Chapter XVI - Of Good Works

I. Good works are only such as God has commanded in His holy Word,(Micah 6:8, Rom 12:2, Heb 13:21) and not such as, without the warrant thereof, are devised by men, out of blind zeal, or upon any pretence of good intention.(Matt 15:9, Isa 29:13, 1 Pet 1:18, Rom 10:2, John 16:2, Isa 15:21-23)

II. These good works, done in obedience to God's commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith:(James 2:18, 22) and by them believers manifest their thankfulness,(Psa 116:12-13, 1 Pet 2:9) strengthen their assurance,(1 John 2:3, 5, 2 Pet 1:5-9) edify their brethren,(2 Cor 9:2, Matt 5:16) adorn the profession of the Gospel,(Titus 2:5, 9-12, 1 Tim 6:1) stop the mouths of the adversaries,(1 Pet 2:15) and glorify God,(1 Pet 2:12, Phil 1:11, John 15:8) whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto,(Eph 2:10) that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life.(Rom 6:22)

III. Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ.(John 15:4-6, Ezek 36:26-27) And that they may be enabled thereunto, beside the graces they have already received, there is required an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit, to work in them to will, and to do, of His good pleasure:(Phil 2:13, 4:13, 2 Cor 3:5) yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.(Phil 2:12, Heb 6:11-12, 2 Pet 1:3, 5, 10-11, Isa 64:7, 2 Tim 1:6, Acts 26:6-7, Jude 20-21)

IV. They who, in their obedience, attain to the greatest height which is possibly in this life, are so far from being able to supererogate, and to do more than God requires, as that they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do.(Luke 17:10, Neh 13:22, Job 9:2-3, Gal 5:17)

V. We cannot by our best works merit pardon of sin, or eternal life at the hand of God, by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come; and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom, by them, we can neither profit, nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins,(Rom 3:20, 4:2, 4, 6, Eph 2:8-9, Titus 3:5-7, Rom 8:18, Psa 16:2, Job 22:2-3, 35:7-8) but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants:(Luke 17:10) and because, as they are good, they proceed from His Spirit,(Gal 5:22-23) and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled, and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God's judgment.(Isa 64:6, Gal 5:17, Rom 7:15, 18, Psa 143:2, 130:3)

VI. Notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in Him;(Eph 1:6, 1 Pet 2:5, Ex 28:38, Gen 4:4, Heb 11:4) not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreproveable in God's sight;(Job 9:20, Psa 143:2) but that He, looking upon them in His Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.(Heb 13:20-21, 2 Cor 8:12, Heb 6:10, Matt 25:21, 23)

VII. Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands; and of good use both to themselves and others:(2 Kings 10:30-31, 1 Kings 21:27, 29, Phil 1:15-16, 18) yet, because they proceed not from an heart purified by faith;(Gen 4:5, Heb 11:4, 6) nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word;(1 Cor 13:3, Isa 1:12) nor to a right end, the glory of God,(Matt 6:2, 5, 16) they are therefore sinful and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God:(Hag 2:14, Titus 1:15, Amos 5:21-22, Hos 1:4, Rom 9:16, Titus 3:15) and yet, their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing unto God.(Psa 14:4, 36:3, Job 21:14-15, Matt 25:41-43, 45, 23:23)