ŇNot everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doth my FatherŐs will which is in heaven.Ó  Matthew 7:21.

 

From this verse to the 24th, is contained another portion of ChristŐs sermon, being the seventh part of this chapter; wherein he entreateth of the state of those that profess His holy name in His church here on earth. And His main scope and drift herein is to shew that men must not content themselves to profess religion outwardly, but therewith they must join true godliness and sincere obedience. This point is as weighty and of as great importance as any of the former, respecting the main point of manŐs salvation; and it containeth two parts: a main conclusion in this verse, and a proof and explanation of one part thereof in vv. 22,23.

 

 

I.

The conclusion itself hath two parts: 1. That some men professing the name of Christ shall not be saved, which part is afterward explained and confirmed. 2. That some professors of religion shall be saved, which is not only propounded, but the parties also are plainly described.

 

1. The first part is a most fearful sentence against many that live in the church, that notwithstanding their profession of the name of Christ, yet they shall never be saved. And this is most true, being spoken by Him that hath the power of life and death, who is also the God of truth that cannot lie, saying, Not everyone that saith, Lord, Lord, that is, that professeth God to be his God, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. There be two kinds of professors in the church of God that shall never be saved:

 

(1) The first are gross hypocrites, which profess Christ with their mouth, and yet in heart and life renounce Him. Of this sort is, first, the common atheist, who only for fear of the magistrateŐs laws professeth religion; secondly, the Epicurean, that is, such an one who bears ChristŐs name for fashionŐs sake, and yet his belly and pleasure is his god; thirdly, the worldling, who spends the strength of body and mind, and all he hath, on the world for earthly things. Now none of all these can be saved.

 

(2) The second sort are more close hypocrites, which profess the name of Christ in some truth, and have in them some good gifts of God, by reason whereof both before men and in their own conceit, they are reputed members of the church; and yet for all this they are indeed but hypocrites, which shall never be saved.

 

And that we may somewhat discern of them, I will note the gifts which they may have, whereby they may come to profess Christ truly. They may be reduced to five heads:

 

(i) The first, is the spirit of bondage to fear (Rom. 8:15). This is a certain gift of God whereby a man doth discern the right meaning, and judicial use of the law in himself, concerning sin and the punishment thereof (for though a man by nature know something of the law, yet he knows not all, nor the right use thereof); now by reason of this knowledge, he sees himself in bondage, and in regard thereof doth fear; from where may proceed many good things, as grief for sin, confession and humiliation for the same, and prayer for pardon. Thus wicked Pharaoh confessed the righteousness of God, and that he and his people had sinned (Exod. 9:27). And so did Ahab at the heavy message of God by Elijah (1 Kin. 21:27), He rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon him, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth. So Judas when he saw that Christ was condemned, he repented of his fact, being grieved for it, and ashamed to look any man in the face; and also confessed the same before God and men (Matt. 27:3,4).

 

(ii) A second gift which a close hypocrite may have is faith; as had Simon Magus, for he believed and was baptised (Acts 8:13). Neither was it a false and dissembling faith altogether, but in some sort a true, though not a saving faith; for he believed, and yet was in the gall of bitterness. So (John 2:23-25) it is said, Certain believed in Christ, but He durst not commit Himself unto them. And that we be not deceived herein, we must know that this faith of an hypocrite hath in it three things: knowledge of the truth, approbation thereof with assent unto it, and a kind of persuasion that Christ is His Redeemer. Of the second degree of this faith we have example (2 Pet. 2:18), where some are said to be beguiled with wantonness through fleshly lusts, who had clean escaped from them that be wrapped in error; that is, in idolatry. And of the third degree, we have example in the same chapter (2 Pet. 2:1), where false prophets are said to deny Christ that bought them; because for a time they professed themselves to be redeemed, and were also persuaded in a general sort that He had bought them; yet herein they failed: that they did not truly apprehend the merit of Christ, and apply it effectually unto themselves.

 

(iii) The third gift of a close hypocrite is a taste of GodŐs favour (Heb. 6:4,5); it is said of some that fall quite away, that they were enlightened by GodŐs Spirit, and had a taste of the good Word of God, and of the powers of the world to come, though they were never fed or filled therewith.

 

(iv) The fourth gift is good affections; good (I say) not in them, but in their kind, and so far forth as we can judge. They have joy in the good things of God (Luke 8:13), They that are on the stones are they which when they have heard, receive the Word with joy. They have zeal for GodŐs glory, as had Jehu (2 Kin. 10:16), and yet he departed not from the sins of his forefathers (v. 31). Thirdly, they have reverence to GodŐs ministers, as Herod to John Baptist (Mark 6:20), Herod, knowing John to be a just and holy man, feared and reverenced him.

 

(v) The fifth gift is an outward reformation of life. The stony ground receives the seed with joy, and brings forth some fruit, but it lasteth not. Of such it is said (Heb. 10:29), They tread underfoot the Son of God, and count the blood of the Testament an unholy thing wherewith they were sanctified; that is, according to their profession and persuasion.

 

And thus we see what kind of gifts an hypocrite may have, and yet never be saved.

 

The Uses.

Use 1. The consideration whereof must move us to look unto ourselves, that we have better things in us than the fear; for here we see we may go on to perdition, carrying the profession of Christ in our mouths. And the rather is this to be considered of us, because many look to be saved who come short of Simon Magus in knowledge, and of Saul, Ahab and Judas in humility; yea, and for faith, far short of the devil himself, who is said to believe and tremble. But how canst thou look to be saved, that in regard of grace, comest short of those which are now condemned?

 

Use 2. Secondly, hence we must learn to suspect ourselves, and call ourselves to a reckoning about our faith and obedience, and we must not flatter ourselves herein; for these things before-named will not save us. Many have had faith in some truth for some degrees thereof, and also good affections and other gifts; as we have seen, who are yet for all this condemned.

 

Use 3. Thirdly, seeing there be two sorts of men in the church that shall be condemned, the one whereof have many worthy gifts; this must move us not to rest in these things, but to labour and strive to have our hearts rooted and grounded in the love of God in Christ, and to become new creatures in righteousness and true holiness; and then shall we be as the wise virgins having the oil of grace in the vessels of our hearts, which will never be quenched till we come into the marriage chamber with our bridegroom Christ Jesus.

 

 

2. The second part of the conclusion laid down by our Saviour Christ is this: That some men professing the name of Christ in the church of God shall be saved. And these persons are here described unto us by their effect or action, to wit, The doing of the will of the Father. And because this is an infallible note of them that shall be saved, I will briefly shew what it is to do the FatherŐs will. The Scriptures best expound themselves: (John 6:40), This is the will of Him that sent me, that everyone that hath seen the Son, and believeth in Him, should have everlasting life. (1 Thess. 4:3ff.), This is the will of God, even your sanctification: and that you should abstain from fornication; and that everyone should know how to possess his vessel in holiness and honourÉ. That no man oppress or defraud his brotherÉ These two places of Scripture laid together, shew that the doing of the FatherŐs will stands in three things: in faith, in repentance and in new obedience. Faith is directly expressed in the place of John, and repentance, which is a fruit of faith, as also new obedience, the fruit of them both, in the words of the apostle Paul; for by sanctification is meant repentance, and new obedience by the duties following.

 

(1) For the first, in true saving faith there are three things required: knowledge, assent and application.

 

(i) By knowledge, I mean the right conceiving of the necessary doctrines of true religion, especially of those which concern Christ our Redeemer.

 

(ii) Assent is, when a man knowing this doctrine, doth further approve of the same as wholesome doctrine, and the truth of God, directing us aright unto salvation.

 

(iii) Application is, when we conceive in our hearts a true persuasion of GodŐs mercy towards us particularly, in the free pardon of all our sins, and for the salvation of our souls. Example of this particular applying we have in the apostle Paul (Gal. 2:20), who professeth thus: Now live not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life that I now live is by faith in the Son of God; which what that is, he sheweth after, saying, Who hath loved me, and given Himself for me. And without this particular application, neither knowledge nor assent can save us.

 

In the sixth of John, Christ propounds Himself unto us as the bread of life, and (chapter 4) the water of life. Now we know that food, unless it be received, will not nourish the body. Even so, unless we do by the hand of faith particularly receive and apply Christ unto ourselves, all our knowledge and assent will be as food uneaten and undigested.

 

It may be said that hypocrites have knowledge, assent, and a persuasion of GodŐs favour, and therefore this is not a sure note of doing the FatherŐs will. I answer: an hypocrite (as Simon Magus) may have true knowledge of GodŐs Word, and give assent thereunto, and in regard of both these have true faith in some degree; yea, he may conceive a persuasion of GodŐs mercy in the pardon of his sins, though falsely in presumption upon false grounds and insufficient. Now that a man may discern the truth of his faith and persuasion of GodŐs mercy, from that which is in hypocrisy, he is to observe therein three things: the beginning of his faith, the fruits and the constancy thereof.

 

(i) The beginning of true faith is hearing the Word of God preached, especially the gospel; the law going before as an occasion, or preparing-means whereby a man comes to see his sins and his misery thereby, and thereupon to desire reconciliation with God in the pardon of them; and hearing the promises of mercy, to desire faith whereby he may embrace the same, labouring against unbelief. This, though it be not a lively faith, yet it is the beginning of true faith, and no hypocrite hath the same soundly wrought in him.

 

(ii) The fruit of true faith is a change of the whole man both in heart and life; making the heart contrary to itself, in moderating the natural affections and passions thereof, and keeping them in compass of true obedience, and causing a man in every estate to rest contented with the will of God, as Isaiah saith (Isa. 28:16), He that believeth shall not make haste.

 

(iii) Thirdly, constancy in true faith is made known by this: when a man relies wholly on God, even then when he feels no taste of His mercy but hath all tokens of His displeasure. Every man will believe when he hath present signs and pledges of GodŐs loving favour, but true faith being the evidence of things hoped for (Heb. 11:1), will make a man believe above hope, as Abraham did. And being the substance of things not seen, will cause a man to believe when he sees no tokens of GodŐs mercy. And indeed, he that lets go the hold of GodŐs mercy when he is in distress, may assure himself he never had true faith; for the just shall live by faith in all estates, and will with Job, trust in God though He kill them (Job 13:15).

 

(2) The second work wherein consisteth the doing of the FatherŐs will, is to repent of our sins. And this is a fruit of faith. In true repentance there be two things: the beginning and the nature of it.

 

(i) The beginning of it is a godly sorrow, when a man is grieved properly and directly, because by his sin he hath offended God, who hath been unto him so long a Father in Christ. This causeth repentance unto salvation, not to be repented of (2 Cor. 7:10); and it ariseth not so much from the fear of punishment, as from the consideration of GodŐs mercy, making a man displeased with himself for offending so loving a God, who hath been so gracious and bountiful unto him in Christ.

 

(ii) The nature of repentance stands in the change of the mind; when any person lays aside the purpose of sinning, and by GodŐs blessing and grace taketh to himself a new purpose never to sin more. This is properly to repent, and if this be in truth, hence will follow the change of the will, of the affections, and of all the actions of the life.

 

It may be said that an hypocrite may repent as Judas did (Matt. 27:3), and therefore this is not a good note of doing GodŐs will. Answer: Judas did repent. He was indeed grieved for his fact, wishing with all his heart that it had never been done. But this was nothing; his sorrow was only worldly, causing death, as the apostle calls it (2 Cor. 7:10), arising from the horror and fear of punishment, not from consideration of GodŐs mercy. It was without true hatred of sin committed, without hope of mercy or purpose to glorify God by new obedience, and so was no true repentance.

 

(3) The third work wherein consisteth the doing of GodŐs will, is new obedience; and it is the fruit of both the former, whereby a man being indeed with faith and repentance, doth according to the measure of grace received, endeavour himself to yield obedience to all GodŐs commandments, from all the powers and parts both of his soul and his body. And this I call new, because it is a renewing of that in man, whereto he was perfectly enabled by creation. But here it will be said that many who shall never be saved, have attained to reformation of life; and therefore this is not a true and sufficient note of him that shall be saved. Answer: True it is, may hypocrites have reformation of life, but yet they fail two ways:

 

(i) First, their reformation is only outward not inward, their thoughts, wills and affections still remain wicked and corrupt.

 

(ii) Secondly, their obedience is partial, only to some of GodŐs commandments, not to all. So Herod, he would hear John gladly, and do many things, but yet he would not leave his brotherŐs wife.

 

But true obedience, which proceedeth from true faith, hath these heads and branches:

 

(i) First, the party must prove what is the good will of God (Rom. 12:2).

 

(ii) Secondly, he must restrain his life from outward offence which tend to the dishonour of God and scandal of the church (1 Thess. 5:22; 1 Pet. 2:11,12).

 

(iii) Thirdly, he must mortify the inward corruptions of his own heart.

 

(iv) Fourthly, he must labour to conceive new motions agreeable to the will of God, and thence bring forth and practice good duties; so performing both outward and inward obedience unto God.

 

And by these may a man discern the truth of his obedience; and thus we see what professors they be which shall be saved.

 

The Uses.

Use 1. Now considering salvation is promised to them that be doers of GodŐs will, we must hereby be exhorted to become more cheerful in doing GodŐs will by faith, repentance and new obedience. And to further us in this duty we must use these helps:

 

(1) We must labour for a true persuasion of GodŐs mercy in the pardon of our sins, and for the salvation of our souls, This being truly conceived, will urge a man to true obedience, whereby he may shew himself thankful to God for so great a mercy.

 

(2) We must consider that we are the temples of the Holy Ghost, which is a wonderful dignity to a sinful man. And in regard hereof, we must stir up ourselves so to live, that we make not sad the Spirit of God which dwelleth in us.

 

(3) We must consider the blessings of God bestowed upon us both in soul and body, one by one. And this will move us to love God, which love we shall shew in keeping His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments (1 John 5:3).

 

(4) Let us consider the threatenings of God against sin, and His judgments upon them that live in sin, for every place is full of GodŐs judgments; and these will help to restrain our corruptions, that they break not forth into action.

 

(5) We must meditate on the Word of God, and use fervent prayer unto God for His grace; for by this means David did notably stir up himself to faith, repentance and new obedience, as we may see at large in the 119th Psalm.

 

Use 2. In that many having faith and repentance and outward reformation of life in some degrees, shall never be saved, we must labour to go beyond all hypocrites in these graces:

 

(i) In faith, we must not content ourselves with a general persuasion of GodŐs mercy, but we must labour to conceive the same to be true and sound touching the remission of our sins and the salvation of our souls. We must look that it have a sound beginning, good fruits, and steadfast continuance.

 

(ii) And for repentance, we must labour to see that our sorrow arise from the consideration of the goodness of God whom we have offended; and that it breed in us a change of our minds in the purpose of not sinning. Whereto we must be conformable in the will and affections, and the whole man.

 

(iii) And for new obedience, we must be as careful in mind, will and affections, as in the outward actions of our life, to do the will of God; and that in all GodŐs commandments.

 

Use 3. Many there be that think their case good, because they live a civil honest life, without wronging others openly or wittingly, which thing indeed is commendable; but yet far short of that which is required for salvation; therefore they must not trust to these broken staves of outward and common honesty, though they be good things in their kind; for many there be that shall never come in heaven, which have had far more in them than these things are. And therefore whatsoever these persons be, they must not rest till they find some portion of true grace in their hearts, by virtue whereof they may plainly see themselves gone beyond all hypocrites in the things that concern salvation.