Ephesians 2:10
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life.
Sermons
A Bird's-Eye View of LifeJames Stalker, M. A.Ephesians 2:10
A Christian Christ's WorkmanshipEphesians 2:10
Believers are God's WorkmanshipPaul Bayne.Ephesians 2:10
Christian Men God's WorkmanshipR. W. Dale, LL. D.Ephesians 2:10
Conversion, the Soul, and GodJoseph Cook.Ephesians 2:10
God's WorkmanshipR. J. McGhee, M. A.Ephesians 2:10
God's WorkmanshipW.F. Adeney Ephesians 2:10
God's Workmanship and Our WorksAlexander MaclarenEphesians 2:10
Good WorksC. J. Goodhart, M. A.Ephesians 2:10
Good Works are God-InspiredThomas Jones.Ephesians 2:10
Good Works for BelieversH. Foster, M. A.Ephesians 2:10
Good Works PreparedPaul Bayne.Ephesians 2:10
Justified Persons are God's WorkmanshipH. Harris, B. D.Ephesians 2:10
Man's Creation unto Good WorksThomas Jones.Ephesians 2:10
New Creatures Prepared for Good WorksT. Manton, D. D.Ephesians 2:10
Perseverance in Good WorksG. Swinnock.Ephesians 2:10
Prepared WorksJ. Vaughan, M. A.Ephesians 2:10
Professors Without Good WorksC. H. Spurgeon.Ephesians 2:10
The Christian is the Noblest Work of GodEphesians 2:10
The Divine WorkmanshipThomas Jones.Ephesians 2:10
The Heavenly WorkmanT. Champness.Ephesians 2:10
The Nature and Necessity of Good WorksEphesians 2:10
The New Creation of BelieversT. Manton, D. D.Ephesians 2:10
The Singular Origin of a Christian ManC. H. Spurgeon.Ephesians 2:10
The Use of Good WorksEphesians 2:10
Association with ChristR. Finlayson Ephesians 2:1-10
Gospel Reformation Great and GraciousD. Thomas Ephesians 2:1-10
All Glory to GodW. Gurnall.Ephesians 2:8-10
Bishop Ryle's ConversionEphesians 2:8-10
Christian HumilityE. Blencowe, M. A.Ephesians 2:8-10
Faith: its Meaning, Source, and PowerW. Cunningham, D. D.Ephesians 2:8-10
Faith: What is It? How Can it be ObtainedC. H. Spurgeon.Ephesians 2:8-10
God's GiftCawdray.Ephesians 2:8-10
God's Grace and Man's SalvationPaul Bayne.Ephesians 2:8-10
Good Works not to be Boasted OfE. White.Ephesians 2:8-10
Hot of WorksEphesians 2:8-10
How We are SavedJ. Vaughan, M. A.Ephesians 2:8-10
Humility Delights in ConcealmentH. G. Salter.Ephesians 2:8-10
No Room for PrideW. Gurnall.Ephesians 2:8-10
SalvationJ. Eadie, D. D.Ephesians 2:8-10
Salvation a GiftEphesians 2:8-10
Salvation All of GraceC. H. Spurgeon.Ephesians 2:8-10
Salvation by GraceR. W. Dale, LL. D.Ephesians 2:8-10
Salvation by GraceR. Shutte, M. A.Ephesians 2:8-10
Salvation by the Sovereign Love and Free Grace of GodR. Montgomery.Ephesians 2:8-10
Salvation in its Completeness: the Place of Faith and WorksT. Croskery Ephesians 2:8-10
Salvation of God Through FaithJohn Pulsford.Ephesians 2:8-10
Salvation, its Root and its FruitR.M. Edgar Ephesians 2:8-10
SavedW. Hay Aitken, M. A.Ephesians 2:8-10
Saved by GraceW. Hay Aitken, M. A.Ephesians 2:8-10
The Clinging Power of FaithC. H. Spurgeon.Ephesians 2:8-10
The Freeness of Grace and LoveW. Bridge.Ephesians 2:8-10
The Mistake of Relying Upon Faith ConsideredBishop Hoadly.Ephesians 2:8-10
The Qualities of Justifying FaithPaul Bayne.Ephesians 2:8-10
The Realizing Power of FaithC. H. Spurgeon.Ephesians 2:8-10
The Respective Places of Faith and Works in SalvationJ. Lathrop, D. D.Ephesians 2:8-10
The Source and Way of SalvationJohn Hannah, D. D.Ephesians 2:8-10
We are Saved by Faith -- not of OurselvesD. L. Moody.Ephesians 2:8-10
We are Saved by Grace OnlyEphesians 2:8-10
Works ExcludedPaul Bayne.Ephesians 2:8-10
Works, no Sure FoundationBishop Ryle.Ephesians 2:8-10


I. AS CHRISTIANS, CREATED IN CHRIST, WE ARE GOD'S WORKMANSHIP. It cannot be that our salvation comes by our works, because it is such a quickening from death to life as amounts to nothing short of a new creation, and because God is the only Creator. We only become new creatures through union with Christ, and by the grace of God that is in him. To know if this is our condition, we must see if we bear the traces of the great Worker upon our persons. God's work must have the characteristics of good work.

1. Fitness. God finds us out of joint. He shapes us suitably for our vocation. A house without adaptation to its ends may look handsome, but it is a failure. A true Christian will not only have a saintly bearing, he will have a practical suitability for his mission.

2. Thoroughness. How thorough is God's work in nature as seen in the microscopic organs of the smallest insects! The new creation is as thorough as the old creation. Down to every thought and fancy God shapes the character of his redeemed.

3. Beauty. The best work is graceful and fair to look upon. God's spiritual work is adorned with the beauty of holiness.

II. WE ARE THUS CREATED FOR THE PURPOSE OF DOING GOOD WORKS. Good works are more honored by the doctrine of grace than they are by the scheme of salvation by works; for in the latter they appeal only as means to an end, as stepping-stones to be left behind when the salvation as reached; but in the former they are themselves the ends, and are valued on their own account. Thus we are taught not to perform good works as an only or necessary means for securing some ulterior boon, but are invited to accept that boon just because it will enable us to do our work better. Instead of regarding the gospel as a pleasant message to show us how we may save ourselves the trouble of work, we must hear it as a trumpet-call to service. The Christian is the servant of Christ. In spiritual death we can do nothing. Salvation is quickening to a new life. The object of this life is not bare existence. All life ministers to some other life. Spiritual life is given directly with the object of enabling us to do our work. It fails of its object if it is unfertile. The barren tree must wither, the fruitless branch must be pruned away. Purity and harmlessness are but negative graces, and are not sufficient justification for existence. The great end of being is the doing of positive good. The judgment will turn on the use we have made of our talents.

III. THE WORKS FOR WHICH WE ARE CREATED HAVE BEEN PREARRANGED BY GOD. The road has been made before we have been ready to walk on it. And there is a road for every soul. Each of us has his vocation marked out for him and fixed in the ancient counsels of God. No life need be aimless since every life is provided with a mission. How may we know the mission?

1. From our talents. Men do not gather grapes of thorns, nor poetry of commonplace minds, nor heroism of feeble souls. The nature of the tool proclaims its use. The hammer cannot be made to cut, nor the saw to drive nails. God's workmanship bears on its special form the indications of its purpose. To know our work we must pray for light that we may know ourselves, or we shall fall into the common error of mistaking our inclination for our capacity and our ambition for our ability.

2. From our circumstances. God opens providential doors. Let us not refuse to enter them because they are often low and lead to humble paths. If they face us they indicate the work for which we are created, and that should suffice obedient, servants. - W.F.A.









For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.
Grace here means God's free gift. Our salvation is entirely God's gift to us; and it must be so, because we cannot make it or get it for ourselves; we have no power of our own to make it for ourselves, nothing of our own to offer in exchange for it. If our salvation does not come to us as God's free gift it can never come to us at all. But, though our salvation is entirely God's free gift to us, it is never forced upon us without our consent. Freely as it is offered to us, we must, on our parts, freely accept it when it is held out to us; we must acknowledge it thankfully; and unless we do acknowledge it and lay hold on it, it can never become curs. It may go on lying within arm's length of us all our lives through, and yet be of no more service to us than if it were hundreds of miles away; we must reach out our hand to take it, and this hand of ours which we have to put forth to take it with is faith. "By grace are ye saved, through faith." This reaching out of faith, in answer to God's stretching out His hand to save us, is the second step which is necessary to be taken in the matter of our salvation. But here St. Paul finds it necessary to put in a word of caution to those who are the very foremost in accepting his teaching, and the most earnest in looking to their faith as the sole instrument of their justification. He foresaw that men would come to pride themselves upon this faith of theirs as something peculiarly their own, which very few besides themselves had any share in, and which entitled them to look down upon the rest of mankind with something like a feeling of contempt. And so, after saying, "By grace are ye saved through faith," he goes on to say, "and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." Your salvation, yes, and your faith, too, by which you lay hold of your salvation, is all God's free gift to you; you did not make your faith for yourselves any more than you made your salvation; you had nothing of your own with which to make it. And how dare you, then, presume upon your faith, and pride yourselves upon it, as if it were your own creating? And now that St. Paul has secured his position against attack on one side, he turns cautiously round, like a skilful general, to secure it on the other: "Not of works," he proceeds to say, "lest any man should boast." And here, after all, is the quarter from which an attack is chiefly to be looked for. It is in man's nature to make as much of himself as he can; it is in his nature to seek to justify himself, to work all out by himself, to set his own account straight with God. But now, of course, if he can earn his salvation for himself, he can make a merit of what he has done, he can claim his justification as his own work. And so, in order to put a stop, once for all, to such notions and attempts on the part of man to justify himself, the apostle lays down his next great principle in the doctrine of justification: "Not of works, lest any man should boast. For," he proceeds to say, "we are His workmanship." So far from having any works of our own with which to purchase our salvation, we are ourselves nothing but a piece of work of another's making. God made us, and not we ourselves; He put us together, just as a workman puts a piece of machinery together, piece by piece, and we have no more ground for boasting or making a merit of what we do than a clock has ground for boasting of being able to point to the time or to strike the hours. We are simply, then, a piece of workmanship, designed and put together by God. Still, a piece of machinery is designed for some set purpose or other, and so are we; we have been made, and made over again, "created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them."

(H. Harris, B. D.)

The apostle, having shown that our salvation is only of grace, and the means by which we are made capable of all saving good in Christ, by faith, excluding all causes in man, and that from the end lest he should boast himself: he now gives a reason why God's grace is all in all, drawn from our redemption by Christ. As in the first creation there was no disposition in man to make himself a man, so no virtue in man now created to make him able to bring himself to eternal life; he confers nothing to the works of his new creation in Christ, no motion of man's will, thought, or desire, or any preparatory work; all proceeds from the infinite creating power of God, He gives all.

1. All the faithful are new creatures in Christ.(1) This proves to many that they are not believers as yet. Why? Because they live in their old sins. So long as the love of any sin is retained there is no part of new creation in that person.(2) To prove we are in Christ we must approve ourselves new creatures.(a) The parts of this new creation are — holiness of the spirit, and of the body, mind, will, affections, and every member of the body.(b) Degrees — babes in Christ; young ones; old men, the perfection of stature.(c) Signs — change; spiritual motion in the heart; desire for the sincere milk of the Word; desire to draw on others to grace.

2. God is the author of our new creation.

(1)This shows the dignity of the saints. They are God's children.

(2)It teaches us to whom we are to ascribe all that we are.

3. God gives us our new creation through Christ. Let us magnify Him accordingly.

4. The new creature has new works. The two go together; there cannot be the one without the other. As is the fountain, such will be the streams which flow from it.

5. We come to have good works when we are made new in Christ. Before that we can do nothing, not only meritorious, but even good (John 15:15). If the things which are necessary conditions of a good work be considered, this will be clear. It must be done

(1)From the heart.

(2)In the obedience of faith.

(3)To God's glory.

6. Good works are the very end of our new creation. As we plant our orchards, to the end that they may bring us fruit, so does the Lord plant us on purpose that we may bring Him fruit. Hence His people are called "Trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, in whom He may be glorified." "Herein is My Father glorified," said Christ, "that ye bear much fruit." Honour God with thy graces. It is reasonable that every one should have the honour of his own. We see plainly that other creatures glorify God in their kind, and fulfil the law of their creation; man alone, who has the greatest cause and best means, comes behind.

7. We must walk in the ways which are prepared by God. Our life must be a tracing of the commandments; we must not salute the ways of God as chapmen coming to fairs; we must walk in them. Men in the world may become so prosperous that they may give over trading, and live comfortably on what they already possess; but it is not thus with the soul, which, where it ceases to profit, waxes gross.(1) As thou wouldst have comfort that thou art a new creature in Christ, made alive by the Spirit, try it by this — how thou walkest.(2) Ever strive to be going forward, exercising the faculties we have, and looking to God for all.

(Paul Bayne.)

These words suggest far-reaching speculations about the Divine ideal of humanity, and about how that ideal is suppressed by human folly and sin; they suggest inquiries about the ideal relations of all men to Christ, relations which are only made real and effective by personal faith in Him. But Paul was thinking of those who by their own free consent were in Christ, of those who, as he says, had been "saved by faith." Of these it was actually true that they were "God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus." How are we to get at the gospel which these words contain? Let us try. Most of us, I suppose, who have any moral earnestness, are at times very dissatisfied with ourselves; yes, with ourselves. We think it hard that we should be what we are. We complain not only of the conditions of our life, which may have made us worse than there was any need that we should be, but of our native temperament, of tendencies which seem to belong to the very substance of our moral nature. We have ideals of moral excellence which are out of our reach. We see other men that have a goodness that we envy, but which is not possible to ourselves. There is something wrong in the quality of our blood. The fibre of our nature is coarse, and there is nothing to he made of it. There is a wretched fault in the marble which we are trying to shape into nobleness and beauty, and no skill or strength of ours can remove it, And ours is not an exceptional wretchedness. The special infirmities of men vary. One man finds it hard to be just, another to be generous; one man finds it hard to be quiet and patient under suffering, another to be vigorous in work; one man has to struggle with vanity, another with pride, another with covetousness, another with the grosser passions of his physical nature; one man is suspicious by temperament, another envious, another discontented; one man is so weak that he cannot hate even the worst kinds of wrong-doing, the fires of his indignation against evil never burst into flame; another is so stern that even where there is hearty sorrow for wrong-doing he can hardly force himself to forgive it frankly. The fault of our nature assumes a thousand forms, but no one is free from it. I look back to the ancient moralists, to and to Seneca and to Marcus Antoninus, and I find that they are my brethren in calamity. The circumstances of man have changed, but man remains the same. How are we to escape from the general, the universal doom? We want to remain ourselves, to preserve our personal identity, and yet to live a life which seems impossible unless we can cease to be ourselves. It is a dreadful paradox, but some of us know that this is the exact expression of a dumb discontent which lies at the very heart of our moral being. Is there any solution? Paul tells us what the solution is. Christian men are "God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus." Yes, we were made for this, for something higher than is within our reach, apart from the reception of the life of God. There are vague instincts within us which are at war with the moral limitations which are born with us. Our aspirations are after a perfect righteousness and a diviner order, but we cannot fulfil them. They will die out through disappointment; they will be pronounced impossible unless we discover that they come from the fountains of a Divine inspiration, unless we have the faith and patience of the saints of old who waited, with an invincible confidence in the goodness and power of God, until the words of ancient prophecy were fulfilled, and more than fulfilled, in Christ. The prophets of the earlier centuries prophesied of the grace that was to come to later generations; their prophecies were dark and indistinct, and even to themselves almost unintelligible. They inquired and searched diligently concerning the salvation which they knew was to come, though they could not tell the time or the manner of its coming. And these aspirations of the individual soul are also prophecies; by them the Spirit of Christ is signifying to us the hopes which are our inheritance; they come from the Light which lighteth every man. But their fulfilment is not reserved for others; they may be fulfilled to ourselves. All that we have vaguely desired is now offered us in the glorious gospel of the blessed God; in Christ we become "His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works." The Divine idea is moving towards its crowning perfection. Never let us forget that the life which has come to us is an immortal life, At best we are but seedlings on this side of death. We are not yet planted out under the open heavens and in the soil which is to be our eternal home. Here in this world the life we have received in our new creation has neither time nor space to reveal the infinite wealth of its resources: you must wait for the world to come to see the noble trees of righteousness fling out their mighty branches to the sky and clothe themselves in the glorious beauty of their immortal foliage. And yet the history of Christendom contains the proof that even here a new and alien life has begun to show itself among mankind; a life not alien indeed, for it is the true life of our race, but it is unlike what had been in the world before. The saints of every Church, divided by national differences, divided by their creeds, divided by fierce ecclesiastical rivalries, are still strangely akin. Voice answers to voice across the centuries which separate them; they tell in different tongues of the same wonderful discovery of a Divine kingdom; they translate every man for himself into his own life the same Divine law. We of obscurer rank and narrower powers read their lives, and we know that we and they are akin; we listen to their words, and are thrilled by the accent of home. Their songs are on our lips; they seem to have been written for us by men who knew the secret we wanted to utter better than we knew it ourselves. Their confessions of sin are a fuller expression of our own sorrow and trouble than we ourselves had ever been able to make. Their life is our life. We and they belong to a new race. A new type of character has been created. Christ lives on in those whose life is rooted in Him.

(R. W. Dale, LL. D.)

We have in this verse three things.

I. THE POWER that acts on the sinner to bring him into obedience to his God. The power of God alone. Man is dead; God is the quickener.

II. THE MODE in which that power acts upon him so as to produce this effect. "In Christ Jesus."

III. THE CERTAIN SECURITY for the operation of this power, and for the effect it will produce. God has appointed it. He has ordained that His people should walk in good works. You perceive, then, why throughout the Scriptures the works of man are made the test of his salvation. He is not to he justified by them, but he is to be judged by them, and this is a difficulty that often occurs to the mind, How is man to be judged by his works if he is not to be justified by them? The answer is — because they are taken as the test of his faith, as the proof of his sincerity. A cup of cold water could not purchase salvation for the sinner; but a cup of cold water, given in the name of Jesus, shall in no wise lose its reward, because it is the test that the believer loves his Master.

(R. J. McGhee, M. A.)

I. God works with skill and industry in elevating and refining human nature; and let us not overlook the fact that there is A GREAT DIFFERENCE IN THE MATERIAL. It is useless to say that all men are equal. We are not all born alike. From the fault or misfortune of our progenitors, we may start on the race with heavy burdens that we cannot shake off. Besides, we differ in both physical and mental constitution. We use terms which are very suggestive when we speak of a "hard" man, or when we say, "He is soft," "He is coarse," or "He is a fine man." Some we describe as Nature's gentle men, while others are born mean. Let it be understood that the Great Workman does not expect the same results from every kind of material. There is one thing He expects from all, and something He has a right to expect, and that is what all can do: we must love God.

II. IT IS WELL FOR US TO HAVE CONFIDENCE IN THE WORKMAN. What a different fate awaits some of the blocks of marble which come into London as compared with others. They will all be used, but how differently. One is taken to the studio of the sculptor, to be carved into some statue to be admired for ages; another is sawn into slabs to make the counter of some gin palace! If the former block could know and feel the difference, how glad it would be to find itself in the places where statues are made. Let those of us who are lovers of God never forget that we are in the studio. It is not the purpose of the heavenly Workman to put us to any of the baser uses we might have been fit for but for His grace.

III. WE MUST NOT FORGET THAT THE WORKMAN HAS A PLAN. Life in any of us is a very complicated affair. Things are always happening — births, deaths, and marriages. Business relations alter. Circumstances differ: there seems no order or arrangements. It is chaos to us. And yet God knows all, and knows the precise bearing of each event on our lives. It does not seem like it, and yet, if we look hack, we may often see that God has been working all along in harmony with one idea. Some time ago, when in Manchester, the writer saw the men at work pulling down whole streets of houses to make room for a new railway station. All appeared ruin and disorder. Here was a party digging out foundations; in another place the bricklayers were building walls; elsewhere some one was setting out for other walls; beyond them they were still pulling down. It seemed like chaos, and yet in the architect's office could be seen the elevation and picture of the complete whole. Every man was working to a plan. And so God has His elevation, but He does not show it. "It doth not yet appear." When Joseph was in jail, he was in the path of Providence, and the fetters of iron were as much part of the plan as the chain of gold he wore when brought to the summit of greatness. What a variety of tools! What are the so-called means of grace but tools in the hand of the Great Workman? What are preachers but God's chisels and hammers? Books, too, are tools. How important is the work of those who write them! But the finest work is often done by those sharp-edged chisels called Pain and Bereavement. How many of us are to be made perfect by suffering! It is not the dull tool that can cut the fine lines. Will the work ever be completed? Not in this world certainly. There is no room for self-complacence.

(T. Champness.)

That those who are God's workmanship are created in Christ Jesus to good works; or, in plainer terms, all those who belong to God, and are created anew by His Spirit, are enabled by virtue of that new creation to perform good works. In pursuance of this proposition, I will show —

1. What good works are.

2. What are the qualifications of them.

3. Why they must be done.

4. Apply all.

I. That we may understand WHAT IS MEANT BY GOOD WORKS, we must know that there are habits of grace, and there are acts and exertments of grace; and these two are different from one another, because these acts flow from those habits. These acts are two-fold, either inward or outward. The inward are such as these — a fear and reverence of the Almighty, a love of God and all goodness, and a love of our neighbours (which is called the work and labour of love, Hebrews 6:10), which, though they be not outwardly acted, yet are properly the works of the soul, for the not producing them into outward action hinders not their being works. For the mind of man may as properly be said to work as the body; yea, if we consider the true nature of things, we may rightly assert that the soul is the principal worker in man, and that all the outward exertments of virtue in the body flow from the mind of man, and take thence their denomination. These outward acts of grace which are exerted by the members of the body, and are apparent in the practices of holy men, are the good works generally spoken of in the Scripture. They are no other than visible exertments and actual discoveries of the inward graces before mentioned. Thus our reverencing of God is discovered by our solemn worshipping Him, and that in the most decent and humble manner. Our faith in Him, and love to Him, are showed by our readiness to do His will and obey all His commands. It is true good works in general comprehend all works morally good, whether they be adjusted to the law of nature or the revealed law; but I shall chiefly and principally consider good works as they are conformable to the revealed rule of the gospel. And so I proceed to the —

II. Thing I undertook, viz., to show WHAT ARE THE QUALIFICATIONS OF THESE GOOD WORKS, that is, what is absolutely required in these works to make them good. I shall speak only of those qualifications which are requisite in evangelical good works, namely, such as are necessary to eternal salvation.

1. In a good work it is requisite that the person who doth it be good. By which I mean not only that he be inwardly good and righteous, according to that of our Saviour, make the tree good and his fruit good (Matthew 12:33); but I understand this also, that the person who performs good works be one that is reconciled to God; for if the person be not accepted, the work cannot be good. It is said, "The Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering" (Genesis 4:4). First unto Abel, and then to his offering. The sacrificer must be accepted before the sacrifice.

2. As the works are good because of the person, so both the person and works are good because of the righteousness of Christ, in whom God is well pleased. "He hath made us acceptable to the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6). What we do is favourably received as we are considered in Christ. By virtue of our relation to Him, who is our Righteousness, our performances are accounted righteous. This qualification of a good work the devout Mr. Herbert assigns, saying, "It is a good work if it be sprinkled with the blood of Christ."

3. A good work in the gospel sense and meaning is a work done by the grace of God and the assistance of the Holy Spirit.

4. It must be done in faith, for the apostle tells us that "without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6), and, consequently, as he adds in another place, "what is not of faith is sin."

5. In all actions that are really good there must be lawful and right means used. Acts of justice and honesty must be clone by ways that are lawful and good. We must not be just among ourselves by being unjust to others. I must not steal that I may be charitable to the poor. I must not promote the best cause either by persecution or by rebellion. Though it be God's cause, it ought not to be fought with the devil's weapons.

6. Good works must be adjusted to a right rule; they must be according to the will and commandment of God. They must not be after our own inventions, but according to this Divine command (Micah 6:8). That is good which God requires.

7. Every good work must proceed from a right principle; and by a right principle I mean these following things —(1) That our works proceed from sufficient knowledge. No action done ignorantly is good. He that acts without knowledge cannot be said to act morally, much less Christianly. We must first know that what we do is our real duty, and we must also understand why it is so. Religion must not be blind; reason must always go first, and carry the light before all our actions, for the heart and life cannot be good if the head be not enlightened. The understanding must make way for the will. Which brings me to the next particular.(2) Good works must proceed from a free and voluntary principle. As he that acts ignorantly, so he that acts unwillingly cannot be said to act well. To the will is to be imputed whatsoever is ill or well done by us. There is nothing good or bad but what is matter of choice and consultation.(3) With the understanding and will must be joined the affections. And this includes in it these following things —(a) Integrity of heart. As servants are bid to discharge their duty in singleness of heart (Colossians 3:22).(b) An entire love of God is required in every good work. All our actions must flew from this principle, for if we love not God, we cannot do the works of God.(c) There must be an entire love, not only of God, but of goodness itself, and the intrinsic excellency and perfection that is in it. There must be a delight and pleasure in the ways of God, and in all those good and virtuous actions which we do, and that for their own sakes.(d) Not only a love of God, but a fear of Him, must be a principle from whence all our holy actions are to proceed, a fear of acting contrary to the purity of God's nature, a fear of displeasing and offending Him. Joseph acted out of this excellent principle when he cried out, "How shall I do this wickedness and sin against God?"(e) Humility is another principle from whence we must act. Every good and righteous man lays his foundation low; he begins his works with a submissive and self-denying spirit; he proceeds with lowliness of mind, and a mean opinion of himself, and of all he can do.(f) Alacrity, joy, and cheerfulness, and so likewise a due warmth, zeal, and ardency, are other principles from whence our good works should spring. We must with gladness undertake and perform them, and we must serve the Lord with a fervency of spirit (Romans 12:11).

8. This is another indispensable qualification of a good work, that it be done for a good end. As there are fountains or principles of actions, so there are ends or designs belonging to them all. You must necessarily distinguish between principles and ends if you would speak properly and significantly. Fountains and springs of actions are those from whence the actions flow; ends and aims are those to which the actions tend. There is a vast difference between these. I have told you what the former are; now I will set before you the latter. The right ends which ought to be in all evangelical actions (for of such I intend chiefly to speak) are these three — our own salvation, the good of others, and in pursuance of both God's glory. This was it which spoiled and blasted the most solemn and religious duties of the Pharisees. When they did their alms, they sounded a trumpet before them, that they might have glory of men (Matthew 6:2). Whey they prayed, they did it standing in the corners of the streets, that they might be seen of men (Matthew 5:5). Likewise when they fasted, they disfigured their faces, that they might appear unto men to fast (Matthew 5:16). Yea, all their works they did to be seen of men (Matthew 23:5). All was to gain esteem and reputation, all was for applause and vainglory. This wrong end and intention made all they did sinful. When I say all our works are to be done for the ends above named, I do not by this wholly exclude all other ends. As two of the great aims of our actions, namely, our own happiness and that of others, are subordinate to the third, God's glory, so there are other lesser and inferior ends which are subordinate to all these. He evidences this by such ways as these — He never lets these temporal things stand in competition with, much less in opposition to, those which are greater and higher. He never so seeks his own as not to seek the things which are Jesus Christ's. He doth not one with the neglect of the other.

9. To comprehend all, a good work is that which is done in a right manner. Good actions are such as have good circumstances and qualities, and evil actions are such as have undue and evil ones.

III. Having instructed you in the nature of good works, I am to show you, in the next place, HOW REASONABLE A THING IT IS THAT WE SHOULD TAKE CARE TO DO THESE GOOD WORKS. I will present you with those arguments and motives which I apprehend are most powerful to incite you to this. First, I might mention the reason in the text, where first we are said to be created unto good works, that we might walk in them. This is the very design of the spiritual creation or new birth, that we should exert all these acts of piety and religion which I have before mentioned. It is the purpose of heaven in regenerating us that we should walk in the ways of holiness, and conscientiously perform all the parts of our duty towards God, towards men, and towards ourselves. Again, it is said, we are said to be created in Christ Jesus to this. This is the end of Christ's undertakings. "He gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14). Moreover, it is added that God hath before ordained these works. This was the good will and pleasure of the blessed Trinity in their eternal consults before man was made. Why then should we, as much as in us lieth, frustrate the purpose and decree of heaven concerning us I Further, this (as the apostle saith of sanctification) is the will of God (1 Thessalonians 4:3). This is that which is commended to us by the example of the saints; they have all been zealous practisers of good works. This is the grand evidence of the truth of our inward graces. This is that whereby you show your thankfulness to God for your election and redemption. I add, this is that which is the great ornament and lustre of our Christian profession; this will set forth and commend our religion to the world. But there are these two arguments yet behind which I will more amply insist upon — good works are necessary to salvation; good works glorify God.

1. Though our good works are conditions of salvation, yet they are not conditions as to God's election, for He decreed from eternity out of His free will and mercy to save lost man, without any consideration of their good works. Predestination to life and glory is the result of free grace, and therefore the provision of works must be excluded. The decree runs not thus, I choose thee to life and blessedness on supposal or condition of thy believing and repenting; but thus, I freely choose thee unto eternal life, and that thou mayest attain to it, I decree that thou shalt believe and repent.

2. Though faith and obedience be conditions of happiness, yet the performance of them is by the special help and assistance of a Divine and supernatural power. God, who decrees persons to good works, enables them to exert them.

3. Nor are they conditions in this sense that they succeed in the place of perfect obedience to the law which the covenant of works required. I am convinced that no such conditions as these are consistent with the new covenant, the covenant of grace. Works, if they be considered as a way leading to eternal life, are indeed necessary to salvation; they are necessary by way of qualification, for no unclean thing shall enter into heaven. Graces and good works fit us for that place and state; they dispose us for glory. We are not capable of happiness without holiness. It may be some will not approve of saying, We are saved by good works, but this they must needs acknowledge that we cannot be saved without them; yea, we cannot be saved but with them. Some are converted and saved at the last hour, at their going out of the world; but even then good works are not wanting, for hearty confession of sin, and an entire hatred of it, sincere and earnest prayers, hope and trust in God, desire of grace, unfeigned love, and zealous purposes and resolves, all these are good works, and none can be saved without them. In the next place, good works are for God's glory, therefore they must be done by us. As I have showed before that it is a necessary qualification of good works that they be done out of an intention to glorify God, so now it will appear that this is one great reason why we are obliged to perform them, viz., because thereby God is glorified. "Let your light so shine before men," saith our Saviour, "that others seeing your works may glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). The light of our works came from God, and it must be reflected to him again.(1) Because of the wicked, that you may stop their mouths, and take away all occasion of speaking evil against you. Again, for the sake of good men, we are obliged to be very careful how we walk; we are concerned to do all the good we can, that they may not be scandalized and hurt by our evil examples, and consequently that God's name may not be dishonoured thereby. By our holy and exemplary lives, we may be serviceable to stir up the hearts of the godly to praise God on our behalf. "They glorified God in me," saith the apostle, of those Christian Jews who took notice of his miraculous conversion, and of his extraordinary zeal in preaching the faith (Galatians 1:24).

IV. By way of inference, from what hath been said of good works, we may correct the error of the Antinomians, we may confute the falsehood of the Roman Church, we may make a discovery of other false apprehensions of men concerning good works; we are hence also obliged to examine whether our works be good; and lastly, if we find them to be such, we must continue in the practice of them.

1. What I have delivered on this subject is a sufficient check to the Antinomian error, viz., that because Christ hath satisfied for us, therefore there is no need of good works; Christ's obedience serves for ours. What need we do anything since He hath done all? And all this is conformable to the doctrine of our blessed Lord and Saviour, who tells us that He came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it, and make it more complete and perfect. By His doctrine and practice He taught the world that the moral law obligeth the faithful under the evangelical dispensation, and that obedience to the former is not opposite to the grace of the latter. He constantly promoted good works and holy living, and bid His disciples show their love to Him by keeping His commandments (John 14:15). You see then how fondly they discourse who say that, because Christ hath done and suffered all things for man's redemption, therefore there is nothing left for us to do. Indeed, we have nothing to do that can further our salvation by way of merit, but we have something to do whereby we may show our thankfulness for Christ's undertakings; we have a great deal to do whereby we may discover our obedience to the Divine commands and injunctions. Though good works and obedience are not conditions of justification, yet they are of salvation; they are requisite in the person who is justified, although they are wholly excluded from justification itself. Or we may say, though they do not justify meritoriously, yet they do it declaratively, they show that we are really of the number of those who God accounteth just and righteous.

2. The falsehood of the Romanists is hence confuted. They cry out against us, as those who utterly dislike, both in doctrine and practice, all good works. They brand us with the name of Solifidians, as if faith monopolized all our religion. Indeed, all that profess the reformed religion affirm that faith is the root of all graces, that Divine virtue is the basis and foundation of all good works; this they maintain, and have good reason to do so; but still they hold that good and holy works are indispensably requisite in Christianity, and that no man can be excused from performing them, and that those whose lives are utterly devoid of them have no right faith and no true religion. This is our unanimous belief, profession, and doctrine, and the Papists are maliciously reproachful when they accuse us Of the contrary.

3. From what hath been said, we may discover the wrong notions and apprehensions which most men have of good works. I will instance more particularly in charity, which is eminently called a good work, but there is a great and common mistake about it. And so as to other good works, all understanding men agree that they ought to be done, but they greatly mistake what good works are. They think if they do the outward acts of religion they do very well; if they fast and pray, and hear God's Word, and receive the eucharist; if they perform the external acts of justice and charity, their doings cannot but be good and acceptable, and they need look after no more. They never consider whether their fasting and praying and other exercises of devotion and piety proceed from God's grace and Holy Spirit in them, whether they be accompanied with faith, and be the result of good and holy principles, and be done for good ends, and in a good manner. Alas! these and the like things are not thought of. This discovers the gross mistakes in the world.

4. Then you are really concerned to examine your lives and actions, and to see whether you be not of the number of the mistaken persons.

5. When you have examined the true nature of good works, then urge upon yourselves that you are indispensably obliged to do them. Being thoroughly persuaded of the necessity of them, press the practice of them on yourselves and on others.That you may successfully do so, observe these four plain and brief directions —

1. Beg the assistance of the Spirit. These are no mean and common works which I have set before you as that duty. They require great strength and power to exert them.

2. Study the Scriptures. There, and there only, you will find instructions for the performing of works acceptable to God.

3. Set before you the example of the saints, for by viewing of them you will not only learn what to do, but you will be taught not to be weary in well doing.

4. Redeem and improve the time. Fix it on your thoughts that you have a good deal of work to do, but your time to do it in is short and soon expiring.

(J. Edwards, D. D.)

I. THE SINGULAR ORIGIN OF A CHRISTIAN MAN. As many as are truly saved, and brought into union with Christ, are the workmanship of God. No Christian in the world is a chance production of nature, or the outcome of evolution, or the result of special circumstances. Of regeneration we must say once for all, "This is the finger of God." The spiritual life cannot come to us by development from our old nature.

1. We are God's workmanship from the very first. The first stroke that helps to fashion us into Christians comes from the Lord's own hand. He marks the stone while yet in the quarry, cuts it from its natural bed, and performs the first hewing and squaring, even as it is He who afterwards exercises the sculptor's skill upon it.

2. We shall remain the Lord's workmanship to the very last. The picture must be finished by that same Master-hand which first sketched it. If any other hand should lay so much as a tint or colour thereupon, it would certainly mar it all.

3. This is very beautiful to remember, and it should stir up all that is within us to magnify the Lord. I was surprised when I was told, the other day, by a friend, who was a maker of steel-plate engravings, how much of labour had to be put into a finely executed engraving. Think of the power that has cut lines of beauty in such steel as we are! Think of the patience that lent its arm, and its eye, and its heart, and its infinite mind, to the carrying on of the supreme work of producing the image of Christ in those who were born in sin!

4. If we are God's workmanship, never let us be ashamed to let men see God's workmanship in us. Let us be very much ashamed, though, to let them see the remains of the devil's workmanship in us; hide it behind a veil of repentant grief. Christ has come to destroy it; let it be destroyed.

II. Secondly, here in the text we see THE PECULIAR MANNER OF THIS ORIGIN. "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus." "Created in Christ Jesus." Our new life is a creation. This goes further than the former expression; for workmanship is less than creation. Man may produce a picture, and say, "This is my workmanship": a piece of mosaic, or a vessel fresh from the wheel, may be a man's workmanship, but it is not his creation. The artist must procure his canvas and his colours, the maker of a mosaic must find his marbles or his wood, the potter must dig his clay, for without these materials he can do nothing; for he is not the Creator. To One only does that august name strictly belong. In this world of grace, wherever we live, we are a creation.

1. Our new life is as truly created out of nothing as were the first heavens, and the first earth. This ought to be particularly noticed, for there are some who think that the grace of God improves the old nature into the new. That which is of God within us is a new birth, a Divine principle, a living seed, a quickening spirit; in fact, it is a creation: we are new creatures in Christ Jesus.

2. Creation was effected by a word. "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made." "He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast." "God said, Let there be light: and there was light." Is not that again an accurate description of our entrance into spiritual light and life? Do we not confess, "Thy word hath quickened me"? "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." "Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

3. In creation the Lord was alone and unaided. The prophet asks, "Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being His counsellor hath taught Him?" Creation is the prerogative of Jehovah, and none can share it with Him. So it is in the regeneration of a soul; instrumentality appears, but the real work is immediately of the Spirit of God.

III. We come, thirdly, to dwell upon THE SPECIAL OBJECT OF THIS CREATION: "Unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." When Adam was created, the Lord made him for His own glory. When the Lord creates us the second time, in the second Adam, He does not make us that we may be merely comfortable and happy. We may enjoy all that God has given us, for of every tree of this garden you may freely eat, since in the paradise into which Christ has introduced you there is no forbidden fruit. Around you is the garden of the Lord, and your call is that you may dress it, and keep it. Cultivate it within; guard it from foes without. Holy labours await you, good works are expected of you, and you were created in Christ Jesus on purpose that you might be zealous for them.

1. Works of obedience.

2. Works of love.

3. Good works include the necessary acts of common life, when they are rightly performed. All our works should be "good works"; and we may make them so by sanctifying them with the Word of God and prayer.

4. God has not created us that we may talk about our good works, but that we may walk in them. Practical doing is better than loud boasting.

5. And they are not to be occasional merely, but habitual. God has not created us that we may execute good works as a grand performance, but that we may walk in them.

IV. Fourthly, THE REMARKABLE PREPARATION MADE FOR THAT OBJECT, for so the text may be rendered, "which God hath prepared that we should walk in them."

1. The Lord has decreed everything, and He has as much decreed the holy lives of His people as He has decreed their ultimate glorification with Him in heaven. Concerning good works, "He hath before ordained that we should walk in them." The purpose is one and indivisible: there is no ordination to salvation apart from sanctification.

2. But, next, God has personally prepared every Christian for good works. "Oh," say some, "I sometimes feel as if I was so unfit for God's service." You are not unfit, so far as you are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. When God creates a bird to fly, it is the best flying machine that can be manufactured; indeed, none can equal it. If God creates worms to plough the soil, and bring up the more useful ingredients to the surface, they are the best fertilizers under heaven. God's purpose is subserved by that which He makes, else were He an unwise worker. We are in a special degree God's workmanship, created to this end, that we may produce good works; and we are fitted to that end as much as a bird is fitted to fly, or a worm is fitted for its purpose in the earth.

3. Everything around you is arranged for the production of good works in you. On the whole, you are placed in the best position for your producing good works to the glory of God. "I do not think it," says one. Very well. Then you will worry to quit your position, and attain another footing; mind that you do not plunge into a worse. It is not the box that makes the jewel, nor the place that makes the man. A barren tree is none the better for being transplanted. A blind man may stand at many windows before he will improve his view. If it is difficult to produce good works where you are, you will find it still difficult where you wish to be. Oh, sirs, the real difficulty lies not without you, but within you. If you get more grace, and are more fully God's workmanship, you can glorify him in Babylon as well as in Jerusalem. Moreover, the Lord has prepared the whole system of His grace to this end — that you should abound in good works. Every part and portion of the economy of grace tends toward this result, that thou mayest be perfect even as thy Father which is in heaven is perfect.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Men can admire a statue; it is breathing with life, and the fire of genius has succeeded in imparting almost animation to the figure. You remember that once it was but an unmeaning block of marble, but the sculptor's imagination has succeeded in portraying a man, and the human face divine meets your enraptured eyes. You are filled with rapture and astonishment at the power of genius to call forth such a beautiful creation of art. And have you no eyes to see, nor heart to appreciate, the noble work of God in the new creation of a soul that was dead in trespasses and sins? That man was once a blank in the creation of God; he was spiritually dead, but now he has a soul instinct with the breath of heaven, which lives for its Maker, which hears and obeys His voice, and beats high with the generous sentiments of redeeming love. It is a soul that is restored to its original place in the creation, fulfilling the high purposes of its God, and glowing with ardour to live for His honour and glory. It has not, like the statue, the mock appearance of life; it is not a beautiful illusion of your fancy which vanishes at one effort of your sober reason. It has not its useless and inanimate form to reign and hold its empire only in your imagination. No! look on it, it is the living work of God; it has His own resemblance imparted to it; it is immortal, and destined to run an endless race of glory, to the everlasting praise of the infinite Jehovah — behold it — angels are enamoured with it, and yet you, who can break forth in rapture at that lifeless statue, can see no beauty here; no loveliness to draw forth your love; no admiration of this soul "born of God"!

Many Christians are of a retiring disposition, and their retiring disposition is exemplified somewhat in the same way as that of the soldier who felt himself unworthy to stand in the front ranks. He felt that it would not be too presumptuous a thing for him to be in front, where the cannon balls were mowing down men on the right hand and on the left, and therefore he would rather not be in the vanguard. I always look upon those very retiring and modest people as arrant cowards, and I shall venture to call them so. I ask not every man and woman to rush into the front ranks of service, but I do ask every converted man and woman to take some place in the ranks, and to be prepared to make some sacrifice in that position they choose or think themselves fit to occupy.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

It is told of Michael Angelo, the famous Italian sculptor and painter, that he invariably selected the marble block on which he was to operate from the quarry himself. He would allow no other hand to touch it, not even in its rudest state, lest it should be marred. After such a fashion does the Master-Sculptor of souls proceed. He performs the entire work of refashioning the human soul from beginning to end. In this work, it is true, He employs various tools — His Word, His Spirit, His Providential arrangements; but no hand save His touches them.

We are His workmanship.
Human boasting is excluded, because human merit there is none. We are God's workmanship, not our own.

I. THE DIVINE WORKMANSHIP.

1. Characterized by truth, reality, thoroughness, Not on the surface — not merely intellectual or mental; but a deep, subterraneous power heaving from the depth of the spiritual nature, and working from the centre to the circumference. Born again. Created anew.

2. When complete it will be perfect in beauty. He who made these bodies of ours so beautiful, so kingly, so majestic, so unutterably wonderful; He who bent with such majestic grace the arch of the firmament; He who clothed the earth with its infinite variety of beautiful objects; will make His spiritual creation in harmony with the material; so that, when finished, it shall be said, "He hath made this also beautiful in his season." God will look upon it, and say, "Yes, it is My workmanship, and I am pleased with it." That is the highest thing that can be said. His heart will rest in it.

II. THE COMPASS OF THIS WORKMANSHIP. "Created in Christ Jesus unto good works." Good works here, and good works hereafter. We are to serve God in the best way we can here, and we shall serve Him in another world in the distant future more perfectly than now.

1. Good works have their origin in love. Nothing noble is done from any other motive.

2. Good works are always inspired by the Holy Ghost. He inspires the love, and the love gives existence to the good works.

3. The good works we are to do are ordained by God. God thought of you before you were; He resolved that you should be — that you should be to do good works — to do good works which belong to you alone, just as in nature the tree is created to bear a particular fruit. How shall we know what we ought to do?(1) By the predispositions of our own minds, which are themselves the creation of God.(2) From our abilities. All we can do we are bound to do. Not much is expected from a mere mountain brook. Let it flow through its narrow channel; let it make a little green on its banks; let it murmur as it goes — and that is all you can ever expect of it. It is only a mountain brook. But, of a vast river starting at one end of a continent, and flowing through the heart of it, gathering to itself volumes of water, much is expected, for is it not a great river? And so, you who have education and genius, you whom God has richly endowed, you who have noble opportunities and fine talents — God expects great things of you; you must water the continent, as it were; and the question for each one is, to what work does my heart gravitate, and what work can I do? It is a great mistake — a mistake often committed — to try to do what we cannot, and to leave undone the thing which God has ordained for us to do, and which we could do with perfect ease.(3) We are bound to pray, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" Life oftentimes seems a pathless region, and it is evening with us, and the clouds are lowering, and the dark, black forest is before us, and there is no pathway, and a kind of bewilderment comes over a man at times; he does not know what to do, or which way to go — a conscientious man, especially. If God has placed him in a position in which others are dependent upon him for all blessing whatsoever, it becomes a great question, and a bewilderment sometimes, what he is to do. Rut we are not alone in this pathless place. There is always the invisible presence, the Eternal Friend at hand, and to Him we must go in solemn prayer. This if we do, we shall not go astray, but when life ends shall find that accomplished which He desired.

(Thomas Jones.)

The doctrine of the text is, That those who are renewed and recovered out of the apostasy of mankind, are, as it were, created anew through the power of God and grace of the Redeemer.

I. EXPLAIN THE TEXT.

1. Our relation to God. "We are His workmanship."(1) By natural creation, which gives us some kind of interest in Him, and hope of grace from Him.(2) By regeneration, or renovation, which is called a second or new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).(a) A change wrought in us, so that we are other persons than we were before, as if another kind of soul came to dwell in our bodies.(b) This change is such as must amount to a new creation. Nor merely a moral change, from profaneness and gross sins to a more sober course of life; nor a temporary change, which soon wears off; nor a change of outward form, which does not affect the heart; nor a partial change. The renewed are "holy in all manner of conversation." They drive a new trade for another world, and set upon another work to which they were strangers before; must have new solaces, new comforts, new motives. The new creature is entire, not half new half old; but with many the heart is like "a cake not turned."(c) When thus new framed and fashioned, it belongeth to God; it hath special relation to Him (James 1:18). It must needs be so; they have God's nature and life.(d) This workmanship on us as new creatures far surpasses that which makes us creatures only.

2. God's way of concurrence to establish this relation. It is a "creation."(1) This shows the greatness of the disease; in that so great a remedy is needed.(2) It teaches us to magnify this renewing work. if you think the cure is no great matter, it will necessarily follow that it deserves no great praise, and so God will be robbed of the honour of our recovery.

3. How far the mediation of Christ is concerned in this effect. We are renewed by God's creating power, but through the intervening mediation of Christ.(1) This creating power is set forth with respect to His merit. The life of grace is purchased by His death, "God sent His only-begotten Son into the world that we might live by Him" (1 John 4:9); here spiritually, hereafter eternally; life opposite to the death incurred by sin. And how by Him? By His being a propitiation.(2) In regard of efficacy. Christ is a quickening Head, or a life-making Spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45). Whatever grace we have comes from God, through Christ as Mediator; and from Him we have it by virtue of our union with Him (2 Corinthians 5:17).(3) With respect to Christ: "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus," who is the Head of the new world, or renewed estate.(4) With respect to the use for which this new creation serveth. One is mentioned in the text: "Created unto good works"; but other things must be taken in.(a) In order to our present communion with God. Till we are created anew, we are not fit to converse with a holy and invisible God earnestly, frequently, reverently, and delightfully, which is our daily work and business.(b) In order to our service and obedience to God. Man is unfit for God's use till he be new moulded and framed again.(c) In order to our future enjoyment of God, and that glory and blessedness which we expect in His heavenly kingdom; none but new creatures can enter into the new Jerusalem. Application: Use.

1. Of information.(1) That there is such a thing as the new nature, regeneration, or the new birth, and the new creature. It is one thing to make us men, another to make us saints or Christians.(2) That by this new nature a man is distinguished from himself as carnal; he hath somewhat which he had not before, something that may be called a new life and nature; a new heart that is created (Psalm 51:10), and may be increased (2 Peter 3:18). In the first conversion we are mere objects of grace, but afterwards instruments of grace. First God worketh upon us, then by us.(3) How little they can make out their recovery to God, and interest in Christ, who are not sensible of any change wrought in them. This is a change indeed, but in many that profess Christ, and pretend to an interest in Him, there is no such change to be sensibly seen; their old sins, and their old lusts, and the old things of ungodliness are not yet cast off. Surely so much old rubbish and rotten building should not be left standing with the new. Old leaves in autumn fall off in the spring, if they continue so long; so old things should pass away, and all become new.(4) It informeth us in what manner we should check sin, by remembering it is an old thing to be done away, and ill becoming our new estate by Christ (2 Peter 1:9).

2. To put us upon self-reflection; are we the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus? that is, are we made new creatures? It will be known by these things — a new mind, a new heart, and a new life.

3. To exhort you to look after this, that you be the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus. You will say, "What can we do? This is God's work in which we are merely passive." I answer — It is certainly an abuse of this doctrine if it lull us asleep in the lap of idleness; and we think that because God doth all in framing us for the new life, we must do nothing. The Spirit of God reasoneth otherwise, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:12, 13). This principle can neither be a ground of looseness nor laziness. You are under an obligation both to return to God and to use the means whereby you may return. Your impotency doth not dissolve your obligation. A drunken servant is a servant, and bound to do his work; his master loseth not his right by his default. An insolvent debtor is a debtor, and if he cannot pay all, he is bound to pay as much as he can. Besides, you are creatures in misery; if you be sensible of it, your interest will teach you to do what you can to come out of it; and God's doing all is an engagement to wait upon Him in the use of means, that we may meet with God in His way, and He may meet with us in our way.

II. THE END why we are brought into this estate. Not to live idly or walk loosely, but holily and according to the will of God.

1. The object: good works; that is, works becoming the new creature; in short, we should live Christianly.

2. God's act about it.

(1)God has prepared these works for us.

(2)God has prepared us for them.

3. Our duty: that we should walk in them. Walking denotes both a way and an action.(1) Good works are the way to obtain salvation, purchased and granted to us by Jesus Christ. Unless we walk in the path of good works we cannot come to eternal life.(2) An action. Walking denotes —

(a)Spontaneity in the principle; not drawn or driven, but walk — set ourselves a-going.

(b)Progress m the motion.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

I. WHAT IS MEANT BY GOOD WORKS.

1. The kinds. All acts of obedience.(1) Acts of God's immediate worship, both internal and external.(2) Every man must labour in the work to which he is called.(3) Works of righteousness and justice; to hurt none, to give every one his due, to use fidelity in our relations (Acts 24:15).(4) Works of charity and mercy; as to relieve the poor, to be good to all, to help others by our counsel or admonition.(5) I think there is another sort of good works which concern ourselves, and that is sobriety, watchfulness, mortification, self-denial. A man oweth duty to himself (Titus 2:12).

2. The requisites.(1) That the person be in a good state (Matthew 7:17).(2) The principles of operation must be faith, love, and obedience.(3) A due regard of circumstances, that it may be not only good, but done well (Luke 8:15).(4) The end — that it be for God's glory (Philippians 1:11).

II. HOW NEW CREATURES ARE OBLIGED TO THESE GOOD WORKS.

1. With respect to God, He hath ordained that we should walk in them. If you refer to His decree, He will have His elect people distinguished from others by the good they do in the world, that they may be known to be followers of a good God, as the children of the devil are by their mischief (2 Peter 1:10). If you take it for His precept and command, surely we should make conscience of what our Father giveth us in charge.

2. With respect to Christ, who died to restore us to a capacity and ability to perform these good works (Titus 2:14).

3. With respect to the Spirit, who reneweth us for this end; we are new made, that we may look upon doing good as our calling and only business. All other things are valuable according to the use for which they serve; the sun was made to give light and heat to inferior creatures, and we are enlightened by grace, and inclined by grace, that our light may shine before men (Matthew 5:16).

4. With respect to heaven and eternal happiness, they are the way to heaven. We discontinue or break off our walk when we cease to do good; but the more we mind good works the more we proceed in our way (Philippians 3:14).

III. HOW ARE THEY FITTED AND PREPARED by this new nature that is put into them for good works? There is a remote preparation, and a near preparation.

1. The remote preparation is an inclination and propensity to all the acts of the holy and heavenly life. All creatures have an inclination to their proper operations, so the new creature. As the sparks fly up and the stones downward by an inclination of nature, so are their hearts bent to please and serve God. The inclination is natural, the acts are voluntary, because it is an inclination of a free agent.

2. The near preparation is called promptitude and readiness for every good work, or "a ready obedience to every good work." (See Titus 3:1; 1 Timothy 6:18; Hebrews 13:1). This is beyond inclination. The fire hath an inclination to ascend upwards, yet something may violently keep it down; so a Christian may have a will to good, a strong, not a remiss will, but yet there are some impediments (Romans 7:18).

(T. Manton, D. D.)

I. THE AIM OF LIFE. "Good works." Is it Paul who speaks thus? Is not he the enemy of good works? Is not this the doctrine of the Old Testament? Answer: Paul was the enemy of a certain doctrine of good works, and of a party who took good works as its motto. But it is quite possible to object to a thing in the wrong place, and appreciate it in the right place. The voice of conscience tells a man he shall be justified or condemned by his works. Are the words of our Lord, in Matthew 25:35, mock thunder? If not, then it is plain that what we shall be asked for at the judgment seat will be our good works.

II. THE LINE BY WHICH THIS AIM IS LIMITED.

1. The line of talent. One has ten talents, another has only one. No man can do the work of an angel. A common man cannot do the work of a genius. All have some talent. One has social charm; another, the gift of song; another, moral attractiveness.

2. The line of circumstances. The circumstances and places of our lives are arranged by God, as well as the persons we influence and who influence us. We must see to it that our own plot is well cared for. The invalid cannot do as much as the man of good health, nor the mother of a family as much as she who has no such care.

3. The line of time. How different would our life have been, had we lived in the last century. Now, or never, is our time to work. God has appointed the length of time we are to work.

III. THE POWER BY WHICH IT IS ACCOMPLISHED. We are "created in Christ Jesus unto good works." Our destination to do our good works dates from our new birth. If we have not been born again, we have not begun to do our good works. This change is a creation. It is compared to the change that took place when God said, "Let there be light." "In Christ Jesus," united to Him, so that we can say, "It is no more I that do it, but Christ who dwelleth in me." No man is fit to do the work of life till he is created in Christ Jesus. His life is a failure unless he is a new creature. Let those who are in Christ Jesus remember why they have been so created, and that it is entirely in the power derived from Christ they can do their good works.

IV. THE DIVINE ARTIST BEHIND THE HUMAN WORKMAN. Life is our task, but it is also Another's. We are "His workmanship." The Greek is, "God's poem." Every Christian's life is a poem of God. In opening a book of poems we find an elegy, a lyric, an ode of battle, or a love song. There are lives of Christians like all these. This is God's book of poems. Its name is, "The book of free grace, and undying love," Will your life be in it?

(James Stalker, M. A.)

I. ITS CHARACTERISTICS.

1. Truth.

2. Reality.

3. Thoroughness.

4. When complete, perfection in beauty.We, beaten and tossed by the stormy waves of circumstance, shall be so perfect as to please God Himself.

II. ITS PURPOSE. There are good works here and hereafter. When we lay down our wearied heads and die, we are not done with service. We shall serve God in another world more perfectly than now.

1. Good works have their origin in love, i.e., they are inspired by the Holy Ghost.

2. Good works are ordained of God.

3. How shall we know what we ought to do amongst the multiplicity of good works?(1) We must be guided to a certain extent by our own predispositions. Some are disposed to self-culture; let them, then, go on and cultivate their natures. Some love to teach. Some delight in practical benevolence. For all there is a work.(2) We must look at our abilities — what we can do.(3) We must seek God's direction.

(Thomas Jones.)

Good works are always inspired by the Holy Ghost, or, to speak more correctly perhaps, He inspires the love, and the love gives existence to the good works. "There is none good, save God." Thus the Saviour taught. Goodness in Him is like light in the sun. You meet with rivers, and streamlets, and fountains, and lakes among the mountains, and in the valleys of the earth; but the origin of them all is in the sea, they all begin there. So all goodness in individuals, in the Church, in the world, in the whole universe, is inspired of God, and I wish I could make you feel it as seriously as I do. This gives unspeakable grandeur to our practical religion, to good works. They are inspirations of God, they are beams from the central light, they are streams from the uncreated fountain. Flippantly have men sometimes spoken of good works, contrasting faith with works. They have twisted laurel wreaths of glory round the brows of faith; they have kept good works in the distance. Another day has dawned upon England; we begin to think that the grandest thing of all is to be good. To do good works inspired by love and inspired by God's Holy Spirit — this is the grand thing.

(Thomas Jones.)

Six ways in which God prepares good works for us to do.

1. In predestinating them (Romans 1:1; Jeremiah 1:5; Isaiah 54:16).

2. In His commandments He reveals them to us. The law of God rules them out before our eyes.

3. God has set us samples, both His own, and His children's.

4. God supplies us with the grace, which enables us to do this or that work.

5. He excites the will; for such is our dulness, that we must have our will raised by Him to will.

6. He preserves us; so that now willing we may work.

(Paul Bayne.)

It would be impossible to conceive words which could better express at once the dignity and the nothingness of all human "works." Their dignity, seeing that for their sake we are both made of God and re-made of Christ. Their nothingness — because both the "works" we do — and we ourselves who do them — are nothing but a piece of "workmanship" which God has formed and created. If any man think much of his "works," I say, "You are only a bit of mechanism, that God has trained to carry out His mind; to evolve those preplanned works." If any man think little of "works," I say, "It is for works that you were created and redeemed; and God has thought so much of those 'works' of yours, that He designed them before you were born; and you were brought into existence that you might do them." Look at that body of yours — so curiously framed together, and knit, and fitted for action. Look at that mind, so capable and so furnished. Look at that heart, with all its powers of sympathy and affection. Look at that soul, with all that has been done for it, and done in it. And then ask yourself — I do not say — "Is not all this 'prepared' for something, and something very great?" — but, "Must not there be something 'prepared' for it? Must not the 'preparation' be reciprocal? Must not that which is 'prepared' for this complicated and wonderful being of mine, be something worthy Of its structure and its composition? God makes nothing for waste. Surely, every evidence that I am 'prepared' for a work, is a proof that a work is 'prepared' for me." It would, of course, be a great question — concerning every particular work as it comes before you whether it is the work which God has" prepared" for you. To guide you into a decision in this matter, there should always be at least two vocations to every work: the inward vocation of your own conscience, and the outward vocation of Providence. And if to these two vocations there can be added the vocation of the Church, or of Christian friends, it would be more conclusive still. The three vocations very seldom mislead. Sanctified common sense is the true rule of life. And this brings me to one characteristic of all "prepared work." It never goes before God. He must open a door. He must soften a heart. He must give an impulse. For every "prepared work" has its limitations; and here is the line of the limitation — that God's footsteps must be there. But once receive anything you have to do — or equally, anything you have to suffer — as a "work" long ago "prepared" for you; and then see what a comfort, what an energy, what a power that one single thought will give!

1. In itself it is a token for good. It is a proof of love. Not only that God uses you at all, but that He has been at the pains to arrange long beforehand the exact thing which you are to do for Him.

2. You may be quite sure that any "work" which God hath "prepared" for you, will have a particular adaptation to your character, to your position, and to your strength. God never gives His work indiscriminately. To each his own. His "works" are not suited to everybody alike. You could not do mine; and I cannot do yours.

3. In the fact that the "work" — whatever it be — is God's own appointment for you, there is a sure warrant of success. He planned and constructed it before you touched it. What God begins, He always ends. I cannot tell you, in detail, each of you, what your "prepared work" is. This I know, "the prepared work" of every one is to believe; and then to live the faith he professes; to be happy, and then to make others happy; to glorify God. But I should sadly narrow my subject if I confined the "good works" which God has "prepared" for us to do, to this world. We are "created in Christ Jesus to good works" in heaven. For assuredly we shall "work" there. And a part of the work is this, that your work is rest. And the more we grow towards heaven, the more we approach to that — work is rest because we do it restfully. But, be sure of this, there will be "work" in heaven. More "prepared" than even the "work" which we are doing here. And for this reason, that all the "work" we are doing here is in itself "preparatory" to that "work." We are practising now that we may do it well by and by!

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

1. Good works cannot be judged by appearances. To the eye of man good and bad may appear precisely the same. The eye of God alone can discern, and His judgment alone determine, their character.

2. Hence we must go to His Word to enable us in any measure to judge of them rightly. And that Word teaches us that whatsoever is not of faith is sin; without faith it is impossible to please God.

3. What, then, are good works, as the fruit of faith? Any work done believing with the heart, and done, therefore, to the glory of God, is a good work. Faith purifies the heart; works by love; overcomes the world.

4. We should specially mark that works in no way justify us before God, for we are accounted righteous: only for the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ through faith. But works, as the fruit of a lively faith, justify us before men; and a faith which produces no works is dead. A tree is the same good tree in winter without leaf or fruit, as it is in the autumn when laden with fruit; and the fruit does not make the tree good, but the tree makes the fruit good, and good fruit shows that the tree is good.

5. We should be very zealous in bringing forth the fruit of good works, for we are apt to be slothful and weary in well-doing, and much hindered through world, flesh, devil.

(C. J. Goodhart, M. A.)

The words being opened, enlarge upon —

I. GOOD WORKS AS THE THINGS IN WHICH GOD'S PEOPLE ARE TO WALK. Illustrate this in a young convert passing through various connections in life to old age.

II. GOD AS THE AUTHOR OF THESE GOOD WORKS IN THEM. Shew how the Scripture speaks of this. "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean," etc. (Ezekiel 36:25, etc.). "Hath not the potter power over the clay," etc. (Romans 9:21). "Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).

III. GOOD WORKS WROUGHT IN US AS CONSEQUENCES OF UNION WITH CHRIST. "I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Husbandman," etc. (John 15:1, etc.). "For if thou wert cut out of the olive, tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree," etc. (Romans 11:24). "But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things," etc. (Ephesians 4:15, etc.).

IV. THE COMMANDS OF GOD IN HIS WORD, AND THE WORK OF HIS GRACE IN US, AS CORRESPONDING; LIKE THE SEAL AND THE WAX. "But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin," etc. (Romans 6:17). Exemplified in Zaccheus — Paul — Prodigal. Address to the careless — the Antinomian — the self-righteous — the regenerate.

(H. Foster, M. A.)

It is not one or two good actions, but a good conversation, which will speak a man to be a right Christian. A true believer, like the heavenly orbs, is constant and unwearied in his motion and actings. Enoch "walked with God"; it is not taking a step or two in a way which denominates a man a walker, but a continued motion. No man is judged healthy by a flushing colour in his face, but by a good complexion. God esteems none holy for a particular carriage, but for a general course. A sinner in some few acts may be very good: Judas repents, Cain sacrifices, the scribes pray and fast; and yet all were very false. In the most deadly diseases, there may be some intermissions, and some good prognostics. A saint in some few acts may be very bad: Noah is drunk, David defiles his neighbour's wife, and Peter denies his best friend; yet these persons were heaven's favourites. The best gold must have some grains of allowance. Sheep may fall into the mire, but swine love day and night to wallow in it. A Christian may stumble, nay, he may fall, but he gets up and walks on in the way of God's commandments; the bent of his heart is right, and the scope of his life is straight, and thence he is deemed sincere.

(G. Swinnock.)

"God," said a minister to a boy who stood watching a caterpillar spinning a very beautiful cocoon, "God sets that little creature a task to do: and diligently and very skilfully he does it; and so God gives us good works to perform in His name and for His sake. But, were the insect to remain satisfied forever in the silken ball which he is weaving, it would become, not his home, but his tomb. No; by not resting in it, but forcing a way through it, will the winged creature reach sunshine and air. He must leave his own works behind, if he would shine in freedom and joy. And so it is with the Christian."

There is produced in a soul an image of God. When does the image of the star start up in the chamber of the telescope? Only when the lenses are clear and rightly adjusted, and when the axis of vision in the tube is brought into exact coincidence with the line of the rays of light from the star. When does the image of God, or the inner sense of peace and pardon spring up in the human soul? Only when the faculties of the soul are rightly adjusted in relation to each other, and the will brought into coincidence with God's will. How much is man's work, and how much is the work of the light? Man adjusts the lenses and the tube; the light does all the rest. Man may, in the exercise of his freedom, as upheld by Divine power, adjust his faculties to spiritual light, and when adjusted in a certain way God flashes through them.

(Joseph Cook.)

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