The Philadelphia Confession, 1742
Good works are only such as God hath
commanded in His Holy Word,1 and not such as without the
warrant thereof, are devised by men, out of blind zeal, or upon any pretence of good
These good works, done in obedience to
God's commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith;3 and by them believers manifest their thankfulness,4 strengthen their assurance,5 edify
their brethren, adorn the profession of the Gospel,6 stop the
mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God,7 whose workmanship
they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto,8 that having their
fruit unto holiness, they may have the end eternal life.9
Their ability to do good works, is not
all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ;10 and
that they may be enabled thereunto, besides the graces they have already received, there
is necessary an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit to work in them to will and to do
of His good pleasure:11 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.12
They who in their obedience attain to
the greatest height which is possible 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.13
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 never profit nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins,14 but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty,
and are unprofitable servants; and because as they are good, they proceed from His Spirit,15 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
Yet notwithstanding the persons of
believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in Him;17 not as though they were in this life wholly unblameable and
unreprovable in God's sight; 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
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;19 yet because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith,20 nor are done in a right manner according to the Word,21 nor to a right end the glory of God,22 they are sinful, and cannot please God, nor make a man meet to receive grace from God;23 and yet their neglect of them is more sinful, and displeasing to God.24
1. Mic 6:8; Heb 13:21.
2. Mt 15:9; Isa 29:13.
3. Jas 2:18,22.
4. Ps 116:12-13.
5. 1Jn 2:3,5; 2Pe 1:5-11.
6. Mt 5:16.
7. 1Ti 6:1; 1Pe 2:15; Php 1:11.
8. Eph 2:10.
9. Ro 6:22.
10. Jn 15:4-5. 11. 2Co 3:5; Php 2:13.
11. 2Co 3:5; Php 2:13.
12. Php 2:12; Heb 6:11-12; Isa 64:7.
13. Job 9:2-3; Gal 5:17; Lk 17:10.
14. Ro 3:20; Eph 2:8-9; Ro 4:6.
15. Gal 5:22-23.
16. Isa 64:6; Ps 143:2.
17. Eph 1:6; 1Pe 2:5.
18. Mt 25:21,23; Heb 6:10.
19. 2Ki 10:30; 1Ki 21:27,29.
20. Ge 4:5; Heb 11:4,6.
21. 1Co 13:1.
22. Mt 6:2,5.
23. Am 5:21-22; Ro 9:16; Tit 3:5.
24. Job 21:14-15; Mt 25:41-43.
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