THE REIGN OF GRACE
The following excerpt was a ‘footnote’ in a work titled “The Reign of Grace From Its Rise To Its Consummation.” (Abraham Booth, published by Reiner Publications)
Matthew 25: 34-40 “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
It is very observable how different the conduct of saints will be, at this awful and glorious time, from that of nominal professors, as represented by our Lord in Matthew 7: 22. “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?” Here we find the Judge taking notice of his people’s works, when they make no mention of them. Not only so, but when he is pleased to mention their labours of love, with high approbation, they seem to have forgotten them. A plain proof they did not expect salvation by them, nor ever thought of any such thing. No, Christ was their righteousness, and that was sufficient. The works they performed were designed to glorify him, and to express their gratitude to God for his benefits. But, so conscious were they of the imperfections cleaving to their performances, that they were ashamed to mention them. Whereas, when our Lord represents the reason of hope in self-righteous persons, he tells us that they will say, with great importunity; Lord! Lord! have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? But he will answer, I never knew you: Depart from me, ye that work iniquity. They plead their own works, religious duties, and great usefulness, as a sufficient reason why they should be admitted into the kingdom of glory. Not that they pretend to have done these things by their own strength, or natural abilities. No, they acknowledge that all was done in the name of Christ, by his authority, and his assistance. For which reason, we may suppose, they would be the more confident of acceptance with him. Hence, we have done this, and we have done the other, is their cry and their plea. They thought of coming to heaven by their own works. They did them for that end, and were loath to be disappointed. But what is the issue? Why, truly, these mighty workers and very useful persons are branded as the workers of iniquity; not acknowledged as the people of God. They are thrust down into hell, with all their fine recommendations and imaginary goodness; and notwithstanding all their pleas and promising hopes founded upon them. While the poor in spirit, those who are sensible of their own unworthiness; who live by righteousness imputed, making that the only ground of their hope; and who, from love to the truth, and to Christ, as revealed by it, perform good works with a view to the glory of God, not the least expecting admission into the eternal kingdom for the sake of their pious performances—these, who say not a word about anything which they have done, are accepted by the Judge of all, into everlasting honour and joy. Let the legalist be cautioned by this, not to trust in his own duties, though of the most splendid kind; and let all who love the truth be encouraged to abound in every instance of duty to God; especially in that of communicating to the indigent members of Christ. For the Judge will say to them on his right hand; Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25: 40. What condescension is here! Christ is not ashamed to own the meanest of his people under the character of brethren.
There is reason to fear that many professors, whom situation in life is a little more elevated than that of their neighbours, are almost above looking at the poor brethren of Christ: and would be extremely offended, if one of those indigent disciples were to address any of them, under the character of a brother. But who art thou, reptile of the earth! that thou shouldst be ashamed of them whom Jesus, the Lord of glory and Judge of the world will acknowledge as HIS brethren? What! Shall a little shining dust, or worldly honour, so elate thy ignoble mind and swell thy contracted heart, that the poor members of Jesus Christ shall have no place in thy affections! Beware, lest after all thy profession, thou shouldst go down to hell with a lie in thy right hand; and all thy expectations of eternal happiness prove no better than ‘the baseless fabric of a vision!”