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have proportionably a still stronger tendency to it. Yet this is not supposed by the persons in question; for they see, that justification and sanctification, in the advanced Christian, are perfectly distinct: how is it then, they do not recollect, that they are distinct at the first, as well as at the last? Or if they allow it, how can they but perceive that their objections in this respect are perfectly unfounded?


Saving Faith the effect of Regeneration.

THE holy nature of saving faith may be inferred from the consideration, that it is the gift of God, and wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit. To this it may indeed be objected, that many gifts are conferred by the same divine Agent, which are allowed to have nothing essentially holy in their nature. It should, however, be observed, that in those things which inseparably accompany salvation, the Holy Spirit directly acts upon the dispositions and affections of the heart, stamps his own image, and communicates his own holy nature to the soul, by permanently operating on all its faculties, as an indwelling source of life, light, purity, and felicity; whereas in imparting spiritual gifts, or miraculous powers, he only works upon natural principles, or enables a man occasionally to perform supernatural actions, without any abiding union or assimilation. Balaam, Judas, and many who in Christ's name prophesied, cast out devils, and wrought miracles, continued all the while covetous, ambitious, malignant, or sensual workers of iniquity: but no man ever truly believed in Christ, while his heart continued the willing slave of any lust.As these gifts and powers are not holy in their nature, or even in their effects; so neither are they connected with salvation, by any indissoluble bond: but faith in Christ is more explicitly and frequently in Scripture connected with eternal salvation, than any other exercise of the heart or soul whatever. If it therefore be not holy in its own nature, it is an exception to the general rule for no other fruit, or gift, or operation, of the Holy Spirit, that invariably accompanies salvation, can be mentioned, which is not indisputably holy in its essential nature.

As unbelief springs from the "love of darkness rather than light," because the deeds of the unbeliever are evil; so faith must arise from the love of light rather than darkness, because of an incipient disposition to keep God's commandments. "He that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God." When the evil heart of unbelief is removed, and the sinner has received the love of the truth; then "with the heart he believeth unto righteousness." But in proportion as the doctrines of the gospel are proposed to the minds of proud and carnal men, with convincing energy; they excite the greater measure of scorn, rage and enmity. The overbearing evidence, with which the hated light is poured in upon the reluctant understanding, disturbs and torments the conscience, affronts the self-complacency of the heart, and calls forth into vigorous opposition those evil propensities which before lay dormant. This was the effect of our Lord's discourses and those of his apostles, on the unbelieving priests, scribes, and Pharisees. Undeniable miracles, unanswerable arguments, decisive scriptural proofs, pointed warnings and rebukes, and the clear light of divine truth, connected with the meekness of wisdom and holy love, served but to excite the more determined resistance from their ambition, avarice, envy, and resentment: and when they were completely baffled, and could say nothing against either the miracles or the doctrine, they were enraged even to mad


When a partial view of divine truth gains the assent of the understanding, without a disposition of heart congenial to the grand scope of christianity; such professors are formed, as our Lord describes under the similitude of the stony ground: and their fallacious confidence, selfish joy, and temporary faith, while they have no root in themselves, but in time of temptation fall · away," are exemplified by facts on every side.-The seed too sown on thorny ground represents another very common way, in which a carnal heart "holds the truth in unrighteousness," by a dead faith, an unwarrantable confidence, and an awful mistake as to the tendency and design of revealed truth: but an honest and good heart is the only good ground, in which the word of the kingdom will so "take root, and spring up, as to bring forth fruit with patience." It is really surprising that, with such Scriptures before them, serious and reflecting persons should speak of faith in Christ, as "a mere act of the understanding, produced by a common illumination, totally distinct from regeneration!" I would ask those who use such language, whether this be not precisely the definition of a dead faith? and whether any man be capable of giving a better? For is it not an assent of the understanding to the doctrines of the gospel as true, without any consent of the heart to them as good and holy? It is by no means intended, that all, who inadvertently seem to favour this sentiment, really countenance a dead faith; for many parts of their writings have a contrary tendency: but it shows how readily even good men, when contending for a system, may be seduced to sanction opinions which entirely suit the purposes of very bad men.

In forming our judgment on this subject, let us next consider the following words of our blessed Saviour; "No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him :"-" It is written in the prophets, And they shall all be taught of God." "Every man therefore, that hath heard and learned of the Father cometh unto me.-Therefore said I unto you, No man can come unto me except it were given him of my Father." John vi. 41, 45, 65. Coming to Christ is the same as believing in him, at least as far as the present argument is concerned: and has this gift of the Father, this drawing, teaching, hearing, and learning, nothing holy in its nature? Surely, upon second thoughts, every serious mind will adopt the apostle's words, "Do not err, my beloved brethren; every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning :" especially as the same apostle afterwards carefully distinguishes the wisdom which is from above, by its holy and sanctifying nature, from that wisdom which is "earthly, sensual, and devilish ;" as well as a living from a dead faith, by the holy obedience that accompanies it. James i. 16, 17; ii. 14–26; iii. 13—18.

But our divine Instructor has not left us to form our own conclusions from this general language: for he hath shown us in what manner the Father teaches and draws the sinner to come to him." When the Comforter is come, he shall convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.”— He shall lead you into all truth."-" He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you." John xvi. 8, 15. Under the illuminating and convincing influences of the Holy Spirit, sinners become acquainted with their own true character and real situation: and thus the discovery of their guilt, pollution, danger, and helpless misery in themselves, prepares them for perceiving the nature and value of the salvation of Christ. Then he becomes glorious in their eyes, and precious to their hearts: they consider him as the Pearl of great price, yea, of inestimable value. "What things were gain to them, they now count to be loss for Christ." The fear of being rejected by him overpowers all other fears, and is frequently the source of permanent anxiety. The desire of his salvation, and of the felicity which they conceive his people to enjoy, overcomes their love of worldly objects. They are thus prepared to forsake all for Christ: and no important secular interest, no beloved relative, no, not even life itself, is so precious in their deliberate practical judgement as the loving Saviour of lost sinners.

In proportion as the Holy Spirit presents the things which pertain to him and his salvation, before one who is thus taught of God and drawn by the Father, all these affections are uniformly excited and invigorated yet the very same things, when plainly set before the proud and carnal minds of unregenerate sinners, awaken contempt, enmity, and blasphemous rage. And is not that influence, which produces so entire a revolution in the judgment and affections of those who experience it, of an holy nature? No doubt, while the truth is made to shine before the sinner's understanding, his heart also is prepared to love and welcome it.

This was exemplified on the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit was poured from on high, not only on the apostles, but likewise on the multitude. The very persons whom Peter most justly charged with having wickedly crucified the promised Messiah, being "pricked in their heart, said, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" And being instructed and exhorted by the apostle, "they gladly received the word, and were baptized in the name of Jesus." They were convinced of their exceedingly aggravated guilt in crucifying the Lord of glory; and not merely alarmed by the dread of punishment; they "repented and did works meet for repentance:" Christ was glorified in their hearts, and they believed in him as their Lord and Saviour. But there were others who were cut to the heart by similar addresses of the apostles: yet, not being humbly sensible of their guilt and danger, they were only the more enraged by their convictions. When Stephen disputed with the Jews, not being able to resist the spirit and wisdom with which he spake, they had recourse to persecution; nay, when his persecutors could neither answer his arguments, nor endure his expostulations, they "gnashed upon him with their teeth, stopped their ears," and stoned him without delay. Now, who can doubt but that they who gladly received the word, had experienced a gracious change of heart by the power of the Holy Spirit: while the others, though surrounded with light and tormented with convictions, were left to the natural enmity of their proud and carnal minds? Acts ii. 37, 38; iii. 12—26 ; iv. 1—4; v. 33; vi. 10, 11; vii. 54-59.

Let us consider another example of the effects produced by these influences. The jailer at Philippi had cruelly abused Paul and Silas, and had exceeded his commission by thrusting them into the inner prison, and making their feet fast in the stocks; (for he might have kept them safely without all this severity:) and he had afterwards attempted to murder himself. But he was at length convinced, by means of what he heard and saw, that "these were the servants of the most high God, who shewed to men the way of salvation." Under this conviction "he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas:" and, in the first instance, before he proposed to them his interesting inquiry, he brought them out of the stocks, and the inner prison, into some convenient place. The event proved that his convictions were produced by the agency of the Holy Spirit: and the jailer's conduct manifested that he was not merely terrified but also humbled and sorry for his sins; and, especially, that he heartily repented of the cruel usage which the prisoners had received from him, as he made them all the amends of which the circumstances would then admit. This done, he cried out, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" and they answered, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." And when they had further instructed him and his family in the nature of Christianity, he embraced that despised and persecuted religion, professed his faith by receiving baptism, ventured all consequences in thus joining himself to the hated sect of the Christians, showed every kindness to Paul and Silas, and was filled with "peace and joy in believing." This is a fair specimen of the nature and tendency of those convictions by which sinners are brought to believe in Christ. The jailer's faith was evidently connected with repentance, of which he showed some tokens, and produced some fruits, before he understood the plan of salvation revealed in the gospel, and when he had merely a general belief that he might be forgiven and saved. The further and more explicit exercise of

faith, when it was fixed on Christ the Saviour; worked by love of him and his servants; overcame the love of the world and the fear of the cross; and purified his heart from the pride, enmity, and selfishness which before had reigned there without control.

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But let us contrast this example with that of Felix, a sinner of high rank, before whom Paul, again a prisoner, "reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and a judgment to come." For he also trembled: but the love of sin caused him to hate the light; and he sent the ambassador of heaven, to the authority of whose message his conscience bore painful testimony, back to the dungeon, saying, "Go thy way for this time, when I have a convenient season I will call for thee. He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.-But after two years, Portius Festus came in Felix's room and Felix, willing to show the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound."— It does not appear that, before the memorable night of his conversion, the jailer was at all better disposed to Christianity than Felix: they both were convinced and trembled: but the former was made partaker of an honest and good heart by new-creating grace, and the good seed of the word took root, sprang up, and brought forth fruit; while the latter continued carnal, covetous, sensual, and at enmity with God, notwithstanding his transient alarm, when the word of truth was sounding in his ears. Acts xvi. 23-34; xxiv. 24-27.

This may be further illustrated by the case of king Agrippa, who listened to Paul's inimitable defence, and was "almost persuaded to be a Christian :” his understanding assented to the truth, and his conscience was on the part of the Christian Teacher: but his heart remained under the power of worldly principles; and he still neglected Christ and his salvation. But we are told "the Lord opened the heart of Lydia, that she attended to the things which were spoken of Paul." Now, who can doubt but that there was an essential difference between the heart which the Lord opened, and that which sin and Satan closed? Acts xvi. 4; xxvi. 28.

Thus the apostle informs us that the "veil still remaineth on the heart of the unbelieving Jews;" 2 Cor. iii. 15. and for almost 1800 years they have despised, abhorred, and blasphemed the Messiah, to whom their scriptures so fully bear testimony, and whom their fathers crucified. Yet the Lord hath declared, "I will pour upon them the spirit of grace and supplication, and they shall look to me whom they have pierced, and mourn." Zech. xii. 10. Then the veil will be taken from their hearts, and they will become penitent believers in the crucified Emmanuel: and who can suppose that this change wrought by the Spirit of grace, by which they are brought to believe in Christ, is any other than regeneration?

Again, the apostle having shown the nature of his ministry, and his manner of fulfilling it, adds these remarkable words, "If our gospel be hid, it is hid unto them that are lost; in whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not; lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ 1 should shine into them." And on the other hand, he states that where the gospel is truly believed, "God who commandeth the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into the heart, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." 2 Cor. iv. Hence it is most manifest that the illumination, which is the immediate cause of saving faith in Christ, particularly respects the heart, and prepares it for welcoming those discoveries of the divine glory in the person and salvation of Christ, which the proud and carnal heart despises and hates; and which Satan especially hides from those who continue in unbelief. And surely this difference implies that the one is an holy, and the other an unholy state of the affections; the one being regenerate, the other not.

The same is manifestly implied in our Lord's words, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.""f Except he be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the king,

dom of God."'-"That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." John iii. 1—8. Can any man savingly believe in Christ before he is able in the least degree to perceive the nature of the kingdom of God? And is it not by faith in Christ that the sinner enters into that kingdom? Col. i. 13, 14.

St. Paul affirms that "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them; because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Cor. ii. 14. The contrast bewteen the natural man, and the spiritual man, and indeed the whole context, fully proves, that he spoke of an unregenerate person, one in a state of nature, born of the flesh, and not of the spirit: and would we know what "things of the Spirit of God are foolishness" to such persons; another text from the same epistle informs us; "the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness." 1 Cor. i. 18. Now can he, to whom the doctrine of a crucified Saviour is foolishness, and who cannot receive or know this doctrine and other truths connected with it, for want of spiritual discernment, be at the same time a true believer in Christ? or does the apostle mean, that this is the case with only some of the unregenerate?

The language of St. John is equally decisive on this subject. "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in his name; which were-born of God." John i. 11-13. The concluding words of this passage evidently point out the source of that difference which subsisted between the believing and the unbelieving Jews. The former being born of God, received Christ by faith, and were by adoption admitted into the family of God, and to all the privileges of his children: the latter, notwithstanding their descent from Abraham, continuing unregenerate, rejected the promised Saviour, and were not owned as the children of God.—I am aware that this text is confidently brought forward in proof, that faith precedes regeneration; and in that case it would stand single in Scripture: but a careful consideration of the passage and context is sufficient to evince, that this was by no means the evangelist's design. Christ came to the Jewish nation as his own professing people, and they received him not; but a remnant received him, and were admitted to the privileges of the children of God. This remnant were not distinguished from others, by their descent from the patriarchs, by a more docile and tractable natural disposition, or by the inclination of parents, teachers, or others respecting them; but by a supernatural influence: they were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." So that regeneration was the immediate cause of their receiving Christ, and believing in his name; and adoption into the family of God with all its privileges was the effect. And this accords with the language of the same apostle in another place "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." His faith is the effect and evidence of his regeneration, and not the cause of it. This is generally allowed to be the order of construction, where he says, "Every one that loveth is born of God;" and "Every one that doeth righteousness is born of God." And by what rule of interpretation do we reverse it when speaking of faith?


He that is dead in sin can only have a dead faith, and perform dead works: for living faith can only be predicated of a living subject. How then can the dead faith of an unregenerate sinner be the instrumental cause of divine life? But it may be readily understood, that, when the word of truth appears with convincing evidence to the natural understanding, and with alarming energy to the conscience; one man may be left under the power of carnal enmity to resist the light, or to flee from it; while the heart of another, under the regenerating influences of the Holy Spirit, may be subdued, softened, humbled, and disposed to receive the truth in faith and love. Men who are dead in sin may acquire much doctrinal knowledge, and have a natural conviction that the gospel is true, though their whole religion be a notion and form, with a few transient emotions and affections: but, sometimes even while at a dis

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