the world is darkness, we therefore must labour to have the Word of God to be a light unto our feet in all the steps of our callings wherein we live; for he that walketh in the dark, knoweth not whither he goeth (John 12:35).

 

(3) Lastly, there be many that live in ignorance, as blind, as though they had never heard of Christ; and though they hear the Word preached, yet still they remain in darkness; but they must know that their case is fearful, for the ministry of the Word is light. They therefore having the benefit thereof, ought to be children of the light; and because they are not enlightened, undoubtedly a most fearful judgment of God is upon them; for mark what Paul saith (2 Cor. 4:3,4), If our gospel be hid, it is hid to those that perish, in whom the god of this world hath blinded the eyes of their mind; and therefore, such persons must labour to know and practice the special grounds and duties of true religion, that so in conscience they may be truly assured that the Word of God is become their light.

 

 

II. The second part of this reason is this: Your condition is such, in regard of your calling, that all your sayings and doings are seen of men; and it is expressed in two similitudes: first, of a city set on a hill, which cannot be hid; secondly, of a candle put on a candlestick (v.15). And thus it dependeth on the former part: whereas Christ had called His disciples the light of the world, they might take it for a matter of some outward renown. Christ therefore tells them that His intent herein is not to give them titles of praise, but to make them acquainted with their hard condition, in which they were like to be, by reason of their great and weighty calling; wherein they should become spectacles to all the world; for thus He saith, A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid; but all that pass by may see it; and a candle lighted and set on a candlestick, giveth light to all that are in the house; even so, you mine apostles, by reason of your public calling, shall have all your sayings and doings manifest to the eyes of the whole world.

 

Because both these similitudes serve to express the same thing, therefore the points of instruction, which specially concern GodŐs ministers, shall be propounded from the joint scope of them both:

 

1. First, whereas the condition of GodŐs ministers is such, to have their whole conversation open and manifest to the eyes of the world; therefore they especially, above all others (though it concern every man in his place), must have care that their lives and conversations, both for sayings and doings, be holy and blameless; for their place is such that by their well doing, they win many unto the Lord; but by their bad conversation, they carry many a souls with them to destruction.

 

2. Hereby they must learn not to think it strange, if they lie open to manifold reproaches and abuses, more than any other sort of men; for they of all other lie most open to the world; and if their conversation be godly, it is the more distasteful to the world; as Cain hated Abel for his good works (1 John 2:12,13). Hence it appeareth that men in this calling cannot, without great sin, hide the gifts and talents which God hath given them; for they are as lighted candles, which must not be put under a bushel. Sundry men have heretofore offended this way, as those in the primitive church, who being godly men and well qualified for the ministry, did yet withdraw themselves from public societies, to live in solitary places; for by their gifts they were excellent lights, and therefore they ought to have shined forth to others. And at this day they offend this way, that will not abase themselves in their ministry, to speak plainly to the mean capacity of the simple; yea, they also put the light under a bushel, who being fit for this ministry, do spend their days wholly in the universities, except it be they want a calling into the church, and have a lawful calling for their stay in the universities; and though men have not much means of calling forth, as were to be wished, yet they that live in schools of learning ought to shew themselves willing to become lights abroad in the church; saying with the prophet Isaiah, when his lips were touched with a coal from the altar (Isa. 6:8), Here am I, Lord, send me. In a word, all persons in this calling, that any way hide their gifts, are here blamed; for they are lights which should not be hid.

 

From these comparisons wherein Christ sets out the open state of His apostles to the view of the world, the papists do gather that the church of God cannot be hid, and therefore visibility must needs be the note of a true church. But we must know that GodŐs church may sometimes lie hid in regard of the Word, and the ministry thereof; as it did in the days of Elijah (1 Kin. 19), and in the time when popery spread itself over these western parts. Neither doth this place make ought against us, for Christ speaks of His apostles, and of their ministry properly, which could not be hid; and not of every ordinary minister who are not lights of all the world, as the apostles were, but only in their particular standing. Secondly, the ministry is a light, yet not always shining to the whole world; and therefore it is added in the second similitude that it giveth light to them that are in the house; that is, in the church of God. And so in the darkness of popery, the ministry of the gospel was hid from the world, and yet it gave some light to the hidden church, the house of God, to shew them their calling, and the means of salvation.

 

Now, as these similitudes concern the ministers, so they may well be enlarged to every Christian in his place; in this regard the minister is a pattern to his people, and many times in Scripture others besides the ministers are called lights (2 Sam. 21:17), David is called the light of Israel; not only for the comfort of his regiment, but also as he was a king, by his upright life he gave light to the people, whereof he was governor. And so, answerably, all superiors in their places must be lights; the public magistrate to the commonwealth; the master to his servants; parents to their children; and every Christian to his brother. Shine as lights in the world, in the midst of a naughty and crooked nation (Phil. 2:15). This therefore is our duty, if we be Christians; as we must labour to get the knowledge of GodŐs will into our hearts, so must we cause the power thereof to shine forth in the example of a good life, whereby others may be directed in the darkness of the world. But alas, herein the case of many is lamentable, who through ignorance and disobedience, be yet in darkness; these must be taken out of their places, as dark candles, and trodden under foot, and so cast into eternal darkness, where they shall flame in woe for evermore.

 

 

 

ŇLet your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.Ó Matthew 5:16.

 

III. This is the conclusion of this reason; where by shining, is meant ministerial teaching, whereby they make known GodŐs will unto His people, wherewith He also requireth answerable practice in a godly life; as if He should say, Seeing by our calling you are so conspicuous to the world, therefore look to the evidence of your ministry, and to the holiness of your lives, that so the people may not only hear your doctrine, but also see your good works, and thereby be moved to follow the same, and so to glorify God in heaven.

 

A most worthy conclusion, wherein observe two points touching the ministry of the Word: first, in what manner ministers must teach the Word; secondly, the end of all teaching.

 

1. For the first: GodŐs Word must be preached, that men may hear it; secondly, therewith must go an unblameable conversation, bringing forth good works that men therein may see the will of God. Here then are two parts of a ministerŐs office: doctrine and good life; and they must  go together in him that is a good minister. He that teacheth to write will first give rules of writing to his scholars, and then set them copies to follow; and so doth every master in his art; there is no learning of anything, unless examples go with rules. Again, God will have men to learn His will two ways: by hearing and seeing. The minister therefore that is to teach GodŐs will, must not only by doctrine instruct the ear, but by a godly life exemplify his doctrine unto the eye. Be unto them that believe, an example inward, and in conversation (1 Tim. 4:12).

 

In regard of this double charge that lies on every minister, the people for their parts must remember, in all their prayers to crave of God that the ministers may be enabled to teach GodŐs will both in doctrine and life. The apostle Paul doth sundry times require the churches to whom he wrote, to pray for him in regard of his ministry (Rom. 15:30; 2 Cor. 1:11; Eph. 6:18; Col. 4:3; 2 Thess. 3:1). Now if so worthy an apostle had need to be prayed for, much more hath every ordinary minister in GodŐs church. And great reason it should be so, for the devil stands at JoshuaŐs right hand to resist him (Zech. 3:1). He hindered Paul from coming to the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 2:18). Though he malign every believer, yet he aims especially at the minister, that he may cause him to fail, if not in teaching, yet at least in the exemplifying of his doctrine by a sincere and godly conversation.

 

Now, because Christ requires of every minister, besides teaching, the evidence of good works in a godly life, therefore here will I handle this point of good works: and first, shew what a good work is; secondly, the differences of good works; and then observe the necessity, the dignity and the use of good works.

 

 

(1) A good work is a work commanded of God, and done by a man regenerate in faith, for the glory of God in manŐs good.

 

(i) First (I say), it is a work commanded of God, for GodŐs will is goodness itself, and the rule of all goodness in the creature; and every good thing is therefore good because it is answerable to the will of God; no work therefore can be good, unless it be appointed, ordained and commanded of God. Men indeed may invent and do many good works, but they shall have no goodness in them, unless they do accord with GodŐs will. Again, good works must be done in obedience to God. Now, unless God appoint them, the doing of them cannot be obedience to His will. Thirdly, will-worship, whereby men thrust upon God their own inventions for His service, is everywhere condemned (Col. 2:22,23; Deut. 12:32); and of like nature be all those actions wherein men of themselves do fasten goodness, without the will and appointment of God. This point must be remembered, because the church of Rome doth teach the contrary, that a man may do good works, not required or appointed by God; but the former reasons shew this to be false; and the arguments which they bring for their opinion, are nothing but abuse of Scripture, as in these few may plainly appear.

 

Objection 1. First, they say the Jews had freewill offerings (Lev. 7:16), which were not commanded in the Word, and yet were acceptable unto God; and so do many nowadays do good works acceptable to God, though not commanded. Answer: Their freewill offerings were ordained of God, and therefore were acceptable; they were only free in regard in the time of offering them; but for the manner how, and the places where they must be offered, both these were appointed of God.

 

Objection 2. Again, they say Phineas slew Zimri and Cozbi (Psa. 106:30,31) with GodŐs approbation, though he was no magistrate; and therefore works not commanded of God, may be acceptable unto Him. Answer: Though Phineas had not any outward commandment, yet he had that which was answerable thereunto; to wit, an extraordinary instinct by the Spirit, whereby he was carried to do that fact; which was as much as if God had given him an express commandment. And so we may say of the ministry of sundry ancient prophets, who by extraordinary instinct were moved thereunto; and upon this ground did Elijah slay BaalŐs prophets (1 Kin. 18:40).

 

Objection 3. Thirdly, MaryŐs act (say they) of pouring a box of costly ointment on the head of our Saviour Christ (Matt. 26:7) was a good work; and yet there was no commandment for it in GodŐs Word. Answer: MaryŐs act was a work of confession, whereby she testified her faith in Christ, and so was generally commanded, though not in particular. Again, she was carried thereto by a special instinct of the Spirit, for she did it to bury Him (v.12) (as Christ Himself testifieth) because His burial was so speedily after His death, in regard of the approaching of the Sabbath, that they could not embalm Him, as the manner of the Jews was. Now every instinct of GodŐs Spirit in the conscience of the doer, hath the force of a particular commandment.

 

Objection 4. Fourthly, the Spirit of God (say they) moves every man to any good work that is done; and therefore men need not a particular commandment for every work; for those that are carried by the Spirit, cannot but do well. Answer: True it is, the Spirit moveth men to good works freely, but yet this motion of the Spirit is in and by the Word of God; and at this day, those instincts which are besides the Word, are menŐs own fancies, or illusions of the devil.

 

Many other reasons they allege to this purpose for the justifying their vows of chastity, of regular obedience, pilgrimages, trentals and such like, but they are like to these, and notwithstanding them all, the truth is this: that for substance, a good work is such a one as is ordained, appointed and commanded by God. And here by the way, we may observe that they are far deceived, who so much commend the times of popery for good works; for the truth is that all their oblations to images, to monasteries and to churches, for masses, pardons and such like, were no good works, but only in their own opinion; for God commanded them not. Now it is the LordŐs revealed will that must give the goodness to manŐs work. He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requireth of thee (Mic. 6:8).

 

(ii) Next I add: Done of a regenerate person. The author of a good work is not everyone in the world, but that man or woman that is a member of Christ, born anew by the Holy Ghost. So Christ here saith, Let your light etc., restraining His speech to the persons of His disciples. True it is that among Turks and infidels, many a civil man will do works of mercy, of civil justice, and liberality, and will abstain from outward sins, and live orderly. Now these, and such like, though in themselves they be good works, so far forth as they are required by the law of nature, or commanded by GodŐs Word; yet in an infidel, or an unregenerate person, they are sins; for, First, they proceed from an heart which is corrupt with original sin and with unbelief (for the heart is the fountain of all actions (Matt. 12:35)) and also they are practiced by the members of the body, which are weapons of unrighteousness; and therefore must needs be like unto water springing from a corrupt fountain, and running through a filthy channel. Secondly, these works are not done for GodŐs glory and the good of men. Thirdly, they are not done in obedience to God, according to the rule of goodness, the will and Word of God, and therefore cannot be good works. And this must teach everyone that would do good, to labour for regeneration by the Holy Ghost, that so his person may be good, and then shall his works of obedience be good in GodŐs sight; for such as the tree is, such will be the fruit. An evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit, nor a good, evil fruit (Matt. 7:18). We must therefore labour to be engrafted into Christ, for without Him, we can do no good thing; but being partakers of His grace, we shall abound with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the praise and glory of God (Phil. 1:11).

 

(iii) Thirdly, I add, that good works must be done in faith; for faith is the cause of every good work, and without faith it is impossible to do any good work (Heb. 11:6). Now, in the doing of a good work, there is a twofold faith required: First, a general faith, whereby a man is persuaded that God requires of him the doing of that work which he takes in hand; as when a man giveth alms, he must be persuaded it is GodŐs will that he should give alms; and so for other good works; for whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Rom. 14:23); that is, whatsoever proceedeth not from this persuasion in the conscience, that it is GodŐs will that such a thing should be done, or should not be done, is sin; for he that doubteth of the thing he doth, sinneth therein, though the thing done be good in itself. Secondly, herein is required justifying faith, whereby a man is persuaded in his conscience, of his own reconciliation with God in Christ; of this it is said (Heb. 11:6), without faith it is impossible to please God. This justifying faith hath a double use in the causing of a good work: First, it gives the beginning to a good work; for by justifying faith, Christ with His merits is apprehended and applied to the person of the worker, and he thereby is united to Christ, who reneweth the mind, will and affections of the worker, from whence the work proceedeth; and so it is as pure water coming from a cleansed fountain. Secondly, faith covereth the wants that be in good work (for the best work done by man in this life, hath its wants). Now faith apprehendeth Christ and His merits, and applieth the same unto the worker, whereby his person is accepted, and the imperfection of his work covered in the sight of God; and this must provoke us to labour for faith.

 

(iv) Lastly, I add, the end of a good work; namely, GodŐs glory in manŐs good. The honour of God must be the principal end of every good work. Now, GodŐs honour stands in reverence, obedience and thankfulness; so that when we do any good work, we must do it in reverence unto God, in obedience unto His commandments, and in token of our thankfulness unto Him for His manifold mercies. The good of man must herein also be respected; the apostle saith (Gal. 5:14), The law is fulfilled in one word, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. How can this be, seeing to love the Lord our God is the great commandment of the law? It must therefore thus be understood: that the law of God must be practiced in the love of our neighbour, and not apart by itself. Again, the end of  a manŐs life, and of all his actions, is to serve God, in serving of man, and by serving of man, to serve God; as when we pray (which is a good work) we must not only respect ourselves but pray for others; as for the church of God, and for our brethren, as well as for ourselves; yea, and for our enemies. So we must hear the Word, and receive the sacraments, that thereby we may be better able to further our brethren in the way of salvation. This our Saviour doth here express, saying, That they may see your good works, and glorify your father in heaven; as if He should say, Glorify you God, and also cause others to do the same.

 

(a) First, here we may see what to judge of the works done by papists. It is commonly thought that they abound with good works, but it is not so; their best works are sins before God, for they fail principally in the main end of well-doing, which is to glorify God in the good of men; for a papist doing a good work, according to the rules of their religion, doth it to satisfy GodŐs justice for the temporal punishment of his sins, and to merit heaven by it; and so erreth quite from the right end of a good work, respecting therein his own good, and nothing at all the good of others.

 

(b) Secondly, hereby we may see for ourselves how far we come short in our good works, for commonly we fail in the main end thereof. Men spend their days and strength in labour and toil, but all is for themselves, for their own pleasure, their own profit and preferment, without respect to the good of their brethren. Now all such actions wherein men seek themselves only, and not GodŐs glory in the good of others, be sinful in the doer, though otherwise good in themselves. And therefore we must learn, in all our actions, to aim at the glory of God in the good of men.

 

 

(2) Thus we see what a good work is. Now follow the differences of good works. Good works be of two sorts: First, those which God in His Word hath directly commanded as part of His worship, such as prayer, thanksgiving, receiving the sacraments, hearing the Word and relieving the poor; and these are the more principal kinds of good works. The second sort are actions indifferent, sanctified by the Word and prayer, and done to GodŐs glory, such as to eat, to drink and such like; for howsoever in themselves they be neither good nor evil, being things neither commanded nor forbidden; and therefore in respect of the things themselves, may with good conscience be either used or refused; yet because God hath commanded the manner how they must be used; namely, by being sanctified by the Word of God and prayer; and to the end thereof, to wit, GodŐs glory; therefore when they are so used, they become good works.

 

Upon this difference of good works, observe the largeness thereof, how far they extend. There be three estates ordained of God: the church, the commonwealth and the family; and for the preserving of them, there be sundry callings required; some whereof are prescribed of God, and others left to be appointed by men; as all trades, and such like. Now not only the callings appointed by God, and the duties thereof are good works; but even all inferior callings appointed by men, for the good of these three estates; and the duties thereof, be they never so base, if they be sanctified by prayer, and done to GodŐs glory, are good works. Example: A man is called to be a shepherd, and doth willingly accept thereof. Now though the calling be but base and mean, yet the works thereof being done in obedience to God, for the good of his master, are good works; yea, as good in their kind as the best works of the highest callings; and the same may be said of all lawful callings and the works thereof, be they never so base; for God judgeth not the goodness of the work by the excellency of the matter whereabout it is occupied, but by the heart of the doer. This point must be learned, for the papist conceit doth stick fast in menŐs hearts, that there are no good works but the building of churches and hospitals, the mending of highways, giving of large alms, etc. But we must learn that every action of a manŐs lawful calling, done in obedience to God, for the good of men, is a good work before God; and therefore we must so walk every one of us in our callings, that the duties thereof may be acceptable to God. Again, this will hence follow, that in these our days, we may as well abound in such works as be good indeed, as the papists did in their superstitions. Thus much of the difference of good works.

 

 

(3) Now more particularly, in the text are further set down three points touching good works: the necessity, the dignity and the use of good works.

 

(i) The necessity of them appeareth by ChristŐs commanding of them saying, Let your light so shine etc.; for hereby He bindeth all Christians, after the examples of His disciples, to walk in good works. If it be said that Christ hath freed us from the law, and therefore we are not bound to do good works; I answer, Christ hath freed us from the law in regard of the curse and rigour thereof; but not as it is a rule of Christian obedience.

 

Question: How far forth are good works necessary to salvation, or to us that do them? Answer: There be three opinions touching the necessity of good works: first, of the papists, who hold them necessary as causes of our salvation and justification; but this we have confuted heretofore. Secondly, of some Protestants, who hold them necessary, though not as principal causes (for they say, we are only justified and saved by Christ), yet as conservant causes of our salvation; but the truth is that they are no causes of salvation, neither efficient, principal nor conservant; nor yet material, formal or final, as hath elsewhere been shewed. The third opinion is the truth, that good works are necessary, not as causes of salvation or justification; but as inseparable consequents of saving faith in Christ, whereby we are justified and saved; or as a way is necessary to the going to a place.

 

(ii) The dignity of good works is expressed in this: that they are called good. Now they are good only in part, not perfectly, as I shew thus: Such as the tree is, such is the fruit; but everyone regenerate is partly spirit and partly flesh; that is, in part regenerate, and in part natural and corrupt. This is true of his mind, will and affections, which are the fountain of all his actions; and therefore the works that proceed thence must needs be answerable; that is, in part corrupt, as they come from nature; and yet good in part, as they come from grace.

 

Question: But how can God approve of them, if they be evil? Answer: We must consider good works two ways: first, in themselves, as they are compared with the law, and the rigour thereof, and so they are sins, because they answer not to that perfection which the law requireth; for there be two degrees of sins: Rebellious, which are actions flatly against the law; and Defects, when a man doth those things that the law commandeth, but yet faileth in the manner of doing, and so are manŐs very best works sins. Secondly, consider good works as done by a person regenerate and reconciled to God in Christ, and so God accepts of them; for in Christ the wants thereof are covered. But here we must take heed of the Romish doctrine which teacheth that good works are so far forth good, that there is no sin in them. Their reasons are many to prove this point, but they have been heretofore confuted. First, they say, good works have God for their author, and therefore are perfectly good. Answer: This were true, if he alone were the author of them; but man is another author thereof, from whom they take their imperfection. They say again that here they are called good, but if they had any sin in them, they should be called evil, for every sin is perfectly evil. Answer: Where sin is unremitted, it is perfectly evil; but when it is pardoned in our Saviour Christ, it is as though it were not. Thirdly, they object that if good works be sinful, then they must not be done; and hereupon they say that by our doctrine men are bound to abstain from all good works. Answer: That which is evil must not be done, so far forth as it is evil. Now good works are not simply and absolutely evil; they are good in themselves, and in us in part, coming from grace; and therefore they must be done, because God requires them at our hands. And for the imperfection of them, we must pray for pardon to our Saviour Christ. And here by the way we may justly tax the proud doctrine of the papists, who teach that man may be justified by good works; whenas the best works of any man in this life are tainted with sin, and are far unanswerable to that perfection which the law requireth. We must be of a far other mind, namely, that for our best works, God may justly condemn us, because we have not done them as we ought. Therefore Christ bids us say of ourselves that when we have done all that we can, we are unprofitable servants (Luke 17:10).

 

(iii) The use of good works is here set down by our Saviour Christ to glorify God. This is not the whole end of good works; and therefore I will propound the same more fully, out of other places of Scripture; for Christ here only propoundeth that end of good works which concerned His intended purpose.

 

The use and end of good works is threefold, either concerning God, or ourselves, or our brethren:

 

(a) As good works concern God, they have three uses: First, they serve as means whereby we give unto God testimony of our homage and obedience unto His commandments; for by creation, preservation and redemption, He is our Lord and our God, and so prescribeth laws for us to keep. In which regard we owe homage unto Him; which, that we may shew forth and testify, we must walk in good works, as He in His Word hath commanded us. Secondly, they serve to be tokens of our thankfulness unto God for our creation, redemption and manifold preservations, both in soul and body. Thankfulness indeed is shewed in word; but yet true thankfulness stands in obedience; and our obedience is shewed by doing good works. And therefore the apostle Paul exhorts us to give up our bodies, as holy and acceptable sacrifices unto God (Rom. 12:1). Thirdly, they serve to make us followers of God. We are commanded to be holy, as He is holy (1 Pet. 1:15); and to put in practice the duties of love one towards another as the Lord loved us; and therefore we must walk in the duties of the moral law, that therein we may imitate God. He that hath this hope purgeth himself as He is pure (1 John 3:3).

 

(b) Secondly, the use of good works in regards of ourselves is fourfold especially:

 

First, they serve to be outward testimonies of the truth of our faith and profession; proving that the grace of our hearts is not in hypocrisy, but in truth and sincerity. And for this cause, Abraham is said to have been justified by works (Jam. 2:21); because his works did testify that his faith was true and sincere; for where the fire of grace is, there it cannot but burn; and where the water of life is, it cannot but flow and send out the streams thereof in good works.

 

Secondly, they serve to be signs and pledges of our election, justification, sanctification, and of our future glorification; as we know a tree to live by the fruit and bud which it bringeth forth; so by keeping a continual course in good works, a man is known to be in Christ, and to have true title to all His benefits; and therefore when the apostle willeth men to give all diligence to make their calling and election sure (2 Pet. 1:10), He propoundeth certain virtues wherein they ought to walk (vv. 5,6), as being the most evident tokens of election that we have in this life.

 

Thirdly, they serve to make us answerable to our holy calling; for everyone that professeth the gospel is called to be a member of Christ and a new creature, whose duty is to bring forth good works (Eph. 4:1,2), Walk worthy of the vocation whereunto you are called, with all humbleness of mind, meekness etc., and (Eph. 2:10), Ye are the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus, unto good works, which God hath ordained that we should walk in them. Now this is a most excellent thing for a man to be answerable to his calling. When David was a shepherd, he kept his fatherŐs sheep and lived as a shepherd; but when he was called to be a king, he behaved himself like a king in governing GodŐs people (Psa. 78:72); and so every Christian ought to do; being a new creature, he must walk as GodŐs child, and testify his vocation by shewing forth the virtues of Him that hath called him (1 Pet. 2:9).

 

Fourthly, good works serve to be a way in which we are to walk, that so we may receive the mercies of God promised to His children, and escape the judgments threatened against sinners; for GodŐs Word is full of most sweet promises unto the obedient, and of terrible threatenings against rebellion and iniquity. Now a man by walking in good works eschews the paths of wickedness wherein GodŐs judgments light (Rom. 3:16); and holds the ways of righteousness, wherein GodŐs blessings are scattered (Prov. 3:17).

 

(c) Thirdly, the end of good works in regards of our brethren is principally this: that by our example in well doing, we may win some unto God, and keep others in the obedience of the truth, and prevent offences whereby many are drawn back. The contagion of a bad example, especially in men of superior place, is such that it will not only cast their own souls to hell, but also draw many with them. When Jeroboam the king sinned (1 Kin. 15:34), he caused Israel to sin. And therefore we must carefully look to all our ways in regard of others, and so live according to ChristŐs commandment in this place, that others seeing our good works may be won to the truth, and so glorify God which is in heaven. And thus we see the end of good works.

 

 

Now considering good works be of such excellent use, we are hereby admonished to exercise ourselves therein with all diligence; for hereby we benefit our brethren, we help ourselves, and we glorify God; neither must any manŐs poverty hinder him from this duty; for not only alms deeds, and large gifts to churches and highways, are good works, but also the special duties of every manŐs lawful calling, done in faith, to the glory of God and the good of men, be the calling never so base; by the doing whereof, in faith and obedience, he may get sure testimony of his election. This exhortation is most needful, for so soon as men have occasion to commit any sin, then they shake off the yoke of all obedience, as if  there were no ways of good works to be walked in. The papists indeed make the merit of justification and life everlasting, the end of good works, but that hath been sufficiently confuted heretofore.

 

Hitherto we have spoken of the first point in this conclusion, touching the manner of teaching.

 

 

2. The second point herein contained, is the end of all teaching; namely, to turn men unto God, and thereby to bring them to glorify God. That men may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven; that is, to teach that men may see your good works, and be won thereby to the faith, and so glorify God. Our Saviour Christ in His commission given to His disciples before His ascension, bids them Go, make all nations my disciples (Matt. 28:19); and Paul saith that he became all things to all men, that by all means he might not only instruct, but save some (1 Cor. 9:22).

 

Hereby then all ministers, and all those that set themselves apart for this calling, must learn to propound this duty unto themselves as the main end of all their studies and labours; namely, to turn men unto God, that being converted they may glorify God. Again, the same end of the ministry admonisheth all hearers so to yield themselves obedient to the ministry of the Word, that it may take place in their hearts, to turn them unto God, that after their conversion they may glorify God. This the people ought the rather to yield unto, because it is the main comfort that the minister hath of all his labours, to see his hearers converted, and so enabled to glorify God. And to move them hereto, they are further to know that if they hear, and be not thereby converted, that so they may praise and glorify God by their obedience, then this ministry will be a bill of indictment against them, for their deeper condemnation at the last day (See Matt. 11:21,24).